Hello Clique fans! I am so beyond excited about our April Designer in the Spotlight! This month our kit featured the Life in Color collection by Simple Stories designed by Amber Crowell.
This women is not only amazing but genuine and one of the nicest out there! Last year at CHA was my first face to face meet up with her and what a thrill for me! Simple Stories and the people behind the scenes are all amazing but today we are shining a huge spotlight on the one and only Amber Crowell! Amber is the very talented designer behind Simple Stories and we are excited to have her sharing with us today! So pull up a seat, grab a drink and say hello to Amber!
1. Do you remember the moment you fell in love with scrapbooking/designing? Can you share a little bit of that moment
I remember exactly when I was first introduced to scrapbooking – it was in 1995 right after me and Kevin were married. I was visiting a cute little store in St. George, Utah that had the most amazing scrapbook “kits” in 8 1/2 x 11. There was a mix of paper and elements like frames and stickers and I was hooked. I bought a ton of wedding stuff and began scrapbooking every photo I could – complete with mismatched paper, cut out photos and sticker sneezes all of the page. I still love the hobby and products as much today as I did then…nothing is more exciting than seeing a mixture of adorable, beautiful paper and embellishments. Plus the smell of freshly printed paper is to die for!
2. Where and when are you most creative?
Right before a deadline. No matter how I plan and prepare, some of my most creative ideas come right before hitting an important deadline. Our team likes to joke with me about it and that my mantra is “…it’s never too late” even though it drives Kevin nuts that we’re so close to a deadline and I throw in some new product ideas at the last minute!
3. Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process.
What many people may not know is that along with being the founder and owner of Simple Stories I’m also the creative director and I have a direct hand in all of the products, designs and collections we release. I love what I do and it’s unbelievable the amount of detail and work that goes into each product – but I truly love every minute of it. I work closely with our graphic designers on the color palette, illustrations, patterns and designs – even sketching ideas for journal cards, papers, and elements. In order to meet our launch deadlines and get the products produced and on store shelves, I’m always working at least 6-8 months on products before customers even see them. So many of the collections you see I’ve had ideas for from the very start of Simple Stories and some are inspired by what I want to see in my own scrapbooks or current trends in the industry. I love
compiling the colors, pattern ideas, and mood boards for collections – it’s indescribable to know I’m creating something from scratch and anything is possible. And it seems the more I create the more creative I become – I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas!
My favorite part of the creative process is when all of my ideas and designs just come together in the end. Throughout the design process there are lots of drafts, changes and evolving, and I’m fortunate to work with some amazing graphic designers who help bring my visions to life!
4. If you had to pick just one of your top favorite collections that you have designed which one would it be?
Oh…it’s hard to choose just one. I have a strong connection to all of the products I’ve created – it’s like having to pick your favorite child!
The original Life Documented collection was the very first Simple Stories collection and will also hold a special place in my heart because its what started it all. I loved Urban Traveler, Vintage Bliss, Summer Fresh, Homespun and Summer Vibes.
I will say that my favorite collection to design was Say Cheese and Say Cheese II – our family is a huge Disney freaks and I wanted to do something cool and different than the typical theme park collection – with trendy, fun designs I’d actually want to scrapbook with my thousands of Disney pictures. I had the idea for Say Cheese since the very beginning of Simple Stories – so it was so exciting to see it come to life.
One my most rewarding collections was I AM…as the design was beautiful and had such a deep connection with customers. The new Heart and Hope lines also have a special place in my heart; Heart was designed in honor of the loss of some of my daughters special friends this past summer, and Hope was inspired by one my best friends who battled breast cancer.
I’m also working on some more amazing designs that I can’t wait for customers too see!
5. Who are some of your influences?
I am inspired and influenced by our amazing customers and everyday scrapbookers. Everything we produce is very important to us as it’s for our customers albums and will be a treasured keepsake for years to come – so we think of our customers first with everything we do. That’s why create a lot of art with fun themes, coordinating patterns and designs that our customers can have fun using to showcase their memories and photos. Some of the best ideas I’ve seen come from how our customers and design team members use our products!
6. 3 things people probably do not know about you.
• One thing that may surprise our customers is that I studied classical piano for 15 years – and even took from a University professor in high school and college. Even though I’ve performed at amazing places like the Kent Concert Hall at Utah State University, performing terrifies me and is one of the reasons why I chose to major in marketing in college instead of music. In fact, my sweet husband surprised me with my own baby grand piano for Christmas this past year – a dream I’ve always had.
• I’ve had lunch with the drummer from The Doors – seriously. I had a really cool job at USU during college where I worked with the student government and student activities. Part of that was bringing in cool speakers and workshops – John Densmore was one of the performers we scheduled to come speak to the students and we got to take him to lunch before. Wow – the stories he had!!
• Before starting Simple Stories, I was a marketing manager for a regional shopping center. I loved that job – I graduated in Apparel Merchandising and Marketing so it was a perfect fit. I oversaw all of the shopping centers marketing, advertising, retailer merchandising and events – I even worked closely with Santa and the Easter Bunny. A lot of the retail and marketing experience I have is because of that job!
