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Full 2020 schedule + a special opening ceremonies!

Welcome to 2020, the year of Midwest Craft Con! We’ve just put up the full schedule of our creative business conference for your perusal. It is three days of business workshops with incredible speakers, hands-on crafting sessions and inspiring keynotes. If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet, those are available right here — and day passes are now available if you can only join us for part of the weekend. 

To help kick things off we are hosting a creative art show with our friends at Blockfort Galleries.  wohl_whiteamerica - Jessica Wohl

Statements crocheted in yarn. Manifestos in embroidery. Quilted declarations.

In a season of heated political discussion, Midwest Craft Con has partnered with the Blocfort to host an exhibition of craft as activism. Selected from a call-for-entries, these works cross traditional craft with topics political and social justice, showing just how loudly modern craft can speak as an art form.

Artists featured in the exhibition include Bonnie Peterson, Alyson Toone, Jessica Wohl, Al Hoff, Rachel Baker, Zak Foster, Jen Edwards, and Letitia Kenemer.

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Win a scholarship and attend Midwest Craft Con 2020!

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If you’re a lover of craft who needs a little boost to come to the con, you are welcome to apply for a scholarship, which covers your full weekend pass (a $249 value) and all the benefits of the conference, including many meals and shared room lodging.

We are covering TWO full scholarships to Midwest Craft Con 2020!!

As an attendee you’ll gain access to our private Facebook page, participate in hands on creative classes, hear our keynotes and attend break out sessions.

Midwest Craft Con is a creative business conference happening just north of Columbus, Ohio, returning for our fourth event on Feb. 28 -March 1, 2020. We’ve got a full weekend of activities lined up, which includes a Thursday evening opening exhibition.

Scholarship applications will close on November 30. We can’t consider any late entries. The organizer team of Midwest Craft Con will review all the applications and select the winners based on the applications by December 15,2019. You can fill out the scholarship application here! Good luck!

Help our efforts of supporting the scholarship program by making a donation to Midwest Craft Con.

News

Want to Get Involved With Midwest Craft Con?

As we get ready for our next con in 2020, we’re going to be making some changes in how we run Midwest Craft Con. Specifically, I’m going to be stepping back from active organizing duties.

Those of you who know me as the emcee of the con or from my time organizing Crafty Supermarket might not know that by day I’m a freelance journalist. And since I moved from Cincinnati to Berlin back in 2017, my career has really taken off.

It’s been incredible building up Midwest Craft Con over the past four years with Megan and Brit, and I don’t want my lack of bandwidth to hold back the team. To pick up my slack as I step back, we’re looking for a few people to join Midwest Craft Con’s organizing committee!

The basics

Who you are: A crafty person who is interested in helping make Midwest Craft Con as awesome as it can be! You don’t have to be located in the Midwest, but you have to be willing and able to come to Columbus, Ohio, in February 2020!

What you need: A reliable home internet connection and computer access. (We use Google Drive for almost everything.) Relevant skills and experience for the specific position. A can-do attitude and a love for crafty people and crafty life. Respect for our code of conduct.

Your time commitment: We’ll need you to join occasional Google Hangout meetings starting in June, which we’ll schedule to best fit everyone’s availability. The individual positions have varying time commitments: Some require more work months before the conference, some require more time in the last weeks leading up to the con. You’ll need to be willing to work during the conference, including during setup or teardown. So you might not get to see every session you want to see, but we guarantee you’ll have a good time.

What you get: You’ll get free access to Midwest Craft Con, a shared hotel room for four nights and your meals covered. If we surpass our goal of selling 250 tickets, cash money compensation will kick in on a sliding scale, which can include travel expenses to and from the con. You’ll also be as a Midwest Craft Con Team Member on the website with a bio and links.

What to do now: If you’re interested, read the position descriptions below and then fill out this form by March 15! If you’re interested in more than one position, that’s totally fine! Just explain to us in the notes what skills you’d bring to the group. We’ll review the applications and reply to everyone in April, and set up our first team videochat after that to get started on planning for 2020!

The positions

Grants and Partnerships Partner

Time commitment: Most work happens months ahead of the conference, plus wrap up. reporting after the event, as well as manage data collection through DataArts. We’d also love for this person to be with us for the long haul, as the grant cycles may fall in our off years.
Job description: This position requires attention to detail and also collection of data to prove our effectiveness. We’d also love for this person to build partnerships with other nonprofits and craft shows to create in-kind deals.

