Forth Events

Panel Planning: 8 Tips From Our Etsy Evening by Julie Schumacher

crowd copy We'd been kicking around the idea of a panel for some time and on July 8 Forth we hosted our first public event. A sold out crowd of current and someday Etsy store owners gathered to learn from five Forth alum who are veterans in the world of Etsy and/or ecommerce.

Here are some panel planning things we kept in mind as we got our Etsy on.

signageChoose a topic that matters.

A conversation between some Forth alum in a Facebook group about some challenges of Etsy had us thinking that if they could have an exchange that dynamic over the internet there'd be some sparks and magic in person, and some very valuable information for interested parties. I've never had an Etsy store but even I was curious about what they were talking about. That, my friends, means people who are invested would be interested.

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Find people who know their stuff and have opinions and questions.

Our panels are opportunities for the women of Forth to showcase their talents. Each brought a unique voice and area of expertise. Before the event, we asked each to share some tips and from those gave each a topic to ruminate on more in depth. Being a panelist can be nerve wracking so letting them get their public speaking sea legs with a topic they were prepared to talk about made sense. Picking people who know their stuff and are curious about how other's are doing it means a natural flow to the conversation instead of an back-and-forth between the moderator and a panelist.

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Ask people what they want to know.

Because the panel was open to anyone, whether they owned an Etsy store or not, we wanted to be sure the evening had value for everyone who attended. Eventbrite allows you to contact people who've purchased tickets. By writing each of them and saying "Hi! What are you curious about?" we were able to generate some broad topics for us to talk about and let attendees know they were in for a good evening.

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Pick a space that inspires.

Finding a space is hard. You need it to be big enough but not too big. You need it to have a layout that makes sense for the evening's flow. We talk about spaces all the dang time when we're planning the private salons. Our space host, Design Cloud, had up (as they always do) an engaging and beautiful show. We couldn't have picked a better venue. (And if you are looking for a space to cowork from, they do that too!)

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Reach out.

I don't like to ask for rides to the airport, so asking people to pitch in or donate or support is hard. I was nervous asking the panelists because, heck, they are all busy and fabulous. Bolstered by their enthusiastic yeses we wrote Penrose, a new brewery in Geneva to see if they were interested in being a part of the night. And you know what? They were enthusiastic and excited and so ridiculously helpful, too. And the beer! We were lucky to sample some of the first bottles of Penrose's Proto Gradus and P2. The worst a business or organization might say is no. And, we found, they often say yes. If you can present your event's WHY clearly and articulately, share why it might be of value to sponsor, and be as accommodating as possible you too might have delicious beer a-flowing.

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Make it feel special.

This is kind of the key thing we do at Forth. Women sitting around a table talking is great and all...but what makes the salons different is that we plan for a beautiful evening from start to finish. Here was no different and here that mean some tasty snacks to pair with the beers. Chocolate and cheese go well with Belgian beers. It was a low effort, high yummy way to make the evening special.


Get butts in seats.

A panel without an audience is wildly depressing. We tried a few things to help get the word out, and some of it involved the "just ask" approach. We had the support of the 50+ women who've attended a salon. Many of them shared the event with their communities. It was another instance of asking. We asked the panelists to share in their networks and asked everyone we could think of to point us to potentially attendees. We wrote to local design and events blogs and asked to be added to the calendar. We drafted press releases and contacted people who sold at local art fairs and popup shops who also had an Etsy presence. It was a ton of work but the result mattered.

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Get out of the way.

I like being in front of an audience. A lot. But even I know there are limits to my charm. After a Q&A we gave people time to talk. To talk to one another or to seek . Building connections and community is what we're all about. So while I would have liked another 20 minutes of rapt attention, dedicating time to organic conversation is a very good thing too.


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Give folks something to take away.

We took the top three tips from each expert and Lisa prepared a nifty takeaway for guests. Efforts like that make a difference.

We're working on getting audio up and available, so stay tuned!

