At some point between Y2K and virtual reality headsets, we all became obsessed with going back to basics and making things with our hands: picking up crochet, building our own bird houses, and hand painting iPhone cases. The proliferation of social media sites like Pinterest, and e-commerce sites like Etsy and others that focus on handmade items have made it easier for crafting and DIY enthusiasts to monetize off their creations as well.
According to a recent survey of 1,600 DIYers and crafters, more than half of DIYers are under 35. Furthermore, these young crafters spend more than $1,000 per year on projects, double the amount of people over 35 who craft.
Enter Delilah Snell. This 37-year-old entrepreneur from Santa Ana, California is one of the pioneers of craft business movement and the co-founder of Craftcation.
Crafting is a $30 billion industry in the U.S., and Craftcation seeks to inspire DIY creatives who want to grow their independent businesses.
For the past six years, Snell has produced the popular Patchwork Show craft fairs with her niece and business partner, Nicole Stevenson, 37. The Patchwork Show, which started as a vendor fair in Santa Ana to showcase handmade goods, then inspired Craftcation, a four –day conference for creative small business owners in Ventura, California.
Snell realized that sometimes talented makers are not the best business people and that many DIYers don’t have access to resources to help them develop their businesses.
“After a few years of doing Patchwork, we started doing business mixers for crafters. We would have lectures on things like basic public relations and how to use Yelp,” Snell explained. “And then those mixers would end up being about, ‘What is sales tax? How do I ring up a credit card?’ And we realized that people needed more information on the basics of building a creative business.”
With workshops that range from “how to hire an employee” to “cross stitch + beer,” Craftcation offers DIYers opportunities to not only learn business related skills but to also learn how to create new crafts. Snell calls the conference “a vacation for your business.”
Craftcation co-founder Delilah Snell prepping for the conference in her garden.
Craftcation started in 2012 and attracts over 325 attendees. The conference has over 20 sponsors including the City of Ventura, Bernina, and Etsy.
Knowing that millennials and independent business owners can be brand-averse, Stevenson says that she and Snell are very careful about the brands they chose to work with in producing the conference.
“Our sponsor relationships must have two key components – number one, our audience is a good match for what they do, and number two, what they do is a good match for our audience,” Stevenson said.
In the future, Snell would like to see Craftcation become the South by Southwest for DIYers. This year’s conference runs from April 3-6 and is already sold out.
Adriana Maestas is a political observer and freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She tweets at @latinopolitics.