Pitch Slam Experts

Amy Powers

Panelist – Self Publishing

Amy Powers decided to create her very own online magazine, Inspired Ideas, on a bit of a whim. She always adored magazines and when she didn’t find anything on the newsstands that particularly inspired her, she decided to publish her own virtual one. With a background in magazine design (she was once art director for a very boring engineering magazine), she dusted off her ancient computer programs and got to work. She called upon her crafty friends for project ideas and published her first issue in Autumn of last year. It was met with a small happy reception. Her goal is for readers to feel inspired to create at least one project from each issue. “I’d love for the magazine to be page after page of inspiration. I always feel a magazine is worth the price if I’m inspired to create something after I read it.” Amy lives with her charming husband, Rich, and their adorable son Alfredo in their home in the DC Suburbs. She writes of her sweet life on her blog, Inspire Co.

Beth Lorentz

Expert-Pitch to become a designer for a gift company

Beth Lorentz, Midwest-CBK Vice President Product Development: Inspiring traditions defines Beth Lorentz’s passion for the gift industry. Currently, Beth is the Vice President of Product Development for Midwest-CBK, a leading wholesale company specializing in designing and manufacturing holiday, giftware and home décor. Midwest-CBK’s unique, well-priced decorations and gifts delight the heart, refresh the home, and inspire new traditions. Beth leads the efforts of a fabulous in-house design and product development team, as well as talented independent licensed artists. Visit: www.midwest-cbk.com

Midwest-CBK seasonal collections celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Harvest, Easter and the seasons that surround them. We celebrate artistry and vision, creating décor and gifts from the heart that honor traditions old and new. Our collections begin with one person’s imagination, brought to life through time-honored techniques of handcrafted artistry. Our products delight the heart, refresh the home, and inspire new traditions. Midwest-CBK gift and home accessory collections celebrate your home, friends, and family. Our product lines are inspired by interior design, color, and cultural trends. They are exclusively created by our talented artists who share and express their creativity in all that they do. Our gift line features exclusive brands including Genuine Monkeez and Friends™, Wonderlights™, Mini Shimmers™, and Lights in the Nights™. We also offer inspirational garden and home accessory gift collections inspired by today’s trends, blended with classic style for universal appeal. Midwest-CBK Colonial Candle line of premium candles and home fragrance product stands for exceptional quality and integrity, providing on-trend fragrances and color for home décor and gift giving. Our popular Colonial Candle container candles, pillars, dinner candles, votives and tea lights are proudly made in the U.S.

Brett Waldman








Brett Waldman, the publisher and founder of TRISTAN Publishing,

grew up in the book industry serving in many roles, including

President of The Bookmen, an independent book wholesale and

distribution company that his father, Ned Waldman, and uncle,

Norton Stillman, founded in 1962.  Brett also held the role of

President at Waldman House Press, an independent press,

founded by Ned in 1978.


In 2001 Brett, and his wife, Sheila Waldman, established TRISTAN Publishing.  Along the way, and with the support of a bank, they purchased Waldman House Press and continued to grow TRISTAN Publishing, one book at a time.

 You may be familiar with TRISTAN titles such as A Cup of Christmas Tea, the Christmas classic, which has sold over 1.7 million copies and was on the New York Times Best Seller List for four Holiday seasons; The Next Place, one of the most embraced books to help one deal with the loss of a loved one, now approaching 600,000 copies sold and going on it’s 31st printing; or the PEEF series with over 500,000 books and bears sold!         

 Over the years they have worked with talents such as Tom Hegg, Warren Hanson, Jodi Hills, Rick Kupchella, Ron Schara, Joan Steffend and many other gifted authors and artists from around the country. 

 Each TRISTAN title has a simple but profound message that inspires, uplifts and brings hope.

 At TRISTAN we stay true to our core mission of creating short treasures.  We have found it’s what we do best and where we know we can make a difference.

 Most of our gift books take the reader less than 10 minutes to read…but hopefully touch their life in a very lasting way.

 Our award winning titles have been recognized by ForeWord Magazine, Publishers Weekly, The Benjamin Franklin Awards, “IPPY”, Midwest Independent Publishers Association, Living Now Awards as well as featured in People Magazine, Guideposts Magazine, Gift Beat and Parent’s Magazine.

Christen Olivarez

Expert-Pitch to Write for a Print or On-line Magazine

Christen Olivarez is Director of Publishing for Stampington & Company and Editor-in-Chief of Somerset Studio, Somerset Life, and Belle Armoire Jewelry. She leads a talented team of editors, designers and photographers and oversees the production of Stamping & Company’s 30+ magazine titles. She’s an avid reader, knitter, and art journaler and a supporter of the Slow Food movement. In her free time, you can find her curled up on the couch with yarn in hand, or out searching for the latest and greatest restaurants.

About Stampington: Since 1994, Stampington & Company of Laguna Hills, CA, has been a leading source of information and inspiration for art and crafts lovers around the world. Launched with a small line of rubber stamps by President and Publisher Kellene Giloff, the company has since expanded to include more than 1,500 stamp images and over 30 bestselling publications, including Somerset Studio, Belle Armoire Jewelry, Somerset Life, Artful Blogging, Where Women Create, and Where Women Cook. Known for their stunning full-color photography and step-by-step instructions, Stampington & Company’s publications provide a forum for both professional artists and hobbyists to share their beautiful handmade creations with one another. Visit: www.stampington.com.



