Being a creative entrepreneur or running your own design company can be a lonely job. It can also be very tiring and at times overwhelming. Sure, it has many advantages, but wouldn’t it be better if you could find a like-minded community to help you through the downs and the valleys, and warn you of the potholes in your journey?
I felt that way time and again. I wished there was a place where I could talk to like-minded folks, share ideas and ask for advice.
When I joined the CHA Designer Section, I was a little overwhelmed at first. It took me some time to find my way around and make good connections and friends – friends who were creative and understood what I meant without me having to elaborate much. You could say I finally found my tribe!
When first joining CHA as a designer, one wonders if it’s possible to create any lasting connections or derive any benefit from the membership. This is the reason why I put together this article for you. If you’re wondering if a CHA designer membership is for you, read on! Some amazing designers took the time to share their experiences with me. I present to you 10 benefits of being a CHA designer member:
1. The biggest benefit of being a designer member is probably that we get to go to the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show every year for free! The CHA MEGA Show is full of opportunities to network and make new friends and connections. It’s also a great way to do trend spotting and see where the industry and products are headed. The eye candy is, of course, a huge pull for us creatives and let me assure you there is a LOT of stuff to see and take in!
There are also a lot of make and takes and product displays. This is a great place for designers to see what is new to market and keep pace with evolving trends in the industry.
Jennifer Priest from Hydrangea Hippo says, “It is because of the networking I have done in these past four years as a CHA Designer Section member that I have the jobs and opportunities that I have today. It truly is about the people you know. Going to the CHA MEGA Show as your own company helps you meet the people who will aid your growth and helps make you memorable when jobs come available.”
Candice Windham adds, “Being able to attend the CHA MEGA Show and meet directly with the people I want to work with (is a major benefit). Communicating with someone through email or over the phone can’t compare to one-on-one, face-to-face communications.”
2. Having an official designer badge helps establish credibility. Many manufacturers prefer to work with designer members. Patt Bell agrees, stating, “Being a CHA Designer Section member adds credibility to your qualifications. It says that you are serious about what you do, and that you are staying on top of industry trends and practices. Membership provides access to contacts in the business.”
3. CHA offers a wide array of educational resources and materials to help designers do more with and for their businesses. Many webinars, eCourses and videos are made available to designer members. They cover using a range of tools from traditional marketing to social media, working with manufacturers and more!
4. Designer Section members have the opportunity to exhibit in the Designers in Action™ area at the CHA MEGA Show at discounted rates. This is an amazing opportunity to showcase your talent and have it visible for the crafting world to see. Manufacturers send representatives to view these showcases and arrange a meet and greet with the designers. A lot of connections and opportunities are born from this interaction. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of exhibiting in the Designers in Action™ earlier this year. I met and made friends with many designers by taking part in this activity. It also gave me confidence and a lot of feedback about my work!
5. Being a CHA Designer Section member gives you a voice. You can volunteer for different committees and actually contribute to the Section and to CHA. This is an amazing opportunity to learn how the industry works and to make lasting friendships. As Seth Apter puts it, “They offer the option to volunteer for a committee, allowing each member to have an active role in the development of the organization, as well as a chance to learn the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of the craft industry in depth.”
6. The sense of community is one of the best things about being a CHA Designer Section member. As Lisa Fulmer says, “The social benefit is these people get me.” Rita Barakat loves this aspect of being a designer member as well! “Being able to come together as a group of like-minded individuals, supporting each other, sharing knowledge and having cheerleaders on your side are always good things!” Beth Watson also agrees, stating, “One of the benefits is being part of a group of industry professionals that understands, supports and values what you do as a designer, which is an important part of my growth and success in the craft industry.”
7. Guidance is another big advantage of being a CHA designer member. As Marjolaine Walker puts it, “There is so much love and support from many of the established designers. They want us to succeed and are always there to help.” It is really beneficial to be able to share ideas with more experienced designers. They are so generous with giving advice and making introductions! You shouldn’t be afraid to ask because these are probably some of the most helpful men and women on the planet!
8. Being a member gives you access to the CHA Designers only newsletter, which has huge benefits. The newsletter, which is for Designer Section members only, provides information about the various Section activities in which members can participate. Eileen Hull shares, “When opportunities come along to showcase my business, I am able to respond quickly and take advantage of them because I always read my CHA emails and know what is happening.”
9. The CHA Designer Directory is another amazing tool that is available to designer members as a benefit of membership. The Designer Directory is a listing of all CHA designers and is made available to manufacturers when they are looking to give out jobs. Carol Heppner, the current chair of the Designer Section, says, “The Designer Directory Committee works long hours to publish the Designer Directory. Designer Section members can submit a five by eight-inch listing for the Directory. The Directory is available on the CHA website as a free download.”
10. Long lasting and true friendships are formed between designer members and, as Michele, one of the founding members of the Designer Section puts it, “The friendships that I have developed with other designers and industry companies are priceless!” You will find many partnerships and new ideas being born through friendly collaboration.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless and the opportunities are vast. You just have to take the first step. Sign up to become a member and you’ll have help along the rest of your journey. Like me, you’ll feel like you have finally found your tribe!
She is most often found playing in her craft studio and making a mess with paints of all sorts! Her passion is to share her love of creating and banishing the myth that people are born creative. We all have two sides to our brain and she believes everyone has a creative fire!