AFCI Recognizes 2021 Industry Award Winners

Those acknowledged include Hall of Fame Award, Special Recognition Award, Industry Achievement Award, Brick and Mortar Retailer Award, Meritorious Award of Honor, and Emerging Leaders Award

[Chicago, IL]—February 18, 2021—The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) is pleased to announce the winners of its Hall of Fame Award, Special Recognition Awards, Industry Achievement Award, Brick and Mortar Retailer Award, Meritorious Award of Honor, and Emerging Leaders Awards recognizing excellence in industry service and philanthropy. These individuals will be recognized at Creativation+, featuring Art Materials World, taking place virtually March 15-19, 2021.

The Hall of Fame Award Inductees are pioneers who have made extraordinary contributions leading to the growth and success of their organizations and the creative arts industry. This year’s inductees are:

  • John Bergquist, Help Heal Veterans
  • Jan Carr, former COO & VP Sales Clover Products
  • Cindy Groom-Harry, former CEO Craft Marketing Connection, former AFCI Board Member
  • Jerry Honemann, Ben Franklin Stores, former HIA Chairman

John Bergquist began his career in the craft and hobby industry in the 1970s as a sales representative for International Assemblix Corporation and then as Vice President of Sales at Craft House, Inc. Throughout his career, John’s industry connections were instrumental in helping introduce crafts into Walmart, Toys “R” Us, and other large retailers. Today, John’s guidance has helped the non-profit Help Heal Veterans identify products that provide therapeutic value to veterans recovering from a range of injuries. John provides notable services to America’s veterans, as well as active duty military and their families.

Jan Carr served as CEO of Clover Products for 26 years. During his tenure, he became widely known as “Mr. Clover” at industry trade shows because of his infectious passion and commitment. He was widely respected in the creative products industry as a developer of relationships and businesses alike. Understanding the importance of industry educators and influencers, Jan adapted well to changing business climates during his time at the helm of Clover Products.

Cindy Groom-Harry started Craft Marketing Connection in 1981. Cindy was an expert in developing products and marketing with countless partners in the craft industry. A former AFCI Board Member, Cindy was instrumental in the founding of AFCI’s designer section and was a key leader in our industry and in AFCI.

Jerry Honemann was a 25-year employee of the Ben Franklin Corporation holding positions ranging from copywriter, to salesman, to senior buyer. After 25 years at Ben Franklin, Jerry joined Frank’s Nursery and Crafts as a senior buyer and craft product merchant. After 8 years with Frank’s Nursery and Crafts, Jerry operated his own store, The Unique Place Gift Shop, in Royal Oak, MI from 1996 to 2003. In addition to his lifetime in the industry, Jerry was a devoted AFCI volunteer for over 10 years and served one term as AFCI’s (then HIA’s) Board Chairman.

The Product Hall of Fame Award recognizes creative industry products that have inspired creative expression and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period. In its inaugural year, the AFCI Awards Committee has selected honorees that showcase both new and historic versions of classic products beloved by generations. This year's recipients are: 

  • Aleene's Tacky Glue
  • Crayola Crayons
  • Mod Podge

The Special Recognition Award is given to individuals or groups for their extraordinary contributions in positively showcasing the creative products industry. This year’s recipient is:

  • Cards for Kindness by

Cards for Kindness is an initiative started by to deliver handmade cards to people in need of an emotional boost, a smile, or helping hand. Crafters around the world donate their handmade cards to be distributed to a variety of organizations including the Ronald McDonald House, Operation Gratitude, Impact One, and more. To date, more than 300,000 handmade cards have been distributed to those in need, and they’re just getting started. Anybody, using any supplies regardless from where they were purchased, can donate cards.

The Industry Achievement Award recognize individuals within the industry that have done great things for the community, industry. and humanity. This year’s recipient is:

  • Sara Davies, Crafter's Companion

Sara Davies started Crafter’s Companion from her dorm room at York University in 2005 at the age of 21. Gaining success with her innovative envelope creator, Crafter’s Companion earned £500,000 before Sara’s graduation. Since then, Crafter’s Companion has become one of the UK’s leading creative brands, shipping to over 40 countries worldwide. In 2015, Davies hosted Be Creative on Local Television Limited. In 2019, Davies joined Dragons’ Den on BBC Two as their youngest ever investor. Davies was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2016 for services to the economy.

