What’s the big deal about the Hot Product Showcase?


Dreaming up the next big product is no walk in the park. And once you do, your job only gets harder. You need to get buy-in, manufacture it and then bring it to market only to hope it flies off shelves. You don’t need us to tell you it’s a lot of work. However, you should listen to us when we tell you about a program that can help take your craft product to the next level.

hotprodsThe Hot Product Showcase at the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show recognizes outstanding innovation, design and function in consumer craft products. In addition to getting eyed by thousands of buyers, these products are judged by a panel of media, celebrity and industry judges for a chance to earn the prestigious title of the Hot Product Award winner. The panel critiques products submitted in each of eight categories (Bead & Jewelry, Cake & Food Decorating, Fabric & Needle Craft, Floral Craft, General Craft, Kids Craft, Paint & Art, and Paper Craft), and ultimately the Hot Product Award winners.

So, how does being a Hot Product Award winner make your product hot?
Here’s what Lindsay Moore, VP of Sales at Hazel & Ruby, knows. Last year, DIY Décor Tape by Hazel & Ruby won the 2015 Hot Product Award for General Crafts, one of the most competitive product categories.

Kudos to the CHA staff for putting on such a great event. It was all first class. Having not participated in the past, we didn’t realize how important this was to our company and our industry. 

 Immediately after we were announced as a winner, our peers were so gracious about congratulating or complementing us on our achievement. Everyone was very kind and supportive. Competing manufacturers and retailers alike, took the time to stop and visit. We love this industry because of the people in it. Whether it’s the retailers, other manufacturers, the CHA staff, or sales reps. We are all rooting for each other and this is something we experienced firsthand. Make no mistake, we cheered for every manufacturer nominated as a finalist. We are some of their biggest fans. It takes a village to raise and keep a vibrant craft industry.

 Being a relatively new brand, trying to capitalize on a new growing trend, this event was something that helped give us credibility and validation for the vision of our company. Being a finalist opened doors that we believe would have taken nothing short of a miracle to happen on our own. We met wonderful, new retailers that we attribute directly to participating in this event.

 This event is needed for new companies and companies that have been around for a while to help grow the industry. I would encourage anyone and everyone in this industry to experience it. It’s a no risk, high-high reward situation.”

Submit your new craft product or prototype to the 2016 Hot Product Showcase by November 2 for a chance to be the next “DIY Décor Tape”.  Stay tuned next week for more success stories from our Hot Product Award winners. 


Cheers to 75 Years Celebrating 75 Years of Creativity with ICE Resin®


To celebrate 75 years of creativity at the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show, we are sharing our members’ stories of how they made their mark in the history of our industry.

MYNAMEISMaster silversmith and mixed media artist Susan Lenart Kazmer developed a jeweler’s grade resin for the use in art jewelry in 2006. She brought it to market in 2007 and sold out of her new signature product in less than an hour. Today, artists and professional jewelers from all over the world use ICE Resin® to create their unique art pieces because of its crystal clear and glasslike finish.

How long have you been a CHA Member?

My company, Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin®, has been a member of CHA since 2010.

SLKnewbiopicWhat’s the best thing about being a CHA Member?

It’s been very eye opening for me to see the big business of crafts and the opportunity to work with so many different levels of people in one place. Through CHA, I’ve been able to work with designers, sales reps, buyers, independent store owners, industry consultants, CEOs and presidents of other companies, as well as various CHA staff members. Exhibiting and teaching at the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show has definitely helped grow my company into a much larger organization. The networking and authentic connections I’ve made from the annual Shows has contributed to my company’s success.

Why do you love attending the CHA MEGA Show?

I’ve had the opportunity to teach my products, demo my products and connect with people both in the United States and internationally, year after year. This has helped me grow a truly global business. I look forward every year to personally reconnecting with the people who are moving and shaking, and getting products manufactured and sold in the industry. I’m really excited about this new opportunity of working hand-in-hand with Ranger Industries to debut my new product line of really exciting pieces, parts and elements that work with ICE Resin®. I think the artists and makers are going to love the new ideas and looks they are going to be able to do with ICE Resin®.

What is your most memorable CHA Show story?

One of the most rewarding parts of the CHA MEGA Show is, with the addition of the artisan workshops, I’ve been able to bring my studio style of teaching that I’ve done nationally and internationally for the past 15 years into the craft industry workshop format. It’s been so impressive for me to see my students grow in their ICE Resin® work year after year. They wear their jewelry to the Show, they bring it to my classes and they show up at our booth excited to share their passion for our products. I love it.

