Mixing Business with Pleasure: Our Craftcation Experience

The funny thing about organizing a creative conference is that you don’t get to experience it like your attendees do. For that reason, Megan and I decided to splurge on tickets to Craftcation in Ventura, Calif., this year.


Believe it or not, I’m not always the most outgoing person. The idea of spending a weekend with 400 people I don’t know isn’t really my idea of a vacation. I’m more of a hide-in-a-big-city or get-a-cabin-in-the-woods kind of girl. That said, I was relieved to recognize the first person I saw at the conference! Working the registration table was Isaac Watson, who I had connected with electronically via Maker’s Nation a few years back, and he noticed my Midwest Craft Con T-shirt and gave us the warmest welcome and made us feel like instant insiders.

The business classes were amazing. I was so excited to learn from Kiffanie Stahle and Mei Pak, who I had missed at the last Midwest Craft Con because I was too busy running the conference. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Allison Rosen speak, but I did get to see her take Megan down during Iron Craft America!

“And the secret ingredient is… PIPECLEANERS!”

As a craft show organizer, I learned some great tips about writing newsletters, best practices for adapting and using contracts, how to pitch to sponsors, automate processes and more. Since the conference was geared towards makers, I think the biggest takeaway for me was to understand all my vendors’ pain points. This is so important for my work at Crafty Mart and Midwest Craft Con, where it’s part of our mission to serve the greater maker community.

In addition to the entrepreneurial programming, Craftcation offers DIY craft classes, too. Some folks in attendance were hobbyists who don’t have any desire to run a handmade business and just came out to make things all day. I almost forgot how fun it is to just make things for the pleasure of it! I made tassels, hand-painted beaded necklaces, and a hand-stamped and -stitched leather business card holder that may or may not be able to hold a business card.

“It’s a prototype,” said my new friend Liz of Assembly PDX.

I was so glad I made the extra effort and paid a little more to stay on site. Happy hour at the Marriott was full of Craftcationers excited about what they learned and made throughout the day, and I met a few new BFFs in the hot tub in the evenings despite the culture gap between here and Alberta. (#craftistheuniverallanguage!)

Ventura Beach is just steps away from the Marriott.

Other epic takeaways: I walked on the beach each day, made it to multiple yoga classes and ate at In-N-Out Burger (across the street!) twice. This creative life is all about balance, right?

Megan wrote about her experience at Craftcation on the Craftin’ Outlaws blog, so make sure to check that out! (Notice the URL — the devil is in the details!) Apparently she loves to go on vacation with 400 strangers, as long as they’re crafty, of course, so her point of view is a little different than mine, which made her the perfect roommate. (Crafty friends FTW!)

The Get Lucky Lounge was spot on with their design and decor, but everything is better with googly eyes — amiright?!

Meanwhile, Grace is busy getting settled in to her new life in Berlin. Look forward to her blogging about some of her creative adventures abroad soon!

We’re working on plans for Midwest Craft Con 2018, so make sure you’re on our newsletter list to be among the first to hear about next year’s lineup and get access to early bird tickets!


Meet a Speaker: Kiffanie Stahle

kiffanie-stahleKiffanie Stahle is a photographer, creative business owner, and lawyer living in Oakland, Calif. 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.

At Midwest Craft Con 2017, Kiffanie is teaching a session on intellectual property called Defeating Copycats.

How would you describe yourself in 10 words or less?

Intensely curious and always carrying a camera, notebook, pen and book.

What is your earliest crafty memory?

As a kid, my sister and I had a plastic Crayola crayon case with 70 or so crayons in it. I found it so beautiful that I spent hours and hours organizing and reorganizing the crayons. They got organized according to the color wheel, in alphabetical order or the dozens of other variations I came up with. It’s when I first started to learn color theory, although I didn’t realize it at the time. (And yes, we colored with them, too!)

What is your favorite thing about the Midwest?

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve come to love and adore many people who were raised in the Midwest. So I guess the California Midwest transplants!

What would you be if you weren’t an artist/creative?

A lawyer 😉 But if I couldn’t be that, I’d run a bakery.

What three things would you recommend to makers?

  1. Everything and anything created by Todd Henry
  2. Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon
  3. Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

What are your personal resolutions for 2017?

My word for 2017 is accept. I’m going to try to be better at accepting help, accepting invitations, accepting the situation when there’s nothing I can change about it, and whatever other ways the universe teaches me acceptance this year.

What are your 2017 resolutions for your business/professional life?

Accept is going to spill over here as well. I’ve needed help in my business for a while, so I’m going to accept help from professionals who can do parts of my business quicker and better than I can. I’m also focused on building and strengthening my membership community, the artist’s Courtyard, this year. My goal is to make it “the place” for creative business owners to build a legally sound, thriving business.