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Stampin’ Up! Quietly Launching Apostrophe S

Stampin’ Up!, which informed its consultant base back in March that it was launching a new direct sales brand, has spent the past few months quietly launching Apostrophe S. The new venture is being headed by Sara Douglass, a Stampin’ Up! company executive who is the daughter of founder Shelli Gardner.

Apostrophe S logoApostrophe S is a direct sales company aimed at a young demographic of Makers, and is focusing solely on selling self-contained project kits at the moment. The initial product releases includes 8 kits in a variety of craft areas including jewelry, home decor and kids crafts, with price points between $20 and $40 dollars each. For instance – the kit pictured below, called Recycled Romance, creates romantic table centerpieces out of recycled paperback books and ribbon, and sells for $25.

apostrophe_s_recycled_romance_1The new company’s sales system turns the traditional direct sales party program on its head. Whereas most companies use parties as the sales venue, Apostrophe intends sales to take place pre-party. The party itself becomes then a social venue for customers to enjoy constructing their kits together and share their knowledge and skills with each other – a Maker event.

Of course, as a new direct sales company, Apostrophe S is not just looking for customers. The company is also looking for consultants – or as it calls them, “coordinators”. Despite being a Stampin’ Up! brand, the company is starting from scratch with their sales corps, as Stampin’ Up! consultants were informed they are currently ineligible to sign on with the new company.

Apostrophe S is obviously pushing hard for a new, younger demographic in their “coordinator” offering. The “join” page is highlighted with a large photo of three twenty-something young women. The lede, above the photo reads:

EARN EXTRA INCOME MAKING DIY PROJECTS WITH FRIENDS
Whether you’ve been eyeing a new pair of shoes, looking for a rewarding new hobby, or just want to go on a much deserved vacation—we want to help you make it happen!

The compensation plan is described as “kickbacks” and “lifestyle rewards,” not commission, and that header quoted above clearly stresses earning extra pocket money in your spare time, not creating a career path like the major direct sales company currently push. In fact, part of the compensation package isn’t even financial – coordinators earn “lifestyle points” for each dollar of their sales, which can then be exchanged for rewards (which the company describes as “from a yoga mat to travel”).

The company’s coordinator “welcome kit” costs $50. Apostrophe S is currently accepting only a limited number of consultants.

According to their Facebook page, the company will soon begin holding what it calls “Mix N’ Mingle” events at hotels in cities across the U.S. There will be events in Denver and Portland on July 24th, and in Seattle and Austin, TX on July 25th. For a $35 registration fee, attendees will get the chance to make one of three of the company’s new kits, meet and greet other area Makers, and learn about Apostrophe S.

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27 Responses to Stampin’ Up! Quietly Launching Apostrophe S

  1. biscuitsandbooks July 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Very informative article, Nancy, as always. This new offering from Stampin’ Up offends me on two levels (not that it matters — I’m just on a rant.) First of all, I’m clearly light years beyond the “new, younger demographic”, and it simply irritates me on general principle to be overtly excluded from something because of age. That marketing strategy is offensive. (It’s akin to survey people calling at dinner time to ask about movies you like but won’t speak to you if you’re over a certain age. What, I don’t enjoy movies? But I digress.) Having said that, however, what bothers me more significantly about this home decor craze in general and Stampin’ Up in particular is that it is so wasteful. These “projects” soon become dust-catchers and eventually just tossed in a landfill. My local scrapbook store has been offering more and more of these types of classes also (rather than traditional scrapbooking clases) because, they tell me, their younger customer base doesn’t have the storage space to keep items long-term or they simply get bored with it. I, on the other hand, prefer to display solid decor pieces in my home that I show and/or re-use throughout the years. The Apostrophe model clearly encourages more disposable junk in our landfills even if they claim to be using recycled products. And I thought the 20-somethings were all about saving the earth? At least with our time honored tradition of scrapbooking we are preserving our projects for posterity. Just sayin…… OK, off my soapbox.

    • VickyR July 21, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

      Bravo and well said!

      • Deb July 22, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

        As a long time Stampin’ Up! demonstrator I totally agree with this. Age discrimination at its worst and they are so blatant about it and while I am on a rant, the Paper Pumpkin kits would be better if SU used its cardstock, the cheap paper they use caused me and my customers to cancel their subscriptions. SU is spreading themselves too thin, they need to stick with what they do best and cater to their existing customer base. I long for the artistic stamps of the past, the new stamps must be designed by graphic designers as opposed to artists they used in the past.

