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Archive | October, 2009

Choosing Holiday Scrapbook Supplies

May FlaumToday Scrapbook Update welcomes May Flaum as guest blogger of the day.

May Flaum has been published in numerous magazines and is the co-author of Paper + Pixels: Scrapbook Layouts. She is a Big Picture Scrapbooking instructor, education coordinator for the Fiskars Crafts website, and a design team member for Scarlet Lime kits. Over the years she has taught classes around the United States as well as managed a scrapbook store, been on design teams, and done freelance work with various companies.

May is currently preparing for her next Big Picture class “Adventures In Scrapbooking: Using Kits” as well as dreaming up her next wild project ideas. You can find her blogging most days on her website, and you can find more information on her latest on-line class at Big Picture Scrapbooking.

SB Update intro

With Fall settling in and the holiday season fast approaching, the tell-tale signs are showing up in all my favorite crafting spots. While it is tempting to grab up every cute sticker, paper, and themed embellishment that I like, both years of crafting and a much tighter budget have me re-thinking my purchases.

I have a drawer of old themed stickers, papers, and embellishments I will likely never use because they are either not my style or just items that don’t work on my pages. I am trying very hard to eliminate those kinds of bad purchases – after all they waste both budget and precious space. Today I’d like to share with you my picks for this season, some tips, and some layouts that I’ve created with product that is new this year.

First let’s talk about the neutrals. I’m a fan of inks, paints, buttons, alphabet stickers, small print patterned paper, cardstock, and other embellishments that don’t have any theme. Neutral items such as these can be used on any layout. Since they are so versatile I’m much more likely to get them used, and that makes them great purchases. Like a little black dress or great pair of jeans, these items never go out of style and come in handy when you might least expect them to.

I like to purchase mostly items that fall into this category that suit my style and tastes. Then I can flex my creative muscles to get the most out of the product, and highlight my photos and memories to the best of my abilities.

To complement my basics, I like to selectively bring in supplies that are either just so “me” that they must be purchased, or things that I believe will fit my crafting needs. When shopping for my holiday product, I have to be very selective. I fall in love too easily and I have fallen trap to buying cute things that have no business in my home.

LSS 2

On a recent trip to Scrapbook Territory in Berkeley, CA I found myself stunned and overwhelmed by the selection of Christmas, Autumn, Halloween, Winter, and other holiday season goodies. Once upon a time I would have filled my cart to the brim, but no longer. I take the time to think about the selections I make, and I find myself happier for it. Before I share products that have become favorites this season, I’d like to offer my tips for shopping for holiday (or any theme) product:

  • Look for product that is useable for other (non-holiday) layouts in some way. A double sided paper with a small or neutral pattern on the back, embellishments that don’t scream holiday, and other themed items that can be used elsewhere.
  • It should work with my photos. My rule is that you shouldn’t buy product that would clash with the holiday elements sure to show up in your photos. For example, while I may appreciate very graphic or modern designs, those types of products work with the nostalgic, traditional, and sometimes whimsical photos I take.
  • “So cute” doesn’t cut it. If it’s an item I won’t use, it’s over priced, or it’s just not my style no matter how cute – I leave it for someone else.
  • Step away from the stamp sets. Unless you are doing cards, tags, and other paper crafting re-think that stamp set even if it is really cute. If you’re just making layouts, how many times will you really want to use it?
  • Go online to your favorite companies and check their websites before you go shopping. Finding out if they’ll be releasing lines you love first will help you make sure you choose the best papers and embellishments.
  • Put it in your basket, then when you’re done shopping go back and look again. See how much you could put back and not mind, and see if you’ve purchased items that are too similar.

Taking the time to both think about what you will use, and to re-think potential purchases, will save your budget for things that will be more useful and therefore a better value for you.

The assortment of product lines out for the holidays is staggering. From graphic to vintage, from bright to muted, there is something for everyone these days. The one trend I’m seeing and really appreciating is manufacturers putting out paper that is double sided. They make one side themed, and the other neutral with some kind of solid or small print. When I see this I’m more inclined to purchase because I know if the theme doesn’t work out I can put the paper to use in other ways.

AC merrymint

I really like American Craft’s Merrymint line (pictured above) for this very reason. It’s themed in a way that allows not only beautiful Christmas pages, but also other fall and winter seasonal pages as well.

AC MMint layoutMany of the papers and accents are festive, yet neutral enough to be put into play any number of ways. Just to prove my point – I’ve created this layout about a pumpkin patch with the Merrymint line.

