Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CHA 2014 Recap -- New Mod Podge Products!

One of my favorite booths as CHA every year is the Plaid booth. They always have such fun products, especially in their Mod Podge line. Last year, they debuted their Mod Melts (which are AWESOME!), but this year, they really outdid themselves. 

The new milk glass Mod Melts

 This year, they introduced Mod Melts in a harder material with a milk glass finish (see photo above) and a Mod Melts melter (made especially for your Mod Melts -- no more using a glue gun). But by far, their hottest product was the new Collage Clay! This stuff is A-MAY-ZING! It comes in what looks like a cake decorating bag complete with a rosette-type tip. Just squeeze the bag and out comes this fun, puffy material that even looks like cake icing but it's a clay!

I covered the top of this little acrylic heart box with the Collage Clay in the pink color called "Strawberry".  I then added some bling and a cupcake Mod Melt that I painted with acrylic paint. It's so easy -- just lightly press your embellishments into the Collage Clay. 

Can you imagine the fun projects you can make with this? I would love to do a cell phone cover (which only takes about one-third of a bag of Collage Clay)!

The clay does take quite a while to cure so this is not a product that you can use when you need something finished right away. When it dries, it's not a completely hard; it still retains a slightly "squishy" feel to it, but it still holds tight to any embellishment you may have added to it.

I am fired up to see this product in stores! It will be a fun new item in my crafting arsenal!

Side Note: Thanks to watching my mom decorate cakes for 20 years, I actually did a really good job on the piping, but if you are new to using a piping bag and tip, you may have to practice the "kiss and release" method a few times to get rosettes like these.

Me with the super-talented DIY gurus Steve Piacenza and Cathie Filian!

And me with Glossy!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

CHA Round-Up: We R Memory Keepers

One of my favorite companies is We R Memory Keepers. I love their paper products and their tools are phenomenal. They have come up with some of the best tools on the market, including the Crop-a-Dile, the Envelope Punch Board, the Lucky 8 punches, and more. With all that in mind, I had to go to their booth at CHA2014 to see what sort of new fun things they have this year!

New wood die cuts -- the pictures don't do these justice. They are beautiful and you have to feel them to really know they are wood!

New "Jet Set" collection - we travel a lot so I really like this one!

New "Game Day" collection

Love the beautiful colors in the "Indian Summer" collection!

This year, We R Memory Keepers is also introducing new album and page kits. I love album kits, especially for gifts, so these made me happy.

Another new papercrafting item this year are the perpetual calendar kits (made to use with the Cinch binding machine).

Do you love your washi tape? We R has a new storage solution. They debuted the washi tape carousel last year, but this year they debuted the spindle so that you can connect two carousels!

New Sew Easy templates

LOVE the new bags!

With the success of the Envelope Punch Board, We R is now coming out with the Flower Board, the Gift Bag and Gift Box Boards, the Candy Box Board, and the Pillow Box Board.

And for you "pocket scrapbookers" out there, the coolest thing was the new storage system for journaling cards and sheet protectors.

It was great to see so many new products -- there were many more items that I didn't get pictures of! I can't wait to get my hands on some of these goodies!

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Favorite New Paper Collection at CHA and a Giveaway

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I just returned from the Craft and Hobby Association's Mega Show in Anaheim, CA and it was phenomenal! I spent 4 whole days learning new crafting techniques and taking in all of the new products. And it was my last day of the show brought the paper collection that absolutely I fell in love with.

It's called "The Sweet Life" and it's available from Melissa Frances. The designers of this collection are Jenny Heid & Aaron Nieradka and they are the people behind the blog Everyday is a Holiday.

The collection is full of cakes, vintage signage, bunny rabbits, cupcakes, and polka dots, all in beautiful pastels. But the most amazing part of this collection is that everything was drawn and painted by hand (while most papers and embellishments are designed by computer) so that it all has a hand-made feel to it.

What's even more awesome is how cool and humble Jenny and Aaron were. You could tell that they were genuinely excited about their new products and their book, Mixed Media Masterpieces with Jenny and Aaron. Another cool thing? Jenny's adorably pink hair that matched their products perfectly. ;)
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I have been poring over their book for days, just loving the projects and getting inspired. It's chock-full of art journaling ideas and great projects; I especially love the mini donuts made out of air-dry clay -- they look so real! All of the projects in the book have detailed step-by-step instructions that are really easy to understand and follow.

