"Size Matters" in the Scrapbooking Industry

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Same Differences launches 'Everyday Sizes' and premieres its new sticker manufacturing technique at 2005 Craft and Hobby Show in Atlanta

At Same Differences (http://www.same-differences.com), "Size matters" at least in scrapbooking. That's why the successful company, known for its commitment to all-inclusive scrapbooking products such as Everyday Seniors and Everyday Kids (depicting children with disabilities), has added Everyday Sizes to its list of real-world-friendly offerings.

Everyday Sizes are charming scrapbooking stickers featuring people of different weights and shapes in a variety of everyday activities. Same Differences will introduce its latest product at the 2005 CHA Convention and Trade Show scheduled for February in Atlanta. Sponsored by the global Craft and Hobby Association, the show is the world's largest trade event for professionals in the $29 billion dollar U.S. craft and hobby market.

Scrapbooking's $2-Billion Slice of the Pie

According to scrapbooking magazine Creating Keepsakes, "Since 2001, people in 4.4 million homes have picked up (scrapbooking)." The result is a growth in annual sales more than 26% to a staggering $2.55 billion, nearly 10% of the overall craft/hobby market. In the midst of this rapid growth, however, the magazine notes that the industry may be falling behind in one critical area. Reports indicate that too many consumers are struggling to find products that offer accurate depictions of their racial and ethnic backgrounds, age, and physical ability.

New scrapbookers embrace their newfound hobby "with high hopes," says Michael Venzor, co-owner of ScrapbookingDiversity.com, a website devoted to this topic. The disappointment comes when consumers "go to the stores and subscribe to the magazines and they don't see themselves." Many become upset, wondering why their race, culture, religion, or physical characteristics aren't represented. One group that is particularly disenfranchised is the overweight.

U.S. health organizations report that the number of obese adults is now up to nearly 59 million people. At least one child in five is overweight in America and that number continues to climb. Yet, despite the reality of the American body, the images that are portrayed across all industries and the media continue to be tall, slim, and anything but diverse.

"Reality Check" at Booth 7351

Fortunately, scrapbooking retailers and consumers looking for that diversity will be rewarded at Booth 7351 at the Craft and Hobby Show, where Same Differences will be hard at work, striving to make uncommon images commonplace. "The scrapbooking market offers an extremely limited number of products geared towards those of different ethnicities, cultures or religions," observes Kim Luty, the energetic powerhouse behind Same Differences and the creator of Everyday Sizes. "We want to change that."

She notes how hard it is to find images of unmarried adults, childless adults, senior citizens, the disabled, "and people whose bodies are normal, but not average; and not reflected in the images of Madison Avenue, the toy industry, or the scrapbooking marketplace. "This void delivers a terrible message to anyone who's different in any way," says Luty, noting that most products in the scrapbooking industry reflect the lifestyle of a Caucasian married woman, usually of Christian faith, and usually with more than one child. "Products like Everyday Sizes are an important way to let people know that they're part of the world they live inÂÂ…and that they're not alone in that world."

Stickers with Differences, Too

"We got lots of requests for stickers with clear backing rather than on the 100% acid-free/lignin-free paper we had been using," says Luty, "and so we acted." Same Differences "re-tooled" its manufacturing and will offer the clear stickers in the new Everyday Sizes line, as well as for Everyday Kids, Seniors, Everyday Everyone, and everything "Everyday."

With an MSRP of $3.99 per sheet, the Everyday Sizes line is affordable to every size budget, too. Each sheet contains 6-8 stickers that may be used in scrapbooks, backed with magnetic tape as magnets, or laminated for educational use. Adding to the value of these inspirational and empowering images is the care Luty has put into every step of their creation and her responsiveness to the needs of the people who use their products.

Everyday Education

Luty reluctantly admits that one of the biggest challenges she has had to overcome is resistance on the part of retailers. "They tend to be conservative and to steer clear of things they consider outside the norm," says Luty. "What they forget is that people with disabilities and other differences ARE the norm in everyday life."

"Crafting is not just fun, it is a powerful tool for reaching out to others," agrees Lori Elkins Solomon, Author of Readin', Writin' & Scrappin': Scrapbooking as a Teaching Tool, and a Same Differences enthusiast. "Same Differences provides an invaluable link between crafters and educational, social service and health programs across the country."

The Same Differences scrapbook product line celebrates individuals by depicting people "in all their wonderful diversity," says Luty. The company's debut line, Everyday Kids, focused on "tweeners," adorable teenaged boys and girls who simply happen to be sitting in a wheelchair, walking with their seeing eye dogs, or leaning on a cane. Other lines include the ethnically diverse Everyday Everyone and the anti-ageist Everyday Seniors.

"The positive effect of seeing 'people like me' in everyday situations is incalculable for people at any age." says Luty, speaking for personal experience.

The Woman Behind the Scrapbook

While it is far from her defining characteristic, Luty does acknowledge her own "difference" -- Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare skin condition --, which she says was a catalyst in the creation of Same Differences. "It made me aware of differences," she says, "and of how often we exclude people without even thinking." The one-time IT professional with a background in software and engineering, has always had an interest in scrapbooks and was aware of the lack of diversity in its products.

Luty decided that the best way to ensure that scrapbooking products be developed in a manner that was respectful and positive to people of differing abilities and cultural backgrounds was to start a product line of her own. It was the birth of Same Differences, a business that would become her vocation. "Our mission is a simple one," explains Luty, "We want everyone to feel included in a self-affirming and inspirational way.

The road to professional scrapbooking success has been challenging and rewarding for Luty, but she says that Everyday Sizes is just "another joyful step on a quest for inclusion." Never content to rest on her laurels, the energetic entrepreneur is already looking to her next goal.    

For more information or to order Everyday Sizes and all the scrapbooking products offered by Same Differences, you may visit the company online at http://www.same-differences.com.

For media information, please contact: Kim Luty at press@same-differences.com or by phone at 856-816-5780.

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