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ClearSnap Closing Down Operations

ClearSnap announced today that they are closing down operations. The Burlington, Washington-based company has been  manufacturing industrial and craft inks in the U.S. for nearly 30 years.

[Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program. Some links in this article are affiliate links.]

ClearSnap was purchased either by direct sales company Stampin’ Up! or its founders Shelli & Sterling Gardners in 2006. It was being run by Sterling Gardner (husband of Stampin’ Up! founder Shelli Gardner) as a separate entity from the Utah-based Stampin’ Up!.

News of the closure was shared with ClearSnap’s wholesale customers last week. In the announcement to consumers today, ClearSnap said it was sharing the news “with a heavy heart” and thanked customers “for all your continued support over the years.” The company said that the last day to place orders from ClearSnap is July 31st, but gave no final date for ceasing operations.

Clearsnap Inks

My personal stash of Clearsnap inks.

ClearSnap, under its brand name ColorBox, is widely known to scrapbookers and stampers for its signature Cats Eye pigment ink pads. In addition to its pigment ink pads, the company is also known for its Petal Point, Chalk, India Ink, and other specialty inkpads. Graphic 45, Doodlebug, Stephanie Barnard, Ann Butler, Eileen Hull, Donna Salazar, Susan Weckesser, and Teresa Collins have all produced licensed products with ClearSnap.

I caught up with Eileen Hull when she was demonstrating her ColorBox Blends at Creativation 2019 back in January:

The closure of ClearSnap will leave Ranger and Imagine Crafts to fight it out as the major brand players in the retail ink market, along with contributions from companies such as Lawn Fawn, Hero Arts, and others. And of course, Stampin’ Up! and Close to My Heart will continue to provide stamping ink to the direct sales market as well.

Asked about the impact the closure of ClearSnap will have on the stamping segment, Hero Arts CEO Aaron Leventhal told Scrapbook Update:

ClearSnap is a long-time contributor to the stamping market and I’m sorry to hear they will no longer lend their innovative approach and quality products to our industry. We will miss you!  Not having quality companies like ClearSnap means less investment in the industry — in the form of marketing, advertising, new products and creative ideas, which is bad for everyone.

According to the Michaels website, my local store has about two dozen Colorbox SKUs stocked. (Joann’s is only showing a handful of Colorbox SKUs available in store when I search.) Who will get that shelf space is a big question. Will it be Ranger? Or Imagine Crafts? Or store brand products? Or will no one get it, further shrinking the big box’s paper crafts foot print?

If you want to grab reinkers for your favorite ink pad or that must-have item from your wishlist before they are gone, ClearSnap products are available online at Scrapbook.com and Amazon.com

21

Ellison/Sizzix Patent Litigation Update

In a move likely in the works for months, Stampin’ Up has announced that they are discontinuing the Sizzix Big Shot and also are replacing Sizzix as the manufacturer for their dies. Stampin’ Up’s new dies will be a slightly different die style than the previous ones. As part of the transition to a new die manufacturer, Stampin’ Up is discontinuing (they call it “retiring”) a large number of die designs from their catalog The existing designs that are being retained in the product line will transition to the new style of die once existing inventory of the old Sizzix-manufactured die style is sold out.

In early April, Ellison laid off a significant number of staff in their U.S. office in Lake Forest, California. The layoffs, reportedly as high as 20% of the U.S. staff, included at least some of the company’s U.S.-based in-house project designers. Several of Ellison’s graphic designers also departed the company around that time, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Ellison lawsuits

Against the backdrop of those events, four of the patent lawsuits initiated by Ellison in defense of its die patent have also continued throughout April. (To learn more about the background on these lawsuits and the patent they are alleging infringement of, click here.)

Court proceedings have been quiet in Ellison’s case against Stephanie Barnard since early March when a Special Master was appointed by the judge to assist in managing the case. The parties have entered the time-consuming (and expensive) period of litigation involving discovery and other out-of-court preparation for an eventual court trial scheduled for September 2020.

April has been taken up by relatively routine matters in the case between Ellison and Hero Arts. The two companies jointly requested a protective order from the judge to govern the handling of confidential information during the case. That order was granted on April 24th. The two sides have also agreed with the court to a schedule for the case that will lead to a trial in October 2020.

