Meet our Speakers in 1-on-1 Office Hours

purposefully restored
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.


Your printable 2018 resolution worksheet!

new years business goals worksheet printable

I love taking time around New Year’s to reflect on my successes and challenges from the past year. It’s not just about rehashing the past but it’s also helpful to set my intentions for the coming 12 months. So we created this worksheet to help you set course in a positive direction for 2018.

What do you want to achieve this year in your personal life and your business life? Set aside about an hour to sit with this worksheet — it’s best to save it for when you can dedicate your full concentration to it. Consider that time a gift to yourself and an investment in your business. And make a resolution to be at Midwest Craft Con this year — it’s coming up faster than we can believe! Get your ticket, and we’ll see you in Columbus, Ohio, from Feb. 16 to 18, 2018. 🙂


The Introvert Life with Gemma Correll

gemma correll, cartoonist,When we asked our Conners who they’d most like to see speak at a future con, Gemma Correll’s name came up more than once. We live to serve the craft community, and we made it happen!

Originally from England, Gemma is a writer, artist and cartoonist residing in Oakland, Calif., with her trusty pug sidekicks, Mr. Pickles and Bella. Gemma’s published works include The Worrier’s Guide to Life, The Feminist Activity Book and A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette, as well as her award-winning eponymous series of quirky, humorous greeting cards and gift products that are sold all over the world. Gemma is particularly well known for her comics about mental health in collaboration with charities including Mental Health America.

Gemma will be giving a keynote talk at Midwest Craft Con 2018 in Columbus, Ohio, but until then you can learn more about her below:

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

My work is narrative-based illustration with an emphasis on simple linework, humor in the form of wordplay … and pugs.

You are so huge on social media — how do you manage your big following and still get work done?

The things I post on social media are the things that I’d be making anyway. I spend as much time as I can on personal work — it only takes a couple of minutes to post.

Have you ever been to the Midwest before? Any thoughts, questions or concerns?

I have been to Lincoln, Neb., and Milwaukee, Wis. At first, I was very overwhelmed by the amount of space in the Midwest. I grew up in England and now live in the Bay Area in California — neither of which are known for being spacious. But I actually enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes with having more space and the more relaxed pace. I also find people in the Midwest to be very friendly. I’ve been to Louisville, Ky., a few times, and I know that’s technically the South, but it’s one of my favorite US cities.

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

I’d be a teacher, a social worker or a psychologist, I think.

What will you talk about in your keynote?

I am planning to talk about where ideas come from, how to get through a creative block and then show you some photos of my pugs (because that’s what y’all really want to see!)

What three things would you recommend to makers?

Yoga (to help with posture and general mental health), animal companions and a good coffee maker.

What are your tips for introverts who are going to a conference?

Conferences can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re an introvert but you feel like you have to be “on” all the time. I take frequent breaks — if I don’t, I get very tired and overstimulated. Just having a short walk outside to grab a coffee really helps.

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

I find it really inspiring to be around like-minded people. I work at home by myself and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. I really enjoy learning new crafts, too — especially when it’s just for fun (rather than for “work”). I’m also looking forward to visiting Columbus — I’ve heard good things about it, and there’s a tiki bar there that I’m dying to visit!

You can meet Gemma Correll at Midwest Craft Con in Columbus, Ohio! The event is Feb. 16-18, 2018, and early bird tickets are on sale now!


Save the Date for 2018 + Keynotes Revealed!

Midwest Craft Con is back! We are returning to Columbus, Ohio, in 2018 for our third Con with three days of programming and three amazing keynote speakers!

Write it on a Post-It, save it to your phone’s calendar, wrap some yarn around your finger… whatever you gotta do to remind yourself that Midwest Craft Con is happening Feb. 16-18, 2018, and early bird tickets will go on sale August 1!

Our theme for 2018 is Never Craft Alone. We are moving to a new intimate setting located about 25 minutes away from downtown Columbus to the concrete cornfields (it’s a thing) of Dublin, Ohio. Our headquarters will be the Embassy Suites Dublin, which is going to be more affordable for our Conners and offers perks like free parking and breakfast!

And now for this crazy amazing lineup… are you ready? Our keynote speakers are:

kathy cano murillo, kelley deal, gemma correll, midwest craft con keynote speakers 2018

SERIOUSLY! We are still pinching ourselves. And we’ve still got a whole lineup of breakout speakers to announce, plus we are adding more craftivities, LOTS of DIY workshops, midday stretches, pool activities and and all the googly eyes you can handle!

