Scrapbooking interview with Jill Davis, the founder of scrapbook.com
They offer one of the best selections of card making and scrapbooking products and also provide free inspiration, tutorials and education to crafters for free
Join me as we find out how she got her start in scrapbooking, where she goes for her inspiration and her adventures with owning her own company.
First & foremost, thank you Jill, for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer a few of our scrapbooking questions. I am sure that our site visitors will benefit from your knowledge.
Q1 - How did you first become interested in scrapbooking?
My grandmother, a genealogist, found photos of most of her ancestors and many relatives. One summer while staying with her and Grandad, she shared her manila envelopes filled with vintage photos. In the evenings after her work and my play, she told me stories about the people in those photos.
They were stories of ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Granny told me I could leave any legacy I wanted on planet earth. She gave me copies of each of her photos and we started my first connections to family and friends via a scrapbook at age eleven.
I have friends who have become avid scrapbookers because of the birth of their first child. Others started scrapbooking because they needed friends and a break from being with children all day.
Q2 - In your opinion, why do beginning scrapbookers find scrapbooking so intimidating?
I think we all let ourselves be intimidated at times whether a beginner or veteran.
After nearly four decades of scrapbooking I can let myself get intimidated when I get caught up in perfectionism or self-doubt.
The key for avoiding intimidation, for me, is to look at the work of others and be grateful they would share. Because I understand how to use scrapbooking tools and equipment, I can only imagine what someone new to this craft might feel looking at everything that’s available.
Just the wonder of how to use items and make layouts would be daunting. There is a learning curve and a person needs to be willing to read, ask and be instructed to learn new skills.
I still attend classes and read up on new techniques to stay engaged and knowledgeable in the industry. It helps for us all to remember the adage that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. We all need to be brave enough to take first steps.
The products and tools available today make it possible to create things that were previously only manufactured in factories. For example, we can make our own spiral bound albums, die cuts and layouts in computers, to name a few. My father used to tell me if you have the right tools and passion you can do any task. It’s true.
My first scrapbooking tools and supplies were scissors, non-acid free pens, rubber cement and construction paper; and my early layouts reflect my skills, and the knowledge utilizing those tools.
Interestingly, the only place I could purchase archival quality paper and cardstock back then was thorough a mail order catalogue for libraries. I think cost, fear of “getting it wrong,” and not wanting to add more to our busy lives might amplify our trepidation.
When I focus on creating a layout for future generations and those I love, I rarely feel intimidation. Instead I feel excited, grateful and connected (a sense of belonging).
Q3 - What are some of your favourite scrapbooking products? Is there one particular item that you feel is a "must-have" for any scrap booker?
I have many “favorites” because they help me get my creative thoughts and my style out of my head and heart and onto paper. My all-time favourites are cardstock and ink—in any color. Because I’ve figured out my basic preferred style (I like things grungy and unpredictable) I tend to purchase things that work with that style, first. I turn mental cartwheels when I find an unusual or interesting way to use paper.
I have played with paper and ink my entire life and encourage beginners to take note of what they love to work with and then get more. They’ll start creating right away when they are working with things they are familiar with or they like.
I enjoy going to the Scrapbook.com Gallery to see the creative work of others and usually end up with more motivation and insight than I’m able to use. I make myself try something new on a regular basis.
If I were a beginner and wanted to scrapbook right away, I’d sign up for the Beginner Scrapbooking class at Scrapbook.com – it’s free and in addition to a list of basic tools you get quality instruction and extremely valuable information. It took several years for me and my staff to get the class materials together for the Web but we didn’t rest until the task was accomplished.
I’d start with the three weeks of daily emails and then get on and active Beginner message board and ask questions. Most scrapbookers are kind, thoughtful, helpful and encouraging. If you find they aren’t go to a different website.
Q4 - How important is scrapbooking to you, outside of it being your livelihood?
When I started Scrapbook.com something very interesting happened, my hobby became a job. If I’m not careful, the “job” takes over and any pleasure I derive from scrapbooking flies out the window. I’ve had to learn the delicate balance needed to keep memory preservation and livelihood working together.
For example, I used to take assignments from our Marketing Director to make layouts from specific products. These layouts were to show visitors to the sight different ways of using the products. One day, as I stood in my home studio wondering which photos I could “make work” for the product sitting in front of me, I felt like crying. I realized that I was spending precious hours of my life making layouts for strangers instead of making layouts for my family’s history.
Our viewers were creating for their families, so why wasn’t I? Some of the products I used for assignments were things I would have chosen to use for my scrapbooks, but I needed to make a change. I had a meeting with the director and we decided I would start creating for fun again. I’m much happier and creative and interestingly, we’re still able to accomplish our creative goals at work.