Heartfelt Creations filed a Motion to Dismiss Ellison’s case against them on April 24th. The filing claims that Ellison was too vague in their original lawsuit filing, failing to meet a sufficient burden of proof for a claim of infringement because they never pointed to a specific product of Heartfelt’s that allegedly infringes under the ‘325 patent standard. Heartfelt is asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed as a result.

Avery Elle was responsible for the most notable activity in any of Ellison’s ongoing lawsuits in April. On April 11th, Avery Elle’s lawyers filed a Motion for Sanctions against both Ellison and their lawyers. The motion accuses Ellison of filing a frivolous lawsuit to harass Avery Elle and failing to do a proper investigation before filing. Avery Elle claims that their dies do not infringe the ‘325 patent because 32% of their dies’ flat border extends into the center and the ‘325 patent describes dies with “none” of the border extending into the center.

The company went a step further in its Motion for Sanctions, however, by claiming that prior art from Spellbinders (a 2011 video and an internet archive of their website)  and Quickutz (a 2007 circle die) makes the patent itself invalid. Avery Elle also claims that Ellison should have been aware of this art, and concludes, “Ellison and its Attorneys either failed to perform a basic pre-filing investigation or they knowingly brought an objectively baseless lawsuit.”

As a result of the claims in its motion, Avery Elle is asking for the court to sanction Ellison and its attorneys by awarding attorney’s fees and other costs to them to compensate them for what they call an action that was “frivolous and filed to harass.” Attorney’s fees being awarded to a successful defendant is not the normal outcome in patent litigation. It’s only done when the court rules there has been some egregious behavior by the plaintiff in the course of the suit. (Coincidentally, the industry’s previous die patent litigation ended this way, with Spellbinders ordered to pay attorney’s fees to Quickutz.)

Ellison filed its response to the Motion for Sanctions on April 29th. To defend their lawsuit, they presented some interpretations of both the word “none” and the first claim in the patent to the court.

The original patent application demonstrated the die construction with “none” of the cutting edge extending into the center of the die with this art:

 

325 Patent Illustration - figure 4

However, Ellison (via an affidavit from ‘325 inventor Kevin Corcoran) now claims that the word “none” encompasses a lip inside the die’s vertical surface because that lip is technically part of the blade. They used this art to demonstrate their claim:

Ellison die lip blade

They also made a second argument, however, that could render that one moot. They claim the “none” description of the die lip is part of a “preamble” and not actually a technical requirement of the patent. In essence, they are trying to divorce it from the method claim of aligning a die with a stamp to cut it out. Were that argument to be successfully defended, Ellison would be the only company with the legal right to manufacture and sell open centered chemically etched dies that match stamps – regardless of whether there is an edge extending into the center or not – in the U.S.

Oral arguments are scheduled about the motion on May 13th in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California before Judge Marilyn Huff.

46

Ellison Sues 5 Companies, Alleging Patent Infringement

Ellison Educational Equipment, the parent company of Sizzix brand, has sued five companies over the past few months alleging infringement of a die technology patent that they own. Since November 2018, the company has sued Prima Marketing, Stephanie Barnard (and her The Stamps of Life company), Hero Arts, Avery Elle, and Heartfelt Creations.

Ellison logo banner

The ‘325 Patent

The patent at issue in the lawsuits filed by Ellison is No. 9,079,325 (referred to here and in court filings as the ‘325 patent for the sake of brevity). The first paperwork related to the application for this patent was filed on July 15th, 2011. The formal patent application is dated July 26th, 2012. The patent was ultimately granted on July 14th, 2015.

The ‘325 patent has three elements, or “claims” in patent law terminology. All of these claims relate to the construction and use of chemically etched metal dies. These are the dies commonly called “thin metal dies” by crafters.

Claim One: The first element of this claim is the actual structure of the die. The patent claims ownership of the technology of manufacturing dies with an open center – as virtually all thin metal dies manufactured today are – that do not have a lip extending past the cutting edge into the center of the die.

A method for cutting out, by means of a first die, a shape that is printed on a sheet material, wherein the die includes an inside opening that corresponds to the shape to be cut from the sheet material, a flat outside border having first and opposite faces that surround said inside opening, and a cutting edge that projects from the first face of the flat outside border, such that said cutting edge surrounds the inside opening of said first die and corresponds exactly with the shape that is printed on the sheet material and none of the flat outside border of said die extends into the inside opening of said die

To put that description in graphic terms, it means a die with the profile below. (Graphic taken from the patent.)

