Me over the summer at MASS MoCA seeing the Sol LeWitt exhibit.
There are just a few more days left in 2018 and it’s time to do some reflection on all that’s unfolded this year (fabric pun intended).
In 2018 this blog turned 13 and my other business, Craft Industry Alliance, turned three. I continue to enjoy both immensely!
I had a busy year reporting craft industry news for Craft Industry Alliance. Here are some of the bigger stories I wrote:
In January F+W ousted their top executives as the company struggled to figure out how to make digital media profitable.
In February Coats announced it would be shutting down Free Spirit which to me signaled a softening in the overall market for quilting cotton. Just a few weeks later, Jaftex swooped in and bought Free Spirit, and quilters breathed a sigh of relief that this favorite of the modern quilting world would see another day after all.
Throughout 2018 Etsy doubled down on features that would accelerate marketplace revenue growth and this included eliminating projects deemed extraneous to that core mission. In March Etsy announced they would be shutting down Etsy Studio and Etsy Manufacturing and two months later Etsy closed Etsy Wholesale.
Also in March, I discovered that Simplicity and McCalls were getting ready to launch a new digital pattern system. For over a decade their PDF patterns have suffered from an inefficient layout and an antiquated proprietary delivery system that was not at all user-friendly. Nine months later the new system hasn’t yet launched, but I’m assuming it’s coming soon.
In April French embroidery floss company DMC ran a cross stitch contest asking artists to work for free. The backlash inspired a slew of subversive entries and eventually forced DMC to offer $500 cash prizes to the winners.
In May the five original Cotton+Steel designers announced that they would be leaving RJR, news which came as a shock to the modern quilting world. In the story that was the most difficult to report this year (I probably reached out to 50 people and only a handful agreed to talk to me) I dug into what exactly went wrong and how they came to this decision.
In June I visited P&B Textiles in Providence and wrote about their brush with bankruptcy, and how being bought by a larger textile firm infused the company with new life and hope for the future.
At the end of August the Trump administration announced trade tariffs that would have a significant impact on the price of craft supplies imported into the United States from China. I overcame my fear of writing about international trade (a topic I knew next to nothing about) and decided to dive in head first. I ended up writing this piece which is the article I’m most proud of this year. CNBC and the Financial Times both reached to me for quotes after reading it. Sometimes its worth it to tackle the hard stuff!
In October I organized a way for the quilting community to pay tribute to Amy Butler who designed her final collection this year. Also in October, I reported on F+W’s decision to close four magazines and, a month later, to sell The Martha Pullen Company and The Original Sewing & Quilting Expo to Hoffman Media. I also covered the closure of Fabric Depot in Portland.
In November I wrote about the launch of Making Things, a controversial new venture capital funded web app for knitting and crochet patterns.
And in December I wrote about RJR’s decision to enforce MAP pricing for Cotton+Steel and Craftsy’s reduction of its pattern marketplace.
In addition to writing for Craft Industry Alliance, I also commission many of the stories that our team of freelancers reports and writes and often I do a good deal of editing and back-and-forth work with the writers as those stories develop. That’s over a 100 stories I’ve helped with this year alone.
Becoming a member of Craft Industry Alliance means supporting a solid, reliable news outlet for the industry, something I feel strongly we desperately need and deserve. The mainstream media mostly overlooks craft stories unless they’re heartwarming or have a headline that begins, “Not Your Grandma’s…” What we’re doing is something different. We’re treating the craft industry with the same seriousness of purpose all other sectors, shining a light into dark corners, speaking truth to power, highlighting best practices. That’s my mission and drive. If it speaks to you, I hope you’ll become a member this year. (Corporations, you can join here.)
CIA is more than just news, though. It’s also a community. This year we worked hard to welcome larger corporations as members and were pleased to welcome JOANN, Creativebug, Aurifil, Sulky, Bernina, C&T, Storey, Quiltfolk, Red Heart, Dharma Trading, Hoffman Fabrics, Windham Fabrics, QT Fabrics, Coats, Darice, Soak, Fat Quarter Shop, Road to California, Palmer Printing, and more. We are continuing to grow our corporate member base alongside our small business and solo entrepreneurs members so that we can facilitate relationships, partnerships, and conversations that benefit everyone.
On the blog I asked some deep questions about Etsy’s values under its current CEO and leadership team and wrote some feature stores about interesting projects happening in the sewing word including Sewcialists, MyBodyModel, Just Wanna Quilt, Conservatory, Maternity Sewing, PreQuilt, Handheld Handmade, and the history of the thread rack.
I have a particular interest in the health and future of Quilt Market, the industry trade show. This year I looked at attendance numbers at the show over time, how the show could invest in its own revival by catering to online retailers, and the new staggered entry times for Sample Spree. I was able to attend Fall Quilt Market this year to record a podcast and meet many industry contacts in person which was wonderful.
I met with 22 consulting clients this year. I absolutely love these one-on-one meetings. Helping creative entrepreneurs map out a path forward for their businesses is a kind of problem-solving I really enjoy and because I’ve worked in this industry for a long time now I have the resources and connections to really be able to help. It’s awesome.
This year I also had a reckoning with my unhealthy relationship with food and began treating my body better. One step on this journey was beginning to sew my own clothes. I got a serger for my 43rd birthday and have been enjoying being a novice garment sewist.
This year marks the fifth year that I’ve been producing the While She Naps podcast. The show airs on the first and third Monday of each month and is now at 135 episodes. It’s still tremendous fun and I’ve already got a full roster of guests booked for 2019.
I also sent out my email newsletter every Wednesday morning at 10 am Eastern. My newsletter remains the linchpin that ties together everything I do.
Some of my goals for 2019 include:
- Hire a social media manager to help me with Instagram (she’s already onboard – hi Melanie! – and she starts in January). I have some other tasks that I may be able to hand off to a virtual assistant over time as well, but it’s hard to let go so I’m starting with just one thing.
- Begin using Evernote so that I can clip and track information of all kinds from all sources in one place. This week I began taking an Evernote class on Lynda.com (that’s where I go when I need to learn new software) and I like it so far.
- Take some kind of journalism workshop (yet to be determined – I just learned that these exist!).
- Release a pattern and a business-to-business product in 2019. The pattern is nearly complete and will be ready in January! And I have the germ of an idea for the B2B product.
And, of course, keep doing what I’ve been doing. It’s been a good year. The more I work on all of these projects, and meet all of you, and write all of these stories, the more motivated I feel to keep going. That’s how I know I’m on the right path.