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Challenges, problems, and triumphs -- from a manufacturer's perspective.

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Comments from Indie Crafters

What they want/need from the industry.

by Staff Report (March 23, 2009)

(Note: A recent blog entry by indie crafter Diane Gilleland started a conversation between her and CLN that resulted in Diane writing "Understanding Indie Crafters (by an Indie Crafter)." To read Diane's article, click on the title in the right-hand column. It also resulted in Diane interviewing CLN on a recent podcast which is still available at www.craftypod.com/2009/02/27/craftypod-86-indie-crafters-and-the-craft-industry-with-mike-hartnett . In it CLN welcomed comments from indies about the industry. Here's is a sampling of the responses.)

What I want.

I am a home crafter; I sew, crochet, paint, and do general crafty things. I would love to see the craft stores offering more sewing supplies, especially novelty notions, and organic and free trade fabrics. I also think I am in an interesting demographic: approaching 40; I fall between the two major craft groups – old school and new school.

I think that the next huge movement in craft will be anything that adds to earth sustain-ability, but I really don't want lame stickers and appliques that say "recycle." I love some of the new Simplicity patterns that show you how to recycle magazines into clothing, and the new home screen printers are pretty amazing!

I feel that indie crafters want better tools and ways to craft easier, not prepackaged kits. – Megan Dell

The stores are catching on.

I just completed listening to your interview on the CraftyPod podcast and I have some thoughts and some things to share with you.

I have been both the traditional crafter (cross stitch in the 80s) and an indie crafter (jewelry, altered art), so I concur with everything you say.

One thing I was surprised to hear is the idea that the big box stores still haven't grasped the whole indie ideology. I frequently shop at Jo-Ann, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby, but I am also a generous consumer of the smaller independent stores (Carolina Moon in Des Plaines, IL) and craft/altered art conventions. In the past year or two I have seen a definite trend in the big box stores picking up on the indie trend.

Some key items: Tim Holtz's line for Ranger; carrying magazines like Somerset Studio; the amazing variety of books covering altered books, altering clothing (Subversive Seamster), making jewelry, embroidery designs (Sublime Stitching), and various others.

So I am pretty sure they have caught the trend, at least in the objective to bring it to the masses.

Also, you forgot to mention the "GREEN" movement is playing a large role in the craft projects I see out there. This plays well with the concept of frugality, but if people are going to purchase products, they seem to be concerned about their carbon footprint. Tools made from recycled or biodegradable materials could be a trend.

Finally, I have seen a buzz out there about people reviving the crafts from the 60s and 70s; interestingly, many of them are about reusing household items – cans, plastic bottles, etc.

As far as where the industry can look to see the next wave or to see what the indies are up to, I would recommend www.craftster.org and www.threadbanger.com. Craftster is an online community of indies and I have found inspiration there in so many ways. The demographics are broad: it is multi-racial; tends to be younger 13 - 27 (my guess); and primarily female, but there are some men/boys out there. Threadbanger falls into the above categories, but I have noticed more male involvement in the projects and community offerings. – Morgan Holtz Almost 40, white professional female, crafter, indie and ??????

Miscellaneous comments.

1. "I think you hit the nail on the head when describing what indie crafters are interested in buying, and how to reach us by first reaching out to the individual. I hope lots of people in the biz read and listen to your advice."

2. "[Diane wrote] 'Another important way to reach indie crafters is to give them some recognition when they use your products.' That is SO the truth. When DMC listed me as a resource on their website for my crochet videos, I instantly posted to my blog to talk about how I’ve used their products to make crocheted jewelry and how I’d been using their threads for years. I wouldn’t call that a 'feature,' but certainly recognition that was greatly appreciated. And to this day, I still get regular hits from their link."

3. "As far as creating product lines like that though, I think that the only avenue to take is to engage with individual crafters, (another point in your article). I don’t want the industry’s version of what we want. I want our version! And that will only come about through collaboration ... and listening."

xxx

 

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