I plan to do some posts about how it is to work in the craft industry. I love to share and anyone who has ever talked to me will know that if you ask me a question about anything, I will tell you the answer and help you, unless it is about one of the 3 secrets I have (which are really silly little things but I keep them close). Anyways, for those of you working in the industry, no matter where you are at in your journey, and those of you thinking about it, I hope this helps you or at least makes you chuckle a little :) I am not a super star and I do not wish to be – I am just a scrapbooker turned craft designer and instructor who wants to eek out a living doing what I love. And if I can help someone else in their journey, then that is just icing on the crafty cake!

Every Woman (and Man) working in this industry is the “The Hardest Working Woman (or Man) in the CraftBiz”. I made this video of me prepping for a class, my hair all nutso, so I could share an inside look at how much work it really is:

Over the last few weeks I have had a lot of phone and Facebook chat conversations about my job and working in this industry. I am overjoyed when I hear that someone has put in a good word about me, referred me to some amazing opportunity, or just recognized the hard work I have been doing. The majority of my calls and contacts are that way. 

But I have recently found that I have been the subject of rumors, jealousy, and just mean girls talking smack about me. People who I thought were my friends, turning on me and saying horrible things (though, a side note to that is that I did not see the warnings — they talked smack about everyone else so why did I think I was immune?)

This whole realization really floored me. On the one hand I am too busy to pay too much attention to it. But on the other hand, it does hurt a little that people jump to some crazy conclusions with little to no information and then they feel they need to tell other people about their ill-thought opinion.

In my naivete I thought I would never get that kind of attention–jealous? Really? I am an over-educated, overweight, super short mom with alot of health issues living in the trailer park capital of So Cal trying to figure out how to change my business in this changing economy so I can keep doing what I love. I buy a new car once in every 10 years and I live in a house that was a repo that we are fixing up and we owe twice what it is worth. Oh, and I have a ridiculously large student loan that I have to pay off for a degree I don't even use. What on earth is there to be jealous of?!

I will admit; at one point, I was quite envious of those who I perceived to be successful in this industry, who I thought just got everything handed to them on a silver platter and weren't working hard for it. I nit-picked them in my head and sometimes in conversation (I know, it is terrible and I regret it), trying to justify why I was not successful by saying “they just got everything the easy way”. That feeling and those thoughts got fewer and fewer over the 9 years I have been working in this industry. That has been a good thing. Yeah, I was in my 20's when I started and I was immature. No bones about it! Immature and stupid. Hopefully I am less of both of those now ;P

Some point last Fall, I realized that I had started to look at things very differently. For one, I had no time to focus on what everyone else was doing because I was too darn busy. I started meeting and talking more openly with other designers and instructors and I realized we all had the same things in common–we worked CONSTANTLY to keep the work coming to us. We worked late at night, early in the morning, pitching our work to companies, trying to work with stores to run classes, trying to keep up our momentum. We worked for free sometimes because a trade-off was that we could promote ourselves; it is advertising we could not afford to buy. We failed sometimes. We dusted ourselves off. And we kept going. We have been stiffed by companies who did not pay us but adored and treated like royalty by others. And we have had to take pay cuts or change who we work with because the companies are suffering in this economy. 

No one makes us do any of this and I am not trying to make people feel bad for us. We do it out of love, passion, and joy.

The point is, that despite every failure, change in plans, or curve-ball thrown at us, we pick ourselves up and keep going. Our passion helps us stay motivated. But we all have days where we wonder, “what are we doing”?!  “Should I just quit”?  The thing that makes us successful is that we keep going–we learn from our mistakes, we turn each experience into job experience that can help us, and we keep working at it.  Now I can't speak for the “stars” in the industry but I can almost guarantee that they go through the same thing 10x more intense than I have ever experienced. 

