Meet the Instructor – Marilyn Gossett


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.

marilynThis week, we meet Marilyn Gossett! In the spirit of the Show’s 75th Anniversary, Marilyn will help you create amazing event signage using a variety of mixed media along with Deflecto message holders and frames. Sign up for her Workshop, “Create | Display | Enjoy™” with Deflecto, to experience this fun filled session complete with cupcakes and inspirational ideas to use for any celebration!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Marilyn Gossett. I have worked in the craft industry for 25 years as a freelance designer, product developer, consultant and teacher. I am a wife, mom and guardian of two fur babies.

How many years have you participated in the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show?

23 years off and on. I joined as a CHA Designer the first year that CHA opened up the category for membership.

What is your favorite part of the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show?

My favorite part is seeing all of the new products and designs. It is inspiring and overwhelming all at the same time. Almost equal to that is seeing old friends and catching up!

How would you describe a live workshop at the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to someone who has never attended before?

It is an exciting opportunity to get hands-on knowledge of the product and a fun time; Plus, they will have a finished sample to take back to their store or business!

Why should buyers and creative professionals take your workshop?

Deflecto is new to the craft industry, but has been around as a worldwide office supplier/manufacturer for many years. We provide innovative storage products and craft surfaces to showcase any medium and support all craft supplies. We are planning new products all of the time. It is great to have access to new surfaces to be creative with.

How does your workshop relate to emerging trends and the current state of the creative industry?

Deflecto has product appeal to many different genres of art: photography, paper crafting, and general crafts; and, who in this industry doesn’t need innovative storage solutions, surfaces and displays?

What is the best advice you can offer about attending the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show, whether someone is attending for the first time or is an industry veteran?

Pack a pad and pencil for taking notes; attend some workshop, and visit all of the make-n-takes for business education and fun!

What do you love most about the creative industry?

New products, kindred spirits and lots of fun!

Where do you see the creative industry in five years?

I see a resurgence of grassroots companies starting up in the United States. People are looking for less clutter, more useful and repurposed items. Paper crafting will take on a new edge with the introduction of 3D printers. People are always looking for faster and easier ways to create something they love; handmade gifts, memory keeping, and home décor all seem to be trending with a down-home appeal and return to simpler days. Burlap will be around for a while. Parties will never go out of style!

What do you love most about CHA membership?

One word – ACCESS!

Register to take “Create | Display | Enjoy™” with Deflecto and our other CHA MEGA Conference programs before they sell out! Stay tuned on the CHA blog this Friday when we will meet Yana Smakula!


Breaking: Duncan Enterprises’ Mark Peters to Retire – Larry Hermansen Named President & COO


In a news release issued earlier today, CHA Member iLoveToCreate/Duncan Enterprises announced former CHA Board member, Mark Peters, will be retiring after a 20-year career with the company. We congratulate Mark Peters on his retirement and wish him the best.

Duncan Enterprises also announced that Larry Hermansen will transition into the roll as the company’s new President and Chief Operating Officer.

See the complete release listed below.

Duncan Enterprises Names Larry Hermansen President and Chief Operating Officer

Mark Peters to transition responsibilities to Hermansen and retire after a 20-year career at Duncan Enterprises

Fresno, Nov. 5, 2015 – On November 3, Duncan Enterprises welcomed Larry Hermansen as the new President and Chief Operating Officer. In his new role, Hermansen will lead the sales, marketing, new product development, finance, human resources, operations, manufacturing, distribution and infrastructure teams for the company, reporting directly to Larry Duncan, Chairman of Duncan Enterprises.

Hermansen, a Craft and Hobby industry veteran, brings nearly 30 years of leadership expertise to Duncan Enterprises. “Larry has a deep understanding of our industry, sensitivity for best-in-class business practices and cultures and an appreciation for creative consumers and the experiences that can be crafted for them,” said Duncan. “His leadership style is known to be very open and transparent, with clear and direct communication coupled with high trust, recognition and accountability. He is a perfect fit with our culture of high performance and our commitment to make it easy for the consumer to experience creativity.”

“Larry has the strength and ability to drive Duncan Enterprises to stronger and faster growth,” said Peters. “He has an outstanding track record of building businesses.”

