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Archive | January, 2009

CHA Winter 2009 Product and Style Notes, Part 2

Here’s part two of the compilation of general notes about products and style trends at CHA-Winter in Anaheim this week. You can view part one here. (A separate post will also follow with notes relating to specific companies.)

Scrapbooking has a posse. Scrapbooking has always co-existed with stamping, home decor, and cardmaking, but those activities were an after-thought for most companies. Now many companies are starting to lean heavily on those other activities to help expand their market reach as the scrapbook market is shrinking. At CHA-Winter this year, there was more focus in booths than previously on displaying samples of product being used to create cards and home decor items. Here’s a display from the Glitz Designs booth:

img_1437_glitz-designs-samples-web

Many companies also introduced items targeted specifically for the card and stamping market. A few examples: Bazzill introduced boxes of blank cards (obviously designed to compete directly with Die Cuts With A View’s boxes of cards). American Crafts introduced a line of rubber and clear stamps, along with embossing powder. Technique Tuesday’s new stamp introductions were focused mainly on cardmaking designs.

Stamps Visit The Petite Department. Autumn Leaves and Studio G have been making very popular packages of clear stamps for awhile that are $1 or slightly higher priced. The price point makes them great impulse and gift purchases. Lots of other companies are going to be joining them now with small packages of clear stamps at a lower price point – a great selling point in the current economy. Companies offering small stamp packages at CHA included: Making Memories, Maya Road, Prima, Basic Grey, American Crafts, and Technique Tuesday.

img_1693_basic-grey-small-stamps-web

Scrapbooking is a hoot. The 70′s retro trend from home decor of using owl icons, which has been around awhile in scrapbooking as well, is becoming even more visible in scrapbooking designs. Prima, Autumn Leaves, Carolee’s Creations, Maya Road, Making Memories, Sassafrass Lass, and Three Bugs in a Rug were among the companies using owl icons in various products.

img_1574_sassafrass-lass-owl-icons-web

Dating ourselves? I’ll skip telling you that I was having flashbacks to my childhood on the CHA floor since I’d be dating myself…as well as the owl icons, there is definitely still a 70′s influence present in the color palette on the show floor. Of course, this influence is also currently present in home decor and fashion, so apparently scrapbookers aren’t the only ones who have forgotten enough of the horrors of 70′s design that we now feel compelled to re-live them. Even lines that are otherwise “vintage” or “shabby” in appearance are influenced by the 70′s retro color palette. The blues have a turquoise tint to them, the greens are lime-y, and there is lots of orange and brown.

img_1523_mme-retro-colors

Going wild. Animal prints showed up in a few surprising places, as accents in lines that aren’t actually animal or zoo themed. Animal print has been kind of a sub-trend in fashion recently, and it seems this is making its way into scrapbooking in a limited way.

img_1548_dream-street-animal-print-web

Coming up next: Company notes from CHA-Winter 2009!

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CHA Winter 2009 Product and Style Notes, Part 1

Here’s part one of a compilation of general thoughts about product and style trends from CHA-Winter in Anaheim this week. (A separate post will also follow with notes relating to specific companies.)

Vintage is queen. The vintage/shabby look definitely dominated the new scrapbook offerings at CHA this week. However, I hesitate to call this a trend because the companies presenting this look are companies that have traditionally done this look. They were simply continuing with their signature style. The fact that those companies seem to dominate the floor may be indicative that this look is starting to become the signature look of scrapbooking as a crafts segment. Most crafts segments have a signature style that is considered “typical” of that segment (for many segments it is a “country” look, for instance). Until recently, “themed cutesy” could probably describe the mass market look of the scrapbook segment. It looks like that is transitioning now into the vintage/shabby look being the mass market look for scrapbooking.

There may be an economic explanation for the vintage domination right now – nostalgia for “simpler times” at a time of stress in our economy and our lives can create trends for “old-fashioned” styles.

my-minds-eye-paper-web

Just the basics, ma’am. Most companies, afraid to take risks on unknowns or huge product lines, stuck to core basics in their product offerings at the show: patterned paper, clear stamps (yes, it’s obvious they are a basic now), rub-ons, ribbon and chipboard. Only the most adventurous companies offered other things like metal embellishments of various sorts or fabric florals. Many embellishments were made of paper, such as pre-printed die cuts, to keep costs down.

Fun & Games. Several companies turned to retro style game elements for design inspiration, with Cosmo Cricket using spinners as embellishments, and with Bingo cards a design element in several lines, including Jenni Bowlin.

img_1438_cosmo-cricket-sign

jenni-bowlin-bingo-card-sample-web

Bling it on. Bling is everywhere. It’s the accent of choice for every look and style, from graphic to vintage. And best of all, it’s typically inexpensive, so it’s the perfect product for the market right now. Basic Grey came out with a huge line of new bling embellishments that I heard raves about from multiple buyers.

bg-bling-line

Themed is out. Themed may not be dead, but it sure isn’t looking very healthy. In an apparent effort to make their products appeal to the widest possible market, most manufacturers are limiting their themed offerings to the most generic themes: baby, wedding, birthday and travel. The days of being able to find themed supplies for themes like “red hat ballroom dancers who drink tea on Thursdays” (ok, I exaggerate, but only a little) are probably over. Only a few companies that have tended to specialize in themes, like Karen Foster Designs, seem to be continuing to make anything beyond the few generic themes. (Below: Cosmo Cricket’s “Snorkel” collection, one of my hot picks from the show.)

