Stampin’ Up! to launch new company called Apostrophe S

Stampin’ Up! has informed their consultants that they are in the early stages of launching a new direct sales company called Apostrophe S.

In a video featuring company founder Shelli Gardner and her daughter (and company executive) Sara Douglass, the new venture was described to current Stampin’ Up! consultants as a U.S. direct sales company that will sell self-contained limited edition project kits in craft areas such as paper crafting, metal, leather, wood and glass. No individual items, with the exception possibly of a few basic tools, will be offered.

Gardner and Douglass say the intent of Apostrophe S is to target an entirely different demographic than Stampin’ Up!’s current market. The new target is a young, twenty-something who is highly interested in DIY but wants convenience:

We are targeting a different market segment, and we want to see how successful we are at reaching out in an entirely new way to an entirely new audience. (Sara Douglass)

This appears to be the same demographic that Creative Memories is trying to target with its new Ahni & Zoe brand, but Apostrophe S is making clear the intent to approach it from the angle of the current “maker” trend that is hot in that demographic, rather than trying to repackage their existing product and mission to appeal to them. Stampin’ Up! are also, unlike Creative Memories, hedging their bets by holding onto their existing business and demographic while trying to build the new one. From a business standpoint, it’s a deliberate and measured approach. With a healthier base than Creative Memories had to work from, it’s a choice they have the option of that their competition really didn’t.

The entire process is being built from the ground up to appeal to the new demographic. Because of this, Apostrophe S will be turning the traditional direct sales model on its head. All ordering will be online (no paper catalogs), and ordering will take place before the parties. Once the orders are placed, then customers will bring their kits to parties to assemble together socially – creating essentially a kind of pop-up maker space as attendees assemble a variety of kits and share what they are doing.

The maker approach is even encased in Apostrophe S’s new mission statement: “Apostrophe S empowers everyone to become a maker – even those who may not believe it’s possible. Make friends. Make stuff. Make money. ”

A representative for Stampin’ Up! when asked about Apostrophe S, stressed to Scrapbook Update that Stampin’ Up! is continuing unchanged:

Stampin’ Up! will continue to operate the business the craft community has come to know and love for the past 25 years. We have seen positive growth over the last year and are excited for the rest of 2014 as we prepare to release our annual catalog this June.

Apostrophe S will apparently not be looking to grow by capitalizing on the extensive network of Stampin’ Up! consultants. In the video announcement and accompanying FAQ, it was revealed that Apostrophe S will not, for now, be accepting anyone who was an active Stampin’ Up! consultant on February 1st, 2014, or who joined after that date, even if they drop their Stampin’ Up! affiliation. Apostrophe S will be building a small corps of a limited number of consultants to start.

As Shelli Gardner explained, “There is clearly some risk behind this new venture: The company is new and dynamic and will change as we learn and improve. Only a limited number of people will be able to join initially so that the company can remain nimble and make changes quickly to ensure a positive experience.”

Ground floor opportunity is not critical to success with Apostrophe S, however, as it is being built on a compensation structure that emphasizes immediate income over building a long-term network and career. Consultants will earn commission on their own sales, and then “lifestyle rewards” on their network’s sales – but networks are limited to only one level.

So what are “lifestyle rewards”? Gardner and Douglass didn’t specify, but typically the term refers to the sort of loyalty program like airlines and other companies have where you accrue points that you can exchange for rewards like travel and gift cards. Of course, in the direct sales industry there is a long history of offering travel rewards, something that is likely to appeal to a twenty-something demographic if offered.

So where do Shelli Gardner and Sara Douglass fit into all of this? Gardner will be what she describes as a “cheerleader” for the new company while continuing to shepherd Stampin’ Up! through its ongoing period of growth brought about by the fall of Creative Memories. Douglass will head up the new brand while continuing in her role at Stampin’ Up! as well.


18 Responses to Stampin’ Up! to launch new company called Apostrophe S

  1. Laura Fernsler March 28, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Your article is concise, accurate and informative. You are off base, however, with the suggestion that Stampin’ Up! is experiencing “growth” due to the “fall of Creative Memories.” Stampin’ Up! has been successful from the start and continues to be successful, regardless of what other companies experience. While there were many CM representatives who turned to Stampin’ Up! when they left CM, to imply that is why Stampin’ Up! is having an “ongoing period of growth brought about by the fall of Creative Memories” is simply not an accurate summation.

    • Nancy Nally March 28, 2014 at 10:43 am #

      Stampin’ Up! has a long successful history, of course. I’m a fan of their products myself. What I was referencing was that in the video Shelli Gardner refers to a period of specific growth in the last year – a period that coincides with the current CM bankruptcy, which has brought a flood of new consultants and customers joining the company. Saying the company is capitalizing on an opportunity is not to imply at all that the company was not successful prior to receiving this opportunity. And frankly, if Stampin’ Up! were not so successful already, they would not have been able to capitalize on the fall of CM and build growth out of it.

  2. Nancy March 28, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Do you have a link to the video?

    • Nancy Nally March 28, 2014 at 11:31 am #

      The video is currently not available for public viewing so it can’t be shared in my article.

  3. Erika @ Scrapbook Obsession Blog March 28, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Very interesting news. Thanks for sharing, Nancy!

  4. Deb March 29, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    As a Stampin’ Up demonstrator for 11 years, this is rather discouraging. Seems like the only people making money at this venture are the Gardners. I am seriously thinking of quiting…their focus should be on their current demonstrators who work hard for very little in return. I am disappointed in their Paper Pumpkin line and they may be spreading themselves too thin.

  5. gabmcann March 29, 2014 at 5:28 am #

    Really interesting!

