It was mid year 2003. Little did we know that eras were about to change in both our personal life and the craft industry. At that time there were two organizations serving the craft industry. Those organizations were the Hobby Industry Association (HIA) and the Association of Craft & Creative Industries (ACCI). In early 2004 they joined together to form the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA). This was the face of the change in the craft industry.
Here we were headed to the HIA/ACCI summer show in Chicago filled with hope and optimism. Stacy Julian had invited Renee to share her ideas for creating scrapbook pages to the staff of Simple Scrapbooks Magazine. I was there to accompany Renee and to see for myself what the fuss was all about in this industry that so many people were buzzing about.
Renee’s meeting with Lynn Sorenson and Wendy Smedley went great. Since I wasn’t a part it, I was free to roam the show floor. While I only spent a few moments with Renee during that first day, from everything that I could glimmer from her, it looked like there might be a door opening to an exciting opportunity. They found her work and her approach refreshing.
My day could best be described as totally mind blowing. When I walked into the Convention Center it was like entering another world. The place was buzzing. There were hordes of women carrying tote bags in both hands or pulling roller bags. Many had what could best be described as almost crazed expressions on their faces.
There were large groups assembled around certain booths. There were demonstrations going. There were make-and-takes being made all over the place. There was free stuff being given away everywhere. There were industry personalities holding court. There were folks with megaphones hawking products. Certain booths were so crowded that you could not even get into them. There were pictures being taken all over the place. I did not see a sad face in the building.
I have been attending business conferences all of my working life, but none like this. It was like being at a pep rally before the biggest game of the year. There was passion for crafting like I had never seen for any industry.
Later when Renee and I sat down to review our day, she was very excited because of the success of her day and the opportunities it presented for the future. This was the beginning of what would be a major change in our personal lives. Personally, I was totally amazed by what I had seen. I knew then and there that I had just experienced sensory overload. I had just come face to face with what I can only describe as “The Big Bam!”