What Stampin' Up! Is All About

Our first workshop of the year is over—and it was great!

We had about 20 guests (woo hoo!), and they all seemed to have a fun time. Sara did great at demonstrating a beautiful springtime card (I've posted it here), and Shalae demonstrated a simple 3" x 3" card. She did wonderful too—and it was her first time EVER doing a workshop, so I was especially proud!

We greeted everyone and did the two demonstrations plus a quick catalog tour and still plenty of time for everyone to enjoy the yummies (didn’t Shanna do great?), look at the display projects, and visit. Since all but three of our guests knew each other, there was a lot of chatting—and almost everyone mentioned at least once that they hoped we’d do it again!

Sara did a short My Digital Studio demonstration for several of the guests as well, and she booked a My Digital Studio workshop. Shalae booked a workshop too! And many of the ladies asked if we would schedule monthly classes that they could attend. Shalae committed to do that, so you may want to check out her blog periodically to see what projects she’ll be planning. (She’s already posted the card she demonstrated last night.)

Each time I do a workshop I learn new things, and this workshop was no exception. It was interesting that, even though I mentioned Sale-a-Bration at the beginning, we still had to upsell a few of the orders. I guess not everyone initially understood the importance of that $50 order! (smile) But every order did eventually top that magic mark!

One guest mentioned that we should do this at least once a month—just come on over to the house and stamp (using all my supplies, of course) and visit. I understood her enthusiasm (don’t we all?) but wondered how she thought demonstrators made any living if they just invited everyone to come make projects, without ever getting any orders. (smile) And I have to admit that, given the number of guests, our workshop total was less than I expected, which was a reminder that we are all still working in a tight economy with people who are being very careful with their money.

 It was great to experience the workshop environment and to be reminded of the challenges—and rewards—that our Stampin’ Up! demonstrators deal with every day. We determined to Stampin’ Up! events more often, so we could stay familiar with what real life is like for our demonstrators.

As we bid our last guest good-bye last night (MUCH later than we anticipated, given that the workshop had ended more than an hour before), we commented on how much people NEED the fun and socialization that comes from gathering together at a Stampin’ Up! event. Every single time I host a workshop, regardless of the crowd, I am gratified to see the joy that comes from sharing creativity and strengthening relationships—that’s what Stampin’ Up! is all about!

 

Getting Ready for the Workshop

The Gardner home is bustling today—tonight is our first workshop of the year!

We’re all busy getting ready. Sara and Shalae (both demonstrators) will be demonstrating a project, Shanna is making some delicious yummies, and I’m the hostess.

When I was trying to decide who to invite, I decided to do a workshop for all the women in our ward (Church congregation). That’s quite a large group, so I did a TON of invitations because I didn’t want to leave anyone out, and as a hostess, I know that the more people I invite, the more likely I am to have a large group!

Sara created the invitation in My Digital Studio (and showed it on her My Digital Studio blog) a few weeks ago. Of course, me being me, I had to add a little dimension and texture—I really love the difference that makes.

I’ve been handing delivering the invitation over the last week—I wouldn’t necessarily encourage that for hostesses; it took a lot of time!) I had fun though—I drove and took Sidney, who actually did the work, jumping in and out of the car.

Even though I did put “RSVP” on the invitation, I’m not sure how many people are actually coming; you all know how that goes! I have heard from several ladies though, and I can tell they are excited! Each person who has RSVP’ed has mentioned they are looking forward to a fun night out, stamping and socializing with friends. A few have actually giggled as they’ve chatted with me—I can tell they’re looking forward to it! That’s what Stampin’ Up! is all about.

Of course, I’ll post a full report tomorrow. In the meantime, wish us luck!

                                 

A Beautiful Utah Day

It was a beautiful day in Utah today—clear skies, warm (warmer than normal for Utah) weather, and I am moving faster than I have in weeks. I’ve mentioned my little ice-slipping incident previously, and ever since then, my tushie has definitely been tender. I didn’t realize how much I like to walk fast! But today, I am pretty much back to my typical stride—woo hoo! I’m tickled to be making progress!

