Why attend a Creative Conference?

        An interview with Vennice James

Welcome to our interview series about attending creative conferences! Since our Craftcation Conference is just around the corner (March 26-29, 2015) we wanted to share some tips and advice for making the most of your experience at Craftcation or other creative conferences. Usually you hear from Delilah and me singing the praises of creative conferences and offering tips to make the most of your time and money at a conference. This year we decided to mix it up and ask our attendees about their experiences and advice for conference attendees. Over the next seven weeks join us here every Tuesday for an interview with Craftcation attendees.

As I read through these interviews I was amazed at all the wonderful insight attendees have gotten about their businesses and creative life. We’ll hear from a variety of attendees sharing tips on how to choose the right conference for you, how to prepare, how their businesses have changed from what they learned, how to meet people and form lasting bonds with fellow attendees, what you should pack and more. Whether you’re a creative entrepreneur or a maker, if you’re ready to take the leap and make 2015 the best year yet for your business and/or creativity and expand your community, Craftcation registration is open now. Join us for four inspiring days of hands-on craft and food workshops, business classes and community events like our ever-famous dance party and opening dinner.

This week we’re super excited to share the interview we did with three-time Craftcation attendee Vennice James. I feel lucky I got to know Vennice at the first Craftcation. She’s such a joy to be around-always smiling, positive, creative and fun. I also love that she juggles several creative businesses like hair styling and being a yoga teacher (which aren’t the typical kinds of businesses most Craftcation attendees have), yet she’s able to use the information and connections she makes at Craftcation to grow her businesses, creativity and community. I look forward to hanging out with Vennice and her crew of awesome friends she always brings at Craftcation 2015. I love what Vennice said about Craftcation below.

“By attending this conference I’ve been able to evaluate and analyze my crafty business venture. I feel I have the tools and information to build my crafty business after attending Craftcation. My artistic and creative pursuits have grown beyond my expectations.”

-Nicole S.

Now onto the interview…

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Vennice James Estrada. I am a hair stylist, yoga teacher and mad crafter. I’m a lover all of things creative! You can find me online: Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Etsy.

What conferences have you been to?

I have attended Craftcation for the past three years. I also attend at least three trade shows and/or additional training to stay current and sharpen my skills for my career in the beauty industry.

How do you choose what conference to go to?

I choose a conference based on the classes and the presenters. If the conference is offering a class I’ve been wanting to take or features presenters I’ve always wanted to meet, work with or learn from, I’m in!

Why is it worth it to go to a conference?

Conferences are valuable for so many reasons. Working solo can make it difficult to meet people, this is the mecca of crafty loners. I love being surrounded by creative people in an artistic environment. It’s a great place to get inspired and reignite your creativity. I’m not technically savvy so business classes are a must attended for growing my business.

How has your business or creative pursuit changed after going to conferences?

By attending this conference I’ve been able to evaluate and analyze my crafty business venture. I feel I have the tools and information to build my crafty business after attending Craftcation. My artistic and creative pursuits have grown beyond my expectations.

What are your tips for conference goers on a budget?

If you’re on a budget try to share a room or carpool. Take advantage of free meals even if you have to get there early or show up for the last sandwich. Use coupons and look for discounts. I always bring an electric tea kettle so I can have tea, coffee, oatmeal & ramen. This saves me time and money.

What was your first conference like?

The first year of Craftcation blew my mind! There were over 300 crafty chicks in one space who all wanted to learn and create! People are really friendly and helpful. I love that the Crown Plaza is temporally turned into a colorful buzzing creative space!

What was one of your best conference moments?

I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences at Craftcation with some of the most amazingly unique and creative people I have ever encountered. The first year I signed up for jam making with Delilah. I had no idea she was one of the master minds behind Craftcation. I partnered up with a gal named KC and we are still friends. I took this jam making skill to heart. I taught my Mom and now we do it together.

Have you connected with new people at a conference and what are your tips for attendees (especially introverts) to network at conferences?

Everyone has a name tag and that helps to break the ice with people. Remember most people are nervous and want to meet you too, they just don’t know it yet. Give out your business cards and ask people for their contact information. I’ve received mini zines, tiny cookies and lots of postcards instead of a typical business card. I’ve met many people and have made several connections. Social media makes it easy to find people and keep in touch.

What are the essential things you bring (or wish you had brought) to a conference?

Don’t start packing without checking the weather. Pack comfy walking shoes and clothes. If you’re going to do yoga bring your mat or at least a beach towel. As I mentioned earlier, I always pack an electric tea kettle so I can have unlimited coffee, tea, oatmeal and ramen. This saves me time and money. Drink emergency or vitamin C packs to keep your immune system up. Small crock pots, record players, and quilts have been spotted in crafter’s rooms. If you’re flying and or sharing a room head phones are essential! I also like a giant scarf that can double as a blanket or cover up.

How do you prepare for going to a conference?

I prepare by checking my tickets and class schedule. Then I read over directions and times. I print out the schedule and hang it on the wall. This way I can see the entire line up for the week.

How do you make the most out of your conference experience?

I like to journal so I can remember things I saw and did. I take photos, videos and even voice record some lectures. Enjoy yourself and try something new. Don’t be too rigid with yourself. If the beach is calling your name, go put your feet in the sand.

How do you apply what you’ve learned to your business/creative pursuit?