  6. Jackie Beechner-Scallan March 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Nancy, I, too, appreciate your response to Laura. I was a CMC. I had been for 6 years this past November. I bought my kit for Ahni and Zoe. It sat for months, sealed shut, on the floor in my craft space. I loved the line, but there were many other things about the new company I just wasn’t on board with. Those are my reasons alone, and do not reflect anything on the new company. I resigned from A&Z as of February 1, and when that resignation went into effect, I joined SU. I am very happy with my decision, and very happy with SU. Laura, I was NOT the only CMC to “jump ship”. So many left even before the Ahni and Zoe line was revealed. As my husband pointed out, one does not jump from one sinking ship onto another sinking ship. We saw that there were several solid companies to work with (not to mention NO bankruptcy claims!).

    Deb, I cannot understand why you are discouraged. All Apostrophe S is doing is focusing on a customer population we currently are not reaching (or they realize they have not been reaching until Paper Pumpkin came about). I appreciate that they are keeping it small, and NOT allowing us current demonstrators to join in. Believe me, having been with a company that declared bankruptcy TWICE within 5 years, and relied solely on the consultants to help pull them out of the financial muck, I appreciate them saying “hey, this new company is a risky venture. We don’t know if it will succeed or not. We need you to go with what you know, while we work out the kinks over here.” There is nothing wrong with making money, no matter whom you are. As for getting very little in return, I beg to differ. Every order I place, even if it’s just for me, contains MORE product that I’ve received as a bonus than I have EVER received from CM. They ARE continuing to focus on the current demonstrators… another good reason POSSIBLY that they do not want us to join up with Apostrophe S at this time. As for Paper Pumpkin, I can tell you that my customers love the idea of getting a kit every month that has all the parts and pieces they need to create a project. Often for them, that kit is the only thing they get to create, and have some personal time for, every month. Same goes for me. With my hectic life, that little red box sometimes brings back some desperately needed sanity.

    Being a member of 2 direct sales companies, as well as a personal photo organizer, believe me when I say my time is very divided, and sometimes I know I am not giving my full attention on the one project at hand that needs to be addressed. (And no, I’m not leaving any of them… I love them both too much!) I am someone who jumps in with both feet and does not think much about the consequences. I am very grateful SU took that decision away from me. I wish them all the best on this new venture, and I truly believe it’s going to take off.

  7. PjP April 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    Wow, Jackie, there’s no believer like a recent convert is there? We’ll see how you feel after you’ve had to explain (again and again) to your customers why a heavily-promoted new SU product isn’t available when they said it would be, or is on back-order because they didn’t make enough to meet demand, or turns out to be faulty for some reason. I’m glad you’re happy with SU after being thoroughly hosed by CM but I’d be very surprised if you’re still happy with them this time next year.

  8. libbydyson April 7, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    As a Stampin’ Up! Demonstrator here in Australia I must tell you that we were all told we could not capitalise on the demise of CM by asking their consultants to joing Stampin’ Up! Stampin’ Up! did not buy the consultancy base here in Aisutralia – Close To My Heart did. I know this as a fact as my twin sister was a CM consultant and joined CTMH under their trasnsition period from CM.
    Stampin’ Up! have grown enormously in the las 12 months due in part to their 25th Anniversary which has had a huge recruiting campaign and rejuvinated starter kit.

  9. libbydyson April 7, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    Oops, sorry about all the typos. 🙁

    • Judie April 7, 2014 at 5:40 am #

      Well said Libby

  10. Erica Sandwall A Disabled Mom's Life April 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Where do I signed up..Love this idea and I have been looking for something like this for a while..

  11. nicolegunter03 April 14, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    I have been with SU! for 14 years. I have experienced some of the negative mentioned here, but mostly the positive. If you don’t explore then how can you grow? What’s wrong with trying to expend on what you already do? While PP may not be what most had hoped, me included, it also means that SU! is trying new things, researching constantly to see what does and doesn’t work? Have you ever done that in business or life? I have. In both!!! While I am sad I can’t join the new company, I am excited to see what it’s all about. Just like with PP. And for most of my customers that isn’t for them. But I can assure you that SU! is constantly looking at it.

    Additionally, it has been stated for as long as I have been with SU!, usually at an anniversary when we travel down memory lane, that there was a point in SU! where Shelli and her sister contemplated getting a loan or powering through that rough patch. They powered through it. That’s why they are debt free. That and the constant search and find when it comes to new product and new ideas. Are they first to offer a product, for example, washi tape, no. It took them a while to get it in their line before they offered it like everyone else. Was that and is that an example of what is frustrating? Seeing new trends and not being able to offer them first or even ahead of most? YES. But at the same time, what they off is well thought out. Does it always work? No. But what caught my attention from day one with them was simply this….It all matches. It all coordinates with each other. IT WORKS! Simple as that. People will always find an issue with something no matter what. But knowing Shelli and the company she has built works and it isn’t going anywhere. I appreciate that they are constantly working at bettering themselves, thereby bettering those who are part of it.

    They are an honest company. Not many out there that you can say that about!

  12. Cherry May 1, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    So how do we find out about joining Apostrophe S?

    • Nancy Nally May 1, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

      Apostrophe S hasn’t been publicly announced yet (this information came from an information session that was given to Stampin’ Up! consultants about the company’s new venture) and is not yet accepting consultants. Scrapbook Update will make sure to post updates when they are available.

    • Nicole May 1, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

      The video said it would be launched this summer. I expect sometime either before or after convention which is in July! Stampin’ Up!’s new catalog goes live in June. I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities to check it out when it’s available. :-).

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