Tag Archives: Craftcation

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20 Ways To Nurture Your Creative Spirit

We are dedicating this entire summer of blog posts to creativity.  We’ll share some DIY projects, introduce you to some REALLY cool people who inspire us and tell you what we’ve learned as artists and business owners.

We are all creative in our own way.  Even if you don’t think you are creative you probably have some creative mojo tucked away. Creativity is like a muscle – the more you use it the stronger it gets.   Sometimes you make something U-G-L-Y…embrace it, keep it, have fun with it!  We still laugh about some of our ugliest and most unfortunate creations from our early jewelry making days.  Sometimes you make something beautiful and never want to give it away or sell it.  Creativity is good for the soul.

We thought it would be fun to share a list of ways that we stay creatively energized.  Hopefully some of them will inspire you.

  1. Keep lists of amazing and inspiring people we meet.
  2. Hang out with happy, interesting people.
  3. Ask for feedback from people we respect & admire.
  4. Walk away from a project that’s frustrating us.  Often time and space cures what is going wrong.
  5. We embrace our mistakes – sometimes those end up our favorite creations.  At the very least they give us a good laugh.
  6. Sleep well, eat well and play often.
  7. We do something that makes us happy every day.  Even on crazy days, even if it’s just for a minute or two.
  8. Take risks with our art or projects.  We like to dream BIG and this takes us way out of our comfort zone at times.
  9. Get outside.  Walk, ride a bike, go for a run.
  10. Make lists of all our ideas: possible and impossible.
  11. Clean up our work area.  This is a big one.
  12. Attend a creative class or better yet a conference (our absolute favorite is Craftcation in Ventura, California).  We also love online classes at Craftsy).
  13. Carry a journal or sketchbook.
  14. Go to a museum, craft fair or art show.
  15. Take a trip – even if it’s local, a change of scenery is inspiring.
  16. Join an online creative challenge (ie. #yearofmaking) or create your own challenge.
  17. Embrace quiet – take time away from social media, phones, TV, music and people in general.  Giving ourselves time to think is invaluable.  Even if it’s only for 10 minutes on busy days.
  18. We recommend posting something you’ve made on social media.  The positive feedback may surprise you and will definitely motivate you.
  19. Hand-write a letter to a friend or family member on pretty writing paper.
  20. Turn off electronics for a few hours every day.  Too much time on Facebook or Pinterest take time away from making.

If you are thinking about getting a little more creative we highly recommend the book Make it Mighty Ugly by Kim Werker.    In this fun book Kim offers exercise and advice for getting creative.  We feel very lucky to have met Kim at Craftcation.  Her energy and courage in creativity are infectious!

Now log off and do something fun and creative.  We promise that you won’t regret it!

What’s Happening with Hang Ups in KC in the New Year

Happy New Year!  We hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with great food, family and fun.

On January 11th, we started the New Year out on the right foot by participating in Books, Brains & Boulevard – a very fun trivia night fundraiser for our friends at Literacy Kansas City.  This event takes place annually at beautiful Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City.   Fun was had and money was raised for a very worthy local non-profit who have such a positive impact on our city. Books, Brains & Blvd

Kristi striking a pose at Books, Brains & Boulevard

As the busy Christmas season slides into January we have a lot of fun discussing where we want to take our business in the new year.  It’s a time for fresh ideas and dreaming big.  Every spring we attend a conference for makers who are small business owners.  For the past three years, in March, we’ve had a blast at Craftcation in Ventura, California.  Next month we are doing something a little different and attending Midwest CraftCon in Columbus, Ohio.  We look forward to seeing two of our very favorite speakers:  author and creative business guru Abby Glassenberg and artist extraoridinaire Lisa Congdon from Lisa Congdon Art + Illustration.

Thanks for following us on this crazy fun ride.  We are so grateful for each and every one of you and for your support.  Stay tuned for exciting developments for 2016!

Blogs and Books and Podcasts Oh My!

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As you can see from the photos we were definitely not in Kansas!  We just got back from our 3rd year attending the wonderful Craftcation Conference  in beautiful Ventura, California. Craftcation is an annual four-day business and makers conference featuring industry professionals leading attendees in hands-on food & craft workshops, lectures and panels on creative business.  The location, a sleepy little seaside surfing town, is so creatively inspiring.  The hosts Nicole and Delialah of Dear Handmade Life do an excellent job of creating an open, inspiring and sharing community.

We learned about paying ourselves, pricing, wholesale, social media, blogging, newsletters and book proposals.  We took creative classes where we learned to play with image transfers and make stamped clay metal pendants.

We also met and learned about leading “handmade” industry authors, bloggers and podcasters.  We’d love to share some of our favorites with you.

Blogs:

  1. While She Naps by Abby Glassenberg.  Abby’s blog is a virtual fountain of information on topics such as running your small business to sewing patterns & DIY’s.
  2. Tara Swiger is a maker, author and small business genius.  Her blog will help you get serious about the financial and marketing aspects of your business.
  3. Wise Craft by Blair Stocker.  We especially love Blair’s craft projects that involve upcycling.  She has a wide range of talents and it is so fun to follow her adventures.

Handmade Business Books:

  1. The Handmade Marketplace and Grow Your Handmade Business by Kari Chapin.  These two books are excellent reference for people thinking of selling or currently selling their own handmade goods.
  2. Make it Mighty Ugly by Kim Werker.  This book is a funny and insightful weapon that you can use to slay your creative demons.
  3. The Brilliant Ideas Launch Pad and Make It Happen by Kari Chapin.  These inspiring workbooks help to generate and capture your best ideas & track your productivity.