img_1439_cosmo-cricket-snorkel-collection-web

Stay tuned for part two, coming soon…

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K&Co Goodies

The mothership was calling me…I had to go check out K & Co! And I wasn’t disappointed. Lots of fabulous feminine florals!

kandco-paper-web

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Prima Clear & Small

Prima has both things that are everywhere – clear stamps and small packages. Oh, and of course OWLS. Tons of tummy yummy (@#$%^ iPhone autocorrect!) in this booth. Been hearing lots of buzz about it.

prima-iphone-photo

Later: Here’s a better (not taken with an iPhone in a convention center that is as dark as a cave) photo that shows close-up views of some of the small stamps. Note the owl motif that seems to be everywhere right now.

prima-stamps-web

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CHA-Winter 2009 Business Trends

Earlier today, many of you may have caught my Twitter message about how there aren’t any big trends this year. That, in one way, is true – there doesn’t seem to be any dominant style trends like we are used to seeing (like particular colors, etc). The only style trend that I could really point to so far is the use of the 70′s retro owl logo designs, a clear carry-over from home decor and other areas.

But there are definitely trends in areas besides design styles. Call them market trends, if you will – many of them are shaped by the economy.

Smaller Order Minimums: Many of the manufacturers have lowered their minimum order for retailers to extremely low amounts so that they don’t get shut out of the budgets of stores that only have limited amounts to spend.

Smaller Packages:
This trend is appearing on both the wholesale and retail sides. Package sizes are containing fewer items so that the price point is lower for that item. At wholesale, this may mean a retailer only has to purchase 3 of an item instead of 6, meaning they can bring in a full line of sku’s for a lower overall investment and then reorder if it does well. For retail consumers, it means that they will be able to buy items such as stamps without having to commit to a price that is a large percentage of their shopping budget. (For example, these Maya Road stamps that come in small sets – and notice the owl!)

maya-road-small-stamps

Wedding Bells: So far I haven’t seen a lot of themed lines (except from the companies that have continually specialized in that type of product), but one thing that I am seeing a lot more of than usual I think is wedding themes. This may be an attempt by some manufacturers to capitalize on the DIY wedding concept that is growing in popularity as the economy has softened. Interestingly, most of the wedding collections I’ve seen so far have been similar in color – using black and creme (not white) as their basis. (This Making Memories wedding display is a good example, although it does incorporate some white as well.)

mm-wedding-collection-2

Restraint: The whole tone of this show seems to be restraint in general – smaller booth staffs in a lot of places, toned down (and thus less expensive) displays, smaller lines from a lot of companies, fewer attendees, a smaller show floor, tried-and-true product ideas (nothing experimental and thus risky).

Editor’s Note: In the interest of being able to collect as much information as possible to bring to my readers, I have opted to not post much in the way of updates when the show floor is open since it is so time-consuming to do so and the show floor is so huge. Instead, I am collecting as much information as possible during the limited time I have on the show floor and am bringing it to you in the evenings and after the show. However, I will be twittering my way through the show today, so watch my twitter stream for micro updates!

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CHA Winter 2009 New Exhibitor Section: Scrapbook Exhibitors

I took a quick spin through the New Exhibitor section Sunday after Paris Hilton’s appearance and that was all it took to see the scrapbook-related new exhibitors.

It is a definite reflection on the state of the scrapbook industry that I don’t believe that any of the few exhibitors that I saw are completely brand new companies. Instead, they are companies that have been around for at least a little awhile and realize they need to exhibit at CHA to take their company to the next level in the business. In the not-too-distant past, the new exhibitor section at CHA shows was crammed with newly born scrapbook companies vying for the their piece of the exploding market. It used to be you could spend a whole day in the section and not really see all of the scrapbook-related companies. I did it in 2 hours yesterday, with lengthy visits to each booth.

So who was there?

Bella Blvd:

bella-blvd-display-webBella Blvd. has been around for awhile but this is their first show. They are showing four collections that all coordinate together to mix-n-match. The collections are somewhat themed, but not all of the elements within each collection are themed, making them fairly versatile. They indicated their travel collection was being extremely well received, which surprised me because of the economy, but the versatility of many of its components to be used for other subjects may be working for it.

bella-travel-collection-web

Ribbon Ring:

This idea’s genius is in its simplicity! These tabs are designed to hold your ribbon on a ring so that it is easy to see, sample and use, and so it doesn’t wrinkle or need ironing. Below is a photo of the new 2″ wide version:

ribbon-ring-closeup

Here is what it looks like holding 180 pieces of ribbon:

ribbon-ring

Jillibean Soup:

Kraft cardstock fans may be interested in this one…it’s collections of patterned paper that are largely based on kraft-colored backgrounds. The company is also offering alphabet stickers and a few embellishments like ribbon.

jillibean-soup

Imagine That!

This company was showing collections from two signature designers, Dena, and Brenda Pinnick (whose work many may recognize from QVC). Brenda’s blue, purple and green “Iris” collection was a special favorite of mine in the booth. [Note from Brenda's comment below that it will also be available as fabric soon!]

imagine-that-brenda-pinnick-web

Edited to add: Commenter Beth is correct that I somehow missed one new company that was in the New Exhibitor section during my flying visit to it. I found out about them later when I met someone that was there working for them. It is still striking, however, that I could only find one brand new company when not too long ago there would have been at least 5-10 at the Winter show.

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Create More, Spend Less

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Convention Center Evacuated

Chaos outside the center as we were briefly evacuated for fire alarm. Going back in now.

convention-center-evacuated

And no, we never did figure out why the alarm went off. As someone said to me, “I heard everything from burning electrical to burnt cookies.”

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