Top

Archive | News

American Crafts Acquiring Die Cuts With A View Paper Division

American Crafts has announced that it is acquiring the paper division of competitor Die Cuts With A View (aka DCWV), which is well-known to many papercrafters for its paper pads sold under the Stacks brand name.

Provo, Utah-based Die Cuts With A View, which was founded twenty years ago by Nancy Hill, has large amounts of shelf space in national craft chains with their Stacks pads of patterned paper. Some of the pads are specialty paper featuring glitter and other decorative elements.

In addition to the DCWV paper crafts division, American Crafts has also acquired the company’s letter board product line.

In the announcement, American Crafts CEO Wayne Mitchell expressed the company’s excitement to have the Stacks brand under the American Crafts roof. “Over the years, Mike and Nancy Hill have done an outstanding job of building the amazing Stacks® brand,” says Mitchell. “Their products have influenced thousands of crafters’ creativity, and American Crafts is proud to continue their legacy by offering Stacks® and the letterboard to the crafting market.”

Mike Hill, CEO of Die Cuts with a View Acquisition Corp, said in the acquisition announcement that American Crafts will make a good home for building the DCWV brand’s future: “American Crafts is a company that’s well respected in the crafting industry, ” says Hill. “Over the years as the market landscape has changed, many wonderful crafting brands have found a soft landing place there, where they’ve continued and flourished. We expect that tradition will continue with the DCVW brand.”

DCWV Letterboard

DCWV Letterboard

The acquisition of the DCWV letterboard product gives American Crafts two letter board products, since Heidi Swapp launched a similar product at the January 2017 Creativation trade show. The design style of the two products, however, is drastically different. The Heidi Swapp boards, available in 3 sizes, are portrait shaped and all white, with an almost elegant look to their black and gold text elements (some of them in script). The wedding and party market appears to be a prime market for that product. In contrast, the DCWV letterboard has a landscape shape and less formal colors, with design elements (including trendy emojis and other graphic elements) available in a wide variety of colors.

Heidi Swapp Letterboard

Heidi Swapp Letterboard

The DCWV Home and Blue Moon Beads brands were not part of the acquisition by American Crafts. Those segments of Die Cuts With A View Acquisition Corp were purchased by New View, according to the announcement. (I believe this probably refers to New View Gifts, a Pennsylvania based gift and home decor company whose products are available from retailers such as Amazon, Wayfair, and Kohl’s. New View Gifts registered a new presence in Utah the day of the announcement of the DCWV sale.)

American Crafts will continue to produce paper crafts products under the DCWV brand, and many of the brand’s key designers and product developers will be continuing with the brand as it moves forward under American Crafts.

Retailers can begin ordering DCWV paper crafts products from American Crafts immediately, and shipping of DCWV products will begin from American Crafts’ warehouse after a 7-10 day transition.

American Crafts has been over the years acquiring an immense portfolio of recognizable paper crafts brands. They started slowly, with the acquisition of Pebbles in 2009 and then Crate Paper in 2011. Licensing deals were signed with Studio Calico in 2011 and Project Life in 2013. But then in 2013-2014, American Crafts went on what can only be described as a buying spree. Between July 2013 and June 2014, the company acquired Bazzill, We R Memory Keepers, Pink Paislee (& the Heidi Swapp license), and Imaginisce. After the licensing deal with Studio Calico ended in the past two years, it appears American Crafts is looking to expand its portfolio again, first purchasing Core’dinations brand from Darice earlier this year and now adding the DCWV brand.

3

Update | Amazon, Prima, Jobs, Events, Trends, & More!

Losses. Condolences to the family and friends of Jeff Murphy, known to many in the industry after his thirteen years in sales at EK Success/Wilton Brands that ended last year. Murphy passed away last week in a hiking accident in Yellowstone National Park.

Openings. Hobby Lobby has set the (tentative) opening date of its new store in the Ozark Crossing strip mall in Harrison, AR for August 7th. The store is expected to hire between 30 and 50 workers.

Costs. Users of Intuit’s Quickbooks Online accounting software service are being notified about upcoming price increases that will go into effect in July for users. The price for the Quickbooks Online Plus level of service will increase from $39.99 to $50 per month. Suggestions for replacements include Sage, Xero, and Less Accounting.

Changes. Amazon has announced to affiliates that it is retiring the aStore tool in its affiliate program due to low usage and poor conversion rates on the tool. Starting on July 14th, new aStores can no longer be built, and on August 11th existing stores will no longer be able to be edited. The feature will be completely retired on October 27th, at which time all aStore links will redirect to the Amazon.com home page.

