Events | 2012 Stampin’ Up! Convention

Editor’s Note: The annual Stampin’ Up! convention is one of the largest events of its kind in the industry, but since it is a private event, little is usually heard about it in the mainstream scrapbook media. This year, freelance writer Connie Myers was invited to attend by Stampin’ Up!, and she offered to share her experience with Scrapbook Update’s readers. Her report below provides a fascinating window into the company culture that has created the success of Stampin’ Up! as an organization, as well as an informative look at the company’s latest new products and marketing focus. — Nancy

Thousands of women cheered as the doors opened for the first General Session of the 2012 Stampin’ Up! Convention, held July 18th-21st, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Stampin' Up Convention Doors Opening

Inside, as lights flashed and party music played, 3500 demonstrators walked, ran and danced through a gauntlet of 500 Stampin’ Up! employees offering applause, hugs, and high fives.

Entering Stampin' Up Convention

Stampin’ Up! has come a long way. Co-founder and CEO Shelli Gardner and her sister started the company in 1988. Their slender catalog offered stamps designed and manufactured by other companies, and the sisters filled orders from Gardner’s living room. “We held our first convention in Las Vegas in 1989, and we had 50 demonstrators in attendance,” Gardner told me in an e-mail. “Considering it was our first event, and we weren’t as prepared as we would have liked to be, we did a great job. And what matters most is the demonstrators seemed to have a great time. It was a fun event. Of course, it doesn’t even compare with what a Stampin’ Up! event is today!”

Twenty-four years after its living-room start, Stampin’ Up! is headquartered in a picture-perfect 300,000-square foot building in Riverton, Utah, and has a manufacturing plant in Kanab, Utah. The company designs and manufactures its own rubber stamps. It publishes a 200-page core catalog of products each summer, and adds seasonal mini-catalogs throughout the year. Stampin’ Up! has nearly 47,000 demonstrators in a network that reaches the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Consolidated revenue in 2011 exceeded $186 million.

Along with rubber stamps, Stampin’ Up! sells a variety of coordinated inks, papers, cardstock, accessories and tools through its independent demonstrators. Some of the most dedicated demonstrators come to the convention each year to learn creative art techniques, sales methods, and marketing ideas for recruiting. They see new products demonstrated, exchange ideas, and attend a variety of classes intended to help them succeed in their own demonstrator business. Most of all, though, they have a lot of fun.

Stampin' Up! Convention Bags

Stampin' Up! Convention General Session

The 2012 Convention Theme was “I Am.” The first General Session opened with a song titled “I Am” commissioned by Stampin’ Up! and performed by Sounds of Zion recording artist Jessie Clark Funk. The lyrics encourage independence and individual strengths and talents. A lip-synced video featuring Stampin’ Up! employees played on the big screens overhead. Audience members clapped along with the song, dancing in their seats. Singer Jessie Clark Funk came onstage at the end of the video. When Shelli Gardner appeared on the screen and then onstage, audience members cheered and rose to their feet, giving her a standing ovation.

“Our theme for this year’s convention—I am—was one of my favorites by far,” Gardner told me. “I loved the way it was incorporated throughout convention, from the look and feel to the subject matter of all our presentations.”

Jessie Clark Funk

Shelli Gardner

Gardner talked to demonstrators about the need to expand recruiting and sales to include the age group designated as Generation Y, defined roughly as the generation born in the 80’s and 90’s. Keynote speaker Jason Dorsey, a generational strategy consultant specializing in Generation Y, entertained demonstrators as he educated them on the differences between Generation Y and previous generations, and talked about how best to appeal to them. “Generations are not a box that all of you will fit neatly inside based on your birth year,” Dorsey said. “What generations absolutely are, is they are really powerful clues on where to start to better connect with and influence people of different ages.”

Stampin’ Up! is launching an ad campaign to increase brand awareness among potential Generation Y customers. Ads will run in home, parenting, and general interest magazines in the U.S. and Canada beginning in August.

