What's new in various product categories; monthly
An Interview with Julie Stephani
Meeting the needs of today's crafter.
by Mike Hartnett (January 19, 2009)
Julie has been involved in all aspects of the craft industry for
more than twenty-five years and is recognized as one of the leading
magazine and book editors. Julie is currently the editor of HomeArts
magazine, the official magazine of the Creative Home Arts Club and
the leading general craft magazine in the US with more than 300,000
members. She is also the executive director of the club and is a
guest host of Scrapbook Memories on PBS.
She was host of her own TV series, More Than Memories, and
has appeared as a regular guest on shows aired on Lifetime, PBS,
HGTV, DIY, and TNN. She has been an active member of the trade
associations including CHA and served two terms as President of the
Society of Creative Designers. She was selected as finalist for the
CNA 1994 Designer of the Year. Julie has served as a screener for
the American Society of Magazine Editors, presenters of the
prestigious National Magazine Awards. She is the author of more than
twenty arts & crafts books and has designed and written hundreds
of articles for national magazines.
Julie will be attending the CHA Winter Show, in and out of the
company's booth, #4824.
CLN: How exactly does Today's Creative Home Arts work?
Readers have to join a club? How large is the readership?
STEPHANI: Instead of subscribing to the magazine, members
join our club and receive the magazine as part of their membership.
We have more than 300,000 members in the Creative Home Arts Club,
which makes us the largest craft publication in the industry.
Members enjoy our very active website and weekly newsletter, the
Creative Buzz. They test products, enter exclusive contests, and win
free giveaways. We also offer them books, videos, and special
products. We are truly a multi-media crafting community.
CLN: Being club members, are your readers different than basic
STEPHANI: Our club members are looking for more than just a
magazine to satisfy their creative interests. Besides how-to
projects, they want a resource for all of their needs. They want to
learn techniques, keep up with the latest trends, see the newest
products, and hear about what's happening in the craft world. They
want a resource to answer all of their questions. They also want to
communicate with each other. We give them all of this and more.
CLN: Is there a typical – an "average" – reader?
STEPHANI: Overall, our member is female between the ages of
25 and 54. She is interested in a variety of crafts and has numerous
projects in the works at one time. She is open to trying new
techniques and makes projects for her home, herself, and for gifts.
Most of our members are homeowners with families. She considers her
creative activities an important part of her life.
CLN: Based on feedback from your readers, what category trends do
you see for 2009?
STEPHANI: One of their primary interests is in
"green" projects. They want to recycle, repurpose, and
renew to make a difference in protecting our environment. They are
turning toward safe products that have the same focus. This is
across all category trends. Our Make It Green column has received a
lot of positive feedback.
The popular trends from the past few years will continue in use
of yarns & fibers, beads, and paper. Sewing and quilting are
strong and showing growth.
Look for the strongest trend in the area of home décor.
They will be spending more time at home with the return of
"cocooning" and will want to create the most pleasant home
environment they can afford.
CLN: Is the economy affecting what your readers do and how much
STEPHANI: We do see them being economical about their choice
for where they spend their money. Surprisingly, we saw an increase
in the number of lifetime members at the end of 2008. We now have
over 77,000 lifetime members who have each paid $360 as an
investment in their commitment to creativity and the Creative Home
CLN: For the vendors and new product developers reading CLN, do
you see any product gaps in the market, products your readers would
probably buy but they aren't on store shelves?
STEPHANI: Our readers still have interest in crafting
techniques that are not as popular as they once were. They have
trouble finding supplies and patterns in needlework for cross
stitching, ribbon embroidery, and plastic canvas. They also like
projects that are more involved, but our industry provides mostly
quick & easy projects that require limited skills. We simplified
for the mass market, but we forgot that our best customer is still
the dedicated crafter. They often feel forgotten.
CLN: If a designer wants to submit a project to you, how should
she/he do it?
STEPHANI. Simply contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and request submission guidelines.
CLN: It seems many consumers made Christmas gifts this season,
rather than buying readymades. Do you see that frugal trend
continuing into '09?
STEPHANI: Crafters are a resourceful group. Their creative
minds can figure out how to make just about anything less
expensively and put their personal touch on it as a bonus. Yes, they
will be even more frugal going into 2009, and this is the time to
provide the materials and tools they will need to feed their
creative passion and interest in saving money by making it