Kate's Collage
"Vinny Da Vendor"
"Benny Da Buyer"
Kizer & Bender
Memory, Paper & Stamps
Category Reports
Designing Perspectives
Scene & Heard

Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


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

Printer Version

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."



horizontal rule

horizontal rule


Vinny's Recent Columns...
ADVICE ON EXPORTING TO THE UK AND EUROPE; An interview with the former CEO of HobbyCraft.

THE HISTORY OF WALNUT HOLLOW; One of the genuine pioneers of the modern craft industry.

HOW MICHIGAN SCRAPBOOKER WAS LAUNCHED; Substantial growth in 3+ years.

THE HISTORY OF PLAID ENTERPRISES, INC.; It's come a long way in 36 years.

"FLASH" SALES COME TO THE INDUSTRY; Q. & A. about the newest way to introduce new products or dispose of overstocks.

SITTING ON A BULLS EYE; What to do if competitors want your market share, or customers want to cut costs.


FIVE COMMON AFFLICTIONS OF SALES TEAMS; The result: Bad morale and lower sales.

BEYOND MARKET MULTIPLES: INCREASING THE VALUE OF YOUR COMPANY BEFORE THE SALE; How to create a company with greater appeal to buyers.

CHA SHOW NEW PRODUCT REPORT; Hundreds (thousands?) of products, many from new exhibitors.

THE SOLUTION TO MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS; A sure fire way to inspire them to quilt.

ATTRACTING YOUNGER CUSTOMERS; Yes, we aren't our mothers' knitters.

NEW PRODUCTS TO BE UNVEILED AT THE CHAS SHOW; Two parts: new exhibitors and veterans.

WHAT SCRAPPERS ARE SAYING ABOUT MANUFACTURERS AND PUBLISHERS; Scrapbook Updates' readers analyze the problems.

ANALYZING THE CHA ATTITUDE & USAGE STUDY; The rationale and the science behind the number.

REST IN PEACE: JEAN HOWARD BARR; JHB International's Founder and CEO.

POSITIVE NEWS ABOUT THE INDUSTRY; What they want/need from the industry.

COMMENTS FROM INDIE CRAFTERS; What they want/need from the industry.

UNDERSTANDING INDIE CRAFTERS (BY AN INDIE CRAFTER); What they want, what they buy, and how to reach them.

CHA EVENTS FOR MANUFACTURERS; How to get more out of a trade show besides selling your products.

CREATIVE INDUSTRY TURNS TO EDUCATION TO BEAT RECESSION; Simple solutions for vendors and retailers to create online video classes.

WHAT HAPPENED TO CREATIVE MEMORIES? Not adjusting to the times.


HOW A VENDOR SCAMMED A SCAMMER; A sharp eye, a sense of humor - and be wary.

HOW A SMALL VENDOR WAS ALMOST SCAMMED; A savvy, suspicious mind averted a serious financial loss.

COMPANY FOR SALE; The owner is retiring.

EXHIBITORS: YOU'RE WASTING YOUR MONEY! Check your customer list before pre-show mailings.

PLAID CONSERVES TO PRESERVE; Simple changes can mean big savings.

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE CHA SHOW; How to attract more buyers and exhibitors.

CHANGES AT A.C. MOORE; They may not be what they seem.

THE TERRI O SHOW IS COMING; Building industry sales by empowering consumers' creativity.


BOTTLES OF HOPE; A polymer clay grassroots movement.

SEWING SMILES FOR KIDS; Pillowcases and quilts for kids in hospitals.

HELPING THE WORLD IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE; Mrs. Grossman's, C&T Publishing, and Tara Materials.

HELP PEOPLE -- AND THE WORLD; How one company contributes to charities and to Mother Nature.

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AND HELPING THE WORLD; Plaid employees' long list of charitable activities.

A SAVVY WAY TO INTRODUCE A NEW LINE; Put it in the hands of consumers and teachers.

CHA AND PMA: SHOULD IT BE EITHER/OR? Why not take the best of both worlds?


RESPONSES TO CLN'S CODE OF ETHICS...from chain store execs, vendors, and reps.

PROVO RESPONDS TO CRICUT CRITICS; Unexpected demand caused problems.

ADVICE TO VENDORS; Common sense, please!

HOW TO HAVE A GREAT TRADE SHOW; It takes more than great products.

KEY CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CRAFT INDUSTRY IN 2006; Office supply, private label, and direct import.

IS MIKE DUPEY RIGHT? The industry's retail pioneer's criticism of chain stores elicits strong reactions.

RETAILERS: CREATE A "PLACE," NOT A STORE; Customers return if they feel a sense of community.

"HOW AND WHY WE CHANGED OUR BUSINESS"; Sometimes necessity forces gutsy businesses into new, scary areas.

WHY INDEPENDENTS ARE DECLINING AND THE INDUSTRY IS SOFT; We can't improve the situation until we understand the causes.

HOW TO MAKE THE SCRAPBOOK PIE LARGER; "Keep it simple and non-threatening."

INDEPENDENTS: SUPPORT VENDORS WHO SUPPORT YOU; "Support goes both ways. It is a relationship of trust and consistency."

WHAT MAKES A GREAT SALES REP? Colleagues and customers remember the late Bob Watikins.

TRADE SHOW PRESS POINTERS; Maximize your publicity for a minimal cost.

HOW CAN A SCRAPBOOK START-UP SUCCEED? The answer may be a "Group" away.

DO TRADE SHOWS REFLECT THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY? If we're like other industries, trade shows may be in trouble.


THE STATE OF THE FLORAL MARKET; A blunt interview with Aldik's Larry Gold.

YOU WANT JUNK? YOU GOT IT; Pricing pressures are ruining good categories.

PLANNING THE PERFECT TRADE SHOW; Ten tips for CHA Winter Show exhibitors.

MORE VENDORS RESPOND...; A dialog between vendors and a savvy but unhappy independent.

VENDORS RESPOND TO INDEPENDENT'S PLIGHT; Why vendors have minimums and what retailers can do about it.

RETAIL, E-TAIL, AND "UNFAIR COMPETITION"; Expensive advertising, false promises, and little education.

THE TRIALS OF A SMALL COMPANY, PT. II; Expensive advertising, false promises, and little education.

THE TRIALS OF A SMALL COMPANY; Talent, drive, and product -- but no money.


THE THREE L's: YOU CAN'T SELL WITHOUT THEM; How to look, listen, and learn.

IT WASN'T ALWAYS THIS WAY...; but why does that matter?

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO STRAWBERRY?; Does every new product have to be cheap?