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Meet Kimberly Hatch of Arizona Fiber Arts Retreat in Prescott

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Hatch.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kimberly. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Nine years ago, I relocated to Arizona from Maine. There is a large fiber/yarn community that I was a part of in Maine and was looking for something similar here in AZ. We had moved to Wittmann, and I was struggling to find my ‘fiber friends’. I visited Arcosanti where a weaving loom was set up in the cafe area. Maureen, the weaver and I hit off an enjoyable friendship and thought to invite others to join us for a one-day gathering we called Meet and Greet Fiber Retreat. We invited everyone we knew and 24 people showed up! It was a fantastic day! We all met new friends and shared ideas, challenges and inspiration all related to fiber. Maureen moved away, but I continued with the same invitation the following year. The event grew, more friends were reached, people came from all over the state, then from around the nation and we have even had a few international attendees. What began as a word of mouth invitation to share ideas and meet other like-minded individuals has now become an annual event with classes, guest speaker and vendors.

Our first 6 years were held at Arcosanti. We finally outgrew that space, and 2018 was our first year at the Prescott Resort in Prescott, AZ. We had such a positive experience with them that we are planning 2019 at the same venue. There were 96 attendees this year. We had 12 instructors, 17 classes, 7 vendors and 4 days of shared inspiration. 2019 plans to be even more exciting with 15-18 instructors, 20+ classes and 7-8 vendors. We expect attendance to be approximately 100-120.

From year 3 I have had a group of individuals who donate their time and talents to help make AFAR even better from one year to the next. These women have helped shape AFAR into what it is today. I could not have accomplished all that is required for this event to be successful by myself. Years 3-7, I worked with 3 other individuals. This year, I have 7 helping me plan 2019.

AFAR is a unique event. Since this event is considered a Social Event by my accountant, it is not a business. No money is made on this event. Actually, this year was the first year I did not pay out of pocket for expenses. I broke even at $0. I do not, and never had an expectation of, making money on this event.

Another unique point is that anyone may attend and not have to pay an entrance fee. There is an open invitation to all fiber enthusiasts to come, spend time with us, share their ideas, etc. and work on their own projects. Class registration and costs are separate from general attendance.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The struggles have been interesting and varied. The event itself grew rapidly early on and I was not prepared for that. There was no website and email was sparse, yet people kept showing up! I had to quickly make decisions about where I wanted this to go and plan how to get there. The learning curve has been steep. I knew nothing of websites and mass email, etc. Still learning, but the curve has smoothed out a bit. Short- and long-term planning/goal setting has become mandatory as each year’s event unfolds.

Arcosanti is not handicapped accessible. That posed a great challenge for those who had difficulty with stairs. This has been resolved with the new venue.

I initially had an invitation only with a ‘handshake’ for vendors to come to the event. I learned a hard lesson when one showed up the day before and then left, and another did not show at all. I now have contracts and the vendors who attend have been wonderful to work with.

Overall, there are relatively few issues for an event like this. It truly has been a joy.

Please tell us about Arizona Fiber Arts Retreat.
Arizona Fiber Arts Retreat is a social event offering an opportunity for individuals interested in fibers of all types to gather together, make new friends, network, share, learn, teach, create and inspire each other. The opportunity to grow together as a fiber community has been a delightful experience. All levels of experience and expertise are welcome.

I am most proud of the fact that people come and interact positively together, have wonderful learning experiences, meet new people interested in what they do and truly have fun. It is a joyful experience to be a part of something so positive.

There are several things which set AFAR apart from others ‘fiber events’. Firstly, this is NOT a money-making endeavor. I did not go into it with the idea to make money and I don’t intend to change that viewpoint. Secondly, EVERYONE is invited to attend and there is no fee to do so. Each individual is important whether they take a class or not. It’s all about the shared experience. Thirdly, I try very hard to welcome each individual at least once, preferably several times, during their time at the event. That friendly connection is the foundation on which this event stands.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
It may sound cliche, but I would not change a thing. Doubt, fear, insecurity, joy, triumph, laughter, etc. The event is what it is today because of all that has been before. I’ve been on a forward progression since the first invitation. It’s been an amazing ride!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kim Buchheit

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