2024 Speakers

Are you interested in learning new skills to help you run your craft business? Join us this May in Chicago for h+h americas, the premier trade show for the crafts industry, where you’ll find an incredible lineup of business-focused classes.

Craft Industry Alliance and the h+h americas Conference Committee have an incredible lineup of masterclasses, business classes, panels, and keynotes topics. You’ll learn from the best instructors in the industry. Purchase classes a la carte, or get a class pass and attend as many as you want. Craft Industry Alliance members get a discount on both!

Arianne Foulks

Arianne Foulks has focused her career on creating online homes for fascinating people. At Aeolidia, her branding and web design agency, she and her team have launched more than 700 thoughtful redesigns over 20 years. Level up your ecommerce channel by engaging your customers and making more sales with Aeolidia, the niche Shopify experts for designers, artists, and craftspeople.

Holly Howard

Holly Howard is Founder of Ask Holly How‚ a culture-first business consultancy that has worked with over 1000 businesses, founded on the principle that successful entrepreneurship resides at the intersection of self-evolution, business growth, and the creative pursuit. Holly was a ballet dancer, music therapist, medical researcher, bassoonist, VP of Ops and Finance, and educator at RISD. Holly is the host of the podcast‚ Cultures Capitalism.

Matt de Nesnera

Matt brings more than 15 years of experience across some of the most recognizable brands in tech and sports to his role as vice president in Edelman’s U.S. Crisis & Risk practice, where he provides counsel to clients on reputation management and crisis preparedness. Matt’s background includes internal communications with Meta and corporate communications in professional sports with multiple NBA franchises. Matt began his career in TV news and graduated from the College of William & Mary.

Christine Castro Hughes

Christine is the Senior Identity and Web Designer at Aeolidia, and has been designing for the web for over 20 years. She loves color and a good cup of coffee. Her fresh, friendly work has garnered praise for its delightful detail and smart design. Christine has been nominated for a Webby award and featured in national publications, including An Illustrated Life, Little Book of Letterpress, and Desire to Inspire. She and her family live, work, and play in a crooked house in LA.

Helen Hulskamp

Helen Hulskamp is Aeolidia’s Ecommerce Strategist, and reviews Aeolidia’s web design and development work with the goal to give each shop a clear return on investment. Her career in software engineering and web development began in 1996, and her work has focused on conversion optimization and analytics. She dives headfirst into new crafts regularly, particularly in the fiber arts, though any medium or material is fair game.

Emerald Jane Hunter

Emerald-Jane Hunter (EJ), founder and ringleader of myWHY Agency, a black-owned, women-led integrated marketing communications agency headquartered in Chicago, IL. EJ is a master of all things media, storytelling, and integrated marketing. Born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, EJ emigrated to the US in 1999. She’s a four-time Emmy Award-winning former TV producer and she brings more than 25 years of experience to the world of integrated marketing, where she’s committed to championing passionate and meaningful communications efforts for mission-led entrepreneurs and corporations. EJ works with purpose-driven brands, businesses, and game-changing leaders to tell strategic, impactful stories with a specialized focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Jan Hurwitz assumed her leadership role at Berroco in September 2022, following the retirements of longtime Berroco founders Warren and Caroline Wheelock. She first served as Berroco’s inaugural Director of Sales and Customer Experience in 2021.

Jan brings to Berroco and PNA deep experience from every stitch and seam of the yarn industry. She’s been a successful yarn store owner, knitwear designer, independent sales rep, and corporate sales executive. She served as National Sales Director at Coats Crafts America and North American VP of Sales and Operations at the DMC Group. She’s also an avid and experienced knitter, a surprise to no one.

Jan holds a BA in Business/Marketing from Michigan State University and began her business career with Silicon Valley software companies, where her accomplishments are many and varied. In particular, she specialized in building global support teams for high-growth start-ups.

Mark Hyland

Mark Hyland has been in the crafts industry for 18 years, building and growing Handi Quilter and Premier Needle Arts, organically and through multiple brand acquisitions. Today Mark is back at Handi Quilter as CEO.

Mark’s hands-on leadership style and mentoring approach continue to assist Handi Quilter’s team to focus on core values, strategic growth initiatives driven by data and technology, and creating consumer engagement and loyalty. He’s focused on expanding consumer experiences through digital and hands-on education, and the development of team members to reach their full potential. Mark has previously held leadership roles at Wal-Mart, Weider Nutrition, Schiff, Fruit of the Loom, EAS/AdvantEdge, VMI manufacturing, and Food Insurance.com.

Amber Kemp-Gerstel

Amber Kemp-Gerstel is a television host and founder and creative director of Damask Love, a creative lifestyle blog all about doable DIY. Amber has partnered with brands like Martha Stewart, Home Depot, The Container Store, Coca-Cola, and Canon and is the social media face of JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores. She has been featured on Huffington Post and Buzzfeed and in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine just to name a few. Amber Kemp-Gerstel was a finalist in Season #1 of NBC’s Making It – a crafting competition show hosted by SNL’s Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman – otherwise known as Ron Swanson from Park’s and Recreation. Amber has a bachelor’s degree from Duke and PhD from Vanderbilt. You can also find Amber on Disney+ as the host of their original family crafting show Disney Family Sundays.

