The past 2 months have been a great journey down memory lane. Each one comes with its' own story. This one is about the base binders.
Many don't know that the fabric-covered binders were not an original plan, but rather an emergent desperation to a horrible situation. My high school BFF and I had spent months designing the original The Story of ME pages. The final page development and proofing happened at her home in Tucson, AZ. The artwork for the pages and the binder had to be completed and turned into the printer the day I left or I wouldn't make product arrival for the American Baby Faire in Chicago several weeks later that I'd already paid for. That was September 11, 2001.
Ignorant to the events that would be forthcoming for our nation, Alison and I worked tirelessly on the final tweaks. The pages were perfect, exactly as I'd wanted them. Bold, primary colors. Bright, exciting graphics. Oversized. By the time we came to the binder, our creative energies were exhausted.
The night before I was to leave, we turned in the artwork for the binder, which neither one of us were happy with. I had no idea how that single indecision would lead to what put The Story of ME on the map over the next several years, competing against huge publishers for shelf space in some of the country's most prestigious stores.
Base Binder #1
First introduced in November 2001. The original The Story of ME pages were 9-3/4" x 10-3/4" which required a binder with an extremely large surface area that, despite the highest quality board, the cover bowed and looked beyond cheap. In addition, our choices of "paper" for the cover were so limited that I was forced to use a textured burlap-looking material that looked like it housed a medical journal. When the first boxes arrive, my mother was standing next to me as I burst into tears at sight of it. It was that moment that my mother did what all the best mothers do. Made me pick my head up and start working on a solution... together.
My favorite thing about this binder was the "hanging baby," which was the signature on our untraditional "cosmic" treatment of the family tree.
Base Binder #2
First introduced in 2003. The first two years of (then) Perfect Memory Publications was spent perfecting the fabric-covered binder and how to cover up the hideous first attempt at a base binder. With new graphic assistance and customer feedback that our colors were simply too bold for a baby, we went a little more conservative and I invested a fortune in these luxuriously padded binders. Still not willing to let go of my "hanging baby," that remained the feature image.
Unfortunately, this product was extremely expensive to produce and despite the highest quality materials, consumers were programmed to think that the corrugated cardboard created binders found at mass merchants were higher quality.
Base Binder #3
I'm not sure when this binder first saw the light of day, but it was my first creation with the spectacularly amazing designer, Denise Ziganti. The Story of ME pages had evolved several times since first publishing in 2001 and the fabric-covered binders which were still being created by my mother and I and occasionally an army of helpers still dominated my business. There was increasing demand for me to meet a price point for more economical shoppers and for mass merchants requesting my unique products. This binder incorporated a heightened elegance for our products.
Base Binder #4
This was the final base binder designer, Denise Ziganti, and I created before shutting the doors for Perfect Memory Creations in 2014. It was by far my favorite, integrating so many of the design elements I loved, appealing to a neutral market, and meeting a necessary price point. Sales for this were always shadowed by the fabric-covered binders, but they provided families with different options. My challenge remained on this and the binders before it, consumers considered our highest quality construction and materials sub-standard to the puffy and bendable binders they were competitively priced with. So, as before, the base binder continued to be more of a liability than a shooting star.
The story of The Story of ME is truly that of life. There were winners and there were losers. There were many times I wanted to throw in the towel because I couldn't keep up with the talent of the powerhouse players in the memory album industry. But, somehow the strength always returned and for those of you who bought any of these versions of binders, I thank you. Each of you, one at a time, gave me the courage to forge ahead, find the best in me, and ultimately the best The Story of ME there was to deliver.