Ventures. Toronto-based Scraptime host Christine Urias is branching into food art, marketing a line of candy through her new company Sweet Artisan Candies. https://shop.amytangerine.com/subscribe

Designer Laura Bray is preparing to launch a line of stamps in her signature style later this month under the Laura K Bray Designs brand name, available through her website. To get a sneak peek of one of the set, visit her blog.

Events. AFCI President Mark Hill attended the 41st Japan Hobby Show put on by the Japan Hobby Association in April, and shares an interesting look at the event and trends seen at the show on the AFCI blog. Some of the trends seen may be regional while some may be harbingers of things to come in other parts of the world.

Alt Summit has announced their 2018 event dates. The 2018 Alt Summit will take place from February 26th-28th at the Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs, CA. Registration begins on Wednesday, June 21st

Alt Summit 2018

Trends. Trend Curve is predicting that pink will be a hot trend for the Christmas holidays for 2018-2019. Also, Quilt Market’s e-insider has a look at trends from Spring Quilt Market for quilt fabric, which often shares design and color trends with scrapbook paper and embellishments.

Fun. Maybe it’s because he didn’t get the memo that scrapbookers think cats are trendy and cool…but whatever the reason, Garfield the Cat has been poking fun at scrapbooking.

Teams. Prima Marketing has design team calls open for their Design, Mixed Media & DIY, and My Prima Planner teams through June 30th. For information on how to apply for the teams, visit the Prima blog.

Jobs. The following industry positions are listed as open and taking applications:

Financial:

Sourcing:

Design:

Marketing:

2

Update | Stampin’ Up, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Jobs & More!

Color. June means a new Stampin’ Up! annual catalog, and with it a new edition of the trend-based “In Colors” that are added each year to the Stampin’ Up color palette for a two year limited edition. Of note this year is that the palette is completely pink and green in shade: Fresh Fig, Berry Burst, Powder Pink, Tranquil Tide, and Lemon Lime Twist.

2017-2019 Stampin Up In Colors

Endings. Craft Ideas magazine is ceasing print after over 40 years in production. The Summer 2017 issue will be the magazine’s final one. Editor Molly Goad told readers in a letter published on the magazine’s blog that the company is looking for strategic partners to continue the magazine, but has no certain relationships at this time. Best wishes for the future to their talented staff . some of whom I’ve previously worked with – from the Scrapbook Update family.

Redesigned. Tonic Studios has issued an update to its customers indicating that it plans to ship a redesigned version of the Tim Holtz stamp platform beginning the week of July 9th.

As we move to catch up with the demand for the product we will be releasing the incoming shipments on a first come first served basis based with our retail partners on when we received the orders. We will be confirming the expected delivery date to each of our retailers within the next 7 days. The first shipments we expect to be dispatched on the week of 09 July with the second delivery to be on the week of 16 July. We are working to improve this wherever possible; however, we want to provide a clear and realistic route to completion. We also want to be realistic that the product will be entering the country during the holiday period which may involve additional small delays. These dates are when we will receive product into our warehouse in California so there may be a few more days to get the product to the partners and then onto the consumers.

Shows. Hotel reservations are open for Creativation 2018, which takes place in Phoenix from January 18th-22nd, and badge registration begins on Tuesday, June 13th.

Crime. According to a report in the Santa Clarita Valley area publication The Signal, the assistant manager of the Hobby Lobby store in Saugus, California has been arrested on child pornography charges. Donald Anthony Little has been charged with two felony counts related to alleged sharing of child pornography images online, and with being in possession of more than 600 child pornography images on his laptop computer. Little is free on bail pending his arraignment on June 22nd.

Neighbors. The White Sands Mall in Alamogordo, New Mexico, is losing its major tenant with the impending closure of the Kmart that has been there since 1976. However, the owner of the property told the Alamogordo Daily News that his company isn’t worried about filling the space, and has over a dozen prospective tenants lined up to tour the space. What’s the draw, in an era of dying malls? The mall will be breaking ground this month on a new Hobby Lobby next to the soon-to-vacant Kmart. “A lot of merchants, it appears, love to be next to Hobby Lobby,” Griffith told the paper.

Earnings. Michaels Companies held its earnings call for the first fiscal quarter of 2017 on Tuesday morning (June 6th) before NASDAQ market open. Net sales were flat for the quarter, with comparable same store sales down 1.2%, due the company said to a decrease in average purchase ticket. Gross profits, though, were up .6%, due to an accounting adjustment from the Lamrite West acquisition and increased margins (from the expansion of the company’s store branded merchandise lines). Michaels held its fiscal year 2017 expectations the same overall at net sales growth of 2.2% to 3.7%, and says that it expects that in the 2nd quarter same store sales will be down .5% to 1.5% (or flat to down 1% on a constant currency basis). The company plans to open four new stores in the quarter, relocate two others, and close four Aaron Brothers stores.

