Our featured speakers for 2017 are Yao Cheng of Columbus, Chris Glass of Cincinnati and Jen Hewett of San Francisco — one for each day of Midwest Craft Con! Scroll down to see even more experts in craft business and marketing we’re bringing to Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 10-12, 2017. Reserve your seat today!
Yao is a watercolor artist and designer based in Columbus, Ohio. Yao’s watercolor work concentrates on capturing the immediacy of expressions through color, shapes and brush strokes, with an emphasis on imperfect marks and unpredictable colors. Located in downtown Columbus, Yao Cheng Design is an online retail shop and design studio where Yao’s modern and bright watercolors come to life on products and clientele work. The retail side focuses on a range of products for the home, such as art prints, textiles and paper goods, while the design studio focuses on creating specialty wedding stationery and larger client projects.
Yao’s work can be found at West Elm, One Kings Lane, Houzz, her online shop and Etsy. She has an online tutorial series with Creativebug and has been featured in Southern Living, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Style Me Pretty and Design Love Fest.
Chris Glass is a designer from Cincinnati, Ohio, working on things like identities, websites, applications and T-shirts. You might know him from the Oxford-based Wire and Twine, a design firm that happens to own screen-printing equipment.
He is currently embarking on a year-long civic sabbatical with People’s Liberty, an unconventional grant-making organization, to explore photography as a way to encourage being a tourist in your own city in a project called PhotoCorps. He shares a sunny loft apartment in an old factory with his sassy cat, Edie. In his spare time, he devises schemes to create spare time.
Jen Hewett is a printmaker, surface designer, textile artist and teacher. A lifelong Californian, Jen combines her love of loud prints and saturated colors with the textures and light of the landscapes she grew up with to create printed textiles that are both highly tactile and visually layered.
Her hand-printed textile collages have been exhibited at Rare Device in San Francisco, and Artstream Gallery in New Hampshire, and her work has been featured in Anthology Magazine, Uppercase, Taproot, Design*Sponge and a number of books. When she’s not creating in her tiny (54 square feet!) San Francisco studio or teaching her popular block printing on fabric classes, she can be found cycling around San Francisco on her pink bike, chatting with her neighbors at the local wine bar, walking her tiny rescue dog Gus, gossiping with her friends, redecorating her apartment or noodling on her couch.
Olivera Bratich is a terrible crafter. She has very little artistic ability and even less patience with the creative process. Because of this, she has a deep respect and admiration for makers and works hard help handmade businesses succeed. She has owned and operated the super-fun handmade gift store Wholly Craft! in Columbus, Ohio, for over a decade. Wholly Craft features handmade goods from more than 400 crafters, artists and independent designers and offers workshops, parties, and events designed to help everyone get in touch with their creative side (whether or not they are any good at crafting). In addition to keeping the shop, Olivera is a community organizer, cake lover and mother to a rambunctious toddler.
She’ll be teaching: Make Love to Your Customers
Caroline Creaghead is a creative producer and director from Covington, KY. She’s also a preparer at Brass Taxes, providing tax help for artists, freelancers and other nice people. Once based in Brooklyn, NY, Creaghead began her career as a live comedy show producer. She worked with some of New York’s most celebrated stand-ups — like the cast of Bob’s Burgers — and lots of comics you’re maybe not as likely to have heard of, but should definitely check out. As a producer, Creaghead has often found herself seated between an artist’s imagination and the not-so-sexy real world. In that space she’s developed a strong appreciation for how much an understanding of some business and finance basics can impact your ability to do creative work successfully and independently.
She’ll be teaching: Taxes Don’t Have To Suck
Stephanie is just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world. She’s really a quilter, mixed media artist and writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. Stephanie’s story goes something like this: Five years in art school led to an unfulfilling corporate career and a very sad 10-year creative hiatus. When her inner child said, “Hey, knock that off!” she found meditation and a renewed interest in making stuff. Mindfulness and creativity have become an important part of Stephanie’s day-to-day, and she is always looking for ways to connect the two in fun and meaningful (but mostly fun) ways. She blogs at Creative + Mindful, and you can find more of her quirky brand of inspiration in her Secret Design Portfolio.