I try to practice or instill what I’ve learned as soon as I get home. I connect with people right away thru email and social media.

Plastic-bag makers fighting California’s ban are “buying their way onto the ballot,” environmental

Plastic-bag makers want you to overturn California’s bag ban

Plastic-bag makers fighting California's ban are “buying their way onto the ballot,” environmental

Plastic-bag makers fighting California’s ban are “buying their way onto the ballot,” environmental

by David Lazarus, Nov. 4, 2014 for the Los Angeles Times

Listening to the plastic-bag industry oppose bans on their product is eerily similar to what carmakers said decades ago in opposition to seat belts and air bags.

Bad idea, they argued. Bad for consumers. Won’t accomplish what supporters intend.

In fact, seat belts cut the number of crash-related injuries and deaths in half, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the combination of seat belts and air bags reduced fatalities by more than 60%.

And now we have plastic-bag manufacturers claiming that bans at the local and state level hurt the economy, kill jobs, tax the poor and don’t actually help the environment.

“It’s yet another job-killing, big grocer cash grab masquerading as an environmental bill,” Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said of California’s ban on plastic bags that takes effect in July.
It’s yet another job-killing, big grocer cash grab masquerading as an environmental bill. – Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance

A ban on plastic bags in Los Angeles County took effect four months ago. A 10-cent fee is charged for paper bags.

The plastic-bag industry, like the auto industry before it, wants people to think it’s fighting the good fight on behalf of personal freedom, individual liberty and common sense.

All it’s really doing is trying to protect its profits.

The plastic-bag industry is now gearing up — and spending heavily — to place a referendum on the November 2016 ballot that would overturn California’s bag ban. It has until Dec. 29 to collect the more than 500,000 signatures needed to put the matter to voters.
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I spotted an ad on Craigslist for people to receive $1.50 for every signature they gather in support of the referendum. “It is basically to reverse the ban,” the ad says, “but the way you pitch is to vote on it whether you want it or not.”

Daniels acknowledged that the industry is employing professional signature gatherers.

Plastics companies recently contributed about $1.2 million toward the referendum campaign, according to public records. All but $50,000 came from companies based outside California.

The largest donation — $566,666.67 — was made by South Carolina’s Hilex Poly, one of the country’s largest plastic-bag makers and the main provider of funds for Daniels’ American Progressive Bag Alliance.

Indeed, when he isn’t defending “progressive” bags, which are more friendly sounding than plastic bags, Daniels is Hilex Poly’s vice president of sustainability and environmental policy.
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California’s ban, Daniels told me, is not about the environment. “It’s about a backroom deal to scam Californians out of billions of dollars.”

By the industry’s reckoning, he said, state lawmakers bowed to pressure from grocery stores and unions to require that consumers pay extra for paper or reusable bags.

“We’re getting inundated with calls from Californians thanking us for doing this,” Daniels said of the planned referendum. “It’s very encouraging for our industry.”

Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, which spearheaded the statewide bag ban, said he very much doubted that bag makers are being swamped with calls of support from state residents.

About 60% of voters said they support the statewide bag ban, according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Friday.
cComments

Kill the ban! I’ve questioned why the bag ban only targeted plastic grocery bags, but yet there is no ban against the Hefty or GLAD plastic trash bags we all use every day. Makes no sense. Stupid leftists and union leaders! In anticipation of the ban (I live in Riverside where the ban…
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at 12:46 PM November 04, 2014

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Murray said the industry’s claims of broad support mirror its insistence that plastic bags are environmentally safe. “They don’t have a real argument, so they’re using bogus arguments,” he said.

A plastics industry website, BagTheBan.com, says that “studies show banning plastic bags could increase global warming, put more carbon in the air, require more trucks on the road and use up more water because consumers would be forced to use resource-heavy alternatives like paper and reusable bags.”

The reality, Murray said, is that plastic bags are a blight on the landscape after being discarded by careless consumers or blowing from trash cans, garbage trucks or landfills.

The Natural Resources Defense Council reported last year that California communities spend more than $428 million a year trying to prevent litter from entering the state’s waterways.

Plastic bags make up as much as a quarter of all that trash, the group found. They pose a threat to wildlife, clog storm drains and threaten vital industries, such as tourism and commercial fishing, it said.

“The environmental cost of this product far exceeds its utility,” Murray said.

He said California’s bag ban was the result of many hours of public hearings and negotiations with interested parties. But because the industry didn’t get its way, Murray said, “they’re now just buying their way onto the ballot.”

It’s a fair point. If Californians were clamoring for an end to a law that hasn’t even taken effect yet, they’d be signing petitions at a grass-roots level, not at the behest of mercenary hustlers making $1.50 a signature.

The California Legislature passed a bill in 2011 that would have prohibited petition circulators being paid on a per-signature basis, but it was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. He said the legislation was “a dramatic change to a long-established democratic process in California.”

Contrast that with Oregon, which in 2002 required that petition circulators be paid by the hour, not per signature gathered. Since then, the state’s initiative process hasn’t died. It’s just become more representative of the public’s wishes.

Both Daniels and Murray predicted that a referendum on California’s bag ban will come before voters in 2016. Even if it fails to pass, it would likely delay implementation of the ban for months.

And that would translate into additional profit for the bag industry.

Call it the best democracy money can buy.