A contributing editor goes to CHA…

Hi everyone, and Happy Valentine’s Day! Polly here. If there’s one thing I love any day of the year, it’s a behind-the-scenes look into just about anything. So, I thought you might enjoy just a little bit of what it’s like going to CHA as a contributing editor.

If you haven’t heard of it, CHA stands for Crafts and Hobby Association. Twice a year the association holds a conference and trade show where manufacturers of all kinds of craft products basically come and set up little storefronts to sell their new products. Buyers for stores, and others interested (like us in the media), get to go check out the new goodies. Classes are also taught, receptions are held, and there’s a keynote speaker each time. You might’ve heard people throwing around the word “CHAW”, and that just means its CHA-Winter…this season’s version of the show. (The summer show takes place in July, usually in Chicago.) This year the winter show was in Los Angeles (which was a breath of fresh air for those of us living in the snowbelt.)

Manufacturers large and small set up booths that reflect their company’s personality. Some are decorated simply, and others elaborately. It’s always a so fun to see how they embellish their space, and its no small feat transporting all the products and everything that goes into the booths (carpet, shelving, décor, etc.). The creative folks at Melissa Frances, known for their beautiful vintage products, brought an insanely cute pink oven to display in their booth in honor of their Kitschy Kitchen collection. (Can you imagine shipping the oven all the way to the show?)

The Die Cuts With a View booth was beautifully decorated with paper dresses displayed on mannequins, and festive tabletops nestled beneath paper-covered chandeliers using their products. So. Darn. Cool. Every year I come away feeling like I got a double dose shot of inspiration. Its easy to see why.

As a contributing editor its my job to see as much as I can, paying close attention to the manufacturers I’m assigned to cover, and then report back to the rest of the Scrapbooks etc. crew at our daily meetings. Everyone comes prepared with their “Top 5” favorites of the day (sometimes it nearly impossible to limit ourselves to just five so we sneak in a 6thpick).  We talk about trends, ideas for things we think you’d like to see in the magazine, and anything else that caught our attention as we scoured the show. There are inevitably products that trip everyone’s triggers like the new SMASHbook from EK Success. (Stay tuned for more on that!)

Some of our favorite finds, though, reflect our different personalities and scrapbooking styles. I hoard good, solid, not-too-crazy letter stickers. These 12×12 sheets of cardstock stickers from Bella Blvd.’s new Sophisticates line have three different fonts (one with sort of a cool Techno-feel, one straight sans serif, and then a mini at the bottom). I will be stocking up.

Not only are we looking at new products, but we get treated to the work of many talented designers whose work is displayed in the booths. Its like walking through a 3D idea book. We saw this cute creation at the Studio Calico booth.

At the end of each day, we’ve seen lots of great new products, made some make-and-takes, talked with many creative people, and appreciated a really, really good pair of walking shoes. (I fare pretty well in my favorite Danskos.) And, the best thing about the shows? Getting to spend time with the very creative, fun, kind, and downright awesome people I work with. Here we are getting our picture taken in the photo booth Doodlebug Design set up to celebrate their 10th anniversary. (Left to right…Michelle Rubin, Leah Fung, me, Brittany Hopkins, and Deb Berger. We missed you, Candi!)

It always takes me a day or two to recover from the show, but it never fails to be a worthwhile trip. As they say on SNL’s Delicious Dish….”Good times.”

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