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Susan Neal

Susan Neal

As I travel and teach for Paper Crafts magazine, the most common question I hear is “how can I get your job?” I thought I’d take this last opportunity to answer with the long version, basically a synopsis of my time here at Paper Crafts… let’s go back in time!

In  2001 I started a relationship with Creating Keepsakes magazine. I had entered a few contests, one of which I won, and the other which led me to doing some design work, including this first cover:

The July/August 2001 issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine

The July/August 2001 issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine

In conversation with the CK editors, they discovered I was a designer/painter. They quickly got me in contact with the managing editor (Jennafer Martin, who is now the editor-in-chief of CK) of their new sister publication Crafts magazine. Literally, within a few days I had design assignments. I spent the next few years designing and painting for Crafts, but my heart was turning to paper. I was done with wood!

Fortunately, Crafts magazine and Valerie Pingree (the founding editor of Paper Crafts) also made such a change and in February of 2004 Paper Crafts magazine was launched and I was along for the ride. And what a ride it’s been!

Heres where it all began: the Febraury 2004 issue of Paper Crafts.

Here's where it all began: the February 2004 issue of Paper Crafts.

At the time I had just sold a paper crafting retail store/web site I had started in 2002. I suddenly had two very important things necessary to contributing to Paper Crafts magazine in a big way: time and plenty of paper crafting supplies. 

In short order I was asked to fill the role of Paper Crafts Pro for the magazine. It was very much a job that evolved over time, and one that was exciting and creative and really, just fun. We (the PC Pros) became contributors not only in design, but at editorial boards meetings; we helped to critique past issues and plan for new ones. We researched trends, brainstormed and got super creative.

Early on, I conceived a special issue idea that turned into Card Fashion; using fashion to inspire card design. I got to concept, write, assign, organize and I loved every moment of it. I have to thank Jennafer M. and Stacy C. for giving me that opportunity.

Card Fashion, 2006

Card Fashion, 2006

It was such a joy to work for Paper Crafts that I don’t think I’ve ever said no to any request in all the years I’ve worked there. I’m sure I’ll hear about it if I did!

We soon got opportunities to teach; which has been one of my most beloved responsibilities and one that I’ve carried through to a new business I started last fall, Q’s Creative Card Classes. I love to travel, meet new people and share in our mutual paper crafting passion. I was just in Valley Forge a few weeks ago and will be in Tulsa again this weekend – hopefully I’ll see some of you there!

CKC-Valley Forge, 2009

CKC-Valley Forge, 2009

We travelled to CHA and other industry conventions, representing the magazine, doing research and creating relationships with manufacturers. Many great memories are associated with these trips and I dearly miss them.

In 2006 I was asked to represent Paper Crafts on a local morning show KSL Studio 5. I clearly remember the butterflies that first day, but oddly enough they quickly disappeared and I left the show that day thinking, “I think I can do this.” I’m sure a large part of this was the ease of interaction with the hostess of the show, Brooke Walker.

Heres one of my appearances on Studio5. Love that Brooke Walker!

Here's one of my appearances on Studio 5. Love that Brooke Walker!

Surprisingly, the most intimidating thing I’ve been asked to do is video tape instructional videos. I know this sounds very similar to live TV, but actually, it’s much, much harder, as you have nothing but a camera (or two) to relate to. No cute hostess to play off of or fill in your blanks – just you and the camera. Fortunately, I was very prepared and despite my nervousness, was able to create some successful teaching segments. The second time I did this was much easier, which just goes to show you that some things just have to be done to be learned.

Practice makes perfect!

Practice makes perfect!

You can see me in this video!

You can see me in this video!

It has been my absolute joy being an ambassador and cheerleader for Paper Crafts Magazine and one I don’t plan on stopping. I continue to devour each issue and share that love with anyone I come in contact with. As a founding PC Pro, I’m hoping you’ll still see me on occasion.

Working for Paper Crafts has given me a whole new set of skills that I want to use. Q’s Creative Card Classes has become a huge part of my life. I’ve also continued my relationship with Studio 5 and am now a regular cooking and paper crafting contributor for them. I still freelance design and consult in large part because of the treasured friendships and valuable relationships I’ve gathered over the years. 

I’m sure it’s easy to see the opportunity part of this equation. I want to thank every one of you who gave me those moments… you know who you are!

I prepared for those opportunities by working. Really, it’s that simple. I love this hobby so much that work for me was a joy, but it was still work. Lots and lots and lots of design, educating myself on techniques and even creating some along the way. And of course, staying on top of trends and reading Paper Crafts magazine! The editors at Paper Crafts are so good at communicating just what they need, so read closely and don’t give up! Keep submitting and persevere. I’ll be looking for your name soon!

