It’s been quite a long time since I went to the CHA UK Creative Exchanges event, way back on the 18th – 20th of April. But I never wrote about it on here – when I got back from the weekend I was straight into preparing for my Focus Your Craft & Soul blog event, and since then everything’s just been so busy.
So here’s a little run-down of how my weekend went… I warn you this is a long post!
I arrived at the hotel (The Coventry Holiday Inn – Academy) with time to spare, so I had a cup of tea in my room and perused the timetable:
When I headed down towards the conference suite I stepped out of the lift, and straight away I spotted some ladies who I thought I recognised from the FB group we had been chatting on in the run up to the event. Claire Newcombe, Clare Brown, and Jaine Drake all knew each other, online at least, as they are all on Sarah Hurley’s Design Team. But they were all lovely and let me join them for the evening. I am so grateful to them for letting me tag along! Here’s a photo of me with Claire (the tall one on the left) and Clare (on the right):
Over the course of the weekend I got on particularly well with Claire. We seemed to have a similar family / craft life balance, the same nerves about the weekend, and the same drive to make our crafting become our work life too. It was great to be able to talk to people who ‘get’ what you are talking about!
The Saturday evening was fun and relaxed (there were no talks to go to). We had an introduction/welcome talk, dinner, a decopatch crafting challenge, networking, and sponsor demos. Here’s our messy table when the decopatch activity was in full swing:
We were all decorating cupcake-shaped boxes!
I also went to a demo for Indigo Blu, led by the fabulous Sara Naumann. We were each given a FlitterGlu starter kit and taught to make a couple of cards using the kit plus a few extra items (like stamps and paint):
I loved the blue & gold card – bold and bright! You can see another card I made with the kit HERE.
There was also a raffle table with lots of prizes which got drawn throughout the weekend. I was happily surprised to be the first winner of a big prize – I won this Grand Calibur by Spellbinders!
Thank you so much to Personal Impressions for sponsoring the prize! I was so excited to win this. I’d just been saying about a week beforehand that I wanted to get a manual die-cutter as I’d seen some dies and embossing folders I liked. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to play with it much, nor money to spend on the dies I wanted. But I will definitely get round to using it and sharing some projects with it on here!
We spent the rest of the evening chatting all things craft. My ‘Mummy’ gene kicked in and I tried to help tidy up too, but Craig wouldn’t let me… I’m glad he didn’t really as it was nice to just sit and chat!
The next day we were up bright and early for breakfast. I’d arranged to meet the lovely Sue from Stamping Sue Style and we had a nice meal and gossip. After a morning welcome talk it was straight into the schedule of informative talks.
I’m not going to write about every single talk I went to, because there was 8 of them and that would take ages. Here’s a list of what I went to:
Social Media – How to manage your online marketing
Pitching To Craft Manufacturers
An Introduction To Licensing
How To Get Published in Magazines
Intellectual Property Q & A
Design Teams, What You Should Know
Legal Tips for Setting Up A Business
Your Creative CV
I’ll tell you about my favourite two talks.
The first was ‘An Introduction To Licensing’ with Helz Cuppleditch. I was gutted that I missed the beginning of this talk – I had a pounding headache after the first 2 talks of the day, and I thought that there was a time slot when I wasn’t worried about any of the talks, so I went to my room to have a lie down. But when I got there I suddenly realised I had the time slots confused and I was actually really looking forward to this talk, so I had to run back downstairs. I’d missed the first ten minutes or so. But what I did hear was so interesting – it was all about how she designs artwork for companies like Trimcraft. She talked about how to make a repeat pattern and other design tips. As I’ve been designing my own things over the last year or so, and want to do more, this talk was perfect for me.
The other was ‘How To Get Published In Magazines’ with Lara Watson, the editor of Mollie Makes. I had a little bit of a fan-girl moment for this talk, as I used to read Lara’s old blog when she was part of the Scrapbook Inspirations team, and had felt so pleased for her when she’d announced on social media about her becoming the editor for Mollie Makes. So I was excited to meet her! There were only a few people listening to the talk (she ran it again later in the weekend so I think more people went to that one), so we all sat round and had a friendly talk about things. Her presentation was spot on and I made lots of notes. She was so lovely and friendly and made me feel like I COULD approach magazines, with the right plan in place. Thanks Lara!