Most recently, Hermansen served as the General Manager of E.K.Success Brands in Kansas City, the paper craft division of parent company, Wilton Brands. Prior to Wilton, Hermansen spent 13 years developing and operating two creative consumer products companies that he eventually sold and six years as an owner/partner of Chatterbox LLC with responsibilities for sales & marketing.

“I have a passion for developing and bringing to market products that inspire consumers to be creative,” said Hermansen, “but even more than that, creating a culture and atmosphere in which team members love their work and are motivated to be their best—that’s what really drives me.”

Peters, COO since 2006 and President since 2011, will begin turning over the business units to Hermansen, beginning with the craft, mass and alternate channel businesses, and continuing in 2016 with the ceramic and DIY farm & garden business. Peters will retire to work in the family ranching business but stay involved with Duncan Enterprises as its Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

About Duncan Enterprises

Duncan Enterprises is a privately-held, family-owned, Fresno, California based company that has led the Ceramic Arts industry since 1946 with the Duncan brand, has been a major leader in the Crafts & DIY industries since 1988 with the Scribbles, Tulip, Aleene’s and Puffy brands doing business as iLoveToCreate and has recently entered the DIY Farm & Garden market in 2014 with the launch of the SummerHawk Ranch brand. As a manufacturing, marketing, sourcing and distribution organization, Duncan Enterprises maintains a solid reputation for excellence in product development, quality, education and health & safety.

Cheers to 75 Years: Celebrating Linda Swingle


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

lindaswingleAs an entrepreneur and professional artist, Linda enjoys a professional journey filled with unlimited possibilities while working with the finest clientele and companies spanning the globe. She is the President of Linda Swingle Professional Art Services, and also serves as Editor and Columnist of the CHA Designer Section Trends Report.

How long have you been a CHA Member?

I first became a CHA Member in 2006 and continued with the membership until 2008. Life presented different plans in 2009, but in 2010 I renewed membership. Renewing my membership was the best move I made for multiple reasons. My journey with CHA continues to be an enjoyable one!

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

As a CHA Designer Member, I enjoy close ties with designers, manufacturers, artisans and craft enthusiasts: all whom I consider my circle of creative homies! Volunteering and serving on CHA Committees provide tremendous opportunities for personal growth and development, in addition to benefits gained through business association. Serving as the Lead and Editor of the CHA Designer Section Trends Committee’s Trends Report brings tremendous joy to my creative soul. Combining a passion for art, writing, and a love for people is a remarkable experience, and it all started through volunteering as a contributing reporter back in 2013. Five years ago, I truly had no idea of the possibilities compared to what I now know.

LSPhoto20122Why do you love attending the CHA MEGA Show?

Oh my goodness! I can revert to fun times experienced during childhood while messing around with art and craft supplies – except this time, without being yelled at! Seriously, where else can one have so much fun? Playing with new products during the CHA MEGA Show beats playing at Disneyland any day of the week! I like to refer to the CHA MEGA Show as the “Cathedral of Creativity” . . . the inner sanctum of endless possibilities if you will!

What is your most memorable CHA Show story?

Honestly, singling out a favorite is a bit difficult due to the treasure trove of fond memories collected thanks to CHA. I would say exhibiting for the first time as a new CHA Designer Member in 2011 and participating in the Designer Showcase was an extremely enjoyable experience. The first Show opened doors as well as opened my eyes to the tremendous opportunities ahead! A funny story relating to a particular make-n-take always makes me chuckle. While participating during a quick painting class held on the Show floor, as I sat and applied techniques taught, the owner of the company, a kindly gentleman, leaned over and asked if I had ever enrolled in painting classes prior to that day. Sheepishly, I stated that I had not. He quickly commented how impressed he was by the natural talent possessed. After completing a quick painted rendition of a snow-capped mountain, the man took me aside to encourage me to pursue training as a painter and asked that I stay in touch with him. At that point, it was impossible to hold back a giggle as I handed him my business card with images of murals painted professionally for commercial installations. That day, we both enjoyed a good laugh, and yes, despite the teasing, the kind man and I remain friends!

