Top

Archive | News

American Crafts Buys EK Success

American Crafts announced today that they have bought EK Success and its family of papercrafting brands from Wilton Brands.

EK Success Sticko show booth

[Disclosure: This article contains Amazon affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to the reader when a purchase is made after a click.]

EK Success is the fourth acquisition made by American Crafts in barely over 18 months. In 2017, the company acquired Core’dinations, DCWV’s paper division, and BoBunny Press. This marks by my count the tenth acquisition made by American Crafts, starting with its acquisition of Pebbles in 2009.

The acquisition of EK Success brings EK Tools, Sticko, Jolee’s, and K&Company into the American Crafts family of brands. EK Success products occupy significant shelf space at the major craft chain stores. But despite this the EK brands have been hobbled by the scrapbooking downturn (and financial issues at WIlton) and no longer carry quite the same market clout or cachet that they did 15 years ago at the height of the scrapbooking boom. However, the marketing and sales power of American Crafts should improve the brands’ market trajectory.

American Crafts said in the acquisition announcement that new products are planned for the EK brands. The entire EK Success design and product development staff is staying on to ensure what American Crafts calls “design integrity” as EK moves forward at its new corporate home.

Wayne Mitchell, CEO of American Crafts, says EK Success’ lineup of stickers, paper crafting and tools strongly appeal to a wide variety of crafters. “I’m excited to welcome the entire EK Success team to American Crafts,” says Mitchell. “Names like Jolee’s, Sticko, K&Company and EK Tools are simply iconic in our industry. We’re thrilled to work with such a talented team to develop even more amazing products we know crafters will love.”

Sue Buchta, CEO of Wilton Brands, says she is pleased that the EK Success team has found a new home at American Crafts. “The members of the EK Success team are incredibly talented and dedicated” says Buchta. “We appreciate how they’ve shared their time and talent with Wilton and EKSB over the years and wish them the very best. I can’t imagine a better fit for this team and these brands than with an industry leader like American Crafts.”

This is the second major divestment in less than a year for Wilton. Late last year the company sold off Simplicity Creative Group to CSS Industries. That deal (which included the Simplicity, Wrights, Boye, Dimensions, and Perler brands) caused some controversy at the time because it brought large pattern makers Simplicity and McCalls under the same corporate parent. It appears that with this second transaction Wilton is now left to focus only its food crafting brands. Food crafting is currently a trendy and growing craft market segment. The trend is being fed in significant part by the popularity among millennials of YouTube stars like Rosanna Pansino, creator of the Nerdy Nummies web series. Pansino, who is about to release the follow-up to her bestselling Nerdy Nummies cookbook, has launched a Nerdy Nummies baking product line aimed at the youth market that is produced by Wilton.

EK Success products will continue to ship from the current Wilton warehouse through September. EK Success products will then begin shipping in October from the American Crafts warehouse in Utah, after what is estimated to be a 10 day down time to move inventory. Distributors will continue as normal. Orders for EK Success products may be placed with American Crafts starting immediately.

18

AFCI | Why I Still Believe In the Importance of Trade Shows

The digital world has changed a lot about our daily lives. We can bank, grocery shop, and even see a doctor without ever leaving home. But can the digital world replace everything?

[This is a sponsored post for AFCI, but views are entirely the author’s own.]

Many of my long time readers know that I have always been, and continue to be, a firm believer that attending trade shows in person is a necessary and irreplaceable function for professionals in the craft industry as well as other industries. (You can read my previous articles on the topic here and here.)

Why, in the digital age, am I still an advocate for the importance of attending trade shows like Creativation in person? Simply put, there are some very important benefits that you can only get from being there.

(Looking for all the details on Creativation 2019? To view the full preview guide, click here!)

Creativation in Phoenix

See The Products

The most obvious benefit of attending a show like Creativation is that you get to see product in person. The importance of this is often dismissed, especially because I often hear from buyers that their reps will bring them the products. But product reps only bring stores the products that the rep markets. What about that exciting new up-and-coming company that doesn’t have a rep yet? Shows provide the opportunity for store owners to connect with and establish relationships with small and new brands that can be beneficial to both companies.