Sponsorship Manager

Time commitment: Most work happens months ahead of the conference, plus on-site management of the Trade Show and wrap up.
Job description: Be the point person to connect with corporations and businesses who want to support crafters in the form of cash money! We’re looking for someone with a lot of initiative to reach out to existing and new potential sponsors. This person will also be in charge of coordination of the on-site trade show and the crafty caravans.

Workshop Coordinator

Time commitment: The bulk of this work happens 3 to 4 months ahead of the conference.
Job description: Develop the workshop track of the conference, which is free to all attendees. Identify and recruit workshop leaders and workshop themes. Work with instructors to get supply lists and purchase items while sticking to a budget. Collect and manage deliveries of supplies, assist with day of room shifts from 1 activity to another, take inventory at the end of the event.

Speaker Wrangler

Time commitment: Most of this work happens in the 4 to 8 months ahead of the conference.
Job description: The speaker wrangler is the main contact person for all our speakers, working closely with the founders to develop the content plan. Duties include reaching out to potential speakers, communicating with speakers and keynotes invited to the conference, collecting biographies, session descriptions and other content. Duties also include coordinating speakers’ travel and itineraries, collecting accounting forms and maintaining the speaker budget and schedule.

Content Manager

Time commitment: About 15 hours per month
Job description: This person is the voice of our blog and updates our website. We need someone with a lively writing style and solid editing skills to write original content and edit contributed content for our website. This person also writes the approximately monthly newsletter that we use to promote the event. We welcome someone who has ideas to bring to the table! This person will also be responsible for collecting and editing content for the con program and any auxiliary print materials.

Social Media Manager

Time commitment: Weekly check-ins, 5 hours per week for the 6 months leading up to the con.
Job description: We’ve got great followings on Facebook and Instagram, but we’ve so far lacked a cohesive social plan. Our social specialist will own our social channels and help promote Midwest Craft Con in an engaging, crafty way, tying together our blog content with ticket sales. This person will also be responsible for coordinating our speakers’ instagram takeovers and reaching out to crafty influencers.

Customer Service Manager

Time commitment: Weekly check-ins, then 5 hours per week in the 4 months leading up to the con.
Job description: This person would monitor our email account to reply to potential attendees, answer questions coming from Eventbrite and send confirmation details to attendees. This person will print the final attendee lists for the con as well as the side events, such as the Crafty Caravan and Craft Swap. This person needs to have a problem-solving attitude and be also available to help work on the first day of Midwest Craft Con to help check in attendees and oversee a loyal group of volunteers.

Design Manager

Time commitment: Periodic check-ins, then 5 hours per week in the 2 months leading up to the con.
Job description: This person assists the Social Media Manager and Content Manager with any image needs they have for our social media and website. This person’s main work will be leading up to the conference as we prepare the con program, auxiliary materials and signage. This position requires Adobe Creative Suite experience.

News

Self care for creatives

On the last day of the Con this year, we had a panel discussion called Self Care for Crafters, and I don’t know about y’all, but it was possibly my favorite session of the weekend. Kathy Cano Murillo, Jesi Rodgers, Lesley Ware and Gemma Correll got onstage to discuss taking care of yourself while you’re trying to run a creative business. These are some notes from that session!

Self-care is a buzzword right now, but it’s nothing to roll your eyes at. When your creative business is YOU, you have to take care of yourself. That means getting enough sleep, water, food and movement in your day. It also means being kind to yourself when something goes wrong.

When you’re running a craft business, especially when you’re trying to get up to full speed, you can end up “on the struggle bus,” as Kathy put it. “I should be sprinkling glitter right now!” But learning how to ask for help and taking the day off every Sunday, no matter what, helped her reclaim her time.

jesi rodgers, kathy cano murillo

Let up the pressure on yourself to finish everything right now, Kathy said. Many of these folks also said cutting back on custom orders helped them tame the crazy. It’s OK to say no! In fact, you should say no sometimes. Trust your intuition.

Make an appointment with yourself once a week to check in and breathe. Someone wants to see you during that time? Sorry, you have an appointment! Create routines for yourself that you honor even in times of stress, like regular bedtimes, creating a to-do list first thing in the morning or taking a walk each day.

Spending time on anything other than your business can make you feel guilty sometimes. It took a while for her to realize that we all “need to enjoy life a little more, and it’s OK to do that,” Gemma said.

