June 18-19 2017 see’s our flagship event of the year, the One Big Show at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. It’s a must for all AFCI members as it is a great opportunity to network with like-minded craft business people, see new products in the craft industry and learn from the experts.

We wanted to see what benefits members will get so we caught up with Sarah Hurley, one of the board members of the association. She is an inspiration to all crafters, having started her own business in 2010 with just £40 in her purse and a dream in her head to create beautiful, creative products. Since then she has grown her business to include UK and International offices and teams, creating her own extensive product range, embarking on a global public speaking tour on how she built her company and becoming an ambassador with Create and Craft TV for which she regular presents and demonstrates.

You are a board member of the AFCI, what benefit can small retailers get from joining the association?

Firstly, information – you can save so much time by being able to make a quick phone call to get help and answers rather than spending hours on web searches and phone calls (most of which won’t be applicable to this industry!) a support network and of course all of the benefits that exist and are being added every month such as discounts and research.

How have you benefited from membership over the recent years?

I can’t begin to tell you the ways, in the beginning, just being able to call Craig and discuss things in my business, in total confidence, it was like having a member of staff without the expense! The events are SO important, I really think people underestimate the value of networking, I came from a very different industry and knew no one in the industry when I started my business, networking has been invaluable. Then, of course, the benefits. The free legal advice alone saved me hundreds of pounds last year dealing with someone who was copying my products. My one bit of advice to our members is to take advantage of the benefits and make your membership work for you!

The One Big Show is the big event in the AFCI calendar, why is it important for members to attend?

It’s the go to event of the year and your chance to network with the board and fellow members. For those in small businesses or working alone, it’s a great way to build a supportive network of friends and colleagues all in the same boat. We work tirelessly to put on really useful valuable seminars so you come away feeling inspired and fired up to really grow or improve your business. There are huge opportunities to be seen, such as Creative Dragons, and of course it’s lots of fun!

What advice could you give to young designers who are wanting to break into the craft industry and appear on Create and Craft TV?

Always think ahead, remember that one success isn’t success, it’s the first step on a big ladder! Learn to network effectively and don’t lose your sense of fun, it should always be enjoyable, that’s what this industry is all about!

The One Big Show is the ‘Go To’ event for supporting businesses in the creative product industry and to meet, network and learn new skills. There will be key note speakers from the industry, educational sessions to increase product knowledge and promote best business practices plus space for manufacturers and designers to showcase their work.

To get your tickets for this amazing event just go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/one-big-show-inc-creative-exchanges-tickets-26604046419

About the author

Michael O’Connor is a partner at Grey Sergeant and specialises in marketing communications and PR in the craft and hobby industry. Grey Sergeant provides strategic advice and planning and promotes businesses through integrated marketing, media relations, social media, digital marketing and events. For more information please contact michael.oconnor@greysergeant.com