Category Archives: Creative Camp 2010

Creative Camper Connie – Day 3

My words for the day –”Move on!” 

Wherever you are at this point in your career, your business, and achieving your goals, it’s time to move on! 

There is one common theme here that seems to be emanating from the wonderful presentations this weekend has offered. Get better at your techniques, your offerings, and the value will be appreciated by all. Step it up a notch! 

We know we’d rather just be in the fabrication studio being creative and working for that gratification we all love when we deliver and exceed the expectations of our clients, but don’t give your work away, make it a  “must have” and the quality value be appreciated 

Today, Ravi from Vancouver presented an awesome discussion on finding your niche and setting yourself above and beyond your competitors. He suggests   ways to market   that niche and   get noticed. His photography was displayed and his success has allowed him to reinvest in getting the skills to improve and market what he loves to do.

Great suggestions, and I must say, recognizing what he has accomplished makes me feel an enormous wave of overcoming inertia. 

Gillian   shared some unique ways to embellish your soft furnishings and the important craft of hand sewing with an amazing assortment of add-ons to make your custom work even more special. The thought of the vast details brought   into discussion certainly makes it apparent, being creative and stepping it up a notch calls out to the clientele- “You better have it made by me- you’ll never find anything so unique anywhere else!” Attending seminars such as Creative Camp sets us apart form others and not only are we considered experts we are changing with the times, you’d better keep up! 

The creative minds grouped all together gives an amazing buzz of energy to the group, and we all learn from one another. The common bond amidst this group of fabricators connects us on a new level. The distance between some of us is physically is  great, but in today’s world with a click we are staying in touch and sharing ideas and growing from those new links. The innovations we can implement to make our businesses grow, flow and fly will bring more than you can imagine back to your success. 

So take it to the next level, do something new to grow, attend Creative Camp in 2011- did you hear the news- some special classes and teachers will be onboard too- Hope to see you there! 

A few tips for the day:

Good thread is not the cheapest…

Create the perfect work place and be the boss   you’d want to have

It’s OK to be silent, think, listen and move on.. 

Connie Valente

Creative Camper Connie – Day 2

My word for the day–Clip, clip, clip..

 Have you ever had a time when you felt like your brain was growing? A time when   “growing pains” were exploding in your head? In a good way believe me…

The Creative Camp is truly just that – you are stretched to your creative limits, pushed to expand your thoughts and ideas to be inventive, with suggestive guidance of course.

The teachers are all so knowledgeable, their collective years of experience are, dare I say, centuries’ worth of experience??

Ann Johnson worked today from   the   book,  The Curtain Maker’s Handbook, by Moreland written in the late 1800’s. Can you believe they used to do sketches on the actual walls around the windows back in the day? We are so lucky to have all the technology we have today with   the instant graph paper options we can use, click to scale, good thing we don’t have to make our patterns onsite at the client’s homes….of course, the homes they described in the book were probably vacant for months at a time, as they must have had numerous homes, don’t you think?

 Clip here, clip there…all I can think of is clipping the wings on a bird,   you see we’ve been making wings today, and clipping away most of the day!

 Karen Barnes had some awesome designs with her Specialty Shaped Cornices, and   we’ve each made some terrific samples. The hands-on experience with her guidance just made the project flow, just can’t imagine otherwise….we stapled, clipped and glued our way through the afternoon.

 So I am at “Camp”, and it is beautiful here, but what happened to getting some great outdoor time?? We are running a tight ship here, every minute is jam packed and  those mind bursting moments are about shoving me to ask for a nap time!  We are well equipped though, available  baskets ever ready with Bandaids, Excedrin, hand sanitizers, even Breathe Right strips for those “roomies” we listened to all night, but we really need to have some  Ginseng packs for extra brain  metabolism!

 Evening rolls around and we sit back and are reminded that yes, we all love what we do, but are we really getting paid what we should be? Missy Martin gave us all a wake up call, have you ever walked around your table looking for your scissors? Once, twice-even more- well  a new trick will help you pay for your vacation this year- you will save hours per year by attaching your scissors to your apron with a cording of sorts, you will never lose them again-  just be careful though- no elastic cording, flying scissors could cost you that vacation, or more!

