So, a little disclaimer. This post gets kinda real. If you want a look inside a scrapbook and craft designer's brain, into the secret stuff I talk to other industry peeps about, then come on in and read my story about twopeasinabucket closing:
My phone started blowing up last night:
“TwoPeas is closing!”
Why does everyone want to tell me this? I wasn't a fixture over there. Heck, I barely even have an account there! LOL But I am a long long long time scrapbooker and everyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about the industry. This is a big deal. For alot of people, this is like Target saying they're closing!
Then tonight I see all these posts on Facebook with the link to Nancy Nally's Scrapbook Update article about the closure. And I see all these instagram screenshots of people's profiles with stories about how much they will miss this and that and how grateful they are for all that TwoPeas did for them. And I am kind like, “Gag me with a spoon!” Sure, they are valid statements for them but I just did NOT have that kind of experience…
First, let me say that I am so sad to hear anyone's business is closing. This is not an easy decision for anyone to come to (I have been on that doorstep many times myself) and it is even more difficult to figure out how to do it in a way that is the least destructive to you and your customers at the same time. I feel for the Whites so much! I know they are people and my heart breaks for them to have to come to this decision, when, from the outside looking in, it looks like they fought and worked hard to get TwoPeas back after it changed ownership. They built an empire and a legacy. There was a time when you couldn't get out of a crop without hearing “did you see what was on TwoPeas last night?”. That time is over now. And I am thankful for that because 9 times out of 10, people weren't talking about the products the site was selling.
What I won't miss is the culture of TwoPeas.
I think part of the culture is what the owners/moderators allowed to happen on those message boards and in the gallery comments. And I think the other part of the culture is the type of people who take advantage of that kind of situation and behave destructively. It wasn't everyone on TwoPeas' message boards. It wasn't even the majority. But it was enough people to sour the entire experience for me and many others.
I didn't have this warm, fuzzy experience with TwoPeas. I started scrapbooking in 1998 and finally got involved in message boards and exploring the scrapbooking community online in 2003. I heard about two main boards: Scrapbook.com and TwoPeasInABucket.com. Of course, I checked them both out. At TwoPeas I was struck by all of the negativity on the boards – they were openly bashing people and projects, companies, and anything else under the sun that someone could complain about. If it wasn't bashing, it was snarky mean comments back and forth. I saw people post mean comments about work posted in the gallery – like that something was “ugly” or poorly done. REALLY?! That is just HORRIBLE to say to someone who is just sharing their work! It was REALLY clear if you were an outsider or if you weren't in the clique. I felt things were really competitive and backstabby over there and not supportive. I saw all these posts from people today saying the TwoPeas “community” was so supportive and encouraging to them. Really? I must have been really missing something – I just never got any of that when I was over there…no warm fuzzies. Ever.
My experience at scrapbook.com was so much different! It was supporrtive. Sure, there were moments when people were snarky. But I actually have made friends with people on scrapbook.com who are now life -long friends that I see regularly. Anything nasty or out of hand was always handled immediately by the moderators in MINUTES.
I tried to get into the groove over at TwoPeas but I couldn't mesh with it. I didn't fit in over there. I felt there was a really clear definition of who was “in” and who was “out” and I was OUT. Like “kicked out the door and down a hill” OUT! LOL And at the end of the day, I do this creating thing to enjoy myself and help inspire joy in others. I want to be around people who enjoy themselves and who enjoy the work of other people and that's all. The line stops there. There is no envy. No snarky (unless you're joking). No private messages talking bad about people. No “in” or “out” crowd. No mean girls. I don't have time, energy, or brain power for that. Makes me tired to even ponder it. I just had to make myself a cup of coffee to keep typing…
I stopped posting on scrapbook.com for a while because I was busy. I went back on recently and was able to jump right back in – say hi to familiar faces and chat with new people. It is a completely different culture.
Last year, someone decided to attack me on social media and online. She/her friends (not sure which, if there were dummy accounts or what – makes my brain hurt to even think about this kind of insane behavior) took it to the message boards at TwoPeas. I was not surprised when I heard this – if they were gonna post mean things anywhere, well, TwoPeas was definitely the place! This all went down while I was working at an event for one of my clients. I was totally oblivious until someone told me about it. TwoPeas worked faster than I did. They took down the vicious attack before I could even find it. I emailed them to let them know how much I appreciated that. I really respect them for that. Unfortunately, enough people saw it that when I did go post on the forums months later, that post was referenced and I was attacked by other TwoPeas members who believed the negative blather they had read. There was a ceiling for how much TwoPeas tolerates. For me, it was too high. I don't think allowing people to be mean and negative on your website translates into sales. Apparently.
So, what does this mean for the industry and why I am telling you my personal experience in this? Because I think this does make a big statement about where the industry was and where it is going. All of these kinds of events are consumers steering the ship and telling us where they want the industry to go. We just need to put our ear to the ground and LISTEN.
Before I get into what I think this means for the industry – crafting AND scrapbooking -I think I need to go a little into the history and how I see things.
1. WE, as a collective industry, were making so much money, so many sales etc from 2000 to 2007, that we forgot WHY anyone does any of this. And what our role in creating IS:
- We craft/scrap/paint/art journal/draw/doodle/letter/resin/create to express ourselves.
