It’s time to talk about the years I spent as a Scrapbook store manager and my creative (scrapbook) journey. This was Summer 2003 – Spring 2005, nearly two years. I walked in thinking I knew my stuff and applied for a teaching position even though I’d never even taken a class. I walked out with an offer to manage the store. At the time I was working at a posh Napa resort that caters to the rich & famous (rooms from $600-2500+ a nite!), and while I loved working there the drive to/from work was killing me and I wasn’t so sure it was worth the pain. I had a shiny travel & hospitality degree I was happy to be using, but the offer of more money and working 10min from home was too great a temptation. I said yes.
I learned so much about classes, techniques, scrapbook companies, and what was trendy at any given moment. I learned about making class and sample pages (no photos used), making the most of product that wouldn’t sell, and of course managing a staff of crafters. I attended trade shows, taught classes, and generally had a great time. During this period I had three dogs at home, and a husband who went to work 24-72 hours at a time so I did most all of my scrapbooking there at the store. I was almost exclusively a “crop” girl – official or just random daytime use during store hours.
Having a very generous discount and access to most any product gave me a lot of choices. Keep in mind this was a time when Ali Edwards had just won Hall of Fame, Cathy Zielske’s first book was about to hit shelves, and companies were popping up every month. This is when Basic Grey first introduced their debut collections, when new product types were coming up all the time, when rub-ons for scrapbooking were a novel idea, and before Tim Holtz released his distress inks. I was there at the EK Elite event for retailers when they announced that they were going to make Disney Jolee’s – yep, I got to have a front row seat for much of the industry hey-day. It was a real good time to be in my position.
Here are some samples of my work from 03/04…
I did a lot of computer journaling (due to ugly handwriting), I was very concerned with the latest/greatest and being in style, and I often did not do journaling because I would finish “later”. (note I never did – see the New York page above). Above all though, I made pages I thought would get me praise from other crafters. Yeah, I shake my head thinking about it now but I wanted to be praised. I did what I thought would be cool. I used products I didn’t even like (but were trendy), and I agonized for HOURS over my creations. I would destroy pages that I felt didn’t meet my expectations, and I spent a lot of time being disappointed in myself.
I only crafted photos that I thought would make pretty pages (story/memory or not). Looking back I did some pretty wicked cool stuff – in fact I see some details I’d like to revisit. The key problem I had in making my pages “better” was simple: I didn’t have enough experience in layout design or knowledge to draw on in taking stuff and making it more finished, polished, and bringing it all together. I’d describe my pages during this time as full of interesting ideas but lacking forethought and follow through to completion.
But I was worse than a teenager with peer pressure. I was so totally hung up on people thinking I was all that, so caught up in wanting to get noticed, that I forgot what I was supposed to be doing.
Telling a story. preserving memories. having fun.
This Savanna page remains one of my favorites from his time period. I told my story, I got creative, I had fun. It didn’t work out for me this well very often, but happy creative “aha” pages like this one kept me going strong and trying, trying, trying. Each of those letters is a hand twisted wire with beads placed on it, then adhered to the twine. I already told you – this was a time when I was still going wild with the making things, and I was obsessed with beads on my pages.
It was during this time that I discovered www.twopeasinabucket.com and started posting there. I will confess that I posted in the gallery with the sole objective of getting people to say nice things about my stuff.
It really didn’t work.
I know I’m sharing with you the ugly side that can consume some scrapbookers but I do so because I feel like it’s important. I want you to know I’ve been there. That I fell victim to the self-inflicted pressure while still loving and enjoying the hobby and all the amazing goodies available to me.
In the end I left the store because I didn’t think I could do it to my high standards and still give my new family (Elizabeth had just been born) the attention and love they deserved. I wanted to stay on as a creative team member but the owner didn’t have paying work to give me, so I had to leave all together. Things would get worse before they get better – but I was too stubborn, and too in love with my hobby to quit. I had ideas in my head that weren’t translating right. Pages that had good ideas but didn’t quite come together. I was very frustrated, and looking back I know it was because I was so very close to a personal breakthrough but couldn’t see how to get there or what to do.
My years of living here with three dogs and scrapbooking socially whenever I wanted, drinking too much Starbucks and eating out way too often were overall happy ones. I did capture memories like my dog’s anal gland surgery (complete with “stitches” on the pages) and I learned so much from embossing powders to stamping to engraving to – well let’s just say I tried darn near every product released for scrapbooking.
Professionally all of the information I gained has served me well, though personally when I moved on from the store I had no clue who I was, or what I liked in scrapbooking. In the first year of Elizabeth’s life I was going to have to figure out – what does MAY really like? Who is she as a scrapbooker, and what’s her style?
The downside of all the sample pages, class samples, and scrapping to impress others was that I didn’t know what I actually liked anymore. I would have to figure it all out, and decide what my goals were professionally – not to mention how to achieve them. I knew one thing though: I was NOT a fan of that darn Cathy Zielske, no matter how nice she was in person at the trade show. She was doing these insanely minimalist pages that customers were wanting to see more of and I SUCKED at minimalist graphic looking pages. I spent many a day trying to recreate her looks and got ugly pages and eye twitches.
The minimalist trend was killing me… and yet… it would be what freed me.