Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Halloween Scrapbooking Journey

Ever since I’ve been working on the Show where there is so much fantastic scrapbooking and papercrafting product, and in particular this last year, I’ve considered getting into scrapbooking. But, to be honest, I find it intimidating! I give you scrapbookers a lot of credit; it’s time-intensive, requires a lot of creativity and from my experience, is really overwhelming to start. Time and time again I go to art supply and craft stores to visit the scrapbooking aisles only to leave empty handed and discouraged.

So here is my question for you readers who are true scrapbookers – do you scrapbook specific holidays? I was recently in Michael’s and A.I. Friedman. to explore the product options. Then, I spent time looking around the internet and discovered that Halloween actually has its own scrapbooking items. This really piqued my curiosity. Here are a few things I found that would definitely make it into my scrapbook (if I ever start one):

This scrapbook paper from Masterpiece Studios is so cute! I love how it incorporates fall leaves with traditional Halloween symbols.

I’m not a fan of anything scary so these embellishments from K & Company make Halloween seem more like a holiday I wouldn’t mind being a part of. Look at the smiles on these fun characters!

If you’re anything like me, the only reason you participate in anything Halloween-related is for the yummy candy; so my scrapbook would not be complete without these stickers from SandyLion.

And just because Halloween is supposed to be a little creepy, I would add a few spider web stamps to my photo filled pages. Inkadinkado makes a lot of fun Halloween themed stamps.

What are your favorite scrapbooking items? Are you creating a Halloween page? We’d love to hear your scrapbooking ideas and stories!

Have a safe Halloween,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Out and About

I’m on the road for work or vacation just about every month of the year. I don’t know about you, “dear reader”, but I just can’t help myself when it comes to paper. No matter where I am and no matter if it is for work or pleasure, I am known to stop in my tracks to step into a stationery store! I also like to visit customers whenever possible.

At the beginning of September, I logged in a visit to Envelopments, and got to see the cool work environment that Mark and Deborah Smith have created for themselves and their employees. The vibe is collaborative and California cool. Employees can wear jeans every day (boy did I feel out of place in my dress!) Their warehouse area was organized and clean – so pleasant for all the workers in that area who were doing their thing when I stopped in. The outdoor space at Envelopments even includes a little Zen meditation area! Everyone I met was a happy employee. Impressive!

Here’s a pic of Mark and Deborah at the office.

I was in Italy at the end of September through the beginning of this month, and while in Rome I went to visit NSS exhibitor Luca Natalizia, of Natalizia. Luca’s family also owns Cartoleria Pantheon, a wonderful little store located off to one side of the Pantheon.

Here’s a glimpse of the storefront, as well as a shot of the giftwrap on display on the sidewalk just in front of the store.

I also stopped in the large chain La Feltrinelli – there are a few in Rome – this one was in Largo Argentina. I would liken La Feltrinelli to a Barnes & Noble here – they have everything from books, to music, to journals to greeting cards. Here are a couple of covert shots from inside the store.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Greeting Card Association’s annual Convention in Scottsdale, AZ. The Convention is just one of many highlights of the year for me, as it is always inspiring, enlightening, and honestly – it’s just plain fun to hang with leaders in the greeting card industry. One of the discussion panels during the convention was called “The Realities of Retailing” and four local retailers discussed their businesses. They were so very generous to share their information and insights, and as you might imagine, they had a rapt audience – we were all attentive and taking notes! Afterwards, I had the happy opportunity to visit 2 of the 4 stores represented on the panel. The Paper Place (this store is family owned and operated, and has been in business for 31 years) and Celebrations in Paper, which owner Rene Showalter opened in 1997.

Here’s a photo of the many invitation albums at The Paper Place.

And check out just a slice of their greeting card offerings. This store is fab – and I spent some $$ there on holiday cards and general greeting cards (could not resist several gorgeous cards from J&M Martinez). I loved visiting with store owner Nancy Silver – and fully expect to see Nancy in May at the NSS. Her sister Betsy (also co-owner of the store) was on the discussion panel earlier in the day. Thank you, ladies for your time!

Down the street and around the corner is Celebrations in Paper. Rene has an interesting set-up as she shares her space with a florist. This is advantageous to both businesses, as they work so often with wedding and party planners. You can bet I happily plunked down a few dollars here, too. (Hello to Brent and Charmaine of Yellow Bird Paper Greetings –I picked up a birthday card and a thank you card of yours here). While I was visiting Celebrations in Paper, I met up with a few other industry folks!

Here’s a picture showing those who stopped by. From left to right:

George White, Up With Paper; Nicky Burton, Calypso Cards; Rene Showalter, store owner; and manufacturers’ representative Chuck Nelson, who works with the stores in Scottsdale and the region.

