Last August, in what turned out to be a misguided decision, I launched the unKit Club. The intent was to demonstrate how to curate products from online shops and your own stash, on your own timeline and budget. It was a great idea on paper, but it quickly felt misaligned with my personal and business values.
In this long-overdue post I’m sharing the layouts I created with the first (and only) kit. I loved the products I chose, but before I share those examples, I want to briefly explain why the unKit project didn’t work out. I’ve received a lot of emails sharing disappointment that I didn’t follow through on my original timeline.
Why unKit Didn’t Work (for Me)
1. I got bored quickly. There’s this strange thing that happens when you work in the industry. By the time you brainstorm, select, purchase, photograph, talk about, and write about products, the newness has worn off and there’s often little creative energy left for creating with them. I’m sure this varies from person to person, but when it came time to make pages with my kit I was mentally “over it” and ready for the next excitement.
2. It didn’t fit how I create pages. I love kits because the coordination work is done ahead of time, or even for me. However, it is rare that I create multiple layouts from the same kit in sequence. My approach is generally to use a kit as a starting point for a single page. Then the next layout’s inspiration will come from somewhere completely different. There’s nothing wrong with a “kit-killing” approach, but that’s not how my particular brain works.
3. Products are not my focus. Perhaps most significantly, I didn’t feel comfortable encouraging you to shop. To me, buying scrapbook supplies is little different than buying mayonnaise. It’s something you always want to have on hand, but you really don’t need to worry about it. While I do recognize products are what make this an “industry”, I believe our efforts are best spent on making memories, managing photos, and celebrating the two with words and creativity.
I don’t intend to be dramatic about this, particularly because it’s really not that important. I’ve made many mistakes in my business and will continue to do so in the future. However in this case I wanted to be clear that I am sorry for letting anyone down. This is definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”
That said, I also think you can learn from my mistakes. As creatives we can get caught up in what others are doing and let the fear of missing out guide decisions. It’s important to think through your investments, of time and money, to get the best fit possible. That sense of purposeful choice is what I hope you take away from Simple Scrapper more than anything else.
Four Layouts with unKit #1
Just to catch everyone up here, I shared two posts previously on selecting the products and planning my layouts. In the planning video I explained how I created micro kits, selecting key products to start with each layout.
I created five layouts inspired by that planning video, but only four ended up using the kit. For the fifth (which I’ll also share below) the photos were scrapbooked using a different kit that I had purchased, in part because I had grown tired of the products by then.
Some of these layouts have been shared before on the blog and in the membership, but in other contexts.
Layout #1 – Us
One aspect of using the kit that I enjoyed was a feeling of permission to really have fun using product. I added more layers here than usual.
Layout #2 – Wife + Mom = She
I love how grids can highlight and elevate patterned paper. This is one of my favorite pages of the recent past because it feels clean yet bright and fresh.
Layout #3 – Lucky Play
I’ve discovered over the past year that I really enjoy doing title work on my pages that combine different styles and fonts. I find it to be a fun challenge with word art especially, to create a clever combination. The small details on this one are also some of my favorites.
Layout #4 – PS2 Life
Overstamping is a perfectionist’s best ally. My first impression is rarely perfect, so I will stamp off multiple times for an artistic effect that takes the edge off mistakes.
Layout #5 – Fast Butterfly Party
While I didn’t end up using the kit for this page, the planning process helped me identify that this was a story I wanted to tell. The photos were printed shortly after the original video was recorded.
Do you often scrapbook multiple layouts from a kit? What is the most you’ve made from a single purchase? Leave a comment below to share your experience.
Jennifer, I have been through this same process, with the same end as you. I have lots of product and for budget and storage reasons, I need to stop buying new stuff for a while. So when I saw my scrappy you-tube rock stars making their own kits left and right, I thought it was the answer for me, too! But I can’t seem to get happy with pre-choosing my products. You see, I’m photo-driven. I choose my layout materials with the idea of highlighting the photos, and I just couldn’t seem to pull that off using a limited kit. However, I have had success doing it “kissandtell” style ala Katie Scott. She makes huge kits that have plenty of product and a very loose kit philosophy to them. One other perk to making my own kits is that I reacquaint myself with my long-lost supplies, and it jogs my memory and gives me a chance to purge unwanted items. I might make a big, loose kit again some time, but it won’t be a regular thing for me. Thanks for updating us on your process.
It’s all about finding what works for you, including what permutation of working with kits.
