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The Magazine of the Association For Creative Industries


Formerly Craft Industry Today



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SPRING 2018 / Volume 8 / No. 2


Behind the Magic: What Makes a Creative Artist


Social Proof: Making the Most of Consumer Generated Content

A Festival In The MKNG™: The Association’s New Outdoor Consumer Festival


 ULSE P Algorithm Art


 INSIDE AFCI Creativation 2018 recap, AFCI Ambassador Program, Mixed Media Event, AFCI Podcast, and more!


MOVERS & MAKERS Meet Kiki Lally

14 TRENDING Innovation at Creativation 24 DIY Interpreting the Research. It’s Not As Scary As You Think! 28 THE SHELF 30 INDEX OF ADVERTISERS

Editorial Keri Cunningham Kristen Farrell Jason Baum Cassandra Austin Advertising Tim Braden Darlene Ryan

Publisher Fahy-Williams Publishing PO Box 1080, 171 Reed St. Geneva, NY 14456 800-344-0559 Gradient is distributed to AFCI members on a complimentary basis. Subscription fee for non-AFCI members is $25 a year. To order, contact AFCI at 201-835-1207. Gradient is published quarterly for members of the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI). AFCI is an international non-profit trade association consisting of thousands of member companies engaged in the design, manufacture, distribution, and retail sales of craft products worldwide. For more about AFCI, the value of membership, or its award-winning conference & trade show, please visit

Online • • • • • AssociationForCreativeIndustries • • association-for-creative-industries • •

319 East 54th Street, Elmwood Park, NJ 07407 Tel 201-835-1200 / Fax 201-797-0657 Copyright © 2018 AFCI. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher.

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sketches from its database of 50 million doodles.


By Kristen Farrell, Manager of Marketing & Public Relations, AFCI

This is not Google’s first attempt at creating algorithms that re-create art. Last year, the company launched AutoDraw (, which – according to Google’s blog – is an artificial intelligence experiment that “pairs machine learning with drawings created by talented artists to help you draw.” Here, I used AutoDraw to make an orange cat and the tool immediately recognized my drawing by suggesting a professional cat sketch (see next page).

The Google Arts & Culture App became the first viral internet sensation of 2018 when it introduced a new feature that matched a selfie with a museum portrait. “When you take a photo with this feature, your photo is sent to Google to find artworks that look like you,” explains the app. Google uses its facial recognition algorithm to compare your picture with classical and modern paintings.

Google has been training systems to learn sketches with Quick, Draw! (quickdraw.withgoogle. com), another research experiment. Much like Pictionary, Quick, Draw! asks you to draw different images in less than 20 seconds and then tries to guess what you are sketching. After playing, Quick, Draw! shares how many pictures it guessed correctly, and shows you how it figured them out, as well as other

The technology giants of the world are not the only ones who are formulating algorithm art. Computer scientists at the Art & Artificial Intelligence Lab at Rutgers University (sites. are doing the same thing. Their mission is to “push the envelope of computer vision and artificial intelligence by investigating perceptual and cognitive tasks related to human creativity.” Artsy, a digital resource for art collecting and education, hailed Professor Ahmend Elgammal’s new art-generating algorithm as “the biggest artistic achievement” of 2017. Similarly, Dimitris Ladopoulos, an Athens-based artist, created an algorithm that produces random rectangle shapes, which he used to create a digital representation of his favorite paintings. Dimitris’ work can be viewed on his website, projects/portraits.html.

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Computers Are Learning the Art of Creativity So, what’s the relevance of all of this? Algorithm art is another example of how computers are becoming more human-like. Many of the developments in technology we’ve seen are driven by science; in other words, computers acquiring knowledge. Everyday examples of how we interact with technology in a human-like way are using the self-checkout line at the grocery store or having a conversation with Alexa or Siri about the weather. These are similar to how I played the Pictionary-esque game with Google’s Quick, Draw! The evolution of algorithms in the art industry has not replaced an artist’s creativity. Yet the ongoing research on the crossover between algorithms and art could change this one day. Right now, algorithms can replicate art. Will they be able to create original art one day soon?

Support for Art Education A positive outcome of algorithm art is its potential impact on generating more interest in the arts. New research commissioned by AFCI (available at shows that 62 percent of United States households participated in a creative activity in the past 12 months, and that kids’ crafts is gaining popularity. This research suggests that parents recognize creative activity as an essential

component of creative thinking and education for their children. As algorithm art enters the mainstream, it could spawn support for integrating arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Are you experimenting with algorithm art? We’d love to learn how you are utilizing it in your creative business. Share your story by emailing

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Industry News Creativation 2018 Recap

“Creativation 2018 was a big

Creativation kicked off the 2018 trade show season by inspiring thousands of creative businesses, January 18-22, 2018, at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona. Recognized as the largest creative arts trade event in North America, Creativation featured 300 exhibitors and attracted 3,000 attendees from 53 countries in its second consecutive year at the Phoenix venue. Creativation was the launching pad for new products, and executed an extensive conference and networking program with more than 160 workshops, seminars, demonstrations and events that were designed to help the thousands of attendees reinvent their businesses. Creativation 2019 will be held January 17-21, with education beginning on January 17 and the trade show opening January 19-21. The event will be at the Phoenix Convention Center annually through 2022.

