The word ‘celebrity’ is a somewhat relative term. There are the obvious celebrities that grace the covers of magazines and usually hit the headlines with scandal and controversy. Then there are our own personal celebrities: those people that we follow regularly, people we do not know but admire them for something they’ve done or the person they seem to be.
It is always a little risky, meeting our own personal celebrities. Not long ago I met one of mine, and was a little disappointed in who she was in real life. I still greatly admire her work, but I’m preferring it at a distance.
I noticed on a recent Instagram post, that one of my long-time celebrities, was going to be in Utah at the same time I was. Quick backstory: I started scrapbooking in 1997. The online community was fairly new and scrapbooking had a very small presence (if at all.) I was somehow directed to Creating Keepsakes magazine. I copied and copied and copied everything they showcased in their monthly magazine. Over the years, my own style developed out of those many magazine pages I imitated for so long. A pivotal part of Creating Keepsakes magazine was Becky Higgins. She was a regular contributor and someone that many people began to follow, myself included. Over the years, Becky branched off and began doing her own thing. Her ‘own thing’ has made its way to the central scrapbooking craze of the last few years: Project Life. Project Life is a simplified version of scrapbooking. Many scrapbookers (seasoned and new) became overwhelmed with the amount of work it took to put a page together. With Project Life, you work in pockets. You fill the pockets with pictures, memorabilia, and embellish however little or detailed you choose. Becky Higgins created this concept and has been ‘reborn’ in the new wave of scrapbooking.
She was scheduled to do a ‘meet and greet’ in Orem, Utah – about 45 minutes from where we are staying. Scott was excited for me as I was to be going. He has heard the Becky Higgins name many times as I worked to create a Project Life club in Omaha. He knew she was one of my TOP celebrities!
But let me talk about where the event was being held for a minute. Persnickety Prints is a company I have been watching from the sidelines for over a year now. They print pictures (predominately from online ordering) in many different sizes. They also have an entire section specifically to accommodate Project Life pocket sizes. As the Project Life system rose in popularity, so did their name as a printing source for scrapbookers. The meet and greet event with Becky Higgins was being held in their store in Orem.
I emailed the creator of Persnickety Prints, Chari, to say that I was from Kansas City and wanted to know when she thought I should arrive at the event. She immediately emailed me back with the answers to my simple questions PLUS she gave me exact directions for how to get to her store (I hadn’t asked for those) PLUS she gave me her personal cell phone number in case I got lost along the way. Hello, great customer service! She also told me to come a little early and just hang out with her awhile.
When I arrived, she warmly welcomed me. And here’s the deal with Persnickety Prints: you can’t even work there unless you are aDORable! Seriously, each employee was so cute and were flying around, working like crazy!
There were quite a few young kids at this event also. Kids that were keeping their own Project Life albums (a perfect fit for kids!) They brought their albums to get signed by Becky. Becky carefully looked through each album, oo’ing and aww’ing over many pages.
Persnickety Prints also prints Instagram-sized pictures in 4×4, 2×2, 5×5, etc.
They set up a cute photobooth for the event. After Becky arrived, she said she wanted to meet people in there and then have pictures taken in that cute setting.
There were even signs and the typical photobooth bowties, mustaches, etc.
And Becky’s favorite donut shop set up a food truck outside: Art City Donuts
Some of the adorable Persnickety Prints employees…
Becky Higgins. I was toward the beginning of the line to meet Becky and there was a long line behind me. I was very aware of the many people wanting to talk to her, so I was planning on making it quick. I gave my camera to Aubrey (employee) who was amazing at taking candid pictures of Becky and I talking as well as some posed pictures, which was VERY thoughtful of her!
As soon as I walked in the room, Becky hugged me and asked me my name. She asked where I was from and immediately cooed over me coming so far! As I tried to hurry through the process, she kept asking me questions, “So how about these mountains?! Cool, huh?” I would respond. “So what brings you to Utah?” I would respond. “So where is you husband now?” I would respond. In the end, I was rushing HER through the little meet and greet rather than the other way around. She asked me how long I had been scrapbooking, about my kids, how I liked Utah… She was SO authentically interested and engaging and never took her eyes off me. She was completely focused on me as if no one else was standing in line. What a genuine person who also understands that her ‘bread and butter’ is from the people buying her product. And that without them, she wouldn’t be where she is today. I don’t want to reduce her genuineness to something crass like money, but it is a feature that not all creators and CEO’s understand. I do believe that she is sincerely, at her core, a nice person. And that came across loud and clear to me. If I wasn’t a diehard Project Life fan before meeting her, I certainly would be afterwards!
She graciously signed the inside of my album and one of the insert cards…
As I said before, the line stayed long for a solid two and half hours. People talked in line and got to know each other. Becky is currently living in Arizona with her husband and 3 boys. They were all there with her along with her parents (visiting from Maryland) and her two brothers and their families. Along with this meet and greet event, they were also all there together for a family reunion. Each family member worked their way around the room and through the line, talking with people along the way.
Below is Becky’s husband (white shirt) and one of her brothers in the blue shirt. The Persnickety Print owner, Chari, brought them to me in line and introduced me as coming all the way from Kansas City to meet Becky. I was treated as the very special, ‘Kansas City guest’.
The cute Persnickety Prints employees who worked this event.
One of the highlights of the evening was talking with Becky’s dad, Wayne. He and I sat on the sidelines and talked for quite awhile about Maryland and his work as a doctor and now as a mission doctor to the LDS missionaries in the region where he lives. We talked about his experiences in the Navy and the filmstrips he has of his time there. He also asked me about my scrapbooking and when I began. (For you scrapbookers reading this, he asked me if I had ever attended a CKU event and how crazy they are!) He was very soft spoken and I’m pretty sure he assumed I was a fellow Mormon, and I’ve gotta tell you, I never corrected him. I enjoyed his stories and didn’t want him to stop for fear I wouldn’t understand his references. He was a delight to talk with and it was easy to see that Becky possesses many of her parents’ kind attributes.
I was making my exit and stopped by to say thank you again to Chari for all her help and congratulate her on a successful event. She asked me if I could stick around awhile because she wanted a picture of me with her and Becky. So of COURSE I waited!
Chari (owner of Persnickety Prints), me, Becky Higgins and her mother. I was hanging with royalty, I tell you!!!
I have been actively scrapbooking for about 17 years now. I have taught scrapbook and Project Life classes for the past 10 years. I have seen many trends come and go and have tried on many of the trends myself as my scrapbooking morphed and adjusted. It was a pure joy to meet someone within the industry – at the helm of the industry – that far surpassed my hopes for who she would be. I am a bigger fan now than I was before the event.
It was nice to decompress from the high of the evening as I drove home through the Utah mountains…
At one point the sun burst through for one final hurrah at the end of the day. The beams shone down on Salt Lake as if God really had chosen this place as Zion! At least for today, for me, it was.