Craftcation Program.So, I had reservations about going to Craftcation this year. I’ve gone to Craftcation for the past two years and I’ve had an amazing and inspiring time every year. But I’ve always come back feeling a little down on myself at the same time.

I always have great intentions. I give myself a pep talk every year. “This year,” I say to myself, “I’m going to meet people and network. I’m not going to let my social anxiety get in the way. I’m going to feel like I belong there, instead of like a complete fraud compared to all of these other absolutely amazing and confident women who have adorable dresses with orange dinosaurs and cute flowers in their hair. I’m going to make goals I can actually stick to. I’m going to learn not to be so hard on myself and not hate everything I do in the creative workshops. I’m going to BE BRAVE.” And every year when I come home I’ve managed to disappoint myself a little bit.

This year was no exception. Kari Chapin told me I had a cute dress and of course I became a stammering, mumbling bull in the conversational china shop. After all this time, I still haven’t learned how to take a compliment. Plus, I have a huge creative-girl-crush on Kari Chapin. I want to be her when I grow up. So I was not so great at talking to her.I chickened out on introducing myself to people and asking hard questions about a hundred times.

In spite of all that, I am still so incredibly glad I went.

For one thing, I was not the only person in Kim Werker’s class about confronting our self-doubt/insecurities/other ugly parts about being a creative person. Which isn’t really surprising; a normal person would assume that any class at a conference like this would have a fair amount of attendees. But there are times that I feel absolutely isolated in self-doubt, that on some deep level of myself I did kind of think I might end up sitting alone in a conference room, just me and Kim.

Everyone else at Craftcation has always seemed so amazingly confident and put-together and like a grown up. I was sure I was the only person there who ever felt less than sure of herself or doubted her skills and talents. So when Kim asked us to name aspects of our business that we doubted or felt insecure and everyone in that very full conference room was raising their hand and voicing the same concerns I have felt for years…let’s just say it was a little eye-opening. I tend to compare my insides to everyone else’s outsides and assume that that is an accurate picture of the world. Newflash: It is not. The stark reminder that, oh yeah, everyone else feels that way too, was a relief. (By the way, you can read Kim’s blog post about Craftcation and her class here.)

And really, that’s why I go to Craftcation–the community. Yes, the parties and the food and the beachfront accommodations and the classes are all straight-up amazing, but it’s the great community of supportive and inspiring artists and makers that really makes Craftcation so special and keeps me coming back year after year.

Craftcation Goal Board

I have more than one goal on this board.

I just returned from the absolutely amazing Craftcation Conference, a conference geared towards owners of small craft businesses. It’s really amazing and inspiring. I went last year and it was fantastic, and this year was even better. The conference is full of the most inspiring, genuine, and generous people who are so willing to share their expertise. The teachers are fantastic, but I also learned so much just from getting to talk to other attendees.

I sometimes get really shy about networking and talking about what I do and what I want to do. Last year, I think I had a lot of trouble networking. I came out of Craftcation feeling really energized, but not really focused, and without anyone to reach out to for help. This year, however, I really pushed myself, and consequently, I got so much more out of it! I learned so much, both about running a craft business and crafting in general.

1. I learned how to make a needle-felted sheep. I remembered that I really like needle-felting, and I should do it more.

A needle-felted sheep from Craftcation

Cuteness abounded in the needle-felting class with Angharad Jones.

2. I learned how to sew a polka dot clutch bag, with a lining and a zipper!

Polka Dot Clutch Bag from Craftcation

I love this aesthetic. Thanks, Mimi G!

3. I learned that I can’t sew jersey. Yet. (That was a challenging class for me. I’m now determined to work on it.)

This was supposed to be a shirt

Despite the best efforts of Nicole Blum and helpers from Bernina, I could not get the hang of this.

4. In that same disastrous sewing class, I learned that rotary cutters are sharp! (No picture here, because you don’t really want to see my cut, right? But don’t worry, there’s no permanent damage.)

5. I learned that thyme is actually an excellent flavoring in ice cream.

Eggs and Thyme really do make good ice cream!  I promise.  Craftcation taught me so!

Ingredients from my ice cream class with Nicole Stevenson and Seth Stanton.