Shelli Gardner and Jason Dorsey

Demonstrators attended general sessions and classes throughout the three-day convention. General sessions included technique and product demonstrations, prizes, company announcements, achievement awards and on-stage recognition. Classes included several make- and-take sessions using new colors and products. New products were also displayed on Product Showcase boards. Dozens of display boards showcased class projects, general session techniques, and creative cards, scrapbook pages, and projects created by demonstrators. Demonstrators took photos to use as examples when planning their parties, workshops, and classes at home.

Make n Take

Product Showcase

Stampin’ Up! has more than 80 new stamp sets and 130 new accessories this year. Many other products have been upgraded. On August 1st, the company will release My Digital Studio 2, an upgrade to the company’s digital design software. Additional downloads for MDS/MDS2 are available weekly.

The company catalog offers Sizzix brand dies that coordinate with its stamps. I was very impressed with the Sizzix Framelits. These open-frame dies work perfectly with stamps, even for a perfectionist like me. Stamp the image first, then place the stamped paper on the Sizzix platform. The process is simple: center the matching Framelit over the image and roll it through the Sizzix die cut machine to cut it out. Framelits can be purchased in a bundle with matching stamps for a 15% savings.

Framelits and stamps

The new heat tool is slimmer and has two heat settings – low for drying ink and high for heat-setting embossing powder.

New Stampin' Up! heat tool

Ink pads are now made with firm foam pads. This new design keeps ink closer to the surface of the pad and makes for an exceptionally sharp image. I found that I needed to revise my usual inking technique as these pads require a much lighter touch than other stamp pads.

New Stampin' Up! stamp pad

Of all the new products which will be introduced this year, Shelli Gardner says the new paper trimmer is her favorite. The trimmer has a generously-sized platform and cuts or scores to a full 12 inches. The trimmer bar is long enough that both the cutting blade and the scoring blade can be kept on the track at the same time. And there’s a storage compartment under the base for spare blades.

New Stampin' Up! Trimmer

Trying out new Trimmer

One of the advantages to Stampin’ Up! products is the consistent availability of coordinating colors. The core color palette includes 40 colors which are used in ink pads, cardstock, patterned paper and accessories.

Each year Stampin’ Up! also introduces an additional palette of five current, trendsetting colors. Each “In Color” palette is available for two years, with two palettes always in rotation. Nancy recently reviewed the 2012-2014 In Color selections here on Scrapbook Update.

A portion of Saturday’s closing general session included live streaming to demonstrators around the world. Gardner announced upcoming incentive trips, and Gardner’s daughter/advisor Sara Douglass shared some of her favorite stamping techniques. The Canadian Stampin’ Up! division celebrated its ten year anniversary at the session. Demonstrators were also invited to come on stage for recognition of their landmark anniversary years of service, including fourteen demonstrators who have been demonstrators for 20 years.

Anniversary March

Sara Douglass

Throughout the three days of the convention, wherever I went I made friends. At lunchtime I listened in as demonstrators shared ideas for classes and retreats and found myself exchanging e-mail addresses with my tablemates. At make-and-take classes I found myself sharing inked stamps and technique hints with half a dozen demonstrators who were happy to help me out with the tricky parts. The closing general session was no different. I sat next to two new friends and shared marketing tips I’d picked up from others along the way. The excitement in the room ratcheted higher and higher as party music played and prize patrols roamed the floor giving away thousands of stamp sets. That kind of excitement is hard to resist. By the end of the afternoon my new friends and I were out of our seats and dancing along with 3500 of our closest friends, ready and anxious to go home and create something beautiful.

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28 Responses to Events | 2012 Stampin’ Up! Convention

  1. Gayle Wheeler July 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Thank you, Connie (and Nancy) for providing this informative article about Stampin’ Up! It was interesting, although disappointing, to learn at the Convention that a recent survey concluded that the general community as a whole has never heard of our company.

    I’d like to note that the Stampin’ Up! website ( offers online versions of the Annual and Seasonal Catalogs, as well as a demonstrator locator to find a consultant in your area.

