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Richard Garay Fired from Fun Stamper’s Journey

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.

Richard Garay

Richard Garay at a 2016 Fun Stamper’s Journey event

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.

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Update | Michaels, Scrapbook Expo, Jobs, and more!

In this issue of the Update column, I’ve got some big news from some of the industry’s biggest names – and some great opportunities if you are job hunting! Let’s dive in…

Michaels store

Earnings. Michaels Stores held its quarterly earnings call for investors today. The company surprised market watchers by reporting that it missed its quarterly earnings target for the first fiscal quarter of 2016 that ended April 30th. Michaels stock (traded under MIK on the NASDAQ) fell over 8% after the announcement, to close at $27.69 for the day.

In the announcement, Michaels executives blamed weak April sales for the missed earnings estimate. Michaels is far from alone in struggling to meet its April sales goals in 2016. A whole host of U.S. retailers have announced weaker than expected April sales figures, including Costco, Gap, L Brands, Target, Macy’s and Nordstrom – to name just a few.

Moving forward, Michaels says it plans to continue to focus on the adult coloring trend, extending its selection of coloring books and coloring materials. The company has also begun expanding the trend off-paper, recently unveiling store displays that feature items such as kids’ t-shirts with coloring designs on them along with fabric markers. The company also plans to launch nationwide in July a loyalty program that it has been testing locally in Texas near its headquarters.

For more information on Michaels Stores financial numbers in the first quarter, read the official announcement.

Industry Jobs. The following industry positions are currently posted as available:

New Positions. Bella Blvd has announced that Amy Heller is filling the newly created position of Marketing Director at the company. Heller is known to many in the industry for her time as a Garden Girl at Two Peas in a Bucket, and for her work designing product for the now-defunct Lily Bee Design. But she also has nearly two decades of professional experience in marketing and graphic design, including for Fortune 500 brands. Initial plans for Heller’s role at Bella Blvd include development of a new blog and email interaction with customers.

Amy Heller

Amy Heller

Honors. Congratulations to Georganne Bender and Rich Kizer on their Retail Adventures blog being named one of the “7  Retail Publications You Should Be Reading” by retail analytics platform Celect. Retail Adventures has been basking in the spotlight in 2016, with UK retail analysts Retail Vision also naming the blog to its “Top 50 Retail Blogs” list in January.

Events. I had a chance to attend Scrapbook Expo for the first time in 2016 when it came to Orlando this past weekend for an event at the Gaylord Palms resort in Kissimmee.

Scrapbook Expo Orlando 2016

The shows are now officially known as “Stamp & Scrapbook Expo,” reflecting the growing presence of stamping products on the show floor. Compared to 2015, there was much more current product on the show floor – I saw a variety of current product from Echo Park, Carta Bella, Simple Stories, Quick Quotes, Graphic 45, Photo Play Paper, Sizzix, Hero Arts, Tim Holtz, and many others. Several booths were carrying a good selection of planner supplies as well.

Several well-known industry names were attracting good crowds in their booth. Stayce DeWid of Art Anthology had a make-n-take running in her booth, with the help of an instructor.

Stayce Dewid

Stayce Dewid

As it was throughout 2015 at the shows, the make-n-take being run by Richard Garay at the Fun Stamper’s Journey booth continued to be popular in 2016 in Orlando. The booth was thronged every time that I passed by on Friday.

Fun Stamper's Journey booth

June is a busy month for Orlando area papercrafters, with Stampfest also scheduled to take place in Lakeland at the end of the month.

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Jobs | Concept Designer (Richard Garay/Fun Stamper’s Journey) – Phoenix, AZ

For our readers’ convenience, Scrapbook Update publishes industry job listings in our main feed, with the company name in the header! To see a page listing all of these published jobs for easy reference, visit the Jobs category page of Scrapbook Update.

Fun Stampers Journey Now Hiring

I’m looking for three concept designers (2 in house and 1 part-time) to join my Journey Crew here in our Phoenix office. All three positions must be local. You will create and assist our current full time, in house designer. You should love to be around a positive Journey Crew, who love what they do and have a strong, working relationship.

Job Summary:

Stamp and assemble samples to market company product lines. Work with product designers to develop innovative new product lines and product line extensions. Continue Reading →

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Event | Yummy & Delicious Tour by Fun Stamper’s Journey

[Disclaimer: Travel for this event was sponsored by Fun Stamper’s Journey. I am under no obligation to post about or review this event in exchange for sponsorship, and opinions below are entirely my own.]

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of traveling to Virginia Beach, Virginia to attend a stop on the Yummy & Delicious tour of events being put on by Fun Stamper’s Journey during 2015.

A look at the Fun Stampers Journey Yummy & Delicious Tour event in Virginia Beach | by Nancy Nally for Scrapbook UpdateFun Stamper’s Journey, for those not familiar with it, is a fairly new direct sales company focusing on stamping. The company was co-founded by Richard Garay, who might be familiar to those in the industry from his previous line with Spellbinders and his long tenure at Stampin’ Up!. Continue Reading →

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Scrapbook Expo fun with Fun Stamper’s Journey!

This time last weekend I was in Virginia, visiting another Scrapbook Expo on behalf of Cricut. The Expos are a vibrant place full of inspiring people and products. It’s always a pleasure to spend a weekend immersed in the excitement!

One of those people is Richard Garay of Fun Stamper’s Journey. Some of Scrapbook Update’s readers may know him from the line he previously did for Spellbinders, but these days he’s busy launching his own direct sales company called Fun Stamper’s Journey.

Richard, and Fun Stamper’s Journey, have been a big presence at Scrapbook Expo shows this year. Their huge (and free) make and take is incredibly popular with show attendees. Richard’s presentation is so engaging and fun to watch!

Fun Stampers Journey Continue Reading →

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CHA PaperArts | Spellbinders Celebra’tions

Spellbinders unveiled a new collection at the CHA PaperArts show last week that wasn’t just new designs but a whole new direction for the company. The collection, Celebra’tions by Richard Garay, is a break from Spellbinders’ typical style in more ways than one.

Garay’s previous position was at Stampin’ Up!, and influences from that type of style and sales are definitely visible in the Celebra’tions line. Spellbinders’ usual style is very vintage and intricate. By comparison, the Celebra’tions line is simple, cute and fun – a look that could attract a whole new segment of customers to the company.

IMG_4459The line seems especially tailored for card makers, with die and stamp sets, embossing folders, and even its own color palette of ink pads and cardstock. It is, essentially, an entire self-contained program – similar to something that you would see in direct sales, and an easy foundation for teaching classes and helping launch beginners. Continue Reading →

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