Diverse Scrapbook Products

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series The Scrapworthy Lives Guide to Market Research

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.

If you liked this post, check out my new e-book, The Scrapworthy Lives Guide to Market Research.

Stephanie

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  • Alicia Hambrick

    I wholeheartedly agree with your article.  As an Afro-American I get frustrated when I
    can’t find ethnic craft items.  I do a
    myriad of crafts, including scrapbooking and cardmaking; paper crafts; painting; sewing; baking and cake
    decorating; decorate my church’s bulletins boards; write children’s books and
    plays as well design items for my small catering and events planning business.    I am a prolific crafter and spend a lot –
    and I mean a lot- on equipment and supplies. 
    And there are millions more like me. 
    But even with thousands of dollars invested in my crafts I still have to
    sketch my own designs or hire someone to do so. 
    Don’t get me wrong.  I love all
    the cute designs that are out there.  I
    get excited over them and I do purchase them. 
     But just like our White counterparts
    there are millions of ethnic crafters like me who live on the shopping channels,
    who spend serious money and who would love to go into a craft store and find
    items that look like us.

  • Prtybrwnyz2

    Thank you for writing this article. As a person of color it is frustrating to spend thousands of dollars, knowing others who do the same, and not feeling as if your vote counts as to what comes out of the industry. I would love to see Provocraft, some of the major paper lines and stamp companies take our spending power into consideration when creating new scrapbook items. As Alicia stated, there are many draftees of color. The craft manufacturers should talke this into consideration when planning the next must have product!

  • Thanks for commenting! The manufacturers are seriously missing out! I really appreciate your insight.

  • Yeah, more support! I’m so happy to know I’m not the only one noticing this glaring oversight (whether unintional or intentional…I think it is a bit of both). Thanks for commenting!

  • Splendormd

    I am Hispanic/Black and only StampinUp brand has some Stamps and Titles in Spanish 🙁
    All the other manufacturers are missing out big time on our market!

  • Mrstamtam

    Great article!!

  • Msyoddie

    Thanks, great article. I’m glad someone finally notice that blacks scrap also.

  • Thanks for the tip. I know Creative Memories had stickers in Spanish and French at one time. I just checked their site and it doesn’t look like they do anymore. I wonder if it is any better in the digi-world? 

  • Thank you!

  • Thank you!

  • Sharon Sutton

    I enjoyed your article.  I wonder if there is even one African American artist that works for any of the major players who participate in CHA? 

     If you ever want to see African American scrap booking in action or sources for further articles check out the following sites:

    http://scrapsofcolor.ning.com/   hundreds of women of color  scrap bookers, card makers and altered artist share their artistic talent and creative information

    http://scrapsofcolorespire.blogspot.com/   an online magazine featuring AA scrap bookers

    http://fineartsbyrobertjackson.com/new-digital-arrivals.html     digital AA images that are fun , unique , and  culturally current

    I hope some industry gatekeepers read your article.

    Sharon

  • Thanks! I am familiar with Scraps of Color. That is a great site. I’ll have to check out the others. I’m not sure about who attends CHA. It is so expensive to set-up space at CHA that it would be really difficult for start-ups.  I would love for the big companies to make an effort to make culturally sensitive and appropriate products reflecting diverse cultures. I would love to support smaller companies who take diversity seriously, too who want to attend CHA.