A few months ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Kelli Panique. I was first introduced to her through Lain Ehmann and the Scrap Happy events. She was behind the scenes making everything run smoothly and she was always super helpful. I thought she would be a great scrapbooking mind to learn about. Here is her interview and I just love her perspective on the industry. Enjoy!
1) How did you get started in the scrapbooking industry? Are you currently on any Design Teams?
I started teaching at my local scrapbook store, A Memory to Scrap in Broken Arrow, OK, in 2009. My goal was to showcase a different technique and a different scrapbook manufacturer each month to expose people to all the good scrapbook products out there.
In October of 2010, I joined Lain Ehmann’s Layout a Day challenge (LOAD) in hopes of finishing a project I was working on for another scrapbook class. Little did I know how that one decision would affect the rest of my life! While I went in to the challenge to complete an album, I came out energized and excited about scrapping. I had never met so people that were so supportive of each other’s work and who really understood why we were doing what we were doing. I had found my tribe and so I joined ScrapHappy so I could continue to engage with my fellow scrappers in between LOAD challenges.
In 2011, Lain reached out to the ScrapHappy community and asked if anyone would be interested in helping her with some background tasks. I was looking for a little part-time work, so I threw my hat in the ring. I started answering ScrapHappy email, but when the person who was helping Lain with the True Scrap Events had to bow out, Lain brought me on board. Every time she asked if I could do something, I said, “Yes!” The fun part of the events is coordinating with and getting to know the instructors from all over the scrapbook industry. Plus, the camaraderie on the day of the event is so fun! I think it’s even more fun than the in-person events I’ve attended.
I was a part of the Design Team for The Memory Nest. The owner, Leslie, is wonderful and I highly suggest checking out her shop. It’s like shopping at your LSS – only online. http://www.thememorynest.com/
2) What was the impetus behind starting your website, Use It Scrapbooking?
Between teaching, participating in LOAD and working with Lain, I was learning SO much. I had a personal blog, but decided having a blog dedicated to scrapbooking would be a better fit. I started Use It Scrapbooking because I have so much stuff I needed to use and I know I’m not the only one! “Scrapbook supply collecting” may be an even bigger hobby than scrapbooking so my goal was to use more of my stuff and help other scrapbookers do the same.
3) What’s been your greatest accomplishment – personal and/or professional?
I’ll have to go personal on this one: My oldest son is going in to his senior year of high school. We are already starting to see all his work over the last decade come to fruition through awards, recognition and, even job offers. He’s the Commander of his Air Force JROTC unit at his high school. He worked so hard to achieve that position. Seeing him be successful and turning in to a thoughtful, courageous young man and know I helped bring him this far is my greatest accomplishment to date.
4) You mentioned that you’re from California. What part of California and what made you leave?
I grew up in Sunnymead, CA, which is now Moreno Valley, CA, in Southern California just outside of Riverside. I went to college to the University of Redlands. (Och Tamale!) After I was married, I lived in Riverside and Beaumont. Plus, I worked in Anaheim at Disneyland before I had kids. (Best job ever!) We moved to Oklahoma when my kids were 7 and 3. We were able to buy a bigger house on a beautiful piece of land and were excited to raise the kids where they could be outside more and live at a slower pace. Broken Arrow has been a great, family-oriented place to raise our boys. It feels like a small town even though it’s pretty big. There’s a great community feeling here. My family still lives in CA and I do miss it….except for the traffic. I don’t miss that at all!
5) You have seen scrapbooking change over the years. What’s been the best change for this hobby? What do you see as a sad change?
