Q&A: Crafting Community Founders (and Enter for a Chance to Win a Palm Springs Getaway!)Babble Editors
In just five years, Crafting Community, a premiere weekend-long getaway in Palm Springs, California, has grown from being a small gathering to a full-blown event with 180 families. This October 4-6, families will escape their everyday lives to bask in the sun and get their creative juices flowing, engaging in DIY age-based workshops, fitness classes, food festivities, and more.
And, lucky for you, Babble is giving away a ticket to attend this luxurious retreat (a $1,850 value!) so one family of four enjoy it all! You can enter for a chance to win here.
To get the scoop on Crafting Community, we sat down with its three founders. Here’s what they had to say about what it takes to put Crafting Community together, how the event has grown, and what families can expect at this year’s event!
Karen Kimmel, 46, Creative Founder
What inspired you to create Crafting Community?
My background is in fine art. I moved to the West Coast from New York City, where I worked in art galleries and made interactive sculptures. In some ways, this event is similar — it’s like a large-scale performance. We get to dream up all these great things with these artists, and we invite these families in to make it their own. Now, my kids, my daughter Jersey, 11, and my son, Ace, 6, inspire the activities at the event. My daughter is really into making universes of her own, and she does that with crafts. My son, on the other hand, never stops moving. I thought, if I have kids who are this different, other people must, too!
How has the event grown from its inception?
The first event I actually did on my own — and it was a very small, intimate gathering with close friends. When Stacy, Tait, and I got together, we knew we found something. The next three we did as a team, and this will be our fifth year. It has grown from an event with just a handful of families to one with more than 180.
From your experience, how does Crafting Community impact the lives of those families who participate?
Here’s a story I heard this year. One man who’s part of a family that’s attended Crafting Community before had recruited a new employee at his office to bring his family to the event. Crafting Community became a way for them to bond outside of the office, and that helped set the tone for their relationship — and they’ve become lifelong friends, and their kids are friends, and they’ve raised their families together. That’s from spending just three days together! That’s what it’s all about — bringing families together.
What’s the most rewarding thing about hosting Crafting Community?
In this business, I hear a lot of “I can’ts,” when watching a parent or a kid stumble on a project. But at Crafting Community, there’s no right or wrong. It’s all about involvement — and surrendering the process to open a window. Everyone gets to be witnessed, and celebrated, and feel like, “Wow, I made this; I can do this.” It’s kind of corny, but it’s true.
Stacy Bernstein, 36, Chief Operations Officer
What does it take to organize such an immersive event like Crafting Community?
First, we really get to know families. After they sign up online, we reach out to them immediately, and gather their kids’ names, ages, and fun information like their shoe and T-shirt sizes! We ask them a fun question (this year’s is “What’s your family’s theme song?”) and compile that information in an event booklet, which includes a schedule of events, biographies of artists, and families’ profiles, among other information. Understanding families’ needs before they get there really helps us make the experience run seamlessly.
You have two kids — how have they influenced your work?
When we started this, my daughter, Stella, was 6 months old. This year, she will be 4. My son, Oliver, is now 18 months old. The biggest piece of Crafting Community, and what makes it so fun, is it helps us develop experiences centered on the family unit: crafts, activities, and workshops that kids and adults can do together!
Soccer was a hobby of yours in college. How has your interest in sports affected Crafting Community?
The first year we were definitely more art-based, but for me creativity and innovation doesn’t start and end with traditional art. Movement is a really important, core piece of creativity and inspiration for overall health and vitality for kids. So we added fitness classes last year. This year, they’re all a surprise, but we have three levels: freshman for toddlers ages 3 to 7, junior varsity for kids ages 6 to 8, and varsity is ages 9 to 13.
What’s up next for Crafting Community?
We want to bring Crafting Community to more people and possibly more venues. We’d love to spread our wings, and we’ve set our eyes on the East Coast. Growing is what we have in store.
Tait Chatmon, 36, Corporate Partner Outreach
You play a huge role in selecting brands to be featured at the event. What can we expect this year?
We’re doing a lot of fun DIY crafts featuring the Kid Made Modern line from Target. Converse will also be a highlight of the weekend. They’ve given us a blank slate. Kids and parents will be creating their own one-of-a-kind sneakers with fabric markers! They’ll get their plain sneakers in their welcome kits. This year, we’re also taking over the Ace Hotel property, and that’s going to enhance families’ experiences. We’re creating more diverse programming — in the past it was only art workshops, one pool, and recreational activities. Now we have tons of DIY programs, two pools, and more going on at the same time! We even have an ice cream social!
What’s it like to watch these families open these welcome kits and dive into these festivities?
I can totally relate to that excitement — after a long drive into the hot desert, they get their bags of goodies, and they’re greeted with these refreshments! When you have a family and are planning a vacation, there’s so much to consider: finding kid-friendly restaurants, booking travel arrangements … it’s a lot. And at Crafting Community, you see parents arrive and appear at ease. The 2-year-old is in the play laboratory. The older kid is in the pool. The dad is reading. Mom has time to herself. They’re relaxed and satiated from a creative standpoint.
How have your kids influenced your work?
I used to work in the fashion industry, but when I had Max, who’s now 5, my priorities changed and my focus shifted into kids products and family experiences. It’s because of them that I’m even talking to you right now! When we started this, Max was only 2, and he stayed in the pool all day then. The next year he was in the toy lab or would look at a book in the library. Last year I went home with crafts he made. I’m curious to see what he’ll participate in this year!
How is Crafting Community different from other events you’ve coordinated?
First and foremost, I would say all the events I’ve ever done in my life have been about one day long. I’d never coordinated a weekend-long event. And it’s the difference between having a play date and a sleepover. A sleepover involves staying up late, with everyone telling each other their secrets. That’s what Crafting Community is.
— Melinda Carstensen
Photo credit: Crafting Community
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