Darice: Sixty Years of Crafting History and Still Going Strong!

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By Paula Jones

darice 1This summer I received an invitation to visit the Darice facilities in Strongsville, Ohio. I knew that Darice was a large craft company with gazillions of craft products, but I had no idea of what to expect. Darice is a privately held, family run business and the family feel is immediately evident when you enter the facility. I visited the day after the company celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. There was a huge outdoor tent where they hosted a company wide picnic still on the lawn when I arrived. From the moment you stepped into the facility, whether it was being greeted by the friendly receptionist to the genuinely enthusiastic staff, the atmosphere was welcoming and a hive buzzing of creativity.
darice 2The fourteen thousand square foot show room was amazing! It is larger than most craft stores, complete with sample project ideas and “Trend Caps” so that visitors and retail buyers can be inspired and informed of their latest products and ideas. Local stores who purchase from the show room are given a scanner to scan the items they want and the information is sent directly to the warehouse for pick up or shipping to their store.

darice 3I was particularly impressed with the new “LockerLooks” product display which Darice predicts will be a big hit for the back to school season. It included glitter paper wall liners, fuzzy soft mini mats, a battery operated chandelier to hang at the top of the locker, and magnetic containers that held all of the accessories you could possibly imagine.

darice 5From the show room I was escorted through a maze of office suites and introduced to various departments.  Along all of the walls were motivational and inspirational posters. It was clear from speaking with the employees, many of whom had been with the company for decades, that the company practices what they preach.

darice 6The 500,000 square foot warehouse was overwhelming! The pick, pack and ship process was explained to me, and I was shown three levels of conveyor belts that feed various packing stations which are fully automated and help achieve over a 98% fill rate on each order.  There is a constant loading of huge transport trucks at docking stations and delivery of shipping containers from overseas sourcing. The automated system can track contents of shipping boxes, refill packing stations, identify customers preferred shipping methods and get it out of the building for the most part within less than 24 hours. Overseas shipments have special attention to detail to ensure everything is as perfect as possible and minimize the hassles of errors with tariff codes and import duties.

darice 8Darice also distributes for many companies, owns several previously independent companies and also has its own brand of products. The company ships to retail customers all over the world and gives back to their local community, which was evident from the various philanthropic endeavors in the town, including the local community complex.

darice 9After the warehouse I was given a tour through the rest of the office.  They have an entire department dedicated to marketing and social media, a “Darice University”, to upgrade employee training. Then it was on to my favorite area, research and development. The R&D department was like going to craft heaven. 3D printers, huge laser cutting machines, piles and piles of supplies to play with and ideas hanging from ceilings and walls.

darice 10I particularly loved the plastic tie and the necklace display chandeliers. The design staff could not wait to show me what they were working on and demonstrated how their tools worked and even cut out some samples for me. I was in designer heaven!  I also met the trade show booth designer who creates all of the cool ideas that they show in their CHA booths.

darice 11Next up was the play room where I met a gentleman whose job is to play with the products and come up with sample ideas to help promote them.  He was playing with a plastic fork, paint and a paper plate and created the picture to the left. The walls were floor to ceiling full of every imaginable craft product, I wanted to stay and play, fancy being paid to do that work, sign me up!

darice 12Next to R&D was the photo studio where the projects and products are photographed. Darice designs their own packaging and creates its own images. On the way back to the show room we passed by the wellness wall, which contains literature and information on employee health and benefits. Darice takes care of and values their employees.

The next day I was introduced to buyers from various craft segments that walked me through the show room again to show me the latest trends and hot products as well as upcoming projects. The bead and jewelry buyers explained the close links to fashion and how they spend significant time and energy following trends and pantone colors to predict and produce products ready for the next season release. The children’s craft buyer showed me how their own branded products integrate with other craft lines and how products are developed at different price points for various markets.

