CHA Winter 2009: Wrap up!

(Photo: Margot Potter, Marisa Pawelko and moi, hamming it up!)

I can’t believe the show has come and gone already. This one was my favorite crafty event for two reasons:

1. We debuted Round Two of Crafty Chica products, which means everything is going GREAT with the line!

2. CHA made indie crafters the theme of the show, which meant there were lots of my friends there learning all about the industry.

I think it was a brilliant move on CHA’s part to invite so many indie crafters to the event. After all, these are the emerging designers and they are very innovative, edgy and talented. Just the kind of people the crafts industry needs to keep the spirit alive for years to come. And I was happy to see so many indie crafters show up and take notes.

If you are serious about making art for a living, you have to work all different angles. Not just production to sell online or at festivals. You also have to build your brand, set up workshops to teach, work with manufacturers on product development, design for magazines, learn to demo, pitch TV segments, write, pitch and author books, educate yourself on all the aspects of the industry to become an expert in your field. CHA has all of those under one roof. All of that combined with making your own art and selling it improves the odds of crafting for a living.

The first show I attended was in Atlanta in 2005. Talk about being overwhelmed! I walked the aisles, and honestly there were many exhibitors and products that didn’t speak to me. I had been making my Chicano Pop Art and selling it for 15 years. I was very much into making my own cardstock templates instead of fancy paper punches. I made my own scrapbook paper and stamps, I couldn’t afford fancy tools. was only five years old at the time and I didn’t exactly know what my mission was with it, other than inspire people to get crafty.

After attending that show – I knew. I watched artists demo products I knew and loved. I wondered how they got that gig because I knew I could do it too, if given the chance. I walked around and asked for “Latinocentric” products. I had never seen any in the store, so thought there would be some here of all places. One guy said “Sure!” and pointed out some chili pepper scrapbook paper. Another booth had Margarita glass stickers. Hmmm, that didn’t exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I saw so much potential and opportunity at the show and recognized a niche that needed to be filled. I decided to theme my next book, Art de la Soul, all on hip Latin-theme DIY projects using everyday objects and Mexican ephemera.

The next year, I brought that book to CHA with me and showed it to manufacturers, including Alyson Udell at Duncan. I had a few of them give me “the nod” – as in, “We will be calling you”. and they called! The next year I spoke on a panel about Hispanics and crafting. By the end of the presentation, I had a line of manufacturers waiting for me with their cards to talk about endorsements. Valerie Marderosian, VP of Sales and Marketing at Duncan, did one better. She took me out to dinner and asked about my plans for Crafty Chica. She helped me “craft” a vision for it. A few months later, she flew out to Phoenix and offered me a job! I turned in my notice at the newspaper (something I never thought I’d do because I loved that job so much) and began designing the Crafty Chica line.

My message is that CHA, like anything in life, is what you make it. You have to go in and find your niche and work it. Make it your own, see where you can serve and what can serve you. give and take. Meet people, pass out samples of your work, ask questions. Up on top there, is a picture of Marisa, the Modern Surrealist, who attended the show for the first time. This chica made it a point to introduce herself to all the important folks and leave a fun, lasting impression. She is happy and bright and had a suitcase full of samples, a press kit, the whole deal.

That is my crafty advice to those of you who have wondered about this trade show and how it applies to what you do. Look into it!

About the show – Here is a picture of the Crafty Chica booth, the designers at Duncan did such a far out job putting it all together. I’ll admit when I first heard that old garbage can lids were part of the set, I was like, “OK…hmmm” BUT they have done such a great job in the past, I knew it would all make sense and it did! Above and beyond what I imagined! We wrote oodles of orders and recieved an abundance of positive feedback.

One of my favorite quotes overheard by a passerby: “Chihuahuas and cupcakes and crafts! That’s why I love the Crafty Chica!”

Love it!!!

P.S. Here is info on the summer show!

Love & light,

2 Responses

  1. Thank you Crafty Chica for this encouraging post. I was wondering if I should give up on haveing a craft business. I didn’t know what direction to take, but after reading your post-it has helped guide me to some first baby steps. Thanks for being so crafty and craftylicious. You rock!!

  2. Thank you thank you thank you! This is a great post – so much awesome advice! I hope to see you there later this year when my book launches. You’re my idol!! 🙂
    Debbie, Soapylove

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Kathy Cano-Murillo

Let’s connect!

Hi, I’m Kathy, The Crafty Chica! My specialty is creative motivation. I’m an artist, author, and speaker and this is where I share my craft tutorials, artwork, articles, books, product lines, and workshops!

Let’s work together! Check out my services page HERE.

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