UpCraft Club: the first modern sewing and crafting association

Dreamer: Elizabeth Caven Winner

Business: UpCraft Club

Location: DES MOINES, IA

Industry Contest: Professional Services

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Millions of sewists, knitters, quilters, and crafters create beautiful things using digital tools. But there hasn't been a coalition for these modern makers...until now. UpCraft Club is an association of modern crafters dedicated to elevating the quality of our crafts and the patterns we use.
Business Description:
UpCraft Club is the first to recognize a growing problem felt by millions of modern sewists, knitters, quilters, and crafters. They love digital resources, but with over 30,000 pdf patterns for sale online and more being released every day, how do they know which ones are worth the time and money?

UpCraft Club has created the first and premier set of pattern standards and uses a team of experienced sewists to certify patterns for quality.

Using an association business model, crafters join UpCraft Club and pay a monthly membership fee that easily pays for itself each month with a variety of benefits including access to the complete list of certified patterns, discounts to nationally known retailers like JoAnn Fabrics as well as smaller independent shops.

Members also receive a free pattern, class or webinar for free every month. The unique products and videos offered monthly through the site are available to purchase by non-members as well, providing a significant additional revenue stream to the organization.

After conducting interviews with potential customers and creating a minimum viable product, a simple version of the association launched on January 21, 2015, exceeding growth expectations from day one. After the first week more than 800 users had registered with the site and dozens of requests rolled in from pattern designers seeking certification.

There are a number of competing websites offering video instruction in the areas of sewing, knitting, and other crafts. There are also several professional associations for seamstresses, quilters, and specialty crafts. UpCraft Club is different from all of these companies in its unique approach to creating standards for digital products as well as providing online learning in a new way to the massive market of modern makers.
Reason for Entering:
The idea behind UpCraft Club came after Elizabeth, a blogger and children's clothing pattern designer, often read comments online from hundreds of frustrated sewists and crafters about how poorly written some patterns were and how much money these women had wasted on bad digital resources. Throughout 2014 the number of patterns for sale online grew enormously and the problem got more widespread.

Elizabeth asked customers what they wanted and set out to build it through a simple website. For a business model that promotes membership, the site is lacking in functionality for members to be able to log in and receive their benefits.

To get the videos and patterns for the store area of the site, Elizabeth reached out to friends and built a strong, although technologically lacking, list of products to sell. With the overwhelmingly positive response to the simple site, it is clear that opportunity for new customers will only grow when UpCraft Club can deliver a better experience and produce higher quality video classes and webinars.

Money won from Dream Big Grow Here will be used to develop a stronger website, hire a video production company to bring new classes to customers, and help secure desirable patterns to list on the site.
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