She’ll be teaching: Project Management Strategies, and Goal Setting that Sticks
Talia Halliday is the owner of Conduit Press, an arts business specializing in hollow books and leather goods. Her hollow books can be found exclusively through Uncommon Goods and her leatherwork can be found at over 50 stores in nearly all 50 states. Halliday also organizes the Bloomington Handmade Market, an indie craft show in its eighth year in Bloomington, IN, with the help of a few very entitled and opinionated minions. Beyond that, most recently Talia decided she wasn’t being quite masochistic enough and opened up her own brick and mortar shop called Gather in downtown Bloomington in fall 2014. Gather is home to nearly 200 makers from across the Midwest and beyond and continues to grow by the day. In her spare time (oh yes, there is spare time), Talia enjoys hanging out with her crafty cohorts, spending time with her loving and adorable family, and making plans to take over the world — or at least Bloomington.
She’ll be teaching: The Organization of a Wholesale Crafts Business
Andy J. Miller
Andy J. Pizza is an illustrator, podcaster and be-weird-in-public enthusiast. He was born in Indiana, went to middle school in Western New York, to high school in Indiana, and to the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom. He has mixed feelings about possibly being a key figure in starting the adult coloring book movement with his Indie Rock Coloring Book in 2009. He’s done illustration work with clients including Nickelodeon, Google, Nutella and Converse. His podcast Creative Pep Talk has been featured by Apple, Buzzfeed and Design*Sponge.
His talk about staying true to yourself is called: Quit Hiding
Esther Myong Hall
Esther Myong Hall has been a part of the craft circuit for over 14 years and hung up her production hat when she opened her dream shop, Yarn it & Haberdashery, a yarn store that provides for fiber lovers in all the gentle arts from knitting to needle felting. She graduated from the School of the Art Insitute of Chicago in 2003 with a BFA in both fashion and sculpture. Previous to her store she was the Director for the Ohio Art League, a 103-year-old non-profit statewide organization for artists and was a contestant on Tori Spelling’s “Craft Wars” on TLC. Currently she runs her store, continues as an independent fashion designer/fiber artist, mentors, teaches and runs lectures on professionalism as an artist for VSA Ohio, a state organization on arts and disability. Esther has had practical experience writing and assisting other artists with grants and has worked with other non-profit organizations, state agencies, national agencies and fundraising entities for over five years.
She’ll be teaching: Applying for Grants as an Artist
Mei Pak is a marketing strategist guiding and supporting small and creative business owners. She helps makers, artists and designers create more buzz for their business at Creative Hive Co. Business topics she is passionate about are PR and publicity, social media, wholesale, paid advertising, blogger outreach, pricing, branding, customer experience, web design and scaling up your biz without any capital. Mei also runs Tiny Hands, a line of handmade, scented food jewelry with her small team of assistants. She sells in over a hundred stores across the United States, has been featured on Parks and Recreation, InTouch Magazine, Every Day With Rachael Ray, Design*Sponge and Hello Giggles and has appeared on TV a number of times. Mei is an absolute foodie, loves chocolate, video games and adores wearing dresses.
She’ll be teaching: Instagram Hashtag Research, Email Marketing for New And Repeat Sales, and Creating Profitable Membership and Subscription Products
Allison Rosen is a crafty girl at heart: Her first business, at 9 years old, was selling pom-pom animals with googly eyes. Many years later, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Concordia University in Montreal. In 2002, with a master’s degree in accountancy, she and her new husband moved to Berkeley, CA, where she worked as an auditor and controller for a number of firms. During this time, Allison rediscovered her love of craft and jumped headlong into paper crafting and mixed media before settling on quilting. After the birth of her twins, her accounting career continued to grow and she began blogging and podcasting at Within A Quarter Inch. In 2008, she and her new family moved to Athens, OH, where it became clear her son had some serious disabilities. Allison left her finance position at Ohio University to raise her twins full-time and figure out what would help her son the most. She started a social website for quilters called SeamedUP, which she ran with a partner for three years before selling the site and taking a position in internet marketing with C&T Publishing. Now living in Wilmington, NC, with 9-year-old twins, Allison is finally working for herself as The Crafty Controller, an accountancy firm that serves indie crafters.
She’ll be teaching: Quickbooks for Crafters, and Price Point Checkup
Kiffanie Stahle is a photographer, fellow creative business owner, and lawyer living in Oakland, California. And she’s on a mission to teach creative entrepreneurs there can be ease in the legalese of running a business. In 2014, she founded the artist’s J.D., a place for creatives to become empowered about the law. Kiffanie’s intuitive approach balances the law with the practicalities of running a creative business. And she cuts out the legalese whenever possible. When she’s not chatting law, she’s probably in her garden, her kitchen, or if it is summertime catching a Giants baseball game.