Nicole Lewis

Nicole Lewis is the founder of Art 2 the Extreme, making her colorful mark through her playful collection of Original Rainbow Crayons. Nicole is passionate about teaching how to DIY your PR and use relationship-building with the media to grow your business. Nicole is an instructor for Etsy’s education program. Features include Magnolia, Business Insider, CNBC, NPR, The Drew Barrymore Show, and earned a Martha Stewart ‘Good Things’ seal. Nicole was a finalist in the Etsy Design Awards, placing top 10 in the Kids category worldwide.

Trisha Malcolm

Trisha’s life in needle crafts has spanned knitting, sewing, crocheting, and embroidering. She worked as the Craft Editor at Family Circle Magazine Australia and other publications before moving to the US and taking over at Vogue Knitting magazine. She launched Sixth&Spring books, a dozen magazine titles, as well as Vogue Knitting LIVE! and tours and retreats. She is currently the VP/Sales Director for the Independent Yarn Store Brands, including Rowan, Wool and the Gang, and Sirdar at the DMC Corporation. 

Cathy McKillip

After a successful corporate career managing over 200 employees, Cathy pursued her dreams by acquiring a small, struggling retail store. Applying her passion for profit, Cathy transformed this business, achieving a remarkable 10-fold growth in just 10 years. Living her dream of owning a thriving retail store, she now aims to share her expertise with other retailers, helping them achieve the life of their dreams. Cathy firmly believes that small business owners work hard and deserve to realize the profitable business of their dreams. With more than three decades of business and retail experience, Cathy has consistently delivered profitable results and steady growth in both small and large businesses. Leveraging her expert analytical skills, Cathy knows how to navigate the intricacies of business and move the necessary levers to help businesses increase their profits. For Cathy, more profit equals more fun!

Michelle Sherrier owns MC Design Collaboration, a retail consultant specializing in visual merchandising. She’s also the host of The Retail Whore Podcast. With over 40 years in the retail industry, including owning three stores in the iconic Fred Segal Santa Monica and heading up visuals for Anthropologie Santa Monica, she has done just about every job that retail has to offer. Michelle understands the point of view of the retail shop owner who needs their products to jump into the arms of the customer. She excels at creating cohesive stories with products, conceptualizing a floor layout, and executing store makeovers for each

Jodie Singer


Jodie Singer is an Account Supervisor with Edelman Crisis & Risk practice in Washington, D.C., where she counsels clients dealing with a variety of challenges and helps them share their narratives with the stakeholders who matter. In her capacity as a crisis counselor, Jodie has assisted with a wide range of challenges, including cancel culture, issues management, litigation support, corporate leadership transitions, and cybersecurity incidents.

Vanessa Vargas Wilson

Vanessa Vargas-Wilson

Crafty Gemini

Vanessa Vargas Wilson, known as the Crafty Gemini, is an award-winning quilter, designer, and online content creator. She is known mostly for her clear and concise instructional YouTube videos. Her channel, TheCraftyGemini, has over 663,000 subscribers and her tutorials have been viewed 70 million times worldwide. A professor turned entrepreneur, Vanessa now shares her lifestyle and DIY skills with a global audience via the web. She teaches viewers how to do everything from sewing clothes, handbags and quilts to organic gardening, cooking and baking. Her work has been featured on ABC’s 20/20, the New York Times, ABC World News, Fox News Latino, Parents Latina, Modern Patchwork, and Quiltfolk. She has also been a guest instructor on the PBS crafting shows It’s Sew Easy, Sew It All, and Knit & Crochet Now! Vanessa is a first-generation American and a native Spanish speaker. She earned her B.A. and JD from the University of Florida. Today she lives on a 5-acre organic homestead in rural North Central Florida with her husband, two children, a bunch of cows, sheep, and free-range chickens.

Alanna Wilcox

Alanna Wilcox, a master spinner and dye color specialist, blends fiber arts with AI for innovative creations. As an educator, Alanna empowers artists through online workshops and books, including ‘A New Spin on Color’ and ‘Color Alchemy: From Digital to Dye.’ Her Color Alchemy Masterclass uniquely melds technology with dye artistry, showcasing her dedication to the craft. For Alanna, fiber art is not just a passion but a way of life.

Carolyn Williamson


Meet Carolyn Williamson, a seasoned professional with over 12 years of experience in the Retail and Auction industries, currently serving as CommentSold’s Senior Director of Partnerships. As the fifth employee at CommentSold, she was pivotal in propelling the startup to a remarkable $50 million in annual revenue. Carolyn’s expertise spans partnerships, marketing, and operations, focusing on practical strategies that have helped thousands of small businesses and crafters thrive with video commerce. Join her as she shares success stories and valuable insights tailored for professionals in the crafts industry, illustrating how CommentSold empowers businesses to flourish in the dynamic landscape of video commerce.

Gale Zucker is a commercial photographer creating high-end images for the yarn, craft, handmade, and knitwear industries. She photographs for businesses, yarn companies, magazines, brands, and designers and has photographed  25+ books. She is the co-author as well as the photographer of three books for Random House/ Clarkson Potter: Shear Spirit, CraftActivism, and Drop Dead Easy Knits. Along with this niche specialty, Gale is often commissioned for corporate portraits. Gale holds a  BA in Photojournalism from the University of Minnesota. She spent her 20s as a stringer for The New York Times and shot for magazines from Smithsonian to USA Weekend to Forbes to TV Guide.