Join Linda in the seminar, CRAFTING TRENDS: What’s In and Hot For 2016 & Beyond, at the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to have FUN and 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, or share it on Twitter using the hashtag, #WeAreCHA.

Celebrating 75 Years of Creativity with Fiskars


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.

Fiskars revolutionized scissors with the launch of the world’s first plastic-handled scissors in 1967. The now-iconic Original Orange-Handled Scissors improved ergonomics and provided a high-quality option at an affordable price, making the everyday tool more easily accessible for everyone.


Join us and Fiskars in booth 2745 in Anaheim for the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to celebrate the latest craft industry products and innovations.

Read Fiskars’s full story.

Sing your way to the CHA MEGA Show: Lip Sync Battle Contest


Submit your lip sync video of the official CHA MEGA Show song by November 30 for your chance to win one fabulous grand prize!

LipSync 810x300How to enter:

Step 1: Watch our lip sync video.


Step 2: Download the song.

Step 3: Learn the lyrics.


Yeah! The CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show

The 75th Anniversary let’s go!

It’s coming up fast,

we’re counting down the days…

The best annual trade show in every way!

So come on down and enjoy the fun,

Celebrate the 75th with everyone!

Swing by the website to learn more…!

Step 4: Record a video with just you or a group. Make it fun. Make it crafty. Make it YOURS!

Step 5: Submit your video to

One lucky winner will receive:

2 x tickets to Disneyland
$100 AMEX gift card

The winning video will be played at the Keynote Presentation at the CHA MEGA Show!

Good luck! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Straight from the Bloggers – the Benefits of CHA Blogger Membership


Bloggers play a critical role in creating awareness in any industry. The craft industry is no exception. That’s one of the main reasons why CHA created a membership for craft bloggers.

CHA Blogger Members receive all of the benefits that come with CHA Membership. How does that aid their businesses? We asked a few bloggers that question. Here’s what they said.

Nancy_Nally_profile1“I advocated strongly for the creation of a new membership category to serve the craft industry’s online publishers. Being a CHA Blogger Member gives me access to the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show, networking groups, webinars, and information that CHA provides, all of which are important to my ability to succeed. But perhaps even more important is that being a member gives me and other bloggers a voice in the future direction of the Association,
and through that, the future of the craft industry.”
-Nancy Nally, Scrapbook Update

Bettijo B. Hirschi“Being a member of CHA helps keep our blog fresh and exciting. features a lot of kids craft and DIY home décor ideas. We have found that being members of CHA and attending the CHA MEGA Show allows us to develop productive working relationships with our favorite crafting brands and to see the emerging trends in crafts. We also love to be among the first to see and experiment with new products. As crafting innovators, things can seem to get stale quickly and it can sometimes feel hard to come up with something new and creative; we always come away from the CHA Show inspired
and ready to create.”
– Bettijo B. Hirschi,

Niki-Meiners_web“Being a CHA Designer and Blogger has given me the best of both worlds. As technology started to become more prevalent in the craft industry, I knew I needed to be a part of the change. About seven years ago, I started a personal blog and incorporated some of my designer work into it. Manufacturers liked having an extra outlet to showcase their newest products and I liked working with them. As requests for blog posts and creating content for specific companies became the norm, I decided I should build a website; was my brand. My blog gives me an outlet to demonstrate all facets of my art, as well as my technology, marketing and public relations skills. I actively create projects for manufacturers for both their sites and mine. Plus, I consult several manufacturers on digital public relations and social media management. My involvement in CHA aided with me forming many of these relations. It helped me create 365 Days of Crafts, which has grown to have a very loyal audience who loves crafts and always come back for more.”
– Niki Meiners,

Join CHA to amplify your voice in the craft industry, and attend the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show for free. Join online today!

