The CHA Mega Conference and Trade Show, the annual show for the Craft & Hobby Association that was held Jan. 7-12 at the Anaheim Convention Center, celebrated its 75th year, and the attendees were ready to create, connect and learn in this $30 billion world-wide industry.
“There is such a passion for this industry, and our attendees reflect this passion,” said Maureen Walsh, vice president of marketing for the Craft & Hobby Association.
She added, “The energy we see when the exhibit floor is about to open is what we see throughout the industry and the conference. It is like our Black Friday.”
The show started with standing-room only attendance at the keynote. Philip Fimmano of Trend Union discussed not only new materials but also new techniques for creativity.
“Crafts are being used as a stress release, unplugging from technology. Working with craft projects provides a way for us to reset,” Fimmano said.
The trend panel discussion reviewed hits and misses with trends, as well as talk around where each panelist gets his or her inspiration.
Many commented there is more of a global trend movement versus country-specific and men are taking a larger role in being ‘makers’ in the industry.
Even though the educational sessions were very popular, many attendees had their sights set on the show floor.
Attendee Sarah Davies, director of Sarah’s Cards Ltd., said, “We have been traveling to this conference from the U.K, since 2008, and the show has been bringing more relevant exhibitors. It continues to be a worthwhile show, and we get to see new trends, and get to test new techniques in the ‘make and take’ stations. We are excited for next year and exploring the city of Phoenix.”
Andria LaJeunesse, director of Expositions and Events at the Craft & Hobby Association, said, “There have been so many amazing new products this year. The Consumer Connection Pavilion has been a great asset to these new businesses. It provides our exhibitors and attendees new ways to connect with consumers.”
And new exhibitors were excited to showcase their products. New exhibitor and company Ribb-Its decided to use the CHA Mega Conference and Trade Show to launch their product to the marketplace.
“Our product beginning is like many others here, starting from an idea to meet a need in the market. We knew showing our product here would give us feedback and gain some brand recognition,” said CEO Kate Mudge.
A combination of buyers, suppliers, distributors and creative professionals were on the showfloor, seeing new materials and techniques.
“Many of us who teach in the industry come to the show specifically to see what new creative trends are happening. We bring these new trends to our students, so they look forward to us coming here as well,” commented attendee and creative artist Barbara Burgs with Running With Scissors.
Some exhibitors have been in business, and attending the show, for nearly as long as the show has been running.
One such exhibitor was FloraCraft, celebrating their 70th year in business, and exhibiting at the show for more than 60 years.
“We have staple products on display, as well as new items, and the traffic and interest in our booth is always excellent,” said Travis Miedema, marketing associate for FloraCraft. “This year, we are very excited to launch Make It: Fun Learning Center, an online tool for educators. Many teachers use our products in the classroom, and the new Learning Center gives them new ideas. It is divided by both grade level and subject matter. We have had a very positive response to it, and will continue to add projects and ideas to it.”
There are several changes to the show for next year.
“While we have been in Southern California for many years, we made the decision to move to the Phoenix Convention Center for 2017,” Walsh said. “We believe the new venue space will spark artistic flow, as well as allow our attendees to explore a new city. We also have moved the show to later in January to accommodate the December holidays and reformatted to a 3-day schedule. These changes were a response to our attendees’ feedback, and we are excited for the upcoming show.”
The 2017 CHA Mega Conference and Trade Show will be held Jan. 19-23, 2017, at the Phoenix Convention Center.
News story by: Lisa Apolinski is a professional speaker, blogger, and digital strategist. www.3DogWrite.com
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