Michaels stock (NASDAQ: MIK) did not react well to the news from the Tuesday earnings call. It had been trending upward on Monday the day before the earnings call, closing up $.28 on the day at $19.83. Opening at $18.91 on Tuesday due to losses in after hours trading, after the morning earnings call the stock dropped hard and closed at $18.16. This was followed by an additional drop to $17.51 by close on Wednesday, a total loss of over 10% in value over Tuesday and Wednesday. Today, the stock started trending back upwards, closing up $.81 at $18.20.

New. American Crafts is launching a new decorative food collection with Sweet Sugarbelle in Michaels Stores. The line will include stamps and cutters and dough die, along with edible coloring book pages and paint palettes, to create decorative cookies.

Peek. If you are fan of artist Katie Pertiet, you might appreciate this profile with a peek into her studio and thoughts on design in a profile done for the blog of art licensing company Wild Apple.

Jobs. The following industry jobs are currently posted as available:

0

Update | Michaels, Studio Calico, Jared Leto, Sew Sweetness & More!

Dream Job. For many crafters, the dream job is to get a staff designer position where they get paid to craft to produce project samples all day. Find out from three of Cricut’s staff project designers how they got where they are, and what the job is really like in this fascinating behind the scenes article.

Sizzix Sew Sweetness Box Pouch

 

Designers. Sizzix used Quilt Market last month to announce the launch of their new collaboration with “Sew Sweetness” blogger Sara Lawson. Lawson’s three new Bigz L Dies, which retail for an MSRP of $29.99 each, will launch this month. The three new dies create a box pouch (pictured above), coin purse, or purse tabs. For more information, visit the Sizzix website.

Designers, part 2. Tammy Tutterow has announced a partnership with StencilGirl to make signature stencil designs. The initial release of 9 designs includes 7 two-step stencils that create layered designs such as flowers and plaid.

Exclusives. Joann Fabric & Crafts stores are getting four new exclusive kits to add to their large Project Life offerings. There’s “Lullaby”, a value kit available in boy and girl versions, as well as a recipe card value kit and matching album. There’s also an exclusive core kit called “Modern Wedding”.

Mixed Media. Designer Anna Dabrowska has announced that a selection of products from her popular Finnabair mixed media line made by Prima Marketing is hitting the shelves at Michaels Stores. The selection includes rust paste, patina paste, mixed media essentials, glitter, and more.

Trends. Slime is hot this summer and according to Adweek, the trend is paying off huge for craft brands like Michaels Stores and Elmers that have committed heavily to it. My own local Michaels store has an end cap right by the register area in the seasonal section containing gallon sized containers of Elmer’s along with all sorts of additives and other slime accessories.

Marketing. The wedding market is highly competitive, and content marketing continues to become more and more important. How important? Blogger network Aisle Society has just completed a successful $30,000 Kickstarter campaign to create an online tool to make submitting products and content to their more than 30 top wedding bloggers simpler and more streamlined for companies. The tool, called Matchology, will launch later this month, and cost $69.99 a year to use.

Equity. Kentucky-based Inked Brands – better known to most scrapbookers as Studio Calico – has raised $4 million in Series A equity funding. The equity was raised from BIP Capital, whose portfolio also includes companies like Tropical Smoothie, Huddle, and a variety of technology and health companies. Inked Brands was founded in 2007 by April Foster, and creates products for influencer brands such as Ali Edwards, A Beautiful Mess, Baby Boy Bakery, and Tom Kat Studio in addition to their in-house brand Studio Calico.

Equity, part 2. Digital education platform CreativeLive has raised $25 million in Series C funding from a combination of investors that include GSV Acceleration, Creative Artists Agency, Greylock Partners, Jared Leto, REV, Richard Branson, and Social Capital. (Now there’s a few names I thought this site would never have Google results for…) This raises to $58.8 million the company’s total funding. Part of the new funding will be used to extend CreativeLive more into the enterprise market.

Earnings. Michaels Stores will be reporting its first quarter earnings on Tuesday (June 6th) before market open, followed by a conference call at 8am central time. For information on how to take part in the conference call, visit the Michaels website.