And there are days when we are hurt by what people say. And I guess what hurts most is that we KNOW the people saying mean things just don't understand. They do not comprehend that we are working constantly!!! That nothing is ever handed to us no matter how easy or convenient it looks on the outside. The minute we sit on our laurels for a few days, we can easily see the adverse affects on our business. That we put our heart and soul and then some into this business and we hear that someone was bashing us at a trade show, or that they were bad-mouthing our class at a crop, or that they were just making up insane rumors and posting them on Facebook.  That is like a knife in the heart! Sure, someone is reading this right now, misunderstanding, and is going to bash me for it. I hope they keep reading and maybe change their mind a little :)

The Women (and Men) who you see out there teaching, promoting the craft industry, and working for companies, are some of the hardest working and most under paid people in the craft business. Our commitment to the success of this industry drives us. Our passion rewards us. And sharing our love of crafting, be it through samples, classes, or whatever, so that we can inspire others is what keeps us warm at night. Yes, some of us make money at our jobs. And it is that, a job. 

For anyone who wants to work in this industry, who has ever wondered why some people are successful and they think they themselves are not, please leave a comment. My phone number and email address are easy to find. Call me. Email me. My Facebook Profile allows anyone to send me a message or start up a chat. Pull me up on chat. 

The first thing I will ask you is what is your goal. Then I will tell you to become a CHA Designer Member if you are serious about designing as a professional. And the next thing I will tell you is that you have to find your own path and work hard at it. If I can mentor anyone or at least give them a leg up, I will because there have been scores of women who in the past and including now mentor me and help me and guide me. We all support each other and together we become more successful.

Believe it or not, most designers and professionals in this industry LOVE to help others. We can't do every job ourselves!! There is definitely enough of the “pie” to go around. It is a way to give back, it is a way to build relationships, and it is a way to help the industry we love prosper. 

So next time you wonder, “How did she get that job?” or “How do I get to do work like that?” just know that there are months of hard work if not years of work behind that person getting from a crafter to being a professional. And it is possible for you too to achieve that kind of success if you are willing to put your nose to the grindstone, focus your effort on your work, ask questions, help others, and work hard.

I hope this inspires you to keep on keeping on! Now I am off to work!

Happy Crafting!

Author: Jennifer Priest

It started with jewelry, beading, sewing, home decor, painting, basket weaving, pottery, and cross-stitch. Marry that to an entrepreneurial spirit & at 9 years old a girl is selling her wares at craft fairs as far as her parents and grandparents would drive her. These days, Jennifer enjoys crafts of all genres from sewing to scrapbooking to jewelry with a little dabbling in the mixed media world. Her style is approachable and she wants everyone who sees her work to feel that they too can embrace creativity and make their home and life beautiful.

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24 thoughts on “The Hardest Working Woman in the CraftBiz

  1. Oh Jennifer I am sorry you have had to deal with this hurt. It is so sad.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I appreciate your words of wisdom.
    Many days I wonder why I keep trying, I have only been working three years and get so tired and discouraged when I see the same names over and over.I craft because I love what I do, it is a therapy of sorts.
    I have a few rules I refuse to change or alter. I LOVE to promote others and recognize each and every crafter for what they do.I can always learn from anyone.
    I try to leave comments and encouragement for as many as I can.
    I find many get busy or “big” and never take the time to recognize the small people.
    I will continue to try and believe some day will hit that area I want to achieve.
    Would love to sit down and pick your brain for ideas

    Posted on March 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm
  2. Straight to the point and honest. I know how hard it is to keep your chin up when there are some that want to keep you down. Times like those challenge your own beliefs about yourself and can force you to take a good look within.

    I appreciate your thoughts and advice. I think it says a whole lot of good about you.


    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 12:12 am
  3. i am so very sorry they have hurt you too. i know for a fact you are always helping others like you helped us back in that rookie group of us.
    some of us people are too fast to talk without thinking we are hurting others. i believe is called ignorance. it is a shame too most of them are grown ups and should know better by now.
    big hug.

