TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List is an international membership organization that seeks to help its members find larger audiences and markets for their work. Launched in January, 2010, TAFA's first members and supporters were art quilters who quickly understood the potential TAFA offered in bringing together small businesses with a fiber art and textile focus. The membership now includes weavers, dyers, and the whole spectrum of contemporary and traditional textile techniques from around the world. Using Blogger as a test platform, we knew from the beginning that eventually we would outgrow what Blogger could offer and that we would need to fund a website that could truly perform as a base for our marketing needs. TAFA has grown quickly! As of May, 2011, we have 273 members from 23 countries. TAFA's could potentially grow into the thousands! But, only if we get off of Blogger and on to our dream site.
The video above and our About Us page give a good description of who we are. In a nutshell, TAFA members are juried in, must have a business focus and a developed online presence. The core of our membership are working artists who produce their own work for sale online. We are also open to groups, organizations, teachers and others involved in the textile/fiber art field. There are many reasons why an organization like TAFA is essential to this niche. A multi-million dollar industry caught in between definitions of "art" and "craft", it is propelled by individuals and small businesses who often find themselves lost and overwhelmed in an ocean of marketing demands and needs.
As the web has increasingly become central to finding an audience and sustaining a business, more and more time and energy goes into learning how to promote via social media and other trends. TAFA helps centralize these efforts and provides tools and communities for the members so that they can be found more easily by the larger audience. Several niches have developed within TAFA. We have communities on Facebook, Etsy, and Flickr. Member blogs are streamed together on our site and on to our Facebook page. Coming together in these ways means that there is a much greater chance of being found rather than swimming out there in cyberspace all alone.
Now that TAFA has grown to a decent size, our Blogger platform has become unwieldy, making it hard to explore what our members really have to offer. Aside from the gorgeous products that our members have for sale, we also have a gold mine of expertise and talent that needs to be accessed. Many or our members offer workshops, have published books, give lectures, and several have fascinating global tours that focus on textiles. We want our audience to have access to these gifts. We also want to centralize our knowledge and have a place where members who need help can find mentors and guidance as they build their businesses. During this first year it has become clear that although many of our members are tech savvy, others are completely overwhelmed with new technologies. Our new website will provide tutorials or referrals to help them learn some of these skills.
TAFA has unique potential both for its members and for the community at large. The new website offers tools that we cannot develop on our current platform and we hope that YOU will help us achieve this vision.
TAFA Members on Etsy promote themselves through treasuries.
TAFA's New WebsiteWe have contracted with a talented tech team, Horizon Media Group, which can deliver our dream site. The site will have a powerful search engine with image based results. Each member will have their own landing page which they can edit at will. Their presence on the web will be documented there and they will submit images which will show up as search results, linking back to their member profile. There will be separate pages with streamed information for their member blogs and events. A member only section will have tools and links for the members. Users will be able to search through a menu of categories, by key words, location, and price range. The site will integrate fully with social media sites.
Who will benefit from the new site?
- TAFA Members are the obvious first benefactors, but there are others.
- Shoppers: Members and their products will be easily found. TAFA aims to become THE destination for anyone interested in textiles and fiber art. Those looking for handmade gifts, a new textile for their wall, commissioned work for churches and corporations, functional quilts, ethnic textiles, wearable art, toys, and other products made by our members will be able to find them. Galleries and boutiques will find new suppliers. Museums will find new artists and sources.
- Writers: Book and blog authors who write about textiles and fiber art will have a place where they can come and readily find people and product to write about.
- Other artists: TAFA already is a source of inspiration for the fiber art community. But, perhaps many do not know that our members are also a great source for supplies. We have members selling dyes, fabric, textile stamps, vintage textile remnants, ribbons, roving, yarns, along with many other tools and products that are phenomenal. Many of them follow fair trade or green practices and combined, they are an invaluable resource.
- Students of fiber art: Many TAFA members have been leaders withing their niche for years. They offer workshops and have authored books. Site users will be able to see current projects, shows, blog updates, workshops, and watch videos made by or about our members.
