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Elizabeth Caven Sews Success with UpCraft Club

October 12, 2015

“We had all this great traction immediately upon launch and I thought wow, this thing has some legs, so what do I do now,” Elizabeth Caven, Founder of UpCraft Club, remembers with a chuckle when discussing the rapid start her website achieved in January of this year. “At that point somebody told me to talk to Mike Colwell, and he has been an advisor and mentor ever since, so I’m looking forward to being his guest in November.”

Caven will join Colwell, Executive Director of Square One DSM for the November edition of Start-Up Stories to discuss the state of UpCraft Club, a new type of curated e-commerce shop offering high quality digital sewing patterns and a unique method for brick and mortar stores to facilitate a digital sale. Digital patterns in pdf format include not only the traditional printed pattern pieces, but embedded photos and videos as well that make learning to sew much easier. Caven and UpCraft Club are working with traditional brick and mortar stores allowing them to enter an online marketplace that was threatening to diminish their overall market share.

At the age of 24, Caven first came to Des Moines from Ohio in pursuit of a business opportunity, establishing the Greater Des Moines (DSM) offices of a national franchise, but soon found herself in love with Des Moines, and then simply in love. “I loved Des Moines, and soon after opening my business I met my husband,” she recalls. Four children later, and a number of professional and entrepreneurial positions later, she began to sew clothing for her kids as a hobby.

While her mother had sewn and Caven had taken a requisite home economics course in high school, sewing had never caught her fancy. “When I discovered all of the on-line resources, I really started to learn,” she explains. At the same time, she discovered the online marketplace to be without a uniformity of quality that traditional instore print patterns provided. Through conversations, which became market research, Caven was able to craft a product whose appeal was so great that less than a year from launch she has over ten thousand users and customers in all 50 states and 45 countries world-wide.

Sitting down with Colwell to reflect upon a whirlwind year, which has seen UpCraft Club and Caven win three pitch competitions within Iowa and position itself for continued growth now working with fabric store distributors to avail the product to thousands of retail locations, she hopes to share some helpful insights.

While lean start-up techniques, and seed round funding are likely and welcome topics, for Caven, as with so many successful entrepreneurs, it is all about people. “Really it is my connections with people. I’ve learned that the bottom line about trying to raise money or building a company is people and the relationships you build,” she observed.

Also, she is happy to share what she admits should not have come as a surprise but never-the-less pleasantly did, “When you build something that customers want, they come to your site and give you money,” she says with a smile. Apparently, this Iowa immigrant has discovered her own field of dreams and is willing to help others build theirs.

Event Info

$15 admission fee (includes lunch) or free (if you don’t want lunch).
Networking and Lunch 11: 30 a.m.
Presentation starts at noon
Nov. 18, 2015

Ruan II, 601 Locust
Conference Room 101

Purchase your tickets/make reservations — DSMpartnership.com/events

Contact us at info@squareoneDSM.com for more information.

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact Square One DSM for details. 

Media inquiries should be directed to Mike Colwell at (515) 259-0389 or mike@squareoneDSM.com.

About Square One DSM

Square One DSM’s mission is to connect entrepreneurial needs with qualified community and state resources and to provide guided professional and business direction. Square One DSM helps entrepreneurs maximize their successes by helping them navigate resources, strengthen knowledge, improve skills, form strategic alliances and secure proper capitalization.