Home
Business-Wise
Kate's Collage
"Vinny Da Vendor"
"Benny Da Buyer"
Kizer & Bender
Memory, Paper & Stamps
Category Reports
Designing Perspectives
Scene & Heard


Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


 


 

The industry as seen by top designers.

Printer Version

How and Why Craft Designs Are Changing

Because younger consumers want less structure (among other things).

by Michelle Temares, Ellie Joos, and Mike Hartnett (March 21, 2005)

(Note: The 3/21/05 issue of Creative Leisure News includes a report, "What Happened to the Smiling Bunny?" It highlights a changing trend in craft design away from what we call the cute, "Smiling Bunny Syndrome" to more free-form, less structured projects that enable crafters to follow their instincts rather than copying patterns and following rules and step-by-step instructions. We wrote the basic newsletter article, then sent it to designers to comment.)

More from Michelle Temares.

I think that a big part of this trend is an "anti-pattern" approach. The first sign I saw of this was about 10 years ago when the "paint your own pottery" stores starting opening. They seem to attract a younger demographic as well.

The young, hip crafting segment is all about individuality. It's very different approach than the industry has typically taken (e.g. here's the end product and here's the pattern and instructions to make an exact reproduction). Carbon copy make-it/take-its are the antithesis of how this group crafts.

Boomers and older grew up with strict fashion, style, and behavior rules (e.g., no white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, shoes and purse should match, furniture woods must all be the same in a given room, etc.). Gen Xers and Echo Boomers haven't just ignored the rules, they have developed their own new paradigm that focuses on, and values, creativity and individual expression.

If as an industry we want to reach these folks, we will have to have a paradigm shift as well in how we approach marketing, advertising, merchandising, packaging, etc. These folks don't represent the top of an inning, they are a whole new ball game and the rules of this game are dynamic and require new strategies in order to win.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The industry hasn't even recognized this group exists, never mind figured out how to market to them. We talk about getting younger customers in passing, but it's more of a wish statement than a well thought out goal and strategic plan.

In order to win this group, which is eager to be won, it will require everyone retailers, manufacturers, designers, etc. to work together in a cohesive manner developing and executing some significant changes in marketing and merchandising approaches. That's a tall order. Understanding the demographic and their needs, desires and values is the first and critical step.

From Ellie Joos.

Change or I'd rather call it an evolution is in the air. As you said, Mike, we can not forget those crafters just coming to the party, however we are definitely seeing a "thinking outside of the box" expansion in this industry. It's happening in the apparel industry and home decor with so many creative colors and products available, so it makes sense that it should filter into other industries.

Maybe it began with the younger generation's aversion to coloring books. I can remember my son's preschool doing away with coloring books in favor of blank paper to encourage expressive coloring and painting. It was not important to stay within the lines anymore.

We now have books called Stitch N Bitch and TV shows on Style Network called Craft Corner Deathmatch. The DIY network is recognizing this evolution with their newer, hipper shows such as Knitty Gritty. I just read that HGTV is looking to change their image, which has been described as stodgy, to appealing to a younger, savvy viewer, including the male viewer.

For a few years now, the quilts seen at Quilt Market are also getting quite expressive; you don't see as many traditional quilts, rather very creative examples with unusual fabrics, fibers, embellishments, and other techniques like those seen in Quilting Arts magazine. (The company's new magazine, Cloth, Paper, Scissors is stunning.)

So I guess what is needed is balance, which makes me think of the girl scout motto ( I think that's where it comes from): "Make new friends, but keep the old, some are silver and the others are gold."

I know companies cannot be expected to be all things to all people, however I do think it is possible to grow with your customer while keeping products fresh for those just discovering the craft and wanting their hand held until they feel secure enough to expand.

I remember from my days at Offray we had an 80/20 ratio; 80% of the sales came from your basic satins, and the other 20 came from the gorgeous fashion items. In order to remain a leader in the industry, the company placed great importance on always having new items to meet the needs of those looking for that 20%.

Random Thoughts from Mike Hartnett.

1. The evidence points to the younger generation preferring free-form, individualistic projects rather than those with patterns and step-by-step instructions. That's fine, except for the consumers with no artistic or creative sense. Or consumers who think they have no talent.

These people want the security of a pattern and specific instructions. They don't want to do their own thing because they assume the result would be terrible.

2. Look at the wealth of home decorating shows on television, particularly the HGTV network. You don't see "cute." (You don't hear the word, "craft" either.)

3. To see a more modern look in cross stitch, visit www.greatbearcanada.com. Not only are the designs not cute, the consumer is encouraged to choose her own colors, so the finished project is unique.

4. Scrapbooking remains the "cutest" category in the industry, which makes sense. Mothers are often creating pages of, for, and with kids.

5. In the heyday of the Int. Needlework Retailers Guild show in Charlotte, I would walk up and down two aisles, then start a third and stop, thinking I'd already walked down that aisle. I made that mistake because the projects in the third aisle looked just like the projects in the first and second aisles.

