Archive | July, 2008

Design Teams: Some Things Never Change

Some of my earliest readers might remember one of the first posts I did for this site in 2005 (back then it was still named Inside Scrapbooking), titled All Work And No Pay. It was about the use of – or rather abuse of – design teams as free labor for marketing work by stores and manufacturers.

Well, now a new “employer” has joined the list of those lining up for the free labor of scrapbookers who are anxious to put the moniker “design team member” after their name: blogs.

Yes, I’ve come across several blogs recently that have or are “hiring” themselves design teams (and I’m sure there are probably more that I haven’t come across). The business model of these sites seems to be to promote their owners and to earn ad revenue – a professional blogging model of business. (It’s easy for me to recognize that model because my business is also built around it of course.)

The Effers of course did this quite successfully with their site but they were a group of friends who co-founded a site, not one owner using the free labor of others to promote her site. There is a big difference.

The most recent call I found for a blog design team is still ongoing: Pink Sketches. Based on the owner’s other websites, she seems a master at (self)promotion, running an etsy shop and a website she seems to be trying to commercialize. Which is fine – until you start trying to take advantage of other people’s free labor to do it.

Kelli (nowhere on her public sites does it say what her last name is so I won’t reveal it even though I know it from communicating with her) lists these requirements of the design team members:

  1. Make a layout every week using that weeks sketch
  2. Post links to the site on your own sites
  3. Have a digital camera to take photos of your layouts
  4. Use your own materials for layouts
  5. Participate in designer chats & meetings once a month
  6. Design your own sketch to be used on the site (not a must)

The only mention of any benefits to the design team members is requirement #7: Have a great time and love for scrapbooking and meeting new friends!!

Did I mention that all this work and requirements are for a site that is brand new and hasn’t got a single piece of posted content yet? I contacted the sites owner Kelli to ask if this wasn’t possibly a bit much work to expect of people for a new site with no “cachet”, no return in exposure for the designers.

Her response:

While I understand your issue with the call, the only purpose to my site is for scrapbookers to chat, have fun and share their work. I believe people participate in sketch challenge sites and other design teams to share their layouts and gain exposure. The only reason there are requirements for the team is so I have some kind of organization with the site.

I’m sorry if you think it’s a problem, and I can not speak for other sites, but my site is strictly for having a good time and sharing layouts with others.

The response is great PR work. I wonder what Kelli’s day job is.

Do with this one what you will designers. I guess if any publicity is good publicity, I just did Pink Sketches a huge favor. Whatever…that’s not the point.

Just be aware that there is another type of “employer” out there competing for your free labor. And don’t let the rainbow smiley explanations of “we’re in this for fun” blind you to the fact that a blog format doesn’t mean there isn’t necessarily something more in it for them. Make sure there’s something in it for you too before you give them your efforts.


More Details Emerge on CHA-Summer 2009

Mike Hartnett at CLN Online is reporting more details about CHA-Summer 2009 in the July 27th  edition, based on an interview with CHA CEO Steve Berger. Here’s the high points:

  • The venue for the show is in fact the Orange County Convention Center
  • Costs will be comparable or less than the Chicago venue for exhibitors
  • CHA has a one-year contract in Orlando with an option for a second year
  • The move was made in an attempt to revive a show with seriously declining numbers, and after polling of attendees showed a preference for Orlando as an alternate location
  • Exhibitors will have the option of exhibiting for the trade show, consumer show or both.

On a key issue of concern to many – will there be retail sales mandated or allowed at the consumer event? – Berger had this to say:

While CHA can not dictate what exhibitors do, CHA envisions and recommends that manufacturers host make-it/take-it projects, and education and projects sheets that avoid competition with retailers. Savvy manufacturers will explore partnerships that best highlight their products and retail partnerships to maximize product exposure to the general public and drive consumers to local retailers.

If you are a CLN subscriber or work for one, you can read the lengthy article for more details in CLN’s Business Wise column.