One of the other memorable parts of the Show every year is that I always get to connect in person with many members of my design team. We always go to Buco di Beppo for a team building dinner where we just relax, have fun, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s a tradition to wear fake mustaches when we walk into the restaurant and to share them with our waiters. One year, we even had a little extra fun going ‘stash crazy’ in the Pope room. We returned the next year only to have the same waiter still sporting his mustache on his leather order-taking book, so it must have been memorable for him too. It’s nice to unwind after long and busy days of doing business on the Show floor.

Join us, Susan, ICE Resin® and Ranger Industries in the workshop, Transparent Text with Susan Lenart Kazmer, at the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to celebrate the latest craft industry products and innovations.

Register today!

 Share your “Cheers to 75 Years” story and we’ll feature it on the CHA Blog leading up to the 2016 CHA MEGA Show! Email marketing@craftandhobby.org, or share it on Twitter using the hashtag, #WeAreCHA.

“Meet the Instructor” Blog Series: Meet Julie Fei-Fan Balzer


Registration for the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show is open! Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to some of our Workshop instructors so you can hear about their live classes and what you can expect to learn from them.

julie fei fan

This week, we are kicking off the “Meet the Instructor” blog series by meeting Julie Fei-Fan Balzer! Julie has attended the CHA MEGA Show as a buyer, sales person, demo artist, designer and exhibitor. This year, she’ll be attending as your instructor for Beautiful Boxes, sponsored by Brother International Corporation.  In this Workshop, you will explore the ScanNCut 2, the world’s only electronic cutter with a built-in scanner, and learn to make mixed media boxes that will look great on display at your store.

Watch this video to get more information about this Workshop, plus Julie’s seasoned advice for attending the CHA MEGA Show!

Celebrating 75 Years of Creativity with Momenta



CHA teamed up with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to pinpoint Places of Invention in the creative arts and craft industry. To celebrate 75 years of creativity at the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show, we are sharing our members’ stories of how they made their mark in the history of our industry.

Judith Joyce was an avid stenciler and the owner of American Traditional Stencils, a Northwood, NH based craft supplier whose products were sold in over 4,000 retail stores in the United States. In 1981, she invented a process for laser-cutting Mylar® film to create stencils for home decorating. As a result of this invention, American Traditional Stencils became the leader in laser-cut stencils selling millions of stencils over the next decade, and helped a generation of crafters stencil their homes, furniture and clothes. Today, the company is Momenta, and continues to sell laser-cut stencils.

Join us and Momenta in booth 821 in Anaheim for the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to celebrate the latest craft industry products and innovations.

Read Momenta’s full story.

Celebrating 75 Years of Creativity with Faber-Castell


CHA teamed up with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to pinpoint Places of Invention in the creative arts and craft industry. To celebrate 75 years of creativity at the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show, we are sharing our members’ stories of how they made their mark in the history of our industry.

Take a trip down memory lane with Faber-Castell and learn how its Texture Cards for Design Memory Craft allow creative people to simply be even more creative.

Join us and Faber-Castell in booth 2701 in Anaheim for the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to celebrate the latest craft industry products and innovations.



Part Two: Expanding Our Creative Toolbox and Our Horizons by Carmen Flores Tanis


Our Craft Industry Today Fall 2015 issue explored new technologies that CHA members using to add value to their business success. Carmen Flores Tanis sat down with a few more CHA members to learn the innovative approaches they are taking to turn their ideas into tangible products.

The Value of Prototyping
Build It Workspace interior by Carmen Flores Tanis
One of the beauties of print on demand is the ability to test a design before committing to print two, three or 100 items. Did you know this prototyping process is available on other kinds of machines? Catherine Lengsfeld of Build It Workspace uses an electronic die cutter to test designs for wedding favors before having them turned into steel rule dies for her traditional hand-cranked die cutting machine. Electronic plotter and vinyl die cutters, common tools of the trade for sign and banner shops, have shrunk in size and have been adapted to cut fabric and cork, in addition to vinyl and paper materials, and even engrave metal. Lengsfeld explains that while the digital die cutter is not meant for high rate production, it works beautifully for prototyping designs, which can then be mass produced on a different machine.

Lisa Elston, Product Manager at Ellison/Sizzix, is very involved with STEAM education programs and  agrees with the importance of prototyping. (STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, a movement championing the integration of creative skills with scientific thinking in school and business environments.)  Elston explains that this ability to try ideas with electronic die cutters allows students to make mistakes and apply what they learn to subsequent design variations. “Students are able to create ideas faster and with fewer issues and problems.”

Manufacturing at Home
Rob Bostick of  JudiKins uses his laser cutting machine for a different purpose. Up until recently, Bostick would design stencils using the graphics program Illustrator. He would import his design into a Sizzix eclips electronic die cutting machine for testing. Once he was happy with it he would send it to a vendor who would then manufacture the plastic stencils for him in large quantities. That all changed when his vendor upped the prices.

