In February, the inaugural Creative Camp was held at Camp Allen, Navasota, TX, presented by The Custom Sewing Institute as a weekend retreat appealing to medium- to advanced-level workroom owners and employees who wanted a small group format featuring hands-on learning.
Presented February 9 to 11, 2007, the first Creative Camp was a huge success. Attendees from across the United States came to Camp Allen to learn new methods and techniques from Leslie Fehling, Joyce Hernandez, Gillian Wendel, Donna-Marie Lee and myself. Attendees particularly enjoyed the ability to take all of the classes offered during the weekend without having to miss out on any topics presented.
Students arrived on Friday, February 9 and immediately relaxed in the main lobby and began meeting, sharing, networking and anticipating the coming classes and instructors. The central Texas location provided all the meals, lodging and classrooms for this event, so students were able to unwind and prepare to learn during this whirlwind weekend. Every meal, break and class was filled with laughter, learning and sharing among the attendees and instructors.
Two contests were held during the weekend: Project Drapery Challenge and a table runner contest.
Five registrants entered the Project Drapery Challenge. In December, each entrant received a contest kit: a description of a fictitious client’s dining room project including paint chips and a Minutes Matter Studio rendering of the project’s windows, four yards of gold silk donated by Creative Fabrics and the decorative hardware of their choice donated by Resin Solutions.
The rules required each project to include at least half of the provided silk fabric using a drapery panel enhancing the window. They were free to add additional fabrics and trims of their choice. All five of the entries were creative, beautiful and varied. The instructors at the event selected the Project Drapery winners. First place winner Vickie Ayres, Putting on Ayres, Bringhurst, IN, won a free registration to a future CSI event, a trophy and inclusion of her winning treatment in Draperies & Window Coverings magazine and on the CSI Web site.
Ayres’ attention to detail, finishing touches and beautiful arched cornice with swag overlay was stunning and beautifully crafted.
Second place winner, Pascale Tutt, It Seams to Me, LLC, McKinney, TX, also won the Crowd Favorite award from the attendees. Tutt’s draped and pleated attached valance coordinated well with her selected fabric and trim and contrasted with the silk fabric from Creative Fabrics.
The table runner winners were chosen by the attendees and Carey Broussard, Carey’s Custom Designs, Katy, TX, won first place with her formal shaped, pieced and reversible table runner. Magda Raber, MSR Window Treatments, Pineville, LA, won second place for her entry, which served as both table runner and placemats.
In Leslie Fehling’s Awesome Ottoman class, each attendee built and covered a small ottoman with their choice of decorative fabrics donated by Greenhouse Designs. Other class supplies were provided by the Rowley Co. Fehling also presented several styles and potential add-on details to vary the look of the ottomans for different rooms and uses.
Gillian Wendel’s Finishing Touches & Closures class showcased beautiful samples of decorative trim work as well as a creative way to present trims for designers and clients to consider for their projects. Leon’s Fabrics and Trims donated the beautiful silk fabrics that the students used to make their selected trim styles. Each student received a kit of fabrics, supplies and wired ribbon from which to make their chosen trims.
In the Design & Proportions—Practical Applications for the Workroom class, Wendel also described how to determine proper proportions and analyze magazine photographs to interpret ratios and dimensions. Students worked on photo samples to enhance their learning curves and practice Wendel’s techniques.
Additionally, Donna-Marie Lee’s Tips, Techniques & More class bowled over the attendees with her dozens of tricks and tips for producing quality work in an efficient and streamlined way. Her smocked heading panel was a huge hit as were her shortcuts and practical methods to accomplish challenging tasks.
In her Couture Basics . . . Couture Advanced Techniques class, Joyce Hernandez kept the students engaged with her fun-infused presentation of high-end methods and details, the reasoning behind her creative techniques and many samples to examine and photograph.
In the Workroom Products class I provided many sources, supplies, equipment, hardware and presentation tips to improve workroom production and hardware selection. Many suppliers donated brochures, samples and product information for each student’s vendor bags.
STYLE AND MARKETING
Dozens of window treatment valances and panels were showcased in the Trunk Show Marketing class, in which students learned how to present add-on details for potential clients, as well as how to increase their client referral base. Each treatment served at least two functions, showing various linings or headings, the treatment style and add-on trim options.
A complete trunk show was presented, outlining the mailing and marketing materials, trunk show equipment and supplies, marketing venues and descriptions on how to tailor the trunk show to your business goals. Cameras flashed for the entire class and many students planned to create a trunk show geared to their regional marketplace.
On Sunday, the students packed up their ottomans, trim samples, purchases and tote bags loaded with vendor samples, product information and door prizes. New friends hugged each other goodbye, exchanged contact information and promised to implement all of their new knowledge and also to meet again at a future CSI event.
The next Creative Camp! event will be held March 14 to 16, 2008, and will feature Chris Watt, The Pillow Lady; Ginny Conner, Joyce Hernandez, Leslie Fehling and Gillian Wendel teaching a variety of classes including hands-on and marketing topics for medium- to advanced-skill level workroom owners and employees. Once again, the maximum number of 50 registrants will participate at Camp Allen, Navasota, TX.
Susan Kostelecky is the owner of The Custom Sewing Institute and award-winning SK Designs of Houston, TX. She can be contacted for more information by telephone, (713) 697-4110, or by visiting www.csisews.com.