Pinners Conference and Expo exec Roxanne Bennett’s title says it all: “Pretty Much In Charge.”

When you oversee Minnesota’s first Pinners Conference with aplomb, incredible charm and not an iota of pushiness, you can get away with calling yourself whatever you like.

I didn’t grasp the concept of the recent Minneapolis Convention Center Pinners Conference because I haven’t been on Pinterest. Think of the expo as Pinterest LIVE!

You leave “empowered,” said Bennett. “Now you have the tools and you can just try it. We’re in six cities across the country. We’re coming back to Minnesota May 3 and 4, 2019, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. We want an environment where there are many creatives. And we have heard nothing but amazing things about Minneapolis. That’s one of the main reasons we came.”

Bennett Events, as her family-run company is known, aims for 50 percent of the exhibitors at any Pinners Expo to come from that community.

Chuck Jensen was staffing the Elna USA sewing machines booth when he called his wife and told her, “ ‘Honey, you’ve got to come down here and see this.’ It’s different from most of your home shows. They are going after the millennials or the first-time moms. My wife is a certain age but she had a great time.”

As soon as I saw my hangouts Tandy Leather, Rockler Woodworking and Hardware and First Sewing of Bloomington, co-owned by Chuck and Bruce Jensen, I knew I’d be right at home. Bruce can’t believe I still can’t work the self-threading feature on my machine despite his showing me about 15 times.

Bennett was the tour guide on my video, so I let her whip me through some of the trendier exhibitors. On video the sounds of a class making hand-stamped cuff bracelets taught by metalsmith Rita Pannulla does not do justice to the sensory experience. I thought somebody had miked a sudden hailstorm attacking a metal roof. Keep watching my video beyond the closing credit, created by Tombow’s Katie Floyd, for a clip of me playing with a delightful pitchman for the Little Green Bean.

Q: Why Pinners?

A: The concept for Pinners stemmed from the idea of Pinterest coming to life. We wanted to create an experience that would connect your everyday person, businesses, influencer and the wholesaler in one location. There’s no other event that does that. Consumers don’t normally have the opportunity to talk to an actual manufacturer or to learn new skills and create projects with the experts themselves. The Pinners, or the people who are pinning and posting inspiration online, get to come to a Pinners Conference and experience the things they have been saving, face-to-face.


Q: What’s the most complicated thing you’ve made?

A: In real life? I’m a cook. I’m willing to try everything. I love the cooking classes. I like to cook for huge groups of people. I also bought myself a smoker. Have you tried smoking food? It’s just delicious. I did six tri-tip roasts at once to feed the whole team and then I Dutch-ovened potatoes. I guess the hardest craft thing I’ve ever done would be to use chalk paint and paint a piece of oak furniture.


Q: What’s a creative outlet people are getting into right now?

A: Hand lettering is over the top. Tombow is one of the creators, foremost, in pens and tools. They are one of our sponsors. They teach amazing classes. They are always sold out.


Q: What’s going on with the T-shirts fit for preemies?

A: This whole heat transfer thing is on fire. You can do almost anything on your own and you can put it on any kind of fabric or whatever. They will create, using this heat press, tea towels, T-shirts; you can do glittery, you can do plain.


Q: What are these wooden triangles?

A: These cool shelves people are making are hanging accent shelves. You can use it for anything: plants, [things] in the bathroom. Sometimes it’s hard. You look at things online and go, “How do I use it?” When you come to a Pinners Conference, you get the experience of having people show you.


C.J. can be reached at and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.