were opportunities within the

WOW! experience for us. There wholesale market, even for small ventures like ours, if you were willing to work for it. We came away with several suppliers willing to work with us. We are excited about what we can do this coming year.” – Susan and Chris Pond of Cabin Creations by the Pond, AFCI Member since 2017

For more highlights from this year and to sign up to exhibit or teach next year, visit

Creativation AFCI Staff Picks

What’s old is new at Creativation 2018! AFCI staff members Donna Cennimo and Raquel-Alexa Brizzi loved new embossing products available this year. Emerald Creek and Seth Apter offer a new Baked Texture line, which will add color and dimension to mixed-media projects. Ecstasy Crafts showed us how you can achieve textured sparkle and shine without loose powder or heat tools using Glitter Kiss. Plaid’s make-n-takes had attendees smiling and shining using new Glitterific and Color Shift paints. Sakura released its classic Gelly Roll white pen in new sizes (05, 08, 10 mm) that took our zentangles and lettering to the next level. Our favorite stamp releases were by Visible Image Stamps and included new zodiac constellation stamp sets. The Faber Castell team demonstrated a wide array of techniques using Gelatos’ translucent shades. Colart stayed on top of the trends by offering rock painting with its timeless Reeves acrylic paints.


Featured Member Benefit: Ambassador Program So you want to be an AFCI Ambassador? We’re looking for members with passion and a lot of heart. Join us in growing our amazing Association and we’ll reward you for spreading the love! Each time you refer a member who joins AFCI, you will receive a monetary reward and your incentive to refer more businesses increases, from gift cards to a free hotel night at Creativation to a free one-year membership or $180 off! Get your list of referrals ready. Visit or contact to learn more.

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Advocacy Update

AFCI Podcast The AFCI Podcast is a new show hosted by Jason Baum, AFCI’s Director of Membership. It is devoted to telling stories of leaders and innovators in the vibrant creative business community. Subscribe and tune in monthly for new content at Listen to available episode with award-winning jewelry artist, Rebeca Mojica, renowned entrepreneur, Shama Hyder, and more.

Mixed Media Event 2018 Join us for the creative industry’s summer wholesale buying event exclusively for independent and online retailers, July 16-18, 2018, at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy, Utah. Presented in conjunction with SPC, get one-on-one time with suppliers, see new product releases and learn how to use those products in hands-on workshops. To register, visit

AFCI is excited to announce our new Advocacy Program and Committee. Through this program, AFCI is committed to supporting and educating members on various regulatory topics that are important to you and the industry as a whole. The Committee will be focusing on these issues in 2018. • CPSIA • Intellectual Property • Proposition 65 In the coming months we’ll provide you with information on each of these issues as well as ways you can get involved. For questions regarding our advocacy efforts, or if you’re interested in volunteering in the future, please contact Jason Baum, Director of Membership, at

2019 AFCI Board of Directors Nominations AFCI is pleased to announce that the 2018 Nominating Committee is now accepting candidate nominations for the 2019 AFCI Board of Directors. Nominations will be accepted through May 1, 2018. AFCI members can obtain the nomination form on the Association website under the membership tab at or by contacting AFCI at 201-835-1215 or Any AFCI member may nominate an Association member or submit him/herself as a candidate to sit on the AFCI Board of Directors for a 3-year term beginning January 2019. Members who currently serve on the Board of Directors who are interested in extending their service must reapply through this nomination process.

New Research Available According to new research commissioned by AFCI, crafters are increasingly moving to multi-channel shopping. An ongoing study by MaritzCX reveals more than half of U.S. crafters purchase creative products in physical stores only; however, this number has declined across 11 product categories, ranging from 1 percent to 16 percent since the study began in January 2016. The research, which is an update to the 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study, also discloses a recalibrated market size of $36.2 billion, yet stable consumer spending and growth in participation with 62 percent of U.S. households partaking in at least one creative activity in the past year. Access the full report update at

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When you are given an opportunity to introduce yourself and your business to such an amazing group, it is both overwhelming and humbling at the same time! My name is Kiki Lally and my husband, Sameer, and I are the cofounders of Pinnovate in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In June of 2017, we opened not only our city’s first, but our country’s first do-it-yourself studio that combines all of our favorite things: wine, coffee, crafting, time with our kids, and nights out with friends. We are both children of immigrant families who left India in the 1970s in pursuit of a better life; finally settling in Calgary. We grew up being surrounded by many of our family members, who have instilled in us an amazing work ethic and the value and significance that Canadian citizenship plays in our lives. Our Punjabi Indian roots run very deep, and this is part of what brought Sameer and me together. Now we are in the suburbs of the city, raising our children surrounded by their family that includes aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who all play a large part in our lives and in the success of our business dreams. Ironically, my background is not in anything crafty or creative; it happens to be in aviation. I have spent the last 17 years as a flight attendant with what was “the little airline that could” that has now grown into an extremely successful company, Westjet Airlines. The major difference between Westjet and many other companies is the empowerment that it gives to its employees, including the support and knowledge to be successful, a customer-service base that is superior to others, and the ability to weave their way into the fabric of our lives. Just like the lessons we learn from our parents, growing up under the wing (no pun intended) of an airline with these values leaves a lasting impression. Westjet raised the bar on customers’ expectations with their “Under promise; over deliver” motto. I have taken their caring and compassionate values into a different type of creative world with Pinnovate. If you haven’t had the chance to fly with Westjet, hop on a flight to Calgary and come for a visit. Pinnovate comes out of a need for more innovative and artistic programming in our city. Having three young children, we find things to do with them, but I was looking for something unique that could appeal to all ages at any time. Our goal is to allow everyone, even those who don’t think they possess a creative bone, the opportunity to create something they can be proud of. We have a multitude of Pinterestinspired projects to choose from; we supply all of the materials; and we provide hands-on help and customization. In addition to fun crafts, we hold monthly workshops that include terrarium making, weave + wine nights, and we also play host to many