    I’m happy (but not surprised) that you were able to enjoy the Convention activities with a “few new friends”. They say the crafting community is one of the friendliest, and Stampin’ Up! Demonstrators are certainly no exception. And yes, we do have a lot of fun!

  2. Tracie Evans Langley July 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    Connie, thanks again for sharing your table with me for lunch on Saturday. It was so nice to meet you. I loved your article and can’t wait to share it with my fellow demos and customers!

  3. Jennifer Magreevy July 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    What a wonderful article! I have been privileged to be a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator since 2006. It should also be mentioned that Stampin’ Up! has regional events scattered across the country each year, and space permitting, guests of demonstrators can attend to see what an amazing company Stampin’ Up! is. I’ve been to two regionals, plus this year’s Leadership Conference, where leaders across the country get to experience a convention-like conference on a smaller scale. At each event I’ve been to, I’ve immediately found friends who have shared cards, supplies, and contact info. I’ve even been “adopted” into a local group of demonstrators in my area who meet each month to discuss techniques, business tricks, and anything Stampin’ Up! related.

    I love Stampin’ Up!. Not only does the company roll out arguably some of the best products in the craft world, but they also care for their demonstrators and give us all kinds of incentives and freebies. I love what I do, and it is such a joy to share it with others!

  4. Carol Christopher July 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Hi, Connie,

    It was so much fun to sit (and dance) with you during the closing session — a total blast. This was my first convention, and it was everything I’d heard it would be. Great business tips, great connections with other demonstrators, and great generosity on the part of Stampin’ Up!

    I’ve only been a demonstrator for a year and a half, but I’ve fallen in love with our products. You did a great job of describing the new goodies that are out this year and the convention. I’ve bookmarked it to share with my customers. Thanks!

  5. Terri Walker July 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Hi Connie,

    You captured our Convention experience to a “T”! This was my fifth convention and the best ever for me. It was my first time to walk the stage for earning the Grand Vacation incentive trip to Fiji and I truly appreciated all the genuine congratulations I received from the Stampin’ Up! employees. Stampin’ Up! loves their demonstrators and the company works hard to provide the best quality products on the market. Makes it easy to “love what we do and share what we love”!

  6. Jen Pitta July 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Connie you did such a great job with this article and describing the Stampin’ Up culture. We truly are a fun loving, friendly bunch who like to have fun and love, love, love SU products!

    Thank you Scrapbook Update for this wonderful opportunity for such a great company!

  7. gela July 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    Omg I cannot believe I have never head of this. I will have to put this convention on my wish list. I will have to add them to my Reader list. Great job at describing thus event.

    • StampsNWhatnot August 2, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      Hey Gela,

      Sign up to be a demonstrator. You’ll love it as much as I do!


  8. Tricia Sachs July 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Hi Connie,

    You truly captured the essence of Stampin’ Up! and what convention is all about! Although I’ve never been, it’s on my wish list! I was a demonstrator from 2006 – 2008 and have just recently rejoined! I’m so excited to be part of the Stampin’ Up! family, and we truly are family! Thanks for getting the word out and sharing about what we do and what we love!

  9. Amber Meadows July 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Great article! I’ve been a demo for 7 years and loved every minute of it! Gela, if you want to attend Convention next summer now is a good time to join. In August they’re offering a free Halloween Printer Tray Project when you sign up as a demonstrator! Check out the website for more details

  10. Gab July 28, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    Fantastic article!

  11. Kathy H July 28, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Thanks for the fantastic coverage and inside look at the SU convention!

  12. Chris Glebus July 28, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    What a fabulous description of fun and excitement of attending a convention by Stampin’ Up! You described it perfectly, I have been to many Stampin’ Up Conventions and other events as a Stampin Up Demonstrator since 2001. Although I missed this years convention; reading your article made me feel like I was there. I can’t wait to attend next years 25th Anniversary Convention! Thank You for sharing your experience.