We also had a couple of keynote talks for all attendees. The first was with Leonie Pujol, who was funny and also made you think. I liked how she said that our industry will keep us young – it keeps your brain ticking over as there’s always more to learn!
The other keynote was with Zoe Arch about Pinterest. This was really interesting as she had loads of good tips on using Pinterest, for example that specific board names are better than vague ones – eg. a board called ‘boots’ is more likely to come up in searches than one called ‘shoes’. The main tip was to think about what you might type in when you are searching for something, and then making sure you are using those phrases in your board names and pin descriptions. She was another lovely person to meet:
Sarah Hurley also talked about the Designer Accreditation program that CHA UK are starting, and how it is important to CHA UK to focus on designers and bloggers as well as suppliers and shops, hence why they want to run weekends like this one. I wrote down this quote from Sarah:
“Even if you love what you do, you should still get paid”
Which I keep remembering every time I read a tweet from an artist that’s been asked to work for free. It would be good if there were more opportunities to earn from creativity!
Here I am with Sarah Hurley, and Craig De Souza from CHA UK. I’ve been following Sarah’s career for years, and I’d been talking to both these lovely people on FB in the run up to the weekend, so it was great to meet them both. They were both so brilliant at making sure everyone was happy all weekend and that things ran smoothly (along with Sara Naumann who was organising things too, I just didn’t catch her for a photo):
Aside from the talks we had a few other fun activities too. There was a onesie party on Sunday night – we all had bunny rabbit onesies on! We were decorating them with fabric paints too, which turned out a bit messy as they took so long to dry. The better option was getting your name put on your onesie using the Cricut Explores that Suzie Candlin had brought along and set up on behalf of Cricut. I helped people use them when Suzie wasn’t around! Most people had their name in glitter vinyl on their onesie. Here’s a photo taken by Laura Strutt at @madepeachy:
I had a lot of fun with Jenniffer Taylor from the Great British Sewing Bee that night, just generally being silly!
I think she was going for a zombie-bunny look to her outfit!
A bunch of us stayed up late drinking wine and chatting some more too:
Overall the weekend was fabulous. It was informative and enjoyable. There were a few things I didn’t like about some of the talks – eg. a couple of the speakers kept going off on tangents which were not as interesting and made me confused, and I definitely preferred the talks with powerpoint presentations to those that didn’t have them – partly because I’m a visual learner and found it easier to absorb info that way, and partly because it helped the speakers stay on topic.
The venue had both positives and negatives. The food was really good and all the staff I encountered were helpful. The conference suite was well set out with good space to move around and mingle. But there was very little natural light (hence why most of my photos are blurry), in fact some of the rooms the talks were in had no windows at all, which made me feel a bit claustraphobic. Which is probably why I had a pounding headache on day one. I don’t think there’s much that can be done about this though, I’m sure most hotel conference suites would have similar problems. Plus if you had more natural light it would make it harder to read a powerpoint screen! So I just need to take more headache tablets next time.
There were so many wonderful opportunities to meet new people, to try out and maybe win some crafty goodies, and to learn lots and lots and lots about the crafting industry and how to turn crafting into a business. Plus we all got an amazing goody bag too:
Weren’t we lucky?!
There are so many other people I met that I haven’t mentioned yet, like Katie Skilton, Dorothy Wood, Linda Simpson, and the lovely ladies from Bella Crafts. If I’ve forgotten anyone else I’m sorry! It was great to meet everyone.
If you want to go to the next Creative Exchanges event then you can contact CHA UK. It was announced HERE that the dates for next year are the 23rd – 25th April 2016. I will hopefully be going again, I certainly want to!
If you have any questions let me know. Have you been to any blogger meet ups or events? Did you enjoy them? Would you like to go to Creative Exchanges?