Author Archive | Stephanie Medley-Rath

Why Local Stores Offer Classes – And Why To Take Them

I did something this weekend that I rarely do: I took a class at my local scrapbook store. All the stars were aligned to make it work out – the price and time were right, I had childcare coverage, and I was really interested in the class.

The store also promoted the class on Facebook ahead of time. Actually, they asked fans of their store who would be interested in taking classes from a particular manufacturer. I signed up as soon as the class was a sure thing.

The point of the class was to play with a specific manufacturer’s product and learn how to use it. A local store does not need the manufacturer to come in to do this for them, but it sure did make it a bit more exciting to have a manufacturer visit this little-bitty town in the middle of a cornfield.

I wound up spending about $60 on product related to the class, in addition to the price of the class. I found the class to be well worth the money and the class seemed to work well as a marketing tool for the store to get customers to spend money on product, since I’m not the only one who left with an additional purchase. There were actually three classes that day from this manufacturer, but I could only commit to taking the first class. I left the class with a mini-book containing examples of ten different techniques created using the product. Continue Reading →


Four Reasons To Attend The Craft & Hobby Association Convention & Trade Show

Twice a year the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) holds a trade show. I first attended CHA in the winter of 2005 when it was held in Atlanta. I attended as a buyer, as an employee of a local store. I only attended one day, and the experience was exhausting. I remember seeing lots of new product, picking up catalogs, giving feedback to my store’s owner, and doing a few make & takes.

Each time CHA comes around, professionals in the industry have to decide whether they want to attend or not. This is a big decision, because it may be very expensive to attend (depending on needs for expenses like travel, child care, etc). Not attending, though, may cost a business customers or opportunities. It can feel difficult to accurately gauge how valuable attending is for your business.

While considering whether to attend CHA, you’re probably thinking about immediate, practical things like:

  • Do I have the time?
  • Do I have the financial resources to travel and attend the show?
  • Do I have the financial resources to travel and rent a booth at the show (if you are a manufacturer or supplier)?
  • Can other people cover my responsibilities while I am away? Continue Reading →

Five Lessons from the Book Industry

As I was deciding what to write about this week, I came upon an article from The Nation called The Amazon Effect. In it, Steve Wasserman explains the many ways that Amazon has successfully challenged and remade the book industry–from distribution to publishing to the very way we read books. Though the book industry and scrapbook industry have some pretty big differences, several lessons from the article are useful to scrapbook businesses.

1. Nearly one in four people on the planet are online and the Internet resists the limits of geography.

Every offline business needs some online presence. Start with an up to date, easy to navigate website. Your website should include your hours, contact information, a visual of what your store offers at a minimum. Make it easy for visitors to sign-up for your electronic newsletter (this is not optional). Make this information easy to find.

2. Bookselling in the United States had always been less of a business than a calling.

Is your business a business, a calling, or a little bit of both? I think many people enter the industry as a calling rather than a business. If it’s a calling, you need to start treating it like a business if you want to remain in your calling. Continue Reading →


Online and Offline Scrapbookers

When I started in the industry, nothing that I did related to scrapbooking was online. I shopped in my local scrapbook store (I worked there and got a great discount). I only scrapped with paper, not digitally. I did not visit message boards or galleries, and as a very busy graduate student, I wondered who had time to do all of that anyway. I secretly judged those who carried on conversations offline about stuff they read on their favorite message board.

Today, I still rarely visit message boards. I have always found them overwhelming, and still just can’t get over that feeling. But I no longer judge those who do use them.

That’s not the only thing that has changed. I now do a lot of my scrapbook shopping online. I do have a local scrapbook store about 30 minutes from my house, but they do not carry everything I want and I do not always want to drive all over the place to get supplies anymore. I also now dabble in digital scrapbooking.

And of course, I visit blogs. I subscribe to blogs. I write a scrapbooking blog. I love scrapbooking blogs. Continue Reading →


Reaching Scrapbookers With and Without Children

Editor’s Note: This post debuts the latest addition to Scrapbook Update’s staff, Stephanie Medley-Rath.

Stephanie’s first post opens discussion on an important topic. As a scrapbooker who participated in the hobby for well over 5 years before the birth of my daughter, I’m very conscious of this industry’s emphasis on child-focused marketing. I hope Stephanie’s post can open a discussion among our community on the topic, and help make industry businesses more aware of what consumers they might be overlooking in their marketing.

I recently wrote an article on my site on child-free scrapbookers, that raised some great discussion. Part of the discussion was over the terminology: should this group be described as childless or child-free? Both are value-laden terms, and both describe people without children by choice (child-free) and by chance (childless). The terminology does not matter nearly as much as the point of the article: people without children scrapbook.

The scrapbook industry does an excellent job zeroing in on the key demographic of new moms as new scrapbookers (and rightly so), but in this quest to convert new moms to scrapbooking, the industry as a whole tends to overlook scrapbookers without children.

The industry needs both groups to continue growing and needs to take care to not alienate either group in the process. Why might the industry need both groups? Scrapbookers without children are:

  • More likely to be motivated to scrapbook for reasons other than creating family heirlooms to be passed down to future generations.
  • Less likely to be creating scrapbooks to record stories or memories for other people.
  • Are more likely to be scrapbooking only for themselves.

Scrapbookers without children are more likely to be intrinsically motivated, which means they will continue scrapbooking as long as they remain intrinsically motivated and feel there is a place for them in the hobby. Continue Reading →