Products seen in person can also give a very different impression from those seen via digital images. For instance, I’ve lost count of how many times a paper line that I wasn’t excited about from a digital preview ended up impressing me when I saw it in person. (And sometimes it works the other way, too.) And booth displays give buyers the chance to see products in use in a variety of ways. A product that might not seem interesting or a good fit for your market in a marketing email might leave a different impression altogether when presented in use or even tried hands-on in a trade show booth.

Networking

A lot of regular show attendees think of Creativation as an opportunity to see our industry friends that we don’t see often. And that’s wonderful, of course – but the importance of connecting with other industry professionals goes so much deeper than that.

So much of the craft industry is built on collaboration. Success can be based not just on what you know but who you know. That business in the booth next door to you might become your next business partner for a cobranded product or event. The person who sits down next to you at the lunch table might be your next rock star designer, or sales person. That person snapping pictures might be the next hot Instagram-er that turns their popularity into a bestselling book (filled with your products, of course).

It’s not just brands that benefit from networking. Retailers, press, designers and other industry professionals can also benefit in various ways from expanding and maintaining their network of industry contacts. Whether it’s finding a job or a mentor, sharing information and expertise, or finding the perfect partner for a project – a large contact network is an invaluable asset for any professional or business to have as a resource. And what better way to expand your network than by attending a trade show where a large portion of the industry is gathered together in one place?

Spellbinders Succulent Dies

Spellbinders Succulent Dies

Industry Intelligence

It’s a fancy name, but really industry intelligence is just that information that all of us gather constantly without even thinking about it while we are at a trade event. It is all of the details big and small that we absorb from around us as we make our way through the day.

Whose booth is crowded? Whose is not? What new product is everyone we talk to buzzing about? What color are we seeing over and over? What new craft item seems to be everywhere all of a sudden? — The answers to these sorts of questions (and more) are the sort of industry intelligence that naturally get answered spending time at Creativation. This information provides valuable feedback to industry businesses about the direction of the industry as a whole and design and product trends – and much of it is only data that can be collected when a significant portion of the industry is gathered together in one place.

Speaking of feedback, that’s another kind of valuable industry intelligence that is facilitated by trade shows. The ability for brands and retailers to meet face-to-face at shows provides an important opportunity for brands and their top executives to have the kind of in-depth discussions with their customers that surveys and other types of feedback tools don’t allow. These partnership-building exchanges can enhance products, sales, and retailer loyalty to brands.

Painting with Plaid

Education

Whether you are a store owner teaching classes or a blogger showing off the latest products, creating happy customers depends on your skill level at what you are doing. Creativation is the biggest opportunity of the year in the United States to get education from the widest variety of companies in one place to keep your skills up on the latest and greatest. This is especially true now that Creativation’s pre-show education time has been expanded to two days, in addition to the classes that take place during the trade show. And outside of the classes, there is also always something to be learned on the show floor through booth demonstrations, whether it is how to use a new product or a new way to use an old one.

Education isn’t just a chance for industry professionals to boost their skills. It’s also an opportunity for companies to ensure consumers get the best first impression of a product by educating the people who will be customers’ first contact point with the product: store owners, designers and instructors. And manufacturers can use creative education to give new life to an old product by showing buyers and instructors new ways of using it.

To view this year’s full Creativation education schedule, click here.

Inspiration

Finally, for me, there’s another reason that I value attending Creativation. So many of us in the creative community work alone in our creative silos for a good portion of the year. Coming together at the show with so many other members of the community, sharing our creative energy for our businesses….it adds fuel to the passion I carry the rest of the year. I take back home with me from my time spent as part of that industry whole a renewed inspiration for what I do.


Don’t Forget – Save on your In the MKNG ticket!

Buy your tickets today and use the following promotional code to save $3 off In the MKNG™ tickets: PRMKNG13

2

Jo-Ann’s Ignites Social Firestorm with Anti-Tariff Advocacy

Jo-Ann Stores launched a political advocacy program last week to oppose new tariffs on product imports from overseas. The result, predictable with anything remotely political these days, was an avalanche of vitriol.