      • Jackie Fisher August 5, 2014 at 2:02 am #

        Well said….I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    • Katie K. July 21, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      So agree with the short list of reasons I’m not impressed and won’t be a potential purchaser or refer my younger older same-age friends.

    • Audrey Freedman July 25, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      Gee, I think I made that project in 5th grade….and that was a LONG time ago, way out of their demographic– maybe they think it is cool because they did not have art in elementary school?

  2. mjmarmo July 21, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Totally agree.

  3. thefrugalcrafter July 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    the above project looks like a Pintrest dollar store inspired craft to me and 20 somethings who can’t pay off college loans are unlikely to fall for this gimmick, they know about Pinterest and can grab a book from the dumpster and make that project for free. I have been disappointed in SU! downsizing their catalog and now to branch off to this, it seems unwise to me but then again I am older then their demographic too.

  4. Cheryl July 21, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    This “young demographic of Makers”? Really? I guess those of us who have been making and selling jewelry, mixed media art and upcycled home decor items for years were way ahead of the curve. There is nothing about this product line that is new or innovative. They are simply craft kits.

    • Nancy Nally July 22, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      The phrase “a young demographic of Makers” absolutely isn’t intended to imply that young people are the only makers. It just means that the company’s target market is young people from within the maker segment.

      The company is just doing the same thing that clothing (and many other) retailers do – targeting and marketing its offerings to a certain demographic and lifestyle to create a specific brand identity for itself.

  5. Dee July 21, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    I am offended also.

  6. Colleen July 21, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    That’s romantic? Gosh, I am really out of date and can see why they would exclude those of us who are not “twenty-somethings” since most of us that I know wouldn’t buy it. Old paperbacks that have yellowed like the ones shown, usually have acquired paper mites or other creatures & I wouldn’t want to have them around, let alone on display. Unless of course, they are providing new “used” looking books, otherwise I guess I would be paying $25 for a few bits of ribbon? I hope it is just my taste in decor, but feel totally lost when seeing items like this. I am an example that does prove Stampin Up’s point.

    Still, It is becoming emergently apparent from the appearance and marketing layout of Stampin Up’s latest products, catalogs & mini brochures that they are making every effort to move away from their older (in both age & loyalty) customers in hopes of bringing in the younger demographics. I had a difficult time finding anything I would want enough to pay their prices & shipping costs in the latest annual catalog. I do feel that my patronage is no longer valued. It’s a business decision & I do understand and hope it works out for them. Though, it would seem prudent to at least try to maintain a relationship with what they consider to be non preferred demographic customers because one would imagine that they represent a large enough financial segment of their business to still have value.

    I hate to have to say good-bye to an old friend who piqued my first interests in stamping & scrap booking only about 10 years ago, but it is increasingly clear that they no longer value their time honored customers (or demos for that matter since they cannot participate in this new venture) & want to end our relationship. I have gotten the hint & have moved on to other companies who are still happy to take my money despite the fact I am over 35. I have already purchased or pre-ordered all my stamps & papers for my Christmas cards, holiday baking, craft making & scrap booking this year without even waiting for the Stampin Up holiday catalog to be released. I will still be happy to play with those sets I have kept in my collection of the more than 650 Stampin Up sets that I previously purchased.

  7. Marianne Dobbs July 21, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    These look like the crafts you do in Girl Scouts to earn the recycling badge.

  8. Gabriella B July 22, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    I was a SU demonstrator for nine years. I left because I did not feel that they had anything for the pushing forty crowd. Their catalog is filled with photos of twenty somethings and baby and wedding cards. What stamps they do have for travel and teens seem stilted. The companies I do like now are hero arts, penny black, basic grey and Fabre castell. If you follow any of those blogs you will see the forty something crowd represented.

  9. almasmom July 22, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Oh yeah, epic fail on SU’s part. The kits they have in the Apostrophe S store look like some cheap rubbish that a 10-year-old made at summer camp. THIS is what they’re siphoning resources and talent away from their other business for?! What a joke. I totally agree with the previous posters who object to the whole “younger demographic” pitch. Besides, I know lots of young crafters and they’re not stupid — they know crap when they see it.

    I’ve also seen the new SU holiday mini (I’m not a demo but there are always bootlegs on-line if you know where to look) and I am not impressed (again) this year. The prices are bad enough in the US but they’re ridiculous for us Canadians. I had high hopes for SU getting back on track earlier this year but I’m not so sure now. At this point, I don’t think even Becky Higgins can save ‘em.

