I was fortunate enough to be invited by Stephanie Nishikawa to do some workshops and celebrating at the grand reopening of her store, The Paper Garden, in Sacramento, California! It was just a few weekends ago when I packed up my pencils and brushes and headed from the cold Seattle rain to the hot upper 80's of California - and was so delighted to see Stephanie's new paper boutique!
Her new location was so Stephanie - chic and stylish, and full of wonderful ideas and products that would make any papercrafter linger in her store for hours.
...as well as plenty of ribbon, powders, papers, inks, dies and other goodies filling this nice open and airy space.
I love how she designed the store - chandeliers on the ceiling - and sunflower and eggshell (two memory box colors!) paint color on the walls and ceiling. Everything is so bright and charming, you can't help but smile when you walk in!
Stephanie and her staff fill the store with all sorts of paper art - including the paper topiary balls in the window. Can you see how many kinds of patterned paper and punches decorate this single ball?
One product did catch my eye - a pack of pencils from a manufacturer I had never heard of. A member of our design team, Wanda Guess, pointed these out to me and I had to look at every set that Stephanie had! Each beautifully crafted box had a separate color palette inside of these wonderful colored pencils - beautifully designed and gorgeous to look at.
Here's the pale collection - from their "color dictionary". These are for serious colored pencil enthusiasts - each palette is carefully curated into a compatible group of colors and they are simply wonderful and well thought out. You can get all of the sets from Stephanie by calling the store at (916) 487 2737.
One of the students' favorite projects was the rainbow tag with the Prim Poppy die (98310) - we used the Distressed Tag die (98244) to cut out some watercolor paper, then used the F1356 Dill Print stamp and the G1838 Vintage Dreams stamp to create a fun background. We filled the tag with watercolor for a breezy collage look and mounted everything together for one of the more colorful projects of the day.
My friend Tina - who I first met when her daughter came to class a few years ago - brought her son Tristan in to absorb some class instruction. Tina is one of those moms that have perfect babies - I remember Tina holding her daughter in one hand and painting with the other - with no fussing at all. Tristan was, of course, a perfect student as well. He even let me hold him for a photo op! (Um, regarding my beard - well, it's still cold and wintry in Seattle!)
I filled 100 spots over the weekend - teaching a watercolor class in the morning and a colored pencil class in the afternoon. Since we were celebrating, I taught with a little less emphasis on technique - and a little more emphasis on being fun and creative. We incorporated lots of stamps and dies into the classes - and since I didn't have a dry run on teaching these all new workshops, I precut all of the die-cuts before arriving, to make things run smoothly.
Here are the projects we did (for those of you in class, sorry this took awhile to post!):
Doing the workshops reminded me how much I like getting out and sharing creativity around the country. I've been doing summer class tours - and occasional weekend trips in the fall and spring - for about 10 years now. My summer tour last year was my biggest ever (you can read about it here). And it's about this time of year that I start planning my upcoming tour. The excitement of meeting new people and visiting stores and getting to travel is thrilling for me.
Which is why it is such a hard decision this year to not do a summer tour. I realized about a month ago, with the unprecedented success of Memory Box over the last year, that scheduling, prepping and actually going on a summer tour was going to be nearly impossible. As far as the business goes, Monica and I find ourselves in the very fortunate position of being so busy that we are working 7 days a week to try and keep all the operations moving as smoothly as possible. Thank you to everyone who has supported Memory Box - people have sent us so many kind emails to say how much fun they have using our stamps and dies. Thanks to Google translate - I even get these messages from Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, France, Italy, South Africa, the Philippines and many other countries around the globe.
Monica and I have always tried to create a business that not only creates beautiful products to work with, but also maintains integrity and honesty. We have worked with other wonderful companies (look for a few more ventures this year!) to come up with new and unique products - and we have engaged in local charities to give back to the community. While it is a business that pays the bills, we have always believed in the greater good - and we try to step back and take a look at the big picture. Are we making a positive impact?
It's our policy to make all of our products in the USA - 100% USA-made steel craft dies, soy-based inks on our recycled papers and locally manufactured wood-mounted stamps - and we also strive for the best customer service. Because of overwhelming demand, our manufacturing has been stretched to the limit - and in spite of hiring, and more hiring, the groundswell of attention that Memory Box is receiving globally is still delaying our shipping times. Have no fear though - we are catching up and we're expanding our operations (cautiously, cautiously - still careful after 17 years in business). We will continue to manufacture all of our excellent products here in the US and get caught up on the hundreds of emails we receive per day. We want you to be happy with what we make - and satisfied with every Memory Box purchase!
Aside from our incredible good fortune with the business, I realize that accommodating two teenagers, my daughter Emma (16) and son Cooper (14), into a summer tour schedule may prove even more difficult than working 14 hour days! As I write this post, Emma's spanish group from school is filming a video for class here at the house, which will be followed by lunch at the park with one of her friends, Cooper is going to the movies tonight with his friends, and tomorrow is a celebration party for Emma's tennis team at another friends house. Ahh, the schedules of teenagers have eclipsed our family free time - which is the way it should be.
So - this will be a hiatus for me. Maybe a year? Maybe two? As Monica and I continue to grow the business, I'll be counting down the days until I get to escape the warehouse - and continue my own creative journey.