Scrapbooks: Creating A Visual Legacy

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When Kristi Kisler first learned about scrapbooking, she was expecting her first child and had just lost her husband to cancer. Creative Memories -- a home-based business selling albums and supplies for scrapbooking -- was one of the gifts she received at a baby shower.

"I researched the business for 18 months before I went into it," she said.

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Kristi Kisler has almost every Creative Memories product she stocks on sale this week. There is a 5-percent discount on all but three items, plus deeper discounts based on the amount of the purchase.

This was 11 years ago and at that time there was very little on the market besides Creative Memories.

She said the company still makes the best and safest albums, mounting materials and pens for scrapbooking.

"But no business can provide every little sticker, border and embellishment every scrapbooker wants," she said, so she does not have a problem when people bring different brands to the classes she offers.

It is also the philosophy she has about competition in the field. Kisler said she considers Connie Smith's Homespun Memories, Payson's scrapbook store, a complement to what she does, not competition. Kisler regularly shops at the store and presents programs at Smith's scrapbooking retreats. The next retreat, "Scraptoberfest" is Oct. 3-5. Information is at the store and online at homespunmemories.com

Smith has been scrapbooking for eight years. She came into it via Creative Memories as well, and for the last year has had her own store. However, she took her time starting the business. "I spent five or six years studying business," she said.

The store, at 401-B Main Street, is the second location Smith has had. She started Homespun Memories in the Ponderosa Plaza on Frontier and Colcord. The new location has been a boon to the business she said.

Smith carries albums, papers, pens, cutting tools, embellishments and more at Homespun Memories and offers a variety of classes. Smith teaches, as do experts she has found over the years she has been doing scrapbooks.

Kisler actually started teaching classes in the business of scrapbooking before she ever did a scrapbook of her own. "For the first five years a didn't do a single scrapbook. It's kind of like exercising, you have to work up to it."

As a Creative Memories consultant, her expertise was in teaching about the business side of things. She and a couple of friends developed a three-part training program for direct sells.

Kisler's background is in banking. Before coming to Payson she was involved in banking production and project management in San Diego, as well as working with Creative Memories.

Once she started doing albums, she jumped into it with both feet. Over the years she has done 20 to 25, most for other people and most in the last three years. She is still working on albums.

"Last week I did 25 pages in 10 hours on Monday and Tuesday," Kisler said, "I keep it simple with just borders, occasional die cuts and journaling."

She said she also enjoys teaching others about scrapbooking, "It's like an evening with the gals. And I learn as much from them as they do from me." She said it has been especially fun being new in town. Kisler and her son have only been in Payson 18 months.

They moved from San Diego at the request of her sister, who now makes her home in Tonto Village. Kisler said their parents are getting older and carrying the whole burden of looking after them was getting to be too much for her sister. She said she told her sister she would move to Arizona if there was a place with nice weather like San Diego. Payson was the place her sister picked.

Since coming to Payson, Kisler has been working to complete her degree in education. She has emergency substitute certification, so already has spent time in the schools. Her specialty is math and science.

She enjoyed a long-term substitute post so much she has put together a series of scrapbooking day camps for youngsters, 10 to 16. One is set for July 21 through July 25, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at her home, 1100 E. Phoenix Street, at the corner of Phoenix Street and Mud Springs Road. The cost is $65 and the participants need to bring a lunch.

Regular workshops for adult scrapbookers are held at Kisler's home the second or third Friday of the month. The cost is $10 and she provides dinner, but reservations are required. The next workshop is July 11, for a reservation, call 468-6679.

"I also do lots of one-on-one workshops, or work with groups of friends," she said.

One group from Pine did a series of workshops with her, each one taking turn as the "sponsor" and getting the hostess gifts Creative Memories provides. The cost of both private and group workshops is $10 per person.

"There are two types of scrapbookers, those who just want to get their photos in the albums and get it done and those who use it as a creative outlet. A survey was done and more people are moving toward just getting it done and so that is where the market is going. Years ago, Creative Memories knew where the trend was going and came up with the motto, ‘Simple pages. Completed albums.' They have come up with some great ways to get work done quickly," she said.

An early formula was called "power layout," which is an assembly-line way of doing an album. A scrapbooker chooses the photos they want to use, sets them with an album page, selects the paper and embellishments for each page and then once all the parts are assembled, puts the album together.

More recently the company has developed a photo filing system, using an expandable, photo-safe wallet. Photos are filed by themes or date.

"The two hardest things for beginning scrapbookers is how to organize photo and putting pictures on a page. It takes, on average, completing 15 to 20 pages before someone feels comfortable. Then they can go from doing one page an hour to doing a page every 30 minutes," Kisler said.

Smith has started a program costing only $10 a month, not including tax and shipping. She calls it "My Scrapbook Club." Members exchange hostess duties and whoever is hostess picks the topic to study for the evening. The first meeting of the club is 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 10. Another project is the "Leaving Prints" home-based business Smith is introducing, called "Out of the Box." It provides participants with automatic delivery of products for scrapbooking to their door, as well as a means to start individual home scrapbook businesses.

Kisler will be sharing the pages created by her students this fall with "Albums on Parade," 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12 at her home.

Smith and Homespun Memories will be hosting a similar function next month. In its first Customer Appreciation Awards, "A Night of Reflections" Aug. 2.

Scrappers and their creative cousins, who work with rubber stamps, will be presented awards in a variety of categories, showing off their work and sharing ideas. Nominations are due July 25, information about the categories is available at Smith's store.

Smith also presents a variety of classes at her shop, plus time to just work in scrapbook projects in her workshop. For more information, call her at 468-1968.

Whether their albums are fancy or simple, Kisler said scrapbookers are, "Creating a legacy."

"I always tell my students, scrapbooks are not a project, they're a process. My goal is to keep people motivated to work on albums," she said.

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