This is an archived article that was published on in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Starting this month, local scrapbook stores can sell Martha Stewart's new line of craft supplies, which until now has been available only through Michaels stores and Martha's Web site.

The question is: Why would they?

Sure, Martha is classy and timeless, like a pearl necklace. And, as she once told Oprah Winfrey, she has "proven that being a perfectionist can be profitable and admirable when creating content across the board: in television, books, newspapers, radio, videos."

But there is a fine line between timeless and tired. Martha's new craft line leans toward the latter.

Admittedly, I have not seen her entire collection, which consists of 750 products. But most of what I have seen is ho-hum: punches, paper, stickers and stamps that display a lack of originality and, even worse, an ignorance of the marketplace.

Judging from the chatter on popular message boards - and the number of Utah retailers who decided to pass on Martha's stuff - I'm not the only one who expected more from the doyenne of domesticity.

Kathleen Wallace is a Marthaphile: the show, the magazine, the cookbooks, the works. She also is owner of, an online retailer based in Midvale. So when Wallace heard Martha was breaking into the business, partnering with industry giant EK Success, she was ecstatic - until she saw the goods.

"It's a shame the line isn't more spectacular," says Wallace, who got a sneak peak at the January Craft and Hobby Association convention in Anaheim.

But what really tweaks her is the marketing plan.

* Martha gave first dibs to Michaels, but waited until the items were about to debut in mom-and-pop stores before permitting the use of the stores' popular 40-percent-off coupons on purchases.

* Only independents that have achieved "elite" sales status with EK Success can sell Martha's line, and even they cannot pick and choose what products to carry. Rather, they must select one of four spending categories and take items that come with it.

* Retailers are not allowed to advertise discounts or sales on Martha products, and stores such as Scrap Stop, that sell exclusively online, are locked out altogether. Says Wallace: "Could they possibly stomp on us any more?"

Since you asked . . . An April 25 story in the Wall Street Journal, which is still being seethed about in crop circles, asked what the domestic-arts maven sees in a "dowdy industry where merchandise is sold in cluttered stores stacked floor to ceiling with pipe cleaners, Styrofoam balls, glue sticks, beads and fake flowers?"

The article said Martha's executives "went looking for a retail partner whose stores didn't look like a mess."

"Martha Stewart Living has always stood out as a rare business built around a single person's taste and sensibility," wrote the Journal's Brooks Barnes. "The partnership that put its products into Kmart stores has been rocky, with sales lower than expected. That convinced the company of the importance of tightly controlling product design, marketing and even store layouts. Otherwise, the brand will suffer, it concluded."

Let me get this straight. Martha - who recently served time in prison for insider trading - is worried about others damaging her brand?

To be fair, the condescending descriptions of the craft industry came from the reporter, not Martha. And her people are trying to counter the Martha-knows-best mentality that was the basis for the story.

"We have been crafting for decades, sharing our ideas in our magazines and our television shows and learning from our customers. We are eager to hear what our fellow crafters think, welcome their feedback and will fine-tune our products based on their comments and suggestions as we grow the line," spokeswoman Elizabeth Estroff said in an e-mail.

Cindy Andrade, Western regional sales manager for Martha Stewart Crafts, added that Martha's product line will broaden the crafting audience and "help independent retailers bring in new customers who never visited their store before."

Alisa Mellen is banking on it. Mellen, owner of Treasured Memories in West Valley City, says she bought the entire Martha line - 48 boxes of stuff that will require her to purge other products from her store.

Mellen doesn't read Martha's magazine or watch her show, and customers haven't exactly been clamoring for her craft supplies. Still, she says, Martha is a "big name," and her crossover products - storage containers, goodie boxes and wrapping paper - will add a new dimension to her inventory.

"I thought it would be a good gamble," Mellen says.

No doubt Martha is a lifestyle, and her craft line will appeal to more than just scrapbookers. In fact, her best products are the ones that bridge the gap between crafting, home décor and gift-giving - such as cupcake-carrying boxes.

And although Martha is not the first to think of it - Making Memories branched into this area years ago - she is perfectly situated to advance the merger.

But if she expects to rack up $100 million in sales in five years, as stated in the Journal, she'll have to get past the idea that crafters will buy her stuff just because it has Martha stamped on it.

