I know I've told you about the Handmade Artists' Shop and Handmade Artists' Forum before, but today I want to talk to you about one of the driving forces behind those related entities.
Kimberly Kitchen, owner and artist at Makin' the Best of It, has worked tirelessly with her husband, Andrew, owner and artist at Chainmaille by MBOI to support and promote the handmade community from their home in NJ. Despite an insanely busy life and a couple of kids, plus dogs, Kimberly and Andrew have a serious love of all that is handmade. Kimberly (and I can definitely relate to this) accuses herself of having "a case of crafter's ADD, a chronic condition which requires boxes and bags of pieces and parts that could be 'something' someday and a ridiculous collection of websites and books on crafts [she wants] to try." Oh yes, I know that affliction well.
One of her loves, and Andrew's forte, is chainmaille, which led them to seek out a team.
To make communication easier than it was back then on Yahoo, Kimberly and Andrew offered to start their own forum. Rather than limiting the forum solely to chainmaillers, they opened it up to "anyone that created, loved, sold handmade." Unlike other venues which tend to stick to proprietary notions, Kimberly and Andrew have always encouraged members to post photos of their work and links to their various shops, blogs, and forums, no matter the host.
Since then, they have done their best to promote any handmade item that hits the Handmade Artists' Forum, through blogging, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Featured Member Ads, Facebook, Google+, and innumerable other venues.
With the hospitality exhibited by Kimberly and Andrew, it's no wonder the HAF membership grew to hundreds of members, fairly quickly. Because Kimberly and Andrew encourage the HAF members to promote each other as well, numerous visits to the shops of the members was inevitable, as were the resulting sales.
Kimberly, creator of so many different kinds of handmade wares, together with Andrew, attempted shops in various available venues.
But they were dissatisfied. Not the types to just sit back and settle, Kimberly and Andrew created the Handmade Artists' Shop. I cannot fathom the research and preparation this undertaking required, but it's come to fruition.
Today? The forum has nearly 2,500 members! The shop has grown by leaps and bounds! And Google searches are turning up products in the HAFshop. How could they not, with the promotion that Kimberly and Andrew do?
Their whole purpose is to drive the handmade movement forward, and that magnanimous attitude spills over to the other members of HAF, who are quick to support, encourage, instruct, suggest, and assist their fellow artists and artisans.
I've been proud to call myself a member of that community since December 16, 2009, not long after the inception of Reef Botanicals.