Jo-Ann Made in America Tax

The advocacy program poorly framed the tariffs as a “Made in America tax” in an attempt to stress that the tariffs will make items handmade by American crafters more expensive. (The goal of the campaign is to get crafters to contact their Representatives and Senators via the site linked above.) This high concept slogan fell loudly flat with its intended audience, it seems. Some were just confused by the campaign, seeming to think Jo-Ann’s was claiming that the tariffs applied to American products. Other recipients of the campaign’s email and social posts expressed that they found the wording deceptive.

Many of the outraged commenters on Jo-Ann’s post on Facebook have vowed to boycott the company in the future for engaging in politics. The most popular alternative boycotters are promising to seek out by far is Hobby Lobby, a good indication that the outrage is more about about the specific position that Jo-Ann’s is taking (opposing a policy of President Trump) than that they are engaging in politics in general. Based on the previous experience of Hobby Lobby, Starbucks, and Target – all of whom are thriving after similar consumer boycott threats – Jo-Ann probably doesn’t have much to worry about.

Jo-Ann Stores isn’t the only major craft retailer who has spoken out against the tariffs. Back in March, when the tariffs were initially proposed, Michaels Companies joined Jo-Ann Stores (and 24 other retailers) in signing a public letter opposing the tariffs that was organized by the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

So why would Jo-Ann Stores (and Michaels in a smaller way) voluntarily venture into a political issue that they had to know would cause backlash? The fact, basically, that they were willing to wade into this mire at all is telling of just how serious they believe the China tariffs are for their business. (And this assessment can be extrapolated to virtually all other craft businesses as well.)

What has Joann’s sounding the alarm? As of last Friday (the 24th), a 25% tariff (import tax) now applies to all virtually all craft category products that are imported from China. Jo-Ann’s is highlighting the following items from the tariff list in its campaign:

  • Candle Holders (9405.50.40)
  • Cookie Cutters (8205.51.30)
  • Faux Fur (6001.10.20)
  • Feather Craft and Décor Articles (6701.00.30)
  • Fleece (6001.22.00)
  • Glass Beads (7018.10.50)
  • Glue (3506.10.50)
  • Knit Fabric (6005.37.00, 6004.10.00, 6006.44.00)
  • Magnifying Glasses (9013.80.20)
  • Metal Beads (8308.90.30, 8308.10.00)
  • Paper Cutting Machines (8441.10.00)
  • Paper Products (4823.90.67, 4823.90.86)
  • Twig/Vine Baskets (4602.19.18)
  • Velour and Similar Fabrics (6001.92.00)
  • Vine Wreaths and Décor (4602.19.60)
  • Washi and other Paper Tape (4811.41.21)
  • Woven Cotton Fabric (5208.52.30, 5208.32.30, 5208.52.40, 5208.32,40, 5208.12.60, 5208.22.60, 5806.20.00),
  • Woven Manmade Fabric (Poly, Nylon, etc) (5407.61.99, 5513.21.00)
  • Yarn (5606.00.00, 5511.10.00)

A close examination of the tariff list also shows more items like clay, paints, stamping foils, inks, drawing ink, film, paper, metals, buttons, glue, and sewing machines that are likely to either directly or indirectly raise prices on craft products.

Products that are manufactured in the United States won’t be safe from tariff price increases, either. With items such as chalk, mica, wax, dyes, coloring matter, pigments, printing ink, inks, natural rubber, synthetic rubber, paper, metal, and printing plates and many wood items also on the tariff list, many American craft product manufacturers will find themselves paying higher prices for the raw materials used to produce even their U.S.-made products.

Jill Soltau, CEO of Jo-Ann Stores, told Fox Business last week that two-thirds of the products the company sells are sourced from China, and that no alternatives are available outside China that can meet their quantity and quality specifications. She said Jo-Ann Stores expects that consumers will see a 25% price increase on most products as a result of the tariffs.

The new tariffs are of concern in several ways for the financial health of the crafts industry. Sudden significant price increases may lead some consumers to opt out of the industry altogether due to a decrease in the perceived value they are receiving. Other consumers may find their discretionary hobby spending involuntarily limited by budget constraints caused by tariff-related price increases on non-discretionary household spending. Consumers who remain active in the industry will find their dollar not going as far – the same dollars buying fewer SKU units. Since wholesale and production prices for most items are based on volume ordered by the company, fewer SKUs being turned over could lead to increased wholesale prices – thus leading to even more consumer price increases and a vicious circle of inflation.