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The Director of Programing Planning and Sourcing showed me some of the products Darice had developed, how they contine to evolve and the process that Darice goes through to get products to market. For example, a children’s hand puppet program was developed at a low cost price point and included a door frame puppet stage. This program is now being upgraded with better packaging, QR Codes for more ideas to use in the open stock kits and even its own app, where kids can pick a puppet they have made and make a video on an iPhone about the character. The Director also shared a new secret project she is working on, and allowed me to share my ideas on how this product, currently thought of as a “grandma” craft, could be updated for children of the twenty first century.  I came away inspired and anxious to see how this project will develop.

Darice is an exceptional company. They imagine, innovate, source, create, test, safety approve, package, publish, market, educate through social media, display, sell through retailers, pick, pack, ship and provide support both to their retail and end user customers. After 60 years they are constantly evolving with the market, giving back to their community and caring for their employees, truly impressive. To learn more about Darice and their products go to www.darice.com.

Hire CHA Designers for New Product Development and More!

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The Craft & Hobby Association’s (CHA) Designer Section is a particularly busy group. Their tag line is “creativity is our business™” and it shows. CHA Designer Members are experts in their own craft mediums and experienced professionals in all aspects of marketing. The CHA Designer Section has created a directory that provides information about the Designer Section to help the industry search for professional creative services offered by our Designer Section Members. The directory includes graphic listings from over 70 current CHA designers that profile their work, and index of over 250 designers listed by company and geographical location which will assist manufacturers, suppliers and industry professionals seeking qualified designers to create, educate and promote their products.

Among other things, CHA Designers help promote new products, design or create new products and bring new products to market. The following Designers have found recent success developing products for industry manufactures.

Eileen Hull

01 ColorBlends Collection of colors

Last January at the CHA MEGA Show in Anaheim, a new product called ColorBox Blends™ was released which CHA Designer, Eileen Hull launched with Clearsnap. Prior to Christmas, Eileen was purchasing stocking stuffers for her kids when she noticed shoe polishers 3/$1. She purchased the shoe polishers for her kids in the military and couldn’t help but notice their unique design – they had a barrel and sponge attached at the other end to apply the polish with. She instantly knew it would make a great ink applicator!

She wrote a proposal and presented it to Clearsnap at the CHA 2013 MEGA Show. After some research and discussion, a contract was signed and at CHA in January, 2014, ColorBox Blends™ were launched!

ColorBox Blends are the ink pad, applicator and reinker all in one! The easy to use ColorBox Blends™ are available in ten unique colors of Crafter’s Ink and can be used on multiple surfaces including fabric, wood, paper, and matboard. They are permanent when heatset and are great for distressing edges, inking stencils, building backgrounds, using with embossing folders for a letterpress effect and using with stamps. Best of all there is no messing with an applicator or ink pad lid, the applicator is all you need keeping your hands clean!

Check out a sample project here and visit Eileen’s blog for more ideas on how to use this versatile new product.

Nathalie Kalbach

Recently, CHA Designer Member, Nathalie Kalbach launced a new line of stamps for Stampendous!® designed to create the look of textural backgrounds on a flat surface. Nathalie has always loved to use stamps in her Mixed Media and Scrapbooking projects in untraditional ways to create texture and layers.  Early on she dreamed of a line of stamps that could do exactly that but not take away from the focal point of her projects.

004 Wired Stamp Set Nat K

003 Grunge Stamp Set Nat K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the first company that Nathalie worked with went out of business and her designs never made it to market. Lucky enough, she discovered Stampendous!® and developed a good business relationship with them.  After some discussions about stamp designs and a number of business meetings, a contract was signed. Nathalie’s first three n*Studio Stamps for Stampendous!® were launched during the CHA 2014 MEGA Show.

The Cling Rubber Stamp sets include three stamps and a reusable stencil template. You can use them with ink and acrylic paint, they are very durable and perfect to use in art journals, cards, on scrapbooking layouts, for print making, on canvases or with any Mixed Media project. You can find some samples linked here or visit Nathalie’s blog for more inspiration.

