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

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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.

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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

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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.

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

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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.”

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Mixed Media Event 2017 Exhibitor: Lawn Fawn

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

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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!”

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The Power of Pinning

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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.

Descriptions
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.

Creativation Wrap Up


This is a guest post by Angie Holden, The Country Chic Cottage.

Did you attend the Creativation show in Phoenix this year? I explored the show floor all three days to bring you a fabulous wrap up of the events. My name is Angie and I blog at The Country Chic Cottage about crafts, DIY, home décor, and even recipes. I have attended the CHA show for several years and was excited for this year with all of the changes. The first change was that the show moved to sunny Phoenix. Or they say it is usually sunny…

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For most of the show, it was cloudy and even raining! That did not seem to dampen the spirits of the attendees this year however. I thought the show had an amazing energy and vibe this year. I really felt it was the best show I have ever been to!

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Maybe the announcement during the show of the name change from the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) to the Association for Creative Industries (AFCI) had everyone charged with excitement. Perhaps the amazing booths just jump started their creativity. After all, a walk on the show floor is sometimes all you need to inspire an entire year’s worth of creative projects. The following snap shots are from DCWV and Rustoleum.I loved the colorful message in both of those booths and just had to get a picture of them.

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If you did not get a chance to visit the bakery on the show floor, you really missed out! I loved seeing all of the edible art and sampling the best fondant on the planet, Satin Ice.

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Scotty also made an appearance on the show floor. Scotty is the traveling mobile studio for Eileen Hull. She travels around the United States sharing her creativity and designs with Sizzix and Clearsnap.

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Didn’t attend Creativation this year and want a tour of Scotty? I found it empty one day and did a Facebook Live with a little tour just for you! Watch below!

 

The Innovations Center held 25 groundbreaking ideas and products. Each one had a display where you could chat with the inventors and even complete a make and take in some instances. The Ultimate Pitch contest was also held on Monday and five innovations pitched for the chance to win $10,000! I really enjoyed exploring the area and learning about some of these innovative ideas.

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The star of the show however is always the products in the booths. I picked just a few of the products that were featured this year. These are all things that stood out for me on the show floor or overall trends that I saw when exploring the booths. I will start in the Pulsar booth just because I fell in love with this backdrop. They are bringing cross stitch back in a really creative way and I love it!

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I am still in love with the Deco-Foil from Thermoweb! It is not new however they have some new colors this year and it is still a hot product judging by the crowd at their booth!

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I was happy to see tons of organization products on the show floor. I love pretty organization for my craft supplies so each of these booths made my heart pitter patter. The following pictures are from Deflecto and Crate Paper.

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Big chunky knitted blankets are all over my Instagram feed so I was drawn into the display for the WOW yarn from Lion Brand. Just look at that scarf! So amazing!

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The lover of farmhouse style in me found a home in several booths on the show floor. From rustic galvanized metal to gorgeous wood finishes, there were booths that made me want to load up my shopping cart! The following pictures are from Walnut Hollow and Jillibean Soup

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There was plenty of eye candy for the DIY lover as well just in case you thought that there were only craft products represented. I saw appliance painting kits and industrial sized glue guns. The following images were from Adtech where I loved testing out that caulk gun!

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Need to create a mold for some casting? There were a couple of new products that I can’t wait to get my hands on! The first is ComposiMold which is a reusable product that you can remelt to create molds over and over again. The second is FastCast from ETI that sets in just 10 minutes!

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Everywhere you turn there were succulents and cacti! The following are from Darice, Pulsar, Spellbinders, and Sizzix.

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If the show floor is any indication, the adult coloring trend is here to stay! I am sure I missed some of the booths as there were just so many products geared towards the trend. Shirts, pillows, ceramics, embroidery, Vera Bradley coloring books, cards, canvases, and more! There are even erasable markers from MultiCraft.

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A trend that seems to be climbing is fairy gardens. There were displays at Darice, Midwest Design Imports, and Plaid that were amazing.

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You can get up close and personal with the Darice display in my Facebook Live video below!

 

The new exhibitors area is always full of great finds for me. I loved the Threads inkjet printable fabric! It was so soft right out of the printer and machine washable. Amazing! The Photomatic app seemed to be the talk of the show and I just had to try it out for myself. Another area of the floor that seemed to be busy was the MakerSpace where there were demos and classes each day. I hung out there on Saturday and admired the 3D printers.