6. I learned so much about SEO, wordpress, branding, pattern-writing, next business steps to take, and publishing, you would not believe it. I attended several classes about running a craft business, and they were great. I feel much more focused and less stupid than last year.

Notes from Craftcation

I took these notes in one of Sé Reed’s classes. I also got lots more great information in classes and panels with Tiffany Han, Steph Calvert, Melanie Falick, Kari Chapin, Kayte Terry, Lisa Tauber, Megan Anderson (Radmegan), Rosalie Gale, Cathy Callahan, Anne Kuo Likito, and Sarah James.

7. I learned that a run on the beach is a really awesome end to the day.

The view at Craftcation is amazing!

This was my view like all the time!

8. I learned that embracing my weird is the best way to be happy. People think I’m funny and smart and that I have good ideas, just the way I am. Right now. This is really hard for me, because I have spent so much time around toxic, toxic people who delighted in being awful to me. In fact part of the reason I started this blog was to help me remember what I love and what makes me happy.

I’m so very, very excited about the coming year. Things are afoot. I know what makes me happy and now I just need to pursue it with all of my heart. But I’m going to set aside a portion of time every day to work on my craft, my business, and what makes me happy.

And, to be honest, you should to. What makes you happy? What do you wish you had more time for? Will you commit to spending some time being happy, doing what you love, every day? Tell me in the comments!

Inspiring pinsSo Craftcation has left me with the desire, inspiration, and motivation to start my own crafty business. It’s something that has been in my head a while. I love crafting, I love hand-crafted items, why not give a go at something I love? But it’s such an overwhelming prospect that I never knew where to start. And now I feel like I do, so I’m going to give it a shot.

I’m always wary of talking about my goals. It’s a scary thing to put it out into the world that you want to accomplish something, because it makes it your process and your struggle very public. And, as a dear friend of mine always says “You can’t get better and look good at the same time.” It’s hard to look stupid/ignorant/silly in public. It’s one of my biggest struggles as an actor, because I don’t want to look stupid, so instead I am boring; and it’s just one of my biggest struggles in life.

To play down that possibility of public failure, I tend to talk about my goals like they don’t matter or like they are not a big deal. I tend to frame my progress and my successes like they don’t matter. I don’t want to be seen as boasting or thinking too much of myself. It’s a big problem for me, because I even talk about myself that way as an actor. “Oh, yeah, I’m in a show,” I say, “but it’s not a big deal. I’m not a very big part. I’m not very good.” And I talk about myself that way as a singer. “Yeah, I sing. I’m okay–there are people better than me. I just do a little thing with my friend, and we sing and play. It’s not a big deal, but we’re performing on Tuesday night.”

Yeah…that doesn’t really convince people to want to come see me act or sing, or to hire me to do those things. And I talk about the crafts I do and the things I make in the same way. Which, call me crazy, but I don’t think it’s going to convince people to buy my things if I can’t talk them up and make them sound great. And they are great. I’m good at what I do. I am a good actor, I am a good singer, and I make good things. Yes, everyone can always get better, but I am good as I am right now. So I can’t be afraid to really set goals, and to be honest about what I am doing. I can’t say I want something and that it doesn’t matter and it’s not very good in the same breath.

With that in mind, I am being brave and putting my goals out there, right now.

Within 3 months I will:
1. Intern with a business to gain skills I need in marketing, branding, etc.
2. Prototype at least three potential products
3. Read up on SEO and Etsy and web-selling and bookkeeping, so I feel prepared once I launch my store

Within 6 months I will:
1. Work a craft fair in someone’s booth so that I can get a handle the best way to do those things (if anyone wants some free labor for a fair, let me know!)
2. Prototype at least 2 additional potential products
3. Take a sewing class or two to improve those skills
4. Have my workspace organized

Within a year I will:
1. Have a business license, fictitious business name, and a business bank account
2. Have launched an Etsy shop and a website with my own domain name
3. Be selling stuff for realsies

So yeah, there they are. My goals, out in the world. With no negative self-talk included. And if anyone has any feedback, thinks I’m missing something, or desires to assist me, please let me know. And by the way, I have accomplished one of these goals already. I will be interning with Steph Cortes of NerdJerk, serving as her social media and marketing intern. It’s gonna be awesome!