The Brick and Mortar Retailer Award is given to an independent brick and mortar retailer based on the overall business and performance, technology integration, customer experience, community involvement, and unique characteristics that set the business apart from other brick and mortar retailers. This year’s recipient is:

  • Hen and Chicks Studio, Heidi Kaisand, Conrad, IA

Hen and Chicks Studio began in 2012 when Heidi Kaisand purchased a historic building on Main St in Conrad, Iowa with the goal of opening a quilt and scrapbooking store as well as a retreat center. After a thoughtful renovation that left much of building’s historical charm intact, Heidi opened her doors and has been going strong since. The first floor contains quality fabrics, scrapbooking supplies, and a longarm machine that customers can rent hourly. Upstairs, serves as a full service retreat center for up to 14 creatives. Hen and Chicks Studio has grown to be an essential part of the community, having raised $7,000 through quilt sales for a local boy with leukemia. Hen and Chicks was recognized in 2019 by Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler as one of the Top 10 Shops in America. In response to COVID-19, Heidi pivoted her business masterfully by implementing work from home measures, curbside pickup, online sales, and digital marketing.

The Meritorious Award of Honor is the highest award of recognition that AFCI can bestow upon an individual member, past or present. This award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to AFCI. This year’s recipient is:

  • Chuck McGonigle, Former AFCI Board Chairman, CEO Mission Pets

Chuck McGonigle is a principled leader who has served AFCI as a consultant, on numerous AFCI Committees, and as a passionate voice on the AFCI Board of Directors serving as Vice President, President, and Past President. With Chuck's leadership and unwavering support, AFCI rebranded, added additional sections, and changed its management structure. Chuck not only volunteered his time to help lead AFCI, he remained the strongest advocate possible for our industry, association, and its membership. Chuck generously maintains an open door policy to help guide, offer advice, encouragement, or insight to AFCI's membership. His over 40 years of consumer products experience makes the industry stronger, more resilient, and more flexible in times of challenge and prosperity.

The Emerging Leader Award honors those professionals who have been actively engaged in the creative industry, have demonstrated excellence at their organization, and have five to ten years of cumulative industry experience. This year’s recipients are:

  • Lynn Lilly, Craft Box Girls
  • Alexandra Stapleton-Smith, The Hedgehog Hollow

Lynn Lilly created Craft Box Girls more than six years ago with the hope of inspiring busy women to create DIY projects with approachable tutorials. Not only are Lynn’s crafting skills exceptional, her creativity, personality, and professionalism secure lasting partnerships and relationships within the industry. Lynn has appeared on over 300 segments on shows like Good Morning America, Make it Artsy, and Good Day Chicago. An active AFCI member, at Creativation 2020, Lynn taught successful workshops including “How Brands Can Work Effectively with Influencers.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lynn has been creating digital content for brands consistently and has had an amazing impact on fan and follower engagements. Lynn’s charismatic personality coupled with great ability and dedication have cemented her status as a leader in the creative industries.

Alexandra Stapleton-Smith founded The Hedgehog Hollow just four years ago when her family emigrated from England to the United States. Having spent the first decade of her career in banking and finance, Alexandra decided to pivot towards creative work and began developing her YouTube channel. The Hedgehog Hollow now has 58,000 subscribers, a thriving subscription box, several consultancy clients, and an offshoot video production company. An involved AFCI member, Alexandra is a published writer, authoring articles for Craft Business, Tonic Studios, and AFCI’s Gradient Magazine. Having turned a successful corporate career into a creative American dream, Alexandra embodies the leadership and growth recognized with this award.

AFCI congratulates all of this year’s industry award winners.

For more information on AFCI and this year’s award winners, please contact AFCI at or +1.312.321.6811.


About the Association For Creative Industries

The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) is the premier trade association for the global creative arts products industries. AFCI is committed to its vision of a healthy, vibrant and innovative community that enriches people’s lives through crafting and other creative activities. As an organization, AFCI strives to deliver innovative high value services as we support our Members who provide products and services to educate, entertain, and inspire creative consumers. Our Members include the manufacturers, retailers, distributors, designers, educators, digital content providers, professional makers and DIYers, and other creative professionals that comprise the $36 billion+ creative arts industries around the globe. For more information on AFCI, please visit