Creative Journey: LSS Manager

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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.

Stay tuned

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18 responses »

  1. wow! Thank you for sharing all of this May! I too have struggled creatively and thought that I wanted to be recognized for having outstanding fabulous layouts…but that was not to be the case…I too started a blog thinking that maybe there would be just 1 person that would find what I do inspirational….. that too is not necessarily the case…but what I have learned is that I love the whole scrapbook process and I love to put it out there on my blog for my family to see…..and all that matters is that I am capturing what is important to me….
    Thank you again for reminding me of why I began scrapping….(although, I still dream of being on a DT someday)…LOL

    • It IS time consuming, and it is NOT worth it on any level – doing what you love because you love it is so much better. 🙂

      May

  2. I really appreciate how honest you have been when telling your story. I know I have always wanted to be “noticed” but wouldn’t have admitted it if not for you! I love those pages with all the tearing and fibres and beading. Really fun stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Fascinating! And so well written! And thanks for sharing….I so DO NOT want comments on my work…which keeps me from sharing (probably not a good thing actually)…but I love hearing the “human” side of the equation. Thanks.

  4. Thanks for telling your story. It makes me feel better about where I am compared to where I want to be in my scrapbooking.

  5. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey May! I could so totally relate with SO MUCH of it…even the part about the hospitality degree (I got mine from Michigan State). Your sense of humor about it all is refreshing. Can’t wait to read more!! Hugs-

  6. Thanks so much for sharing more-I was hoping you would! Thanks for being honest too, I can relate to a lot of what you are saying-trying to make that “perfect” page to impress others. Can’t wait to read more!

  7. i love reading your thoughts on that time – i too worked in a scrapbook store in the same time frame (2002-2007). kinda the zenith of the crazy time for scrapbooking huh? all the craziness took away from the reason i think most of us started scrapbooking in the first place. fortunately things have evolved 🙂 things seem to have come full circle 🙂
    looking forward to your next installment!

  8. Great thoughts. It has been hitting me lately while flipping through blogs and magazine pages, that there are people who are scrapbooking to tell stories, and there are those who are scrapping for art. After the loss of my husband’s grandmother recently, I’ve been reminded of the importance of the story. And as a homeschooling mom of three, the rare moments I have to scrap need to be dedicated to telling the story so that when my time to “go” arrives, they will have the written stories and details.

  9. I’m not sure if you’ll get this since I’m committing late but your story sounded so familiar. I too worked at 2 scrapbook stores. The first one was just a job that I thought I would enjoy and be able to get discounts. I didn’t teach classes I just put away product and worked the register. But I noticed that a lot of customers were coming back and asking my advice on what to put on their pages which made me feel pretty good that my opinion seemed to be needed. I quit that job due to a difference in opinion with the new manager. During this time my scrapping was evolving from “Creative Memories” style to the “trendy” style. And the people at my church, close friends, and my husband were telling me that I needed to get some of my stuff published. So I sent some pages off to Making Memories. And they published one of my pages in their Idea Book for Toddlers. I was excited but I still wasn’t sure if this could go any further. Then a friend of mine saw an add in our newspaper for a Scrapbook Designer. He encouraged me to go and interview for the job. A new store, Scrapbook Fanatic, was opening up 30 minutes from my home and they needed someone to make pages to put up on the walls to show off the new products. After the interview I was hired for the Scrapbook Design Team and the teacher for all classes. (I had to come up with the class and teach it.) I soon began to have classes on all of the newest and greatest product out there and at that time boy was there a lot of new product. (same time frame as you). Then the owner of the store asked me to help do her children’s books. (She has 7 children, each one has their own books) From there I began to design books for other customers. I was on cloud nine in the scrapbooking world. My own pages suffered though because I was so busy doing books for everyone else. But I enjoyed it so much. Then my husband got a new ministry in Colorado. So I had to resign and off we moved from busy south Florida to rural Colorado (I am not in the mountains I am in the eastern plains – farm land) So I thought okay, I’m so good I’ll just start designing albums for other people on my own. My work is so good they will all want to have me design their albums. Plus a year after we moved my old boss called me and asked me to come back to design another album for her, all expenses paid. Little did I know this part of the country is behind in the scrapbooking world. Creative Memories is still alive and well here. I’m not knocking them I’m just saying that the big move to get all of the newest and best is not here. In the 5 years we have been here I have designed only one album. It has taken me a while to come down off of my high horse. I’m slowly getting back to doing my own pages, which is refreshing. My husband feels bad that my ‘career’ had to be sacrificed to come here and he is trying to encourage me and help me. I did get a job as a designer on a Design Team for a scrapbook store in Fort Collins, The Treasure Box. My husband doesn’t even mind the 3 hour drive once a month to go and get all of my supplies.
    I’m still keeping up with the scrapbooking world through blogs like yours and others. But now I’m trying hard to find ‘me’. Trying to find my own style again. I have to say Cathy’s book did help me. It felt good to have someone say that you didn’t have to put every picture you ever took on a scrapbook page. It is refreshing to hear that the people you look up to in this industry have troubles like this too.
    Thanks for your story and I hope I haven’t bored you with mine. And sorry so long.

  10. once again, i think we might be twins. that paragraph right above your grizzly river run page is something i could have written about myself when i was starting out with the hobby. i was nodding along with so much of what you wrote here. oh. and i need to see if i can find one of the first pages i made… also with photos from monterey. i swear it looks pretty similar to yours! haha.

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