- We go online with that expression to connect to other people who are doing the same thing; who will understand us.
- We built businesses to help other people connect with each other and find tools to express themselves. TwoPeas was one of these kinds of companies.
- We do art to escape from reality. It is our refuge, our respite, our joy!
- In forgetting what our real mission was, we allowed cultures to flourish online, in stores, and in crafting groups, that excluded people, put people in competition with one another, and created a high school clique system between customers, staff, and vendors. In allowing these systems, we chased away customers who just wanted what we originally promised to provide: inspiration and tools for creating.
2. WE conditioned people to think they need a stockpile of craft for very little money.
- WE, especially scrapbooking companies, were our own best enemy!
- 2001-2008ish: Everyone was told to BUY BUY BUY – there was this idea that supplies were scarce. If they took a $20 class, we gave them $200 worth of STUFF to take home just to seem generous and out-do the competition. We conditioned people to buy but also conditioned them to pay as little as possible for a ridiculous amount of product.
- 2005 – 2011ish: Stores, companies, everyone was going under and selling stuff off for CHEAP! People stockpiled that stuff like it was going out of style. I did it too.
- 2003 – 2012ish: “Limited Edition” became the word du jour when supplies weren't that scarce – we just had to keep people buying buying buying.
- We, consumers, built these incredible stashes of supplies that we could never use in a lifetime.
- Very few people I know need to buy ANYTHING.
- We wonder why no one wants to pay full price anymore- well, we conditioned them to expect great deals and freebies galore for very little money.
3. Things got bad, and then things got real. 2008 – now
- People lost their jobs and homes. Shoot, people are STILL losing their jobs and homes!
- When people don't have money, they can't spend it
- When people who didn't have money for a while get money, they don't spend it. They pay down debt or they save it.
- People developed negative emotional relationships with their “stash” – the stash started to represent money wasted, credit card interest, extra stress, failed dreams, or any combination of these things. Some people stopped scrapbooking altogether. Others sold it off for money. Some put it in storage or just closed the door on that scrapbook room. Some turned their scrapbook rooms back into guest rooms.
- Some people are trying to work through their stash, making things to sell online or at craft fairs or just trying to use stuff up.
- And people started taking stock of their lives.
- And really considering not only where they spend their money but their quality of life, who they spend time with, where they socialize online.
- And people decided they don't want to go online and see negative things. Or get attacked. Or see hatred.
- It's not enough to have “big names” or talented designers or limited edition stuff – if you aren't nice and the experience isn't amazing, people will stop shopping.
- Message boards don't translate into sales for everyone
People go online for inspiration and to connect to other people who share the same interests they do.
And here we are, back at ground zero.
I don't know all the background business stuff but I can tell that you that the culture of TwoPeas just didn't change with the times – it's the 2005 culture they have over there that's one of the problems I see. For me, that is one of the biggest reasons I didn't shop at TwoPeas. It bothered me. I didn't want to go there. I didn't want to know what was being gossiped about over there. And I didn't want to spend money somewhere that allowed that kind of culture. I didn't have to shop there – there were plenty of other choices. I just wanted to make stuff.
From my anecdotal conversations with people, I know so many people who are in this same boat. Crap happened. Life got hard. Shit got real. And we took a step back and asked ourselves what really matters in our lives. And we realized we just want to make stuff. Pretty things, expressive things, gifts. We just want to make and be around other people who enjoy making. Sure, we'll buy something here or there. But if things get nasty or mean or gossipy, we're outta there! In person or online. We don't HAVE to buy paper or stickers or rub-ons or limited edition designer acrylic stamps to live. We all realized we don't have to put up with bad service or snarky staff or rude comments or gossip, online or in a store, in order to buy the things we want – we can just go elsewhere.
Now, how is the industry going to make people's experiences with crafts better? More fun? More inspiring? More happy? More___________?
That's what I think we need to learn from this. Adapt. Change. Evolve.
I thought about if I should post this here or or not at all. I definitely wanted to post it. Some people are gonna not like me after this. Hopefully not. But maybe. I posted it here on Hydrangea Hippo because I believe in being real and authentic with YOU. And I do think the industry is changing. People really aren't stopping crafting. No one wants to talk about it but companies are in trouble. Archiver's closed. Now TwoPeas. American Crafts is buying everyone! Change change change change change. Some good, some bad. It's scary for alot of people.
We, as an industry, have to ask ourselves what consumers want from us. It's simple. If people want to buy pineapples and you're selling kangaroos, well, you're not gonna sell any kangaroos. So how do we figure out what people want? Surveys? Focus Groups? Studies? Sometimes it is just observations, analysis, and gut checks. Serious gut checks.
My gut tells me that TwoPeas closing is the end of an era. It is sad for alot of people. But old eras have to end for new ones to begin. I like what consumers are telling the industry. In many ways, I am also a consumer telling the industry the same things you are. We want inspiration. We want “nice”. We want maturity and respect. Most of us don't care who made it – we just want pretty things to make or to buy. If we find someone genuine whose work we like, we follow them. We feel connected. We want things and interactions that make us forget the bad, forget our troubles, and take us to a place where anything is possible.
Now, industry, how are you gonna make that happen?
Do you have an opinion about TwoPeas or the scrapbooking industry? Please share it in the comments!