We've all been there at some point in our lives - sitting at a desk or standing at the counter of a job, thinking about all of the other things we'd rather be doing. Stacey Caron, a lifelong crafter working in a dentist office, had an innovative idea in the office one day.
It was the early 2000's. As a veteran die cutter, Stacey knew about the possibilities and limitations of dies in the turn of the century. At the time, dies could cut - and that was essentially it. As crafting crossed her mind, she imagined how convenient and impressive having a die that did more than just cut would be. Stacey's idea? A die that could cut, emboss, and stencil: all in one.
Stacey took the idea to her husband, an engineer, to see if he could work up some prototypes to turn her idea into a functional reality. He did!
What is Spellbinders?
Spellbinders is a paper crafting industry leader that was started by Stacey Caron. Creating mostly dies, stamps, high quality die cutting machines (but also a variety of other crafting supplies), Spellbinders is a bestselling and widely known name among crafters all over the planet.
Card makers, scrapbookers, and other paper crafters alike enjoy the wide variety of design, the uniquely universal functionality of their dies, and their high quality standards for creative projects of all types, year round.
How Spellbinders Started
After Stacey's husband, Jeff, created the initial prototypes of her cutting edge idea (pun intended), they were off and running their newfound business from their home in Cleveland, Ohio. It was 2003 and, driven by passion and enthusiasm for their product, they hit the road to share what they had created: a die that had more than one function.
"Some of the funniest early memories," Spellbinders told us in an exclusive interview, "revolve around being on the show circuit and teaching classes in a new city, seemingly every week. Going from town to town and living out of a suitcase was a ton of work, but so much fun to meet people who share our passion."
Their passion? Connect with like-minded creative people and inspire them to make something with their hands.
"We had never taught classes before," Spellbinders continued, "and a lot of people did not know what die cutting was. At one of the first Camp Memory Makers, we didn't have control of the group. Before we knew it, people were gluing dies on the pages because they thought they were embellishments."
The most important step in their innovative die (other than the idea itself), was pinpointing and initiating a developing process that could cleanly etch a designed aperture through the die metal for embossing and stenciling. Having a complex die that was easier to make meant they could get their product more quickly, easily, and affordably to the creative consumer.
Their idea of creating multi-functional tools and supplies for crafters did not (and still has not) stopped there. Shortly after that, Spellbinders introduced the Wizard machine, appropriately named, as it was created to work universally, with all dies in the marketplace.
The next move that blasted them towards the surefire trajectory to success was a literal one: from their home in Cleveland, all the way to sunny Phoenix, Arizona - where they are still headquartered today.
"Moving to Phoenix really made us committed to what we were doing," they told us, "it was no longer something we did; it was who we are."
With products that were needed and longed for in the industry and a new place to cultivate change and growth, Spellbinders committed to their idea... and also their name.
"Spellbinders was really the only name that founder Stacey Caron ever considered. When Spellbinders was founded, lettering and scrapbooking titles were really popular. The name derived from spell, as in spelling your stories, and bind, as in binding them together into cards and albums. Telling the stories of our lives... it had nothing to do with magic or anything like that."
After their move to Arizona, Spellbinders teamed up with various stamp and paper companies in order to make their products work cohesively with other crafting products and soon thereafter had their crafting supplies accepted into independent retail stores. Even with a trail of recent successes, the upward climb didn't come without challenge.
"The biggest sacrifice," Spellbinders told us about the early days, "was moving away from family and the ones we love. However, we wanted to be close to our manufacturing facility and because we were risking everything we had, it only made sense. One of the biggest challenges was simply education and helping people understand that our dies were different, they did more than just cut. They embossed and stenciled as well. Most crafters were used to products that had one application and ours had more."
From one idea to a prototype, and a prototype to exposure, exposure to partnerships, and partnerships to retail, Spellbinders didn't stop there. They continued inventing and pioneering new products with multi-functionality in mind.