different groups for splatter paint, date nights, bridal showers, team building sessions and birthday parties. Did we mention that we are bringing back macramé? Our mothers and grandmothers will be so proud! We have a full wine and beer menu along with a selection of eats and treats, and of course coffee! We have partnered with some of the best local businesses including Rosso Coffee, Fiasco Gelato, The Cupcake Shoppe and Coco Brooks Pizza just to name a few! We also offer our Littles’ Art University, which is an eight-week class dedicated to educating children about art history while giving them a chance to try some related techniques. Also, this spring, we are pleased to be starting a teen advanced painting, drawing and sketching course. Including all ages into the creative community is important to us. For our youth, it builds a wonderful sense of accomplishment and provides a much-needed outlet for them. One of the things I am most proud of is the connection we are building with local charities. Once a month, in conjunction with a local shopping mall, we host a large DIY night with a portion of the proceeds going to a charity of choice. In February, we donated the funds to Special Olympics Calgary. This organization provides opportunities and support for children, youth and adults with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports. Last but certainly not least, I really have to make mention of my team of Pinnovators. We have assembled, hands down, the best team in the business! We may sound biased, but we are definitely lucky to have such a tight-knit group of passionate people to help us build our business. We are so excited to embark on this business venture, but more so in this industry! Starting a business with the support of not only our family and friends but with a community of like-minded people is wonderful. How lucky we are to wake up every day and help people bring out their creative side, provide an inviting space for family and friends to spend quality time, and to contribute to a city that has provided so much for us and our families. The risks we take to be successful can come at a cost; however we follow in our families’ footsteps. We make decisions based not on the possible risks, but rather what success could be achieved! I want to thank all of you for welcoming Pinnovate with open arms and encourage you all to follow along with us and our dream! Gradient • Spring 2018

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By Jennafer Martin


Seeing an innovative project made by a creative artist, you’ve marveled and asked yourself: “How did she think of that?” From their resourcefulness to their ingenuity, makers and creators inspire us on a regular basis. But how do they think of those ideas? What inspires them, and what makes them tick? Read on to get inside the minds of industry influencers to better understand their creative genius, as well as know how you can reach out to and connect with them for inspiration, partnerships and more.

Angie Holden

What I love most about being a creator: For most, creativity is an outlet they only get to experience occasionally. I experience that outlet daily and make a living doing so! It is a dream come true, and I am loving every minute of it.

C I G A M I love to do videos, and going live is a great way to connect. I do a weekly live broadcast via Facebook with craft tips or even making something small. It is a fun way to chat with my audience and bring them some basic craft techniques. Advice I have for companies/ brands who want to connect with me: I am always open for any type of collaboration! I do, however, love to establish longterm partnerships. Working with a brand over time allows me to establish trust with my readers and show them everything that a product can do.

Carolina Moore

Where I turn most for inspiration: At times, I turn to magazines or Pinterest for inspiration. Other times, all I need to do is to start cleaning my craft room. Nothing inspires me more than a pile of unused craft supplies! My brain starts churning with all of the possibilities. Aside from your projects, how do you connect to your audience? 10

What I love most about being a creator: I love turning an idea into

reality; seeing the potential in a piece of paper or stick of glue, and then giving it a completely new form. Then, I like to share it with others so they can make similar transformations.

Where I turn most for inspiration: I love walking through the aisles of the craft or dollar store to find new toys to play with. I have a lot of seasonal projects or crafts that are inspired by new movies. Color and pattern combos are often a gut feel. If it makes me happy, then it is a go! Aside from your projects, how do you connect to your audience? I get the most interaction with my audience on YouTube. When I first started blogging, people commented regularly on blogs. Now, blog comments are less frequent. But I find that interaction on YouTube and other social media channels is much more common. Advice I have for companies/ brands who want to connect with me: Just reach out! Everybody loves getting an email that says, “Hey, I think you’re awesome and I want to work with you.” From there, we can determine if it is a good fit for both of us. If not, I might be able to refer you to another influencer who is a better fit.

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a s e k Ma

t s i t r ve A

i t a e r C Amanda Formaro

Where I turn most for inspiration: Everywhere! I can be walking through a store and see

Hannah and Rosie

something that strikes me, browsing blogs or Pinterest, and sometimes seeing an older design of mine sparks an idea. I just keep my eyes open all the time, as you never know when an idea will hit. Aside from your projects, how do you connect to your audience? I am active on all forms of social media and I post all of my projects there. I also have a YouTube channel where I publish all of my videos. Occasionally I will host a craft night in my studio, too!