Scrapbooking already has its divas - Lisa Bearnson, Becky Higgins, Shelli Gardner, Cathy Zielske - women who made a mint off scrapbooking and became celebrities in the process, not the other way around. They inspire us not because of some cult of personality, but because they are innovative designers and ordinary people. We relate to them. Through their hall-of-fame scrapbook pages, we've seen their kids go to the zoo, graduate from preschool and look pensively while their mothers recount five favorite things about being 5.

I couldn't pick Martha's daughter, Alexis, out of a lineup. But I would easily recognize Coleman Zielske - or, as we all know him, Coley - in a crowd.

These women realize that, although we might appreciate a nice pastel-pink sheet set at a reasonable price, that's not what we want in our scrapbooks. We cruise stores looking for unique stuff to add to our stash. We want to be surprised. And we're impatient.

Martha was unfashionably late arriving at the scrapbooking party. But I'm confident she'll turn it around. She is, after all, a perfectionist.


* LINDA FANTIN can be contacted at Send comments about this column to

Contest: Back to School scrapbook

Congratulations to Sadie Hansen, of West Jordan, winner of The Tribune's Back to School Scrapbook contest, which invited school-age scrapbookers to decorate a Mead Composition Journal.

Sadie, who is 12, used distressed die cuts, ribbon, buttons, stickers and pop-up dots in her clean but sophisticated "best friends"-themed design. She will receive $50 to spend on school supplies.

Of course, if she would rather buy scrapbook stuff, who are we to object?

We asked Sadie about her hobby; here's what she had to say.

How long have you been scrapbooking?

About three or four years.

What do you like about it?

I like when I go to the store and there are so many things to match your page.

Where do you turn for design ideas?

My mom and my sister; magazines like Memories and Keepsakes.

Why do you scrapbook?

I would like to show my kids one day this is what I was like when I was little.

What techniques are you into right now?

Chalking and stamping and tearing.

Where did you get the inspiration for your notebook?

From a page I saw on the Internet and from another scrapbook I had made.


- "Butterflies" notebook by Alix Twiggs, 12, of Sandy

- "S" notebook by Sierra Staton, 15, of West Bountiful

- "Schooltime" notebook by Kiana Pennock, 11, of Salt Lake City

- "Birthday Girl" notebook by Whitney Lowther, 8, of South Jordan

Workshop: "Best Friends" notebook


Paper, alphabet stickers, Close to My Heart's More to Adore line

Flower, heart, butterfly die cuts, Sizzix

Ribbon, Roberts Craft

Heart paper clip, brand unknown

Best Friends glitter sticker, K & Company

Buttons, brown ink, découpage, pop dots, circle punch


Cut patterned paper to fit front of notebook, but not its black binding. Découpage paper (front and back) to cover of notebook; let dry 24 hours.

Ink edges of die cuts and arrange on left side of notebook to cover seam between patterned paper and binding. Punch two 1-inch circles; tie ribbon to buttons and glue buttons to circles; glue circles to flowers.

Layer rounded rectangles. Use pop dots to attach smallest rectangle. Add alphabet and glitter stickers.

String ribbon through paper clip, wrap around cover and tie on the inside.

Products we like

Basic Grey "Periphery" 6-by-6 paper pad ($6.99) and fibers ($3.99)

Chip Chatter Gellies by Pressed Petals, $8.49

Suze Weinberg's Wonder Tape, $3.50

Over The Edge Rub-ons by Imaginisce, $2.99

American Crafts "Thickers" 3-D alphabet stickers, $2.69 each

Buy the book

Thirty bucks is a lot to pay for an idea book, but Imagine. Fun, Fabulous Layouts for Every Scrapbooker, by Jeanette R. Lynton (Gibbs Smith, $29.95) is worth it. Not only does it contain 50 two-page layouts, but the book also is full of techniques and tips for creating your own embellishments, customizing paper and personalizing pages. The author is founder and CEO of Close to My Heart, one of the largest direct-selling scrapbook companies in the industry, and her book carefully catalogues all of the company's products used in its layouts. But even if you're not a devoted CTMH customer, you'll be inspired by her suggestions.

One for the money

No money to buy new stamps? Host a Stamp Swap Party. Invite five friends to your house and ask each to bring five favorite stamps, stamp pads and paper.

If guests are willing, ask them to bring five stamps to trade.

Everyone can make images using each other's stamps, and those who want to trade can. Make sure the stamps are properly labeled so nothing gets lost.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens (