Positive Yarn

January 16, 2009

Tips and techniques to help set up a children’s program

Filed under: Business marketing,Outreach — heathergooch @ 4:56 pm
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As I wander through the Web, looking at what’s going on in the industry, I’ve constantly amazed at the depth and breadth of the information out there. Case in point is Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘n Thread blog. You may have seen these posts when she originally published them this summer, but she offers excellent advice in both setting up and conducting an embroidery class for 7- to 9-year-olds. From creating a “place setting” so that each child sees everything he or she is about to use, to making sure there’s a cookie break midway through, I applaud Mary’s use of step-by-step photos and conversational tone (it’s obvious she’s a teacher by training!). In addition, several readers share their tips and insights in the comments section.

I’m a big fan of teaching children how to stitch, because it fosters a love of handiwork. Even if it goes dormant as school and other things take precedence, it usually pops up again as a creative outlet in adulthood. It also is a great form of “viral marketing,” inspiring parents, grandparents, siblings and friends to try it out, too.

The Children’s Healing Arts Project (CHAP) is a variation on the theme that crafts can hold kids’ attention and let them explore their creative side. As posted by Michelle Mach, editor of Beading Daily, an interview with CHAP Managing Director Lindsay Ross reveals how a beading program for patients at Portland, OR’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital has been so successful, it’s been adapted to “fit the needs of different areas and populations, including waiting rooms outside of surgery wards, oncology floors, monthly grief counseling meetings for hospital staff, and art days in the lobbies.” Again, the comments to the post confirm the benefits of beading and report similar programs in other areas.

Finally, the Craft Yarn Council of America offers not only a certified instructors program, but 10 tips from the pros regarding keeping kids engaged when learning crochet and knitting basics.

I’d love to hear the pros (and cons) of your experiences of hosting classes for kids, and whether you’d be interested in Positive Yarn offering a white paper on the subject.

On a final note, I hope all the TNNA attendees and exhibitors have a fantastic Winter Show, going on this weekend in San Diego. Please be sure to check out TNNA’s Needlepoint Group’s new consumer Web site, which is making its debut at the show.


November 20, 2008

Just like child’s play

Filed under: Business marketing — heathergooch @ 3:26 pm
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Hey, wanna have kids?

Professionally speaking, of course. In this tight economy, it makes sense to appeal to all demographics — and where there are children, there are bound to be parents following close behind, opening their wallets to their darlings’ whim.

I know, because I am one of the wallet openers. And while my husband and I take great pains to ensure we keep our daughters from being spoiled rotten, we have certainly done our fair share of shopping for them.

We also shop — a LOT — for children’s birthday presents for the parties to which we are invited. This weekend alone, I need to buy a gift for my best friend’s daughter and another for the neighbor’s little girl who’s having a roller skating party. In fact, I’ve been to a myriad of interactive birthdays. The celebrations where a couple friends from school come over and help blow out your candles in the dining room is sooo passe. We’ve been skating, golfing, go-karting and bowling, jumped on inflatables, painted ready-to-decorate ceramics, baked cupcakes in a professional kitchen, and the list goes on.

So, why not grab a big piece of that birthday cake? Joanns does it, and so does Michaels. Host a party on otherwise-quiet Sunday afternoons, where a group of 8 to 10 kids can crochet a little purse, bead a keychain or stitch a bookmark. Even boys can get enthusiastic about it in a group setting — peer pressure can be used for good, not evil when it comes to overcoming their reservations about trying out something that seems so “girly” at face value. In fact, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts troops would appreciate a chance to spend an afternoon at your shop. Make sure birthday guests know you’re available for troop events, and make troops aware of your penchant for parties.

Kids’ creativity never ceases to amaze me, and to introduce children to the needlearts is definitely rewarding. My fourth grader has crocheted leashes for every single stuffed animal she and her sister own, and has made bracelets and necklaces for all of her friends. (I hope to eventually interest her in progressing beyond the chain stitch, but for now, she’s happy.) Both girls also took full advantage this fall of the Stan Hywet Needlework Guild’s children’s booth at the annual Ohio Mart festival, where they learned how to stitch on plastic canvas for free and took home two very cool ornaments:

OhioMart1 OhioMart2

The best part about children’s parties is if you hold them in the back room, the parents will tend to wander out front. And when they see their child really enjoying the project, it gets the wheels turning about what they can buy to sustain the interest. Try making an endcap all about kids — the Disney patterns, the brightly colored threads and yarns, the plastic needles. Show they can not only make and take, but if the next party happens to be held at home, you can supply the parents with enough activites to keep the kids occupied until the pizza arrives. In fact, just last weekend my fourth grader went to a slumber party and came home triumphantly with a new elastic necklace and a silk poinsettia wreath she made by herself (with the help of the birthday girl’s mom and her glue gun). They beat the heck out of a goody bag, because she wears the necklace nearly every day, and the wreath is pretty enough we can display Christmas after Christmas.

Similarly, the look of pride and accomplishment on my first grader’s face when she finished her Dora the Explorer “Begin to Sew” finger puppets a couple weeks ago is one I’ll never forget. These are memories I want to make again and again.

If your store has reached out to the under-10 set, be it birthday parties or otherwise, please share your experiences by commenting below.

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