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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Quality Matters (and dudes scrap, too!)

When I went to my first Creative Memories class 15 years ago, I was convinced that I knew everything there was to know about making albums and there was nothing this person was going to teach me. In other words, I was being a good sport by going along with my friends who were "novices" - after all, I had been making photo albums all throughout grammar school, high school and college. I knew EVERYTHING.
Boy was I wrong! Those "cheap" albums I'd been putting my photos in were actually accelerating the aging of my photos with acidic PVC plastics, bad adhesives and pulpy lignin - my life was changed that night. I had never before given any thought into WHAT I put my albums in, what I used to stick them to the pages or even the kinds of pens (gasp - I was using SHARPIES!) I was using to label my pages. I was even writing on the backs of photos...thank goodness for that class.
Creative Memories' albums are the top of the line when it comes to permanence and photo safety - if you are going to do something, do it right and do it once.My favorite example is my grandfather's fabulous album he made in law school. The photos, the stories and the memorabilia are amazing, but the scrapbook he put them in was yellowing and literally falling apart (I keep the crumbled pages in a plastic bag now.) I asked him if I could restore it in a Creative Memories album (acid free, lignin free and buffered to repel acid from things such as concert tickets and invitations) and he said yes. Look at the difference:
From crumbling to lifetime guarantee - preserving PawPaw's hard work and the character of his stories and his handwriting using a Creative Memories album
So as you see, dudes do scrapbook!! My husband loves trains, and I asked him if he would like to do a Fast2Fabulous album (neutral colors of course!) of his recent trip to Virginia with his father. He was finished in no time and now I can appreciate the stories and the significance of his photos so much more than if they were in one of the old polyvinyl chloride slide in albums. 
From cheap slide in PVC albums to a high quality Creative Memories Fast2Fabulous album - looks good, finished quickly, photo safe, stories told.
I believe in quality and I also believe that ANYONE can make a scrapbook - why shouldn't they? We have these cameras for a reason - let's tell our stories!
I will leave you with Creative Memories' quality commitment - to learn more go to http://www.creativememories.com/user/fransmitherman and until next time, keep scrappin'! Fran

Creative Memories' Commitment to Quality

We’re committed to helping people enjoy the special moments in their lives by making world-class memory keeping products.  We promise to offer unique, easy-to-use, high quality and long-lasting products you can trust. 
We're proud to say our core products, like albums, refill pages and page protectors are made in the U.S.A. (in St. Cloud, MN) by the same experienced manufacturing team who have brought you world-class products for many years.photo safe logo
Product and Process Testing
Because the photo and scrapbooking industries aren't regulated, many companies make claims about their albums, papers, pens, adhesives and other supplies that can’t be substantiated. At CM, we stand behind our quality and test accordingly.
Here are a few examples of the rigor we apply as we develop products:
Adhesives: Designed to be photo safe and permanent so your photos and memorabilia won't drop off the page.
Specific tests we conduct include:
  • Extreme temperature testing. The product must remain functional after being exposed to 6 weeks of 140°F (60°C), and 7 days of 0°F (-18°C).
  • Bleed tests. Product must not bleed through material it has been adhered to after being exposed to 6 weeks of 140°F (60°C).
  • Permanent bond quality
  • Functionality and Cartridge Replacement tests to ensure: adhesive releases from the liner, tension is minimal from start to finish, take-up roll properly winds, minimal looping at nose and easy installation of the refill. 
Pens: Designed and tested to be permanent, fade-proof, bleed-resistant and waterproof so they won't ever run and ruin your photos or surrounding pages. Our pens are perfect for left handers – they won’t smear.
Specific tests we conduct include:
  • Writeability and bleed testing to ensure inks don’t smear or transfer after 20 seconds.
Papers & Pages: Buffered with calcium carbonate to combat the acids found in memorabilia and normal air pollution. We monitor papers’ brightness and ensure our paper stock does not contain post-consumer waste.  All of our paper products are lignin-free to stop them from turning yellow and brittle over time.
Specific tests we conduct include:
  • Bleed testing
  • Sutherland rub test for printed papers and poly pocket pages. A weight is rubbed back and forth 100 times to ensure minimal color transfer and abrasion.
  • Seam strength tests for the page protectors and poly pages to ensure they do not tear
  • Stitch strength to ensure the album pages stay intact.
Albums & Coversets:  Built to last for years of enjoyment. We’ve filled albums to the max and tested them in real-use situations for thousands of page turns.
Specific tests we conduct include:
  • Slot strength on the basecard, so your straps don’t tear your album
  • Stain resistance. Spilling real-life substances (cola, coffee, peanut butter, etc.) on albums. (One wipe and it’s clean.)
  • The Page Turning machine cycles an album page 5000 times and then visual assessment is made on the page stitches, coverholder stitches and slots, integrity of the spine and that the strap slip is less than 1/8.” 
  • Crocking test to ensure negligible-to-no color transfer on the album material.
Tools: Developed to be high quality, durable and long-lasting.  We push the limit when it comes to testing our tools because we take great pride that they are the best on the market.
Specific tests we conduct include:
  • Cutting lifecycle
  • Material identification
  • Functionality/User testing
  • Drop tests
We're vigilant about safety standards, always on the watch for sharp edges, choke hazards, lead or magnets.  Our products are PVC and Cellulose Nitrate-free to ensure your photos remain safe. 
We also conduct shipping simulation tests to ensure the products reach your doorstep in great condition.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What Is Your "Why"?

