I was blown away by the hospitality & openness of the creative community in Cape Breton

Cape Breton #CreativeEconomy Conference

Sydney Cape BretonIt was my privilege to spend the past week in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I was invited to take part in the Growing a Creative Economy Conference by the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design.

They asked me to come share my Etsy knowledge and experience, I told my story of how I used the platform to launch and continue to grow my design practice in a sustainable and manageable way. Artisans around the world, including in Cape Breton, can use Etsy to access an international audience that loves and actively supports the handmade movement.

On Monday, the first day of the conference, I put on an hour presentation for the entire audience of over 150 people. I was scheduled to immediately follow HGTV superstar Sarah Richardson and web video expert Jaeny Baik. Both of them are incredibly talented, successful, high energy and engaging speakers.

Jonathon Wayne in Sydney, Cape Breton

Etsy dress rehearsal with a raccoon and lynx.

I have a confession to make, I was nervous when I saw that lineup for the day. Over lunch I rehearsed in one of the side rooms to an accidental, respectful and mostly captive audience.

It was my finally my moment, as I was being introduced I awkwardly took the stage early after practicing my new power pose (thanks Jaeny!) backstage. I could totally feel the welcoming energy and excitement in the room and within minutes I was comfortable and at ease.

Despite being up on a platform, around 20 feet away from the nearest person, I felt like I was sipping tea around a craft table chatting away with old friends. That’s what I’m told is the east coast easy going energy and attitude in action.

This was my first time visiting the Canadian Maritimes. It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time and I hadn’t previously had the opportunity to make the journey. I was blown away by the hospitality and openness of the creative community in Cape Breton. Simply put, I’ve fallen in love and I immediately felt at home.

I’m writing this as my flight lifts off and I make my way back to Vancouver with stopovers in Halifax and Montreal. Already, I can feel something pulling me back. Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t scratch, “take an east coast lighthouse selfie” off my bucket list yet. I’m not sure, but there’s a faint Celtic tune quietly fiddling away in the back of my head.

I had originally planned to only do one blog post on the entire conference, but my experience was so amazing I can’t fit it all into one entry alone. I could write an entire essay on the amazing facilities and staff at the Cape Breton Centre of Craft and Design alone! I was even given the privilege of a full private tour of a former nuns convent that is slated to be transformed into an arts and cultural hub while I was there.

I’ll be posting photos and stories of my experience and some features on the incredibly talented local artisans that the world is just waiting to discover in the coming days. I’m still flying high and I’m so happy I had opportunity to meet and work with so many of them.

JonathonWayneJWCoastersNow it’s time to return to my Ginger ale, snack on some salty airplane pretzels and contemplate the future as I make slowly my way across the continent.

Keep in touch Cape Breton and share your favourite memories of the conference in the comments section below. In the meantime you’ll find me tweeting away and preserving vintage maps on Etsy.

– Jonathon Wayne

PS – Check out this fantastic article about the creative economy conference in the comments in the local paper here.

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