We recently connected with Tania Cardenas and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Tania, thanks for joining us today. Let’s jump right into how you came up with the idea?
I didn’t set out to create a new small business. DFW Craft Shows just kind of evolved from my own experiences as an artist, crafter, and vendor. I guess the journey started about 12 years ago when I was running my main business at the time: The Curious Cake Shoppe. The Curious Cake Shoppe was my first small business and it was such an exciting time to be creating and sharing my products with the world. My mom even started creating products to add to my shop, and before I knew it she was helping me plan new product launches and attending events with me. We met tons of amazingly talented artists everywhere we went, and we shared so many precious memories along the way.
Late one night after a long day of working events and chatting with other vendors, I had the brilliant idea to start a new site called DFW Craft Shows. Finding event information as a vendor was so difficult and time consuming, so why not create a place where everyone could submit their event information? Here I could work with event coordinators to populate an Arts & Crafts community calendar of sorts, where vendors and shoppers could find information about upcoming events.
I started spending my spare time populating our events calendar and reaching out to new events to try and better connect our Arts & Crafts community here in North Texas. I had over a thousand followers on Facebook overnight, and that just confirmed it for me: other vendors were struggling to find events too, and I knew there was a need in the Arts & Crafts community that my new site could meet.
Tania, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Well, as I mentioned above, DFW Craft Shows was never The Plan. Business was booming with The Curious Cake Shoppe, and both my mom and I were getting so excited watching the future of our little company unfold.
Both businesses kept me pretty busy, but I still managed to carve out time to work on creating a brand new site and store for The Curious Cake Shoppe. I built everything from scratch, and I was getting ready to surprise my mom with the new look. Then everything fell apart.
One random day in June, my mom wasn’t feeling well and went to the hospital. In just a few hours, she was gone. I cannot describe the devastation I felt. Everything seemed meaningless and empty. The next day, my father in law was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. It felt like we were watching the world go by from a deep, dark tunnel.
I quit working on the site. I shut down the business. I shut down, in general. I thought this was the end of the road for me and my connection to the arts & crafts community. And then one day I looked over, and there was DFW Craft Shows. Just quietly waiting. No deadlines, no pressure, no big expectations. The support and love I had received from my followers was all right there, reminding me that I still had a place in this community that meant so much to me.
So here I am. DFW Craft Shows has continued to change and expand over the last 12 years to meet the needs of the Arts & Crafts Community. I provide local event information and help connect vendors and coordinators with their communities. Every event listing I post is curated to provide all the information a vendor would need to apply. I collect all the event listings together into a comprehensive calendar (https://dfwcrafts.com/events/month/), and every week I build a Weekend Guide (https://dfwcrafts.com/events/weekend-guide/) to make supporting local artists and shopping small businesses easy and accessible for anyone.
I launched a new website last year that has allowed DFW Craft Shows to once again evolve and expand into so much more. I am now able to provide vendor resources, product reviews, crafting tutorials, and business tips, allowing DFW Craft Shows to reach far beyond the North Texas area to help artists, crafters, and small businesses find the resources they need.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative in your experience?
Living in a world of endless possibilities. The creative process is different for everyone and every art form, but there exists a similar thread of creativity, experience, and drive that pushes us all through our obstacles and allows us to accumulate a lifetime supply of experience in various creative endeavors. Those endeavors have allowed me to stockpile a wealth of knowledge in the creative world of small businesses, and the most rewarding aspect of what I do is being able to use that knowledge to help other artists.
For example, my favorite section on the new site has to be the Vendor Directory (https://dfwcrafts.com/vendors/directory/) and VIP Membership. The Vendor Directory is where shoppers are able to browse various categories and discover new artists. VIPs receive their own, personalized profile in the Vendor Directory where they can show off their work and share their websites and social media channels. They also gain access to new, advanced tools for parsing through our expansive events calendar so they can work smarter, not harder.
The VIP Membership (https://dfwcrafts.com/vendors/join-the-vips) allows me to spend more of my time and energy directly helping artists and crafters grow their businesses and elevate their branding. All the experience I’ve banked both running small businesses and as an artist in animation, graphic design, photography, art direction, and even web design put me in the unique position to help lift up other artists. And I absolutely love doing it.
Through the membership, I am able to promote their brands and help them grow their businesses. That has always been my real passion, and I absolutely love this opportunity to get to know vendors on a more personal basis and spend time in a small group setting where I can really focus on their individual needs.
What’s a lesson you had to unlearn and what’s the backstory?
I think growing up in a creative world can be complicated. A lot of crafters struggle against the idea that they aren’t “real artists.” The idea that unless you’re creating art in a very traditional sense, you must be “less than.” I still struggle with this on many occasions. And I know a lot of artists think this feeling will eventually go away if they could just hit a specific sales threshold or get a certain number of followers, but it doesn’t.
You get stuck chasing that next artificial goal, waiting for some accomplishment to make you feel authentic. But the only validation that really matters has to come from within. On this subject, I am still very much a work in progress. I am doing my best to normalize the idea of being an artist in my own head, and I am trying to help others do the same. If you want to read more about it, check out my post “What is art? The Chronically Low Confidence of a Crafter.”
- Website: http://dfwcrafts.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dfwcraftshows/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dfwcraftshows
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/dfwcraftshows/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/dfwcraftshows
- Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/DFWCraftShows/ DFW Facebook Group for DFW: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DFWCScommunity Craft Vendors Facebook Group (Worldwide): https://www.facebook.com/groups/craftvendors TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@dfwcraftshows
All photos by DFW Craft Shows with the exception of the VIP Vendors Collage.
VIP Vendors (left to right): Lil Bits of Mona Sapphire’s Jewlz Addie & Ida Darling Creative Works Nora Dudek Designs Teezy Weezy Designs Gene Duvic Leathercraft CVA Products Deanna Molinaro