  13. Kay Jantz July 28, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    I am not surprised at the previous comment indicating in spite of all the great things Stampin’UP does for its demonstrators it is truly still very unknown in the real world. I am amazed daily at the number of contacts I have made recently in which the individual has not a clue what Stampin’UP is all about. Don’t think I don’t pass up that opportunity to teach them all about SU. Great article and as others have pointed out, much more about the company can be said, it is by far the premier direct sales organization I have ever been associated with and trust me I have been involved in numerous different ventures. This company is El Supremo of them all!

  14. Lynda Birch Jeffs July 28, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Great article, now I have to re-do my way of thinking… I haven’t wanted to sign up with a company, but this makes it so I do. Thank you for giving us the chance to “be there” too!

  15. Kay Kalthoff July 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    You captured the “heart” of what our company is all about . . . stamping and sharing with family, friends and customers. One of the main reasons I became a SU demonstrator was so that I could attend Convention every year! Thanks for the wrap, Connie!

  16. sherrill graff July 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I told my viewers and directed them here to your site. Thanks for reporting on our Stampin Up convention and for sharing it with your readers.

  17. scrapper al July 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    I enjoyed reading about the Convention. I’m impressed by the speakers and their topics. I hope that SU continues its success!

  18. Kelli Wolfel July 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    Thank you so much for your fabulous article! This was my second Convention and your accurate description makes me not want to wait another whole year to get back to Salt Lake City to celebrate the 25th year of Stampin’ Up! The interactions with other demonstrators and especially the Utah Stampin’ Up! employees makes this an unforgettable experience. Coming together with this group reaffirms why I love my job! Thank you again for bringing it to life for those who couldn’t be there.

  19. KathyinMN July 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Best update I’ve read on this convention! Thanks as always for your fantastic journalism.

  20. Carolyn Serviss July 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    I’ve been a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator for 9 years and I have never quite figured out how to share an accurate description of Convention with my friends and customers. It’s one of those things you just have to experience in person….so glad, Connie, that you were able to be there.

    You have done an excellent job describing the event and the company. The only thing missing is the sound track of the great upbeat music that accompanies that moment when the entire Stampin’ Up staff opens the door and welcomes us with “high fives” and cheers of excitement.

  21. Ann & the Dog August 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    We had a blast, didn’t we? This was my 14th in 13 years! There is nothing like a Stampin’ Up! convention!

  22. Jennifer DiMarco August 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Fantastic Article! I have been a CANADIAN Stampin’ Up! Demonstrator since 2004 and love all that Stampin’ Up! has offered my family and I. In addition to convention, they also travel to bring Regional Seminars to their Demonstrators. Often these are open to guests. In Canada they will be coming to Hamilton in September and Quebec City on October 13th . Thank you for such a wonderful article 🙂

    Jennifer DiMarco
    Montreal, Quebec

  23. Lois Folla August 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    What a FUN article! Sounds like you really got into the swing of things at our convention! So glad you attended! Thank you for writing up such an awesome article! I’ve been with SU! since 2000 and have been blessed ever since.

    Have a wonderful Summer and thank you again for sharing your Stampin’ Up! experience with others!

    Lois Folla

  24. StampsNWhatnot August 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    I’ve been to several Stampin Up conventions and have always had a wonderful time. They are so much fun with LOTS of sharing, inspiration and community.

    Kudos on this article and kudos to Stampin Up! I LOVE being part of this company!

    ~Jeannette Swain
    Stampin Up Demonstrator from Northern Virginia

  25. Mary Rodgers August 3, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    You did a wonderful job of describing Convention…..I’ve been to the last 8 and will continue to make it a highlight of my year. Thank you for your well written article…I plan to share it with my family, friends and customers.
    Mary Rodgers
    Stampin’ Up! demonstrator from Rochester, NY

  26. Dawn Olchefske August 23, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    I never miss a Stampin’ Up! event and their annual convention is always the best!
    Wonderful article about a wonderful company!!

  27. Jen Timko September 1, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    What an awesome article this is!! Had a friend send me the link since I am in your photo taking a photo of the fabulous boards. Can’t wait to share this…thanks so much for sharing this experience in such an eloquent way!

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