What I love most about being a creator: It’s my release! Painting in particular. Some people find peace digging in the garden, others through exercise, but painting puts me into a zen-type state. I really enjoy creating on canvas.

loyalty, therefore building more confidence in the products being used in tutorials and projects.

Advice I have for companies/ brands who want to connect with me: I love working with brands and feel that bloggers should be considered an extension of their internal design team. Not only do we provide creative and innovative ways to use a brand’s products, we provide large platforms on which to share that content. Plus, a relationship is formed, and readers see brand

What we love most about being creators: We love to sew, so being able to sew every day is a dream! Having the flexibility to decide what we do day-to-day is also great. Where we turn most for inspiration: We use Instagram for inspiration and follow all of our favorite sewers and creative bloggers there. It’s such an easy way to keep up to date with people’s projects and also get people’s opinions on your own! If we really need an inspiration boost, we’ll take a trip to the Victoria & Albert museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design.


visit us at to see what’s new

CHECK OUT OUR N EW PAPER, STAM PS & DIES ! Gradient • Spring 2018

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Aside from your projects, how do you connect to your audience? We try to connect with our audience in real life as well as online. We hold a lot of sewing workshops – which are great for meeting people – and also host parties a couple of times a year to get loads of people together and make new connections. They’re always a lot of fun! Advice we have for companies/ brands who want to connect with us: Get to know who we are and what our brand is about before you reach out to us. We are (we think!) very approachable and friendly, so in general, if you contact us we’ll reply. But we want to work with brands who really get what we do!


Heather Valentine

no longer bound to the standard operating business hours. Instead, I fuel up on green tea, crank up the tunes and enjoy stitching the night away while working out the details on my latest design. That freedom truly drives my creative process. Where I turn most for inspiration: Inspiration can be found anywhere, but the one thing that captures my attention and pulls me in is the vibrant colors found in nature. If you look closely, you will find every color combination imaginable.

What I love most about being a creator: After so many years of working in the corporate world, being an independent artist/ maker allows me to feel free. I am

Aside from your projects, how do you connect to your audience? Engaging with the community is something I hold dear. I enjoy

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hearing their stories, celebrating their successes and teaching them in person. On the average day, you can find me chatting up a storm on my private forum and teaching at local shops. This part of my job brings me great joy. Advice I have for companies/ brands who want to connect with me: I welcome the opportunity to partner with brands and think the best way to reach me is by emailing Heather@thesewingloft. com. It’s important for brands to know that working with me is more than just a sidebar placement. My audience is thirsty for information and differs on each platform. That means that you can find me sharing pictures on Instagram, “How-to” projects and patterns on the blog, short videos on YouTube and more! No matter what platform they prefer, my main goal is to promote awareness, provide education, and above all, encourage the community to move the needle forward.

Check out our newest products...

Glitter is our Signature Color Contact us: 904-284-0284 StyleTechCraft

Angel Hickman

What I love most about being a creator: I love the creative freedom I have to express myself. I love that I can create new designs and sewing patterns in my little studio and they can be used by people all over the world. I love that makers perpetuate makers! My sewing patterns and tutorials can inspire others to make beautiful handmade things for their friends and family. There is something tremendously satisfying in being able to marry

my creative drive to a product that serves and helps people. Where I turn most for inspiration: Having a degree in film studies, I love to look at old movies and vintage patterns for ideas. Whether it’s the gray suit that Kim Novak wore in “Vertigo” or the green velvet dress made from curtains (the original upcycling) that Vivien Leigh wore in “Gone with the Wind,” old movie fashions are the

ideal place to get influence. Advice I have for companies/ brands who want to connect with me: Connecting with bloggers is easier than you think! If your brand is a good fit with my sewing blog, odds are I would love to find a way to work with you. Emailing is easiest, but brands can also reach me via social media. Gradient • Spring 2018

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judges narrowed the field to four finalists, who then competed in the annual pitch competition so one could be crowned the Top Creative Innovation of 2018 and win the $10,000 grand prize. So how did the judges define “innovation,” and what did they think of this year’s Innovations Center participants? Create and Craft interviewed a few of them right after they chose the BowVy Cutter as the winner. Read what they had to say and learn if your creative idea has the potential to be the next big thing in the creative marketplace. Create and Craft: “What was the lineup like this year?” Victoria Katsarou, “I thought the lineup was really impressive. There was a ton of variety, which was amazing, from products that appeal to millennial customers to products appealing to more traditional crafters. I loved that there was a lot of incorporation of technology but also product innovation alike.” Brigid English, The Michaels Companies: “I thought the lineup was very good this year. I thought that it was diversified, which is really important, because it gives us a variety of products that are meeting or that are trying to address different needs in different types of crafts.”

By Kristen Farrell, Manager of Marketing & Public Relations, AFCI

judges’ definitions of the concept matter most to the creative entrepreneurs featured in the Innovations Center.