AC MMint detail

supplies: American Crafts cardstock, patterned paper, ribbon, brads, alphabet stickers, and glitter buttons; Fiskars punches, Smooch ink, Tattered Angels glimmer mist, mom’s typewriter font, unknown vellum

PP_mistletoe

A line that I fell in love with at first sight is Pink Paislee’s Mistletoe & Co. (pictured above) The denim blue and red combo is one that I really like, and the slightly off classic feeling of the line seems highly useable to me. I love that all of the patterned papers could easily be used for non-holiday layouts, and the fabric and transparent embellishments are favorites.

PP layoutsupplies: Pink Paislee stickers, fabric, letters, and paper; Prima pearls; Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist; unknown button and holly leaf

PP detailNot having green in the paper line except for a few details may seem odd for a holiday line, but it’s great as far as I’m concerned! Now my Christmas tree will stand out even more, and my photos will pop thanks to the complementary colors used. I stitched the fabric embellishment down, but I’ve found that brads or a strong dry adhesive work fine as well.

BG eskimoThe third line of product I’m really looking forward to playing with is BasicGrey’s Eskimo Kisses (pictured above). The pinks and purples in this line will be so wonderful with all of the winter photos I take of my daughters. So often I have to stay away from red when scrapbooking winter photos simply because of the clash with their outfits – this line is going to get used a lot here!

BG layoutsupplies: Basic Grey paper, journaling transparency and paper, border sticker; American Crafts letters, Making Memories 3-d flowers and stick pins; unknown buttons and rhinestones

BG detailSomething I like about this line is the floral swirls on the packaging. I already able to use them in this layout, and I do like packaging that can be utilized at least in part. Adding in aqua or green is no problem with this line – another selling point for me as I love those colors.

I hope that you’ve found my take on holiday scrapbook shopping helpful, and that I’ve given you some ideas to think about. Before I sign off, I’d like to share with you several of my other favorite new holiday lines.

Autumn Product Picks:

Festive Holiday Lines:

Some of my favorite (not really themed) products perfect for this holiday season:

  • American Crafts has a wide array of items from brads to ribbons that I consider essentials to my scrapbooking, but right now I especially find their cardstock in Autumn and Christmas to be great values. While the color palettes are meant for the holiday season, they’re simply rich and beautiful colors and at a price I couldn’t pass up.
  • Jenni Bowlin memo pads are great for journaling, using for punching, as accent paper on layouts too. The red, and brown are especially great, but the green is my favorite.
  • Smooch pearlized accent inks are my newest discovery – and I’m in love! The pearlized finish adds a rich touch that would be wonderful on holiday pages.
  • Tim Holtz Filmstrip ribbon will work for most anything, but I can’t help but think how great it would be on a layout about a holiday gathering with lots of photos.

Happy Crafting!

mayflaum_signature

Supply list for the holiday items pictured in the beginning of article:
(papers clockwise from top left) Graphic 45, Webster’s Pages, Basic Grey, Cosmo Cricket, Making Memories, SEI
(embellishments left to right) Cosmo Cricket, Basic Grey, Making Memories, American Crafts

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Wilton Brands CEO Resigns

Wilton Brands, owner of EK Success and K & Company, announced Monday that their CEO is resigning effective October 31st.

Richard Conti, the departing CEO, will be replaced temporarily by company Chairman Jerry W. Levin while a search for a permanent CEO is undertaken. In a comment that is revealing about the reason for his departure, Conti said, “The Board and I both feel that Wilton’s new owners should have the opportunity to establish new CEO leadership for the Company.”

Wilton is under new ownership because of the settlement with its creditors that kept its holding company (Wilton Holdings) from being forced into bankruptcy this summer under an involuntary petition that was filed in July by several of its creditors. The petition was withdrawn as the result of an “agreement in principle” regarding the debt a short time later. The settlement was finalized this month:

As previously announced on October 12, Wilton’s parent company, Wilton Holdings Inc., and its subsidiaries consummated an agreement with their largest creditors, affiliates of TowerBrook Capital Partners L.P. and Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, to recapitalize Wilton Holdings. The recapitalization provides Wilton Holdings with an improved capital structure, a reduced debt burden, the ability to continue delivering great products and quality service to customers every day, and the opportunity to focus on growth over the long term. As a result of this agreement, affiliates of TowerBrook Capital Partners L.P. and Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas are the new majority owners of Wilton Holdings.