Q5 - How did you come up with the idea to start Scrapbook.com?
When I look at the big picture of life I believe I was destined to start Scrapbook.com. I’m not more special than anyone -- opportunity knocked, I was in the right place at the right time, and I saw it for some reason. I never dreamed that what I wanted to do then, would ever become what it is now, however.
I was a calligraphy teacher in the community, and I loved to scrapbook. One day while driving home from grocery shopping I saw a temporary sign on a new shop that said “Scrapbooking.” I pulled into the parking lot, parked the car and looked in the windows. There was a woman inside so I asked her through the glass if she needed a teacher. A day later I had a job.
Over the next few years I taught at other stores too, and after every class students would ask if I could leave my samples at the store so they could learn more from them. Because I travelled to teach and needed my samples, I couldn’t accommodate the requests. I finally decided I needed to find a way to put my samples on a website where they could be viewed 24/7.
As the plans developed and the reality was in sight I realized not only did I want to share, but I wanted anyone who had something to contribute to be able to share too. It took two years to get the domain name and the website built. My husband reduced his professional workload, and we worked together.
The days and weeks were long and we had many weeks where we each logged 80 hours. After the initial launch we adjusted the leadership roles with other family members who wanted to be involved, and they came on board. My husband went back to his profession, full time.
The leadership at Scrapbook.com now includes each of our grown sons who are talented, innovative and brilliant. Our staff is like family to me. They too are talented, creative and dedicated beyond anything I could write here. I have learned how to step back and let everyone at Scrapbook.com do what needs to be done with an ever-changing website, economy and user base.
Our goals at Scrapbook.com are still the same as in those early years and we continue to build and restructure the site to make it better than ever, so scrapbookers worldwide can have a home, share their talents and ideas, and find the scrapbooking products they need.
Q6 - What was the main reason that made you start www.scrapbook.com?
I have the entrepreneurial spirit, so that’s what “made” me start the company in the beginning. I come from a family of people who own their own businesses, so starting one wasn’t a scary or a crazy idea at all; in fact it was exciting, exhilarating, and rewarding.
Q7 - Scrapbook.com has been on line since 1999, almost 12 years! How has the journey been so far?
Like any journey we take, it’s been exciting, stimulating, and exhausting all at the same time. In all honesty, there have been days when I’ve been ready to “go home and have the journey end.” All of us at Scrapbook.com have normal, everyday lives like you do. I have lived the realities of everyday life while working at a fledgling company I love and appreciate. I’ve experienced our children leaving home to go out on their own, their marriages, new members welcomed into our family in the form of daughters-in-law, a son-in-law and grandbabies all while developing Scrapbook.com. I’ve also experienced a life-altering disease from a Lyme infected tick during this past decade which keeps me from doing some of the things I want to do. But, I’ve found ways to cope and even be victorious.
Scrapbook.com has saved many lives, including mine. It has helped me to keep going and engaged in something good when I thought I was too tired and ill to keep going. I receive emails, cards and gifts from people all over the world who have been nurtured by what happens at Scrapbook.com. From a young, abused woman in Africa (who found the courage from our message boards to leave an abusive companion) to a home-bound woman in Montana, all are so grateful for the connections they have to other woman who care and search for a better life. That’s what we are really about at Scrapbook.com--a better life.
Q8 - What can we expect to see from you in the future?
We will continue to be the #1 scrapbooking destination on the Web and offer everything we can to make scrapbooking the “nirvana” people are looking for. Look forward to our holiday videos, like our 2010 “Its Always Sunny in Here” on YouTube. These videos are one way our creative team get to use and nurture other talents they possess. Many of our innovations come from the Scrapbook.com community. So, in the future, as in the past, we will continue to implement ideas and requests from that community.
Q9 - What advice will you give our follow scrapbook readers, who might be interested in earning a living doing what they like most? What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming part of the scrapbooking industry?
I would first caution someone interested to really consider that what they love and enjoy will become their “job” and take on a different meaning. That’s not necessarily bad, but if you aren’t ready, it will be disconcerting.
It will be a challenge to learn how to make a new business profitable and successful. They will need to surround themselves with GOOD and HONEST people who know how to do things they don’t know how to do.
They will need to be willing to give up unreal expectations for sound business practices. There will be long hours for which they won’t get paid and home life and business will both be stressed.
If you are healthy and can give effort when no one else will, you’ll succeed. Safeguard your health with good sleep, exercise and nutrition. Take breaks and don’t have all your conversations be work related. My family has a rule that we don’t talk business when we’re together outside of the business. This way we nurture relationships, gain perspective (by getting away) and get much needed breaks filled with fun. Keep your immune system strong and you’ll be able to accomplish your heart’s desires.