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 1:23 am
  4. Mean people suck, plain and simple. They will be there no matter what industry you work in, you just have to know how to take it in stride and move forward past them. Kudos to you for doing just that! You rock, so keep doing what you are doing!! :)

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 1:42 am
  5. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I was so inspired by this post. I also teach at a couple of LSS and am trying to get a business going. Each month I pick up a few more customers, a few more classes. I love it but it is HARD work. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it. I have a wonderful support group (ie, hubby, family etc.) but sometimes its just ruff, however nothing makes me happier and I will keep going. Thank you again

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 2:04 am
  6. so sorry that you have had to deal with the hurt and frustration. you are a fabulous inspiration, always so ready and willing to help others I can’t even begin to imagine what horrid things could have been said. i know you have the strength and determination to get thru this but i know it must hurt terribly. hugs….nancy

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 3:23 am
  7. Jennifer, I can’t thank you enough for this post. I have been trying to decide for a long time now whether I have what it takes to try and make a go of it in this industry. I have wondered how the people who have “made it” did it. You were one of those I wondered about! I see how you are teaching classes all the time, and have seen you at different events and wondered what it was you did to get there. It is so awsome that you share such an honest point of view, and give all of us a real peek at what it’s like. I have been teaching classes for the city I live in (Rancho Cucamonga) for just over a year now. While it hasn’t really grown in size, I have managed to get enough people in it each time to keep it going. My mom has said it’s not worth my time, and that maybe I should stop doing it. But I love it! The people in it are so much fun, and I love how I get to meet people who share my passion. I’ve also started doing a class once a month from my house, and that’s been an added and unexpected joy. I’ve never really been good at holding a “regular” job, and I think that’s because I’ve never been really passionate about anything. I never wanted to sacrifice time away from my family for just money. That is until I started papercrafting. Now I get to enjoy doing something with my family, and when I am away from them, I am getting to do something I so enjoy. Sorry for this long comment, but I appreciate you “listening’, and knowing I now have someone I can go to with mentoring questions!

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 4:13 am
  8. Hats off to you. When I started crafting in 2009…you were the one who taught me how to make a mini album. I ordered your kits, followed your excellent directions…and learned. You keep on keeping on. I think you are amazing!

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 4:35 am
  9. WOW!!! Crazyaboutcricut shared this on her facebook and I just had to take a look. I can’t believe all that goes into it. Sorry to hear that some people are being so mean in the industry. Just know that your crafting abilities have helped others make precious projects that they will cherish with their loved ones. Wishing you the very best in your business!

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 4:42 am
  10. I saw this on Crazyaboutcricut and glad I looked. New follower…. Great video – always wondered how class kits get made – you made me tired just watching! Glad you have such a great attitude despite the “haters”…

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 5:12 am
  11. Love your work! And thank you for sharing your video and words. I’ve seen you teach class at a LSS in San Diego, but haven’t taken one yet. I really admire you and others who have turned a love for wht they do into their business and I love to support them. I wish I had the faith in myself to try.
    Thanks again and don’t let the negative nellies get to you!

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 5:26 am
  12. Jennifer, I adore you and all that you do, I admire you for posting this inside look at but a small portion of what you do. There’s so much more to it, like keeping up with the emails, blog posts, local events,finding creative time, staying in touch with manfs., not to mention that somewhere in there we also have families, jobs and responsibilites outside of the sbing industry. I hope those that were envious and petty with their thoughts and words, would think twice about bashing someone who puts their all into everything she does. Most of all, never doubt that you and your work a valued and appreciated by many. Hugs

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 5:47 am
  13. Wonderful Post and loved your video I found it at Papercrafters corner (yay Susan another lady who works hard)
    I have often said its only paper– but really its not — some people don’t understand when you put your heart into running a business, it controls your life, time, and money, your family revolves around it all– then you have those that say and do things that hurt you– I found myself in that spot . along with economy , and then diaster here in Al, I realized there was a reason I had to step away– as I drive thru my town and see the spot I was going to rent — I know I did the right thing- not sure where /when the next door opens yet …
    Keep doing what you do because you are a GREAT teacher/designer — I feel truly blessed to have met you!