In addition to EK Success and K & Company, Wilton Brands also is the home of the Martha Stewart Crafts line of products.

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How To Be A Good Design Team Member

Today’s guest blogger is again CarrieAnne Deloach. CarrieAnne is the former Executive Editor of Scrap n’ Art Magazine, an experienced design team participant, and the current President of Couture Cardstock, a new division of the Cardstock Warehouse.

On November 1st CarrieAnne will be officially launching Couture Cardstock at couturecardstock.com. Though they already have a staff of designers, they will be announcing an Open Design Team call for one cardmaker, one 3D artist, and one SVG cutter file creator.

Today’s post is part two of two. Part one, titled How To Be A Good Design Team Sponsor, was published yesterday.

As I discussed yesterday, I believe that the relationship between designers and design team sponsors is key to the success of companies, and even the entire scrapbook industry.  The four principles that I provided then about how to be a good design team sponsor also apply to being a good design team member, for different reasons:

1. Recognize and Value Expertise

Hopefully, you have selected the design team sponsor that you did because you are in love with their product, services or perspective. Now that you have made the team, it is your responsibility to find out everything you possibly can about their products, and develop unique techniques, projects and tutorials for uses your sponsor had not yet thought of. This requires you to be current in your field.

Like any professional, your value lies in your knowledge base. Actively read and research what others in paper crafting are doing. Compare and contrast your sponsor’s product or service to the capabilities of their competitors. Write down your observations, and offer them when asked, or volunteer them in a respectful manner if no one prompts you directly. Suggest directions you would love to see the product line go in. If your advice is not warmly received, keep a personal journal of your opinions and product-related observations. You may find that after an opportunity to contemplate your input your sponsor is more receptive.

If their mindset never changes consider this rigidity when the time for your contract renewal comes up. Your notes will at least continue to be a valuable source of information for your own professional development and for any future employers.

2. Invest in your Talent

Making a design team wins only half of your professional battle. You want to continue making design teams and growing professionally. This requires continued education. Whether you enjoy attending online or brick-and-mortar classes (or are a self learner), continue to push the envelope. Visit your local scrapbook store, read CHA updates and visit the sites of key industry leaders to keep up on the latest industry trends and tool development. Though what you can afford is determined by your individual budget, invest wisely in tools and products which will keep your skill sets current.

It is also wise to stay informed on the “business side” of the industry. There are a number of websites, like Scrapbook Update, that track company mergers, bankruptcies, and changes in top level leadership. Be sure that you are hitching your star to a constellation that plans on burning brightly for quite some time and that you are taking advantage of every opportunity the marketplace can offer you.

3. Put Your Best Saleswoman Forward

As a designer you have two skill sets you should be maximizing. The first, of course, is your creative genius and the artwork and techniques you develop from it. The second is your network. As a professional who has invested considerably in your online presence, are you making the most the connections you have made from popular scrapbooking and stamping forums, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter? Have you created a database, rolodex or address book of the people you know and the companies who they currently work for or have worked for in the past? This information will prove invaluable to you as you seek out new design team positions, need letters of reference, or attempt to improve the non-competitive inter-industry relationships needed by your current design team sponsor.

When attending trade shows, crops, workshops, or local store events, are you giving and getting business cards and building your network? When you are being compensated for attending such events by a design team sponsor, are you using even your “free time” to seek out partners and persons that offer complimentary product lines or who would make great additions to your team as guest designers or permanent staff? Your ability to “connect” yourself and those you work for will inestimably raise your market value in the eyes of your employer or perspective employer.

4. Be Reputable in Your Dealings

It is undeniable that mankind has produced some unsavory bosses. With that being said, do you really want to be the type of person who sinks to their level? If you take the step of signing onto a design team, whether by verbal agreement or by signing a contract, you have given your word to perform a task for a specified period of time. Your sponsor is placing his/her time, trust and resources in you with the expectation that you will perform your assigned duties as promised. It is extremely disruptive to their sponsors both financially and time wise for designers to abandon teams or take payment without providing what you promised. Though life’s emergencies do occasionally present themselves, you should, with only the rare exception, complete the task you have agreed to complete.

Should an emergency arise, contact your design team coordinator and mitigate the disruption your situation will cause as best as possible. Be sure to understand the problem resolution process of your sponsor. Does he/she have a mentorship program or chain of command? Identify and establish a relationship with these key individuals so that should personality conflicts, deadline issues, or product usage questions arise you will be fully prepared to solve them within established guidelines. A marker of a successfully completed tenure on a design team is your employer’s willingness to write you a letter of recommendation.

