Connecting with like-minded makers can fuel your creativity, help you hone your crafting skills, and keep you energized. Not sure where to start? Here are some helpful hints.
1. Set goals. Decide what type of crafting group you want to start. A knitting circle for yarn enthusiasts only? A craft-of-the-month group eager to try a new project at each meeting? A charity-minded Meetup where members will work on crafts to donate to a cause? "If you’re the founder, choose whatever works for you," advises jewelry maker Even Howard, a former captain with the San Francisco Etsy Team. "I started a Friday daytime crafting group because that was easiest for me. I was too tired for evening crafting. It drew makers who were free during the same time, and we ended up making friendships. If I had pressured myself to create an after-work group, I wouldn't have wanted to attend myself!"
2. Decide where and when to host your first meeting. If you're planning to meet in a café or pub, check with management to find out whether there's a time limit, a food/drink minimum, whether lighting will need to be adjusted, and whether your group will be expected to clean up after the meeting. Need another venue? Some craft shops, community centers, and museums have classrooms you may be able to use for free or a nominal fee.
3. Get the word out. Tell friends, workmates, neighbors, or other parents at your children’s school. Even if they’re not interested, they might know people who are. You can also advertise through Meetup, Craigslist, Facebook, and by putting up signs at local craft stores.
"I was seeking out a crafting community when I started my crafting business, so I went to a panel discussion of Etsy sellers, and from there I just started calling other crafters," recalls San Francisco-based crafter Rebecca Saylor of Oodlebadoodle. Among the many crafting group events Saylor organized was a book club for crafters. "We meet to read leadership books and help each other grow in new ways," says Saylor, who crafts pillows and home décor items. "It’s inspiring. It’s really been part of what’s kept me going."
Howard suggests promoting your new crafting group six weeks before your first meeting and launching it in the spring or fall, when fewer people are on vacation.
4. Plan to lead the first meeting. Welcome members, explain your goals, and get their input. Be flexible. Meeting once a month for two hours is a good rule of thumb, but your members might want to meet more often. Will you meet at the same place or rotate locales? Would members prefer to take turns hosting in their homes? If so, will the host provide snacks or will guests bring them? How will you communicate, through email, a group Facebook page, or another channel? Will members be expected to RSVP? Are they welcome to bring friends or, if you’re meeting in people's living rooms, do you need to limit membership?
If your group wants to learn new crafts, will members take turns as presenters, giving tutorials? If so, consider having the presenter buy supplies for the group and asking members to bring $10 to the meeting to reimburse them. If you're promoting your crafting group on Meetup, you may also want to charge a small membership fee or ask for donations to cover the platform’s cost.
5. Consider putting fun twists on your meetings. Howard has organized successful crafting picnics, crafting movie nights, and craft group field trips to creative spaces like galleries and museums where members bring their own lunches and their latest projects to share with the group.