After the successful launch of the Wizard, the Grand Calibur was born - a die cutting machine that has been improved and redesigned over time (to keep up with the technologies of here and now). This machine was large (the widest in its class), powerful, and strong - making it a sought after commodity for card makers who planned to really put some use into their machines, and often.
The release of the Grand Calibur helped Spellbinders erupt into the British market, which only allowed for more opportunities of growth - be it new audiences, new partnerships and relationships, and the continuous flow of new and unparalleled products - like the Platinum and Platinum 6 die cutting and embossing machines that are some of the most popular on the market today.
Though the products themselves caught industry and consumer attention, they weren't the only catalysts that set Spellbinders' success aflame. Spellbinders had, and still has, a desire to continue the evolution of die cutting in creative, teachable, user-friendly ways.
"Connecting with our customer is always the number one focus," Spellbinders shared, "The industry and our society has really changed with technology and social media. A few years ago, connecting with our customers meant running an ad in a magazine and going to a craft expo. [Today], social media is really the best way to connect with our fans and creative friends."
Spellbinders has an engaging blog brimful of creative tutorials and ideas, as well as social media channels full of life and spark.
"We really strive to connect with like-minded creative people and inspire them to make something with their hands."
Who is Spellbinders Today?
"Our team and our ownership is in this for the long haul. We have a really great team with amazing creativity and vision for the future. Our products are the very best quality and we stand behind everything we make."
With fervor for ingenuity and creative types with a passion for all-things-handmade in mind, today the Spellbinders team continues to transform their own products and the crafting industry - through staying connected with their customers and literal around-the-clock brainstorming. They tell us a bit about their own creative processes.
"Our Art Team is really connected to creativity; they never turn it off... 24/7. It's not a job; it is a lifestyle. Our Art Room, where the team makes all of the projects, is at the center of our office," Spellbinders describes, "we think that it is symbolic that everyone in the office sees what is going on and feels like they are a part of the creative process."
It's easy to sense the creative energy and passion for what Spellbinders does. They exude eagerness, enthusiasm, and a hunger for growth. With their zest for what they do radiating, they tell us a bit about their offices - which are modest.
"Our offices are not fancy, but very practical and pragmatic because it is more about the people in the space and the passion that they share than the four walls that keep out the elements... Spellbinders is a very highly efficient and productive work environment..."
Plus, Spellbinders has a work place stress-relief cure in their offices that we can all appreciate.
"When you get stressed out, we always have Copper, the office dog, to pet and bring you back to Earth."
The Future of Spellbinders
Stacey Caron, a crafter by hobby, knew then and knows now what crafters want because she is a crafter. She is Spellbinders' audience. Because of this, in our fast-paced, gadget-laden digital world, Spellbinders has a deep understanding and sense of what the creative community craves and continues to use their insight to steer the ship toward the future in ways that foster the makers.
We ask Spellbinders where exactly they see that figurative ship heading.
"Humans still need to be human and create beautiful things with their hands - not always with a joystick or computer mouse. Our goal: we want to empower individuals to embrace their creative side so they never stop making," Spellbinders expounds, "We are in the business of empowering creativity. Yes, we started as a die cutting company, but that is what we did in the beginning and what we do in the present time. In the near future, Spellbinders will evolve into more of a "Craft Company" than a die cutting company. Our customers, and the overall industry, determine what products we will make and how those products are used."
With the ability to adapt to changes in the craft community and the desire to fill the need of empowering creativity, whether it's die cutting or a hint at something else, rest-assured that Spellbinders will be there to ride that wave.
"We've had a few [taglines and mottos] throughout the years," they tell us, "but we have kind of adopted the #NeverStopMaking idea this year and love what it means. We plan to leverage that sentiment... in hopes that "handmade" is the new norm... Again."
Spellbinders shares a few concluding thoughts with us:
"Creativity is not limited to one style, one technique, one color palette, or one designer. It is about accepting what speaks to you as an individual and what moves you to make something with your hands... The joy of making something is making it your own and feeling the sense of pride that from your mind and hands. Creating a piece of art is really therapeutic for the soul. Just embrace your creative journey."
See and shop Spellbinders products here.