- Peer Organizations: The textile and fiber art community has scores of organizations around the world. Some are better known than others, but members will be able to add their affiliations as live links. For example, TAFA currently has 46 SAQA members. A TAFA member recently posted on our facebook group that she would be attending the conference and was wondering who else would be there. On the new site, visitors will be able to click on an affiliation and all TAFA members will pop up. Half of our members have shops on Etsy. Click on Etsy and members pop up, all illustrated by visual icons.
- Travelers: One TAFA member recently traveled to Paris from the US. She looked up another TAFA member there and they had a great time! Most of our TAFA members have studios or workshops open to the public. We also have several galleries who are members. Visitors will be able to search members by location and find people they would like to visit. Isn't that the best way to learn about a new place you are visiting? The TAFA Connection!
What We Need and What You GetOur Geek Team (said with affection) has estimated that our new site will cost $5,000. We decided to raise part of that money through a public event which we just had in Paducah, Kentucky, our TAFA Market.
After two months of hard work, we put up a beautiful show with members sending products that represented all five continents. It was beautiful! Unfortunately, we experienced devastating floods in the area during the same period, the worst since 1937. It rained and rained on our parade.... Fortunately, we had one good day which covered our expenses. The whole experience was exhausting and disappointing on one level, as we did not reach our goals for the new website. But, on another, our TAFA Market confirmed that our members represent the best within the textile field and that together, they can do great things! It was quite the wonderful experience to see things in real life that had only been images online.
We decided to use a crowd funding approach to move forward on the new site, so here we are!
What do you get? Well, if you are a textile/fiber art fan, you will understand the importance of what we are doing and will certainly benefit in one or more ways that were listed above. If you support the arts in general, you will know how hard this economy has been on the whole industry. Many of us who are trying to make it in the arts really feel like survivors as we have watched our normal supporters struggle with their own losses. We are living in chaotic times with financial, human and ecological disasters happening worldwide. If you have the financial ability to support us and decide to do so, you will definitely have the feel good reward for helping us move ahead so that we can help ourselves.
And, of course, we are offering some perks to thank you as we can. The perks on the sidebar give a general outline of what we can offer. As some members are offering perks which are limited in quantity, we are creating a page on our site which will be updated with available donations.
The most important thing we hope you will get is enjoyment and use of our dream site when it is launched.
How will your money be used? Our Geek Team has broken down the site into phases which can be launched as we move along. The first phase is the hardest as it builds the background of the site and its search engine. This first phase will cost around $3,000. We will post updates here and on our site as we move along. If we exceed our goal with this fundraiser, we will use the money to promote our site in other places where we can start finding those markets we long for.
What does it take to raise $5,000?
Money is the obvious answer and we have broken it down:
104 New Members ($48). Do you know of other people or businesses who could benefit by joining TAFA? Have them take a look at our criteria on this page. The membership fee is a one-time fee with no renewals. It will be going up to $75 when the new site is launched.
23 Non-Member Sponsor Ads ($215/yr). Similar sites to our future one charge about this per week! Just 23 people advertising for one year could make our dream site come true. Sponsor info is on this page. Current ads will transfer to the new site.
50 $100 donations, 250 $20 donations or 500 $10 donations. It all adds up and we appreciate every penny.
Other Ways You Can HelpShare, share, share! Send the link to this campaign to specific people whom you think might be interested in what we are doing. Then, do the social media thing: Share it on facebook, twitter, and blog about us. Spread the word and make this happen!
Stay involved: Sign up on our mailing list and follow TAFA as it grows. You will find a MailChimp box on the right sidebar of our website.
Get to know our members. Explore our member profiles (long list on the right sidebar, scroll down quite a bit or explore through the Themes and Places index below that).
Crowd funding options have become a popular way of funding so many dreams and it was hard to know which site to pick. We believe that IndieGoGo has the base that can understand and support our dream and we appreciate having this opportunity to share TAFA and its growth with you. Comments or suggestions? Use the Comments tab here and let's have a dialog!
Together we can do great things!
Update July 20th
Update July 23rd
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