The book is available at most book retailers (including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.) and their paper crafting collection will be available soon.

But I love this book so much that I want to share it with y'all -- so I am giving away a copy!

Just enter here through Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Archiver's Closure - A Symptom of a Dying Industry?

This past week, Archiver's made the announcement that they were closing all of their remaining stores. For many in the industry, this came as no real surprise after Archiver's declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed 11 of their 44 stores. Of course, in their announcement, Archiver's blamed their demise on the changing industry. This, in turn, has made many scrapbookers question the hobby. I have heard tons of people ask over these last few days, "Will scrapbooking survive?"

In my opinion, it is less a changing industry and more on bad business practices that put Archiver's in this position.

I met the CEO of the company at ScrapFest in 2009 and he said that he had headed other companies before, but not a craft company.

This worried me, even all those years ago. In my book, you have to know your business to grow your business. If you don't know your industry, you had better do one of two things: learn it quickly or surround yourself with people who do know it. I was hoping that he would do one of these, or even better, do both of them.

However, as the years progressed. I saw that that was not happening. I saw Archiver's jumping onto what they saw were "hot trends", devoting lots of advertising money and shelf space to what their buyers had thought would be the "next big thing". Unfortunately, the buyers often missed the mark and many of those trends never caught on with consumers, leaving Archiver's with lots of products on their shelves that weren't being sold.

When products sit on store shelves, it takes up room for new merchandise. If you don't get in new merchandise, consumers will go elsewhere to find it. Therefore, you need to clear that space wasted on slow-moving items. The most common way to do this is to put it on sale. However, for some reason, Archiver's rarely put these items on sale, or if they did, the discount was minimal and never increased. Common sense tells you that if something isn't selling at full price, mark it down. If it still isn't selling, mark it down further until it does. But so many times, I went to Archiver's and saw the exact same things sitting there on the shelves that were there last month or even last year at the same price. I often thought that this was just me, but it was confirmed this weekend when I shopped at an Archiver's store near me. As I shopped, I made note of the older products I saw. Basic Grey collections from 2009, tools long since put on clearance at other stores, Crop In Style rolling totes that had been sitting there so long that the fabric was actually discolored -- all of these items still at full price. It was further confirmed by an employee who had worked there since since the store opened; she said that there was product in the store that had been there since opening day in 2007.

When you aren't selling product, you aren't making money. When you aren't making money, you can't pay your suppliers. When you can't pay your suppliers, they stop selling to you. This happened on a large scale with Archiver's. In their bankruptcy filings, you can see that Archiver's owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to their vendors. This kind of debt caused many vendors to scale back or stop selling to them altogether, further lessening the amount of new product coming into the stores.

Finally, the last hurdle that Archiver's never cleared was their lack of advertising. If you want people to shop at your store, they have to know about you. But unless you were a fairly seasoned scrapbooker (or a newbie who knew a seasoned scrapbooker), you probably didn't know about Archiver's. They only sent out coupons to established customers and only advertised in industry magazines. Existing customers can only sustain a business for so long, especially with an ever-changing trend like scrapbooking. To grow, you have to attract new customers, and Archiver's didn't do this on the scale that they could or should have.

With all that said, I love Archiver's. I was lucky enough to have two stores within 45 minutes of my house and I have shopped regularly at both of them. I am truly going to miss them at what they brought to the industry. However, this situation should serve as a lesson to other retailers in the craft industry. Maybe this closure will make other stores better.

Is the scrapbooking industry changing? Of course. It always has and always will. But is it dying? No. Only when it ceases to grow and change will it die. There are too many of us memory keepers out there to let that happen.

 JANUARY 6 UPDATE: Many people have disagreed with this article. I admit that this article is my opinion. I am not trying to act like I know things that I don't. I am just stating my views.This was strictly a blog post about what I saw were the problems with Archiver's. Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting and correcting me when it was needed. 

Images by Freepik