The trends, the issues, and productive business
Interview with Sandra Joseph
Blunt talk about challenges, trends, and the
By Mike Hartnett (September, 2003)
(Note: Sandra is the former National Director of Memories
Community, a national scrapbook association founded from her
conception of Tri-State Scrapbooking Association. Memories Community
is affiliated with Memories Expo consumer/trade shows.
Sandra is now President of Reminders of Faith, a new
publishing and product development company that teaches others how
to document their spiritual journey. Reminders of Faith books and
products will be released at the HIA show in February. The website,
www.remindersoffaith.com, will be online next month. CLN will
inform you when it's "live.")
CLN: What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the
scrapbook industry today?
JOSEPH: As the scrapbooking industry continues to grow and
mature, the challenges will be to continue keeping up with the pace
and demand of the consumer's wants. There are so many creative and
innovative scrapbookers who design page layouts and new techniques.
They then communicate these new ideas and concepts quickly with each
other via the Internet.
Suddenly companies are scrambling to fulfill the demand created. It
is a classic example of "putting out fires" instead of
fire prevention. Companies must learn how to use the Internet
scrapbook communities that really fuel our industry.
CLN: With the increase in the number of scrapbook retailers and
manufacturers, are we reaching a point of over-saturation? Is the
pie is being divided into too many pieces for everyone to make a
JOSEPH: I always enjoy answering this question. As a scrapbooker, I
absolutely love all of the new products and opportunities to shop,
and I know this echoes what other scrapbookers feel. I strongly feel
that competition will continue to drive our market to make it
stronger and even more creative
. Several years ago, I visited the Kellogg's Center in Battle Creek
Michigan. When the process of turning grain into flakes was first
developed, over 300 new cereal companies were opened within 3-5
years of each other. Of course, we all know now that only a few
remain, even though cereal remains a vital, stable part of our
The same thing will happen throughout the scrapbooking industry as
we mature, but we are still growing (out of our infancy, but
definitely in our toddler stage). We are already seeing this happen,
as many of the larger companies are buying up the smaller
I also love to answer this question this way: over 90% of all
Americans take photos and intend to do something with these photos
during their lives. (No one takes photos intending to store them in
boxes.) I have seen different statistics, but among the highest
number I've seen, of Americans that scrapbook, is 21%. That means
that there is still a great number of consumers to learn
scrapbooking and to bring more and larger profits to our industry.
We have to continue to reach the non-scrapbooker with our message.
That means reaching beyond the existing scrapbook audience through
women's publications, events, workplaces, etc. CLN: Should
scrapbook retailers expand more into rubber stamps, cardmaking,
altered books, etc., or concentrate on scrapbooking?
JOSEPH: Any scrapbook store that limits itself to only
scrapbooking supplies without embracing the cross-over market will
severely limit its profit.
The entire paper crafting field must be embraced by the entire
scrapbook industry. Scrapbookers are making more cards than ever
before, and altered books are in their infancy, along with other
paper crafts. It is exciting to see how the other markets add to the
scrapbooking market and vice-versa.
CLN: Do you think Michaels' ReCollections concept will be
a success, expand, and therefore be a threat to independents around
JOSEPH: I have no doubt that ReCollections, along with Archivers
and Memories stores, will be a success. And yes, they will be
a threat because they have the financial backing to support them
even when they make mistakes -- which they will, like all
Does this mean that I think the independent retailers will go out of
businesses? Some will, but they do not have to if they have a good
business plan, enough capital backing (this is essential), and the
marketing ability to turn inventory and bring in new customers.
I have met hundreds of store owners across the United States, and
there are plenty of great business-savvy store owners out there.
CLN: From your time as National Director of Memories Community
and the Expo shows, what's the most common complaint about retailers
you heard from scrapbookers?
JOSEPH: Store employees not being friendly. Women are most of
our consumers, and how they are treated is the number one thing that
concerns them. From teaching a "Marketing to Women"
seminar, I always tell and hear stories about how scrapbookers will
not return to a place because of the way they are treated. If a
scrapbooker is treated with concern and personal interest, she will
forgive most other complaints.
Never, never underestimate the importance of being friendly to
CLN: Does digital photography pose a danger, that consumers will
keep their photos in computers rather than in scrapbooks?
JOSEPH: Digital photography is only going to make scrapbooking
more fun and creative. As scrapbookers learn to manipulate their
photos for their scrapbook pages, it will only make scrapbooking
Just recently I have been called by several major computer companies
wanting to learn more about the scrapbooking industry and how they
can be a part of it. I believe those on the cutting edge of the
scrapbooking industry will be teaching classes on digital
photography, and teaching how to use printers and scanners for
optimum use -- as well as incorporating computers in crops, classes,
CLN: The hot trend in scrapbooking seems to be embellishing.
True? Do you see any new trends on the horizon?
JOSEPH: The next trend will be focusing on different demographic
markets that are also scrapbooking. For the past 7 years, almost all
scrapbook products have been produced for the white, Angelo Saxon
scrapbooker. But the scrapbook market is now comprised of
scrapbookers in all colors, shapes, faiths, interests, and both
I always watch Creative Memories' lines, and they have
recently come out with different international lines, which
indicates to me this will be one of the next trends.
Sue DiFranco of Fun Fact Publishing and I have been teaching
marketing to target groups the past year, and we have learned so
much about how scrapbooking appeals to many different markets. Sue
is just finishing writing a book called Scrapbook U-Diversity:
Redefining The Scrapbooking Industry, and I of course see great
potential for the cross over into the Christian Market through
Reminders of Faith.
Note: Previous articles in CLN's Memory, Paper &
Stamp section are available by clicking on the titles at the top of
the right-hand column.