After doing the math, Bostick decided to purchase his own laser cutting machine. In one fell swoop, Bostick changed his workflow and became the manufacturer for  the JudiKins line of plastic stencils. “The biggest problem was running the minimums,” says Bostick. “Doing the manufacturing in-house allows us to create new products on the fly. We can dream of something, design it, make it, test market it and not have to worry about putting a lot of investment into having one stencil made up. We can make just one or 20 to take to a show.”

Bostick says, “When it comes to designs, you really have no clue how they are going to sell until you get out in the marketplace. Now we can make really short runs to test the market. Then we can invest more in the designs that sell. It helps us to create more images faster and to try different designs easily.”

Laser engraved pumpkin by Catherine Lengsfeld

Designer Tracy Alden is a master of mold making and resin casting. Although these materials are not new, they are resurging in popularity. Alden works with curators to make replicas of pieces for small museums and underprivileged groups that cannot afford to travel and view the original artwork. As a member of the Alumite design team, Alden starts her projects by sculpting an original work out of polymer clay or non-drying artisan clay. From the original, she casts a mold that she can then fill with any number of materials – plaster, clay, resin, paper maché, or even chocolate!

For her jewelry pieces, Alden casts between 20 to 100 pieces for a particular mold and makes each one slightly different through the careful use of inclusions, such as glitter and leaves. “It’s a simple way to customize and make one-of-a-kind pieces,” says Alden. I take personal pride in being able to mold my own creations and in pushing the boundaries of the materials. And there has to be a joy in what you’re doing. Then you’ll feel encouraged to make more and that means more sales and more money.”

Missed “Part One” of this series? Download the digital version of Craft Industry Today Fall 2015 to read learn about more technologies, including print on demand, screen printing and more.

Meet the Webinar Host


Meet David Mehlman of MadeClose. Register to attend his webinar, Connecting To & Growing Your Target Audience, live on September 9, 2015 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST, at no additional cost to your CHA membership.

Tell us a little bit about your professional experience.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Lehigh University, I began a career in finance at Sanford C. Bernstein as a sell-side equity research analyst covering the U.S. beverages, U.S. regional banks and U.S. semiconductors sectors. After Bernstein, I transitioned to the buy side, where I was an analyst at Eminence Capital, a multi-billion-dollar equity hedge fund.

Why did you start your business, MadeClose?

I always had the entrepreneurial “itch”. So, I teamed up with a few of my good friends to start an organization with the mission to become the leader in the conscious consumerism movement, and to educate people to make better and more informed purchase decisions. Soon enough, MadeClose was born.

Why should business owners attend your webinar, Connecting To & Growing Your Target Audience?

Business owners will have a better understanding of and a strong commitment to their company’s mission. Investing time in building your brand identity, and sticking to it, is what helps find and grow a loyal customer base.

CHA Webinars feature top speakers and leaders sharing tips, resources and solutions for today’s business world. CHA members have unlimited access to webinars for no additional cost to their dues. Visit www.craftandhobby.org to learn more about CHA education programs and membership.

CHA: “Not just an expense, but an investment well made”


Not just an expense, but an investment well made, as we continuously see the value when we meet new potential national and international customers at the Show.
– Sonia Viteri, Tombow

The 2016 CHA MEGA Show is a big expense if you’re not a member of the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA). Whether you’re exhibiting or not, Non-Members pay more to be at the largest craft industry event in North America.
IMG_3476The CHA MEGA Show is the only trade event of its kind in North America, bringing together the global creative and craft industries to conduct business. Buyers from these categories, who represent over 35,000 storefronts and 55 countries, will be at our Show in January.

  • Art materials
  • Business services
  • Containers & storage
  • Digital craft
  • Furniture & lighting
  • Home décor, DIY & framing
  • Holiday & seasonal
  • Instructional channels
  • Jewelry & bead
  • Kids crafts & kits
  • Leather & metal crafts
  • Models, hobbies, collectibles
  • Needlecrafts, sewing & textiles
  • Paper crafts
  • Woodworking & more!

Join CHA and receive a better return on your investment. You’ll save 40% on booth and badge prices! When you exhibit, you will receive a 10’X10’ booth where you can demonstrate and sell your new products to our buyers, plus four badges to walk the Show floor.

In addition to incredible savings, CHA membership will give you access to:

  • Webinars for no additional cost to your dues, which are available 24/7 and designed to enhance your business skills
  • Craft Industry Today magazine and industry news in monthly newsletters
  • Research on trends and the state of the industry
  • Discounts on education and business products and services
  • Listings in online directories
  • Product specific communities

Make the investment and start saving – JOIN TODAY!