She’ll be teaching: Defeating Copycats
Tamia Stinson is a creative director, photo stylist and the culprit behind fashion and lifestyle blog TheStyleSample.com. With more than seven years of experience styling editorial shoots and managing social media for consumer brands, her expertise lies at the intersection of digital and style. She started a podcast in 2016 that features interesting people doing interesting things in Cincinnati called The Creative City. She’s also an excellent ice cream taster, obnoxiously competitive yogi, and bona fide Purple Rain aficionado.
She’ll be teaching: Think Like an Art Director
Tara Swiger is the author of Market Yourself, a system for creating a marketing plan for your craft business. She began her entrepreneurial journey as a yarn-maker, and quit her day job in 2009 to be a full-time maker. She has been writing and teaching about handmade business for over five years, via (free) weekly lessons, her weekly podcast, and in-person and on-line courses. Her superpower is translating complex business principles into the language of artists and makers and turning theory into doable action plans. Tara’s taught marketing and business growth to traditional artists in rural North Carolina with the nonprofit Handmade in America, to yarn shop owners at their trade show, to alpaca farmers at the Camelid Conference, to makers at Craftcation and School House Craft Con, along with four classes with CreativeLIVE.
She’ll be teaching: Creating a Customer Path 2.0, and Developing Business Confidence
Nicole A. Taylor
Nicole is a multimedia storyteller and author of The Up South Cookbook: Chasing Dixie in a Brooklyn Kitchen (featured in The New York Times, Ebony Magazine, The Atlanta Journal-Constiution and New Republic).
She has contributed to SheKnows, Civil Eats, First We Feast, Cherry Bombe, Amtrak, Southern Foodways Alliance Gravy, Travel Noire and hosted the Hot Grease podcast on Heritage Radio Network. She founded The Modern Travelers’ Green Zine and is an editor for Crop Stories, a biannual zine that digs deep into relationships between farmer and table. She lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
She’ll be teaching: Getting a Book Deal
Akron, OH • Twitter
Professor Annal Vyas teaches business planning law at The University of Akron School of Law, and he also helps run the Small Entrepreneur and Economic Development Legal Clinic, which assists small businesses and nonprofits with legal matters. Vyas is the author of the forthcoming book The Legal Guide to Starting Your Business: A Conversation and was named as one of “Ten Attorneys to Watch” in Northeast Ohio by Crain’s Cleveland Business for his work providing legal counsel to entrepreneurs. He is also the program director of The Bit Factory, the City of Akron’s internet startup accelerator, as well as the event organizer of Pecha Kucha Akronand NEXTOhio, an internet startup conference that drew 300 attendees to its inaugural event. Before teaching at Akron Law, he worked at Thompson Hine LLP, where he was part of the 19-attorney team that represented Obama Biden 2008 in Ohio litigation matters in the U.S. presidential election. In addition, he previously helped run a domestic violence legal clinic where he advocated on behalf of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
He’ll be teaching: lawyerly stuff TBD!
Lesley Ware is an author, entrepreneur, and fashion educator. Lesley works with youth discover their personal style and talents through fun and creativity. She has written two books: Sew Fab: Sewing and Style for Young Fashionistas, selected by Amazon.com editors as one of the best children’s nonfiction books of 2015, and the recently published My Fab Fashion Style File. Lesley’s passion for inspiring young people began when she earned her degree in elementary education, and continued when she orchestrated a national program for Girl Scouts of the USA. When she’s not working as a contributor to Martha Stewart Living or teaching, you’ll find Lesley with her husband, seeking out fun, artistic activities around Brooklyn. Lesley considers all of her readers to be part of her “style tribe.”
She’ll be teaching: Getting a Book Deal, and Teaching Your Craft
The Wonder Jam
Adam and Allie Lehman operate The Wonder Jam. Focused on helping small — even tiny — businesses with their brandings, photography and web design, The Wonder Jam has helped 200+ brands. They love hosting workshops, traveling and drinking both too much La Croix and too much coffee. The Lehmans met in 2005 on Allie’s very first day at college and they were married in 2009. They moved to Columbus, didn’t know anybody and jumped in headfirst to building a strong network of creative, ambitious people who are still the backbone of their business today. In helping brands and businesses much larger and more sophisticated than The Wonder Jam, the Lehmans have constantly wrestled the impostor syndrome and have some helpful tips they’ve learned to help them win and continue to step into new opportunities.
They’ll be teaching: Getting Rid of Impostor Syndrome