I encourage family first and business second, that’s my humble opinion. Nothing is more heart breaking to me than to see children or a spouse struggle on-their-own, while a business owner gives their all to strangers. We all must work to make a living or be supportive to someone who does. That’s life. But if one doesn’t have to work while young kids are at home, why do it? If not working isn’t an option, one can find ways to keep family intact if family is nurtured and placed first.
If someone is truly interested in the industry, they should to go to the semi-annual, CHA trade shows. They are held in January and July. CHA is where retailers and service providers meet the manufactures in the industry, become acquainted with their products (old and new), collect catalogues set up accounts and solidified relationships. There are fees to become a member and attend. It’s worth the money and time.
People continue to ask how we run Scrapbook.com from our garage. Scrapbook.com was never in our garage and never will be. That would have taxed our family more than needful, so I encourage those interested in doing something online to find warehousing, a fulfilment center, or storage facility for their product. Be cautions of opening a retail store in a down economy.
If someone wants to take on the job of making albums for others, make sure you have contacts, policies and procedures and fair pricing for the client and them. If you think you will attract more customers by lowering your prices you are probably right, but you’ll not make as much money in the long run. Charge more than you think you’re worth – some tend to see their efforts as meagre or invaluable. It’s always easier to lower a price or have a sale than to have price increases to save a struggling business.
Digital scrapbooking kits are a good example of price mismanagement. Artists made kits, which they sold on the Web. They made a profit which kept them interested in making more kits. Then some helpful, but not so smart, people began giving kits away – working for nothing. This made the digi kit market unstable and diluted and consumers began expecting FREE all of the time.
Undercutting was the rampage and those who sold for profit had to give up more in order to compete. Don’t get me wrong, I think giving gifts of labor are admirable, but not at the expense of the efforts of others who must make a living with what they do. Sound business skills would have kept the digi industry viable, interesting and more lucrative for those producing.
Q10 - In your own Opinion what are the five drawbacks to scrapbooking, whether finding the supplies, ideas, etc.?
I can only tell five? LOL I’m sure a drawback for me wouldn’t necessarily be a drawback from someone else, but I’ll list some of the common drawbacks I’m aware of.
Q11 - What are your top 5 favourite scrapbooking ideas to share with others?
Q12 - As you probably already know, scrapbooking can easily become an expensive hobby. What is your best tip for the crafter on a tight budget?
Don’t be lured in by a sale or a new item unless it’s something YOU KNOW you will use. I scrapbook to preserve family history and nurture the self-worth and value of each family member. I also scrapbook to increase my artistic abilities.
When I keep those purposes in the forefront, I don’t overspend or end up with things I’m disappointed in.
I try to avoid impulse purchases. I live by the motto: “Make it over, wear it out, fix it up or do without.” I’ve had people tell me that I’m lucky to be able to get free product from our company. This always makes me laugh because the reality is I pay a high price for those items in wages, insurance, rent, inventory, shipping boxes, marketing, servers, utilities, etc. It would be less expensive to purchase product from someone else and not have the business.
Enjoy what you can afford and make beautiful and memorable creations with it.
Q13 -Do you have any other advice for our readers?
Fear and thought parasites are our biggest enemies as human beings. Thought parasites are thoughts that aren’t true but we believe are true. If I listened to and believed the ridiculous thoughts that pop into my head sometimes about my talents, I’d never do anything. Limiting beliefs don’t serve us and will never produce the “art” and the “meaning” we want to express in scrapbooking. Who wins when you document something about your family? Who looses when you don’t? It’s that simple to me.
Whether you’re a minimalist, purest, or collage-art scrapbooker, you’ll enjoy what you do when you allow yourself the right to do it without personal judgement (or worrying about others’ judgements). Scrapbooking can take you to a place of complete well-being and be therapeutic.
This type of “therapy” is inexpensive compared to the cost of using businesses, therapists, institutions and corporations dedicated to providing wellbeing for individuals at a high price. Remember, if the memories you’re preserving are worth your time, money and talents they are invaluable and priceless, and so are you. Scrapbooking is a great investment in you and your family.
I appreciate being asked for this scrapbooking interview and wish you, the reader, a happy and fulfilling scrapbooking adventure and journey.
Remember scrapbooking ideas is limited only to your own imagination. We are all unique and have different lives, careers, hobbies, experiences etc from others.
Capitalize on your uniqueness and turn it into your own unique scrapbooking pages.
Or you can even share your ideas, suggestions feedback etc that will help us improve our scrapbooking experience.