While compiling the article, “Family Ties: Craft businesses pass their torch from generation to generation,” which appears in CHA’s magazine, Craft Industry Today (Fall 2012, Vol. 1, No.3) we were fascinated by the amount of family-owned companies, each with their own unique stories, within our industry. In the upcoming weeks we will be expanding on this article and sharing CHA member stories on our Blog.
By Mike Hartnett
CHA has been profiling multi-generational industry businesses (Click to read about Hobby Lobby, Momenta, and Mangelsen’s). In most cases, the next generation eventually takes over the business from the parents/founders. But some stay in the industry on their own terms and carve out their own niche.
Katie Hacker’s parents, Jerry and Dee Hacker, bought Dee’s Delights in 1982 after Jerry had worked at the company’s general manager for seven years. Miniatures was a very strong category at the time, and Dee’s Delights grew into the largest distributor of dollhouses and miniatures in the world. Jerry and Dee sold the business in 2006 and retired.
Katie was hooked on the industry at an early age. “The first trade show (HIA) I remember attending was when I was in the fourth grade. We stayed at the Jolly Rodger Inn and my sister and I were thrilled to take such a big trip across the country [from Ohio]. I sneaked a peek at the show and remember that someone gave me a bundle of Friendly Plastic, which I couldn’t wait to use. Then my mom took us to Disneyland.”
That started a family tradition. “Our family vacations consisted of spending extra days at various craft and miniature trade show locations,” Dee said, “a great way to see the USA.”
“When I was in high school and college,” Katie remembers, “I did different jobs for Dee’s Delights, from pulling orders to making samples, to helping with the 800+ page catalog. I got to wear a lot of different hats, and it has helped me look at my own business from a variety of perspectives.”
After college, Katie was hired by Hot Off The Press owner, Paulette Jarvey, as an editor/designer. “Our families knew each other from the industry, and I always wanted to live out west,” Katie said.
That was the start of a remarkably busy career. Today she is the host of Beads, Baubles & Jewels on PBS, with a new series starting in early November. Her most recent book series is Earrings 101, Necklaces 101, and Wire-Wrapping 101, published by Hot Off The Press. She also created the Katiedids™ line of channel findings manufactured by Beadalon. Last month she launched her regular column for BeadStyle magazine. She’s also a regular guest on Jewelry Television’s Jewel School and a member of Beadalon’s and Halcraft’s design teams. She’s also a CREATE YOUR STYLE with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassador and a CHA Designer Section council member. She conducts numerous workshops at trade and consumer shows, such as the Bead & Button Show.
Her Beading Blog is at www.katiehacker.blogspot.com.
If all that didn’t keep Katie busy enough, she married Craig Brown in 2000 and they have two crafty kids, ages 6-1/2 and 3. Craig is an organic farmer turned fitness instructor and they live near his family farm in rural Indiana. This past summer, they trained for and ran a half-marathon together. Last weekend they cycled in the infamous “Hilly Hundred,” a two-day, 100-mile bike ride in Southern Indiana.