I've always wanted to be a crafter. I've tried to make things—snow globes, pillows, wedding favors—but nearly every attempt has ended with me icing my hot-glue-gun burns while yelling, "D-I-WHYYYYY did I think this would be a good idea?!"
That's why I have so much respect for my Martha-style friends, the ones who are able to turn a basket of ribbons into a wreath while a pie made of backyard-grown fruit bakes in their oven. For those creative, skilled and ever-so-patient people, I've found your fantasy camp.
Craftcation is a three-day conference for anyone who wants to start or grow an indie business in the realm of arts, crafts and food. Sponsored by handmade-marketplace Etsy, the gathering takes place March 22 to 25 at the beachfront Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ventura (where Little Miss Sunshine was filmed!) and features more than 30 inspiring speakers who've—quite literally—built success with their bare hands.
It's all organized by Delilah Snell and Nicole Stevenson, the gals who put on the popular Patchwork Indie Arts & Crafts Festival each year in Santa Ana and Long Beach. Last year, the OC duo took a road trip to Ventura to scout a potential spot for a future Patchwork event; while sitting in traffic, the two started thinking they could do even more.
"I know a lot of people who are very creative and talented, but when it comes to the business aspects, that's a whole world they haven't experienced," says Snell, the girlfriend of our editor, Gustavo Arellano. "How do you write a proper press release? What's sales tax? How do you decide on pricing? We want to help people understand all this so they can take the next step."
Snell says the lineup of presenters includes "heroes in the industry" such as stitching goddess Jenny Hart, who'll be leading an embroidery workshop; KCRW's Good Food host Evan Kleiman, who'll teach you how to make perfect pie dough; Cathy Callahan (a.k.a. Cathy of California), who'll share how to get your crafty ideas published; and novelist/artist Kathy Cano-Murillo of CraftyChica.com, who will be leading a surprise craft workshop. There'll be discussions on copyrighting your ideas so Urban Outfitters doesn't steal them, as well as figuring out whether your business is actually worth the time and money you're putting into it.
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But even with all the shop talk, Craftcation is ultimately a craft vacation, a weekend getaway where folks can network and play in a relaxed environment (read: not a craft fair). Think beachside yoga each morning and a dance party at night.
"Helloooo, it's a business expense!" Snell says with a laugh.
This column appeared in print as "Craftcation!"