As names go in the craft industry, they don’t get much bigger than Stacey Caron! Stacey is the co-founder and President of Spellbinders Creative Arts and back in 2003 she and her company changed the world of die-cutting and embossing with the development of the first universal cutting and embossing system and the first dies in the craft market to cut, emboss and stencil.
Since then Stacey and the team have received numerous awards in product innovation and business and have exclusively teamed up with Create and Craft to further expand the Spellbinders product range in the UK.
Stacey is a key-note speaker at our One Big Show 18-19 June and we had the privilege to catch up with her prior to this flagship event in the AFCI calendar.
What was the inspiration behind Spellbinders when you started back in 2003? The inspiration behind starting Spellbinders happened as a result of two situations: a serious neck injury and an amazing observation. I had a car accident resulting in a neck injury. At the time of my accident, I was a Dental Hygienist who was on a very different career track. Knowing that ultimately I would have to change careers and after the birth of my children, I began to teach workshops and classes on Scrapbooking and card making. It was during that time I noticed a huge gap in what die cutting offered back in 2003. Everything offered to consumers in die cutting was very narrow in focus. The dies were flat with no dimension and very basic. I wanted dies that were beautiful, dimensional, multifunctional and featured embossing detail. That desire gave my husband, Jeff, the spark of genius to create the industry’s first dies that cut, embossed and stenciled. I also wanted one cutting system that could use any dies from any system so my students could share dies amongst themselves without system limitations. That idea resulted in the Wizard, the first universal cutting and embossing system in the craft industry.
Creativity is your background, what advice would you give to young designers who want to start their own business ion the Craft industry? I have always had a passion for creativity and expressed it in many different ways before founding Spellbinders. My advice to young designers who want a craft business is to stay true to your creative passions, educate yourself and research as much as possible about our industry before jumping in. Knowledge is power and retaining a business or life coach also helps to keep your goals and progress on track. Secondly, build out the creativity around each of your ideas. For example, building the core for Spellbinders was the beginning of a multi-faceted approached to die casting. We did not only create beautiful embossed and detailed dies, we revolutionized dies with innovations like “nestabilities”, “shapeabilities”, decorative elements, etc. Be creative with your creativity.
You recently announced an exclusive partnership with Create & Craft, how important are demonstrations of craft techniques to budding crafters? Spellbinders is thrilled about our partnership with Create and Craft because education and demonstrations are the true life blood our industry. It grows our consumer base and without it we are all dead in the water so to speak. People buy what they see and regardless of being a TV channel or a brick and mortar store products sell best when customers can see the products in action. The “Tell, Show, Do” model remains a cornerstone in the craft industry.
The independent craft retailers are in decline in the UK – what advice could you give them to attract new customers? It’s all about contact. As a follow-up with the last question, be creative about how you interact with your target customers. For example, have a “Pop-Up Store” at local events, creating a rich initial consumer experience.
What advice can you give designers who want to work with manufacturers? Have your act together. Do your homework. Know your ideal customer. Know what you want to serve your customer. Know how you want to serve your customer. Have an idea how to market, promote and sell yourself and your product/services. Understand how you want the manufacturer to serve you in return, as a designer. It is a give and take relationship. You may not get all you want, but you may get more than you bargained for.
Businesses are ever evolving, how important is it to set achievable goals and what tactics do you use to deliver on these? Sure, they should be achievable, but also uncomfortable and a little lofty. Know your why, i.e. your dreams? What is your motivation – financial, emotional, spiritual, physical etc.? What do you want to achieve? This may be a little old school, but the best first tactic to delivering on these is to create associated “SMART” objectives – Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based (just Google that for more info on SMART objectives). Your goals can look to the sky, but your tactical objectives should ground your success. Clear and realistic objectives will show you how plausible your goal is.
Finally, craft is a growing industry in the UK but a lot of people shy away with the excuse ‘I couldn’t do that’ – what advice would you give to overturn this mentality? That is self-doubt. If you truly believe you can’t do it, you are right — you can’t. If you take the risk, you have to be committed to your vision, no matter what obstacles get in your way. There will be obstacles and challenges. Feel the fear, but don’t let it stop you. You have to be willing to not quit and find your way around all obstacles. Of course, it is scary and you don’t have to have it all figured out now. Take baby steps and keep moving forward. Being an entrepreneur means you are always learning. Stay in motion; stay in the positive; keep learning.
The One Big Show is the ‘Go To’ event for supporting businesses in the creative product industry and to meet, network and learn new skills. There will be key note speakers from the industry, educational sessions to increase product knowledge and promote best business practices plus space for manufacturers and designers to showcase their work.
To get your tickets for this amazing event just go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/one-big-show-inc-creative-exchanges-tickets-26604046419