About Association For Creative Industries

The Association For Creative Industries (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 Creativation Show, please visit www.afci.global

1-on-1 with Shama Hyder – Creativation 2018 Keynote Speaker


We’re thrilled to announce our Creativation 2018 Keynote Speaker is Shama Hyder. Shama is the Chief Executive Officer of the award-winning agency, The Marketing Zen Group, and best-selling author of two books: The Zen of Social Media Marketing and Momentum. As a speaker and strategist, she’s worked with leading brands, has been featured across major media channels, and has received numerous recognitions, including the Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award and one of the “Top 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs” by both Inc. Magazine and Forbes.


Shama will give an insightful presentation on what businesses need to thrive in the digital age, and how to consistently market and grow an organization in the face of unrelenting change. We interviewed Shama to give you a preview of what you can expect to learn from her speech.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I wear so many hats. I am a CEO, an author of multiple best-selling books, keynote speaker, serial entrepreneur and investor…and those are just the professional hats! As a person, my family is extremely important to me, and I consider my employees part of my family as well. The team is very close knit, and I couldn’t do what I do without them. As a leader, I believe my job is to create value and empower others to do their best.

Your company, The Marketing Zen Group, has grown an average of 400% annually since 2009. How did you start the business and what do you attribute to its success?

We grew 400% in our first year alone. A big driver of our growth has been a keen understanding of social media and the digital ecosystem. We were arguably one of the first social media agencies in the country. We’ve been blessed to work with some amazing brands and companies, including Mary Kay, Chase Business, and the YMCA, to just name a few.

FastCompany.com dubbed you the “Millennial Master of the Universe”. Why are Millennials important to a business’ bottom line?

Millennials are no longer some small subsection of society. They have really led this technological revolution of sorts. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. Just think about that! It will be the other generations that are the minority. This means your customers, your vendors, your buyers, your partners…and understanding this generation becomes crucial and critical to success.

Can you provide a preview of your keynote presentation at Creativation?

I can’t wait to speak at Creativation. Whether you are a small business or a big box retailer, there will be something in it for you! My goal is to simplify the digital landscape and to truly define what it means for the industry. I also love sharing tactics, so not only will I be covering the broader strategy, but I’ll be sharing specific tips, tools, and case studies that the audience can implement as soon as they leave. I am big fan of low hanging fruit!

As an accomplished entrepreneur, what advice can you share with entrepreneurs in the creative arts industries?

It’s an AMAZING time to be alive and to be an entrepreneur. Technology, access, resources, and the ability to reach millions is tangible and real. You have to think of yourself as an editor, not a perfectionist. As an editor, you are constantly looking at progress, improvement, making things better for the 2.0 version. That type of mindset and attitude is key to being successful in this digital age.

Register for Shama’s Keynote presentation on Tuesday, September 12 at 11am EDT at CreativationShow.org.

Tips for the DIY bride


This is a guest post by Camille Wooding, DIY Place.

DIY has become quite fashionable among millennials getting married.  That ability to have something unique that reflects your style and be in on the latest artisan trends is hard to resist.  And hey – is cheaper, right?

Weeeelllll – maybe,  maybe not.  First of all – don’t mix up DIY  with “handmade” – DIY means “Do-It-Yourself” – you, your friends, your family.  It requires commitment of time and effort.  You have to design the elements, obtain the products and then make the stuff.  It’s a tall order.

Here are some handy tips:

  1. If you are not into craft and you don’t have a close friend or family member who is, DIY is not for you.
  2. Choose your DIY wisely. While you can, theoretically, make anything you see on Pinterest (I say this, just as a parent tells a child they can do anything when they grow up), many craft items require special machines an tools such as die cut machines, paper trimmers  and embossing tools.  If you don’t have these machines, unless you plan to buy them, you are stalled.  Even if you buy the tools, add time for learning how to use them.  Stick with items you know how to make.
  3. Make sure your design is consistent – get feedback on the overall design from a professional or from friends you trust. A good idea will be to choose a line from one manufacturer because they match colours for you.  Once you know the theme and colours, you can also visit your local craft store.  Many times the owners have access to manufacturers products that are not on the shelf and can order these for you.  They also have information about products that are due to be released so it expands your options.
  4. Local craft store owners can also give you advice on appropriate tools. Depending on your needs, a few punches and a paper trimmer may be all you need instead of a die-cut machine.  This can save you lots of money.
  5. Budget – DIY is not necessarily cheaper. It can be inexpensive if you know what you are doing. For example, it may be less costly to buy generic cake boxes and decorate them, than to try to make the boxes yourself.  If you want 1,000 flowers – its not going to be cheap.
  6. Plan. Plan. You need to plan out the process and allocate the required time.  You need to make the prototypes and time each one so you have a realistic view of how much time you need to spend on each element.  Invitations need to be done first and you should plan to get the other DIY stuff (boxes, tokens, centre pieces, place cards, agenda etc.) at least a month before the wedding.  Why? – Because that month will be chock full of other wedding stuff – rehearsals, makeup testing, dress fittings, bridal showers etc.
  7. Communicate and gain commitment. Don’t assume friends and family are available when you need them.  Get them to commit to a schedule ahead of time.
  8. Be flexible – what you have in your head, is not necessarily what the final item will look like. Also, you may not be able to find all the elements you are looking for.  Have some alternative ideas in mind when you go shopping.  You may be inspired by something you didn’t think of.  You local craft store owner can also give some help here.
  9. Keep it simple. Unless you are a craft pro and have lots of time on your hands, keep the designs simple.  This makes it more manageable.
  10. Know when you need a pro. Most of the items are expendable (yes, a lot of it ends up in the garbage).  Things like your guest book remain with you forever.  Spend more time on this or get a professional to do it.
  11. Take little steps – do things in small batches at a time. You don’t want to start off too ambitious and lose steam.  You need to keep your momentum going (and have some fun while you are at it.)
  12. Yes – you need a decorator. It could be hired help or a friend but you would not have time to set up the room if you are getting married the next day.


Canadian Anti-Spam Law – Are You Compliant in 2017?


This is a guest post by RealMagnet.

If you send marketing emails to customers in Canada, it’s time to update your practices to make sure you’re in compliance with Canada’s Anti-SPAM Law (CASL) Private Right of Action (PRA) provision, active as of July 1, 2017. It’s time to do your due diligence and get in line with the latest rules – as long as you’re making this effort, you’re protected from legal liability.

realmagnet infographicOn July 1, 2017, the Private Right of Action (PRA) provision of the Canadian Anti-Spam Law takes effect. Under this rule, recipients who have been sent mail in violation of CASL can sue for actual and statutory damages against the sender.

Download our 7 Step Guide to make sure you are in compliance with CASL in 2017.

“One Big Make-n-Take”: A Look Inside AFCI’s Visit to the Japan Hobby Show


In April, our President & Chief Executive Officer, Mark Hill attended the Japan Hobby Show, the largest consumer craft show in Japan. Organized by the Japan Hobby Association, the 41st annual Japan Hobby Show took place in Tokyo and attracted over 200,000 consumers over three days. From trends to new relationships, a lot emerged from Mark’s visit. The AFCI staff sat down with Mark and discussed his experience. Read our conversation.

How was your visit to the Japan Hobby Show? How did this experience differ from other shows you’ve attended?

The trip was successful. The Japan Hobby Association came to Creativation 2017 earlier this year, and extended an invite to us to attend its annual event.

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The Japan Hobby Show was the largest and busiest consumer event that I’ve ever attended. What is unique about this show is that every exhibitor utilizes hands-on demonstrations to introduce and engage consumers. Think of it as one big make-n-take. Consumers pay a $15 entrance fee and then visit booths to sign up for make-n-takes for an additional fee. They pay for the experience and go home with a finished project having learned how to use the products involved. Both the consumer and the manufacturer see immediate value.

In addition to the exhibitors’ booths, there was an area dedicated to individual designers who were also teaching projects that consumers could pay for and complete. The area was about half the size of a football field, which included about 50 different tables that could seat six to eight people each. There was a menu at the front of the area that showed projects available in each section; consumers would go in, sign up and pay, and then go back at the time the project was scheduled and have an interactive learning and playtime experience.

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What were some of the trends you noticed? Did you see any universal trends?

The biggest trend by far was jewelry making produced using a liquid UV adhesive, which comes clear and in many colors. Consumers embellish their rings, charms, story lockets, and etc. with various types of precious and non-precious stones, and then use a UV lamp to harden the liquid.

Indoor gardening and miniaturization is a trend that is occurring globally. I saw it in Europe at Creativeworld earlier this year. Both in Europe and Japan, this trend has evolved from the miniature fairy gardens we’re seeing in the United States. Even more miniaturization is occurring in Japan; model-sized hedges, plants, vegetables and all sorts of things are being used to make attractive table settings and other small décor pieces

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Another universal trend is painting and drawing. Yet, at the Japan Hobby Show there was an expanded use of colored markers and paint markers in manga or anime style art. This animated style can be found in coloring books and appeals to many young consumers.

There was so much there: Weaving baskets, and creating bags and other accessories using both natural materials and different colored lacings; Production of small accessories like handbags and hats using small pieces of fabric; Stenciling as part of a multi-media, small finished home décor pieces; Crocheting small projects for home décor pieces was also popular.

One of the most interesting areas was the edible arts section of the show. In addition to cake decorating and sugar crafting, there was a booth showing how to design with sushi.

What were you looking to accomplish at the Japan Hobby Show?

A core focus of AFCI’s strategic roadmap is to expand our global reach by partnering with international organizations like the Japan Hobby Association. During this visit we established a partnership to help boost trade and membership in both countries. Furthermore, we agreed to facilitate new business in each other’s events, to find ways to have Japanese suppliers exhibit at Creativation and U.S. suppliers to participate in the Japan Hobby Show.

You were considered a guest of honor. What did that mean to you?

On the evening of the first day, I attended a reception with Japan Hobby Association member suppliers and the Association’s Board of Directors. As the guest of honor, I had the opportunity to speak of and advocate partnerships with the Japanese creative industries.

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In addition, I discussed our 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study findings and the $43+ billion dollar U.S. market, which the companies in attendance found interesting and exciting. This shows the value of our industry research on a global level. As a result of our newfound partnership, the Japan Hobby Association will be sharing consumer insights about the Japan market with us, which will be available to our entire membership later this year.

Did you make any new connections?

I was able to reengage a number of companies that I had prior working relationships with in my career. I was also able to meet the Association’s largest suppliers and distributors and other industry leaders over the course of the three days.

How is our rebranding to the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) received overseas?

The Japan Hobby Association and its member companies were aware of the changes we’ve made to Creativation and our membership. They were very complimentary of the changes and are look forward to seeing more progress as our new partnership develops and strengthens.

Mixed Media 2017 Exhibitor: The Crafter’s Workshop


Meet the exhibitors that will be at the Mixed Media Event 2017 in this blog interview mini-series!


Tell us a little bit about your company.

“Before we made stencils, we owned a retail store – and what a story we could tell! We know what your challenges are and what your days are like. We get it. Buying stencils should be the easiest part of your day and we do our best to make that happen. Oh, and we make all of our stencils right here in the USA!!”

What can attendees expect/look forward to at your booth?

“As always, we will have the newest, freshest looks for your Fall/Winter merchandising plans. Lots of styles to choose from which are sure to tempt your customers!”

Do you have any product teasers or sneak-peeks?

“Let’s just say it’s going to be Jolly, Holly Mixed Media Event!!”

How will retailers in the creative industry benefit from this event?

“As a ‘recovering retailer’ myself, it’s so important to get out of your own bubble (ie: your store!) and hear how other store owners around the country are tackling the same issues.”

Mixed Media Event 2017 Exhibitor: Prima Marketing Inc.


Meet the exhibitors that will be at the Mixed Media Event 2017 in this blog interview mini-series!


What can attendees expect/look forward to at your booth?

