Dear AFCI Community,

As many states continue to reopen, the retail environment is emerging to a new normal; a challenging business environment caused by unprecedented global pandemic that has created uncertainty for everyone. We are all experiencing new complexity that has caused a lot of ambiguity.

At the same time, the current health crisis has created an environment of innovation that has galvanized the creative industry in a common cause to help others. Millions of masks have been made to supply to our families and friends for personal protection by those that used their stashes of fabric that were meant for a quilt. Hundreds of thousands of protective garments have been made for front line health workers using thread and sewing machines that were in a box in a corner. 3D printing systems have been engaged in the creation of protective masks and components for respirators. Greeting cards have been made and sent to those that have been impacted by the consequences of the health crisis. People have used paints, pencils and markers to express their emotions and as a means of communicating their personal experiences.

These acts of kindness go on and on; they are all a reflection of the culture of the crafting consumer. Our industry has been there all along the way, providing products, services and support to those consumers. The spirit and culture of our industry is to be caring, giving, and passionate about the well-being of others.

The AFCI team has been doing the same thing, working to be the “mortar between the bricks” through our regular communications of information about the health crisis and its impact on your business. Town Hall meetings, panel discussions, and education webinars have been held; resources have been provided to navigate these uncertain times; and connections have been made amongst members during these challenging times. 

As we move forward and businesses open up during the weeks and months ahead, we will all find new focus. New opportunities will be identified. Goals will be redefined; new strategies will be outlined and tactics will be implemented. There will be some risks along the way, but I know we’ll emerge stronger on the other end.

As our members have navigated the global pandemic, we’ve also opened our ears and hearts to listen to our diverse community. AFCI has been challenged to look within at our own culture and how we’re supporting our members and building a diverse, inclusive community within the creative industries. We recognize we have work to do, and are taking the steps to be a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization.

Now more than ever, we are committed to being your Association and your partner—helping you get back to business. You can expect more education offerings, original content, and new member benefit programs. We are looking for to ways to partner with other organizations in a common cause of delivering value in your membership. We’ll be offering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) education, content, and implementing a DEI statement and member code of conduct to ensure we are cognizant of and accountable for our actions.

There will be new challenges and risks ahead. That’s OK, it goes with the territory. Your Association is rising to those challenges to ensure that we all come out stronger at the other end. We invite your comments on how we can assist you make that transition to a stronger business in the future.

I’m confident that creativity will be a bigger and more important part of the lives of consumers. We look forward to partnering with you as we work to achieve our collective vision of an active creator in every home in the world!

Sincerely,

Jim Thielen
Chairman, AFCI

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