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Why Kits Are Important (Giveaway!)

This is why I (and so many other consumers) love kits:

Bridget school picture kit layout

I am a slow scrapper. It takes me days usually to make a layout. There’s digging through supplies and making choices, deciding on the layout, and creating titles and journaling. I push paper around. I contemplate. I evaluate. At length.

But this layout was made in a single sitting, in only two hours. Thanks to a kit.

The kit that helped me do it (Making Memories Vintage Findings Medium School Collection Findings) didn’t even provide the majority of the elements on the layout. But it provided me two key things: a starting point of coordinated items as a base, and a layout suggestion to work from.

MM School Kit PackageMy finished layout doesn’t look exactly like the inspiration layout from the package. It takes several key elements from it (the photo placement, the block of patterned paper & ribbon at the bottom, and the placement of the bingo card) and then gets creative from there to create something that works with the page size I’m using and other elements I had on hand to incorporate for the theme and style.

What inspired me to use this kit for this photo? I happened to have come across this photo while moving some things from one storage unit to another the day before I was in my local Michaels shopping. I saw the kit and it struck me as perfect for that particular photo, my most favorite ever of my daughter’s school pictures. I took it home, and started scrapping. Two hours later, I was done, thrilled with the page I had created and feeling a major sense of accomplishment for doing it so quickly – a minor miracle in my scrapping history.

That is why consumers love kits. That is why kits are important to the scrapbooking industry. They facilitate ease and speed of scrapping, and help keep consumers (even experienced ones) from getting overwhelmed. Kits help keep engaged those consumers who might otherwise abandon the hobby out of feelings of frustration or inadequacy.

Some people think of kits as a cheat or a shortcut. In fact, they can be an important tool, for both the consumer and industry. Treat them with the respect they deserve.

Layout supply list – Cardstock: Bazzill Basics; Patterned Paper: text (unknown), Cut N’ Paste Collection by K & Company (pink); Embellishments: Making Memories Vintage Findings Medium School Collection Findings (ribbon, paperclip, clock, crocheted flower, bingo card, report card, alpha tape), Target (rhinestone brad), Making Memories (sm brad), BasicGrey Recess (Rub-Ons), Making Memories Mixed Ledger (sm alphabet), Marcella by K Sophie (Lg Alphabet), Autumn Leaves Scrap Metal PH Corner Intricate (photo corner).

So, since kits are so awesome…let’s give some away!

I picked up a few extra of those Making Memories Vintage Findings kits while I was out shopping and bought mine–and the extras are to share with Scrapbook Update’s readers!

I have two of these Making Memories Vintage Findings Medium School Collection Findings kits to give away:

School KitAnd if you’ve got travel pics to scrap, I’ve got one of these Making Memories Vintage Findings Travel Mini Kits to give away too:

Travel Kit

All you have to do to be one of the lucky winners is leave a comment on this entry before Midnight U.S. eastern time next Monday night, November 2nd. (If you are reading this post via an email subscription, click on the title of the entry and it will take you to the giveaway on the Scrapbook Update website where you can leave a comment to enter.) Make sure you include your email address in the line reserved for it on the comment form (for your own protection, don’t put it in the body of the comment, where it will be visible to the public – just in the line labeled “email” in the form where only I can see it). You will need to use that email to verify your identity if you are a winner. One entry per person. Good luck!

 

 

 

How To Be A Good Design Team Sponsor

Today’s guest blogger is CarrieAnne Deloach. CarrieAnne is the former Executive Editor of Scrap n’ Art Magazine, an experienced design team participant, and the current President of Couture Cardstock, a new division of the Cardstock Warehouse.

On November 1st CarrieAnne will be officially launching Couture Cardstock at couturecardstock.com. Though they already have a staff of designers, they will be announcing an Open Design Team call for one cardmaker, one 3D artist, and one SVG cutter file creator.

The relationship between designers and design team sponsors is key to the success of companies, and even the entire scrapbook industry. Historically,  these relationships have been typically viewed in a very simplistic way which allows neither party to meet their full potential. The common view is a simple exchange of product for artwork, which may also involve a small amount of monetary compensation for publication, trade show expenses and additional online participation by artists in blogs or forums.

