Today is the second part of a very special series this week with two members who are soapers and upon first meeting decided to road trip to attend not one but TWO handmade conferences together! If this sounds like the recipe for a handmade buddy comedy movie (we'd see that!), well, we don't have video but we will bring you three blog posts. :) (read part 1 here)
Hello again! I am Christina Wennstrom, Founder/Owner of Soap Seas in Redondo Beach, CA. Soap Seas is an all natural artisanal-grade soap and bath product business that was founded in the Summer of 2015. I am born and raised here in beautiful sunny Southern California and I have always been a bubbly beach girl. I wanted my business to portray my playful love I have with the sea. Each of my soap a bath products are lovingly handcrafted in little batches to preserve and showcase the integrity of the high quality ingredients that I choose.
My fellow #ahasmember and soap friend, Kristina Nanninga, is the founder/owner of AshaBée Bathworks in Oceanside, CA. Kristina AshaBée Bathworks in the fall of 2014 after retiring from the Navy as a Chief Hospital Corpsman and moving to Twentynine Palms, CA for her husband's Military Career in the United States Marine Corps. In the beginning, soap making was just a form of therapy for her PTSD and anxiety, today it continues to be that and more. She is inspired by the military life, the availability of quality handcrafted soaps in small communities as well as quality skin care products for deployed service members.
We both are taking you along for the ride as we embark on our road trip of a lifetime!
Our first stop was to Ventura, Ca for the Dear Handmade Life's 2017 Craftcation Business & Makers Conference! We first heard about Craftcation when back in October 2016 when we both attended an Academy of Handmade event.
Nicole Stevenson, the co-founder of Dear Handmade Life, was hosting the event along with AHAS director Sharon Fain. We both were curious about Nicole's upcoming Craftcation Conference and wanted to learn more and ask her questions. Nicole was super fun and sweet (her mom was there supporting her-the cutest!) and gave us the deets and dates for the conference.
The Craftcation Conference took place April 26-April 30 2017. Me and Kristina both couldn't believe that this Craftcation Conference was scheduled right before the upcoming 2017 HSCG Soap Guild Conference ( April 30-May3). We thanked Nicole for the information, got on her mailing list online and started talking together about options.
After that initial meetup, we kept in touch through texts and social media. Once home, I plowed through Dear Handmade Life's website, FB, IG, the whole bit! Read reviews and saw pictures of all the bright colorful people that had attended Craftcation. At the same time, Kristina was doing her research and really wanted to go. We both had not attended Craftcation before and were both smitten about joining this happy place full of makers from all walks of life under one roof.
The classes bring offered, the workshops, the fun activities, the entertainment, and the gorgeous location were all a plus. We got on the phone one day and just raved about how fun it would be and that we could carpool together up the California Coast and get to hang out at the beach with all these amazing makers!
So we did it, we agreed that we were gonna make it work and buy the pre-sale tickets (highly recommend buying early!) to Craftcation. Yeeeeeee! I felt like a giddy little girl jumping up and down with pure elation and joy. This was more than just a fun trip and a break from our business, this was a gift we were giving to ourselves. As makers and small business owners, it is always about the hustle and working all day at every hour. This Craftcation Conference was something to look forward to for us-for the ones behind the biz- we needed this!
For the next months up until April 26, 2017, Kristina and I prepped, planned, and plotted our roadtrip together. We constantly connected on the phone to organize all the reservations, hotel bookings, tickets, etc. Since we were planning to attend another conference right after Craftcation we basically split the responsibilities up with 1 person making reservations for the hotel in Ventura (that was me) and the other person making the reservations for the hotel in Vegas (Kristina). That way it was a bit less confusing once the totals had to be tallied up and we had to split costs.
I even made two envelopes and stuffed them with extra cash to help save and pay for the upcoming trips. After we took care of the boring stuff, we then focused on all the fun stuff! What classes would we take? What workshops would we do? Who else that we know is going to Craftcation? It was an adrenaline rush just getting ready for the big dance (it kinda felt like a huge makers prom)!
We got shirts with our logos on it, we got car markers to write our new hashtag we created just for the trip (#soapfriendsroadtrip2017), I got some new sunglasses to wear, and I even dyed my hair pink ( the first time ever I've done that!). Fun was oozing out of us and hitting the road that day felt like we had found the place where us makers could let our hair down, have no expectations, let loose, be accepted, and just have fun.
We arrived in sunny Ventura, Ca just in time for early registration (I highly recommend doing everything that has to do with early registration; so many perks). A bright old school turquoise VW bus (swoon) welcomed our arrival right in front of the hotel. We then ran into some maker friends in the lobby (Mod's Best Friend, Lemon Grove Market) and we were greeted by Sharon our AHAS director who kindly pinned us with our AHAS button right away.
We got fun kits, swag bags full of maker goodies, stickers, schedule books, and a rockin' cool turquoise name tag necklace that I proudly wore and adorned with different pins I collected throughout my Craftcation trip (check out my pics on my IG). We had only been there for 10 minutes and I had a buzz from the feel good energy swirling around. We had made it.
As a first timer, I wanted to take every class and workshop I could fit in my schedule! But to be honest, after the second day of doing that, I realized it is best to pick the main ones you can not live without doing. For me those were, Lela's classes, Watercolors & Meditation with Sienne, and Reversible Sun Hat with Ashley Nickels. After you’ve focused on those, then kinda coast around and enjoy the other free and amazing things that were being offered that you didn't have to sign up ahead of time for.
Craftcation has booths lined up from cool vendors like Dharma Trading Co and Darice Crafts giving away freebies, there was a crafty swap session where you could donate your crafts/materials and get some in exchange ( I gave up an old silicone soap mold away and a newbie soap maker picked it up and was so thankful, it was sweet paying it forward), they even had a pop up shop where you could dig into a selection of handmade goodness and great reads from authors that were attending the conference (Amy Tangerine! YAY), there was always something to do, learn from, and join.
And can I just talk a bit about the parties??!! Each night there was a get together or party going on. We had our lunches at the City Hall overlooking the Ocean, a kick off party at the cutest VoodDoo vintage Polynesian Dining experience at Ventiki, then we had a fancy pants dinner located at Olivas Adobe (a mission ranch-style spread that was filled with nostalgia and magic), and to end Craftcation with a bang-we had a Vegas themed party (I wore gold sequins, leopard sunglasses, and everything Vegas tacky I could find-it was the best). So much love, laughter, fun, and friends were made at Craftcation- it is a must do to attend if you are open for new positive experiences and can go with the flow.
You don't even have to be a social butterfly all the time because they even had some classes/workshops for introverts that didn't want to go to the huge festivities. Nicole and Delilah really knew how to make everyone feel included. Hats off to you ladies!
Putting yourself out there and going along with where the trip takes you was the best part of attending. I never had any expectations besides fun---but fun naturally comes with this conference so I was all set! Everything I came across was a new blessing in my world and now I have more maker connections that share this tight Craftcation bond with me. I still look over all the pictures from Craftcation (#Craftcation17) and smile every single time.
Our next stop on our road trip was going to Las Vegas, NV for the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild's 2017 Conference held on April 30-May 3 at the Tropicana Hotel. We hit the road early in the morning and left Ventura, CA on April 30 and drove through the desert to be surrounded by soap makers from around the world! Follow our soap maker journey as we tell you more about that conference in the next post. :)
If you are interested in the Craftcation conference hosted by Dear Handmade Life check them out at dearhandmadelife.com
For the soap makers who want details about the HSCG Conference (next year will be in Atlanta!) you can find more information at: soapguild.org.
You can find Christina Wennstrom on her website: soapseas.com, and on social media @soapseas