Three months ago this week, my business partner Kayce and I (along with our CEO, Mark Seastrand) traveled to Bowling Green, Kentucky to have a sit-down with April and Greg Foster and their team at Studio Calico. You may have read about some exciting industry news on blogs and social media today, and I will certainly share links so that you’ll know where to go for the official announcement and answers to questions you might have, but here in my little corner of the Internet, I want to share the WHY behind it all and tell you a story that I know has a very happy ending.
Back in the summer of 2005, I was a very busy mom and editor of Simple Scrapbooks Magazine (rest in peace!) I was traveling (a LOT) and I was writing a book titled, The Big Picture, Scrapbook Your Life and a Whole Lot More. I was also thinking about how people learn and gain experience and confidence with memory keeping and I began to wonder if you couldn’t do more on a website, than was currently being done. Maybe you could (sort of) go behind the scenes of a magazine article and show and tell more? I pictured “lessons” that included downloadable handouts and audio files. Long story short, I took my idea to my boss at the time and was given his blessing to ‘test’ out my idea. I put a URL in my book, right before it went to press and Big Picture Scrapbooking was born. I was in a bit of trouble though because I actually had to create a website, which I knew absolutely NOTHING about. I began to ask around and in what I consider a moment of blessed fate, I met Kayce Rehn, who designed and built a new little website and within a matter of weeks, became my business partner. We had no idea what we were doing, but knew the idea had potential. I knew in my gut that we were solving a problem that hadn’t even fully emerged.
That was 9 years ago and Big Picture Scrapbooking, now Big Picture Classes has come a long way.
So has the idea of learning online.
When we started our business, there was no such word as elearning or ebook or e anything really. The Internet (for scrapbookers at least) was all about message boards. You could visit a handful of forums and read about what was going on in Scrapbook magazines and you could talk about product you were seeing and loving at your local scrapbook store. People who didn’t have a local scrapbook store had begun buying a few things online, and there were some kit clubs that you could subscribe to, which would provide a monthly dose of the latest and greatest in scrapbooking goodness. Some of us had started blogs and we were super excited because we were learning how to take digital pictures with our new digital cameras that we could post on these blogs. In a way, it was like scrapbooking on your computer! It was all very exciting and it began to evolve our industry.
Fast forward to …
As you well know, the old must give way to the new and so as we welcomed all of these new, exciting tools and ways of communicating and sharing, we also said good-bye to beloved magazines and local stores. Our computers got faster and much, much smaller and the way we take pictures, the way we connect with family and friends and the way we share stories has changed, but our love of photography and storytelling has only grown.
Here we are today (and it’s a GREAT day!)
For a while now, we at BPC have been concerned with how our community gets product to use in our classes. We’ve dabbled here and there and from time to time sent kits or product to registered students, but we’re not a store and we’ve always wanted to focus on inspiration and motivation, lending support to our retail friends, who excel at things like inventory and shipping. We had built a fully custom website from the ground up and we knew we had to focus on staying current with web technology and creating and delivering top-notch online learning over trying to do something we wouldn’t be good at. Speaking of “good at”, let’s talk Studio Calico. You can read their story here, but suffice it to say that they have emerged as the industry leader in delivering paper-crafting kits, worldwide. They are growing and they have a vision of where they are going. I like people with a vision. We’ve partnered on multiple occasions to do fun things (think Pajama Party, our Play! event and the effort on National Scrapbook Day to flood Instagram with 10,000 scrapbook pages) and it just kind of made sense that we should talk about a more permanent merger of our education and product businesses.
Back to my birthday.
I have promised myself, for a long time that by the time I turned 50, I would know what the future of BPC looked like. In other words, I would have a plan for making sure that my BPC baby and the incredible community that it has grown into would continue to grow and thrive. Now, don’t get any crazy ideas. I’m not going anywhere. If anything, I want to do MORE of what I love and more of what I’m uniquely wired to do.
I want to sit in fewer management meetings.
I want to talk less of numbers and more of new ideas.
I want to create more videos.
I want to blog more.
I want to evolve my digital workflow.
I want to refresh my creative studio.
I want to develop new kinds of classes.
I want to do more travel and teaching (again.)
I want to create a quarterly BPC “stacy julian” kit.
In short, there are LOTS of things I want to do. Mostly, I want to continue to see this industry evolve and I want to influence an inclusive, “It all counts” attitude toward memory keeping and paper crafting. I adore photos and stories and the opportunity to freeze time and relive happy moments. I love what we’ve built at BPC and I love teaching and interacting with YOU. I will never tire of logging into a new classroom and “virtually” meeting friends from all over the world. The other day, in The Phone Photography Project 2, I left a comment on a thread where three women were conversing. One was from Alberta, Canada, one was Melbourne, Australia and the other lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico—that’s just plain cool.
So, on May 6th I turned 49.
Kayce and me and Mark were eating lunch with April and Greg and some of their associates. We had talked about future possibilities and potential plans for two days and we were very close to making a deal. No one (other than Kayce) knew it was my birthday, so waited until just the right moment to let everyone in on my secret. When it was my turn, I talked about my family and my dreams and what I wanted for BPC and then, I said “and today is my birthday and what a really want is to shake hands on a very bright future” or something very similar to that.
I got what I wanted.
I really believe that I also got what you want and need.
I’ll be the first to tell you that we have much work to do, but #thefutureisbright and I couldn’t be happier.
p.s. I will write another blog post very soon. I will respond to ANY of your questions with full transparency!