Another thing that made today so great was our Board of Directors’ meeting, a quarterly meeting I have with a board of absolutely incredible individuals who inspire, encourage, and enlighten me! Today was the first time in a long time we’ve had all the board members together (with such a group of accomplished people, their calendars are pretty full, and so we often have to settle for less than everyone), and it felt wonderful to spend several valuable hours together with people whom I respect so much.

Last year we added two new board members—both female—and these two ladies have brought a new energy to an already-extraordinary group! I was especially delighted this morning when one of these ladies walked in carrying her latest creative endeavor, this adorable little Stampin’ Up! bear. I knew the minute she handed this gift to me that I would be sharing tonight; it was so fun to see our product being used in a different way!

So, that’s why today was so beautiful in Utah! I hope that wherever you are, your day has been wonderful too!

 

A Post-Leadership High

This week has been wonderful—I think I’m on a post-leadership high! The success of leadership has been a fairly constant topic all week long, as we’ve met at Stampin’ Up! and discussed ways to build on the momentum, share it with others, and continue to make our events better and better.

Throughout the week, people have asked me if I’ve recovered—a fair question, since usually after an event I do need a day or two. This time, though, my answer has been different: There’s nothing to recover from! (Although I must admit that I caught up on my sleep over the weekend, and that was nice!)

Being with our demonstrators and employees, feeling their combined enthusiasm, simply rejuvenated me. I am so psyched for 2011!

Having said that, I did take a day off yesterday to go antiquing with Sara and Shalae. They both had “missions” and were looking for specific pieces, and they wanted my opinion. At first, I told them to go without me, but then I realized it had been more than a year since I’d gone and it is one of those things I do to “fill my bucket.” And since I’d talked at Leadership about how important it is to fill our buckets once in awhile, I went. . .

Wonderful decision! We completed the “missions” and discovered a few other treasures as well (including a funky retro ‘50s jacket with lime green, Old Olive, and Garden Green all in one pattern!) that I couldn’t resist. Watch for a photo—I’ll make sure to wear it soon.

Hope you’re all taking time to fill your buckets when you can!
 

Home from Nashville and an Amazing Event

I’m home from Nashville and an absolutely extraordinary leadership conference that exceeded my expectations—and that’s hard to do! (I hope everyone was as pleased as I was; judging by the comments I heard, I think they were.)

From the very first event (Managers’ Reception on Wednesday night ) to the last event (Make & Takes on Friday night), I was captivated and excited.

The Managers’ Reception was at the Wild Horse Saloon, and we ate tasty food, listened to true country music, and kicked up our heels. Well, I didn’t kick up my heels because I slipped on some ice last week and my tush is still a little tender, but I’ve never seen so many people line dancing at one time—it was FUN! 

Thursday and Friday were jam-packed with presentations, classes, stamping, and activities. We had lots of product giveaways, plenty of information and education, some leadership recognition, and so many great ideas! Our leadership theme—+ONE—will also be our global theme throughout this year, and so we hopefully provided plenty of suggestions for our demonstrators to add just one simple thing to their business this year that will make a difference. And if each of us—demonstrators and employee alike—get involved, collectively the results will be astounding!

I attended portions of each class and was so impressed. Both the presenters and the topics were terrific! I felt like every class had a cohesive message, that it was delivered well, and that both presenters and demonstrators participated with enthusiasm and energy!

Thursday night we had a Grand Opening Party, with games, contests, demonstrator booths, and the opening of the Memento Mall—a wonderful time was had by all, I’m sure.

By the time Friday night rolled around, I was worried that we’d worn everyone out and that people would come to the Make & Takes, grab their goody boxes, and head back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. I should have known better! These are Stampin’ Up! demonstrators, after all, and this is one of our premier Stampin’ Up! events! Everyone arrived, excited and ready to stamp the night away. Our Make & Takes were truly unbelievable, designed to reward an incredible group of demonstrators with a delightful night of fun and product, and I hope that’s how the demonstrators felt.

All in all, it was an amazing event. We’re meeting tomorrow to talk about things we did right and things we can improve on, and my list of things we did right is much longer than my list of things to improve on! I was proud of all our Stampin’ Up! family –demonstrators and staff members alike—and am so grateful to be starting this new year off being part of such an incredible group of people!

