As we wrap up 2017 and get ready for the new year I wanted to take some time to reflect on the year and all that’s happened. These year-in-review posts have become a bit of an annual tradition now. Although I started blogging in 2005, I did the first one in 2012 and have continued each year since. Here they are in order if you’re curious what I was thinking about way back when:
Although I’ve been at this for many years now I continually find fascinating new things to explore when writing about the home sewing and quilting industries. Interesting things seem to continually unfold and I don’t foresee every running out of stories to cover.
I did a lot of writing this year, including writing articles for Modern Patchwork, Modern Quilts Unlimited, Quilting Arts, and Sew News magazines. And I continued to write posts here on the blog at least once a week. Here are the posts on While She Naps that I’m most proud of this year:
- Two Yarn Shops Go Viral in the Wake of Political Change
- Should God be a Marketing Tool?: A Look at Accuquilt’s “So God Made a Quilter” Video
- A Perspective on Tula Pink’s ‘Spirit Animal’ and Cultural Appropriation
- A Cartoon for Quilters: The Story of Mrs. Bobbins
- Shruti Dandekar Quilts a Bridge Between India and the US
- From Professional Baseball to Publishing a Quilting Magazine: The Unlikely Story of Quiltfolk
- It’s Time for Quilts, Inc. to Change the Name of the Husband’s Lounge
I did some traveling in 2017 including going to QuiltCon for the first time and attending Fall Quilt Market for the second time.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of consulting which I really enjoy, helping small creative business owners figure out their next steps. I had 14 consulting clients this year and each one of them was a pleasure to work with. I’m looking forward to continuing this part of my business next year.
I also launched my first self-produced ecourse this year, Email Marketing Jumpstart. I have 208 students learning how to use MailChimp to create an email marketing plan for their small businesses. I truly believe in the power of email and it’s been exciting to see so many people implement email marketing for their own businesses.
I love producing the While She Naps podcast because it gives me an excuse to call up all kinds of people and ask them lots of questions on the pretext of creating a radio show. I’m happy to say that other people seem to enjoy the show, too. Right now it’s at 741,510 total downloads. The show is four years old now and I’ve published 111 episodes, including 25 new ones this year.
This year I hired a professional newsletter designer to redesign the While She Naps newsletter. It was worth every penny and I’m super happy with the way it came out chiefly because the newsletter now looks great in every email program out there.
One of the additions I added in this process were classified ads. These have been a popular product and I really enjoy being able to promote other creative businesses each week. For 2018 I’m releasing the classified spots as well as the podcast sponsorship spots at the start of each quarter. They both sell out quick so sign up here if you want to get notified when they go on sale.
My newsletter subscriber number continues to hover just under 20,000. I work hard to maintain a 50% open rate which means paring the list down periodically to delete inactive subscribers.
I remain totally devoted to writing a weekly newsletter and enjoy putting it together even though it often means I’m up late on Tuesday nights getting it ready. I also love responding to all the people who write back!
My kit, Felt Menagerie, came out in October. I did all the work for this project in 2016 so it was fun to just enjoy the results this year.
I’ve been doing more writing and editing than sewing this year and that’s okay with me. I still love sewing, of course, and will continue to design new patterns, but the pace has slowed as my interest in covering the industry as a journalist has grown.
Craft Industry Alliance
And that brings me to Craft Industry Alliance. I spend a least half of my time, if not more, working on Craft Industry Alliance projects with my co-founder, Kristin Link, and our team. We now have 1,374 members which means we’re edging towards being the largest trade association in craft. Hooray!
CIA is a place where I’m able to write about breaking news in the crafts industry (yes, that does exist). We hire awesome people to write for our journal and present monthly webinars (and pay them!), and I’ve worked on a few longer form reported stories as well. Here are the pieces I’ve written this year that I’m most proud of:
- Pay Cuts for Michaels Teachers Put a Damper on an Already Frustrating Job
- McCall’s Simplicity Merger Points to Market Impact of Independent Sewing Pattern Companies
The Industry as a Whole
This was a year of consolidation in the crafts industry. Large corporations are taking note of what’s happening online and realizing that they need to invest or they’ll lose out. We saw this when NBC/Universal bought a majority stake in Craftsy and JoAnn bought Creativebug as well as A.C. Moore’s acquisition of handmade marketplace Zibbet and online crafts supplies site Blitsy, all of which took place in 2017.
Legacy brands are feeling the squeeze from internet-first independent companies. Facing a smaller share of the market, the Big 4 sewing pattern companies were bought up by CSS Industries.
Word of mouth is a powerful force now that we’re all connected online. F+W brought John Bolton back as general manager of the craft group, a move that was sorely needed. Under his leadership the company has consolidated its quilting brands into The Quilting Company and seems to be beginning to rebuild its reputation after years with a management team known for being brutal to both employees and artists.
And Etsy is feeling the squeeze from shareholders now that the company has been public for a few years and stock prices aren’t as strong as expected. Earlier this year the board fired CEO Chad Dickerson and subsequently let another 200 employees go, the equivalent to about 20% of the staff. Etsy has been an integral part of the success of indie craft online, but its reputation is now at stake. If investors decide to continue to emphasize growth at all costs I worry that the company will further lose touch with the ethos of handmade.
I think of the crafts industry as a microcosm of the whole world. Every social, political, and economic issue that we’re engaged in globally plays out right here in craft in one way or another. I strongly believe that it’s through the things we’re passionate about, including our crafty hobbies, that we can learn the most about the world around us. I hope my work helps to build that bridge.
I wake up every morning excited about my job and I’m looking forward to 2018 and all the interesting stories it will bring. Cheers to a very happy new year!