If you ask a bunch of people what their definition of “innovation” is, I bet you’ll get a bunch of different answers. Innovation can mean something different to everybody in different industries, but at Creativation, The Ultimate Pitch

The Innovation Center spotlights innovation and provides entrepreneurs with a platform to launch their inventions. This year, the area on the trade show floor highlighted 12 innovative products and techniques. The Ultimate Pitch

Christopher DiTullio, JOANN: “The lineup was great. It’s always tough. This is the second year that I’ve judged, and we had the same problem this year as we had last year, which is so many good ideas and new concepts.” Create and Craft: “How do you as a judge come to a decision?” Victoria Katsarou, “One factor was pure innovation, like is this truly something different from what exists in the Gradient • Spring 2018

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The Winner

The Finalists

The Judges

The BowVy Cutter (see ad on page 2) is a handheld, cordless, hot filament cutting tool with interchangeable tips. It makes a decorative V-cut and seals the ends of most ribbon and polyester fabric in one step. Karyn Ranzau, inventor and owner of the Little Pink Ladybug (littlepinkladybug. com), was asked how she planned to use the $10,000 prize. “We’ve got a notebook full of ideas,” she responded, and they include developing and testing prototypes for accessories.

• The Folklore Company ( is an inspiring website where people can design a personal crossstitch pattern in a unique, easy and modern way. It makes embroidery more accessible to more people. • Flex Knit ( is flexible, straight knitting needles with ergonomic benefits to improve comfort during knitting activity. • The DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad by Blissfu Studio ( is a product that turns flat drawing paper into 3D framed art ready for display.

• Brigid English, The Michaels Companies • Christopher DiTullio, JOANN • Victoria Katsarou, • Christine Stoelting and Karen Waters, Crayola, LLC • Danica Lichtenwalner, Home Shopping Network (HSN)

market. The second factor was… is this a product that has good economics, and is this a product that has a wide enough appeal to be very successful? And I think our winner really checked all the boxes.” Brigid English, The Michaels Companies: “From a retail perspective we’re going to look at the product through that lens. Is this something we can sell in our stores or sell on our ecommerce channels? Is it marketable? The price point of the product – is it consumer-friendly enough that we think we can sell it at the price that the inventors are proposing it be at their suggested retail? Do we think it’s something that influencers would be willing to

talk about and help promote these brands and help build the following that these companies need?” Christopher DiTullio, JOANN: “We talk about, is the item ready for market? Does it fill a need that is big enough in the marketplace? Can it be sold at retail?” Create and Craft: “What does it take to come up with a really good, sellable product?” Victoria Katsarou, “Something truly innovative and unique is important. But you also have to think about the customer. Are there enough people who are going to gravitate toward your product? And

To read about all 12 innovations, visit 2018-moments.

you also have to think about potential partnerships, both with other brands and other retailers that are going to be the economics of your product. Is this a product that can sustainably be sold again, and again, and again, and again in the market?” Brigid English, The Michaels Companies: “What it takes is a lot of market research. You have to find the void of what the consumer is looking for that would make their crafting easier or more affordable …What is the white space? And also just making sure you’re jumping on the next big trend … as fast as you can.” Christopher DiTullio, JOANN: “To come up with that great mix of idea and commercialism, I think you have to have a blend of art and science. So, you have to do market research. You have to determine what the potential is, and is there a need? But from an arts standpoint, a lot of times people aren’t going to tell you what needs to come into the market; you have to anticipate where the customer is going to be and use your information to design something that they don’t even know they need yet, but once they see it, it creates the ‘wow, I need this,’ so that’s where you need to blend both pieces. Watch The Ultimate Pitch documentary, produced by Create and Craft, on YouTube: watch?v=8PKEuyTtPk4


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r e t s i g Re ay! tod

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Are you looking for a low-cost way to connect directly with consumers? Consider In the MKNG, the Association’s new outdoor consumer festival.

A festival inspiring creativity, In the MKNG is a unique familyfriendly festival unlike any other craft-related event in existence. An expected 10,000 people who love

Scrapbook Paper•Stamps & Dies•Stencils

to create and craft will gather for the event and celebrate the art of making on September 29-30, 2018 at Bethel Woods Center For The Arts in Bethel, New York. In the MKNG will feature 150 vendors, manufacturers, retailers and designers, showcasing new products and product sales, interactive demonstrations, arts and crafts workshops, celebrity creators, craft charities, food trucks, live music and more.

The Creator Community is Growing The January 2018 update to the Association’s Creative Products Size of the Industry Study shows that participation in crafting is growing, with 62 percent of U.S. households partaking in at least one 18

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connect directly with the end consumer. From there, the concept of In the MKNG was born.