325 Patent Illustration - figure 4

325 patent illustration - figure 6

Claim one goes even further though, taking ownership of the technique of using dies designed like this by aligning the die with a shape (such as a stamped image) on material (such as paper) and then putting the die and material through a die cut machine to cut the shape out.

said method comprising the steps of:

locating the shape printed on the sheet material to be cut therefrom;

placing the cutting edge which projects from the first face of the flat outside border of said first die directly against the sheet material, and looking through the inside opening of said first die so that the shape printed on the sheet material is located entirely within the inside opening of said first die and the cutting edge which projects from the first face of said flat outside border is automatically registered so as to surround the shape to be cut from the sheet material;

positioning said first die and the sheet material having the shape to be cut therefrom within a roller press; and

moving said first die and said sheet material through said roller press for causing a force to be applied to the opposite face of the flat outside border of said first die after said cutting edge has first been placed against the sheet material and said first die and said sheet material have been positioned in said roller press for pushing said cutting edge through said sheet material to cut the shape outwardly therefrom.

An illustration accompanying the patent shows a basic die cutting out a stamped shape:
325 patent illustration - figure 8

Claim Two: This claim stipulates that the die utilized in step one is created using a chemical etching process from a flat sheet of metal.

Claim Three: The last claim patents ownership of the invention of nested dies that are shaped like the image above.

forming at least a second die by chemically etching the flat piece of metal, such that the second die is nested within and spaced from the first die so as to lie at the inside opening of said first die, whereby the size of the inside opening of said first die is larger than said second die.
The patent’s illustrations show the nesting concept in product form:
325 patent illustration - figure 9

The Lawsuits

Ellison is being represented in the four California cases by lawyers from Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, P.C. The case against Heartfelt Creations is located in Indiana and required hiring local counsel, so their representatives there are attorneys from Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. Various attorneys are representing the different defendants in the case, although several of the companies have called on creative industry intellectual property law specialist Tammy Browning-Smith as an assistant counsel in their cases.

Ellison has not responded to a request for comment on their pending litigation.

Stephanie Barnard Designs

The first suit was filed against Stephanie Barnard and Stephanie Barnard Designs (dba The Stamps of Life) on November 15th, 2018. In addition, the suit names as defendants unknown parties referred to as Does 1-10. Barnard has been a licensed product designer for Sizzix for nearly a decade, but the suit alleges she and her company are violating the ‘325 patent by producing products for The Stamps of Life that are covered by the patent that aren’t licensed from Ellison.

In an amended complaint filed against Barnard in December, the company also alleges Barnard and The Stamps of Life are violating the ‘325 patent by teaching the method described in Claim 1 of the patent in videos on the website:

In addition to directly infringing the ‘325 Patent, Defendants indirectly infringe on the ‘325 Patent by instructing, directing and/or requiring others, including customers, purchasers, users and developers, to perform some of the steps of the method claim, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents, of the ‘325 Patent, where all of the steps of the method claim is performed by either Defendants or its customers, purchasers, users and developers, or some combination thereof.

Barnard filed a response in mid-January, categorically denying Ellison’s claims of infringement. She also filed a counter-claim against Ellison, alleging the ‘325 patent is invalid and therefore cannot be enforced:

An actual case or controversy exists between Counterclaimant Barnard and Counterdefendant Ellison concerning validity of the ’325 Patent by virtue of Counterdefendant Ellison’s assertion of infringement of the patent.

The claims of the ’325 Patent are invalid on the ground that the purported invention, attempted to be patented therein, fails to meet the conditions of patentability specified in Title 35 of the United States Code, including, but not limited to, the conditions specified in 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 102, 103, and/or 112 of the Code.

The sections of U.S. code cited refer to specific things regarding patents. Section 101 refers to patents only being granted to inventors of an item. Section 102 refers to prior art and when its presence does and doesn’t impede the ability to patent. Section 103 is very brief, simply precludes granting of patents ” if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains.” Section 112 deals with how an inventions specifications must be described in a patent. (Read the entire text the U.S. code on the U.S. PTO website here.)

A Special Master has been appointed in the case, and the parties are entering the discovery phase of the litigation. Trial is scheduled for September 2020.

Stephanie Barnard declined to comment to Scrapbook Update on the pending litigation.

Prima Marketing

Ellison filed two lawsuits on December 21st, 2018. One was against Prima Marketing. Like in the previous suit, the Prima Marketing suit also alleged infringement against who it called Does 1-10 that it said it was “ignorant to the true names and capacities of” but who it alleged “were and are a moving, active, conscious force behind the infringement of Ellison’s rights.”

