CHA is the Craft and Hobby Association. This international non-profit works to promote the crafts and hobby industry. They do this in a lot of ways, but one is through their twice annual trade show. So, when someone says “I’m going to CHA,” they actually are talking about one of these awesome events. I was fortunate enough to go to January’s show in Anaheim. Their next show is in Chicago this July.
Strictly speaking, the CHA event is not for bloggers. This is not a blog conference. Members of CHA include suppliers, buyers, and industry professionals (Manufacturing reps, designers, and educator/demonstrators). In the expo hall, brands set up booths showcasing their latest and greatest products to show off to attendees. These attendees include mom-and-pop shop owners all the way up to buyers for large chain stores. In the meeting rooms, workshops and lectures are given to help businesses with their merchandising, promotion, and other business essentials. Demos are offered. Meetings are held. There is a lot going on!
So, why do we bloggers care about going to CHA? I’ll tell you why I wanted to go – to see all the fantastic crafty-ness in one place. I spent very little time actually talking to vendors, because I knew I wasn’t the audience they were looking for – I am the end-user, not the merchant. I spent most of my time checking out all the fantastic eye-candy. Products that are about to launch. Project ideas. Brands that I love. Brands that I need to be falling in love with. There were some booths that were interested in chatting. And some booths had demos that I was able to take advantage of. But for the most part I got to walk around and look at all the amazing crafty goodness. And take lots of pictures.
Some of my bloggy friends with larger audiences had planned ahead, and made appointments with companies and brands. This was a great chance for them to meet face-to-face with several different brands located all across the country in the space of just a few hours. And nobody can argue that a face-to-face meeting is so much more valuable than an e-mail or even a phone call. These bloggers were able to grow and advance relationships.
I had some fun growing and advancing relationships as well – with my fellow bloggers! Although CHA isn’t an event designed for bloggers, it attracts many as “members of the press.” And since we all have to eat, I found myself eating with some amazing gals! Many of these ladies are bloggers that I read regularly, and have “met” online. For me, this was the icing on the cake. Sitting at a table and chatting about the topics that we write about here on the Crafterminds blog, or discuss in our #crafterminds Twitter Chats. In person – with not a single one of us wearing sweatpants!