“Expect innovation, education and a myriad of fresh products to spark your creativity. Our booth is always a reflection of our unique look and style and we always welcome everyone to come and see our newest products and designs.”

What are you most excited for with AFCI hosting the mixed media event this year?

“We are excited at the opportunity of showing attendees our latest mixed media products and educating our customers on the latest techniques and trends.”

Do you have any product teasers or sneak-peeks?

“Yes! We will have our sneak peeks of our latest releases on our blog in the upcoming months: www.prima.typepad.com.”

How will retailers in the creative industry benefit from this event?

“We think it’s a great opportunity to experience mixed media products through the vision of each vendor. We believe that our innovative products and designs make us a leader in mixed media and this even facilitates the education and creativity for our customers.”


Mixed Media Event 2017 Exhibitor: Lawn Fawn


Meet the exhibitors that will be at the Mixed Media Event 2017 in this blog interview mini-series!


Tell us a little bit about your company.

Lawn Fawn is a small company from Southern California that specializes in crafting products (clear stamps, dies, paper & more) that are fun and lively. Lawn Fawn was started in 2010 when Kelly Marie combined forces with her husband Mike and friend Erica with a mission in mind – to bring smiles into the lives of crafters!!”

What can attendees expect/look forward to at your booth?

“Attendees can expect a fun booth with all day make and takes! We love being able to connect and have fun with amazing store owners!”

Do you have any product teasers or sneak-peeks?

“Although we don’t have sneak peeks yet, you can expect super cute products that will make you and your customers smile!”

How will retailers in the creative industry benefit from this event?

“Retailers will benefit from this event because they will be the first to see new products. They will get to try it in our classes and make and takes which is always fun! We love being able to connect in person!”


The Power of Pinning



This is a guest post by Patti Biro.

Creativation Flashback

At the Phoenix event I was able to share some insights regarding how to use Pinterest to promote your creative business. Pinning for business is a little different than pinning for pleasure. It requires a strategic plan and some best practices.  To recap some of the tips I shared in my workshops read on!

Shelf Life
Unlike other social media platforms a single pin has true staying power. While an estimated 40% of clicks on your pin happen in the first day you will continue to generate clicks and repins for 30 days and longer. This extends the value of each and every pin that you create to reach a larger audience. Taking the time to create a great pin with staying power will maximize the shelf life.

Best Time to Pin
You will generate the most likes, clicks and repins if you schedule your postings in the evening hours. That is when Pinterest is most active. Target your pins for Saturday mornings or Fridays after 3:00 to capture the most traffic. Work days and work hours are not the time to pin. Use those times for other social media and outreach activities.

Be Original
We know you are creative-so be original too! 80% of the content on Pinterest is repins from other boards and pinners. If you create original content you can highlight your product or business to the best advantage. Be a bit out of the box and share ideas on how to use your product, offer a sneak peek behind the scenes as you create your products or something about your creative process.

The Big Picture
Pinterest boards and individual pins can be used to sell not only products but also services and events. Create boards that highlight your products but also keep your audience engaged with other content. Are you going to be at an art fair, outdoor market or pop up event? Use Pinterest before, during and after to generate interest and attendance and to share the fun of the event.

Grow Your Followers
It is just good manners to follow everyone who follows you! You can also grow your followers by searching out larger groups of likeminded pinners (some groups have several thousand followers). You can find a list of different pin groups and their size at http://pingroupie.com/. You should also follow your vendors and suppliers to grow your reach.

Keep your descriptions short.  Between 200-300 words is the recommended length. This is the place to be informative-not funny or cute. Add hash tags with caution. The only place you can use hashtags is in the pin description and they work a bit different on Pinterest.  A best practice is to keep hashtags to a minimum using no more than three.   Always link back to your website.

Use the description to add advice, give basic instructions or how to-s. This kind of description will get you more notice. If you are repining content add you thoughts and show your creative side! For example if you just found a Pin of a fantastic setting that inspired you share what is special about it to you and how you plan to apply it to your creative work.

