Sunday May 27th, 2007 2-5pm
Trinity-St. Paul’s Church
After attending Craft Congress 2007 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Toronto crafter Leah (Toronto Church of Craft), Becky (Good Catch Craft Fair) & Jen (Toronto Craft Alert) were inspired to invite Toronto makers & craft enthusiasts to attend CraftChat T.O. in order to share their Congress experiences as well as open up the discussion to local issues. The following is a summary*** of what went down.
What do we want to come out of this meeting?
-Try and get an open dialogue going between crafters in the city
-Brainstorm ideas on how to promote our businesses
-Share resources and ideas with one another
What was the Craft Congress meeting all about?
We didn’t go into this too much as the discussion veered away from it. Becky and Jen talked a bit about the fact that some of the “indie” (debatable term) craft fairs in the States seek corporate sponsorship. This was acceptable to many of the American Craft Congress attendees and was in fact one of the workshop topics. The “danger” of indie fairs in Toronto “going corporate” was considered. Conclusion: Not likely! They aren’t big enough.
Is it possible to be crafty and profitable? What are the pros and cons of selling at craft fairs? How helpful are websites like Etsy to crafters?
It was suggested that the market is saturated – there are too many craft fairs in Toronto! Some participants noted that when your skills develop to the point of your work looking professional or “perfect”, craft fair goers don’t want to buy your stuff because it doesn’t look “handmade” enough.
Many people are frustrated with the cost of participation as well as low sales at craft sales and are turning to internet selling to get their work out there. The effectiveness of Etsy.com was debated – it’s clear that instant success on Etsy is unlikely, though it may be a good place to make connection with stores.
Several chatters asserted that the face-to-face interaction with customers is important & positive feedback keeps them motivated and inspired.
Is there a sizeable market in Canada for handmade goods?
The Canadian market is much smaller than in the U.S., largely because the population is smaller. Some makers have greater success selling to the States for this reason, plus it is more of a culture of spending vs. a culture of thrift like in Canada.
Are Guilds and other organizations helpful?
Most Guilds are found to be too expensive, though exceptions do exist.
Why is there so little dialogue between Toronto crafters?
People seem to like to spectate vs. joining in. They also like to be affiliated with things (e.g. Church of Craft) but many don’t actually show up! Re: online participation (e.g. commenting on Toronto Craft Alert blog posts), it was suggested that there is so much going on online (email, messageboards, facebook, our own websites) that no one has time to be active everywhere.
-Hosting a regular Show and Tell/ friendly critique session where people can show what they are working on and get feedback
-Starting a skill sharing group where a different crafter could lead the group in learning their skill of choice each time
-Founding a permanent space to hold meetings, craft fairs, workshops etc.
-Using a site like Tupalo or Torontopedia to share crafting resources in Toronto
-Trying to organize more social events w/crafts (& drinking)
-Getting a craft fair section going at the City Hall Farmer’s Market
- Possible places suggested for future meetings/craft related events; TPL, 401 Richmond, Galleries and City Parks
Some other things we talked about
Toronto Church of Craft
Toronto Craft Mafia
Toronto Strategy Meetings
Good Catch Craft Fairs
Circle One Advisory Group (One of A Kind Show)
Toronto Design Guide on Design*Sponge
Year of Craft Seminars
One of a Kind Show
***Thanks to Mandy Forbes for her contribution to these notes