We expect early bird tickets to fly away, so do not wait to grab your three-day-pass at the discounted rate of $199 when they go on sale August 1. There are only 100 tickets available at that discounted rate; after early birds sell out, the full-price ticket is $249.

Once you secure your ticket, you’ll get all the details of how to reserve your room as well as access to our secret Facebook group where you can hang out with other creative business owners all year round. You can find a roommate/new best friend in the group, too.

Sign up for our newsletter to get a reminder when tickets go on sale! No one is going to craft alone this February, and we hope to see you in 2018!


Meet a Speaker: Tara Swiger

tara-swigerTara 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.

At Midwest Craft Con 2017, Tara will be teaching two sessions: Creating a Customer Path 2.0, and Developing Business Confidence.

How would you describe yourself in 10 words or less?

Enthusiastic reader, talker, teacher, author and introvert.

What is your favorite thing about the first Midwest Craft Con?

The PEOPLE! I had so many amazing conversations, hugs, and general silliness with so many people. Also, I met my now-book agent. So that was nice. 🙂

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

Well, I know what I was before I did this: A secretary. As for what I’d like to be: a psychologist. I wanna do research about why people act how they do. Motivation, failure, buying behavior — I love it all.

What are your personal and business resolutions for 2017?

They’re the same: Live my values, beam love, grow stronger and more resilient.


Countdown to the Con: What to Pack

Midwest Craft Con is right around the corner! If you’re anything like us, you’re probably used to making lists on lists on lists to keep your business, creative projects and private life somewhat organized. Here’s a starter list of things you should plan to bring to the con!

Conference essentials: Our program doubles as a place to take notes, but you might want to pack an extra notebook and pen. We also recommend that you bring a water bottle and snacks to get you through the day. Remember to wear comfortable shoes!

MWCC 2016

Items to swap: You’ll want to bring business cards or other marketing materials to trade with other conners to keep in touch. In our Facebook group, some conners are organizing a Secret Santa-style crafty swap and separate craft supply swap. If you have a ticket but aren’t in the group yet, email us!

What to wear: Many crafters last year wore really spectacular outfits — often handmade! Wear whatever is comfortable for you, and feel free to be as crafty as you wanna be. Bring sequins for karaoke night if you want to sparkle! As for outerwear, the temperatures in Columbus vary from 10 – 50 degrees, be prepared for anything and check the forecast before you leave home. If you plan on going off campus, perhaps to grab lunch lunch or for our DIY & Ride Crafty Tour of Columbus on Friday, bundle up! If you’re a freeze baby, no worries — you never have to leave the hotel if you don’t want to.

Extra cash: While food can be included in many conferences you may want to enjoy some fresh air and a fantastic local restaurant. If you wanna go DIY, you can always brown-bag it! There will also be opportunities to shop at our Trade Show all weekend, and save a few bucks for raffle tickets for some amazing gift baskets from our sponsors and community partners.

A smart device: You might not want to drag along your laptop, but we encourage you to bring a smartphone or tablet to access the internet and take pictures. Connecting with other conners directly by trading numbers or following each other on Instagram is easier than busting out business cards. And, of course, don’t forget your charger and backup power source!

Personal items: Remember, this is YOUR weekend. Bring your must-have toiletries, maybe a yoga mat, a book for downtime, your bathing suit for the pool, or anything else you’ll need to make this your home away from home. The front desk can also help if you forgot something, and their gift shop has additional items for purchase.

MWCC 2016

What NOT to bring: Leave your stress at home! This weekend should be about improving your business, reinvigorating your creative spirit and having some fun with fellow crafty folks! Make sure to take a look over our Code of Conduct, which encourages inclusion and good times.

Get your ticket for Midwest Craft Con here if you haven’t already!


Meet a Speaker: Mei Pak

mei-pakMei 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. Mei is an absolute foodie, loves chocolate, video games and adores wearing dresses.

At Midwest Craft Con 2017, Mei will be teaching sessions on Instagram Hashtag Research, Email Marketing for New And Repeat Sales, and Creating Profitable Membership and Subscription Products.

How would you describe yourself in 10 words or less?

I’m a goofball, foodie and life-long learner.

What is your earliest crafty memory?