 

 

January 2011 Q&A

Time for a Question & Answer post—I mentioned in my last post that I was working on one. Here it is! As always, any suggestions for new products or stamp images were forwarded to the appropriate department. I’ve also forwarded your comments about consistent communication and messaging (something we do work hard on) and your questions about our bulk buying program.

In addition, I noticed that my last post prompted quite a discussion from and about our hobby demonstrators, or our demonstrators whose primary focus is on creating and stamping. I appreciate all your suggestions; most of them are ones we’ve already considered at great length. I’ve read every single one, plus I’ve asked our career plan team members to read them as well.

I won’t respond to each suggestion, but I do thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. Without going into detail, I just want to say that there are numerous things to consider, including legal issues and requirements (different for every country, by the way!), when talking about changing upline structure and minimum requirements and any other elements of our career plan. And every element is intertwined with others; when you change one thing, it always impacts many others. Like most things in life, it’s not nearly as simple as it might seem at first glance.

We recognize the vital role that each of our demonstrators plays at Stampin’ Up!, and we work very hard to help each demonstrator feel valued. We will continue to make that a top priority moving into the future, working to balance that with our need to grow and thrive as well.

And now for your questions:

Any way you could show a pronunciation for Sage’s last name (Hoopiiaina)?

When Jason and Sage got engaged, we asked Jason the same question. We knew that in Hawaii they pronounce every vowel, so we told him we needed lessons. He informed us that in Utah, his family has been going by Hoopiiaina (Hoop ee awna) for years. That simplified it for us, but I always hope I’m not offending anyone when I say it that way instead of the true Hawaiian way!

What’s your dad’s car insurance rate?

I don’t even want to know! (smile)                                                                          

What kind of music do you listen to?

This question was asked when I mentioned listening to (and singing along with!) music when I rode out to see my dad race on the Salt Flats. I can’t remember specifically what I was listening to that day, but I listen to music a lot—it’s on almost all the time when I’m home alone.

I don’t listen to radio stations; I play CDs. I like Christmas music (I play it at least once a month or so, all year long), and I also like Christian music. I’ve heard music that had a great beat and made me want to get up and dance, but then the lyrics aren’t that great. Since I’ve always liked  listening to music that is uplifting and inspires me to be a better person, Christian music seems to do that best.

I would be interested in knowing the number of CAN demonstrators that signed up during the half-off promotion?

By the end of last year, we added nearly 15,000 US demonstrators and approximately 4,500 Canadian demonstrators to our Stampin’ Up! family! Awesome! I congratulate each and every one of you who participated in our “10,000 in 2010” campaign. We’ll be focusing on recruiting this year as well, so stay tuned to hear more about this year’s goals. . .

How did your giving of cash for Christmas last year turn out?

Fabulous! In fact, I’m pretty sure it will be a tradition we’ll continue. We gave cash again this year, but because we spent the Christmas holidays together, I did want everyone to have at least one present to open from Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas day. So we mixed it up a bit. . .

Was Makai’s birth announcement a card that you open or a front and back?

Wasn’t it beautiful? I loved it; I thought Sara did a wonderful job creating it in My Digital Studio. It was a traditional card that you opened.

I really enjoyed the pictures of your stamp room in Creating Keepsakes. Where did you get the cabinet with the lift-up glass doors that is on top of a table?

I’m so glad you like that piece—it’s one of my favorites! It’s actually an old apothecary, and the glass doors are glass drawers that you can pull out. I found it at a antique show here in Salt Lake City and fell in love with it! I knew it was going to be a main point of interest in my dream stamp room, and it is!

Will US (or CAN) demonstrators ever be allowed to attend conventions outside the US?

That’s not in the plans right now. Our venues are small and intimate, and we want the demonstrators in each of those markets to be able to attend the conventions in their own countries. I’m sure you understand. . . We’ll certainly let you know if that changes!

I’d love to hear about the essential oils you chose to give. Some of the oils we use most often in our home are lavender, peppermint, and tea tree oil.

Those are some of my favorites as well, especially lavender and peppermint! We gave a variety of oils, but the most common was lavender, peppermint, and lemon.

