We were so delighted to join our friends of Makers Collective at their annual business conference, The Makers Summit, in Greenville, SC in early March. The good folks of the Makers Collective sure know how to present an amazing event, and we're delighted to have them stopping by the blog to share a few of their favorite projects from this year's conference. Makers Collective co-founder Lib Ramos gives tips and tricks for how to throw the best craft party ever!
Lib: As part of Makers Summit conference each year, we host The Best Craft Party Ever. For the past two years, the party has actually been a series of progressive parties, where each stop features a craft project! If you’re looking to throw an epic craft party of your own, here are some of our tips for choosing the best kinds of crafts for a crowd.
Make it simple.
This is our number one rule – for several reasons. First, simpler projects tend to require fewer supplies, which makes transport and setup easier. Also, if it the craft is relatively simple, it allows for more conversation to happen alongside the crafting.
A little secret of ours: we’re not fans of awkward networking events. This is why we love crafting at events. It’s so much easier – and more comfortable – to get to know someone when you’re making something alongside each other.
In the case of The Best Craft Party Ever, people are making their way to and from multiple locations in their party clothes. We don’t want to ruin anyone’s evening by sending them home covered with paint. While this is a little different scenario than a workshop where you might expect to get a little dirty, we still recommend choosing relatively mess-free crafts — especially if your event is being held in a venue that doesn’t belong to you.
If there are parts of your project that are unavoidably messy, try doing those steps beforehand (unless it’s a crucial part of understanding the making process). For example, with our keychain craft, Jen dyed and painted various sized beads in different colors prior to the party.
This tip applies to your supplies as well as the finished craft. Ideally, your craft project won’t require a lot of special or heavy equipment, but if it does, have a solid plan for set up and tear down. For one of our crafts this year, we recruited our local screenprinter, Dapper Ink, to bring in their portable screenprinting station. Because they do this all the time, we were happy to let them handle all of the equipment logistics.
It’s also wise to ask yourself how party-goers will transport their projects home. For The Best Craft Party Ever, many of our attendees fly in for the event. This means the crafts can’t be extremely fragile or too large to fit into a carry on bag. If the project you want to make is large or awkwardly-sized, think about providing some kind of packaging to protect the finished piece – like cardboard tubes for oversized posters.
Consider your audience.
We do our best to come up with projects that are gender neutral because we never want anyone to feel excluded from making. Of course, your crowd may be different than ours, but there are plenty of great craft ideas that aren’t gender specific. The main goal is to choose a project that works for the greatest number of guests. At our British pub-themed party, we opted for a tea blend project, which we felt was more universally appealing than some of our other ideas.
Partner with the pros (optional).
This tip is purely optional, but might be worth considering. Depending on your craft, it could make sense to bring in a local business (like our Dapper Ink screenprinting station), an arts organization, or an individual maker to help make it happen. Be sure you’re seeking out a true partner, not just asking for free supplies or for an artist to share all of their secrets! Collaboration should create a win/win situation for everyone involved.
Because we’re usually planning multiple parties at once (alongside a conference), The Best Craft Party Ever is a great opportunity to seek out collaborative partnerships. This year, Spoonflower hosted one of our craft areas. We brainstormed about project ideas, focusing on crafts that could really take advantage of their products. The coaster craft we landed on (using their faux suede) checked all the boxes: it was simple, relatively mess-free, portable, and gender neutral.
Lib Ramos is the Co-founder/Creative Director for Makers Collective, a non-profit based in Greenville, SC. The Makers Collective empowers creative entrepreneurs while cultivating a supportive community around them. The organization hosts large and small events, including Indie Craft Parade and The Makers Summit.