As with any pursuit, whether it be heading to work every morning, staying home to raise your family, saving money for the future, making handmade gifts for others, growing a garden, or starting a new business, we are often posed with the question "what is your why?" Many people who want their own businesses crave the freedom of setting their own hours with the potential for unlimited income so they can spend more time with their family and less time in an office. When I signed up to be a Creative Memories consultant 13 years ago, none of those things were what drew me in. Now I will admit, I have loved watching the women (and men!) that achieve great success building teams and living the life of their dreams as they take their home-based businesses to amazing levels, but my career at the bank has always filled me with pride and ownership, so making Creative Memories full time was never my plan. What did I want when I made the decision to take the step from customer to consultant then? That's simple - albums at a discount! I loved the idea of saving money on something that I knew I would be buying and using for the rest of my life!

Now as I look back on the last 13 years (and as I look forward to what lies ahead) I reflect on all that this business has brought me. Yes, I have made money and yes I have saved money on my own album projects, but here is what else I have gained:

1.) The joy of being "creative"!  

I pick stocks for investment accounts for a bank (among other things but we will leave it at that for now.) Lots of research and analysis goes into what I do, and it is challenging and stimulating and I studied for MANY years to get to where I am. But I do still have that inner "school teacher" that loves the chance to let my creative juices flow!
A beach-inspired National Scrapbook Day event - thank you Pinterest for such cute ideas!



Using tools to make gifts for my scrapbookers - here I used the Creative Memories Border Maker System and the From the Kitchen Cricut cartridge for the grill

A little table decor to set the mood for my National Scrapbook Day event

2.) The joy of watching others bring their photos to life!

Knowing that you are the reason folks have a place to go when they need the best supplies for their cherished memories is priceless, and watching them finish an album and move on to the next project with excitement is a wonderful feeling. So many people tell me their pictures are trapped on their camera or on their hard drive and that they know they need to do something with them. What a great feeling I have when I can tell them that I CAN HELP!!! I give them what they need to tell their stories in a way that can be shared forever - quality albums and supplies, a place to work, and people to do it with! 
CM Group's Fast2Fabulous albums are giving people confidence that they can quickly finish a scrapbook without using stickers, papers, or scissors!

3.) Gatherings!

No one HAS to have "Crop til You Drop" workshops or retreats, but I have loved putting these on at least once a month for the past 13 years. The laughs and the completed pages are worth every bit of effort I put into making them fun and memorable, and there is something to be said for getting together with people who love their pictures as much as I do!







4.) A Place to Work and Supplies at My Fingertips!

Nothing like having what you need when you need it! I have found that having the right tools and the right workspace make a difference no matter what you passion might be.




5.) Watching others enjoy my albums!


This is my WHY!!!! While I did not have children when I first began, I do now, and knowing that they are enjoying seeing our stories told is all the reason in the world for me to continue on this wonderful journey of being a Creative Memories consultant and a (Panstoria affiliate for our digital projects!)





If all of this sounds good to you then start your own journey today with the CM Group! With no sales minimums and the savings benefits of being a consultant starting from day one, I would highly recommend it for anyone that loves to save money and spend time with their photo projects! Where will it take you? The blessings will surprise you :) To learn more about becoming an advisor check out my website and thanks for reading. Keep scrappin'! Fran