Scrapbooking has changed A LOT of the years. I’ve been scrapbooking for 17 years and many trends have come and gone…and come back again! I think the best change was when we started to realize we didn’t have to scrapbook chronologically. Some people still do and I think that’s a great away to go, especially if you’re working on Project Life. For me, when I untethered myself from the next pictures in my stack and starting telling the stories that were popping in my head (or being prompted by a challenge) that’s when my scrapbooks began to show more of our family’s story rather than what happened on what date. (Why was I scrapping other kids’ birthday parties anyway?) I’ve made pages about connections between family members from different generations. I’ve scrapped about my own school days and my honeymoon – pictures I never thought I’d get to because I’d never be “caught up” enough to go back. Now, I don’t worry about being caught up. That freedom to scrap whatever I feel like has made me more creative in my page designs.
The saddest change has been seeing so many of the magazines and manufacturers shut down. The industry has certainly scaled back in recent years and that’s a little disheartening. I think social media has changed the game. Since we’re constantly sharing our stories when they happen, there’s not as much urgency to get those photos down on paper. However, I think there will always be a place for playing with paper and scrapbooking. The positive side of social media is we can connect with other creative folks who share our passion. Because of scrapbooking, I know people in Australia, Germany, Abu Dhabi, France, Holland and England!
6) Besides scrapbooking, what do you do for fun?
I love to travel, but I don’t get to do that often enough! I love to read and I enjoy taking my dogs out for a walk to get some fresh air after working all day. Besides that, my favorite times are when I’m just hanging out with my family and friends.
7) Describe your creative process. Do you start with photos or paper and embellishments?
I generally start with the photos or with a prompt. If it’s a prompt that I’ve started with (like in LOAD), then I go looking for the pictures to go with the prompt. LOAD taught me not be so picky about what paper I use, so I generally go with the first one or two patterned papers I find that will work and build from there….unless, of course, I know the exact patterned paper I have in my stash for that photo. Then the search begins!
After I’ve narrowed down the paper, I move the pictures and paper around until I have a general idea of what I want the finished layout to look like, then I start cutting. Then I place it all, without adhering anything yet, and ask myself if it’s missing anything. At this point, I usually add another layer of something – it could an additional photo mat, maybe another piece of patterned paper or a frame for the title. Then I stick it all down and grab my embellishments. I have a pretty simple style, so there aren’t too many embellishments, just enough to add some interest and texture to the page. Then I finalize the title and add the journaling. I mostly use my own handwriting because I think that’s an important piece of yourself to be in your scrapbooks, but if I have a lot of journaling, or if that’s my starting point for that page, I’ll type it up.
8) Who are your favorite designers as sources of inspiration?
Lately, my favorite designers have been fellow ScrapHappy members. These include Lisa Hausman, who runs a wonderful challenge blog at Whimsical Musings, Dani Leonetti at Scrapper on the Street, Alice Boll at Scrapbook Wonderland and Alison Day at Alison Day Designs. I also love to see what Cathy Zielske, Jennifer Gallacher and Layle Koncar are up to.
9) What words of advice and wisdom do you have for today’s scrapbookers?
My advice is to keep it simple and get your stories on the page. And, when I say your stories, I mean, YOUR stories. It’s good to record the moments of your kids and other family members, but the story none of them can tell is yours. So, scrap about what school was like when you were a kid, who your friends were in high school and your relationship with your siblings. Tell how you met your significant other, why you chose the career or college you choose and what your grandma use to make for Christmas dinner. Those are the little nuggets of treasure you can give your friends and family.
And, did I mention to have fun? This hobby should be filled with joy! Make a simple page with picture and words or go all out with the embellishments, sprays, paints and ribbon. If it makes you happy, do it! If it makes it stressful, do it a different way. You’re the boss of your scrapbooking – enjoy it!
10) What’s coming up next for you? Any exciting plans in the works?
As I mentioned, my oldest son is graduating next year, so my big project is finishing up his school album. I made a good dent in those photos during the LOAD challenge but I have a ways to go. I’ll be documenting the creation of the album on my blog and I’m hoping to put together an eBook with tips for creating a school album. It’s good I have a deadline of next May…then I know it will get done one way or another!
I want to thank Kelli for taking the time to share her story with us. Be sure to check out the links to her sources of inspiration. They’re some of my favorites too!