[Positions] Available Scrapbook Positions

The following scrapbook-related positions have been listed on in the past week:

Online Marketing Manager: CK Media is looking for a full-time Online Marketing Manager to be based in their Golden, CO offices. This position includes responsibility for email, search engine and other online marketing programs to promote the company’s websites, publications and events. This is a management position, reporting to the Vice President/Online, and managing the Online Marketing Coordinator position.

Qualifications include a Bachelor’s Degree and 3-5 years relevant work experience, excellent presentation skills and proficiency in Word/Excel/PowerPoint.

Compensation is $45-50k per year, plus bonus, full benefits package and 401k match.

Graphic Designer: Colorbok is looking for a full-time Graphic Designer to create products for its scrapbooking operations in Dexter, MI. Qualifications include a Bachelor in Fine Arts or Graphic Design, 1-3 years experience in consumer product design, and knowledge of Photoshop/QuarkXpress/Illustrator/Freehand (all for the Mac).

Instructor: Butler Co. (PA) Community College is looking for part-time instructors for the Spring 2009 for non-credit classes in their Hermitage and Greenville locations. Topics include Digital Photography and Scrapbooking.


A Few Facts About CHA-Summer 2009

I want to try to clear up a few things about the information about CHA-Summer 2009, because I’m seeing a lot of complaints and speculation online in various forums and much of it has little basis in actual fact.

The only thing that has been announced by CHA about their new plans for CHA-Summer 2009 is the move to Orlando and that there will be two days of consumer show. There has been no definition created by CHA yet of what exactly “consumer show” will mean, and in fact CHA is in the process of holding a series of conference calls with CHA members to try to define that.

There is actually precedent, especially in the consumer electronics industry, for consumer shows that are display only, with no sales, to show off the latest and greatest products. So we just don’t know yet exactly what that part of the event will entail. No assumption should be made yet that CHA’s definition of consumer show will be something like a Memories Expo or Creating Keepsakes Convention. It could mean no consumer sales, or those days could conceivably even get called off based on the conference call feedback from members if that is negative enough.

I definitely see why a lot of people can’t imagine this turning out to be a good idea no matter what the specifics end up being, but no specifics have been set. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about the undesirability of Orlando as a home for the event. It’s understandable of course that people local to Chicago would be upset about the venue change but I’m also hearing complaints about the Florida heat and concerns about safety in Orlando that I would like to address.

Most of you know that I live in Florida – about two hours outside Orlando. I frequently travel down to the city both as a tourist and to attend conventions (both scrapbook and other types). Orlando’s tourist areas are safe – or no more dangerous than any other tourist areas, such as the one around the convention center in Anaheim. Orlando has a reputation as a city with problems but those problems – the soaring murder rate, etc – are rooted in the city’s low-income residential neighborhoods. As long as you don’t plan on sightseeing in those neighborhoods (far removed from the tourist areas), and observe basic personal safety precautions like not walking alone after dark in the tourist areas, you should have no concerns.

As far as the heat, my experience when attending work-related events in Orlando has been that I am barely outside except to walk from the car to the convention building and then from the car into the hotel – only a few minutes a day, so the heat outside doesn’t matter. And I know the south has a reputation for being backwards, but Orlando’s hotels and convention centers do actually have that new-fangled air conditioning thing. Honest. And we use it – Florida’s carbon footprint isn’t very earth-friendly in the month of July. I’d actually advise bringing a sweater for when you are indoors, in fact. We set our thermostats to polar bear friendly temperatures. Just because we can.

Orlando has a lot of competitively priced convention space, abundant affordable lodging, and is one of the cheaper airline destinations in the country. It’s a very popular convention destination year-round, for a wide variety of industries.  Why shouldn’t CHA take advantage of that? They may even be trying to attract more international buyers to the show by scheduling it during the traditional summer vacation period in Europe, and in a popular (and currently very affordable) vacation destination for those buyers. Attracting those buyers might inject much-needed life into the show.


What Trends Does Pottery Barn Kids Predict?

Pottery Barn (and its kids division, Pottery Barn Kids) is a major style bellweather for the upscale home décor market. They are a major influence on the  styles Target translates into lower cost versions for their market (and bless them for it!) and a good source of what is considered mainstream in home décor. This means that they are also a good source of what trends will filter down into the scrapbooking and crafts market, and how well accepted those trends will be by consumers.

