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Reports on shows, trends, and more

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Bigger Is Not Always Better

Smaller show, but a better mood than a year ago.

by Elle Joos (February 1, 2010)

The CHA 2010 winter show was smaller, with fewer and smaller booths with fewer staff members, but it had plenty of enthusiasm and optimism beginning with a very busy consumer show. The crowds in the aisles at the consumer show in spite of record-breaking rain were excited to see the newest craft products and ideas, including the innovative Cricut Cake Cutter demonstrations, complete with chef's hats and cupcakes for the attendees. Children delighted in making crafts in the booths as well as the dozen or so crafts in the Kids Zone, organized by Hands On Crafts for Kids, the PBS series produced by KS Inc. Productions, using projects and products from many of the industry's manufacturers.

Trade Show: What Caught My Eye

Dress it up! Mannequins and dress forms made for great display vehicles for products and ideas in several booths including Plaid, I Love to Create, and GCD.

Scrapbooking and beyond. With half of the show floor exhibiting scrapbook products , the expansion of the craft into mixed media now opens the door for other products to combine with paper to create fabulous pages, cards, and other paper crafts. Paints, embellishments, yarn, and fabric make for interesting and innovative design elements. Vintage and distressed, pretty and girly, retro and 50's, flora and fauna, butterflies and birds, and peace and love appear in themed collections.

Green scrapbooking and crafting is easy with Ecogreen Crafts, a new, first time company by Julia Andrus, cancer survivor and owner. www.ecogreencrafts.com

Looking good and scrapping too. Jewelry making and beading made a strong statement and jewelry components are now appearing in scrapbooking collections. Several companies were busy with make-it/take-its featuring their new jewelry assortments. Making Memories introduced a lovely jewelry line by artist Jill Schwartz, reminiscent of the young and hip design feeling seen in the popular store, Anthropology. www.elementsjillschwartz.com

June Tailor is using technology with its new site, www.purplechimp.com, for kids to create and share their own ideas and designs, which can then be printed on their ink jet transfer sheets, including sheets for light colors, dark colors, and especially fun glitter and sparkle transfer sheets.

Speaking of kids, two young sisters, ages 7 and 9, are the inventors behind Slapitz, a slap bracelet and stuffed animal display system they designed with their father to organize their stuffed animals in a fun way. The bracelet part can be decorated with markers and other embellishments for more creativity. www.slapitz.com

Wallies, one of the first (if not the first) company with decorative murals and appliqus for the home, is also thinking about kids with their new Peel & Stick Chalkboard panels, in colors, sizes and designs that are themed to add fun to kids' rooms while also creating a place for notes and reminders. www.wallies.com

Want to go to Paris but can't afford it this year? With the Green Screen Digital Photo Kit from PhotoBasics.net you can. This kit contains the green screen, software, and numerous backgrounds to amaze your family and friends. www.photobasics.net

New from Pentel Arts. Slicci Metallic Gel pens in eight shimmering colors make decorating cards, journaling, and designing effortless and especially fun on dark papers. www.pentelarts.com

Spinning a Yarn. Celebrity knitting and crocheting is not a make believe. Vanna White for Lion Brand is now joined by Deborah Norville for Premier and Debbie Stoller (of Stitch N Bitch fame) for Coats and Clark. Boye Needle, a division of Simplicity Creative Group, now has its own celebrity crocheter, Drew Emborsky (aka The Crochet Dude) with a new line of kits, hooks, and accessories. www.simplicity.com and www.thecrochetdude.com

Sock knitting has a huge following, even having its own well attended Sock Summit in Portland last year. If knitting with 3 or 4 "sticks" is scary, then the sock knitting board from Kb Authentic Knitting Board may be just the thing to make gorgeous socks, including achieving perfectly turned heels. www.knittingboard.com

Clover's pom-pom makers turn yarn into perfectly shaped hearts, available in two sizes, to further embellish scarves, hats, or whatever your heart desires. www.clover-usa.com

Trims, Notions, Tools and more. There were more celebrity sightings at Belagio with the new Kathy Ireland trimmings line. www.belagioenterprises.com

Buttons and Baubles. Blumenthal Lansing presented its new collections in an exciting new booth, giving this long-time manufacturer and distributor of buttons a fresh new presence at the show. Coordinates is a collection of stackable patterned button sets, Favorite Findings now come in felt motifs, new printed buttons now feature elegant damask patterns, and fun and hip graffiti-printed wood buttons including peace signs and other related motifs. www.blumenthallansing.com

JHB proudly presented collections from Nicky Epstein, well-known knitwear designer and author; Kristal Wick, jewelry designer whose collection of silk fabric beads were stunning; and Lisa Pavelka, polymer clay and mixed media artist taking buttons to another level of design applications. www.buttons.com

Prym Consumer always launches new and clever products and this show was no exception. Quick Cut electric scissors can be used for quilting, sewing, and crafting, comes with interchangeable blades, and are perfect for maturing and arthritic hands. The Petite Press is another ergonomically designed product that is functional and versatile. www.prymconsumerusa.com

Crafts and Social Media

"There's an App for that" who hasn't heard that phrase lately, and now with eScrap App from DCWV, it refers to their new phone app which allows consumers to make scrapbook layouts online. This, together with the new site, www.300dpi.com, gives creative scrappers the opportunity to share their photos in new ways on Facebook or other social networking sites.

Blogging, twittering, Facebook, and other social sites are all the buzz, and every company that follows trends knows that they need to stay on top of this new form of communication in this "information age." Does your company have a Facebook page with "friends" reading and responding to your messages? It's not enough to create a product and get it on the store shelves; knowing what your customer thinks of it, and most importantly, what they are telling their "friends," can make or break a product's success. Engaging with consumers, knowing where they are spending their time online, and using this "conversation" to improve and evolve products can offer many rewards and loyal consumers in this new age of technology and communication.

There are also other sides to this new space that has emerged and the changes it has on our lives. To learn more, be sure to watch Digital Nation, on PBS this Tuesday night. I know I'll be watching.

(Note: Ellie is president of Ellie Joos & Associates, a marketing, pr, and product development firm. To contact Ellie, call 908-459-9269 or email eleapple@hotmail.com.)



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