After a weekend in Chicago and a quick jaunt to LA (post pending), it was time for American Made in NYC last week. The event was held for two days, Oct. 16 and 17th, in Grand Central filled to the brim with the top picks of American purveyors and crafters in food, design, style, garden, tech, and crafting. A few blocks away at the Andraz 5th Ave. Hotel, the Martha team scheduled an entire day celebrating the event, which included expert panels, cooking demos, meals, a cocktail hour, and, of course, fabulous gift bags.
In addition to the gorgeous pop-up shop displays, the event included tables of Martha’s crafters and sponsors, who assisted visitors with screenprinting canvas bags, braiding friendship bracelets with charms, creating and decorating handmade cards, and cutting paper doilies. The room was full of energy, lightness, and fun, popping with vibrant colors and squeals of delight as the visitors marveled at the creative products and innovative displays.
I was invited to this event as a Martha Stewart editor’s pick blogger and lucky enough to get to spend an entire day with the likes of the some of the top bloggers in the DIY and crafting genres, including the darling Anne from Flax and Twine, the divine Jessica from the Budget Savy Bride, the sweet Vidya from What’s Ur Home Story, the master Diane from In My Own Style, and the hilarious Kelly from Eclectic Vintage.
The day started with breakfast and a morning panel, after which the Martha editors gave the bloggers a backstage tour of the American Made event. The displays themselves were works of art, but I especially loved the paper crafters and the textile companies that were producing some pretty amazing products (see here, here, here). My favorite new find: spoonflower.com, which allows you to create and print your own wallpaper, gift wrap, decals, fabric, and paper! A dream of mine. Also, I was a big fan of the company SVG Cuts out of Illinois that has completely modernized paper crafting into an ultra-sophicated, jaw-droppingly gorgeous medium.
How amazing was this medallion and America depiction, which the Martha crafters made?! The America was made from mylar, an idea I will definately be reusing.
The afternoon sessions included a cooking demonstration with Martha food star Sarah Carey. She made a skillet cookie and salmon over roasted kale and cabbage from the October issue. (Notice I mentioned the skillet cookie first?) I missed most of the demonstration fantasizing about how many other desserts I could cook in my skillet, once I buy a skillet, that is. There were various other panels including one on Pioneering Creative Communities, and an evening cocktail hour that featured craft cocktails and a farm table covered with cakes from the Martha cake cookbook, which was included in the gift bags. I had a similar “cake table” for my engagement party, but this one really “took the cake,” and I am in the process of hatching a plan as to when, where, and how I can re-create.
The highlight of the event for me was admiring the gorgeous decor and vibrant design touches around the hotel whispering fall reminders, including this flower arrangement humbly sitting next to the coffee set-up that was made from paper flowers.
I adored the multitude of asymmetrical flower arrangements that adorned every room, as well as the crates they stood on, the stacked pumpkins, and the burnt orange berry twigs scattered throughout. I suddenly felt an impending urge to start using berry twigs for all my projects.
The Martha bloggers and I finished our cocktails and headed to dinner. There is no group more colorful, funny, interesting, and engaging for me to talk to than a group of crafting bloggers, so I was in a state of complete delight. That, and the cake table probably had something to do with it.
We reflected on the day and shared ideas, tips, and where we saw ourselves in 5 years. One of my favorite moments of the event was at the conclusion of the first panel consisting of Martha Stewart and NYC real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, among others. The last question posed to the four panelists was “What is your best piece of advice?”
Barbara answered first: “A business is just a string of mistakes, where you keeping throwing things up against the wall until something works. Make sure you are good at the number one most important trait that every successful entrepreneur that I’ve ever met has: be great at failure. I’ve never seen a successful business without it. Watch how long you take to feel sorry for yourself after you’ve failed….”
Martha chimed in last in her deep, matter-of-fact voice, “Bounce back swift, strong, and steadfastly [after failure].”
It was thrilling listening to these two fascinating women sitting in one room together sharing their experiences and, at the same time, surrounded by so many brillant female small-business entrepeneurs and creatives. I could feel the high-energy vibration bouncing off the walls of the small space, and the innate enthusiasm of everyone there for the way in which each person was making their own contribution to the world.
I am superbly grateful to the Martha Stewart editors (and especially Krissy) for extending an invitation and “back stage pass” to the Martha bloggers (including moi) for this unique event, which was styled straight from a magazine (Martha’s!) and characteristic of only the crafting queen herself.