Visiting retail stores and the talented people behind the products we all love to buy, use and mail is certainly a passion for me. The people in this industry are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet – including yourselves, without a doubt! If I’m ever in your neighborhood, I’d love to come and visit!! (o:

- Until next time, Kelly

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Change of Seasons

It’s fall…and in New York that’s a big change of season! The air starts to crisp, the fields turn to brown and summer fun comes to an end. The last of the flowers show their brilliance and fade away quickly. My little garden always looks so sad without the flamboyance of its more colorful early-season relatives.

I suppose that’s why cards, notes and visuals with pretty flowers will always be popular. They fill the needs of those who appreciate delicate petals, long stems or vibrant eyefuls. For me a flower means happy, friendly and special. My curiosity took me to the 2009 NSS Online Catalog Gallery (which runs thru October 31) for a quick peek at what’s fresh and different for cards. I easily found what I was looking for – Jet Papier had a variety of floral beauties while Vera Bradley presented some updated versions. Sheer delight!

For those who haven’t checked out our Online Catalog Gallery, put it on your “Must Do” list for this month. It’s a great tool for buyers – exclusively featuring NSS exhibitors – providing easy access to complete catalogs with just a click of the mouse. Keep this in mind as we approach the 2010 National Stationery Show, for a sneak peek at all the great products to be found on the Show floor!

I will miss the Summer with its endless flowering but in the meantime, I only have to turn the corner to my local card shop to pick a vivid jonquil or hearty wildflower. As the days get darker earlier, send someone something that will perk up their spirits and get them through to Spring!

Talk to you soon!! Alyson

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Press of Tradition

Tradition is something that I have heard a lot about over the last year or so. When times are tough, families and individuals alike return to a “simpler time”; a refrain used over and over again on the news, in commercials, on talk-shows. Whether “simpler” means family game night or entertaining at home, people look to the past for both comfort and the reminder that we can and will get through these tough times.

There is no style of social stationery products that is more traditional than letterpress. With its crisp lines and beautiful antique styling pressed on rich, textured paper; letterpress conveys a look and feel that is comfortable, safe. Letterpress also has a unique elegance that lends itself to everything from birthday cards to wedding invitations, to coasters and gift wrap. And by its very tactile quality, something letterpressed adds an extra dimension, an extra sense, to the joy of receiving.

The letterpress contingent comes out in full glory at the National Stationery Show. From the bright, stylized nature motifs of Old School Stationers

to the simple,witty one-liners of Albertine Press,

to the elegant lace patters from Copper Willow Paper Studio,

to the luxurious invitation designs by Elum or Twig & Fig – to name but a few among the nearly 100 companies that feature letterpress in the Show - letterpress is as diverse and prolific as the industry itself.

We are seeing growth in the use of this very specialized printing process, and expect that the 2010 Show will delight buyers with new interpretations and uses of a process that has been around since the 1500’s. A process that, in my opinion, has aged quite gracefully.

- Aaron

Friday, October 2, 2009

Face the Facts!

Sitting where I do today in this age of digitized transactions and impersonal exchanges that while speedy lack the warm-fuzzy (personal) or the gratification of a negotiation completed (business), I am regularly engaged in reinforcing something that is anything but old fashioned: face to face interaction.

I feel like Andy Rooney in writing this, but can you imagine choosing a doctor, deciding on a caregiver for a loved one, choosing a money manager, firming up a business relationship - or any number of significant commitments - without first meeting the person with whom you are seriously associating?

While the pace of change has gradually increased, this past year it shoved its way in and created a new reality. As a world community, we were pushed harder this year to function in new ways and adopt new practices, primarily because of the economy and the internet. While intense and unfamiliar, ultimately change is good. But, I don’t think progress requires “throwing away the baby with the bathwater”. As it relates to doing business, there simply is no substitute for looking a person in the eye to talk and explore ideas and opportunities together. How else can you authentically develop trust, confidence and a general comfort level?

At their most fundamental, tradeshows, conferences and other events provide that opportunity.
I know I have a vested interest in reinforcing this format – so maybe you think I’m biased - but I believe this to my core. There are many opportunities to build new and profitable relationships, along with what I call “high touch schmoozing” that is integral to keep current relationships fresh that can’t be replicated outside this format.

May seems a long time away, but not at NSS headquarters! We are in the thick of renewing exhibitors, developing exciting partnerships, orchestrating innovative promotions, welcoming new companies planning their debut on the exhibit floor, as well as welcoming back exhibitors that took last year off.

I hope everyone that reads my blog this week buys into this reality: what you make and what you sell is core to our social culture and may it long live! So, if you’re in this business then doing business face to face at the 2010 National Stationery Show truly is anything but old fashioned.