• Okay I can’t just stop at one…here’s one more thing. I’m adopted – and our first daughter Katelyn is adopted too. Adoption is very close to my heart!
Okay – I just have to preface to say I really am an “all or nothing” girl. So there’s not just one of these – except for of course my adoration for all things Diet Coke!
One of the things I love to do besides scrapbook and paper craft is read…I LOVE it!! In fact, reading is how I cope best with the stress and demands of running a business. So I read a lot of books – a LOT of books (don’t even look at my Amazon Kindle bill…) Just like my taste in music, I’m all over the place with books. I love anything Jane Austen – Emma and Pride & Prejdice being my favorite. I love Regency romances and historical fiction. I love thrillers like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. I love anything by Amy Harmon (she’s the BEST), JoJo Moyes and Liane Moriaty. And, of course, I can’t resist a good chick lit once in a while 😉
● Movie –
That’s easy – the BBC versions of Pride & Prejudice and Emma…aww…Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightly…sigh…
● Candy –
Kit Kat, Almond Joy, Twix and peanut M&M’s (see I can’t pick just one!!)
● Drink –
Diet Coke!!! We have some really cool places here that do mixed soft drinks – my favorite is a Dirty Diet Coke with coconut syrup and lime.
● Music –
Just like books – I’m all over the place with my taste in music. Right now it’s anything 21 Pilots and Imagine Dragons. I also love Taylor Swift – I totally want to be part of her squad. #squadgoals
● Color –
I’m loving Navy, Robin’s Egg and Coral
● TV Show
I love The Goldbergs, The Middle and Modern Family. And I absolutely love The Grinder – Rob Lowe is hilarious!
8. A lot of our fans know what Gia, Erica and Lacey connected through Memory Works. MW and Simple Stories share a special place in our hearts because without you and Memory Works we would have never connected. Can you share a little about Memory Works and how Simple Stories came about?
Gia, Erica and Lacey have a special place in my heart too. They were all huge supporters of MemoryWorks and they’re some of our favorites! We were so excited when they launched Clique Kits and are so proud of them!
Many people may not know that before there was Simple Stories, there was MemoryWorks. Kevin and I started MemoryWorks in 2002 as direct sales scrapbook company with consultants all over the nation that sold the top scrapbook brands. During that time we had 3 kids under 3 and we ran the business from our home, but it soon became too much that Kevin quit his full time job and we moved to a commercial space and hired our first employees. It was during this time where the concept for our Simple Stories came – pocket pages had just been introduced to the market and we even sold them in our catalog. But companies were not producing products
to be used with them. It didn’t make sense to me to not have product such as pre-designed cards and pieces that could be inserted into the pocket pages for simple scrapbooking. After a few years of having no options on the market for this type of product, we decided to produce our own. We developed and designed our first kit Simple Stories “Life Documented” by MemoryWorks in 2009 that featured a variety of predesigned cards and elements on 12×12 papers that could be cut apart and inserted into the different pocket page options. It was shipped and distributed to our consultants in January 2010 only through the MemoryWorks program. It was such as hit with consultants and customers that we decided to branch out to offer the product to all retailers on the wholesale market. We brought our original Life Documented collection, as well as the Elementary school collection and Destinations travel collection to the CHA Winter 2011 in LA. We had a tiny booth in the new manufactures area – and we were blown away with the success of the products! Our Simple Stories concept was a hit with retailers and consultants and the rest is history. Our Simple Stories brand has grown significantly in the past 5 years and we’re so thankful for our customers support and excitement about our products. When Simple Stories started to expand beyond our wildest dreams, we decided to it was best to focus on the manufacturing aspect of our business and we made the hard decision to discontinue our MemoryWorkis business. As hard as it was for us to say goodbye to MemoryWorks it was the best decision for our business so we could focus on our creating amazing products. We now have our own albums, pocket pages, planners, paper, embellishments and so much more. We now have 18 employees and just moved to a 22,000 square foot warehouse and office. It’s amazing to see where we are in 5 short years and so excited for what our future will bring, but we will be forever thankful for MemoryWorks and the relationships with consultants like Gia, Lacey and Erica that will always hold a special place in our heart.
9. One piece of advice you would give your younger self.
I would tell my younger self that I made it!! I survived high school, I graduated from college, I had a cool career in marketing, I married the most amazing guy, I have an awesome family and I get to do what I love doing everyday! Even though it’s been hard and the journey has had so many ups and downs, all of the dreams that I made for myself are happening. It’s not
perfect and there’s definitely bumps in the road but I’m thankful every day!!
10. Any hints on what is to come from Simple Stories?
Ohhhh….so many things!! But I can’t share yet….but I promise it will be worth the wait!
Amber thank you so much for being our April Designer in the Spotlight! This is by far one of my favorite DIS posts ever and we can not wait to see what is coming up next from Simple Stories!
Thank you everyone for stopping by our blog today! For more information on Simple Stories please check out their Facebook page as well as their website and blog! I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the day!