I believe a more efficiently developed and comprehensive relationship is necessary and would greatly aid both parties and the overall success of the paper crafting industry. This relationship rests largely on four principles:

1. Recognize and Value Expertise

Your selections for your design team were likely made after a lengthy call which required you to evaluate tens (if not hundreds) of applicants. In making your final choice you openly recognized the talent and excellence of the individuals chosen. Don’t allow that faith in their exceptionalism to end there. Instead, engage in a continual examination of your product line with your design team members. Ask your designers detailed questions about the functionality, future applicability and, most important, the flaws of your product lines. What products do they love? What do they hate? Are your color combinations, product sizes, and coordinating products trendy, relevant and exciting? If they could change a product, how would they do so? What would they want to see you do next? Are there ways they use your products or non-competitive companies they work with that suit your product that you have yet to think of?

In asking such questions, be respectful of their time. Phone calls are far less time consuming for them . If you start sending out lengthy email surveys – don’t expect to get as much as you would from a friendly conversation that does not require them to write an essay. Also be sure to send a RAK or at a minimum a “Thank You” card, demonstrating that you recognize and appreciate the time they took to share their ideas with you. These designers are your most accessible focus group and your greatest advocates. They are invested in seeing you succeed and are experts in their fields. Are you capitalizing on these traits?

2. Invest in your Talent

Nothing reduces unwanted design team rotation, early contract termination or disgruntled attitudes better than ensuring that your employees are happy. Design team members possess dynamic personalities. Their creative genius demands to be fed by challenging and rewarding work. I am a great advocate of rewarding proven design team members by investing in their continued education.

What may seem extravagant upfront (such as paying for your artists to obtain additional certifications with non-competitive manufacturers or defraying the expenses of online or brick and mortar technique classes) is really an investment in cutting-edge technology and workforce stability. It may also be possible for you to mitigate the expense of either form of education through an even exchange with interested manufacturers or by providing a workshop that your design team member can teach in exchange for the one she would like to take. One of the most common reasons I have heard for launching new design team calls each year is the desire for innovative artwork and a new perspective. Could these objectives possibly be met by investing in the gem of an employee you already trust, as opposed to engaging in a lengthy and time-consuming design team call which may or may not net a reliable new team member?

3. Put Your Best Saleswoman Forward

Trade shows, consumer events and workshops are your golden sales opportunities – doesn’t it make sense to have your A-team on board to ensure your success? Who (other than yourself) will be more proficient in using your product, more excited about its merits and more personally invested in your success than a proven member of your design team? Though there are real expenses involved in bringing additional staff to such events, having designers run make n’ takes and speak to non-buying customers will free up your valuable time to seal orders and provide media representatives with information.

Additionally, allowing your designers time to walk the floor and see what new trends and products are developing will allow them to learn an enormous amount of information in a very short period of time. This is information they can take back to the workshop and apply to the artwork and tutorials they provide to you. Also, do not understate the value of design members’ blog posts, newsletters, or emails during big industry events. Consumers are often scouring the internet seeking out information for professional events that are closed to them. Your designers could be the perfect free marketing avenue for posting photos of your booth, viral videos on the more personal side of how your company operates and travels, contest announcements,  and new projects or samples.

4. Be Reputable in Your Dealings

Thanks to my excellent upbringing and my background as an Army officer, I believe strongly that paying your employees a reasonable compensation (whether it be monetary or in product) and then sticking to the agreed upon compensation is absolutely crucial. We have all heard the stories of design team sponsors who charge for shipping, short their employees on what they said they would provide, or who simply have not paid their people.

Do you really want your company’s name to be mentioned in negative terms all over the scrapbook neighborhoods of the internet? If you are even hesitant as to your ability to pay on a continued basis the compensation offered in your design team call, then lower it. Additionally, invest in a quality design team coordinator, someone who knows not only the ins and outs of paper crafting, but how to manage and inspire people. Doing so will assuredly reduce tensions and misunderstandings while motivating your staff and increasing their sense of belonging.

This post is part one of two. Check back tomorrow for part two: How To Be A Good Design Team Member

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6

Michaels Increases Gypsy Promotion

Michaels has increased the value of the promotion that they are running with the purchase of the Cricut Gypsy.

It appears that Michaels and other retailers are restricted from discounting the price of the Gypsy, so Michaels is using the classic retail tactic of “discounting” it by providing more value for the $299 MSRP they have to charge. (This is a similar pricing tactic to the one used in the HSN promotion for the Gypsy launch, where the Gypsy was bundled with a large number of accessories for the $299 MSRP.) The new Michaels promotion, effective until 10/31, includes a huge bonus of Cricut points (a total of 800) and two free Solutions cartridges via mail-in rebate.

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