Anyone who loves camping and crafts will be intrigued by artist Eileen Hull’s 2014 #PaperTrail Teaching Tour.
The Northern Virginia mother of four and grandma to three is loading up her Serro Scotty camper with art supplies—many that she has created for the craft company Sizzix—and embarking on a series of trips across America to teach and connect with other “glampers.”
“I’ll be promoting my branded craft products in independent stores, chain stores, art centers, and other venues,” says the woman who colleagues and customers call the Queen of Crafts. “My goal is to share my love of crafting along with the belief that it does your soul good to take time to create every day.”
The #PaperTrail Teaching Tour has three phases.
- Phase 1 begins at the end of March with a 10-day jaunt to New England to teach at The Collins Group Education & Trade show in Framingham, Mass., and at a series of stores along the way.
- Phase 2 of the tour runs from June through July, when Hull will meander through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky.
- Phase 3 begins in September, when for eight weeks she and her Serro Scotty will trek cross-country, starting in Virginia and then heading to North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, and back home through Utah, Colorado, and Kansas.
When it’s all said and done, Hull says she hopes the #PaperTrail Teaching Tour will provide a forum for anyone who wishes they could go on a crafty adventure, but can’t break away.
“We are going to be sharing the trip through social media so that others feel as though they are traveling along with me—seeing the sights, meeting people, crafting, laughing, and living life on the road,” Hull explains. “I am blessed that I have the opportunity to go on this trip and want to make the #PaperTrail Teaching Tour a fun experience for all who choose to ride along. I hope you will join me!”
Scroll down for a Q&A with Hull to learn about her grand plan, why she embraces the art of glamping, and what she adores about her Scotty Serro camper.
How did you come up with the idea for the #PaperTrail Teaching Tour?
Eileen Hull: It all started on a drive home from upstate NY when I saw a little vintage camper on the road. I told my husband, “I would love one of those! I could blog from it, use it as a background for photos, and paint and decorate it!” When he said he didn’t think I would really do it if I had one, I admit it got me a little hot! Then the idea came to me: I could buy a camper to outfit as a mobile studio, and travel around and teach from it! (My husband then redeemed himself by finding me a trailer on eBay that was located only four hours away and drove us down in our RV to pick it up.) Pulling in to get gas for our 52-foot long caravan was quite the procedure—no thanks! The 12-foot Scotty is just the right size to tow behind a truck.
Glamping is the perfect way to bring my products to my customers. I have three signature lines of craft products that just launched at the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) Show in January, and my products sell much better when I provide education on how to use them.
Where will the tour take you? Which states, and which stores? And how long will you be gone?
Eileen Hull: My first trip is a 10-day mini-tour (#PaperTrail Phase 1) to Massachusetts. At the end of March, I will teach workshops at The Collins Group rep event/trade show and at a store called Absolutely Everything. While in the area, my colleague Amy Bowerman and I will visit four other stores along the way in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. We will do in-store demos to show people how to use my products. This has been a big hit with storeowners—the trailer is a novelty, we are providing a free event, and it’s a great way to bring in customers. We are also planning an Artist Meet-U where I will interview local industry friends and find out about their creative process, what inspires them, what they are currently working on, and share their stories with online videos.
You are traveling in a Scotty Serro camper. Why does this particular brand of camper mean so much to you?
Eileen Hull: The Scotty reminds me of going on family trips in our pop-up camper when I was growing up. I am one of six children—we camped every summer because it was an economical way to get away from home and experience life in a different way. We loved it.
I think the #PaperTrail tour is an extension of that quest for adventure and exploration. I love meeting new people and have always wanted to travel through our beautiful country. My kids are through college and out on their own. I work from home so I am able to take the time to do this, and my husband is very supportive and has helped me get the vehicles ready to go. So it seems the time is right. Plus, the Scotty is like a little dollhouse—so much fun to decorate!
Glamping is all the rage. How did you get into this?
Eileen Hull: I love the idea of camping. But tents? Not so much. It seems like the best of both worlds to travel in a cute little camper with as many of the comforts of home I can surround myself with and still have the option of stopping where and when I’d like.