Download the CHA Designer Section Directory today and use it as a resource all year long.

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Gift Suite Success at the 66th Emmy Awards

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Estelle Harris, “Seinfeld”

CHA members Spinrite, Clover Needlecraft, Sizzix and Plaid, participated in an off-site gifting suite hosted by the Borgine Group at the 66th Emmy Awards held in Los Angeles, California on August 23, 2014.

Stars from hit shows like Breaking Bad, Seinfield, True Blood, Glee and Happy Days took the time to create make-n-takes using the amazing products from the participating companies.

Gregg Daniel

Gregg Daniel, “True Blood”

I was so happy to have the celebrities take the time to sit and craft with us!” said Laura Hollar, Sizzix Community Manager. “They were all very kind and gracious with us and seemed to be really excited about Sizzix, too!”.

David DeLuise

David DeLuise, “Wizards of Waverly Place”

The sponsors captured photos and autographs of the celebrities using their products that they were able to post immediately on social media, and will later use to enhance their marketing efforts.

Marshall Williams

Marshall Williams, “How to Build a Better Boy”

“Spinrite L.P. is very excited to have participated in the 66th Emmy Awards Gifting Suite hosted by the Borgnine Group. It was a great opportunity to share our brands Paton’s and Bernat, with past, present, and future Emmy nominees, as well as our customers on social media!” Said Christa Baker, Brand Manager, Spinrite LP.

To view more photos taken at the gift suites, click here to view the CHA Facebook Page photo album. Search the #CHASwag and #CRE8TIME hashtags to view social media posts from the event.

If you are interested in participating in future Gift Suite events, contact Nidia Negron at nnegron@craftandhobby.org or 201-835-1204.

Making Your Mark On The Timeline at the 2014 Detroit Maker Faire

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Sarah BoothCHA Board member Sarah Hodsdon and her family ran a booth at Maker Faire Detroit the weekend of July 26. Their booth was called, Making Your Mark On The Timeline, and they taught kids (and adults) about how Makerspaces (Shared Time + Shared Tools + Shared Space + Shared Ideas = A Makerspace) work via a timeline of Maker Faire. Each hour was marked on the timeline and the kids shared tools and ideas, as they physically left their mark during their time spent in the booth using a stamp they had carved themselves. They also asked each visitor to draw a picture of something that they were passionate about sharing with others (their unique mark) on a piece of tracing paper.

Sarah3They then transferred the image to an eraser (transfer of ideas) and then learned how to carve that image out (a skill to share with others in the future). The kids (and their parents) then inked their stamp and stamped it on the day and hour (a shared space and time i.e., Sunday at 1:30 etc.). Each person left with a sense of purpose as well as, the knowledge that they had to ‘CRE8TIME’ in Sarah Ribbontheir lives to make stuff, learn new things, and show others how to do it as well. Their booth was awarded the “Maker of Merit” award.

All of this was made possible by BIC sponsoring the booth and the supplies needed for the booth. Speedball sponsored the blades needed for the cutters. The Hodsdon family donate their time and money for the Detroit Maker Faire show every year.

Sarah4

“It’s our give back to our community and something we really believe in. It was a massive surprise to have BIC volunteer to help out in Detroit like they did” said Sarah Hodsdon.

CHA members frequently donate product and give back to communities in similar ways. They give, not for the recognition, but because they believe in creating and seeing people become empowered through crafting.The generosity of our members and their continued support of the Maker Movement is a sterling example of how our industry crafts the world they’d like to see.

The summer issue of the Craft Industry Today magazine is themed around the Maker Movement. CHA Members: View the digital issue online as part of your membership. Click HERE!