I suffer from FOMO. I subscribe to PaperWishes on-line plus I’m a member of their Dazzles subscription club and get new Dazzles and papers once a month by subscription. I watch and usually order supplies from the Weekly “Webisode”. I also download the instructions for things I THINK I want to create – but then the supplies don’t arrive until Saturday most times and by then I’ve forgotten what I ordered the supplies for. Now I’m trying to open and put away the new products within a day or two at most. But I need to get all my “Want to make Instructions” where I can work with the new products in a reasonable time.
I HAVE made PROGRESS in one direction – I’m not ordering more Hunky-Dory® kits. I have 20 inches of mostly unopened Hunky Dory (HD) kits. I don’t like them all that much because their size is not standard American sizes so they’re a bit larger than my card bases and they’re made with heavier cardstock so postage costs more. I also might note that the 20″ does NOT include Christmas kits. I’ve decided that I’ll use up the HD Christmas kits this year. But this month’s Dazzles package will make 4 Christmas cards – I’ve already completed 2, the 3rd is almost done and there’s one more.
My plan for the rest of the summer, as far as scrapbooking is concerned will be to FIND all my card instruction and get them organized by date. I’ll still make some cards but not as many. I will chose my HD Christmas kit and make cards from that plus make the cards I’ll need for my TOPS group for birthdays and anniversaries. But I suspect the majority of my time will be spent getting ready for the October trip.
Francine, I suggest focusing on the types of creating you want to be doing and then look to realign your shopping with that quantity and format.
Thank you!! Thank you for freeing me from feeling that this “should” work for me! The whole “in theory” thing is such a burden for some of us! Your update helped me to realize that when something doesn’t fit my work flow I need to move on ….without the guilt or feeling that perhaps I didn’t try hard enough with that method. The struggle is real enough without caving to FOMO!!????
You are most welcome Marge. If you have to “try harder” on something that’s supposed to be fun, a small change might be needed.
Thanks for sharing this. My recent organizational focus has been on making my kits easier to search and use as I’m looking for supplies for my photos or stories. Unfortunately, every time I work on that I’m distracted by a specific kit. Off I go looking for photos to use with the kit that caught my eye. Guess that means I’m product inspired and photo inspired and story inspired. Maybe not yet finishing inspired but making progress.
It’s OK to be inspired by product. What if you let that guide you and stopped trying to perfect the “right” system?
Some kits move me more than others but mostly when I have photos and stories that are perfect for it. I was able to make 3 – 2page layouts a one page layout and 2 cards with a 2 page kit for fall that I received from the Embellish It Kit Club. My best stash buster is when I make a pile of 20 sheets of pattern paper and use those for a session of pages.
That’s a great tip Heidi, thanks!
These are inspiring. I especially like the layout 2, and have several ideas brewing from seeing that. I love the idea of getting better at curating a kit from my own stash. I have WAY too much stuff (although I love it so, I think there are worse things to have too much of;), and when I try to pull products to create, I get overwhelmed by all the good stuff, pull too much, and don’t really have a method to the madness. Also am not that good at imagining how it will go, until I am actually using it,- more intuitive process for me- and then end up pulling in a bunch of other stuff. It could be just learning more about how my brain works, but I do think learning something about “how to pull together a minimalist kit from your stash” would be really cool. A keep it simple kit from your own stash, with some examples of more minimalist easy level layouts. 🙂
I’ll ponder on that Amanda.
I’m the total opposite 🙂 But then I don’t buy kits, but make kits from my stash 🙂 The kit usually always gets me through the month and unless it’s themed pictures that is about the only time I will gather theme product from my stash. I like the kit approach if it is something I created with my stash that I buy cause that is what I wanted 🙂 The kit approach makes it so easy for me to scrap throughout the month and usually can put together 17 to 20 layouts a month from this way of creating.
Call me impressed Tina!
Oops I replied in the wrong place above somehow! Sorry :/
These are inspiring. I especially like the layout 2, and have several ideas brewing from seeing that. I love the idea of getting better at curating a kit from my own stash. I have WAY too much stuff (although I love it so, I think there are worse things to have too much of;), and when I try to pull products to create, I get overwhelmed by all the good stuff, pull too much, and don’t really have a method to the madness. Also am not that good at imagining how it will go, until I am actually using it,- more intuitive process for me- and then end up pulling in a bunch of other stuff. It could be just learning more about how my brain works, but I do think learning something about “how to pull together a minimalist kit from your stash” would be really cool. A keep it simple kit from your own stash, with some examples of more minimalist easy level layouts. ????
