TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Friday, May 20, 2011

TAFA's New Website Campaign Launched on IndieGoGo

Those of you who follow this blog know about TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List.  TAFA was launched in January on 2010 with the goal of helping its members find larger audiences and markets for their products.  Our motto:  Markets for Members.  The membership has grown to 274 fiber artists and textile related businesses, representing 23 countries.  As members are juried in and must have a professional presence on the web, TAFA offers a portfolio of the finest examples of traditional and contemporary fiber art/textiles online.  We have been using Blogger as a platform to showcase our member profiles and have outgrown it.  The main problem is that members who joined early on, always end up at the bottom of searches on the site and with member growth, a visitor to the site would have to go through several pages to find everyone who is listed.

TAFA is about People

So, we are campaigning to raise money for a new website.  This new site will have a powerful search engine, generating image based results, all linking back to the member profile pages where the user could find all the places that member is on the web.  TAFA serves as a hub, a place where the members can bring their information together, network with each other, take advantage of joint marketing efforts, and more effectively use their limited resources to access audiences that would be harder to reach if they were doing it alone.

TAFA is about Products and Talent
Handmade by People for People

We have contracted with a talented web design team in Paducah, Horizon Media Group, who will build the new site.  They have quoted a price of around $5,000 which will give us the infrastructure and design that we need to move into our next phase.  TAFA intends to grow and become THE destination for those interested in textiles and fiber art. Our niche centers on the studio artist and on small businesses who support handmade textiles.  We also hope that other organizations, museums and related support people will join us, helping us to create a centralized, visual database of the handmade textile industry.

We are a part of the handmade revolution that has been growing worldwide.  We believe that both traditional and contemporary methods and explorations of all Craft are essential for maintaining healthy, sustainable and environmentally conscious societies.  Within that larger context, the handmade textile and fiber niche is a multi-billion dollar industry that has failed to unite cohesively with one voice.  We are spread out all over the place, with quilters, weavers, surface designers, embroiderers, knitters, and all of the others staying within their peer groups.  They are further broken down into interest groups that focus on contemporary, vintage, fair trade, and so on.  Coming together on one platform creates a greater possibility of being found and of stepping out of these traditional boundaries into new arenas.

So, for example, an interior designer looking for something to hang up on a living room wall, would be able to look at a whole variety of offerings in one place instead of trying to track down possibilities within those specialized groups.  The new website will certainly benefit the members and buyers looking for specific products, but it will also be a source of inspiration for emerging artists and businesses. 

TAFA's members have actively supported TAFA's development over the past year.  They have contributed money by sponsoring the site through ads, joined in on brainstorm sessions, formed a Team on Etsy, participated in our TAFA Market this past April and helped in countless ways.  Many of us are financially stressed as this economic downturn has affected us worldwide.  The arts always suffer when the world is in crisis.  So, in an attempt to get this dream site funded, we have launched a campaign on IndieGoGo and ask that the community at large jump in and help us move forward.

What is IndieGoGo?

One of many such sites, IndieGoGo uses a crowdfunding philosophy to help "the little guy" access funding to make dreams come true.  The idea is that if a person or group presents an appeal that catches the interest of donors who would like to contribute to independent causes, they can realistically take the steps to achieve those dreams.  This has been especially helpful to artists who need capital launching their music, videos, movies and other techy endeavors.  But, there are also many social causes and individual needs looking for funding on IndieGoGo and other similar sites.  I saw one guy who is asking for money to get work done on his teeth.  Why not?  If you don't state the need, people won't know that it is there.

Some people do have disposable income and they are willing to share it if a cause catches their eye.  While we are experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we also have more millionaires worldwide than ever before in history.

So, we are hoping that some of those people with money will like what we are doing with TAFA and back us with enough donations to get this site going.

The bullet list: 
(links, info and what you can do to help)

  • Goal:  $5,000
  • Campaign ends: July 26, 2011 
  • Visit TAFA's Campaign on IndieGoGo
  • Rewards and Thank you page on TAFA
  • Donate (every little bit helps)
  • Leave a comment on our IndieGoGo page. (activity on our campaign helps push us towards the front page)
  • Spread the campaign around.  Email it to specific people you think would be interested in it, share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Blog about it. 
  • The money:  IndieGoGo releases the money to us immediately when payments are made through Pay Pal.  We will get credit card donations at the end of the campaign.  They take 9% of the total, but will reimburse 5% if we reach our goal.
  •  Extra funds?  If we make more than our goal, we will add some extra features to the site and use the balance for marketing TAFA.  We would like to reach the point where we can advertise in key places, join trade associations and implement programming that will benefit the members.

Our members have donated some gifts to potential donors and we are listing the donors on our TAFA site as well.  But, the biggest gift that you will get from this is just feeling good about helping a great concept achieve fruition.  I can take credit for TAFA being my brain child.  The idea came out of my own history as a gallery owner looking for new work to show, from years of selling online, from my increased role as a technical assistance provider to my artist peers, and from seeing a niche out there that was begging to be filled.

I have had the privilege of meeting the members as they joined up and of seeing them blossom into various sub-groups within TAFA.  As people, one could not ask for a more pleasant, kind, and smart group.  Collectively, we have such a wealth of knowledge and talent...  it humbles me on a daily basis.  I cannot take credit for TAFA's potential and for its beauty.  It is an amazing place and it is that because of its members.  Individually, they contribute their own unique interest and expression, impacting their specialty with new interpretations of the old.  I long to see them on this new site where they will be fully visible, easy to find, and truly accessible to the public.  The new site will be beautiful!  Help me get it out of my head and into reality.

-Rachel Biel


Thursday, May 12, 2011

TAFA Market Video

TAFA Market 2011, Paducah, Kentucky

Well, we did it!  Our TAFA members came through as vendors and exhibitors, helping to create a wonderful market during the AQS Quilt Show in Paducah, April 27-30.  The show was beautiful and so fun to see everything live, things that I had only seen before on the web.  We had members representing all five continents with both contemporary and traditional ethnic textiles, beads and crafts.  TAFA members really made this event happen as together they paid for the space, expenses and helped with marketing costs.  It was a sight to be seen!

Unfortunately, that week was also a time of major flooding in the region.  The Quilt Show had to relocate out of the Convention Center and away from downtown.  Attendance to the show was impacted by the flooding and many who would have traveled stayed home.  See the video for images of our show and of the flooding.

All in all, we consider the TAFA Market to have been a wonderfully successful event.  We had hoped to raise funds for our new website through the event, which didn't happen.  However, we almost broke even and given the context, we are extremely grateful for that.  Paducah has flood walls which protect the downtown area.  They held and continue to hold the Ohio River at bay.  Other cities and rural communities have not been spared as homes and farmland have been damaged or destroyed by historic flooding.

Many thanks to all of the TAFA members who participated and/or supported our TAFA Market!

Together, TAFA members do great things!



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