Prima has never been known as a major die producer. Its only product line that incorporates dies in a major way is the Julie Nutting paper dolls line – and that is the product line cited repeatedly in Ellison’s court complaint against Prima. Other than the company-specific details, the complaint is generally a duplicate of the one against Stephanie Barnard.

One difference of note from the previous suit is that Prima was sent a cease & desist notice shortly before Ellison took the matter to court, a step that isn’t mentioned in the Stephanie Barnard filings. One of the demands in the cease & desist was that Prima “provide information on the manufacturer(s) or source(s)” of the allegedly infringing products. Another notable difference is that where no time frame is used in describing Ellison’s discovery of Stephanie Barnard’s alleged infringement, Ellison’s court filing in the Prima case says that “Ellison recently discovered that Prima is making or having their patterns made into chemically-etched dies that perform the method taught by the ’325 Patent.” [emphasis added]

in mid-February 2019, Prima filed a response to the suit taking much the same position as Stephanie Barnard and challenging the validity of the ‘325 patent based on the same sections of U.S. code. However, by mid-March, the parties reached a settlement and the case was quickly closed. Terms of the settlement are confidential and neither party has responded to a request from Scrapbook Update for comment. But the Julie Nutting dies (and all except a handful of their other ones) have disappeared from product listings on the Prima website, and the video cited in the suit as infringing has been removed from Prima’s YouTube as well. (The Julie Nutting and other Prima dies can still be found for sale on sites such as Scrapbook.com and Amazon.com, though.)

Prima has not responded to a request from Scrapbook Update to comment on its settlement with Ellison.

Hero Arts

The second lawsuit filed by Ellison on December 21st, 2018 was against Hero Arts. Like with the previous suits, it also names as defendants unknown persons or entities as Does 1-10. According to the filing, Hero Arts was sent a cease & desist order on December 12th, 2018. Like with the Prima c&d letter, Ellison demanded information on the source of the products from Hero Arts.

The Hero Arts complaint is largely the same as the Prima one filed the same day, with the exception of the company-specific information. It contains the same language about recent discovery of the alleged infringement. Ellison alleges infringement by dies Hero Arts make that match their stamp sets. But the filing also returns to a theme from the original Stephanie Barnard case by alleging the company is also infringing the method in the ‘325 patent through video content produced by their design team that is “teaching members of the public how to infringe the ’325 Patent”.

One section of the Ellison complaint against Hero Arts appears erroneous. It shows photos of two of Hero Arts’ layering stamps, under a caption that labels them as infringing products. There are no dies (the product covered by the patent) in the images. I wasn’t the only one confused by this, since Hero Arts’ response to that paragraph in their next filing says “it does not understand the allegations of that paragraph.”

Hero Arts filed their response to the suit on March 8th, 2019. Like the other defendants, they are challenging the validity of the ‘325 patent in a counterclaim against Ellison. But they are taking their defense further, asserting fourteen different affirmative defenses.

Under the proposed schedule, which hasn’t yet been made final, the case would be scheduled for trial on August 24th, 2020.

A representative for Hero Arts responded to Scrapbook Update with the following statement when asked for comment:

Hero Arts firmly believes this lawsuit is without merit.  Hero Arts does not infringe Sizzix’s patent nor does it encourage anyone else to do so. Hero Arts intends to fight this lawsuit and win.   But mostly, I am very disappointed in Sizzix’s decision to sue before even trying to resolve any issues they have in a respectful manner that involves talking as opposed to engaging in a blunt legal process, which is bad for everyone — Hero Arts, Sizzix, and the entire community.  We are fortunate that we all get to play, craft and create together in this wonderful industry, and I, as one of the members of this fine community, intend to do what I can to keep this misguided action from fracturing the cooperative, family spirt that has been the norm for so many years.

Avery Elle

Ellison filed suit against Avery Elle and unknown defendants named as Does 1-10 alleging infringement of the ‘325 patent on January 25th, 2019. Ellison says in court documents that it served Avery Elle a cease & desist notice on January 15th, 2019 – two days before the first education day at the Creativation trade show at which both companies exhibited.