6. I've seen the latest show book for the Society of Decorative Painters convention in Tampa in May. It's filled with glossy photos of the projects that will be taught by at the convention. I'm sorry to report, but the book looks exactly like the show book from 10-15 years ago. If there's been any change in design, I can't see it.

7. A "hard-cover" book editor told CLN that majority of the best selling books are new, "cutting edge" designs, not the traditional stuff.

8. Years ago I wrote a column suggesting the industry was missing some potential sales by concentrating so much on cute designs. I was bombarded with responses from frustrated designers who wanted to do more, but were forced by manufacturers to keep things cute. I got the feeling there is a wealth of untapped talent out there.

It's unconfirmed, but it looks like there will be a place at the CHA summer show (Chicago, July) where the industry can see designers' work on display. Then you'll see what I mean about untapped talent.

(Note: To read previous Designing Perspectives columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column. To contribute your thoughts to the discussion, email Mike at mike@clnonline.com.)

xxx

 

horizontal rule

horizontal rule



   
   


Designing Perspectives Recent Columns...
DESIGNERS HELP GROW YOUR BUSINESS...in more ways than you can imagine.

FROM A BRAINSTORM TO A PRODUCT LINE; The journey from an idea to a hug line on store shelves.

HOW TO PROFIT FROM MIXED MEDIA; A sneak preview of a seminar on one of the industry's hottest trends.

MAKE IT UNIQUE OR COPY A MODEL? Sometimes a consumer wants it unique, but other times...

"CROWDSOURCING"; The Future of Design? Design by and for the masses.

THOUGHTS ON THE STATE OF DESIGN; Who decides what is a good design?

CHA EVENTS FOR DESIGNERS; Seminars and events to grow your business.

WHAT HAPPENED TO CREATIVITY? An experienced designer doesn't like what she sees in stores.

ADVICE FOR PUBLISHERS AND DEISIGNERS; What questions to ask each other.

HOUSE JUDICIARY CONTACT LIST; Contact them to delay the Orphan Works bill.

AN EDITOR VENTS...about unprofessional designs.

MORE DETAILS OF THE ORPHAN WORKS LEGISLATION; And the harm it could do to the industry.

THE ORPHAN WORKS BILL; A threat to designers everywhere.

MORE THOUGHTS ON PAY FOR DESIGNERS; Demanding more pay, the right brain / left brain conundrum, and a historical perspective.

LOW PAY FOR DESIGNERS...drives them out of the industry and is unfair.

DESIGNERS IN THE GHETTO; Fair pay for essential work.

HOW DOES A DESIGNER CONTINUE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Seven key but simple steps.

CHA TO LAUNCH DESIGNER EDUCATION DAY FOR 2007 SUMMER SHOW; And expands License and Design section for the Winter show.

HOW TO SELL YOUR GREETING CARD CREATIONS...without having to print them.

RULES FOR BUSINESS...rules for life.

THE FUTURE FOR DESIGNERS...and how manufacturers should use them.

THE NEXT BIG THING...Trends you'll see in 2007.

TOO MANY PATTERNS! Basic economics: a glut of anything lowers the price and the perceived value.

ADVICE FOR DESIGNERS; Take off the blinders and tell a real story.

CHA SHOW'S PROGRAMS FOR DESIGNERS, MANUFACTURERS; Licensing will be a major topic.

CHANGING CUSTOMERS, CHANGING CATEGORIES; Categories rise and fall, and today ...

FINDING THE BEST DESIGNER FOR YOUR BUSINESS; Some practical suggestions.

A CALL FOR CUTTING EDGE DESIGNS; TV producer needs designers.

A VENDOR'S VIEW OF WHAT DESIGNERS REALLY NEED; Savvy inventiveness, not just designs.

HOW DESIGNERS MUST COPE WITH A CHANGING INDUSTRY; Diversify, improve, and maintain standards.

HOW AND WHY CRAFT DESIGNS ARE CHANGING; Because younger consumers want less structure (among other things).

CHA's INSPIRATION AND DESIGN FAIRE; Designer-exhibitors faired well at CHA's newest show feature.

10 TIPS FOR SPOTTING A TREND; It's not tricky, but it requires work.

ARTISTS -- IN THEIR OWN WORDS; Why they make art.

MY LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH MICHAELS, PT. I; Why chains' education programs aren't what they could be.

CHA SUMMER SHOW TRENDS; "The simple, flat, non-dimensional page is a trend of the past.

MARKET RESEARCH ON DECORATING TRENDS; "Casual" decorating is our most popular style, but not by much.

HIA 2004: WOW!; A bonanza of color, themes, and products.

TRENDS AT THE ATLANTA, DALLAS GIFT SHOWS; Trends we'll probably see in our industry.

IT'S IN THE BAG; Why making purses is so hot.

TRENDS AND DESIGN; What's new and what's hot.

FINDING THE BEST DESIGNER FOR YOUR BUSINESS; Some practical suggestions.

ACCI TRENDS: PRODUCTS & DESIGNS; Scrapbooking, yes, but lots more, too.

DESIGNING THE LIFE OF A PRODUCTS; Without good design there are no sales.

WELCOME TO OUR WORLD; Two busy designers reporting on trends.