Signs are starting to point to trouble at Inque Boutique.
Inque Boutique, formerly known as stamping company Sugarloaf, debuted its new brand identity at CHA-Summer 2007. At CHA-Winter 2008 the company debuted its expansion from stamping into paper lines.
However, sources close to the company are now telling Scrapbook Update that since CHA-Winter 2008, several key company employees have been laid off – including some extremely long-term personnel with Sugarloaf. These include Kitty Foster and Marg Helmsted, who were let go shortly after CHA. Within the past few weeks, additional personnel have been let go from the company: Kathleen Summers, and Kenny & Stacey Panassidi. All three were high-profile Inque employees. Summers had been with the company since 2005 and was its design team coordinator. The Panassidis were a much-publicized addition to Inque after the demise of their own company, Junkitz, in Dec. 2007.
In addition to the layoffs, several reliable sources tell Scrapbook Update that the company has suspended its (lucrative for designers) publication endorsement compensation program, although one source tells me a replacement program is in the works.
Layoffs and cost-cutting certainly sound like the actions of a company that is in financial trouble, especially when put in the context of a company that has been trying an ambitious expansion. Only time will tell if Inque Boutique will become another cautionary tale from the days of the scrapbook boom.