The court filing against Avery Elle is again largely a duplicate of the previous filings, with the exception of the company specific material. Ellison alleges that Avery Elle violated the ‘325 patent both through its product sales and through indirect infringement by instructing others on how to do the method included in the patent. A video on the Avery Elle YouTube channel (that has since been removed) is cited as evidence of the indirect infringement.

Avery Elle filed a response on March 6th denying infringement of the ‘325 patent, challenging the patent’s validity, and also claiming several affirmative defenses. The same day, they also filed a counterclaim response asking for a judgement declaring the ‘325 patent invalid, as well as a judgement declaring their non-infringement of the patent.

Ellison responded to the counterclaim in a filing on March 27th, 2019 asserting the validity of the ‘325 patent and denying Avery Elle’s arguments of a right to relief.

No schedule has yet been set for trial or further hearings in the case.

Avery Elle’s representative has not supplied a comment to Scrapbook Update as of publication time of this article.

Heartfelt Creations

The most recent case filed by Ellison alleging infringement of the ‘325 patent was filed against Heartfelt Creations (and unknown defendants Does 1-10) on February 18th, 2019. It’s the first of the suits to target a company outside of California, where Ellison is headquartered. Ellison says Heartfelt Creations was served with a cease & desist letter on December 21st, 2018.

As with the previous lawsuits, Ellison is alleging that Heartfelt Creations is violating the ‘325 patent with both the products it sells and by instructing others on the method included in the ‘325 patent. The court filing cites content from the Heartfelt Creations YouTube channel as proof of the indirect infringement by teaching of the method.

Heartfelt Creations has until April 23rd to file its initial response in the case. The company, when asked for comment, confirmed the existence of the suit and told Scrapbook Update that “We are investigating their accusations and will be able to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”

The Analysis

Ellison is claiming ownership via the ‘325 patent of not just thin metal dies that have a completely open center (with no lip that extends past the cutting edge towards the middle), but also the technique of aligning them with a stamped image and running them through a die cut machine to cut out the image. The ‘325 patent also claims ownership of so-called “nested” dies created with the open centers.

Several designer/bloggers are called out by name in the various court filings as examples of infringement of the patent by teaching in videos this method described in the ‘325 patent. This will almost certainly have a chilling effect on the production of influencer content using stamps with matching dies until more clarity is brought to the legal situation regarding the ‘325 patent.

This isn’t the first time, of course, that craft industry companies have fought over technology that involved chemically etched dies with open centers. Spellbinders fought for several years to enforce a patent it had on chemically etched die technology against QuicKutz, ultimately losing both the case and the patent in 2013. The ghost of that case will almost certainly come back to haunt the new Ellison-filed cases, for multiple reasons.

One of the key reasons the Spellbinders patent fight will be relevant to the new cases will involve the question of prior art. Whether there is “prior art” of the concept is key to determining if something can be patented. Lack of prior art by other companies or individuals is typically seen by the patent office as proof an idea is unique. However, the market for thin metal dies with open centers was artificially chilled during the period of 2009 to 2013 while the Spellbinders case was ongoing. The vast majority of companies were holding out of the thin metal die market waiting to see if the patent suit was won or not. It was right in the middle of that period, in June 2012, that Ellison applied for the ‘325 patent. The final appeal in the Spellbinders case wasn’t over until the patent was declared invalid in the summer of 2013. Then the market started to be flooded with thin metal dies (including ones that matched stamps) in early 2014.

Perhaps the biggest question remaining to be answered about the Ellison suits – besides who will eventually prevail in them in court – is why Ellison seemingly suddenly chose now to go on the offense regarding the ‘325 patent that it has held since 2015. Two of the specific products cited in the court complaints were already on the market prior to the granting date of the ‘325 patent. So why did Ellison wait until late 2018 to begin enforcement instead of following the model utilized by My Sweet Petunia with their stamp platform patent to begin pursuing alleged infringement the moment the patent was approved? Ellison will have to answer that question eventually, since Hero Arts has raised it in its response as one of its affirmative defenses (the doctrine of laches).

Ellison also holds a patent similar to the ‘325 patent in China (Click here to view) that was granted in April 2016, after the U.S. patent had been granted. Online records show at least one suit filed early in 2018 in China in defense of that patent, months before the first U.S. suit was filed. Scrapbook Update has been unable to confirm the outcome of that case or the existence of any others.

81

5 Reasons to Sponsor (or Attend) a Creativation Workshop

Products from Creativation 2019 are still shipping to store shelves, but it’s already time to start thinking about Creativation 2020!

