PITTSFIELD — Karen Karlberg is the very definition of eclectic.

Once employed as a defense contractor at GE Ordnance, the Becket woman also has created and sold hats, wants to write a children's book, and takes nature photography.

And she has purple streaks in her hair.

"I hate being ordinary," she said.

Karlberg, who is trying to figure out a way to make a living from her diverse interests, attended the first Creative Resources Conference on Thursday at Hotel on North.

Sponsored by 1Berkshire, the event featured panels and workshops on various topics designed to help those who work in the creative economy and give tips on turning their passions into a real business.

Some 80 people attended the all-day session at Hotel on North, according to Julia Dixon, a creative economy specialist for 1Berkshire. Matt Stinchcomb, the vice president of values and impact for the online marketplace Etsy.org was the keynote speaker.

Eclectic? Stinchcomb was the guitarist for the indie pop band The French Kicks before joining Etsy when invited to by the firm's founder, who was a friend.

"This conference is taking place because creative entrepreneurs and independent artists make up a very important subset of this business community," said Dixon, who organized the event. "Getting people access to these resources that will help their businesses grow is incredibly important and something that I thought we could do on a bigger scale."


Dixon, who headed Berkshire Creative before that organization was absorbed into 1Berkshire last month, came up with the idea for Thursday's conference after attending another 1Berkshire event in April. An artist, arts administrator, community convenor and creative advocate, Dixon ran DownStreet Art in North Adams and the Storefront Artist Project in Pittsfield before joining Berkshire Creative.

"I do a lot of consultation with people independently," said Dixon, who came to the Berkshires in 2009. "It was just kind of an idea to do this kind of business consultation to point people in the right direction depending on what they need.

"Some people just don't know where to go," she said. "The idea of the conference is that we're helping people who have similar questions at the same time."

The topics of the panels and workshops included how to find appropriate work space, using storytelling to reach audiences, how to build a visual identity, making the right financial and legal decisions, budgeting money for growth, how to make a living, how to receive assistance, and grant writing.

These topics were exactly what Karlberg was looking for.

"I have so many ideas," she said. "I want to make them profitable."

Dixon would like to hold a similar conference sometime, but isn't sure when,

"I don't see it as a one-off, but I also don't see it as an annual event," she said. "Maybe every other year or doing it on an as needed basis. But I would love to do this again."

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.