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Craft Culture Phoenix Workshop to Feature Pamela Slim, The Shine Project's Ashley LeMieux

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Leanne Cairns always had a thing for fabrics.

But when the full-time engineer, who currently resides in Laguna Beach, California, wanted to take her hobby of making handbags for friends and family and make it into a full-fledged business, Belyn Design, she didn't feel like she had much of a roadmap.

That's one of the main reasons she founded Craft Culture in fall of 2013.

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"I knew it would be hard starting out -- this goes for both design and Craft Culture," Cairns says. "I didn't realize how many obstacles there would be."

By trial and error and with a lot of late nights spent sewing and researching, the ASU MBA grad found success selling her handbags, which Anthropologie carries.

Now Cairns wants to help others to the same.

"You have to be patient and very persistent and very hungry to keep going," she says of starting a business from scratch. "Networking is probably the most important part of building a business. It's a lot of work and it's exhausting. But that's why I'm here today: utilizing others' resources and building a network."

She's taking what she's learned and, with the help of other experts, hosting events designed to give aspiring crafty business people the tools and connections they need to succeed.

Craft Culture launched with a party in Phoenix last fall, and its first workshop was held in Laguna Beach in February.

The inaugural Phoenix business workshop is slated for Saturday, April 5.

Cairns says that the "very interactive" event will be very focused on business fundamentals, with speakers working with attendees on their own challenges. "Networking capabilities are one of the biggest parts of it."

On the roster are "coaches," including author Pamela Slim, Pink Ink Design Shop's Tara Hetzer, Sarah Hubbell of Emma Magazine, stylist Alex Evjen, Jessie Simonson of 31 Bits, and The Shine Project's Ashley LeMieux.

Topics will include how to make products go viral and how to build a brand, to name a couple. There also will be a panel of business owners sharing their stories.

The next workshop will take place in Los Angeles. But Cairns has plans for another Arizona Craft Culture event soon.

She wants to host a creative retreat for fall 2014. She wants it less focused on business and more as a way for attendees to "tap into their creative side and get away frome everyday life." Specific dates, locations, and prices haven't yet been announced, but she says Sedona might be the destination.

Craft Culture's first-ever Arizona business workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, at MonOrchid. Tickets are $157 and available via craftcultureevents.com.

Editor's note: Though she was originally scheduled to speak at Craft Culture's business workshop, Georganne Bryant will not be speaking at the event.

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