Self-care gets easier if you plan and make space for it. Like making one day of your week totally off-limits for work, or keeping a regular appointment with a friend or setting aside a night for a favorite non-monetized craft. Eat breakfast every day — no excuses!

Take the time to make doctors’ appointments you’ve been putting off. Get everything you hate to do out of the way, and you’ll stop dreading it — it’s like magic. Reward yourself with a sticker, just like elementary school. Kathy uses Alexa as her personal assistant; for those moments when she wakes up thinking of something she has to do, she just tells Alexa to add it to her to-do list and goes back to sleep.

gemma correll, lesley ware

Lesley uses fashion as therapy: When she was feeling down, she wore seven days of sparkles, even if she wasn’t leaving the house. Jesi’s biggest tip is turn off notifications on your phone. Let those little distractions waltz on out of your life.

Self-care can also be about treating yourself — Kathy has a housekeeper who comes every two weeks to keep things in order and she subscribes to the Hello Fresh meal delivery service to have healthy food on hand. Lesley books a massage once a month (and I emphatically co-sign this idea).

To get out of your head, calm your nerves and refocus your energy, our panelists recommend the Tranquility du Jour podcast, the Headspace app, the Calm app, The Artist’s Way and Yoga with Adriene. You can find more ideas for self-care amid craft show season here.

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Thank you for being you!

I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic when I say Midwest Craft Con 2018 was the best con ever! More than 200 makers joined us from across North America in Dublin, Ohio, for three days of learning, doing and connecting. If you were with us last weekend, please let us know how it was for you in this short survey!

We have a lot of people to thank for helping make it possible — our excellent speakers who came from near and far to share their expertise, and especially Kathy Cano Murillo, Gemma Correll and Vickie Howell for their inspiring keynote talks!

midwest craft con 2018
Photo taken by Chris Rutan just before the final keynote! Many delightful conners who had to depart early not pictured.

We also have to thank especially the Ohio Arts Council and Greater Columbus Arts Council for their generous funding in the form of multiple grants in 2018. And we extend our utmost appreciation to our many sponsors and supporters: the Craft Industry Alliance, Igloo Letterpress, Handmade Arcade, Hello Fresh, Yarn It and Haberdashery, Dabble and Stitch, Alison Rose, The Hoop and Needle, Wholly Craft, Surprise!, Sew to Speak, Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Canva, Aeolidia, StickerYou, Square, and Clif Bars.

And we couldn’t have pulled it off without our amazing volunteers: Claire, Mallory, Juniper, Cheryl, Sam and Al and Tricia from Handmade Arcade. And shoutouts to Jodi Lynn of Detroit Craft Academy, who did interviews with conners all weekend, and Chris Rutan who photographed our event and Megan Leigh Barnard, who took headshots in the trade show.

A great new feature of Midwest Craft Con this year was the hands-on making opportunities over the weekend, led by smART studios, Alternative Fashion Mob, Craft-a-way Camp, Gemma Correll, Jesiiii, Betsy Greer and Igloo Letterpress. And thanks to the sponsors and friends who opened up their suites on the Craft Crawl, which will absolutely be happening again!

If you didn’t get a T-shirt at the con — or you need another shirt or a tote for a friend, those will be for sale soon right here in our Big Cartel shop!

The next Midwest Craft Con will be happening in 2020, and for now we are going to wrap things up and take some much needed R&R! Thank you so much for being a part of Midwest Craft Con, and in the meantime we will see you here on the internet so you #nevercraftalone.

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DIY your dreams with Vickie Howell

vickie howell, the knit showThough we were SO stoked to have Kelley Deal join us and SO bummed when The Breeders’ tour took her away from us, we have found a fantastic replacement for her as our third keynote speaker: the one and only Vickie Howell. You probably know Vickie from TV shows such as DIY Network’s Knitty Gritty and Stylelicious, her best selling knitting, crochet and craft books. Or perhaps from her Facebook Live series, Ask Me Monday, her online courses for CreativeLive and Brit+Co., her podcast, Craft*ish, and her latest project, the first studio-quality, community funded, internationally accessible knitting and crochet series: The Knit Show with Vickie Howell. You’ll see her keynote talk Friday evening at the Con, and she’ll be speaking about running a successful Kickstarter campaign on Saturday. We are thrilled that Vickie will be joining us in Columbus, Ohio, for Midwest Craft Con 2018!