Podcasts:

  1. Fresh Rag is a podcast hosted by Dave Conrey.  Dave’s energy is contagious as he lights a fire under us and shows us how to make more from our creative pursuits.
  2. Raise Your Hand.  Say Yes. hosted by Tiffany Han.  Tiffany’s podcasts involve so so many of our creative hero’s.  Listen now and every day.  She’ll change your life.
  3. Dear Handmade Life with Nicole Stevenson and Delilah Snell is fun, inspiring and has wonderful variety.

On a final note, CreativeLive is an excellent resource for creative souls.  They offer a wide selection of online workshops that you can watch for FREE.  Can you believe it?  Some of our favorite handmade guru’s are instructors.  Megan Anderson has an upcoming class where she’ll cover craft photography fundamentals , Megan Auman is teaching a workshop called Make a Living Selling What You Make and Nicole Stevenson‘s workshop is called Craft Show Secrets, How to Get In, Make Sales and Grow Your Business.  CreativeLive is also an excellent resource for photographers so spread the word!

All of these resources are at your fingerstips.  Check out our recommendations – we promise you won’t be disappointed.  Happy making!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Ways to Take Your Handmade Business to the Next Level

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We thought that featuring a Q&A with ourselves as part of our Taking Flight series might be a little odd so we’ve assembled a list of our advice on the Top 5 Ways to Take Your Handmade Business to the Next Level.  None of these tips require significant financial commitment.  What they do require is courage and initiative – something all entrepreneurs have whether we know it or not.

1.  Read books written by the Guru’s of the Handmade World.  Our favorite author is Kari Chapin-Nixon.  Her books The Handmade Marketplace and Grow Your Handmade Business are available at www.karichapin.com or www.storey.com.  They helped us immensely in our early days and still act as an excellent reference guide as we continue our journey.

2.  Create an online presence.  Ideally this would be in the form of a website but if you aren’t there yet open an Etsy Shop.  Opening an Etsy Shop is quick, simple and VERY cost effective.  You need a place to display your goods and refer people to when you aren’t out on the Arts & Craft Show circuit.  Think of your Etsy store or website as your portfolio.  Check out our Etsy Shop at www.hangupsinkc.etsy.com for ideas on store policies, shipping costs, etc.   With the help of Kristi’s very computer savvy husband Matt, we were able to build our own website (www.hangupsinkc.com) on the OpenCart platform.  We’ve been live for 6 months now and are thrilled with our increase in visibility and sales.

3.  Start a blog.  This was advice that we received last year at the Craftcation Conference (see point #4) and we grudgingly took the plunge.  We were nervous and had no idea where to start so we asked an expert – Kari Chapin-Nixon (see point #1).  She recommended the book Blogging For Creatives by Robin Houghten (find it on amazon.com).   The book changed our whole outlook on blogging and made the process much less intimidating.  Within a month or so of the conference we launched our brand new blog using the WordPress platform and have worked hard to publish blogs consistently since then.  Here’s the surprising thing – it’s kind of fun.  You should try it!   It has been proven that blogs build traffic to your business and increase the credibility of your expertise and your business.

4.  Network with other Creatives who are willing to share and learn with you.  We attended a conference called Craftcation (www.craftcationconference.com) in Ventura California last April that literally rocked our small business.  We spent 3 intense days attending seminars on how to grow our business.  We networked, took notes, exchanged ideas and then created our plan of action for 2013.  Since Craftcation we have created our blog, our website, newsletter, created Instagram & Twitter accounts, moved into more stores, joined the Made in Kansas City Initiative (www.localstart.org)  and created a wonderful partnership with Literacy Kansas City.   With all of this growth came an increase in credibility and visibility which led to our One Million Cups (www.1millioncups.com) presentation in January.  Craftcation 2014 is less than 6 weeks away – we can’t wait!  If you can’t attend a conference how about checking into local networking groups such as local Etsy teams?

5.  Get organized!  Create an inventory system.  There are systems that you can purchase but Kristi and I find that our system using a shared Excel spreadsheet works for us.  Each piece of jewelry that we make is logged on this spreadsheet and given an identifying number.  The number is written on the price tag and store inventory lists.  We have several hundred pieces of jewelry active at any given time so we need to be able to easily track the price, who made it and where it is located at any given time.  All small business owners should also be tracking expenses in order to effectively manage their business.  We use Quicken but QuickBooks is also a great system.  Finally, one of the greatest tools we used to increase sales this year was to sign up for Intuit’s GoPayment Program (www.intuit.com).  Accepting credit cards while at Arts & Craft Shows or other events dramatically increases sales.  Trust us on this one.  It costs only a small percentage per transaction and it is totally worth it!

Please share this list with anyone who you think will find it helpful.  Having a successful handmade business dependent on being open to new ideas and sharing information.  We wish all handmade businesses the best of luck in 2014!

Kristi & Carolyn (www.hangupsinkc.com)

 

Be A Life Enthusiast

In March Kristi & I travelled to coastal California to attend an amazing conference for creative small business owners called Craftcation.  We met so many amazing people but one person in particular had a huge impact on our business focus and energy.  Her name is Tiffany Han and she is a certified life & business coach.  She specializes in coaching highly creative people.  We highly recommend that you check our her website and subscribe to her blog to get your daily dose of awesome inspiration.  Tiffany’s website is www.tiffanyhan.com.  You can also follow her on Pinterest – that is where we borrowed this quote by Roald Dahl.  It makes you want to be better at being a life enthusiast doesn’t it?

Roald Dahl