    Fortunately, I’ve got a whack of really fun Hero Arts and Basic Grey stuff to make my holiday cards with this year. I’ve even got a “Made with Hero Arts” stamp on order, so that the folks you get my cards will know where all the cool images came from. What they won’t know is that I paid half as much for my Hero Arts stamps and my Basic Grey papers as I would have for anything from the new SU mini.

  10. gabmcann July 23, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    Thanks for the report Nancy … it will be interesting to see what happens with Apostrophe S!

  11. patricia July 23, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Ladies I cant agree more! I think that in creating the demographic scene it alienates the ladies who have made Stampin Up successful in the past. What if all us older ladies stopped buying where would they be then…Just saying! Sometimes new and improved is not the best way to go!
    I too have found other companies that I have found great items at.

  12. Lou Ann Hutchins July 23, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    It looks to me like Shelly is letting her daughter influence the products that are being offered by Stampin Up the last couple years. She is way to hip for me! Don’t understand her taste in design, dress, hairstyle, etc. they appear to be developing more of a yoga/massage business than the Stampin up business.

  13. Jackie July 23, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    I want to say that with all new ideas there will be some learning to do. I hope that Sara’s vision of providing an experience of crafting with other 20 somethings does succeed. I know the magic happens at my classes, not through an online store. If they truly want to make crafts together they should think about a lower price and something more creative. Something that’s a WOW! Demonstrators for Stampin’ Up! provide WOW projects and more importantly a sense of belonging to a group. I have hostess clubs, dinner clubs and annual crops. This connects people. I don’t think a $40 wreath is going to connect people. A $10 wreath with friends yes. I would say these prices are for completed items. If you are making it yourself you should save money on it because you are putting in the time to make it.

  14. Claudine Dionne July 31, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    I have been an SU demo for 3 years and I am continually amazed by how much I love the products and the company that I am associated with. The products are excellent quality (I am less impressed with the paper quality in the Paper Pumpkin kits, but mostly everything else in the red boxes are terrific) and fair priced to the market….even in Canada. (I don’t love ALL the Stampin’ Up! products….but I do LOVE many!) Not only do I love the “stuff” I also have never worked for any company, large or small, that puts as much emphasis on customer service as Stampin’ Up! does.
    Would I go for Apostrophe S? Nope, it is not for me. Will I be offended by it? Nope. I also can’t shop in lots of clothing stores, but rather than take offense, I shop elsewhere. :)

    • Diana K August 1, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      Well said Claudine. Apostrophe S is not my thing but I’m not offended that it’s not geared to someone my age. It may work, and then it may not. But it’s not my concern. SU and Apostrophe S are 2 separate entities. I’m a SU demo and love being one. I don’t like everything in the SU catalog but more than I should. :) And I love the Holiday Mini. There are a lot of choices for stampers right now — SU and other companies. Just find what you like and enjoy stamping.

  15. Tanya M August 5, 2014 at 1:43 am #

    I love SU and am very curious to see how this new endeavor fairs out. I am not any where near the age demographic however I do see the appeal. I would be more than happy to spend $39 for the wreath kit. Sure I could possibly purchase the supplies cheaper on my own however my time is worth something. I have no desire to spend time going to various stores shopping for the necessary supplies not to mention all that time cutting all those circles. What could be an all day project turns into an hour project to do with friends. Call me crazy but I kinda like the idea!

  16. Amy piatt August 5, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    I agree with all of you. Pintrist ideas on a sax 5th avenue price tag. I like to stick with scrapbooking and cards, with occasional cute projects, all on a Dave Ramsey budget. I also was a stampin up demonstrator for ten years. I left su and joined close to my heart, because su was very getting to expensive and very restrictive of consultants. Which they show part of that by restricting current consultants from helping to launch apostrophe s. You would think they would want the successful ladies helping to launch the new line. I love ctmh They give so much away to their consultants and customers!! Ctmh is a debt free company, who knows how to cater to their consultants and customers!! Ctmh even welcomed creative memories consultants and some executives, when they went out if business. And conventions are always at Disney word and Disney land!!!! Any whoots. You will not find me at one of the apostrophe s’s party. I don’t fit the domographic. Lol

  17. Lisa M. August 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks for the informative report. I would be totally offended, too, if I were a Stampin’ Up Consultant. Telling their current consultants they are ineligible to join their new venture–not cool in my book. It’s amazing how much this industry has changed in the last 20 years. First Creative Memories goes under and then their “new” company Ahni & Zoe is closing down now too! Now Stampin’ Up is trying to reinvent itself to attract the younger demographic. I’ve been with Close To My Heart for 15 years now, and am so impressed with their stability, being a debt free company, and truly listening to their consultants (their best customers) as to what we want (and we are an aging bunch too) and caring about us. So glad I made the right choice so many years ago! It’s amazing the number of consultants who have been with CTMH for 10 years or longer. I can’t imagine the turmoil a lot of the CM & SU consultants have been/are going through.