Your Founding PC Pro,
Sue Neal

P.S. If you’re intrigued by the concept of Card Fashion, I just happen to have three copies from the secret Paper Crafts vault. Leave me a comment and I’ll pick three random winners to receive their very own copy! All comments must be received by midnight on Thursday, August 20.

Susan R. Opel

Susan R. Opel

It’s no secret that I have a serious case of wanderlust. As a matter of fact I think that I was born with it. And now that I work for Paper Crafts magazine, I get a pretty regular chance to feed my travel addiction. This year alone I’ve been to Anaheim, Louisville, and Manchester, NH, for work-related adventures (as well as trips to San Francisco and an upcoming one to Michigan for pleasure). And I still have one more business trip to Nashville in September. Last week work took me on an odyssey of sorts all over the USA.

Early last Monday morning (July 27th), my sister escorted Cath and me to the Salt Lake City airport for the first leg of my trip. Cath and I were headed to Orlando, FL, to see what was new and hot in the land of paper crafting at CHA (the Craft and Hobby Association trade show). And let me tell you, it is pretty hot in Florida in July. Whew! It was a mistake to attempt doing my hair with hot rollers. Okay – and now for a random side note… Cath and I both pulled out the exact same book (Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan) on the airplane. How wild is that?

One of the best parts of CHA is hanging out with the talented manufacturers and designers! It’s fun to give them all a big old hug in person!

One of the best parts of CHA is hanging out with the talented manufacturers and designers! It’s fun to give them all a big old hug in person!

Cath and I walked the show floor for two solid days (Tuesday and Wednesday) at the Orange County Convention Center, drooling over new products and glad-handing with manufacturers and designers alike. It’s a dirty job, but somebody needs to do it. 😉

Here’s a little peek of what we saw on Tuesday at the trade show.

Here’s a little peek of what we saw on Tuesday at the trade show.

Thursday morning was a super early one for me since I had to be in the lobby of our hotel at 5:50 a.m. to catch a shuttle to the airport. Now I will admit I am a morning person, but not quite THAT much. I didn’t sleep well at all worrying that I might miss my alarm, so I developed quite a headache. But the Paper Crafts show must go on! My Thursday morning flight was headed north to Philadelphia where I’d catch another shuttle to Valley Forge, PA, to teach classes at CKC (Creating Keepsakes Convention).

Once in Valley Forge, I was delighted to find a comfy bed to rest my weary head, a jetted tub for a rejuvenating bath, and complimentary Internet service so I could catch up on Facebook. Huzzah! It was a welcome bit of solace and allowed me to gear up for the two days of teaching that lay ahead.

On Friday and Saturday I taught eight fabulous classes to countless eager students (men – yes, that’s plural – and women alike). I can only hope that I instilled a little bit of card making love in their hearts. They certainly seemed to enjoy every last minute of it. And I’ll admit the teaching came back to me in a hurry. Those 16 years of teaching junior high and high school really paid off.

One of my eager students was adorable Kalyn Kepner.

One of my eager students was adorable Kalyn Kepner.

You might remember Kalyn as our faithful Paper Crafts intern last summer. She and I had a delightful and chat-filled dinner after my classes on Saturday.

On Sunday, I finally headed back to Utah after quite an eventful week of work-related fun. First I had to brave a pretty fierce thunderstorm stranded in a plane on the tarmac in Philadelphia for almost two hours, which meant I’d miss my connection in Denver. But I gotta send a shout out to Southwest Airlines for squeezing me in on the next available flight to SLC.

Whew! So my triangle trip – SLC to Orlando to Philly to SLC – was complete. What a week! It was definitely fun, but I am pooped!

How would you feel about getting your hands on some of the brand new stuff that debuted at the CHA summer show? You’d like that, wouldn’t you? I have two sets of some brand new papers from Pink Paislee to give away. Leave a comment by midnight MDT on Friday, August 7th for a chance to win.

Your expert Paper Crafts traveler,

P.S. In all my whirlwind travels, I forgot to announce the five winners from my Welcome Go-to Gal, Teri Anderson post! Here they are in no particular order:

1. Gina (July 23, 12:09 p.m.)
2. Janet L. (July 23, 5:51 a.m.)
3. mloukirby (July 23, 9:06 a.m.)
4. Yvonne C. (July 24, 8:56 a.m.)
5. Julie Masse (July 23, 6:37 a.m.)

Congrats, winners! You each win three sets of Art Declassified stamps! Kelly will be contacting you shortly for your e-mail addresses. Thanks to all who left so many welcoming comments for Teri!

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