Don’t Forget to Clean
Remove older pins especially pictures of events long passed or product you no longer sell or create. Take it one board at a time and clean house! If there is something you want to save just for your own use create a Secret Board that only you can see.

Now you are on your way to Winning with Pinning!

Have a look at some of our other seminar throwbacks from Creativation University 2017.

There’s so much more to crafting than just…. well, crafting.

made-soulful copy
Create Something that Speaks to You

Hello AFCI Community!

Anna_500x500I’m so excited about this opportunity to share my Made Soulful blog and personal story with you! Let me introduce myself 😊 My name is Anna Teal and I’m a southern native who finds joy in anything creative. My crafting obsession started when I was young. From mixing and matching color palettes, to sketching a high fashion wardrobe, to attending craft fairs with my mother, I knew creativity would be a major part of my life. As an adult, my journey brought me to a career in crafts. I now work with many big names in the craft industry, such as Plaid, Martha Stewart, and Waverly. When I’m not producing and managing content at Plaid, which is my full-time gig, I enjoy thinking of new ways to inspire readers through organic, real life crafting solutions and advice. Whether it’s up-cycling furniture or creating unique home decor pieces to share with my readers, I feel truly blessed to do what I love every day.

Speaking of the everyday, my Made Soulful blog developed out of my desire to inspire and teach others that they don’t have to settle for empty, run-of-the-mill home decor. Too often, I found myself in stores, like Home Goods, Ross, World Market, and various other retail stores, where I saw pieces I liked, but I didn’t love or I found myself thinking, “Wow, I can totally make that for less.” I’m a huge advocate of curating meaningful items to fill your home. These items should inspire you daily and speak to your soul (Hence, my blog name, Made Soulful). For example, I just finished up a sign for my kitchen, which you can see below, that says, “Happiness is Cherry Pie.” This type of thing is typically difficult to find in stores and this phrase carries special meaning to me.


In addition to being a craft DIYer, I’m also a pie maker. I got into making pies after my grandmother passed a few years ago. I have so many fond memories of her and I making pies together. So, I thought I would carry on the pie making legacy. It’s been a great experience for me and my family to remember those we love and to create new memories together.


Cherry pies hold a special place in my heart because it’s my husband’s and father’s favorite dessert. It’s the best feeling in the world to see the pure joy on their faces when I present them with a homemade cherry pie! So, I created a sign to adorn my kitchen to evoke this happy emotion every time I look at it. This example is the core of what I believe when it comes to DIY experiences. Surround yourself with things that represent who you are, what you love, and have fun in the process 😊


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my Made Soulful journey! I’m so thrilled to be a part of the AFCI community! I’m looking forward to building new relationships, making new friends, and growing my business in the craft and hobby industry.

If you’d like to learn more about how to create something that speaks to you, please follow me on my blog: www.madesoulful.com and any of my social channels listed below!

I: www.instagram.com/madesoulful
F: www.facebook.com/madesoulful
T: www.twitter.com/madesoulful

Learn more about membership with AFCI here.

31 Days of Crafting: Creating Tradition

March is National Craft Month! All month long we’ll be sharing stories from your peers about what they are doing to celebrate and how they are encouraging others to discover the benefits of creativity.

This is a guest post from AFCI Staff, Keri Cunningham.

Every month is craft month in our house!  Crafting with my three year old daughter, Mae, is one of my favorite things to do.   We started crafting as soon as she could sit up straight in her highchair.  I’ve always had an interest in creative activities and was excited to be able to pass that along to my daughter.

She has quickly grown into a spunky toddler full of curiosity which still makes crafting a perfect activity.   Currently she loves to paint and make things out of Play-doh.


We will be celebrating National Craft Month by using the craft kits she received for her birthday. We are also excited to try some DIY slime making.  Wish us luck!



Keri coloring with Mae when she was a baby!

Stay tuned for more stories and tips on the AFCI Blog and all of AFCI’s social media channels.

What are you doing to celebrate National Craft Month? Share your story by emailing aarmeni@afci.global or using the hashtags #WeAreAFCI, #CRE8TIME and #NationalCraftMonth on social media.