Hello CHA Hoppers,
Last year was my first time at CHA. I had no idea what it even was. For those of you that don’t know the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA), here’s the story: This association is “celebrating 75 years of connecting the creative arts and crafts industry. CHA Mega Conference and Trade Show is the only place where you can conduct a year’s worth of business in 6 days” (chamegashow.org).
I am an artist that uses many different elements in my work. I also teach classes at my studio. Why would I want to go to a trade show that has manufacturers that sellbig orders to stores? Because I get inspired by art supplies. I get inspired when I can touch and feel the products. And I get inspired by meeting people that are very passionate about the products they demo. Plus, it is always great to meet people of like mind that love to create beautiful things to look at and/or use. There are many other things to learn and see at CHA also: demos, hands-on labs, boot camps on business, workshops, artisan workshops, and business seminars are just a few.
Last year, I fell into CHA at the eleventh hour and was only able to attend on the final day. I was one sad puppy, kitty, or otter….insert the cute animal of your choice. I found out about CHA from my business coach, Laura Bray, who will be posting at the blog hop tomorrow. She is also the daughter of a friend that I admire most, Laura Miller.
At the very last moment, my membership was accepted. After phone calls back and forth, I would have a badge waiting for me and my assistant. I only had to drive the 30 minutes to Anaheim, CA. I was there before the door was to open and connected with the registration/information desk and got my badge. Then I took a selfie, went to the restroom, and was on my way. I had a mission. I was Ethan Hunt.
As soon as the door opened, I poured into the convention floor. I was a squirrel, darting back and forth trying to get everything in as soon as I could. I got tired very quickly. Some of the booths were already shut down. It was the last day and they were ready to travel back to their homes from all over the world. I didn’t get to meet many people, but some were still doing demos and giving out great information. I did get my inspiration that I was hopping for, but at a very low key. My assistant and I took a break and decided we would look at the map and go in a more organized manner. That is what I usually do when I go to craft fairs or art shows, anyway. I felt the panic leave and I was able to focus. I saw every booth with demos and without, and got enough information to get the brain in creative mode.
The key is, you must plan. You must be organized. You can’t wait. Classes fill EARLY. Not all manufacturers can stay to the very last moment. They have to travel. I wish I had done my homework early and planned and got myself to a point where I knew what CHA was before I jumped in. But, I am going back this year, January 7-12, 2016 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA. I will be organized this time. I know about round tables and demos and classes. I will do more than just walk by the Business Center. CHA is very supportive of small business and many services are offered for members like me, and brick and mortar businesses. Classes and guidance are also available.
I did get a lot of information last year. I was in a spin. It took a good month to finally sort it all out and sink in. What I did was not the prefered. It did not do CHA justice. But, I will this year.