7

My Sweet Petunia Sues Tonic over Tim Holtz Stamp Press

The question of whether competitor products infringe on the patent granted to My Sweet Petunia for its MISTI stamp platform has become a legal battle with the company’s filing of a patent infringement suit against Tonic Studios on April 3rd.

My Sweet Petunia was granted their patent on the MISTI tool on March 21st, after a more than two year application process that saw the patent request initially rejected but then subsequently granted after being revised and reconsidered.

The MISTI was an almost immediate hit when it was launched in 2015. In the interim period between the MISTI going on the market and being granted its patent, several similar looking products entered what appeared at the time to be a new tool market segment. The We R Memory Keepers Stamp Press launched in 2016, and late 2016 saw the announcement of the Hampton Art Stamp Perfect. Then January 2017 brought the announcement of the Tonic Studios Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, intended to be launched in late spring of this year.

Although popular, the MISTI’s premium price point left room for competitors, and the We R and Hampton Art tools quickly gained market share after their launches as more affordable options. The announcement of the Tonic Studios tool was also well received by consumers and the tool’s launch in stores was eagerly anticipated.

After My Sweet Petunia learned they would in fact be granted the MISTI patent, the We R Memory Keepers and Hampton Art tools rapidly disappeared from retail outlets. In a blog entry announcing the issuing of the patent to MISTI fans, My Sweet Petunia owner Iliana Myska wrote of the situation that “I was thankful that two companies accepted my design as unique and graciously withdrew copies from the market.”

This left only the question of whether Tonic Studios’ much-anticipated Tim Holtz Stamping Platform would launch as scheduled or not.

According to court filings made by My Sweet Petunia, Tonic Studios was notified of the impending patent issuance for the MISTI on March 13th. Around the end of the that month, bloggers began to post on social media about receiving shipments of the Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, and post videos and reviews. On April 3rd, My Sweet Petunia filed suit against Tonic Studios for patent infringement in Federal Court in Delaware (where Tonic Studios USA is incorporated). The suit cites the activities of bloggers it names who posted about the Tonic tool (among other activities) as proof of patent infringing activity by Tonic.

On April 12th, shortly after receiving the suit, Tonic Studios issued a statement to its wholesale customers. The statement said that the Stamping Platform product was being delayed due to the MISTI patent being issued and the product being “redesigned” because “we do not want to expose our customers to any legal action from MSP” despite Tonic not considering their product to be infringing. The company said a new product, designated by a new product number as model 1707e, would ship within 6-8 weeks.

Patent litigation frequently is lengthy, and the initial stages of the suit between My Sweet Petunia and Tonic has already generated a lot of motions. My Sweet Petunia has amended its initial complaint once in response to a Tonic response motion, and Tonic has filed a motion requesting a change of venue to the court district near their California headquarters (a move opposed by My Sweet Petunia in its recent response). My Sweet Petunia is requesting a jury trial, a 3x multiplication of awarded damages for what it alleges is willful infringement, and attorney’s fees and expenses.

108

Craftsy Bought By NBCUniversal

Online craft education and retail portal Craftsy notified its staff and customers on Wednesday that the company has been bought by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast.

craftsy logo

Denver, Colorado-based Craftsy, which grew out of a start-up called Sympoz Inc., was founded by former executives of eBay and ServiceMagic.com and went live in 2011. By the end of 2014, the company had received four rounds of venture capital funding totaling nearly $100 million. No terms have been announced for the company’s acquisition.

Although it has never been profitable, Craftsy has boasted of having over eleven million users (and a million visitors per week) in recent press statements. The site’s online classes in creative arts include such topics as papercrafting, photography, quilting, sewing, knitting, cake decorating, drawing, painting, cooking, and crochet, among others. Craftsy also sells craft supplies and patterns via their online platform.

In a letter to the site’s users and staff, founder & CEO John Levisay indicated that he will be remaining with the company for the next four years. Levisay also indicated that the company’s offices in Denver and Indianapolis will both continue to operate. NBCUniversal also has an office in Denver. Levisay also revealed that Craftsy had been approached by multiple prospective buyers previously whose overtures were rebuffed, but that he felt that NBCUniversal was a good fit for the company.

For those looking to join the newly acquired company, Craftsy posted a job opening two days ago for their Denver office for a Community Manager position.

The streaming craft educational content market has has seen a few interesting alignments in recent months. In early March, Craftsy announced a new partnership with Michaels Stores that would provide exclusive offers to Michaels customers for the site’s classes and provide the site’s customers access to Michaels’ product offerings. This was followed in April by the announcement that Creativebug had been purchased by Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores. It seems that the major players in the space – and the major players interested in the space – are picking sides and placing their bets.

2