A few months ago, I had the privilege to interview the amazing Stacy Julian. She is one of the pioneers of the scrapbooking industry and I have always admired her talent and drive. I knew that I wanted her interview to be the first one that I posted on my new website. So, without further adieu, here’s her story.
1) Many of my readers know that you are a pioneer of the scrapbooking industry. Can you tell us how you got involved with the industry? Where did you work and in what capacity before you decided to branch out on your own?
In 1993, I signed up to be an independent stamp demonstrator with D.O.T.S (Dozens of Terrific Stamps) which is now, Close To My Heart. I moved to Utah in 1994 and discovered scrapbooking through a local stamp and scrapbook retailer, called Paper Hearts. After I left CTMH, I worked at moonlight madness cropping parties, where I gained experience helping others with their scrapbooking. In 1997, at the invitation of Brenda Birrell (owner of Pebbles Inc.) I self-published an idea book called Core Composition. Shortly after this, I met Don Lambson and then Lisa Bearnson at Creating Keepsakes magazine. I did some work for CK (wrote articles and made pages) and in 2000 was invited to write a book for their new book division. Simple Scrapbooks, the book was published in December, 2000 and became the impetus behind the magazine, Simple Scrapbooks which debuted in January, 2002. In 2005, my role changed from editor in chief to founding editor, and I was able to write the book, The Big Picture. I was eager to share more of the content and ideas from the book online, and since websites were just beginning to be truly interactive, I published the URL bigpicturescrapbooking.com inside the book. This meant I needed to create a website before the book hit stores. Primedia, who owned and published Simple Scrapbooks magazine was not interested in the website, so they gave me permission to run it alongside the magazine. As BPS (later BPC) grew, my role at the magazine diminished. Primedia shut Simple down in 2009 and I was able to focus all of my time and energy on BPC. I never really intended to ‘set out’ on my own, it happened almost imperceptibly!
2) What was the impetus for creating Big Picture Classes?
I mostly answered this above, but here’s a bit more … I was always a little frustrated with the limited space that we had in the magazine and pondered (a lot) what could be done to give readers MORE of what they needed to become more confident with their storytelling. While writing The Big Picture, I imagined a website where people to could ‘log in’ and listen to audio messages and get detailed step-by-step instructions delivered over several days or weeks, so that bigger, seemingly overwhelming projects would become doable with just a few hours a week. I had no idea what BPC would become!
3) Over the years, what’s been your greatest accomplishment – personal and/or professional?
My greatest accomplishment has been the ongoing struggle to maintain balance between my role as a wife and mother and my drive, passion and commitment to my work. I’ve learned that true balance isn’t either/or, but and — in other words, you can do both — but it is a juggling act. Some of the balls we are continually juggling are rubber and some are glass. You have to be very careful not to drop the glass ones! That is something I read in a Tina Seelig book.
4) “Photo Freedom” has stood the test of time as a way to organize our albums. Why do you think that has been the case in the ever changing scrapbook industry?
I think it’s because Photo Freedom isn’t really about HOW to organize albums. It’s more about the basic principles of storytelling — people, places and things and it guides women in the task of purging what they don’t need, which on the flip side is helping them to choose what they really want. So it’s permission to focus on what matters outside of chronology. What I have taught and still believe is that perfection is overrated, guilt is paralyzing and what matters ultimately is bringing photos and stories together — in any stage of completion and in any order!
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?
This is a hard one. I think the best change, might also be the saddest for me. I LOVE the fact that anyone can publish their work. The Internet has made us all publishers — anyone can create content to share and teach. Anyone can sell what they know. This is AMAZING! But, I also think it’s a little sad. Here’s why: When everyone is a publisher, then what’s popular and beautiful becomes the standard and other platforms, perhaps based on simplicity or meaningful content can get lost in the shuffle. At Simple Scrapbooks magazine, I fell in love with the editorial process of getting to know our readers and striving to give them not only what they asked for, but also what they needed. Wants and needs aren’t always the same. To an extent, we’ve lost that editorial voice that is so valuable in providing selective, intentionally driven content. Much of what is created and shared today is done in order to sell products and techniques. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with novelty and trends, but there is so much more to explore and practice when it comes to authentic storytelling.