 

 

Rachel Shechtman Has Been Announced as the CHA 2015 MEGA Show Keynote Speaker

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RachelRachel Shechtman, entrepreneur and owner of New York City based store, STORY will be the official keynote speaker for the CHA 2015 MEGA Conference & Trade Show. The Show will take place in Anaheim, California January 9-13,2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Rewriting Retail:  From Making Sales to Creating An Experience:
In today’s world, what does it take to succeed as a retailer? The future of retail will be less about consumption and more about community which means you need to completely re-think what success looks like. By throwing out the dated, sales-per-square foot model, Rachel Shechtman, owner of STORY has created an alternative dialogue that injects newness and relevance and a model where the primary deliverable is an experience. Whether you’re a designer, manufacturer, brick-and-mortar store owner or an e-retailer you’ll be inspired by how STORY is re-inventing consumer shopping from a mere sales transaction to energetic, engaging and innovative event.

CHA 2015 MEGA Show Conference Program Registration opens September 30th.

Let Me Introduce You to Kevin Bacon

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By Andrej Suskavcevic, President & CEO, CHA

shutterstock_116923705You may have heard the story that we are six degrees separated from Kevin Bacon. Meaning someone in your network of colleagues or friends knows someone who knows someone that can ultimately introduce you to Kevin – pretty cool if you’re a fan. If you apply this principle to building your network, you can be introduced to anyone in the world.

Two things occur to me as to why people get stuck:

1. They don’t realize networking is something you should be doing all the time and not just when you think you need to, i.e. looking for a job.

2.  Folks simply don’t know where to start.

For one, humans are naturally social creatures and we are wired to want to seek out and be in the company of others. Consider that networking is not a job. See it as a curious pursuit; as part of your life long journey of learning. For me, it’s being in the presence of storytellers: people willing to share their experiences which allows me to learn, grow and put the world in context which aligns with what I am trying to accomplish.

Where to start?
In the United States alone there are over 1.9 million tax-exempt organizations according to ASAE, The Center for Association Leadership. There is an association out there that shares your passion. If you’re crafty, the Craft and Hobby Association has your back. Reach out and connect with likeminded people and hear their story and share yours. Who knows, you might actually get introduced to Kevin Bacon.

The Craft & Hobby Association Announces 2015 Board Candidates

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CHALOgoThe Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) Nominating Committee is pleased to announce the 2015 slate of Board of Director candidates for election by the general CHA membership. Members nominated for the Board of Directors are: Michael Popson (Wilton Brands), Valerie Marderosian (iLovetoCreate), Frank Rizzo (McCalls Pattern), Mark Lee (Dream Solutions Marketing). Nora Abousteit (Kollabora) was nominated for a second term of CHA Board service. All of the nominees are running for three-year terms on the CHA Board.

“We are very excited about the Board candidates selected this year. Their experience and talent, coupled with the types of organizations they represent, will better enable the Board to fully represent the best interests of the Association, its members and the industry. All of the candidates are committed to building our industry and pushing for change to enable that growth”, explained 2014 Nominating Committee Chair, Mark Hill (Thomas Kinkade Company).

The nominated Board candidates will be officially elected by proxy ballot to be mailed to each CHA member company’s voting contact by November 7, 2014, as outlined in the Association’s bylaws. The confirmation of the Board of Directors’ election will be announced at the CHA Annual Business Meeting on Saturday, January 10, 2015 during the CHA 2015 Conference & Trade Show in Anaheim, California.

The CHA Board of Directors consists of individuals representing the various sections of the CHA membership. Members of the CHA Board of Directors serve a three-year term in which they meet quarterly to address the needs of the industry from a strategic viewpoint, strengthen the ties between CHA members and the Association, and guide the focus of CHA to provide member value. These Directors serve on a voluntary basis, through which they establish networking and business opportunities, advance their careers through industry leadership, and contribute their voice as advocates for CHA members.