Cheers to 75 Years Celebrating 75 Years of Creativity with Jill MacKay


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


Jill MacKay is an accomplished designer, author and consultant. Her genuine enthusiasm, combined with over 25 years creative work experience makes Jill one of the most skilled, diversified and sought after designers working in the creative industries today. Jill is best known for having been the jewelry designer for the daytime drama: The Guiding Light, and for her past work on Paramount Studio’s, Star Trek: The Next Generation. In addition, Jill is the woman behind Liteseeds LED Stickers, which are stickers that crafters can use to add illumination to paper crafting, scrapbooking, paper computing and many other types of projects. The Jill MacKay brand continues to evolve and charm the jewelry makers and buyers of the industry. MacKay’s jewelry currently sells in over 2,000 stores internationally, on television, and online.

How long have you been a CHA Member?jill4

I have been a CHA member since 1992.

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

The best thing about being a CHA member is the home I have found. I used to design for Hollywood types and it wasn’t at all for me; the people weren’t very down to Earth. When I attended my first CHA Show, everyone was so on my wavelength. The genuine quality of the people struck me in the way that I knew I had found a home, and I have been here ever since! The quality of people in our industry is amazing, and I have made good friends with many along the way with CHA.

Why do you love attending the CHA MEGA Show?

Jill2I love attending CHA Shows because it is so exciting to see all the new products, watch what is evolving, understand how the market changes from year to year, and, of course, spend a little time with all my old friends.

What is your most memorable CHA Show story?

Every year is special because the Show is the only time I get to see some of the people I love from CHA. So, our time together is precious. When the Show was in Las Vegas, every day the Jill3
Show would let out and there was a very long line (what seemed like a mile long as there were never enough taxis). Well, I am not very good at waiting. While approaching the taxi line one evening, I glanced over and saw this young man standing in front of a party bus. I ran over and asked him how many people I would need to rent it, and then I ran back and gathered up that many friends. In a matter of minutes we were off and no more waiting! We hopped on that bus and felt like we had just gotten away jill1with something; we were laughing and had so much fun!  Oh my gosh – I cannot tell you how hard we laughed! We took turns pretending that we knew what that pole in the back was for (wink, wink)! As I recall, that same night some of us from the bus ride had dinner together; we were having so much fun at dinner that perfect strangers came up and asked if they could join our table because they wanted to have as much fun as we were having!! At CHA, we know how to work hard all day, and have fun (on the way to) and over dinner!

Join us and Jill in the workshop, Inspire, Imagine and Create Leather Jewelry with Sizzix, at the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to have FUN and 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, 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!

Meet the Webinar Host


JoeRotella_400x400Meet Joe Rotella of Delphia Consulting. Register to attend his webinar, Hosting and Marketing a Special Event, live on September 30, 2015 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST, at no additional cost to your CHA membership.

Professional Experience

My professional focus has been on the user experience with new technology since I started my career in the early 1980s, working on the first PCs developed by IBM. After a distinguished career at Bell Labs, I became an Officer at Delphia Consulting. I now serve as Delphia’s Chief Marketing Officer and lead its Internet marketing practice.

I’ve also been a designer for as long as I can remember. My mother started my family on crafting. She crocheted, and when she brought home a Brother knitting machine, I was fascinated. Soon enough I was creating designs from christening dresses to ski wear. I’ve dabbled in macramé, string art and latch hooked rugs when they were hot in the 70’s. Now, at 50 years old, my eyes are on paper crafting. My work has appeared in Scrap & Stamp Arts, Just Steampunk! and Somerset Studio Gallery magazines. Also, I filmed a segment of Crafting at the Spotted Canary, hosted by Joy Macdonell, in 2011, and many segments for Scrapbook Soup TV.

Biggest Problem My Clients Face

Competition for audience share in the craft and hobby space is getting fierce. As parts of the industry consolidate, the pressure to get customers – like visitors to your site, readers to your blog or customers for your products, is growing. My clients are typically small independent stores or professional crafters that are looking for creative ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. Their resources are limited and they are looking for the biggest bang for their investment.

Why Should Business Owners Attend This Webinar

Special events can be a great way to attract new customers, retain existing customers and reinforce your brand. The challenge is learning how to market your event to attract attendees and them give them a “Wow!” experience so they will come back – and bring their friends! By investing an hour in this webinar, you’ll learn about the benefits of hosting events – demonstration, classes, workshops, trunk shows – get tips on how to do it well and hear ideas to make your events special.

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 to learn more about CHA education programs and membership.

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.