I got my copy of the latest Pottery Barn Kids catalog yesterday and was immediately struck thumbing through it by some trends that it seemed to predict for the future or current ones that it seemed to cement.

pottery-barn-pink-redRed and Pink: One of the hot new color combinations in their girls’ collection is using candy red as an accent color with pastel pinks (such as the Allie bedding collection shown).

Polka Dots: The girls’ collections feature polka dots everywhere. It wasn’t just limited to a single collection – polka dots were used for accent pieces in several collections, as well as the primary design element in the Marissa Collection.

Bright Orange: Orange, part of a design trend for a while now, remains a strong design element of Pottery Barn Kids’ boys’ collections. So it will probably be sticking around in scrapbooking for awhile too.

pottery-barn-owlsPaper Piecing – with patterned paper: No, there wasn’t paper piecing in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, but there was this Brooke quilt (quilts being a staple of Pottery Barn, of course) with pieced designs with printed fabric instead of solid colors. We’ve already been seeing paper piecing starting to make a comeback in scrapbooking. It was about time for it anyway in the “fashion cycle” of scrapbooking, plus paper piecing is a very affordable technique to use as economically strapped scrapbookers look to stretch their supplies. Last time around, it was done primarily with solid-colored cardstock, but I think this time around indicators are pointing to it being done more with patterned paper. Which leads me to the next trend in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog…

Small Patterns: The past few years have seen a trend of large patterns on paper that were clearly imported from home dec and which were challenging to use for many scrapbookers. A look at the Pottery Barn Kids catalog shows a shift, at least in this part of the home dec market, back to smaller patterns – which is necessary for scrapbookers if papers are going to be used in small pieces for paper piecing and for other small projects like mini-albums that stores are marketing to extend their reach.

Owls: While this design element has hit scrapbooking already, it hasn’t quite gone mainstream. The designs being currently seen in places like Pottery Barn Kids’ Brooke Collection (pictured above) could help the motif finally gain some traction in the scrapbook world and stick around for a while.

Black & Yellow (& White): On the more sophisticated side of their kids offerings, Pottery Barn Kids’ Sadie Nursery Collection uses black, white and yellow with graphic prints (and incorporates polka dots).

pottery-barn-star-warsRetro: History tells us that during bad economies like the current one, people turn to nostalgia for what they saw as a simpler time. This is reflected in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog in offerings of Star Wars themed sheets that are licensed with the original 1977 designs, vintage Spiderman designs, and antique cowboy and sports themes.


Craftrends to Cease Print Publication

What a difference a year makes! This time last year, CK Media was publishing two print trade publications: Its long-time publication Craftrends, and the newly created Memorytrends, specifically for the huge scrapbook industry trade segment.

The Memorytrends Magazine experiment was short-lived. It debuted at CHA-Winter 2007 and its final issue was the September/October 2007 issue.

Now comes word, via my issue of Craftrends that arrived today, that Craftrends is also ceasing publication – or rather, as Editorial Director Bill Gardner explains, being “replaced by Craftrends E-News, the monthly email newsletter that we’ve been distributing since February 1.”

Gardner blames decreased advertising revenue along with increases in postage and paper costs for the demise of the print edition of Craftrends.

Craftrends E-newsletter is distributed montly, as opposed to every other month for the print magazine, and Gardner says the company is planning website improvements to go along with the newsletter. Advertising opportunities are still available on both the website and newsletter for companies who want to get the word out about their product to the trade audience.

The Craftrends E-News has already been going out to everyone on the subscriber list that Craftrends had an email for. If you are a Craftrends subscriber and haven’t been receiving it the first of every month, send your name, company name and email address to

It should be yet another wake-up call to those in the industry that we are in trouble when even the most long-running publication for the trade can’t keep going in its usual manner. Times are changing….business will have to adapt or die. Although this seems like a death, to shut down the Craftrends print magazine, going digital is actually a rather drastic attempt to adapt. Whether it will work, only time will tell.