The Fun Stamper’s Journey community was rocked last week by the announcement that Richard Garay had been fired from the direct sales company that he founded and of which he was the public face.
Garay, who started his career as a top Stampin’ Up! demonstrator and concept artist, founded Fun Stamper’s Journey with his family in the garage of their California home in 2011. A majority interest in the new company was sold by the family a few years later to investor RAF Industries, and FSJ moved to Arizona to be run alongside RAF’s other craft industry asset, Spellbinders. In the past few years, Fun Stamper’s Journey has appeared to be nurturing a devoted and growing fan base, fueled largely by the cult of personality of Richard Garay himself and his constant travel to host events.
The initial public announcement of Garay’s firing came in a Facebook post by Fun Stamper’s Journey on September 27th (Wednesday). The four sentence statement indicated that, as of the previous day, Garay was no longer affiliated with the company and described it as a “sensitive time for the FSJ family” but gave no reason for Garay’s departure.
The same evening as the public announcement by Fun Stamper’s Journey, Garay held a Facebook Live on his RG Signature Facebook page. His demeanor ranged from teary to defiant during the nearly hour long Q&A session with fans. Garay confirmed that he had been fired, and told viewers that it was “because of conduct and behavior. I guess I wasn’t following policy and procedure. I was going against the values of FSJ…” but did not elaborate further. He also indicated that he had a three year non-compete that bars him from working for another creative company.
Garay’s popular assistant Dustin Capp (known to fans as Potato) has also been let go from Fun Stamper’s Journey. But in his Facebook Live, Garay told fans that his wife, Gabby, still retained her position as Director of Programs at Fun Stamper’s Journey and that she will have to make the decision “on her own” if she will remain with the company after his ouster.
The announcement of his firing by Fun Stamper’s Journey, predictably, initially sparked a lot of anger among loyal fans of the charismatic Garay, especially given the vague explanation of the circumstances from both parties (as is often the case in HR issues for legal reasons). Facebook posts from both FSJ and Garay about the topic quickly filled up with comments from Garay loyalists denouncing their ties to the company and indicating they planned to resign from FSJ as coaches. The mood may be shifting, however, after a new statement that was just issued by Garay.
The new statement, issued this evening by Garay on the RG Signature Facebook page, seems to have been crafted at least partially by lawyers, and Garay indicates in the posting that it is being shared at the request of Fun Stamper’s Journey. In the letter, Garay acknowledges full blame for his firing:
First, despite how difficult this is for me to admit, I must tell you that my termination was completely justified. While I don’t want to get into all the details, I will tell you that I misused company funds for my own benefit. And it involved significant amounts of money. That was obviously wrong. If the situation was reversed, and I was in FSJ’s position, I would have terminated myself for this. I was wrong. I admit that. And I accept and understand the appropriate actions FSJ took because of my behaviors.
Reaction to the new revelation was decidedly mixed, with some commenters expressing forgiveness for Garay but others turning anger (previously aimed at FSJ for the perceived injustice of the firing) on him.
Moving forward, of course, Garay’s termination means some big changes for FSJ brands. The Richard Garay wholesale line no longer exists, discontinued the day of Garay’s firing, and the line’s shutdown is so complete that its website has been erased from the internet. Although it will continue, Fun Stamper’s Journey will have a big void to fill in its public face. The company has started by promoting designer Kim Kesti, a familiar face at FSJ events to many in the company’s community of coaches and customers.