When I tell people about my trip, I get two reactions. Either they think I am out of my mind or they love it. My hope is to provide an online snapshot of what life on the road is like by sharing stories, photos, and interactions with people I meet along the way with those at home.
Colleagues and customers have called you the “Queen of Crafts.” How and when did you get into the craft business?
Eileen Hull: I have always loved making things. Learning to think creatively has been a huge benefit throughout my life—from 13 military moves and raising four children to developing product lines for craft manufacturers.
Wherever we were stationed I took arts and craft classes. One of the skills I learned was how to matte and frame my stitching. I also found that by scoring and cutting my leftover matte-board scraps, it was easy to create books, folders, and boxes from it. The only problem was getting a clean and accurate cut every time … so I approached a die-cut machine manufacturer in 2008 and asked if they could create a die that could cut and score thick materials. The unique ScoreBoards technology was created and I have been designing for Sizzix ever since!
Your products are sold around the country. Tell us about your line.
Eileen Hull: I started out with my Sizzix dies. Then it seemed like a natural thing to develop additional products that would complement the dies. I was in a dollar store shopping for Christmas stockings and noticed some disposable shoe polishers (3/$1!), which I thought would be perfect for my three kids in the military. Then the light bulb went off and I thought, “Wow, if you put ink in there, you could dispense the ink without getting your hands dirty!” So I approached Clearsnap (an ink manufacturer) at the CHA show and presented the idea. They thought the product concept was a great one, so Clearsnap ColorBox® Blends by Eileen Hull debuted in January 2014 in California.
Once I had an ink line, I thought it made sense to design some stamps. I approached Craffiti Direct, a stamp manufacturer looking for new artists, and got a deal to design stamps. There are also some other ideas in the pipeline … I have been very fortunate in finding good companies to partner with.
You already have a number of sponsors lined up for the #PaperTrail Teaching Tour. Tell us about them. What is your budget for the tour?
Eileen Hull: The manufacturers that I license my art with are supporting me with some funding and supplies. I am also looking for sponsorships from lifestyle brands whose products “fit” the #PaperTrail mission.
My budget is a little over $21,000 and will include essentials like lodging, gas and food, legal and other professional services, and of course, marketing. I am also looking into ways to raise money on the trip for one of my favorite charities: the USO.
The Craft & Hobby Association has started a movement called Cre8time, which encourages people to reclaim their creativity by taking 8 minutes out of their day to create something. We are bombarded by so many incoming messages that just enjoying the process of expressing yourself is a needed break and it will bring on a positive change. #Cre8time has asked me to sponsor them and spread the word about the movement. This is a message I believe in and will promote in my encounters along the way as well.
Will anyone be joining you on the adventure?
Eileen Hull: I am meeting up with designer friends along the way. They have very graciously offered to organize events, teach in their studios, allow me to stay with them and enjoy a home cooked meal, and be the point of contact for stores in the area. I also have some people who have offered to do “ride-alongs” to keep me company and who have agreed to show me their favorite local haunts.
I also plan on doing some Flash Fan Meet-Ups, where I will put out a message on social media and say, for example, “I am having lunch at Subway in downtown Monroe. Come on over and let’s meet up for a little creative time!”
More companies are likely to want to invest in your Tour. How can they do that?
Eileen Hull: I am accepting sponsors now for Phase 2 and Phase 3 of my #PaperTrail Tour. Please contact me at email@example.com or call 703-283-2012 for a Sponsorship Info Packet.
How can we follow you?
I hope lots of people will join me on the trip! Luckily, I enjoy driving and my husband put Bluetooth and a sound system in the truck. I will be posting on my blog and social media links below:
• Blog eileenhull.com
• FB Page facebook.com/eileenhulldesigns
• FB Personal facebook.com/eileen.hull
• Pinterest pinterest.com/eileen_hull
• Google+: plus.google.com/+EileenHull
• YouTube youtube.com/user/eileenhull1
• Twitter twitter.com/EileenHull
• Instagram instagram.com/eileenhull
• Email EileenHull@aol.com