Can we continue the Christmas spirit and extend our hearts out to the thousands of families in Australia who have been or over the next few days will be hit by the worst flooding ever experience in Australia. Your generosity in the past has been amazing!

My heart always goes out to those who are faced with disasters such as this—you never know when Mother Nature, or any other unforeseen thing, will turn our worlds upside down!

We’ve been in discussions about this during the past several days and are working with our Australia office to determine the best way to help our demonstrators in Australia. In trying to be consistent with our fundraising efforts in the past, we’ve decided not to pursue a fundraising campaign at this point.

However, we will be waiving the quarterly minimum requirements for affected demonstrators as needed and will also allow reorders of the Starter Kit in instances where large amounts of products have been lost. We’re working closely with our demonstrators to help them in any way we can, and we have heard of fellow demonstrators who are also reaching out to help. It’s during challenges like these that I feel an incredible sense of gratitude for being part of a family of people who care so deeply and do so much to serve others! Our prayers join the many others being offered in behalf of those who are affected by the flooding.

UPDATE: I'm adding this after I originally posted it. The flooding in Australia is worsening and impacting more people than we originally realized. We are revisiting this issue. . . I'll let you know where we land. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the people who are struggling with this terrible tragedy!

Thanks for sharing the photos of Grandma Pat’s Christmas party. Is Grandma Pat in any of the photos?

Of course! I actually tried to get pictures of as many people who were there as possible (which was no easy task!). Grandma Pat is in several photos, but the easiest one to spot her in is the first one, a large group photo. Mom Pat is in the middle, wearing a white shirt and green sweater, and holding the child in pink.

It looks like your dad attends Grandma Pat's party. How wonderful to be able to celebrate with everyone!

That is something I really appreciate about Mom Pat—she invites everyone! And they come! My dad (and his wife Justine) comes, even though Dad and Mom Pat were divorced years ago. And Mom Heather’s husband Paul comes, even though Mom Heather passed away three years ago.

This party is something we look forward to all year long because we know all the members of our family will be together. We know that we’ll all have fun and everyone will get along wonderfully! It’s a highlight of the year for me!

I want to get the caroling book that you sing from at your Riverton holiday festivities, but I can’t read the name of it. Would you please share the name?

The name of the book is The  Christmas Caroling Songbook (published by Hal Leonard, copyright 2002). I’m not sure if it is still available; we bought it several years ago, and it’s just a collection of Christmas carols. If this specific book isn’t available, I know there are many similar books available with great collections of carols.

I'd love to know what Italian restaurant you and Shanna ate in when you were in New York City?

We actually ate Italian twice—the first night was just a little corner Italian restaurant that we stumbled on to called Ciro; it was delicious! The second night we ate at Trattoria Dell'Arte; we made reservations because we’d eaten there before and enjoyed it so much!

As in love with the cards and box as I am, where on earth can I get those caramels? They look divine, and good quality caramels are a weakness of mine! Can you please share the info on where you got them and if they can be ordered?

Don’t they look delicious? And you should taste them—they are divine! They are made in Utah (which is why we included them in our TODAY Show gifts) by a company called J Morgan’s; here’s the link. We included the HC (Heavenly Caramels) Butter and HC Pecan caramels (my favorites!) in our gift boxes.

I’ve noticed that, even though you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Stampin’ Up! offers very few stamps sets that appeal to members of the LDS Church. I know my LDS customers would really appreciate stamps that related to their specific beliefs and religion, just as my Jewish customers would really appreciate Jewish-themed sets. For myself, as an Episcopalian Christian, I'm glad Stampin’ Up! has offered several sets over the years with Bible verses, and I can't wait for my next order, which will include the beautiful Crosses of Hope set! If you can offer symbols of my faith, why not symbols of yours?

That’s a great question! We have actually offered sets in the past that contained LDS-specific and Jewish-specific images and wording. Interestingly enough, these sets simply don’t sell; I’m not really sure why. (Since Latter-day Saints are Christian, many LDS customers may be buying the more general Christian sets because of their versatility.) We do have to stay in business by selling stamps, so our low-selling sets simply don’t stick around very long.