Curious about something? Have a panel you think our community could rock? Let us know.




Forth Favorites From The Online Shops of Our Etsy Shop Owner Panelists by Natalie Pavela

You may have heard that on July 8th we're hosting a panel talk on the Ins and Outs of Etsy Shop Ownership at Design Cloud. Oh boy, are we excited! We're lucky enough to have some talented Forth alums who are also experienced Etsy shop owners. Four of these gals are going to be sharing their wisdom at the panel talk - Olivia Suchman Joffrey of Vigilante Paper, Johanna Winter Harper of JWH Designs, Julie Morelli of Nourishing Notes, and Vana Chupp of Le Papier Studio. Today we're sharing a few of our favorite items from each of their Etsy shops.

Vigilante Paper is a purveyor of unconventional, colorful wedding invitations. Their collection marries hand-drawn illustration, pattern and lettering with the affordability and color of digital printing technology. We're loving this Mexican themed wedding invitation for a destination wedding and this sultry floral wedding invitation

Vigilante Paper Mexican Themed Wedding Invitation

Etsy Vigilante Paper Wedding Invite

JWH Designs creates whimsical dish towels, tea towels, and prints. We're swooning over the abstract layers flower sack dish/tea towel and the set of blue windmill flour sack napkins (perfect for jazzing up your table when dining alfresco!).

JWH Designs Abstract Design Dish Towel

JWH Designs Blue Windmill Napkin

Nourishing Notes makes letterpress printed greeting cards, art prints, screen printed kitchen towels. The preserve fruits and family recipes flour sack kitchen towel looks awesome when hanging on a blank wall in your kitchen. Julie's also got a great sense of humor, incorporating food into her messages for special occasions. We're especially digging the thank you berry much & cheese louise you're old cards. 

Etsy Nourishing Notes Towel

Nourishing Notes Cards

Le Papier Studio specialize in custom silhouette creations for young and old, fine art prints, silhouette jewelry, gifts for home, custom invitations and stationery. The father and son on swing silhouette printcouple on bikes gold foil print and gold foil birth announcement are a few beautiful ways to commemorate your loved ones.

Le Papier Studio Father and Son Etsy Le Papier Studio Goldleaf Print

Le Papier Studio Birth AnnouncementWant to hear more from these wise, wonderful women? And drink the first bottles of Penrose beer? We thought so. Seating is limited so get your ticket.

These Are Not My Problems: Lacuna Artist Lofts Opening by Julie Schumacher

One of the best parts of Forth is the chance to celebrate the endeavors of the community we're building. As Shannon Colón put it, "I adore the Forth community, and always leave feeling inspired and refreshed, so why wouldn't I go? I love meeting new Forth family and seeing how they're tearing it up." untitled-3

And so several alums gathered at the Lacuna Artist Lofts last Saturday for the opening of These Are Not My Problems, a show on systemic change work which attempted (and I'd say successfully!) "to marry creators, activists, policy makers, art admirers and anyone with a desire to reclaim humanity." Indeed!

With topics ranging from economic inequality to solitary confinement, rape advocacy to environmental degradation, the war on drugs to drone warfare, the show, presented by the 8th Day Center for Justice and curated by Jeremy Van Cleef, the show featured three Forth participants, all from our Spring '14 salon, among the civic minded artists.

Pitch Design Union principle Margot Harrington's The Certificate of Safe Space addressed her ongoing engagement with the creation of protected, empowering and productive spaces for all people. Inspired by her assigned topic of sexual harassment, she broadened the reach to embrace all individuals' rights to feel and be safe.

Activism is a way of life and work for Margot, who was recently summoned to the White House a for a Data Jam related to protecting students from sexual assault. What'a Data Jam? Read from Margot herself here.


Crystal Hodges and Linsey Burritt of INDO had a taste of just what it means to go viral when their installation partnership with Honey Maid sent the interwebs on fire. They created an intentionally positive response to a (not all) negative response to a more inclusive take on the word "wholesome." The YouTube views alone are creeping towards 4 million.