Not Your Mother’s Craft Fair In the MKNG is a fresh and fun concept that will bring makers, DIYers, creators and everyday people of all ages together to create, be inspired and experience magical moments vital to their creative expression. It is designed as a low-cost platform for our members to showcase and sell products and services, drive future business, and get a glimpse of crafters’ minds and learn directly from them in person.

creative activity in the past year. The individuals participating are engaging in several activities and purchasing their supplies across multiple channels. These findings support the omni-channel strategies both retailers and suppliers are undertaking in order to provide satisfactory shopping experiences for their customers. These rapid shifts in the retail landscape prompted the AFCI staff to conduct extensive qualitative and quantitative research among the members and non-members in the industry to determine how we could support their efforts. The results overwhelmingly indicated we need to find ways to help members

In the MKNG will be an all-inclusive, immersive, experience-rich event. Every type of DIY creative activity is welcome and encouraged - from paper to needle crafts to party and celebration and everything in between. Retailers, suppliers, designers, artisans, kids and more have a place at this event. Activations in the form of handson activities, creative influencer meet and greets, awe-inspiring displays and more will keep the people in attendance busy and engaged throughout the entire event. In addition, the consumers will be able to sign-up for handson workshops, adopt a pet in the Pet Charity pavilion, sample craft beers and wines, listen to live music from popular and local artists, and

learn about charities that give back through creative activities.

Location, Location, Location Location is a factor that we knew would play a significant role in the success of the event. Bethel Woods Center For the Arts is a not-for-profit cultural organization that inspires, educates and empowers individuals through the arts and humanities. It is located 90 miles from New York City at the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival and is surrounded by a countryside landscape. The 800acre campus includes a pavilion stage amphitheater seating 15,000, 440-seat indoor event gallery, award-winning museum at Bethel Woods, and a conservatory for arts education programming. The venue space hosts a diverse selection of culturally-rich performances, popular artists, and community and educational programming. All of these aspects of the venue, plus core values and natural beauty, make it the perfect place for the inaugural In the MKNG festival.

Join the Adventure In the MKNG promises to be a spectacular event and we want your company to be part of the fun. Visit to learn how your business can participate as a vendor, sponsor or volunteer. You may also contact us at info@ or (201) 835-1231.

BETHEL WOODS’ CORE VALUES • We encourage individual creativity and expression. • We recognize and value the arts and humanities and their contribution to physical and psychological well being and its positive impact upon individuals and communities. • We create a safe and enjoyable environment for all who work and visit. • We respect all individuals and value diversity of ideas, abilities, and expression. Gradient • Spring 2018

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PROOF Making the Most of Consumer Generated Content

By Sandi Rosner, Stitchcraft Marketing Makers are social beings. They love to see what their friends are making and they love to share what they’ve made. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube have become prime sources of inspiration for creative people. In kind, consumer generated content is replacing word of mouth as the most trusted form of marketing. Testimonials and real-life images from happy customers are far more compelling than a slick ad. Research shows that more than 70 percent of shoppers 20

trust consumer opinions posted online 1. That number drops below 50 percent for paid advertising, no matter what the medium. Strategic use of consumer generated content can give your digital marketing a real boost.

What is Social Proof? It all comes down to social proof, the psychological phenomenon where people look to the actions of others to guide their own actions and beliefs. Have you ever asked friends what they are planning to wear to an event before you choose your own outfit? You’re looking for social proof. Have you purchased a product because your friends have raved about it? You’ve been influenced by social proof.

Social proof takes several forms, from ratings and reviews to Instagram posts of projects in progress. In this article, we’ll explore ways to incorporate social proof in your messaging.

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content 2. When it comes to grabbing the attention of crafters, photos can’t be beat. But creating artful images for your website and social media can be time-

consuming and expensive. And you’re likely to spend your resources taking pictures that focus on the details of your product, rather than lifestyle shots that inspire the customer. Customer photos can help fill this gap. With the popularity of Instagram and Facebook, your customers are posting beautiful images every day. For you, these photos are marketing treasure. In a recent study, 66 percent of shoppers said they are more likely to purchase a product if the website has social media posts with pictures/videos from real customers. Let’s face it – consumers are a little skeptical of the content you produce. They assume that your product photos are the equivalent of graduation pictures; staged and photoshopped to create the most attractive image possible. Photos taken by their peers are assumed to be more “truthful”.

How to Get Started Encourage customers to take photos of your product and post them to social media. This encouragement can take many forms. Make sure your website, invoices and newsletters include #yourbrand

or #yourproductname as a subtle reminder. For a more direct approach, ask customers to tag your product in an image posted to Instagram or Facebook, and give a prize to a winner randomly drawn from all postings with the specified tag. If you have a retail store, or if you sell at craft fairs or fiber festivals, be prepared to take pictures of customers who share something they’ve made. Have a sign with your company name positioned to work as a photo backdrop. Fuji Film created this great backdrop for their booth at Creativation 2018. Notice that they’ve used an event-specific hashtag to remind customers to post their photos. Offer to take two pictures of the customer proudly showing off the project: one with their phone and one with yours. Ask permission to post the photo on your social media feed and tag the customer in the post. Chances are good the customer will post, too. In a couple of quick clicks, you’ve added to your portfolio of consumer generated content. Better yet, you’ve made a customer feel appreciated! Comb Instagram, Pinterest and Gradient • Spring 2018

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Ravelry for great photos featuring your product. Think of yourself as a curator – you don’t need to promote poor-quality images. Pictures of freshly unboxed skeins of yarn, projects in process, and finished projects are all worthwhile. When you come across images you love, share the post if it’s on Facebook and re-pin if it’s on Pinterest. Like and comment on the photo via Facebook or Instagram. These simple actions will mean the image is seen by more people. Consider compiling a gallery of customer photos for use in a newsletter or blog post. This can be particularly helpful in promoting products that have been in your line for a while, providing fresh inspiration. If you want to use a customer photo beyond a social media share or re-pin, be sure to ask first. Never use someone else’s pictures without permission. Reach out with an email or other message, and start your

request with a compliment (who doesn’t want to hear “I loved your photo”?) Be specific about how you want to use the photo (On your website? In a blog post? In a newsletter?) and ask the customer to respond with their consent. Ask how they want to be identified in the photo credit – by name, Instagram username, Ravelry avatar? And be sure you credit the photo properly each time you use it.