Last but not least, the day wrapped up with Chris Watts and some fabulous solutions for   Roman Shades, what to do   to retrofit and new ideas for a realistic design in today’s market. We’ll get through this Roman Shade dilemma, with our creative brains, of course we will. The   latest challenge   I learned from her   though was about a new “Redesign” topic… The hot dog?  Do they really have an idea of how many kids have choked on hot dogs? Hard to believe, but true.

  A few tips from the day to share:

             A must read-Kitty Stein’s book, Price your work with Confidence- (I’d suggest re-reading it if you have it)

             Sharp scissors and “Creative clipping” go hand in hand- get your scissors sharpened!


Connie Valente

Creative Camper Connie – Day 1

A day in the countryside in Texas at the serene Camp Allen feels like we’re all on a retreat, leaving behind all cares and worries of our regular routines. What an awesome place- I’m inspired to be creative just looking at the handmade quilts on all the walls, just everywhere.

As we sit down to  begin our day, realizing people for  29 states are here- even from Alaska and Canada  it feels so special to be apart of this. The funny thing is “camp”  brings  back so many memories for  me as a kid, I remember the total mindset switch from the usual routines…playtime.

As we’re beginning to get smocking my partner at  the table discovers her husband  is stuck in traffic in the city and her little one has been left at day care well beyond the pick up time and the next child is about to step off the school bus and Dad is nowhere near the house…. Panic at smocking table one! Didn’t I just say “leave all the cares and worries at home??”

Well we got over that, with Donna Marie’s guidance we actually did manage to get our selvages cut and lines drawn and the sewing begins! (Yes, Dad made it home, more later  on that one I’m sure when Mom gets back….)

Now luxurious samples are made, and we have an awesome way to be set apart from the norm- this smocking is an art and boy does it dress a panel- or where ever you want to use it…I’m impressed.

The added expense for those special clients will be worth every   penny.

Many of you who know me can agree I am a gadget junkie- I  just don’t know who comes up with these new presser feet, but I’m sure I’ll use the new ones- for sure, one day. Then the girl next to me reminds me, we’ll probably get these home and not even remember what they’re for! So now Jill- we need a DVD on all of the uses for each one- next show- ok??

 Joanna’ pelmet class was packed as well as the smocking session and the enthusiasm showed quickly as her DVD’s were selling like hotcakes.

Speaking of which- the food is great, but what an interesting conversation to hear in a restaurant as one person said-“Where else can you hear a discussion of soft cornice vs. hard cornice vs. pelmet  as we share fruit cobbler?”

Wish you were here! Maybe next year?

A few tips from the day   to share..

            Origami is not just for paper….

             Did you know you can use dryer sheets on your threads when hand sewing silk instead of wax? No residue or knotting and glides like a charm?

Connie Valente

Creative Camp Blogger – Connie Valente

Connie Valente

Connie Valente

 Connie Valentes’ name came out of the hat first, so we are excited to announce that she will be representing Helser Brothers as our Creative Camp Field-Blogger!

To learn more about Connie and her company Creative Blinds and Decor, please go to


 P.S. I am so sorry that we are late with this announcement,  I gave Valentines day priority and my wife thanks you ;-)

Texas Sized Field-Blogging Opportunity!

Helser_ccBlog  Creative-Camp-2008---GilliaWe LOVE education and we LOVE this wonderful industry so we are giving away one $1250.00 scholarship to Susan Kostelecky’s 4th Annual Creative Camp on March 5-7, 2010.

Join the learning and camaraderie at Camp Allen  while acting as the  Helser Brothers’ Field Blogger for this great event. 

If you can find your own way to Houston*, have a camera and laptop, and want to share in the fun, just fill in the form below.  A winner will be drawn and announced at at noon (ET) on February 15th.

Entries for this contest are now closed. Thanks for participating!