One of the Trump administration’s stated motivations for putting the tariffs in place is due to Chinese companies’ violation of U.S. intellectual property. This has been a major problem for U.S. craft companies on platforms like Alibaba, where blatant copies of popular stamp manufacturers’ designs are sold to U.S. consumers with barely any recourse for the companies. Stampin’ Up! made an attempt to file a copyright infringement suit against Alibaba Hong Kong Ltd in U.S. District Court in Utah in April, but then withdrew the suit for unknown reasons six weeks later before Alibaba even filed a response.

Will the cure (tariffs) be worse than the disease (copyright infringement) for the crafts industry? Only time will tell.

0

AFCI | In the MKNG Preview (And a Discount!)

Summer is flying by fast, and that means we are coming up on theIn the MKNG™ festival being put on by AFCI on September 29th-30th, 2018! Here’s all the latest info that you need to know about the festival – along with a discount code for tickets!

[Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for AFCI.]

Where is In the MKNG™️?

Museum at Bethel Woods

In the MKNG™ will be taking place at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel Woods, NY. Located about 90 minutes outside of New York City, Bethel Woods is also within a few hours’ driving distance of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Bethel Woods, of course, is famous as the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Today, the grounds of that festival (most of which are now part of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts) are on the National Register of Historic Places and are regularly visited by tourists. A monument sits near the location of the festival’s main stage. The Museum at Bethel Woods, also part of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, tells the story of the Woodstock Festival and the 1960’s through artifacts and other exhibits.

If nature is more your thing than history, the Sullivan Catskills area surrounding Bethel Woods has plenty to offer. Take a drive on scenic Route 97, or go hiking and biking on the area’s many trails, or fish and hunt in Lake Superior State Park.

To learn more about the area around Bethel Woods and to plan your visit, explore the Sullivan Catskills website.

Who will be at In the MKNG™️?

Many of crafters’ favorite brands are sponsoring and participating In the MKNG™ – Bob Ross, Michaels, Paper House, Gildan, Lion Brand, Duck Tape, and so many more!

With over fifty vendors already signed up for In the MKNG™. there’s something for every craft fanatic. For paper crafters, there’s Altenew, The Paper Curator, Paper House, Eileen Hull and more – including loads of mixed media options. Sewists can visit the legendary Mood Fabrics, Fabric Mart NY, Decorative Trimmings, Blu Arlan and other options. A host of options for fiber arts fans include Lion Brand, Red Heart, Cornwall Yarn Shop, Buck Brook Alpacas, and more exciting options.

To see the current list of sponsors and vendors for In the MKNG™, visit the event’s website. (Are you a vendor who would like to be on that list? Visit the In the MKNG™ website to become a vendor or sign up as a sponsor – or both!)

Take a workshop!

Registration is now open for workshops at In the MKNG™! Workshop slots are available on both Saturday and Sunday. Attendees can take their pick of workshops that include crafts such as a knitted headband (no knitting experience required), a beautiful fall wreath, an etched glass jar, embroidery wall art, and more!

Tickets for In the MKNG™ workshops range from $20-$40 each, and can be purchased during the registration process for the event. (Attendees must buy a festival ticket to be able to purchase a workshop ticket.) View the full workshop descriptions on the In the MKNG™website.

Catch a concert!

Sister Hazel

Bethel Woods is famous for music, and so In the MKNG™ wouldn’t be complete without a great concert. And the best part is that your In the MKNG™ festival ticket includes access to the live music performances!

On Saturday, the festival’s headline performer (from 4:30pm to 6pm) is Sister Hazel, known to most music fans for their 1997 rock hit “All for You”. Sister Hazel is currently touring to promote their latest album, Lighter In The Dark. This new album is their first country album and features a collaboration track with Darius Rucker.

Other performers on Saturday are CMA artist Lauren Davidson, independent singer/songwriter Zach Matari & The After Parti, and NY-based pop/rock band Wild Planes.