As part of the INDO installation, visitors are invited to sign a pledge dedicated to raising awareness to one of the 13 causes These Are Not My Problems addresses. Then, they were rolled up, glued and added to the pillars of positivity supporting the LOVE.


The gals we've gotten to know through Forth produced two of the pieces showcased, and the rest were equally moving, thoughtful and though-provoking. Kelly Allison shared, "The show was an amazing collaboration of artists, uniting to stand against today's most pressing issues of social injustice. At once empowering, challenging, and eye opening, each piece was perfectly curated and executed to drive home the message that change is due, and it's up to us to start a revolution."

The Pilsen space itself is worth a visit. An old macaroni factory(!!), the large space is chock full of galleries, event spaces, local makers and businesses.

The show is up all month long. Go, add your voice, get inspired and act.

Forth Meetup: Kane County Flea Market by Kelly Allison

A couple weeks ago we hosted a Forth meet up at the Kane County Flea Market, and boy, was it a doozy. If you've never been to this hot spot in the western suburbs, let me paint a picture for you. Treasures amidst junk, novelty, quirk, and ephemera abound. It's really worth the trek and the $5 admission fee to get in. There are such a myriad of offerings, from tablewear and textiles to furniture and toys. And if you have the time and the patience, you're surely to find some great loot. Kane County Flea Market

Here are some tips & recommendations on how to shop the market:

1. Start with wine.

We sent a note to bring a sack lunch and a snack to share, and the offerings were bountiful. Macarons, cheese & fruit, rice krispy treats, stroopwafels, and of course, wine. As with all Forth outings (or most all) there must be a bit of alcohol to initiate the festivities.

Start with Wine

2. Bring someone who knows.

Lucky us! Kelly of Nimble Well joined in this adventure, so we had pro collector and master guide in our midst. From educating us on the art of bartering, to identifying time period and recommended value of our goods, Kelly was an invaluable pal.

Shop Flea Markets with an Expert

3. Look for oddities.

One of the best parts of a good flea market is that you'll find all sorts of crazy stuff. So much of the fun is just in the looking, and in the giggles that ensue. Want to learn to build a house of straw & catch a water polluter? The Mother Earth News has you covered. Need a battery operated smoking bear? Look no further, friend. Have a hankering for a new vinyl collection & 80s hair bands are at the top of your list? Done!


Heck, we even found a golden & glittery accordion fit for Liberace.

Flea Market Finds

4. Buy in groups & look in groups.

Buying matching goods is great fun, even if just to compare Instagram photos tomorrow. Or let your friends know what you're hoping to find, so you'll have extra eyes peeled for your desired loot.

Flea Market Fun

5. HAVE FUN! The best part of the market is the part where expectations are low, laughter is high, and good friends abound. Make that your mission, and you're sure to have a successful trip.

Shopping Flea Market



When all is said and done, gather up your goods, style them into a pretty bunch, and take a picture of what you've found. Pat each other on the back--it's been a great day!

Forth Flea Market


*Many thanks to fellow Forth gal pal & pro photographer Dev Enarson for shooting along with us. All photos marked with an asterisk are hers, and used with her gracious permission.

Forth Alum Dev Enarson

Forth Happiest Hour by Natalie Pavela

On a recent February evening, many of the women who took part in the 2013 salons gathered at Telegraph, a lovely wine bar in Logan Square, for a 'happiest hour' to celebrate the launch of the Forth 2013 Yearbook. It was such a joy to look back on the previous year, catch up over wine and delicious appetizers, and share exciting new things happening in everyone's lives, both personally and professionally. telegraph wine bar


We're excited for what 2014 has in store for all the creative women we've had the pleasure of connecting with to date, and are even more excited to expand upon the growing Forth community with our quarterly salons and some other events we have up our sleeves this year.

Happiest Hour photos after the jump.

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