It’s finally here! After lots of discussion with my staff, debate and agonizing on my part….I’ve made the final decisions and here are the Scrapbook Update Top Ten Hot Picks from CHA Summer 2011!
These are the lines that were truly new, that were fresh, that were buzzed about at the show, that were in demand by buyers, and that Scrapbook Update believes consumers are going to be clamoring for in the next few months.
So, in no particular order…let’s get started!
Lily Bee Design
Like I mentioned in my previous article about Lily Bee Design from CHA Summer, this company achieved something rare for a show release – an entire batch of new collections that are all home runs. All four of the company’s new lines for CHA Summer 2011 are downright usable, an important difference from some lines that are beautiful to look at but difficult to actually execute using.
Memorandum is especially notable because all of the backsides are office paper designs, a theme that has been trendy but that is also becoming something of an industry staple. Paired with classic, elegant vintage designs on the front side, this collection could have a long shelf life.
The other “general purpose” line is called Head Over Heels, and while probably technically intended for the valentine’s day market, it can serve as a beautiful vintage look for a wide variety of projects and topics. The color palette is very trendy and the floral design that unites the palette of all the patterns is just beautiful. The line’s other patterns include a full range of currently trendy elements: damask, doilies, sheet music, stripes, lace and dots.
Fans of Lily Bee’s cardstock alphabet sheets won’t be disappointed, as the new releases are accompanied by some beautiful coordinating alphabet options. Of particular note is the floral alphabet option that coordinates with the Head Over Heels line:
Lily Bee’s fall and holiday themed lines (Harvest Market and Jingle) are also extremely versatile (one of Scrapbook Update’s favorite words). They will be perfect for everything from layouts to cards and decorations.
Echo Park Paper
No surprise here, because they consistently put out great stuff, but Echo Park Paper just about entirely nailed their CHA Summer 2011 collections as well. They were one of the companies that chose to do two separate holiday themed lines with two very different looks to appeal to a wide range of crafters.
Echo Park is one of the many companies that debuted beautiful brad assortments at CHA Summer 2011 (watch for an article soon from Scrapbook Update on that topic!), and their large assortments coordinating with their holiday collections are sure to please crafters of all kinds of projects.
The Halloween line, Apothecary Emporium, has incredible possibilities as well. These were demonstrated beautifully by the samples in the booth:
Echo Park’s mid-cycle release, Victoria Gardens, that is just hitting stores, is full of pastel vintage goodness that will be snapped up by papercrafters for a variety of everyday uses.
My Mind’s Eye
How does this company keep putting such massive releases that are so beautiful? Their releases are always among the largest on the show floor and yet rarely contain many items that fall flat. Like Echo Park (mentioned above), My Mind’s Eye was another company that decided to cater to the huge Christmas market by introducing two holiday collections, one vintage (“Lost and Found Christmas”) and one bright in style (“12 Days of Christmas”).
But the real star of the show for My Mind’s Eye was Lost and Found Two, the sequel to the stunning Lost and Found collection. Another huge collection like the original, this collection follows beautiful in the style footsteps of the original and is sure to be a hit with consumers.
My Mind’s Eye also committed fully to the trend for 6×6 paper pads in the papercrafts market, introducing a collection called Six by Six that consists of twelve paper pads exclusively avaiable in the 6×6 size.
New exhibitor Basically Bare specializes in producing die cut items from chipboard, acrylic and corrugated material that can be used in all types of papercrafts and mixed media projects. Their booth was absolutely packed when I visited it on Thursday.
While the concept of their products is simple (and not completely new), the scale of their products is larger than competitors and well-suited to the new mixed media projects that are becoming increasingly popular. Also, corrugated cardboard is becoming quite trendy due to the rise of mixed media and they offer a wide range of corrugated, including mini albums sure to be popular with consumers looking for a different type of surface to experiment with.
Bella Blvd – “Making The Team” collection
Sometimes, I hear so much about a single collection from a company that it warrants its own spot on the Hot Picks list. “Making The Team” from Bella Blvd was just such a collection at CHA Summer 2011. It invariably seemed to come up when I asked anyone what they had seen so far at the show that excited them. The big excitement seemed to be that “Making The Team” is a sports collection that is unisex, great for making projects for boys or girls, and that it is flexible across a lot of sports as well.
Why all the excitement about a themed line? As much attention as is paid to the non-themed trends such as vintage, a sizable segment of the scrapbook market still creates in a heavily themed way. A line like “Making the Team” that seems to instantly speak to scrapbookers as filling a niche they’ve been missing will find a large market easily.