How would you describe your career to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

Oh man, the struggle is real with this one! I dread filling out the “profession” question on medical forms, because I’m sort of a Jill of all trades. The easiest way to explain the core of what I do is: I’m a broadcast personality, content producer, author, designer and community builder in the DIY space. My passion is to empower people to to fit creativity into their lives — usually using yarn as the conduit — via various forms of communication. In short, I’m a maker, talker and doer!

You were one of the first modern or indie crafters to make it big — how have your goals changed since you got started?

I think at its heart my goal is the same — to thrive professionally doing what I love. On a more esoteric level, I think that as my career has matured I’ve become less focused on dominating the DIY world and more interested in nurturing an ever-evolving path towards a sustainable and profitable business. In turn, I strive to take the lessons I learn along the way and share them with other creative entrepreneurs in effort to help them rise along with me.

How was it bringing The Knit Show to life?

Thrilling, challenging, exhausting and gratifying! I think I went through the full spectrum of emotions during the process of conception, fundraising, execution and promotion of The Knit Show. I’m really proud of the result, though, and I’m excited about the prospect of making more seasons!

What will you talk about in your keynote?

I’ll share a few of the crazy, random, wonderful things that have happened to me — all in the name of knitting — and talk about how we as creative types are in the highly unique situation of being able to literally DIY our dreams!

What three things do you recommend to makers?

  1. Playlists: Compilations of music you can count on to get you into a zone for writing or otherwise creating.
  2. Mind & body time: Keep a yoga mat in your workspace so you can grab some stretching, strengthening and mindfulness time throughout your day. You can’t have a long career if your mind and body aren’t taken care of!
  3. Boundaries: Creative types are so often asked to work for free or “exposure.” Sometimes it’s worth it; sometimes it’s not. Setting your own boundaries to keep both your integrity and sanity, are key to the longevity of your business.

How do you feel about the Midwest?

It’s both the middiest and the westiest area of our great nation!

What are your pro tips for crafters going to a conference for the first time?

It’s really important to be present at these conferences. It’s so easy in this day and age to spend all of our time at events documenting them instead of actually absorbing them. Be sure to interact with fellow attendees and speakers. Trade cards whenever you get a chance. Make connections. Networking is the single most important step in broadening the scope of possibilities of your career trajectory!

What are you looking forward to most about Midwest Craft Con?

Encouraging and absorbing all of the creative energy and enthusiasm of fellow attendees. There’s nothing more professionally revitalizing than to be surrounded by others who share the passion and drive to pursue their respective dreams!

What are you going to say to Kelley Deal next time you see her? 

Nothing. I’m just going to give her the side eye. Just kidding. I fully respect the hustle, and I can’t imagine what the added aspect of having to be at the whim of a machine like a successful band would be like!

The last day to buy tickets online for Midwest Craft Con 2018 is Feb. 14! Day and weekend passes will be available at the conference after that. 

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Meet our Speakers in 1-on-1 Office Hours

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Image credit: Purposefully Restored

As Midwest Craft Con approaches, you’ve probably spent some time reviewing our our schedule and plotting which sessions you’ll attend. Our craft business speakers will share their knowledge with you in 1.5-hour breakout sessions that include Q&A time. Many of our speakers also post their notes or slides in the private Facebook group afterward, and our attendees often make their notes available to swap if you have to make tough decisions about which sessions to attend.

In addition to our breakout classes, our generous speakers and community sponsors are offering Office Hours during the con as well. These are 10- to 20-minute consultations and advice sessions that you can sign up for at the con.

Each day we’ll post a new list of speakers offering one-on-one time within the trade show — signups will be available on a first-come first-served basis. You simply write down your name in the time slot and then meet with your coach in the lobby. We will have reserved tables marked for these meetups.

One-on-ones will include sessions with:

  • Mei Pak, who can assist you with social media critiques.
  • Let Olivera Bratich who owns Wholly Craft and Surprise gaze into her crystal ball to tell you your business fortune!
  • Ask our resident account, Allison Rosen, your burning money questions.
  • Esther Hall can field you with advice about nonprofits and grant-writing.
  • The team behind Handmade Arcade will offer booth and craft show advice.
  • Daniella Cortez can help you with PR and and pitching your products to publications.
  • Jodi Lynn Burton wants to interview Conners for her podcast, Detroit Craft Academy.
  • Embroiderer extraordinaire Sarah Fisher can offer technical advice as well as the good, bad, and ugly of the brick and mortar retail life.
  • Keynote speaker Vicki Howell gives tips on making your crowdfunding campaign successful.

