More Summer 2012 CHA Observations: More of the Same

Last summer I attended CHA. I never got all of my semi-prepped posts for CHA finished, and thought in the spirit of Summer 2013 CHA, I would publish what was still relevant. 

One of the things I paid attention to as I walked around the floor of CHA was diversity, among both attendees and products. It will surprise no one that attendees were mostly white women. I did not actively count people of color or men, but would love to attend sometime and do such a count. Moreover, some of the men that were present were there because of their wife’s involvement in the industry. Do men need an “in” such as a wife in the industry in order to become part of it? How do men enter the industry compared to women? I don’t really know what to make of it, but it is something to definitely consider.

I also paid attention diversity among the products. After awhile, the lack of diversity made it difficult to differtiate among manufacturers. After you’ve seen one chevron or polka dot print, you’ve seen most of them.

Popular themes at the summer show include Christmas and Halloween. Hanakkuh-themed product was rare and Kwanzaa-themed product was almost nonexistant. The notable exception comes from Lawn Fawn, which debuted a stamp that contained both of the words Hanakkuh and Kwanzaa. This really isn’t a solution to the problem of ignoring holidays celebrated by minorities, but good for the cardmaker who has a diverse set of friends.

There was little focus on niche-groups such as teenagers or retirees. This still surprises me. Teenagers are scrapbooking and will eventually have money to spend on the hobby. Retirees have money to spend on scrapbooking.

No surprise that baby-themed lines were mostly gendered with pinks and blues. The notable exception was  Cosmo Cricket’s Baby Jane line. I would love to see some baby-themed lines inspired by the research in Pink & Blue.

Finally, Graphic 45 joins my list of companies I will not buy from due to cultural appropriation. I suppose the paper line in question could be viewed as historic as they tend to use more historical imagery in their lines, but everyone working in the booth wore a kimono. Someone else’s culture is not yours to use as a work uniform or to promote your product.

*Yes, I know the photo is blurry. I was attempting to take a photo with only employees in it.

And for more about cultural appropriation (different group, but same point):

Overall, the scrapbook industry continues to focus on the mainstream and ignores niche markets (read more here

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  • The San Francisco Bay area is the most diverse place that I have lived, and this is one of the things that I enjoy out here.

    Now I want to be more observant about diversity as I craft out here. Who else is shopping at the scrapbook store and Michael’s? My card making group is all women. Beyond that there is some diversity in the group, but I may be more observant about it after reading your post.

    So far, the stores do not seem to carry different products than the ones I have visited in other states. Thank you for sharing these observations!

  • Thanks for commenting! I bet there are some interesting nuances in San Francisco.

  • I have only been to the LSS near by house in a suburban area, but in time I want to visit a couple of other stores. One is about 20 minutes from me and another one is an hour away. As far as I have seen, the stores tend to be in more suburban areas instead of in the urban areas.

  • Let me know if you find any in urban San Fran or that are easy to get to without a car, please! I should be visiting/conferencing in San Fran next summer and would love to find local scrapbook/paper stores to check out. I was out there about 9 years ago and remember buying some cool ribbon at a store in the Castro (I don’t remember what else they sold there) and a card at a card and paper shop somewhere else…probably within walking distance of Fisherman’s Wharf, but I don’t remember for sure.

  • One of the stores that I want to visit (Scrapbook Territory) is in Berkeley and a little under a mile from a BART station.

    There are multiple Paper Source stores in the Bay Area and there are 2 in SF. I have been to the one is San Jose. They carry some scrapbooking supplies, but they also carry stationary and gift wrap. They seem to cater to a wider customer base than a LSS.

  • Thanks! I signed up for the newsletter for the first one and learned that the Paper Source has locations in Chicago, so I’ll try to check them out the next time I am there.