Cindy Cloward and Jina Barney

Experts-Pitch to Become a Designer for a Textile/Licensing Manufacturer

Cindy Cloward and her husband, Bret are the owners of Riley Blake Designs. Cindy works closely with their artists and their design team to bring colorful, fun and sophisticated designs to fabric. Having a mother that always loved to paint and create inspired Cindy to start sewing at a early age. After high school Cindy pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and worked as a RN in Labor and Delivery for ten years at the University of Utah. Two of those years were spent working with high risk OB patients as a Flight Nurse. Cindy married into the textile business; her in-laws owned retail fabric stores along the Wasatch front. Taking an early retirement from Nursing after the birth of her third child, Cindy embraced the life of a stay-at-home mom while her children were small. Even with small children she found time to sew, garden, scrapbook, and decorate with color. After living around the country in places like Texas, Washington State, Nevada, and New York, she and her family came back home to Utah to run their textile wholesale business. Bret and Cindy have owned their wholesale business for the past 12 years, and started producing fabric 5 years ago. Two years ago they launched Riley Blake Designs. Their bright and colorful fabrics are created in hopes that they will inspire the professional, avid, recreational, and future sewers alike. Life is a balancing act, but there is always time to sew!


Jina learned to sew at an early age while growing up in Australia. As a young girl, she loved to make doll clothes, she learned to knit and create many other craft projects, and was always keeping her hands busy. Over the years, Jina has absorbed every genre of crafting from tole painting and scrapbooking to doll making and jewelry making. While a teenager, Jina adopted a love for sewing as her father provided all the patterns and fabric she required for sewing her own clothes. As she began raising her own children she became known as a trendsetter with the unique fashions and accessories she would sew and create for her little girls. Jina was introduced to quilting in 1989 and was quickly addicted. She is a founding member of a 23-year-old quilt group. Her quilting is known as bright, unique, edgy, and precise. Her quilting designs have been featured in many magazines and she has taught and created addictions among many women who have learned the art of quilting. Jina proudly claims a Bachelor of Science degree from BYU. Previous to coming to Riley Blake Designs, Jina worked for a nationally known jewelry company where she fulfilled the roles of both National Sales Manager & Production Manager. Who would have guessed that her love of quilting would become the skill set needed to be hired as the Design Director for Riley Blake Designs? The creation process is where Jina loves to be as she works closely with the artists to create fabrics that make you happy and design quilts that inspire others to buy more fabric. Jina continues to sew, cook, garden, and explore the art of continuing to create.

Visit our website to see what Riley Blake Designs is all about: http://www.rileyblakedesigns.com/

Claudine Hellmuth

Roundtable Artists-Pitch to become a designer for a craft/paper company

Claudine Hellmuth is a nationally recognized collage artist, author and illustrator. She combines photos, paint, paper and pen into quirky, whimsical-retro collages. Her artworks have been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, in Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion magazine, The New York Times, on HGTV’s “I Want That!” and on the DIY Network’s program, “Craft Lab.” In addition to creating her artwork full-time, Claudine has developed a craft product line with Ranger Inc. under the brand name of “Claudine Hellmuth Studio”, she licenses her illustrations to the gift and craft markets. Claudine also teaches collage workshops in the US & Canada, and she has written 3 books and 3 DVDs about her techniques. Originally from Orlando FL, Claudine now lives in Washington DC with her husband Paul and their very spoiled pets: Mabel and Brian cats and their dog Maggie. Visit her at http://www.collageartist.com


Colleen Houck

Roundtable Author-Pitch to Become a Children’s Book Author and/or Illustrator

Colleen is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, science fiction, and romance. Formerly a student at the University of Arizona, she has worked as a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter for seventeen years. Tiger’s Curse is her first book, which has already received literary praise and digital success. Her self-published eBook claimed the #1 spot on Kindle’s children’s bestseller list for seven weeks. Colleen lives in Salem, Oregon, with her husband and a white stuffed tiger.

Debbie Murray and Shea Fragoso

Round Table Designers-Pitch to become a designer for a gift company

The mother-daughter design team of Debbie Murray and Shea Fragoso has been collaborating in creative ways for as long as both can remember. When Shea was growing up, Debbie taught stained glass classes in the community college system and owned a custom design business and fine art painting studio. When Shea finished school, they owned gift shops together in Southern California. Shea became a highly sought-after jewelry designer; her creations appeared in dozens of fashion magazines and graced the red carpet several times. Both women designed products for the gift industry and sold pieces to collectors around the world. In 2009, Debbie and Shea completed a major remodeling of a gothic church in Dallas, Texas. Here, they indulged in their love of crowns and European design and were constantly inspired by the architecture and the light

Deborah Balmuth

Expert-Pitch to Become a Craft Book Author

Storey Publishing has a mission to publish “practical information that encourages personal independence in harmony with the environment.” From our offices in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, we produce high-quality books focused in the areas of gardening, crafts, farming and animal-raising, cooking, building, and traditional skills. Recent titles include: One-Yard Wonders, The Handmade Marketplace, The Backyard Homestead, Put ‘Em Up, and Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders.

Deborah Balmuth, editorial director at Storey Publishing, has been envisioning, shaping, and helping authors realize their book dreams for nearly 20 years. When she isn’t sharpening her red pencil, she’s often knitting, sewing, reading, or biking around her home in western Massachusetts.

DeDe Barnum

Expert-Pitch to become a Guest on a TV Show

DeDe Barnum is an experienced, award-winning television producer who has been creating, developing and managing shows and talent for more than 20 years. Her shows and talent have appeared on HGTV, Travel Channel, Food Network, DIY Network and KSTP-TV (ABC, Minneapolis). DeDe’s most recent project was producing a new series for the Travel Channel, “International Open House.” Before that, she worked on Food Networks’ “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri. She launched her national cable career by creating, developing and producing several “lifestyle” series for HGTV, including “Decorating Cents,” “FreeStyle” and “Room for Change.”

DeDe loves discovering and developing new talent. So when DeDe asks,
“Have you ever thought about being on TV?” you just might have what it takes!