John Butler has a simple philosophy: Live life. Relive memories.
Memories are an extremely vital part of life, he says. "Everybody wants to remember the important things the happy things, even the sad things, the things that change your life."
But he thinks that remembering shouldn't be a passive occupation. You shouldn't just remember, he says, you should be able to interact with your memories.
And that's why he and his wife Saria have a scrapbook company that specializes in interactive scrapbooking. They produce background pages with inset wheels that turn around. They produce clear plastic photo holders that can layer one on top of the other so you can include lots more photos on a page, and flip through them.
He thinks that "scrapbooks should be more than just pictures and journaling. They should be something you can play with instead of look at passively. That's the guy in me. I like things that are more hands-on, where you can touch things, flip things, play with the page."
Not only that, but his designs all feature woodsy, outdoorsy themes. "That's who we are," he says. "My wife and I both love being in the outdoors during any season of the year. Saria loves to take pictures every chance she gets. So, we do things we like." Their designs, he says, are "not cutesy."
They do appeal to both men and women, he says. As he has done scrapbooking shows around the country, "we've had a lot of men go absolutely ape over the fun they have playing with them. They say this is the kind of scrapbooking they would like to do."
Children, too, love the Moving Memories pages, he says. And at the annual Craft and Hobby Show in Anaheim last February, Digital Scrapbook Magazine chose them as the "most innovative product."
The Butlers call their company Outdoors and More. It's really a cottage industry, he says. "We do it out of our home." He is a recent MBA graduate; Saria is still in school. "We were looking for something to do, and this fell into our laps. It's perfect for us."
Butler grew up "in a crafty family," he says. "My Mom did a lot of crafty things, with wood, with sewing. There were always projects around. So, I think I've got a lot of crafty blood. I love being creative. I love to say, 'Look what I can do,' even if I sometimes drive my wife nuts."
They currently have six Moving Memories kits, with themes such as camping, astronomy ("we love to look at the stars when we're out at a campsite") and watermelon ("my wife loves watermelon, so we did that for her; it's been one of our most popular ones").
They will have several more kits by the end of the month. He's working on one that has tools and a handy-man theme. The kits come with the wheel and background as well as accents, diecuts, letters. So, they are pretty much just add your photos, he says. But there are lots of creative ways to do that.
The Foto Flaps hold 4x6 photos. There's a horizontal and a vertical set. And he is coming out with a set of mini flaps that are about 3x3 inches. They are great for scrapbook pages, but you could also use them to put photos inside of cards, he says.
(Outdoors and More products are available in a lot of scrapbook stores. You can also get information about them on his Web site: www.outdoorsandmore.com.)
They outsource a lot of the artwork and production, but "all our products are made in the United States. We're really proud of that. Sometimes we could get things done cheaper out of the country, but we really feel like we're helping out our neighbors," he says.
There's also the fact that you don't get the same copyright protections in some countries. There's a lot more to the business end of producing materials than some people think, he adds. "Sometimes it takes a long time to get just what we want."
But it's fun to look at it as a way to solve challenges. "I heard a lot of people say they liked to scrapbook, but they couldn't get enough photos on a page and they didn't want to do page after page on the same subject. So, I thought how can you do that, and came up with the idea for the Foto Flaps. Now we have people tell us they love them because they can go back and add more pictures to designs they've already done."
Another scrapbooker uses them to doing the journaling under the picture, so you can lift the flap and read about it. That can save space on the page for other things, he says. "It's been fun at shows to see people look at them, and you see the lightbulb go off. They know exactly how they want to use them." On their Web site, he says, they have a place where people can submit their ideas and check out the ideas of others.
And that's the thing about scrapbooking, he says, "it allows you to be creative, to show who you are. That's why it has such an appeal. And there's such an individual aspect to it. Some people put their hearts and souls into every page. Some want something that's quick and easy. Some like elaborate, some like get-done-and-move on."There's no one way to do it. "My favorite layouts are one piece of paper and 16 pictures," he says jokingly. "But the whole idea is to have fun, and to create something that will help you relive your memories over and over again."