When you have to think so far back, the memories get kind of fuzzy! I remember having these “just add water” painting books with Disney princesses. I’d dip my brush in water and paint in the drawings and the colors would magically appear! It made me feel like I could paint like an artist!

What is your favorite thing about the Midwest?

Life in the Midwest moves at the perfect pace. I love that!

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

Tough question because I believe most jobs or occupations rely heavily on creativity! But if I had to wager a guess, I might have been a math teacher in an alternate dimension.

What three things would you recommend to makers?

What are your personal resolutions for 2017?

I would like to spend more time dedicated to self care. I want to be happier, healthier and have less stress this year!

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

I’m working on scaling up my businesses with strategy and intention.


Meet a Speaker: Talia Halliday

talia halliday

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. She 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.

At Midwest Craft Con, Talia is teaching The Organization of a Wholesale Crafts Business.

How would you describe yourself in 10 words or less?

Intense. Motivated. Creative. Mother artist.

What is your earliest crafty memory?

My gramma was super crafty in the gramma craft kinda way. We often sat around her table (which was a round upturned giant spool from some factory) and mostly painted little ceramic things, or glued popsicle sticks together. We made a lot of birdhouses together, and later, yup, you guessed it, lawn duck clothing. Classy!

What is your favorite thing about the Midwest?

Our love for the Midwest is probably the best, but also being able to get almost anywhere in a day. I mean, aside from the far West Coast, almost anywhere is a mere day drive away. I love that we have four seasons, that we have lakes and hills and cities and really small towns. It’s almost the best of every world. 😉

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

This is all I could ever be.

What three things would you recommend to makers?

  • Community. I think finding your tribe, your community, whatever you want to call it, is PARAMOUNT to surviving this life (any life really), but especially a creative life.
  • A journal/notebook. You always need SOMETHING to write down all your crazy in. Maybe it’s your phone, maybe it’s a stack of Post-it notes, or maybe it’s a Moleskine. Whatever it is, use it and carry it with you everywhere.
  • Spotify or Pandora. I’m a horrible person when it comes to reading or listening to podcasts, but for me, listening to music (all kinds), ad free, is so stimulating and inspiring.

What are your resolutions for 2017?

Follow up. That pretty much wraps up everything I need to do in 2017 from my family and personal life to all my business personas. FOLLOW UP.


Meet a Speaker: Allison Rosen


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.

At Midwest Craft Con, Allison is teaching two sessions: Quickbooks for Crafters, and Price Point Checkup.

How would you describe yourself in 10 words or less?

Funny and forgetful, exact-ish, driven (but I’ve only got 2 gears).

What is your earliest crafty memory?

Making a replica of my green docksiders out of polymer clay.

What is your favorite thing about the Midwest?

The people!

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

An engineer.

What three things would you recommend to makers?

  • Apple Pay
  • 3x reading glasses for close-up work
  • chalk-finish paint

What are your personal resolutions for 2017?

Make a cozier home

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

Work in a cozier home.


Meet a Speaker: The Wonder Jam

the wonder jamAdam and Allie Lehman operate The Wonder Jam. Focused on helping small — even tiny — businesses with their branding, 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.

At Midwest Craft Con 2017, the Wonder Jam is teaching a session called Getting Rid of Impostor Syndrome.

How would you describe yourself in 10 words or less?

A married couple that helps brands look and be better.

What is your earliest crafty memory?

Adam remembers playing in his dad’s workshop on their farm; taking random pieces of wood and connecting them with nails, glue and whatever. It was some very “abstract” art for sure! 

Allie remembers gluing papers to the inside of her books just like the library so she could pretend to check them out.  

What is your favorite thing about the Midwest?

We love the combination of kindness, blue-collar work ethic and affordable living. The Midwest has supported our business so well!

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

Adam: High school teacher/athletic coach

Allie: Health coach

What three things (books, podcasts, philosophers, tools, whatever) would you recommend to makers?

  1. The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield
  2. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
  3. Paying a coach to help you get better. We hire business coaches (Mike Albert, Chris McAlister & Matt Kimberley) and we hire experts to teach us particular skills (nutrition, photography lighting, cooking, etc). The best people continually invest in themselves!

What are your personal resolutions for 2017?

Adam’s going to roast more coffee, and Allie is going to read more books!

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

For our professional life, we’re aiming to increase the number of people who participate in our workshops and coaching programs.