6) I have to ask since some of my readers don’t know – what is “sprinkles” all about?
Years ago, I purchased a jar of sprinkles for Valentine’s Day — this is back when my oldest boys were toddlers. I was excited to show them how to make cookies decorated with frosting and sprinkles. Life got busy and maybe we got sick — whatever the reasons, I never made those cookies. Not long after that, I was serving a lunch of macaroni and apple sauce and thought to myself, “this doesn’t look very exciting, it’s all one color!” With that, I opened the cupboard, saw my red and pink sprinkles and decided to add them to the applesauce. It was a hit and I realized that sprinkles shouldn’t be saved for holidays and special occasions, especially when they have the power to transform the everyday. I’ve been “adding sprinkles” ever since. I’ve been lax about posting to my @everydaysprinkles account on Instagram, but the idea stems from that early experience when I learned that I can transform what feels mundane and routine into something special and extraordinary with small, intentional acts of curiosity, creativity and compassion.
7) How hard was the decision to “retire” from the business side of scrapbooking? Or was it just the right time to pass the torch on?
In 2009, my health began to deteriorate and we faced a major shift at BPC when my original partner left the company. I knew that I needed to make changes that would allow me a healthier life/work balance. I still had a wonderful partner in Kayce and we began building a fantastic team. Together we set goals and continued to grow and make changes, etc. but ultimately when we were approached about selling, it felt like the right thing to do, because of what Studio Calico brought to the table. Just because something is right, does not mean it will be easy. Stepping back has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I while I don’t have any regrets, I would not be honest if I told you I hadn’t wondered (often) about how things have played out and how they might have been different, if we’d taken another route. I absolutely miss the old BPC. I do appreciate the new BPC and I’m grateful that education still plays an essential role in our industry.
8) What is your daily schedule like now? What do you enjoy doing for fun?
My daily life is definitely more relaxed. I have far fewer deadlines, but oddly enough, I’m still not good at meeting them! I enjoy getting up fairly early (5:30 or 6:00am) to read, think, plan and exercise. I’ve created more time for things I love — I enjoy attending the temple once a week and I’ve been able to volunteer at school and in the community more. I’ve developed classes about creating family connections and presented twice now at the annual RootsTech event. I’m also presenting quite often locally. I have completed several projects around my home, including a major purge and redesign of my creative studio. Last summer, we also did an overhaul of our backyard and added a swimming pool! Oh and this past fall, I *almost* wrote a book—I’m still trying to decide what to do with all of that content, ha! I absolutely LOVE having more time to run around with my kids and I’ve been able to really focus on cleaning up my diet and learning how to cook delicious meals for my family. I no longer have a house cleaner, so there’s some toilet scrubbing going on too!
9) What words of advice and wisdom do you have for today’s scrapbookers?
I don’t think my advice has changed. Focus on the freedom you have to tell stories. Let go of guilt or pressure to keep up or approach scrapbooking in any way that would limit your creativity. If what you’re doing isn’t working for you any more, make changes until it feels fresh and fun again. Be yourself. Don’t compare! Celebrate everyday life and make happy memories — don’t worry so much about giving children finished scrapbooks. Instead, give them a love of storytelling!
10) If you wrote an autobiography, how would you describe yourself? What would the opening paragraph be? Who is “Stacy Julian”?
Honestly, I detest writing anything that looks like a bio, but here goes …
I am a girl who loves God, family, freedom, color, nature, creative expression, music from the 70s and 80s and delicious whole food. I LOVE that my phone takes pictures or perhaps better said, that my camera can make calls! I am very grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had to work and travel in scrapbooking. I treasure the friendships and connections I’ve made. I sincerely believe that life is a gift and that we are happiest when we choose generosity over scarcity and faith over fear.
I hope you enjoyed Stacy’s interview as much as I did. I can’t thank her enough for taking the time to answer my questions. I think it’s important to recognize those that helped shape this wonderful hobby that we all enjoy so much!