  18. Linda K August 11, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    I don’t understand why everyone is being so critical. So this is not for you… so what, move on. My goodness! These projects aren’t my cup of tea, but I’m sure there are those who will like them. And I do get the concept. I hope it works out for them. I really do!

    So they are trying to reach a “younger” crowd with this company? That doesn’t bother me. I know what I like and where to find what I need. So this company doesn’t cater to my “age” group! I don’t care. Why do we think everything in this world must cater to each and everyone of us? Why do we always expect everyone to share our likes and opinions and thoughts; and if they don’t then they are wrong or politically incorrect or prejudice!! Why can’t we just look for a nugget of good in everything instead of bashing it because it doesn’t meet our needs or expectations??

    What I really want to say here is that I am a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator. I have been for 12 years and I love this company. I have worked for other direct sales companies and this is the best one I have ever worked with. They have excellent products, they care about us and our/their customers. They have a great business system and are always willing to listen to us and help us when they can. We have gone through changes over the years. No one ever likes change. But what I have observed is that I may not like something initially, but it usually turns out to be the right thing. SU knows what they are doing. They are a solid and sound company.

    Why on earth would I be offended that I can’t be a part of this “new Venture”? Do I want to run 2 direct sales businesses ? I am not interested in it, so why would I whine about not being included. I enjoy what I do with SU. I can still do all kinds of papercrafting projects with what we have in our catalogs in addition to card making and scrapbooking! The majority of my customer base is over 40 and they still love the products. You know, a big part of it is what you as the demonstrator do with the products; how you show them, and knowing your customers; what they like and need. I don’t know why we are making this big deal about age! You have to offer something for everyone.

    And to comment on your reply Lisa M, SU is also a debt free company. They have been in business for over 25 years and many of there demonstrators have been with them this whole time. They also listen to us, their demonstrators. They have made changes due to our input and they are very good to us. We are not going through any “turmoil”. Stampin’ Up! and this new company are two totally different things. Stampin’ Up should not be lumped in there with CM or even Apostrophe S. They are their own Company and in my opinion a very good one.

    One last thing that makes no sense to me. Everyone is complaining that SU didn’t include their current demonstrators in this new company. All I have heard is negativity about it and the projects! If you don’t like them, why in the world do you care that you aren’t a part of it?

  19. Stella M August 13, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    I have been an Independent Demonstrator for Stampin’ Up! for just over 12 years. I am not the type to follow anything like a lamb. I am a cynical big city girl. And, with that being said, I applaud Stampin’ Up! in this new effort. At first, I have to admit, I was upset that they were directing resources that way since I felt SU would benefit more but as it sinks it, I realize it’s vital to our longevity for us to seek the new. I am 52 years old. I do not want people like me to be SU’s focus. I want the younger demographic to get engaged to help me have a long business and to see our children move this company into the future.

    Are the Apostrophe S projects ones I would do or buy? Doesn’t matter as they’re not marketing to me. Two of my four children are in their demographic and I know all too well that decor in those kids’ homes is much different than in mine. We simply must reach out to all and that is not necessarily some act of desperation. It’s smart business and forward thinking. Status quo will not move any business forward.

    Will they succeed with Apoostrophe S? Who knows but I’d rather be with a company who has the courage to try new things than one that keeps doing the same.

    Do I care that they excluded me from joining since I already represent SU? Of course not. I do not fit their demographic. Does Forever 21 or H&M market to me clothing-wise? Does Chuck E Cheese market their pizza and playground to me as a place to eat? No way. Does Macy’s or Nordstrom market to my 19 year old? Nope. Neither offends me or my kids. Businesses find their niche or target audience and we choose them based on what they offer. Seldom does emotion come into it. This part of the discussion in the previous comments is sincerely bizarre to me. Offended? By what? Good business?

    I, for one, will stand aside and let SU do their thing on this. Success or failure… I’ve gotta let them try and applaud them for doing so.

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