We do currently have a Jewish set (Shalom Sayings) that is available for sale but is not shown in the Idea Book & Catalog. And we are looking at including some religion-specific stamps in our A La Carte offerings in the future.

An Honest Question--and an Honest Answer

I’m working on my next Question & Answer post but noticed this comment and felt like I needed to answer it separately—and quickly!

Someone wrote, “My New Year's wish: Please don't abandon those of us who are loyal hobby demonstrators.... it definitely feels that way right now with the heavy duty push to recruit.”

This demonstrator then goes on to explain that, because she doesn’t have any support from her upline or any opportunity to join a stronger upline, she doesn’t really feel comfortable recruiting anyone. She also noted that she feels like a “hanger on” and that she wonders if a lot of hobbyist demonstrators are having to leave in this economy because of the quarterly minimum requirement.

She says, “I hope that just this once someone asks, ‘What could we do to support you more effectively?’ without saying, ‘You need to perk up and work harder at building your business.’"

Several things came to mind as I read this comment. . . .

First, I’d like to say that I appreciate this demonstrator’s honesty.

Second, I have to admit that my heart broke when I read her words. Through the years we’ve said over and over again how much our “hobbyist demonstrators” mean to us—and we absolutely mean it! These demonstrators are crafting enthusiasts who value our product, and love to create. In fact, many of them live to create!

We try to do as much as we can to support these demonstrators—offering a nice variety of the highest quality products available; providing LOTS of fun, inspiring projects; creating a community (Stampin’ Connection) where they can share and be recognized by their peers; profiling artists in our magazine (Stampin’ Success) every month. . . those are the things that come to mind immediately, and I know there are more. In fact, the monthly So Shelli Creative Challenge was a direct result of trying to meet the needs of our demonstrators who live to create!

Third, as a company whose very existence depends on growth, Stampin’ Up! has always had to  focus on recruiting at some level. And in these challenging times, we’ve had to focus our efforts and resources more than ever before on a few key things that will ensure that we survive—and even thrive.

We have focused on recruiting heavily during the past year, but that increased focus doesn’t mean we value our demonstrators who enjoy creating any less than we value our demonstrators who enjoy building a business. It just means we’ve been talking about recruiting more. Our priorities haven’t changed—every single demonstrator is important to us, and we will do all we can (recognizing that our resources are limited) to support and encourage every demonstrator, at whatever level she chooses to be part of our Stampin’ Up! family.

I can understand why this added emphasis on recruiting might make a demonstrator whose main priority is stamping feel less valued. All I can say is, if you’re feeling this way, please don’t! Please know that we care about you. You are part of every conversation we have and every decision we make. We are trying to carefully balance our need to encourage growth and recruiting with our absolute commitment to reach out to EVERY demonstrator in our Stampin’ Up! family and make sure they can continue to love what they do.

Thank you, Dona, for sharing your feelings. I promise you that your role as a “hobbyist” is and always will be valued.

 

A New Near Year Gift Tradition

Who needs New Year’s resolutions? I’m excited about my new New Year’s tradition!

A few years ago, I opted to send out my annual card/newsletter update in the spring as a way to reduce a little holiday stress and free up valuable time to spend with family. I LOVED the way that felt, so I took it a step further this year.

This year, instead of doing Christmas gifts for friends, I chose to do New Year’s gifts!  I told close friends that I had something for them, but I probably wouldn’t have it ready until after the New Year (have to manage those expectations, you know). That allowed me time to relax and enjoy the holidays more, plus instead of frantically trying to finish everything up by Christmas, I spent the last couple of nights relaxing, watching movies, and working on the gift tags that went with the gifts. It was heavenly!

Of course, we still went with Christmas gifts for family—I think the grandchildren would have a hard time getting excited about the New Year gift idea!

The idea of New Year gifts went along with our gifts this year—a gift of essential oils that we hope will help those we care about have a more healthy, happy year—but I like the idea so much that I think we’ll continue with New Year gifts next year, regardless of the actual gift.

I hope your holidays were as peaceful and enjoyable as mine! And I am very excited about what this new year has to offer all of us!