Reviews and Testimonials Happy customers are your best brand ambassadors. Make it easy for customers to write positive reviews by including a review link on each product page on your website. Consider implementing an automated email process asking recent customers to review the products they purchased. Display reviews near the buy button. Include excerpts in your promotional copy and newsletters. Third-party systems such as PowerReviews integrate with your shopping cart system to make it easy to collect and display reviews.

Create your art and SHRINK it with

Grafix Shrink Film ®

Design, cut and bake for instant embellishments. Choose from Clear, Matte, White, Black, Sanded, 6 Bright Colors, 2 Metallic Colors, Inkjet Printable Clear & White.


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When a popular teacher, designer, or other expert in your craft mentions your product, it can feel like you’ve been touched by the Fairy Godmother’s wand. A link on Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s blog, the Yarn Harlot, can lead to an exponential increase in sales of a yarn or pattern. If you see a spike in sales of a product that isn’t tied to your own marketing initiatives, track back along your inbound links to see if you can find the source. If you see traffic coming from a blog post or review site, you’ve found an influential advocate! Reach out to the writer and thank them profusely. Offer to send them sample product for

future projects and reviews. Ask if you can help promote their site through links in your blog or social media. Trade shows often present the opportunity to meet with bloggers and designers. If you provide them with product samples, be sure to let them know you’d like to see photos of their work. Offer

to cross promote their blog or pattern. Stitchcraft Marketing can help you connect with the bloggers and podcasters your customers love. Our Influencer Outreach programs can help you generate and distribute high quality content that will have a measurable impact on your bottom line.

Contact to learn how we can help you grow your craft business. References: trust-in-advertising--paid-owned-and-earned.html 2 1

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It’s Not As Scary As You Think! By Keri Cunningham, Sr. Director of Marketing and Research, AFCI

Results from the Creative Products Size of the Industry Study Update are now available for Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) members. We often hear, “I don’t have time to decipher all of the key findings,” or “I’m a creative person, not a numbers person.” Well, I’m here to tell you this: you can do it! If

you set aside some time to review the report, you’ll see it as one of your most important member benefits. Other members have used it to provide an in-depth perspective on our industry and support various initiatives such as buying and selling, developing business plans, tracking trends, and planning, forecasting and marketing company products.

I know it is intimidating, but don’t ignore it. I’ve highlighted some key stats and ways the data can work for you. Remember, this is just the start.

State of the Industry U.S. crafters collectively spend $36 billion on crafts each year. Crafters are increasingly spending their money across multiple channels while seeking the best Gradient • Spring 2018

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The data is compiled by MaritzCX, a leading market research company. It sizes the U.S. creative market by dollar volume and participation, both overall and at the category level. The data in the recent study is based on consumers’ input from the fourth quarter of 2016 through the third quarter of 2017.

deals. Although more than half of crafters are still purchasing items in physical stores only, the number of people who only purchase in a physical store is declining anywhere from 6 percent to 16 percent. The study also confirms that 62 percent of households across America contain at least one member who has crafted over the past 12 months. Over the past 12-month period, the most participated craft categories were Edible Arts at 36 percent, Painting and Drawing at 36 percent, Kids


Crafts at 33 percent, Paper Crafts at 33 percent, followed by Sewing and Fabric at 30 percent. These five categories capture 71 percent of the total spend on crafting. Crafters are participating in many categories. Fifty-two percent of crafting households are participating in more than one category. Nineteen percent of them are participating in seven or more crafts, which is a 2 percent increase versus one year ago. There is more cross participation within the top five categories compared to the others.

A majority of crafters keep their end product, and this is especially true among those who participate in Painting and Drawing (71 percent), Paper Crafting (66 percent), Sewing and Fabric (65 percent), and Wood Crafts (66 percent). Edible Arts (64 percent), Beads and Jewelry (58 percent), and Knit and Crochet (57 percent) items tend to be gifted more so than other projects. Those who make jewelry are more likely to sell their projects (24 percent) than what is made in other activities.

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People craft because it is a special activity that they would really miss if they stopped participating. Crafters are proud of their craft activities and feel a sense of accomplishment when participating.

Putting the Data to Work What does all of this mean for you? Crafters are busy and costconscience so it is important for retailers and suppliers to deliver product and inspiration through an omnichannel strategy that integrates satisfactory instore, online and print shopping experiences. Since crafters are participating in multiple crafts, retailers can

encourage unplanned purchases with tactical store layouts that place crafts with high-crossover tendency in close proximity. (See the Cross Participation chart on page 14 of the report). Retailers should show how products work together or how they are used for different applications. Display finished craft projects and keep the products needed to complete the project within easy reach. Online retailers can build impact and shopping basket size by suggesting complementary products. Stores should emphasize the personalized nature of crafts for gifting and make the shopping experience more experiential. Think creatively and transform your space into a place where

people can come to have fun with interactive activities, personalization and technology. Now download the free report! Choose the Research link under the Membership tab at or visit research. You’ll need the email associated with your AFCI member account and password to gain access. For an additional fee, you’ll be able to break down categories by participation level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) or by region (within four U.S. Census regions) or by area (Urban, Suburban, Rural). I’m here to help, so make sure you reach out if you need any! Contact me at or 201-835-1229 to get started.

