The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) is pleased to announce the honorees of its 2019 Industry Awards and Hall of Fame, recognizing excellence in industry service and philanthropy. These individuals were nominated by their AFCI member peers and selected by the AFCI Industry Awards Committee, which is comprised of AFCI Board Members and member volunteers.

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

Richard has been working tirelessly for the crafting industry for more than 40 years in a wide variety of capacities. His career has included leadership positions in major companies including Westminster Fibers, Point Distributors, Spinrite LP, CGT Home Fashions, and Caldwell Towel/Dominion Textiles. He has served the creative industry through his participation on the Board of Directors of the Craft Yarn Council, Craft & Hobby Association and the Crochet Guild of America. He is currently working as the Chief Strategy Guy for Brown Bag Management and Consulting. Richard has been a dedicated member of the crafting industry and well recognized for his generous contributions to many people, businesses and organizations.

The Industry Achievement Award recognizes an AFCI member (individual, group and/or company) who has made a significant contribution to the growth and vitality of the craft and hobby industry as a whole. This year’s recipient is Tammy Browning Smith. Tammy has been serving the creative arts industry for 18 years volunteering her time to educate individuals and companies on the importance of protecting their creative assets, often pro bono whenever she can. She advocated, lobbied, and testified to various state and federal agencies and legislative bodies for craft and hobby concerns such as CPSIA, Copyrights and Prop 65. Tammy has been a volunteer legal counsel for AFCI and has served on various committees including the AFCI-SDP, Creativation, Education, and Bylaw committees. Tammy authored numerous articles on business issues for several industry magazines and speaks frequently at AFCI events.

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 Doug Earle. Doug is the Chief Executive Officer of his family-owned business, H.A. Kidd and Company Limited based in Toronto, Ontario. His entire career has been focused on delivering a wide variety of new and innovative products to the crafting, sewing, quilting, knitting and creative industry in Canada. Doug has contributed creative products and services, and his personal time and energy to many charitable organizations that introduce consumers to the joy of crafting and benefit the greater Canadian community.

Inductees of the Hall of Fame 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 Ken & Barbara Griffin and John Laurie.

Ken Griffin was the Senior Vice President of Merchandise at Ben Franklin Stores. He was instrumental in the design of the Ben Franklin Crafts, a concept that is still used by many member companies today. Barbara Griffin worked for Ben Franklin headquarters in the capacity of buyer. Ken and Barbara opened their own Ben Franklin Crafts store in 1986. They were both kind, dedicated, gracious and fun, always focused on creativity. It was common for other retailers to visit the store to take photos and ask for copies of the store’s blueprints. Yet, they were still not able to duplicate the Griffin’s family-friendly in-store experience. Their generosity helped raise money for various organizations and never denied anyone a donation as long as they felt it was legitimate.

John Laurie retired from Coats & Clark in 2017 after a 40-year career in the craft industry. John began his career in Canada working as a sales rep for Conso-Graber, later Wm E Wrights and then as VP Sales & Marketing for J&P Coats prior to transferring to Charlotte as President of Coats & Clark, in 2003. Over the years John was fortunate to have been involved on the boards of many industry associations including Canadian Home Sewing and Needlecraft Association, Canadian Textile Institute, Craft Yarn Council of America where he twice served as Chairman, and the Craft & Hobby Association where he served two terms ending in 2012. While President of Coats & Clark, John was instrumental in the acquisition of SR Kertzer Yarns, Westminster Fibers and Free Spirit Fabrics as Coats began to supply the smaller independent stores in addition to their relationships with big box retailers and Walmart. John always claimed “the rising tide raises all boats” and strove to help all aspects of the industry succeed.

These individuals will be recognized at Creativation, taking place January 17-21, 2019 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. For more information about Creativation and to register, visit