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 6:16 am
  14. My mother told me as a child that people that put you down are just jealous! I didn’t believe it back then, but as I matured I realized she was right! With age(61) therapy, antidepressants, expieriance and pain I’ve learned to ignore the haters and realize I don’t need they’re approval to be happy with who I am and what I do. <3

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 7:33 am
  15. Jennifer, thank you for such an honest and wonderful (and inspiring) post…I just found you through facebook…I am now following your blog! I am a stay-at-home-mom who has always been a crafter and loved watching your video of how, exactly you put your kit together. Wow, Woman! I have taken a few classes in my town, and I now realize what it takes to get a class kit ready. You Go, Girl! Simply amazing! There are always going to be jealous people in the world, too bad for them…Just keep doing what makes you happy…that is what counts the most! Thanks for being such a super crafter/teacher/designer and keep doing what you love!

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm
  16. After reading this I want to jump through the computer screen and give you a BIG HUG! I totally love all the inspiration and dedication that you bring to the crafty/scrappy world and I am so sad that you had to deal with nay-sayers. I do hope that you are able to put them behind you and move toward in your goals as a scrappy goddess!

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm
  17. So real and open. I think this is the side of our lives that we tend to want to want to hide but it makes us unreachable. There are so many days where I do question my abilities and to know that we are not alone is encouraging. We have sisters out there of all kinds that stand by our side near or far ready to lend a helping hand. Our purpose among all the negative out there is to lift each other up and that is exactly what this post has done. You are blessed truly….BIG HUGS!!!

    Posted on March 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm
  18. Hey Jennifer! Wow! Talk about putting yourself out there! I know first hand what you are talking about! That is one of my biggest fears in pursuing my dream! I am afraid that i am not good enough, that people will talk crap, that I will not “fit in”. I admire your hard work, perserverance and dedication! Thank you for sharing and any helpful tips or guidance would be greatly appreciated!!!! Keep workin it girl! You are AMAZING!!!!

    Posted on March 13, 2012 at 4:40 am
  19. Thank you for such open honesty Jennifer. Am sending you a song via email by Jana Stanfield: My Life Makes A Difference. Thank you for all you do. It matters. HugZ!

    Posted on March 13, 2012 at 7:16 am
  20. Thank you for a wonderful post. I really admire how you have worked hard to pursue your passion and that you haven’t let any obstacles (including mean people) get in your way. You very well might be The Hardest Working Woman in the Craft Biz- I can’t think of anyone who could challenge you for that!

    Posted on March 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm
  21. Love this and know how awesome and inspiring you are to so many of us out there! I was lucky enough to help you prep for cha and really had an eye opening experience of how much work goes into every class, every kit, and every person you are touching. I have always appreciated your tips, compliments, and inspiration and am so lucky to have met you! :)

    Posted on March 18, 2012 at 4:19 am
  22. Thank you! For those who read this Jennifer is a kind generous person. I spoke with her on the phone just yesterday. She was very insightful and more than willing to help. I am so grateful for your words of encouragement. Thank you!!

    Posted on March 18, 2012 at 4:50 am
  23. Ugh! I hate hearing how people can be so mean spirited!! I figure you only have so much energy – like a battery. If you spend any on “evil” you don’t have as much to spend on “good!” So, why waste any of that “energy” on being hateful. Ugh. Makes me crazy!

    I’ve always enjoyed our conversations! You are always eager to share your learnings and help anyone who asks for a hand going down their path. You’re talented on SO many fronts and a delightful person. A great combination. I consider you a great colleague and a friend (even though we never have any face time, I feel connected on facebook! LOL!).

    So any time you want to chat or need a smile, just yell!

    Posted on March 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm
  24. OMG!!! I LOVED the video! Made me laugh and I was exhausted by the end! Perfect music!

    Posted on March 22, 2012 at 9:44 am