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Since each person seems to be drawn to different things on the show floor, I thought it would be fun to include a couple of wrap up videos from a few other bloggers that attended. First up is Carolina Moore with 30 Minute Crafts and Always Expect Moore. She also was part of the pair that won the Fashion Fusion challenge. On Sunday night, she showed off her look in an amazing fashion show!

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Watch Carolina’s tour video for Creativation 2017 below.

 

Jessica Hill with Mad in Crafts was a first time attendee so I thought it would be fun to include her perspective as well. Here are her thoughts on all three days of activity on the show floor.

 

Overall the Creativation show was a huge success in my book! I am now busy following up with contacts that I made and crafting with the new products that are hitting the market. I can’t wait until 2018! Will you be there?

Exhibitors: Who’s New at AFCI’s Creativation for 2017

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By Amanda Formaro, Crafts by Amanda.

There were plenty of new exhibitors at the 2017 Creativation show in Phoenix, Arizona. A full alphabet of new faces, from AFA Inc. to Zorbitz Inc. and plenty of letters in between. I had an inside look while on the show floor and was impressed by the variety of innovative product offerings. I went live on Facebook and took viewers through several of these exhibitors during the show if you’d like to walk along with us.

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My first stop was at the Ann Williams Group booth where I chatted with Colleen. I should probably say that I’m a crafter and a painter, I don’t do any sort of needlework (yet). However, I love the idea of the Loop de Loom fast weaving loom that allows you to craft scarves, bags, and even stuffed animals in a much shorter time than traditional looms. The Loop de Doo bracelet maker would be ideal for tween girls and I think would be especially sought after by camp directors and scout leaders. Products available cover a wide range of ages, starting at age 6 all the way into adulthood. With brands like Craft-Tastic, Craft Crush, and Loopdedoo among others, there seems to be something for everyone!

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I’ve seen plenty of DIY projects out there that show you how to change out your drawer hardware, but I’m loving the idea behind Cameleon Hardware’s design plates. These easily changeable plates are made from recycled Capri Sun and candy wrappers collected from schools. The concept is simple. Glue anything you like to the design plate and change out your drawer handle hardware any time you want. Leave the hardware in place and change out the plates as your kids grow and your tastes change. A very affordable way to change out your décor and style!

Next I visited Susan from Masterson Art Products where I learned about the Sta-Wet Handy Palette. As a painter that uses acrylics, this product piqued my interest. It’s made up of a thin sponge and special palette paper that provides a layer of moisture to help keep your paint hydrated, preventing it from drying out prematurely. This product comes in several sizes and replacement sheets are also available. Susan also showed me the Rinse Well which provides painters with access to fresh water without having to stop and head to the sink every ten minutes. The Rinse Well flushes the dirty water and refills the well with clean water. Finally, we had a look at their newest product, the Sta-New brush holder. Masterson says this allows brushes to properly dry by hanging them bristles downward. This forces the water to run down the bristles instead of into the handle, extended the life of your brushes.

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I stopped by the Wilson Enterprises booth to have a look at their Birch Wood product line. All their birch wood is harvested from the upper peninsula of Michigan and is all kiln dried. Their items are used for a variety of things including ornaments, coasters, vase filler and photo plaques. They are used in scrapbooking, stamping, painting, carving, wood burning, screen printing, deco paging and plenty more. Many of their beautiful items have become quite popular for weddings too. From large slices of birch wood stacked to make a wedding cake stand to tiny slices of birch wood branches used in candle lit mason jars. Their products can be found in over 2,000 retail stores including big craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby.

I know a lot of crafters and seamstresses that will love this next one. I stopped by the Scissorfobz booth where I could check out their line of products. Pretty hand-beaded scissorfobz come with a protective cap adorned with ornamental jewelry. All are different and unique making them great gifts. They even come with an extender chain for your larger scissors. Their scissor covers are made with their proprietary scissor gripper material inside. When you put your scissors inside the sleeve it grips your scissors so that the cover does not come off until you take it off. These covers come in a 4-size value pack and are available on their website as well as in their Etsy shop.