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THE SHELF New Magical Shakers from Lindy’s Stamp Gang are dye-based pigment powders that can be added to gels, glazes, pastes and more. Or, just add water to a paintbrush, dip it in the shaker and paint. Or, shake them directly on wet or dry paper and hydrate. 509-750-6280,

Get stuck on B&B etchall Reposition/Re-use Stencil Spray! The fine mist adhesive spray bonds strong yet peels up easily. Great for sign making. Adheres stencils to most surfaces., 623-933-4567,

The new Cre8tive Cre8tions Art Journal stamp sets from LDRS Creative offer handillustrated, warm and whimsical designs for mixed-media projects and more. The extra-large, deep-etch rubber stamps are mounted on a dense foam for a clear, crisp stamped image over and over again. 586- 909-5185,

OMEGA Nylon Thread No. 3 with a Metallic strand is wonderful for working with needles, hook, tatting, jewelry, handbags, and handcrafts, even clothes! Comes in 30 colors.

Six new earth tones have been added to the Dina Wakley Media Acrylic Paint palette – Sedona, Olive, Peacock, Marine, Eggplant, and Buff. All paints in the line are richly pigmented and heavy bodied with a thick, buttery consistency that holds brush strokes, peaks, and tool marks, but can also be smoothed.

These cute ducks are ready to make a splash in your next craft project. Stamp the duck and babies for a cute Mother’s or Father’s Day card. Or, create a complete scene with ducks splashing in the tub! 28

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Tape Technologies, Inc. has added Tropical Colors to its line of Transparent Glitter Films. Teal, Lemon-Lime, Lime, Tangerine and Pink give you the glitter and color for all of your springtime craft projects.

The Little Dipper by Witzend is an accessory for the Waxmelter Palette to scoop up melted wax and draw fine lines. T-pin drop-in valves prevent dripping. Use it to draw a very long fine line with one scoop. Return it to the heated palette to keep it warm while in use.

New Grafix Artist Series Shrink Film features 12 unique pre-printed designs from three popular artists: Gina Kim, Julie Fan-Fei Balzer, and Marlene Meijer-van Niekerk. It comes in packs of four 8-1/2 by 11-inch sheets: two pre-printed and two clear for tracing; or an assortment pack of four individual designs from each artist. Design, cut out and bake. Creations will shrink to 20 percent of their original size and become nine times thicker. The Flutters collection is the newest interactive line from Art Impressions. It includes five sets of clear stamps and die cuts with instructions to create the flying action with only two brads, string, and a pull tab.

Permanent Glue Dots are the compact way to make your planner into a functional work of art. With its light blue tint, permanent dots are easy to see for exact placement. Attach photos, reminders and other ephemera instantly. Available in convenient-tocarry sheets in 36- or 60-count poly bags and a 600-count value pack.

Graphic by Spectrum Noir is a new collection of alcohol twin-tip designers’ markers. They feature the popular chisel and fine-bullet-nib combination. Loaded with high-quality alcohol ink for flawless laydown and blending, there are 216 colors available in six-piece or 12-piece sets., 800-399-5035

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Tell our advertisers you saw their ad here.

American Orthopedic............................................................................... 16 Art Impressions...........................................................................................27 Chase Products Co.................................................................................... 12 Crafter’s Companion.............................................................. Back cover



Coloring your world since 1996.

Dare 2B Artzy............................................................................................... 18 Glue Dots Int’l. . ............................................................................................ 26 Grafix............................................................................................................... 22 Lawn Fawn. . ....................................................................................................11 Lindy’s Stamp Gang................................................................................. 30 Little Darlings Rubber Stamps. . ............................................................. 5 Little Pink Ladybug..................................................................................... 2 OMEGA DISTRIBUIDORA DE HILOS S.A. DE C.V.. . ....................... 30 Ranger Industries...................................................................................... 23 Stitchcraft Marketing. . .............................................................................. 31 Strategic Search Solutions................................................................... 22 Tape Technologies.................................................................................... 13 Witzend Workshop LLC.. ..........................................................................11

To reserve your ad space in the next issue (Summer) of Gradient Magazine, contact Darlene Ryan by May 4. 315-789-2475 30

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Sick and tired of trying to figure out social media? MAGIC WAND for Social Media

Magic Wand for Social Media is a self-directed online course launching, March 2018. With 5 modules and 19 lessons plus worksheets, guidelines, consulting and a private facebook group, you’ll gain all the knowledge and confidence to master content marketing like a pro in just 30 minutes per week. Easier than pulling a rabbit out of a hat! 2018_Gradient_02_Spring.indd 31

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Gradient Spring 2018  
Gradient Spring 2018