Amy Tan for American Crafts
This line was heavily buzzed about at the show by attendees excited to see it debut. American Crafts has had huge success previously with a signature line from Liz Kartchner called “Dear Lizzie”, and it looks like history is about to repeat itself with the introduction of Amy Tan’s “Amy Tangerine” signature line.
“Amy Tangerine” is a perfect fit for American Crafts’ fun, graphic style, and Amy Tan brings an avid fan base to the table both within and outside the crafts industry that will move her product in stores.
One of the most heavily buzzed-about items in the Amy Tangerine collection was the new mixtape (already a popular item for American Crafts) designs that accompany it.
This company has fast become an industry powerhouse since debuting as a wholesale company at CHA Winter 2010. This may be the most solid release yet from Studio Calico, anchored by the Classic Calico line of neutral brown basics that are sure to have a long shelf life and be used – and reused – by crafters of all kinds.
It wasn’t just Classic Calico getting the buzz, however. Show attendees seemed just as enamored with “Memoir” and “Autumn Press”. These collections will be pleasing to fans of both the vintage and graphic styles that seem to be dueling for dominance in the industry at the moment – which is perhaps the ultimate secret of Studio Calico’s success.
The accompanying embellishments are what Studio Calico has been known for since their kit club days – their signature twist on graphic, making it somehow elegant and even somehow vintage. Their new partnership with Hero Arts has brought rubber stamps into the collection, and they continue to produce embellishments that are simple but have impact (like the wood items from previous shows). This time around it is die cut kraft stickers, labels, and beautiful alphabets getting all the buzz. Well, almost all the buzz – the company’s new 6×6 paper pads were crowd favorites as well.
Their heavily western-themed booth made a statement on the show floor, and October Afternoon’s collections made an impression on show attendees as well.
The western-themed line “Sasparilla” charmed many attendees, and stood out among the heavy crop of Halloween and Christmas products that populated the show. Despite the line’s seeming to have heavy theming, all of the patterned papers have at least one side that is actually usable for a wide range of generic topics, making the line versatile for both retailers and consumers while still providing some fun.
One heavily buzzed-about product at October Afternoon was the Sprinklers. In a market saturated with spray ink products, their products are attracting a lot of attention for both their color palette and their pigment ink formulation.
The Crafter’s Workshop
As papercrafters are experimenting more with mixed media techniques, their interest in products like templates to use with mediums like inks and paints has grown significantly. The Crafter’s Workshop has quickly become the industry’s template of choice, and at CHA Summer 2011 they added a strong new pull to their catalog – designs by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.
Balzer (seen above using her incredible talent for teaching in The Crafter’s Workshop booth) brings an artsy, offbeat design aesthetic to a product that could otherwise be staid and boring. Through her template designs, she is bringing a new dimension of style to the papercrafting world – one that seems to be being well-received, and which may open the industry to a whole new market of crafters.
And last, but not least…there’s Jillibean Soup! This is yet another company that consistently turns out good, reliable product lines that both consumers and retailers can come back to time and again.
Their holiday line “Christmas Eve Chowder” contained a popular icon for this show: Penguins. We predict that the bright, colorful line will be popular in both its full-size version and in the 6×6 paper pad version for making cards and other small holiday projects.
Jillibean also previewed another holiday line that was heavily buzzed about – for Valentine’s Day. “Hearty Barley Soup”, with a palette of pink and red and white on a kraft background, was a heavy favorite of show attendees.
The company’s several other lines, all in bright colors, were also buzzed-about heavily at the show as crowd favorites for various seasons. Jillibean released lines that spanned summer to Valentine’s Day – a wide range of options to choose from.
But perhaps above all, the star of Jillibean’s introductions was their embellishments. They made a small, important change to their paper embellishments (cardstock alphabets and stickers) – they are now printed on matte finish paper for ease of writing on, inking, distressing, etc. The company’s button assortments are beautiful, and along with their soup label sheets, are sure to be popular with the growing market of card makers in the industry.
So…there they are…the Scrapbook Update CHA Summer 2011 Hot Picks list! It was a difficult decision, and there were many successful companies and products that didn’t make the list since we can only pick ten. But we believe that these are the true standouts in the crowd…and we can’t wait to see what they and everyone else will bring to Anaheim in January 2012!
[Editor's Note: Many thanks to Scrapbook Update Contributing Writer Melissa Stinson for contributing the fabulous photography for this article.]
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