It’s all good. I replied above. 🙂
I finally found a way to make kits work for me. I started by gathering all my loose paper and purging what I did not LOVE. Then took remain pages and created paper kits. Some kits had enough to make only 2-3 layouts, some were much larger. I even “shopped” In a friend’s stash to complete a few kits. Then I gathered/printed pics. Dated them, and even wrote out journaling. Then I pulled kits that worked well with papers and threw the pics and journaling in the 13×13 zip lock bags. I’ve even gone through old sticker, rubon, alphas, and older embellishments and included them in kits. Now when I go to crops, I’m already half way packed! And I’m more apt to use older products that were just sitting in my scraproom. I still bring my Thickers and my box of current embellishments to crops and I find this system really has me using my stash with no real need to shop any more….at least not for a while! I figure once I get through at least half of the kits (I’m almost there and it’s only been 2 months) I’ll treat myself to some newer papers! You’re right though….you have to find what works for you!
You raise a good point Sharon. Often the stuff you don’t like clouds your ability to see and use what you do. That happens in our closets too!
Interesting posts here in response to your experience Jennifer about ‘unkitting’. I was part of a kit club for a couple of years and loved their products and how each monthly kit was so beautifully put together. However, a couple of months ago I took stock of how much of the products I actually used. Answer: about 50%. Thus, because I like to keep track of how I spend my money I decided this was not a good use of my money and stopped the kit club. Like most of us, I have more than enough products for months ahead. My goal is to use most of it. I need to keep my enthusiasm for new products in check. In the end, the photos and story are what really matters.
I do think that would be one of the advantages of the unkit idea. If there’s something you don’t like, you get to swap it out for something you do!
Jennifer, I am a big proponent of kits. I just accept that not all curated kits are going to be equally successful. I think there is value in narrowing down your choice of supplies if that helps your focus. If you want to grab something that isn’t in the kit to add to your project, by all means – just do it. Accordingly, I don’t believe in the myth of killing a kit. I like to use my kit until I feel that it is more of a hindrance than a help. If I only get one layout from it before I dismantle it, that is one layout that probably came together quicker than if I had started without a kit. I am okay with it. If I get 3 or 4, I am pleased as punch.
The two biggest benefits of kits for me is help with my focus and encouragement to use supplies that have set idle. Occasionally I will put supplies into a kit and still find that I do not want to use them. That is helpful in that I can then let go of them. I do not necessarily plan which photos I am going to scrap with a kit – for me, that would add extra layer of complexity to the process which I want to keep flexible. So for me, the upside of making stash kits far outweighs the downside. It is all a matter of adapting this tool to how you scrapbook!
You raise a good point here Susanne. Sometimes what works visually doesn’t end up being compatible with the reality of what and how you scrapbook. I’m still a big fan of kits, but won’t be making my shopping a focus here on the blog.
I love shopping my stash for kit making! I also purge paper I don’t LOVE before getting started on it. I make about 15-20 kits three times a year. Then I store them by color, till the photos come and I can add them to the kits by color, or theme, or mood. I also include a variety of embellishments, but each kit is generally only enough for one two-page spread, maybe two, and a card or two. After I have my photos, I may even add a couple of sketches from Simple Scrapper or Scrapbook and Cards today. I don’t add any mediums (paint, ink, glitter, etc) but do that as I am crafting. However, if I have a stencil I think would work nicely or a stamp, I write on a sticky note what I might want to use and put the note in the kit. Now I am set to crop at home or away. After I have made the kit, I make decisions about whether to keep scraps and leftovers or not (not just automatically putting them away). The hardest part for me is to pack the kit and put it away until I’m ready for it. I get really inspired and want to stop and make the kit right then!
Hehe, inspiration is such a hindrance! I love hearing how you’ve got a solid system that works so well for you.
I really like this post from a ‘life’ perspective. I like how you’re saying, “hey, this didn’t work for me, and I learned from the process.” I need to do something similar in my day job (not scrapbooking related), and I think this honest and pragmatic tone will work well for me.
I wonder if you could try reversing the process next time – pulling together five or so photos and then building a small kit for each in one session. I am a minimalist scrapper, but love a big stash, and I build kits to match the month of photos I am scrapping (I scrap chronologically). Just a thought, and thanks again for your post!
Thanks! We’re all so different and life is too short to force square peg in round hole. I do think a more successful project for me would be to select photos and then show how I pull together a minimalist micro kit for each layout.
I love to see how you pull your pages together. Whatever works for you might help me out. Please share as you can!
Such a great post Jennifer. I love your honesty. Thanks for sharing your LOs too.
Love the wife mom she layout! 😍