On Sunday, the festival is being headlined by 16 year old country music singer-songwriter Brennley Brown. She appeared on season 12 of the NBC series “The Voice”, and is also known to fans for being the voice of Lily the Good Witch on the Disney Channel series “Sofia the First”.

Other performers on Sunday are singer/songwriter Emma Bilyou, retro-pop duo Fly By Midnight, and alternative rock band Don’t Believe in Ghosts.

To see the full music schedule for In the MKNG, click here.

What else can I do at In the MKNG™️?

Puppies

In the MKNG™ is designed as an interactive, hands on experience for festival attendees from kids to adults. Crafters of all skill levels can try out new crafts, or enhance their skills at existing ones using products from companies like Bob Ross, Brother, Crayola, DecoArt, iLoveToCreate, Lion Brands and more.

The Creator Stage will be hosting live demonstrations, crafting competitions and more. Animal lovers will find pet crafting projects (and an adoption center if you’re looking for a new furry family member to love). Or try out local craft beer and wine in a special pavilion.

Save on your ticket!

Buy your tickets today and use the following promotional code to save $3 off In the MKNG™ tickets: PRMKNG13

2

2018 Halloween Scrapbook Collection Round-Up!

Halloween is on the minds of many crafters already! Whether their preference is spooky and scary or cute and fun, scrapbookers will find plenty to love in this year’s Halloween releases.

2018 Halloween Scrapbook Paper Collection Round-Up

[Disclosure: Some links below are links to our advertisers or affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to you when a purchase is made after a click.]

There’s been a lot of talk the past few years about the explosion of Halloween products in the scrapbooking industry. As holidays go, it’s probably the second most popular one to create scrapbooking products for. That said…for 2018 I’ve one been able to collect about half as many new Halloween paper releases as Christmas ones. This is a testament to both the runaway popularity of Christmas, and the fact that the Halloween “trend” may not be as ubiquitous as it seems. One factor limiting Halloween’s market, of course, is that it doesn’t have quite the international appeal of Christmas.

What are the trends for Halloween 2018?

The biggest trend visible this Halloween is the integration of purple and green as Halloween palette colors. The integration of these colors started with “alternative” Halloween collections entirely in purple and green, offered as alternatives to the traditional black and orange. This has now progressed to purple and green being mixed right in as part of the color palette of the black and orange.

American Crafts is betting that the “photo realistic” look is coming back. This look was popular in the early days of the scrapbook industry nearly two decades ago but hasn’t been widely seen in products in a long time. American Crafts’ new Halloween Photo Real paper pad is part of an 8 pad Photo Real collection. The company’s DCWV brand also appears to have included some “photo realistic” style paper designs in its Dark Fairytale paper pad. Is photo realistic back? It’s up to consumers to decide!

Vintage style is conspicuous in its almost complete absence from this years’ Halloween lines. Only three 2018 Halloween lines are arguably vintage in style. (Although we haven’t seen pictures yet, it’s a pretty safe bet that the new Tim Holtz idea-olgy release will qualify as vintage!) The presence of vintage style in the industry has been growing in the last year or so, but many of the brands traditionally associated with vintage in the industry (Prima, Graphic 45) don’t have Halloween releases so that influence looks less than it really is in the Halloween releases. Continue Reading →

11

2018 Christmas Scrapbook Collection Round-Up!

It’s July, and that means it’s Christmas time again in the scrapbook industry! Scrapbook manufacturers have been busy announcing their 2018 Christmas scrapbook collections. With the Scrapbook Update 2018 Christmas Scrapbook Collection Round-Up, you won’t miss a single one!

2018 Christmas Scrapbook Round-Up

[Disclosure: Some links contained in this article are links to our advertisers or are affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to you when a purchase is made after a click.]

Christmas continues to be probably the most popular single theme for which to produce scrapbooking products. Virtually every company that produces paper is producing at least one Christmas paper collection (and many are producing more than one). I located a total of 36 new Christmas themed collections that are new for 2018. And that doesn’t count more generic winter themed lines that also can be used for Christmas holiday projects. Continue Reading →

18