Ways to save: Make the 2016 CHA MEGA Show your most efficient business trip ever



Everyone’s getting pumped for the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show. With registration only a month away (September 16!), you may be thinking, how can I afford the trip? CHA wants this to be your most efficient business trip ever. Use these tips to start saving now.

Before the Show

Register Early

Register by Monday, December 21 and it won’t cost you a penny to get on the Show floor. CHA buyer and industry professional members who register early attend for no additional cost to their membership dues; CHA buyer and industry professional members who register after Monday, December 21 pay $25 to attend.

Book Ahead

Reserve your hotel room through onPeak, CHA’s official housing partner, by October 31, 2015 to take advantage of the early bird promotion rates at CHA’s hotel partners, which are as low as $90 per night! Start monitoring flights now using websites like Kayak and Trivago so you can find the best rate on the best airline and book on the cheapest day of the week.

Save Your Money

Set aside money every day until the MEGA Show. If you set aside $5 a day, you will save enough money for a six-night stay at several of CHA’s hotel partners.

Find a Roommate

Cut the cost of your hotel room in half when you share a room with your business colleague, friend or another Show attendee. Don’t know anyone? Join the See You at CHA Facebook group and meet one of your peers who is in the same situation.


Evaluate how much money you will spend on daily expenses, such as food, and education seminars and workshops. Some of our events include food and drinks, which means fewer meals you will have to pay for out of pocket.

At the Show

Shop the Grocery Store

You don’t have to eat out every night. There are several grocery stores in the area, like Krogers, where you can purchase meals for less than the cost of restaurants.

Free Transportation

All of CHA’s hotel partners offer a complimentary shuttle service or are within walking distance of the Anaheim Convention Center. A couple of hotels offer complimentary parking too.

Rental Car Discounts

Discounts for car rentals and shuttle service to and from the airport will be listed on the CHA MEGA Show website soon. Take these vehicles when your destination is further than walking distance – they’re cheaper than a cab ride!

Show Your Badge

Local restaurants and venues will give you a discount when you flash your CHA MEGA Show badge! A list of participating businesses will be shared online closer to the event. These discounts are in addition to the low cost dinner options you can explore in Anaheim (ask the hotel staff about their favorite places!).

Network, Network, Network!

Make your trip worth your while. The more people you meet and events you attend, the more business opportunities you will have to maximize the return on your investment.

After the Show

Follow Up

Stay in touch with the people you meet at the Show so your newly formed relationships don’t dissipate.

Plan for 2017

The next CHA MEGA Show is in January 2017. Start thinking about it after your 2016 adventure in Anaheim to give yourself even more time to budget, plan and save.

The CHA Designer Section Trends Committee Report


By Linda Swingle
CHA Trends Committee Lead

The CHA Designer Section Trends Report provides a close-up and intricate perspective of current trends in arts and crafts.

Trends Committee members are professional designers with extensive experience and ties to manufacturers. Through CHA’s global network, our members provide vital information regarding the overall direction of the industry. Additional resources used to compile the Trends Report include multiple social media platforms, digital publications, printed publications, and good old-fashion reporting techniques, like interviews with select companies, industry associates and leaders.

Our dedicated columnists submit bi-annual reports featuring what’s trending now as well as creative ingenuity that is coming down the pike. As trends develop, the landscape of the craft industry develops with them. Artistic license drives sales. In turn, manufacturers develop supplies tailored to trends while keeping traditional supplies available. It is an interesting perspective, as I do not believe one can exist entirely without the other. Viva! The evolution of creative trends is born!

As craft and art techniques continually intersect, rules no longer pertain to the creative process. Mixing various materials with unique or accepted techniques paves the road to new trends. This is especially true as professional crafters and artisans express ideas to various publications and posting through social media.

Our 2015 Designer Section Trends Report covers the following categories:

General Crafts

Mixed Media

Children’s Crafts

Needle Arts

Home Décor

Paper Crafts

Jewelry Arts

Wearable Arts

By providing avenues of interest through various product categories, our Committee will expand its research and findings for future CHA Designer Section Trends Committee Reports. Anticipated growth will enhance our studies while providing opportunity for members to expand and grow their businesses through professional association and recognition.

The success of the Designer Section Trends Report is due to contributions by our volunteers. The level of appreciation and respect for our Committee members is beyond words. It is a win-win creative situation as we grow and develop skills on a personal and professional level!

For more information, or to join our committee, please refer to postings in the August CHA Member News, through our CHA Designer Section Facebook group or message Linda Swingle on Facebook.