In addition to the 2014 Nominating Committee Chair Mark Hill, Board committee members who served are Jessica Goursolas (The Creative Network) and Tony Sheridan (Create and Craft TV Network). The members-at-large elected by the membership who served on the committee are Sarah Ardila (Paper House Productions), David Ferguson (Ben Franklin Crafts), and Jennifer Priest (Hydrangea Hippo).

 

Final thoughts from the CHA 2014 Paper Arts Show

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Well, it’s been a whirlwind ride these last 3 days at the CHA 2014 Paper Arts Show in Atlanta.  I arrived Tuesday and was thrown quickly into the chaotic fun of CHA Workshops.  They were fast paced and informative, with terrific teachers and sponsors that I was thrilled to meet.  The sponsors gave some really great products to the participants to take home, and get more comfortable with so they could use them as teaching tools in their stores. I was really floored by their generosity.  Thank you CHA for allowing me to participate in these super intense and informative workshops.  I learned so much!

wpid-wp-1406659429827.jpegI have to say, after sitting in on the Seminars and group discussions, I have a whole new respect for the challenges that independent stores face.  At the same time, these wonderful store owners continue to seek out new ways to grow and change with the times; looking for ways to incorporate growing trends, sharing obstacles but also rejoicing in the shared triumphs.

20140731_10125320140731_094204There were so many who supported me here at CHA, I couldn’t possibly name them all – but a few standouts: Keli and Tina from CHA, thanks for helping a girl out from time to time; Dave from Spellbinders, thanks for being my camera guy; Stephanie Barnard and Katharina Doyle, I adore you both!  Thanks for the hugs!  I could literally go on and on.  Jason, my guy at CHA headquarters, thanks for the tough love and lastly, thank you Mr. Andrej Suskavcevic, for taking a chance on me!  I miss you all already!

20140730_194217- Terri Burson

Morning Jumpstart from the CHA Paper Arts Section

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The final day started off with a bang in the Grand Ballroom at the CHA 2014 Paper Arts Show, with interested store owners gathered in a round table discussion with CHA Staff and key leaders in the industry.  This was a time of sharing and information gathering to find effective ways to promote holiday sales and to discuss how to increase traffic to your store in new and interesting ways.

20140731_083042So what do you need to do?  How do you increase sales and keep people coming back to your store?  How do you grow your following and engage the community?  Let me share some of the hot conversations that took place.

20140731_085840First, find out what products your customers are using and show them the must have accessories that they need to have to go with the items.  Do your research and find out “What’s Hot” as opposed to “What’s New”.  What’s “hot” are the items that are flying off shelves, the hard to stock items; the products that are top best sellers.  What’s “new” may be new items in the market but not necessarily what people are flocking to buy or what’s currently selling.  So there’s the difference.  Ask the right questions!  And while you’re at it, keep PDF printouts to give your customers.  This has come up over and over at the Show this week.  Customers like having tutorials in their hands.  Take a look at the link below to see all of the handouts, graphics and more that CHA is providing here at Paper Arts 2014 to assist you in strategizing your marketing plan.

There’s some great handouts here, graphics and more right at your fingertips!  Go online to www.craftandhobby.org and click on Communities/Sections/PaperArts/downloads/ then, click on Atlanta Handouts. Or, click HERE.

20140731_083055Another topic of conversation at the Jumpstart Session: Do you exhibit at consumer shows?  Consumer shows are another way to promote your store.  Key things you should know for exhibiting are:

  • Find out who else will be there.  Know what they’re selling.
  • Know the price range.  Concentrate on thematic items depending on the focus of the show.  Is it a holiday show?  Bring holiday items.  Is it a summer show?  Baby or kid focused?  Bring products according to the theme.
  • Give great discounts on older products and have discount coupons for your store available.  Is another store selling the same product?  Mark your items accordingly to compete.
  • Let’s face it.  Theft can be a problem.  Keep your big ticket items within view.
  • Have a mock up plan of your booth setup in advance as it can take a long time for setup.  Maximize your space and make sure your booth has a flow.
  • Be prepared to make additional markdowns on items as the day progresses, if sales are slow.