[This post is sponsored by AFCI and the Creativation show, but all opinions are my own.]

The Call for Submissions is now open for proposals for workshops and business presentations for Creativation 2020. The deadline to apply is June 10th. Full guidelines and the applications are available at the link!

Thinking of sponsoring a workshop at Creativation University at Creativation 2020? Here’s five great reasons you should take the plunge:

Create Display Samples

This is the most common reason I hear from retailers for taking workshops, and from manufacturers for sponsoring them. Workshops allow retailers to arrive home from a show with design samples created and ready to go to sell newly-ordered inventory, before the product even arrives in the store. There’s no question that quality samples sell products, so it’s understandable to see so much emphasis placed on this reasoning by both manufacturers and retailers.

But samples are just the tip of the iceberg of the reasons to take or sponsor workshops at Creativation!

AFCI Creativation 2019 workshop

Build Show Buzz

Many of the hottest products at the show have already been determined by the time that doors to the show floor open for buyers to start browsing booths and placing orders. Starting with the first official event of the show on the education days, attendee buzz builds about products from workshops and events like the New Product Showcase.

All of this buzz generates excitement in show buyers to visit certain booths and order products – and buzz isn’t limited to just the attendees of a specific workshop or event. Show attendees tend to be quite social in sharing their show experiences with each other, and in showing off the samples they’ve made in workshops. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire in the Creativation community!

Build Sales Enthusiasm

For most crafters, it’s easier to fall in love with a product when you’ve been hands-on with it. And for retailers, it is easier to authentically sell a product that you are excited about. Workshops give retailers hands-on, first person experience with a product. Workshop attendees can speak crafter-to-crafter to customers and describe a personal experience making with a product. “I made something really wonderful with this” is a much more convincing sales pitch to a customer than “I saw this hanging on a booth wall and liked it”. So manufacturers, don’t forget to think of a workshop not just as an instructional session to teach the steps of a project. Make sure it is also a session that builds hype and enthusiasm for the product!

AFCI 2019 workshop

Educate Retailer Staff

It is the inherent nature of craft products that many have a learning curve of some kind. This makes user error a major driver of dissatisfaction with products, whether it is using a product improperly or for the wrong application. (No one is immune – even a relatively experienced crafter like myself can still fall victim to this on occasion when working with a new product!)

Retailers and influencers are on the front lines of contact with consumers, educating them about new products. Having a good foundation of education on products via workshop education helps to ensure they are passing along proper product usage information to their customers and followers. Educated consumers using a product properly and how it was intended are far less likely to be dissatisfied customers – and far more likely to be repeat buyers!

Build Instructor Reputations

Having a nationally known designer/instructor traveling to teach at local stores and events is a powerful promotional tool for manufacturers. And bringing in an outside instructor for a special event can be a great excitement (and revenue) generator for a local store. These events, however, entail big commitments of resources for store owners, especially for international events. Ensuring the quality of experience for their customers is critical.

Creativation workshops allow storeowners to essentially “test drive” company instructors, to see if they are a good fit for their store’s customers. They can meet an instructor, and experience their teaching method. A successful Creativation workshop can be the first step in partnering with store owners nationwide and worldwide on events to promote your products in their stores!

A workshop isn’t just a chance to sell buyers on a single product. It’s a chance to sell attendees on your company, your people, and your marketing support system. It’s a chance to build a relationship – or enhance an existing one.

Interested in sponsoring a workshop or business presentation at Creativation 2020? Click here to see the guidelines and apply!

0

Belle Fleur Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway to win the beautiful Belle Fleur collection from Photo Play Paper – and thanks to Photo Play Paper for sharing this beautiful collection with Scrapbook Update’s readers! It’s time to announce the lucky winner!

Belle Fleur winner

Congratulations to bookangel18…please check your email for your notification on how to collect your prize!

Photo Play Paper Belle Fleur Collection Pack

If you weren’t the lucky winner of the giveaway, you can still find your own set of the Belle Fleur collection at Scrapbook.com, or Simon Says Stamp.

Thanks for reading Scrapbook Update!

6

A Look at Micro Trends at Creativation 2019

It’s easy to spot the big trends while walking the Creativation show floor. When there’s a unicorn or cactus in every booth you go into, it’s pretty apparent that is a headline trend. But one of the more important things you can take away from visiting the show floor is not the big billboard trends (although that is important too). Instead, assessing the micro trends of the industry is a task that should not be overlooked during busy show days.

[Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by AFCI and the Creativation show. Some links in this article may be affiliate links.]

AFCI Creativation 2019 entrance banner

Micro trends, like the micro in their name suggests, are small scale trends. They aren’t industry-consuming like macro trends are. They aren’t “in your face”. But they are noticeable little blips in the flow of the industry.

Why are micro trends important? For one, micro trends are usually cutting edge. Do you or your customer like to be on top of the latest colors or style icons? Micro trends are where you will find that, because the cutting edge comes and goes so quickly that its elements don’t have a chance to become macro trends. If they do stick around long enough to, then they are no longer really cutting edge.

The fact that some micro trends do become macro trends, becoming the next big thing, is another important reason to search down industry micro trends. What today is just an interesting thing being done by a handful of companies might tomorrow be the next industry saturation trend. Identifying that trend early helps you get on board with it- or carve out a position to counter it! Paint pouring, llamas, gold foil, succulents…they all started out as just an interesting product a few brands were doing. And then they took over everything!

Micro trends can be hard to spot because they aren’t at saturation level. At the show, immersed in the new product displays and the industry goings-on, is by far the most effective way to identify them. Reviewing products over a period of weeks, or months….they may not stand out. But at the show, when you realize that shade of yellow looks familiar from earlier in the day, or a discussion you are having is a repeat of one from this morning…you’ve possibly stumbled into a micro trend.

Here’s a few examples of some micro trends that I found at Creativation 2019:

Art Deco:

Hero Arts Deco in the City stamp

Hero Arts 6″x6″ Deco in the City stamp

Hero Arts has released a significant release of Art Deco style stamps and stencils recently, such as this 6″x6″ Deco in the City background stamp. But they aren’t the only ones to dabble in the retro style of Art Deco in the industry – it’s been lurking around for awhile. In 2017, Tim Holtz released an Art Deco styled alphabet as part of his Sizzix line of dies. At the same show, Graphic 45 debuted a heavily Art Deco collection called Vintage Hollywood. (While their lines frequently allude to that period, this particular collection was very up front with classic signature elements of the period.) Both of these brands are known for vintage products however and so it’s not entirely surprising to see the style from them.

Then in late 2018, we saw Art Deco start to show up from companies that didn’t specialize in hardcore vintage. BoBunny released the Something Splendid collection. And then at Creativation we got the new Hero Arts stamps and also a paper collection from Lawn Fawn with Art Deco style scallops. Given that it has escaped its vintage roots and is showing up elsewhere now, it will be interesting to see if Art Deco continues to grow as a design presence in the industry.

Space:

Photo Play To the Moon

Photo Play Paper To the Moon And Back

Whether it was the total eclipse in 2017, America’s impending return to manned space flight, or the raft of recent space themed movies…space seems to be on the mind of a significant number of product designers. Photo Play Paper did an entire space themed collection in December called To The Moon and Back. Meanwhile, other brands like Hero Arts and Doodlebug are doing moon and space themed stamps, and Sizzix has a new set of space themed dies.

Mustard Yellows:

Lawn Fawn No 2 Pencil

Lawn Fawn No 2 Pencil cardstock

The release of the spring lines is usually the time that we see yellow shades turn lemony after having been more brown in the fall lines. Instead, some of the spring lines are showing more mustard tones of yellow. Companies such as Paper House, Simple Stories, BoBunny, Authentique, and Photo Play all showed at least one line that used a more mustard tone of yellow. This micro trend is definitely approaching enough saturation to be called a macro trend!

And in a hint that they think it may stay for awhile, Lawn Fawn has released a cardstock pack they are calling “no. 2 pencil“. Is mustard no longer just a fall seaonal color? The fashion world seems to think so, and now it appears that scrapbooking is following suit.

Card Sentiments:

Altenew Mega Greetings 3

Altenew Mega Greetings 3 stamps

Another micro trend that jumped out while walking the show floor was the number of stamp companies releasing sentiment-only stamp sets. Hero Arts refreshed their line with multiple new staple sets. Stampendous, Altenew, Heffydoodle, Honey Bee, Spellbinders, BoBunny and several others all have released or upcoming sentiment only stamps. While these are an industry staple, the volume of releases at once is perhaps an indicator of stamp companies shifting their sole focus back to card making as scrapbooking and planner stamp sales both decline.

What micro trends did you detect at Creativation? Tell us in the comments!

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