A good thing to come out of the confinement linked to the pandemic: all these budding artisans, who said: “If only I had time, I would take up embroidery / pottery / quilting / painting”, had their luck.
As people found creative ways to entertain themselves, small crafts became big business. Craft supply stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels have seen surprisingly strong sales during the pandemic, and their projections for 2022 remain strong. Etsy more than doubled its revenue in 2020, according to Forbes, and for the first nine months of 2021, sales were up 39% from the same period a year earlier.
Even small craft businesses have felt the boost. “Our business tripled in 2020,” said Shannon Brinkley, a quilt and fabric designer based in Leesburg, Va. The author and quilting teacher also runs The Meander Guild, an international online forum for quilters. “We grew tremendously because so many people were looking for artistic connection and had free time.”
“When people were stuck at home, they were trying to think of new things to do and creative sparks were taking hold,” said Jeff Herman, editor-in-chief of Lawnstarter, a company that, among other things, does curious surveys. . He has just published his 2022 report on the best cities for crafts. (More on that in a minute.)
“We’ve all seen stories about how many people have put the extra time and money they had during the pandemic into home improvements,” Herman said. “But fewer talked about how they used time and money to improve their homes and quality of life through craftsmanship. It seems like a huge trend.
Indeed, as a society, we have gone from wringing our hands to wringing tie-dye T-shirts and knitting our eyebrows to knitting afghans. Craftsmanship not only helped pass the time and distract us from the troubles of the outside world, it made our homes more beautiful and sometimes brought dough.
Kat Kennedy, of Newport News, Virginia, is a good example. “I’ve always loved doing crafts,” she says. But when the pandemic hit, the 34-year-old mum took to finger knitting – no needles needed – and started making blankets with a vengeance.
“Before the pandemic, I had probably done a total of three covers in my life,” she said. Since Covid, she has done 21. Several adorn her home. Some, it is sold. Others, it is given as a gift or given to the homeless.
Her boyfriend, Daniel Hardy, also caught craft fever. After Kennedy dragged him to a few thrift stores, he became interested in old furniture. The 38-year-old medical insurance rep picked up a few worn but well-made pieces, including china cabinets, chests and cedar dressers, and learned how to restore them by watching YouTube videos. He now sells his refurbished furniture through his online store.
“When the pandemic started, you couldn’t go out. The kids couldn’t go to school,” said Kennedy, who works from home in customer service for a gardening company. “Knitting and restoring furniture took up our time and made us forget everything that was going on. Craftsmanship really brought us together.
And they do it all in the living room of a 925 square foot apartment. She knits in an oversized chair, while Hardy works nearby in a part of the dining room they’ve turned into a workshop and covered with drop cloths.
Now back to the smartest cities. According to the Best Cities for Crafters survey, the top five are New York, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle and Patterson, NJ – and the worst, coming in at number 200, was Enterprise, Nevada. Here are the qualities researchers have found can help ignite crafters’ glue guns:
Access to materials: Having lots of craft supply stores per square mile helped boost a town’s rank, as did an abundance of hardware, fabric, and thrift stores.
Craft community: Cities with a strong attendance of local artists at Artists Sunday – an art shopping event held each November in cities across America – ranked highest, as well as those with many meet-and-greet groups. Arts and crafts.
Educational Opportunities: The more arts and crafts classes a city offers and the more schools that offer arts and crafts classes, the greater the opportunities for artistic growth and enrichment.
Artistic events: A final measure of a city’s craft potential is the number of arts events, craft fairs and art festivals held each year. Whether you tap into a creative community online or in person, artists do best when they engage with other artists.
Join me next week as we talk about what every crafting room should have.