Here’s a few more words of advice from key leaders present today.  Courtney from Creativebug says, find out what’s trending and look for new ways to highlight products in your store.  DIY is very popular right now.  Stamping Fabric?  Show displays of whatever is trending.

Several participants shared their participation with CRE8TIME and companies like Meet up, where you can pay a small fee to set up a “group” and link up to other groups in your region. The premise is to create a social media group so local crafters, and crafters from afar, can join your group.  Have meetings in your store for free, even thematic events, (knitters, scrappers, metal works, art, etc) and build a following in your area.

20140731_090405After the Seminar was over, attendees continued to hang around and share ideas and thoughts with one another.  I spoke with Tonya Minth from The Glitterie in Beechgrove, IN. She’s using Meet up and her group has quickly grown to 300.  She’s even utilizing a local artist for wine/craft events.  Use someone locally with skills to come in and teach at your meetings.  It’s a great way to grow and keep your following.

So much valuable information sharing today.  If you missed it, make it a point to be at one of these round tables the next time you attend a CHA Show.

Thanks again to the wonderful folks at CHA for allowing me this opportunity to sneak a peek at the inner workings of the crafting industry.  I can’t tell you enough what a wonderful time I’ve had getting to know everyone, meeting so many knowledgeable people, and the great new techniques I’ve learned……THANK YOU!

- Terri Burson 

Last Night’s Open Market at the CHA 2014 Paper Arts Show

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As I arrived at the CHA 2014 Paper Arts Show Open Market, the line of anxious attendees was already quite long. Everyone was happily chatting with their neighbors while waiting for the doors to open.

20140730_182524At the appointed time, the clock struck and we all filled into the Grand Ballroom. The vendors were ready and waiting and the tables quickly filled up with participants looking for some great bargains. Products ranged in price from $1.00-$75.00 and it wasn’t long before some vendors sold out completely of their stock.

20140730_182707I had the opportunity to chat with many attendees who were overwhelmingly pleased with the evening’s events. I especially enjoyed my conversation with the sweet ladies at my table; Debbie and Louise from Family Memories in North Carolina, and Lisa with Flamingo Finery outside Orlando, FL. They were so nice to answer my numerous questions and in particular, when asked about whether the deals were priced according to their liking? The answer was a resounding YES!

20140730_192626No matter the size of your pocket book, there were offerings for every price range and everyone that I spoke with was extremely happy with their purchases.

As I made the rounds with the vendors, they too were happy with the success of the Open Market, some noting that next time they would have to bring more! I’ll tell you that this crafty girl made a few purchases herself and I too was very happy with my new play things.

I’ve had so much fun getting to know the vendors and learning the history of different companies, like Kaisercraft and how the founder started out building things at the tender age of 7 and how Tilli Tomas is expanding from ribbon into other areas and actually wanted my input (as a crafter/cardmaker) as to what products I’m using and/or seeing used in online forums that I frequent, blogs that I participate in, etc. She had sequins along with her ribbon and fibers. I told her to make more sequins! We adore them!

I also enjoyed chatting up the lovely folks at Paper House Productions. If you missed the “Peace, Love & Sandy Feet” workshop by the wondrous Linda Auclair on Day 1, you missed a treat. However, here’s a link with a tutorial on the shadowbox project so you too can make one – http://www.paperhouseproductions.com/community/paper-arts-day-one/

I was drawn to their booth by the display of military products. I grew up an Army brat so of course, I had to zoom in on the Army selection. They literally have an army of products!

20140730_095150Stickers of all kinds; chalkboard, puffy (I need those owls!) 3-D, die cuts…. you name it.

20140730_095121And a terrific selection of papers to match and coordinate. I was flipping through their product catalog and quickly spied the Wizard of Oz collection. Oh my. There’s no place like home and there’s no place like Paper House Productions.

- Terri