Every other Wednesday, I write a business post for the scrapbook industry based on The Scrapworthy Lives Guide to Market Research
So the Craft and Hobby Association’s (CHA) winter show ended a couple of weeks ago. Most scrappy bloggers are sharing their favorite releases from this show. I had a lot of fun seeing all the new releases, until I started seeing the Konnichiwa line from Basic Grey. And then I saw the Aiko line from My Little Shoebox. My first response on these releases can be read here.
My Little Shoebox had a great line released during Summer 2011 called Pretty Little Things, which includes portrayals of a culturally diverse group of girls, who are not reduced to stereotypes.
This time around, more than one company opted to use cultural stereotypes in their lines.
This speaks to a larger issue in that there are extremely limited portrayals of cultural diversity in the scrapbook industry. I would like to see more portrayals of diversity in the scrapbook industry. I’ve heard the excuse, that it doesn’t sell. Actually, that’s only a tiny part of the point of making the product. Even if it doesn’t sell real well, what it does do is show who is and who is not welcome in the hobby. This might be hard for White scrapbookers to “get.” The thing is, it is easy for me to find stickers of people that look like White people and are not reduced to stereotypical imagery. I may not use those stickers, but they are available, which communicates to me that I am welcome in this hobby. Also, keep in mind that beginning scrapbookers are going to be more likely to be drawn to these types of stickers and papers. (Remember when you started scrapbooking? I liked the cutesy things that were thematic. Why wouldn’t new scrapbookers of color?)
Another flaw with the “it doesn’t sell” mantra is that manufacturers need to take a look at the racial make-up of the United States:
- White 223,553,265 (72.4%)
- Black or African American 38,929,319 (12.6%)
- Asian 14,674,252 (4.8%)
- Hispanic or Latino 50,477,594 (16.3%)
(All numbers come from the 2010 U.S. Census and I did not include everyone.)
Are you kidding me? There are 14.6 million Asian Americans and you can’t find enough who scrapbook to sell to? And there are 38.9 million Black or African Americans and 50.4 million Hispanic or Latinos? It doesn’t sell? That makes absolutely no sense to me. At all. The problem is that it doesn’t sell to the gatekeepers. The local and big box and online scrapbook stores have be willing to carry it in their stores. The magazines have to be willing to show the product in their magazines. I’m sure the Konnichiwa line will do very well. Basic Grey is pretty popular and the line appeared in my Blog Reader multiple times. Why will stores carry this line but not a line that portrays Asians as they really are instead of just a caricature?
Today, there are at most a couple thousand woman who are geisha in Japan out of 127,450,460 people in Japan. Please don’t tell me, “it’s their culture.” While technically correct, this certainly isn’t modern Japanese culture. The scrapbook industry must do better of incorporating diverse cultures into scrapbooking lines.
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