And even more speakers will be participating! Stop by the trade show each morning to see the day’s full list of one-on-one time slots and sign up.

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Craft Caravan: 3 Tours of Columbus!

Craft Caravans, personal tours of the crafty hot spots of Columbus, Ohio, have become a beloved feature of Midwest Craft Con. Passengers get a behind-the-scenes tour of the shops from the owners — and have plenty of time to shop! You are welcome and encouraged bring drinks and snacks on the bus as we chauffeur you around the city.

Our Craft Caravans are presented with generous support by Greater Columbus Arts Council!

Kick-off Craft Caravan
$10 per seat • Thursday, Feb. 15, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Start the conference off right! You can shop for party supplies at Surprise Modern Party, screen-print a drink cozie with Alison Rose at Blockfort and get your tiki on with drinks and dinner at Grass Skirt Tiki. (FYI: Food and drink are not included in the ticket price.)

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#1 Crafty Tour of Columbus: Sponsored by Sew to Speak!
$10 per seat • Friday, Feb. 16, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Shop some of the longest-running craft shops in town! You’ll visit Wholly Craft, Igloo Letterpress and Sew to Speak. The caravan departs Friday morning from the conference hotel and gets you back in time for the opening session. Bringing your lunch on board the bus is encouraged!

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#2 Crafty Tour of Columbus
$10 per seat • Friday, Feb. 16, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
We will shuttle you to beloved modern craft shops The Smithery, Yarn It & Haberdashery, and Dabble and Stitch. The caravan departs Friday morning from the conference hotel and gets you back in time for the opening session. Bringing your lunch on board the bus is encouraged!

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Still need your ticket to Midwest Craft Con? Get it here!

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Full 2018 schedule, day passes and an important change!

vickie howell, the knit showWelcome to 2018, the year of Midwest Craft Con! We’ve just put up the full schedule of our creative business conference for your perusal. It is three days of business workshops with incredible speakers, hands-on crafting sessions and inspiring keynotes. If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet, those are available right here — and day passes are now available if you can only join us for part of the weekend.

And speaking of keynotes: We’ve got an important lineup change! The Breeders’ tour schedule is sadly taking Kelley Deal away from Ohio next month, and we will miss her. But we have found a fabulous replacement: Vickie Howell!

Vickie Howell is a broadcast personality, producer, author, designer, and instructor in the DIY world with a penchant for motivational speaking, and social media marketing. Vickie is well-known as the Host of TV shows such as DIY Network’s Knitty Gritty and Stylelicious, her best selling knitting, crochet, and craft books. Vickie strives to motivate and inspire people to both live creatively and make a living being creative — most recently reaching out to people via her Facebook Live series, Ask Me Monday, her online courses for CreativeLive and Brit+Co., her podcast, Craft*ish, and her latest project, the first studio-quality, community funded, internationally accessible knitting and crochet episodic series: The Knit Show with Vickie Howell. You’ll see her keynote talk Friday evening at the Con, and she’ll be giving a talk about running a successful Kickstarter campaign. Get your ticket here!

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How to Apply for a Scholarship!

midwest craft con scholarship fun

We know running a handmade business is really hard work, and sometimes you yourself need a hand. Thanks to the generosity of our conners, sponsors and the Greater Columbus Arts Council, we are able to offer FOUR full scholarships to Midwest Craft Con this year!

If you’re a maker who needs a little boost to come to the con, you are welcome to apply for a scholarship, which covers your full weekend pass (a $249 value) and all the benefits of the conference, including many meals. We aren’t able to cover lodging and travel, but the $99 rooms at the Embassy Suites sleep four, and we have a space in our private Facebook group for people to find roommates. The suites come with mini-fridges so you can pack a lunch if you want!

Midwest Craft Con is a creative business conference happening just north of Columbus, Ohio, coming up Feb. 16-18, 2018. We’ve got a full weekend of activities lined up, so we recommend getting into town early Friday and staying until late Sunday afternoon.

Scholarship applications will close on Jan. 15. We can’t consider any late entries. The three organizers of Midwest Craft Con will review all the applications and select the winners based on the applications by February 1. You can fill out the scholarship application here! Good luck!