I came upon some of the cutest crochet, knitting and sewing kits at The Crafty Kit Company booth. If you followed along on Facebook live you know I spent quite a bit of tie in their booth gushing over all the adorable kits available. Aside from the individual kits, they also have themed sets (polar set, African set, forest set, etc.) that are geared toward the kids. There’s a special token included with the sets. Once your child has completed all the animals in the set they send the token back to the company and will receive a scene in the mail to match their set.

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Another source for darling kits for kids was the Haan Crafts booth. Sabrina Cassidy of Haan Crafts told me that they are a leading educational kit manufacturer with kids’ growth and development in mind. They offer adorable bagged felt craft kits that come in a variety of animals including a penguin, elephant, owl, cat, hippo, dog, tiger, raccoon, pig, and a monkey. They are packaged in resealable bags so kids can keep their project inside while it’s still in progress. Each kit has preprinted felt with stitching, placement and cutting lines on every piece. The kits include all the supplies needed including stuffing, needles and floss. Each package makes a 7-inch stuffed animal and a matching key chain animal. Their materials are made in the US from recycled plastic bottles.

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Talk about a blingy booth! Brightz are lights you can use in crafting, in jars, as accents, tucked into flowers, threaded with ribbon, woven through bicycle spokes… you name it you can probably do it! Be sure to check the packages for details first, but I even witnessed lights submerged in water in a flower vase (not the battery pack of course). A great way to add some sparkle to weddings, an anniversary celebration or holiday party. Brightz are widely distributed and can be found on amazon, in mass merchants, craft stores, basically all over.

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One of my favorite product additions at this year’s show was Colorwear. Introduced by The Mountain, Colorwear is a new concept of coloring t-shirts. This shirt manufacturer out of New Hampshire dyes the shirts and then prints the designs onto the shirts that you can color with Tulip brand fabric markers (included in the kit). Each shirt is hand dyed with eco-friendly water based inks and dyes and then printed with gorgeously detailed coloring book designs. You won’t find these in the big box craft stores though. If you have a favorite boutique store you like to visit check with them, or browse their 50 different designs on Colorwear.com.

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If you knit or crochet you know the struggle that is the traveling yarn ball. Kate, the founder of YarnIt, was working on a knitting project aboard an airplane when her yarn ball rolled off her lap, under the seat and all the way up the aisle. When she finally retrieved it, her beautiful white yarn was covered in grime and crumbs. That’s when she came up with the idea of the Yarnit. This plastic ball with locking plug holds your yarn keeping it from falling and rolling across the floor. A new design is also in the works for skeins instead of just balls of yarn that they hope will be available by Mother’s Day 2017. And here’s a handy tidbit. The Yarnit has a removable silicone base that is perfect for holding small items such as tiny scissors and other notions.

At the U-Paint Metal Crafts booth I found myself surrounded by hundreds of paintable metal designs. Turns out, the Frank Morrow Company offers over 6,000 different designs! These paintable molded metal items work great as sun catchers, on wind chimes, as lapel pins, refrigerator magnets, and ornaments. They are per accessories for a scarf or handbag as well. With 6,000 different designs there’s definitely something for everyone, including boys! Sometimes it’s a little harder to find things the boys will enjoy, but I don’t think you’ll have that problem here.

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Enter the world of Diamond Dotz. Seriously, the gorgeous bling in this booth was overwhelming. One of my favorite things about crafting is intricacy. I get lost in the zone as I concentrate on tiny details. If you are the same chances are you will love these Diamond Dotz. The company offers kits, big and small, which uses a polyester fabric coated with special adhesive and a stylus which has chemical reaction with their dots. You use the stylus to pick up the dot and place it onto the designated area of the canvas using a code that identifies the colors of each dot. In the end, you’ll have a dazzling piece of artwork only available at  Needleartworld.com

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Finally rounding out my tour of the new exhibitors I stopped by the Giani booth. For about $80.00 you can buy a kit that will transform your entire kitchen. It’s true! There’s a little preplanning involved of course. If you have cats that like to jump on the counters, you may need to block off the room during your project. You’ll need to allow your counters to dry for 24 hours before you can use it at all, and then allow 3 days before you put anything significant on it. There’s a 14-day waiting period for heavier items like a microwave. The kit comes with everything you need to make over your kitchen. You can visit their website or stop by Amazon.com.

There was a dazzling array of new exhibitors this year at Creativation, you can see the full list of them here. I am excited to try out some of these “new to me” products and hope you will too.