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Unappreciated Loyalty

Why many devoted scrapbookers are angry.

by An Angry Scrapbooker (December 3, 2007)

Do I think that scrapbooking is full of crazies? Yes and no. What you are seeing in scrapbooking is the culmination of years of private knowledge (on the part of the scrapbooker) of the seedy dark side of this craft, and an industry that has been reluctant to care about the toll that dark energy is taking on this hobby – even when it becomes a very public affair.

So much has happened to this hobby since I started three years ago, it makes my head spin just to think of the rollercoaster ride it's been. I started off with a simple interest in scrapbooking my family’s memories and I used the online the community to connect with others who shared my passion. It wasn’t long before I discovered the world of validation through publication and design teams – and sad to say, I was enticed by it.

I tried to get published but I wasn’t willing to turn my pages into product endorsements just to do so. I don’t know if you know how it feels to be told that your style of scrapping is exactly what a magazine is looking for, but that you need to put more focus on products and less on pictures and "the story." For me, that was a slap in the face.

So I walked away from publishing and pursued the Design Team arena. My pursuits weren’t based on a desire for recognition; rather, they were founded on the idea that if I could get on a DT, I could offset the cost of my hobby and find a scrapbooking home where I could contribute something (other than a high post count).

That pursuit was what literally broke my spirit. I’ve had a store owner tell me (after I inquired about whether or not a DT call was still running) to go ahead and submit my work because she still hadn’t made up her mind, only to have that same person give verbal "winks" to the "chatty" gals on the board who made a major production of kissing up to her. This same store owner announced that she’d picked her DT a few days earlier about 15 minutes after telling me to go ahead and submit my work. Then she had the audacity to ask me if I wanted to be a guest designer.

Did I feel that I should have been picked? No. Did I feel that I should have at least been considered? Heck yeah! I put a "read receipt" on the submission I sent so I know that she didn’t even view my entry layouts, but she’d already hinted to the gals on the board that they were shoe-ins. Her mind was made up when she told me to submit.

My last straw with the DT thing came when a store owner for a site that I’d been a longstanding member of had a DT call and the owner loaded her team with a bunch of "known" scrapbookers who, aside from posting their required daily minimum and layout requirements, had no time to cozy up to the other members of the site. The site was pretty much the same as it was before the DT call (member volume wise); the only difference was that there were about 60-80 additional names added to the members list that disappeared after the call.

Too much competition, unappreciated loyalty.

I strongly feel that the reason that the industry is the way it is today is two-fold. On one hand you have the spirit of competition that, quite frankly, should never have been introduced into this hobby. On the other hand, you have the unappreciated loyalty of hundreds of scrapbookers and the undeserved worship of those who have no desire to show loyalty (unless they are paid handsomely for it).

One of the big manufacturers held a DT call this year and it turned out to be a fiasco and a slap in the face for all of the women who sought to try out for it. Why? Because while the advertisement for the contest called specifically for those who have never been published before, as well as those who have experience; the gals who were chosen for the team were published and known scrappers.

The slap came when one of the judges admitted that her first consideration for the team was experience in the publishing arena. So why entice all of those who’d either never been published or never aspired to be published to purchase their product for their layout submissions? To make money, that’s why. Those women flocked to that call because they had a chance, but actually the only chance they really had was the chance to buy some of that company’s product because they were out of the running from the starting block.

More impropriety? What about a company's decision to award a contest win to a contestant whose store was listed as the distributor of necessary contest materials? The store owner should’ve never been able to enter, but her desire for fame and spotlight warped her moral compass, and she won with a very elaborate design that most of the entrants (who couldn’t get the company's product at wholesale prices) couldn’t manage to pull off. There was even talk from a few women who didn’t get their materials (from her shop) in time to complete their entries. What did the scrapbooking community do to deserve that kind of treatment?

What you are looking at is a bunch of fed up scrapbookers who are tired of being told that their hobby is not for them, that it has evolved into something that’s more sophisticated than they are. Life coaches in scrapbooking? Please.

CK has been notorious for handpicking some of the HoF winners ahead of time, but nobody ever believed the anon testimonies. Now the proof is put out there and the scrapbooking public is called rabid for bringing it to light and holding CK over the flame for it. Bernadette and her rafting photo? That woman blatantly lied about how SHE took the picture and had no choice but to step down once her lie was brought to the public.

(Editor's Comment: I don't believe for a minute that CK in any way deliberately cheated while picking the HoF winners, but when honest mistakes are made while enforcing the rules, charges of "cheating" are inevitable.)

Some would rather that we take statements such as hers as gospel, but honestly, we’ve been lied to so much that it’s just not gonna happen anymore. So are we wrong for finding out that she was lying? Are they wrong for holding her to a standard of honesty and dignity? What is wrong with saying that we don’t want these people representing us?

CK and the other big guys made their biggest mistake when they sought to pursue a much more lucrative demographic while abandoning the tried and true loyalists. We were told that we aren’t good enough, hip enough, sophisticated enough, savvy enough. So we stopped drinking their poison and started scrapping how we want to. We found our collective voice by ceasing the competition with each other and listening to the stories of our members. Please don’t call us rabid or crazy because we found ourselves in the midst of the industry’s abandonment of our demographic.

If you really want to do a story about scrapbooking, do one from the angle of the industry. Why not delve into why the industry is taking steps to abandon the scrapbookers who, despite having the disposable income and know how, lack the personal image and "hipness" to make them worth the while of the big guys?

Delve into the image that the industry is sending to the readers of magazines. By image I mean that of the perfectly sized scrapper with the perfectly coifed hair and décor. If you really want to get to the root of the "craziness," perhaps you should start by comparing what scrapbooking USED to be and what it is now. I think you’ll be very surprised to find that while the industry has changed with a rapid pace, the majority of scrapbookers haven’t – and we are the ones being left behind.

P.S. I’d appreciate it if you would keep my personal information personal as I don’t need to be bombarded with nasty emails for daring to have an opinion.

(Note: To read additional comments by consumers, published previously in CLN, click on "Consumers Respond" in the right-hand column. To read comments from the industry, click on Business-Wise. To add your comments to the conversation, email your thoughts – on or off the record – to CLN at mike@clnonline.com.)



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