Meet the Instructor – Yana Smakula


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.

YANAThis week, we meet Yana Smakula! Yana will be teaching the Workshop, Simple Stamping With Altenew Stamps and Inks, at the MEGA Show in January. Watch her video or read her interview below to learn more about why you need to take her class! All you need to bring are scissors and adhesive!

Yana will also be taking you on a  Creative Card Making journey Workshop with Hero Arts at the MEGA Show. Be sure to sign up for her classes today!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello, I am Yana Smakula, a paper crafter, stamper and cardmaker! I love to teach and educate others, and spread the joy of cardmaking, stamping and die cutting.

I have been making cards for about seven years now. I’ve done a number of educational videos and recently started teaching live workshops.

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

This year will be my fourth year actually visiting the Show; however, I’ve been following CHA for about six years now.

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

My favorite part about the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show is the ability to visit a number of wonderful Workshops, classes and make-n-takes, and learn about new products and techniques all in one place!

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

If you have never been to a live Workshop at CHA, you are missing out! Live events give you the perfect opportunity to not only learn about new products and try them out, but they also let you meet the people behind the company and really become part of the industry.

Why should buyers and creative professionals take your workshop?

If you are looking to learn about new products and techniques, I am your gal!

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

Be on top the game by working with the newest supplies and learning the cool techniques! Be sure to attend my Workshop to learn what is popular in the creative industry and what is trending right now!

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?

Whether it’s your first time attending or you are an industry veteran make sure to enjoy the education days that CHA MEGA Show has to offer! Don’t just visit the Show floor; there is so much more to this Show! Attend a Workshop or two, sign up for a seminar and learn away!

What do you love most about the creative industry?

I absolutely love this creative industry for the people who are in it. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the most kind-hearted people I know; that makes this industry simply awesome!

Be sure to join and I’m sure you will feel the same way!

Register to take Simple Stamping With Altenew Stamps and Inks, and Creative Card Making by Hero Arts with Yana and don’t forget to check out our other CHA MEGA Conference programs before they sell out! Stay tuned on the CHA blog next Tuesday when we will meet Tracy Weinzapfel!

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!


Hot Product Showcase Success Story – Beadalon


logoThe 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 selects the Hot Product Award winners from each.

So, how does being a Hot Product Award winner make your product hot? Here’s what Yvette Rodriguez, Event Manager & Marketing Coordinator at Beadalon, knows. Last year, Artistic Wire™ 3D Bracelet Jig by Beadalon won the 2015 Hot Product Award for Bead & Jewelry.

IMG_4044“It was a perfect opportunity to have a formal presentation to an influential group in the craft industry. Our company’s goal is to bring innovative products and beading supplies for the DIY jewelry making market in the craft industry, and having the one-on-one time was more valuable than just presenting it in our booth (which can sometimes be overlooked).

‘Hot Product’ is a honorable title to hold! It is a ‘badge’ that we proudly showed off to our wholesale customers and consumers, which helped with communicating that our new product was worth considering.

This program is a great platform where companies can present their innovative products to the industry.”

Submit your new craft product or prototype to the 2016 Hot Product Showcase by November 16 for a chance to be the next Artistic Wire™ 3D Bracelet Jig”. Stay tuned next week for more success stories from our Hot Product Award winners.


Last Chance for Early Bird Hotel Specials at MEGA Show


Don’t get spooked, but tomorrow is the last day you can take advantage of great early bird hotel rates* if you book with these hotels in CHA’s housing block. And since tomorrow’s Saturday, we highly recommend you book today.


Hotel Rate
Stanford Inn & Suites $90 single/double
Clarion Hotel Anaheim Resort $99 single/double
Desert Palms Hotel & Suites $102 single/double
The Anabella Hotel $119 single/double
Hotel Indigo Anaheim $119 single/double
Embassy Suites Anaheim South $124 single/double
Hyatt Place at Anaheim $130 single/double

Book your hotel right here!

Be sure to add your hotel rewards number when booking to receive points for your loyalty program.

If you don’t see your preferred hotel available after searching for the dates you need, please contact onPeak at (855) 992-3353, Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. EST or email

onPeak is the ONLY official housing company partnered with CHA. Beware of other hotel resellers contacting you soliciting Anaheim hotel room reservations; they are not endorsed by or affiliated with CHA. onPeak is the ONLY housing company that can guarantee your reservation and CHA’s guaranteed low rates. CHA advises all participants not to book through these other companies and to contact us if someone approaches you. Please email if you are solicited by someone other than onPeak, LLC.


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.

“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.

Importance of Volunteering on a Board


By Mike Hartnett

Industry Awards- Mike HartnettI became aware of HIA, CHA’s predecessor, in 1979 when I was hired as Assistant Editor for an industry trade magazine, Profitable Craft Merchandising. I had no idea what a trade association was or what it did.

I quickly realized how important a trade association is to the success of its members and industry. It provides a venue for members to conduct business (trade shows); educates its members (seminars and webinars); and is the industry’s public relations arm (awareness). If I care about my readers’ success, I better help HIA.

As time went by, I served on various committees, and then on the HIA Board; I followed that by serving on ACCI (another CHA predecessor) committees and the Board. Finally, I served on the CHA Board.

Why did I spend so much time doing all this? Looking back, it was the best investment of my time in the industry. Here’s why:

If you’re on a committee, you can make real changes. For example, years ago, CHA MEGA Show exhibitors of a certain type were not scheduled together in one area of the Show floor. Why? Major Paint Company A did not want the booth to be anywhere near Major Paint Company B. Finally, retailers got together and complained to the Trade Show committee, whose members recommended a change, which the Board approved. So, now the Show has sections and the paint buyer doesn’t have to walk two miles to see three particular exhibitors.

When I was on the HIA Board, designers formed a committee and petitioned the Board for money to produce a pamphlet listing all of the freelance designers’ contact information and areas of expertise. That never would have occurred to me (because Board members and the staff aren’t mind-readers) if not for that committee; it was a great idea. Often new manufacturers have a product, but don’t know any designers who could create projects for them. The brochure helped both manufacturers and designers, yet it never would have existed without input from members.

The time required for serving on a committee is not much. Usually, there is a meeting at the Show and a few conference calls each year.

As for serving on the Board, you get a much broader view of the industry and how it works. It’s truly a revelation. If you’re a retailer, you’re focused like a laser beam on your business – as the overall industry continues to change all around you. The same is true if you’re a manufacturer, publisher, importer, designer or distributor. It’s so intellectually stimulating to focus your brain on a broader picture for a change.

More time is required – two weekend Board meetings a year; however, even that extra commitment is worth it because of the wonderful friendships you make with fellow Board and staff members.

Truly, serving on committees and/or the Board is well worth it.

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.

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!