Studio Calico announced this morning that they have acquired online education platform Big Picture Classes.
Washington-based Big Picture Classes was founded in 2005 by Stacy Julian & Kayce Rehn, and quickly became known for offering online classes from the biggest names in the industry like Ali Edwards, Heidi Swapp, and Becky Higgins. (The company was originally called Big Picture Scrapbooking, but changed its name in 2010 to Big Picture Classes as part of a broadening of its mission to include a wider range of classes.) Until 2008, Julian also served as founding editor of Simple Scrapbooks magazine until stepping down from that role to focus on Big Picture. In 2012, Big Picture acquired ebook publisher Ella Publishing, which had been owned by Wendy Smedley and Angie Lucas, and also brought in former Creating Keepsakes publisher Mark Seastrand as CEO.
Studio Calico, based in Kentucky, was started in 2007 by April Foster as a kit club which rapidly became known for its graphic and edgy designs at a time the market was dominated by vintage designs. In 2009, they announced they were expanding to produce a wholesale product line. Studio Calico and American Crafts formed a partnership in late 2011 that has American Crafts producing and distributing Studio Calico’s wholesale product line. In addition to their product lines and kits, Studio Calico has become known in recent years for the education offerings on their website.
In recent years, Big Picture had faced challenges from many directions. The company’s showcase offerings were originally high-priced quarterly classes from top industry instructors, but after the economic collapse the price tag of those classes became out of reach of many crafters. Although Big Picture pretty much owned the online education market when they launched, increasing competition over time siphoned away customers to places like Craftsy, Two Peas In A Bucket, Online Card Classes, and Studio Calico. Many former BPC instructors even began leaving the company to set up their own education websites as the technology to do so became much easier to acquire and manage, allowing the instructors to keep a larger share of class fees.
“Since we started this company I have seen enormous growth and progress within the crafting education industry. The opportunity we have to reach people with our message of memory keeping and story telling continues to grow rapidly with the advancement of technology and social media. When thinking of ways to grow we looked for a partner who has the resources and passion to help us stay true to our mission to inspire people. Studio Calico has become known for their commitment to incredible customer service and ability to inspire us all creatively. Joining forces with Studio Calico will allow the Big Picture platform to grow while we continue to stay focused on reaching people with our message,” said Stacy Julian, Co-Owner, Big Picture Classes.
“Big Picture has long been the central source of education for our customers. I have worked with them many times throughout the years and always been very impressed with the level of passion they bring to this industry. We are extremely excited to be able to join forces with the known experts as we grow our education platform,” said April Foster, CEO at Studio Calico.
For now, the two companies are promising few changes. According to the announcement the two companies will continue to operate as independent entities and no staff changes are planned. Education customers at Studio Calico and Big Picture will be able to access their classes at the usual locations, and content will not be moved from one platform to the other to create a “single log-in” experience for customers.
What will change at Big Picture? Several things. First, the company is promising to unveil a new website soon that has been in the works for a year. Second, Big Picture students will likely see more custom product offerings with their classes. To date, Big Picture has worked on providing class supplies with Scrapbook.com, but working with an outside entity has limitations. The announcement promises that BPC will remain vendor-neutral in its class offerings (meaning classes won’t suddenly be nothing but Studio Calico products), but also notes that BPC has been looking for a way “to make products and product kits available to our audience in conjunction with the classes we offer.” So I would expect to see custom kits being created and sold via Studio Calico in conjunction with Big Picture classes in the near future.