The Midwest Craft Con is on! We can’t wait until February because the Midwest Craft Con is happening in Columbus, Ohio. We got to chat with Grace Dobush, the creator of Crafty Supermarket, and one of the organizers of the Midwest Craft Con about the event.
BB: When, Where, and What is the Midwest Craft Con?
GD: Midwest Craft Con is a creative business conference happening once a year every February. It began in 2016 and is still going strong at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio!
BB: What inspired you guys to start it?
GD: Its origins lie with the Midwest Craft Caucus, which happened one time in 2011. The organizer was Olivera Bratich of Wholly Craft in Columbus, an epic indie craft shop that just had its 10th birthday, and it was an amazing weekend. But it was a lot for one person to handle, so she stepped back after that one event and offered the reins of the conference to anybody who wanted to pick it up.
Like that very first event, the new Midwest Craft Con is a business conference for crafters and creatives, but we’re putting a little more of a twist on it in that we’re focusing on mid-career makers rather than people who are just starting a business. Business owners with a few years of experience (or decades of experience) have much different needs than folks who are just starting to figure out what they want to do. Basically, it’s a conference we would want to go to ourselves!
BB: Tell us a little bit about the organizers, how you met, and what it’s like working together?
GD: Megan Green of Craftin’ Outlaws and Stinkybomb Soap in Columbus was starting to put the pieces together to make Midwest Craft Con a reality. Brit Charek of Crafty Mart in Akron had just gotten 503(c) nonprofit status for her craft show and wanted to get more involved in craft education. I (Grace Dobush, of Crafty Supermarket in Cincinnati and the Crafty Superstar business guides) had been in touch of both of them and realized they were working on very similar projects. But when I connected the two of them, I realized I also wanted to be a part of the experience.
I’ve known Megan for years — we’ve sold at each other’s shows and been in the indie craft scene for ages. Brit I didn’t meet in person until this summer, when she picked me up at the Los Angeles airport on our way to Yes and Yes Yes, a conference in Palm Springs. Megan joined us there too! Three cheers for internet friends making real stuff happen! All three of us are very organized people (as you’d expect from folks who run craft shows), so working remotely and meeting occasionally via Google Hangout works great for us. We’ve also got a neverending iMessage chat going on.
BB: The speakers list is awesome! Do you have any new announcements or any speakers/workshops that you are particularly excited about?
GD: We’re adding an accounting/bookkeeping expert to the lineup, so that will be coming soon. I’m super excited about all the speakers who are coming to Columbus, but especially the two keynotes: Lisa Congdon, a Portland-based illustrator who’s published a bazillion books, and Abby Glassenberg, who’s a pattern maker and craft business blogger. Some of our speakers are old friends that I’ve never gotten to meet in person, so that’s even more exciting!
BB: I noticed lots of business workshops. What kind of businesses do you think will benefit from the Midwest Craft Con?
GD: Business is definitely our business. Because media can vary so widely between different handmade businesses, we’re focusing on information that can be applied to every entrepreneur, whether you’re a traditional one-woman craft machine, a pattern maker, a photographer, a designer or any other creative field. That means we’re focused on finance, legal and sales sessions, heavy emphasis on marketing and promotion, plus some more holistic workshops like acting lessons for shy crafters, time management and a mindfulness session.
BB: What do you think do you think sets Midwest craft apart from other parts of the country? Do you have any regional trends that we should all know about?
GD: I like to think that Midwesterners are real OG crafters. Renegade Craft Fair started in Chicago way back when, and many of the indie craft shows in the Midwest have 10 years under their belts now. With the rise of Etsy and Pinterest, regional trends have definitely blurred, but I personally love the punk craft aesthetic you find in the Rust Belt.
Midwest Craft Con is going to be more than just sessions and keynotes — we’re planning ample socialization time so you can get to know your fellow attendees during meal breaks and in the evenings, when we have fun craftivities planned. You don’t want to miss it!
Find out more about the Midwest Craft Con here.