Stampin’ Up Review: DIY gift cards & scrapbooking

Stampin’ Up was founded in 1988 by sisters Shelli Gardner and LaVonne Crosby.

The company is based out of Utah in the US and operates in the arts and crafts MLM niche.

So the story goes;

When sisters Shelli Gardner and LaVonne Crosby were young, their family moved from California to Kanab, UT, on the Arizona border.

Both sisters eventually married, and their husbands, who knew each other, decided they should all move to Las Vegas
and operate a custom home building business in the booming real estate market.

Both sisters had children and led busy lives as homemakers, while earning a little extra cash as independent contractors for Tupperware and other multi-level marketing companies.

When they were introduced to rubber stamping, they immediately became intrigued with the craft, since neither
of them felt artistic enough to draw freehand, and using stamps with ink was creative and fun.

They discovered stamping was popular with women, mainly housewives, who like to design their own greeting cards, tags and gift wrap, decorate walls and lampshades, and keep family scrapbooks.

In 1988, with no experience in operating a company, the sisters invested their family’s nest egg to launch Stampin’ Up!

Their business plan was fairly simple:

They studied the business models of Tupperware, Discovery Toys, and Mary Kay, and developed their own approach for a direct sales company that reflected their own methods and techniques.

Today Stampin’ Up claims to have “tens of thousands” of affiliates across the US, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Japan.

LaVonne Crosby stepped down as CEO and left Stampin’ Up in 1998. Shelli Gardner was appointed CEO and held the position until 2016.

In early 2015 Shelli Gardner announced she would be stepping down to pursue ‘a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints‘.

In March, 2016 Sara Douglass, Shelli Gardner’s daughter, was appointed Stampin’ Up’s new CEO.

According to the Stampin’ Up website, Gardner ‘continues her involvement with the company, playing a vital role as Board Chair‘.

Read on for a full review of the Stampin’ Up MLM opportunity.

Stampin’ Up Products

Stampin’ Up initially sourced third-party stamps but began manufacturing their own products in 1992.

Today Stampin’ Up offers a range of rubber and photopolymer stamps and related accessories:

  • accents and embellishments
  • adhesives
  • Big Shot (die-cutting machine)
  • coloring tools
  • ink
  • “memories and more” (albums and card presentation accessories)
  • paper
  • hole punches and
  • stamping related tools

Stampin’ Up has far too many products to list here individually, however a full catalog is available on their website (a printed copy costs $5 for some reason with no PDF alternative).

Selected Stampin’ Up products are available in bundles and kits.

The company also offers a monthly “Paper Pumpkin” stamping kit subscription for $19.95 a month (6 and 12 month discounted subscriptions also available).

The Stampin’ Up Compensation Plan

Stampin’ Up pay retail commissions based on sales volume production. Residual commissions are paid down three levels of recruitment with additional performance bonuses on offer.

Stampin’ Up Affiliate Ranks

There are eight affiliate ranks within the Stampin’ Up compensation plan.

Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:

  • Bronze – sign up as a Stampin’ Up affiliate
  • Bronze Elite – generate at least 1800 GV over a rolling 12 month period
  • Silver – generate at least 3600 GV over a rolling 12 month period and recruit at least one affiliate
  • Silver Elite – generate at least 7200 GV over a rolling 12 month period and recruit at least five affiliates (one must be Silver or higher)
  • Gold – generate at least 10,800 GV over a rolling 12 month period and recruit at least ten affiliates (one must be Silver Elite or higher)
  • Gold Elite – generate at least 14,400 GV over a rolling 12 month period and recruit at least fifteen affiliates (two must be Silver Elite or higher)
  • Platinum – generate at least 18,000 GV over a rolling 12 month period and recruit at least twenty affiliates (four must be Silver Elite or higher)
  • Platinum Elite – maintain at least 10,800 GV over a rolling 12 month period and recruit at least thirty affiliates (six must be Silver Elite or higher)

GV stands for “Group Volume” and is sales volume generated by an affiliate’s orders, those of their retail customers and personal and retail orders by their downline.

Retail Commissions

Stampin’ Up split retail commission rates between Bronze and Bronze Elite and higher ranked affiliates.

Bronze affiliates receive:

  • a 20% retail commission rate if they generate up to 599.99 GV a month
  • a 24% retail commission rate if they generate 600 to 899.99 GV a month
  • a 25% retail commission rate if they generate 900 to 1199.99 GV a month
  • a 27% retail commission rate if they generate up to 1200 to 1499.99 GV a month
  • a 29% retail commission rate if they generate up to 1500 to 2499.99 GV a month
  • a 31% retail commission rate if they generate up to 2500 to 3499.99 GV a month
  • a 33% retail commission rate if they generate up to 3500 or more GV a month

Bronze Elite and higher affiliates receive:

  • a 25% retail commission rate if they generate up to 599.99 GV a month
  • a 29% retail commission rate if they generate 600 to 899.99 GV a month
  • a 30% retail commission rate if they generate 900 to 1199.99 GV a month
  • a 32% retail commission rate if they generate up to 1200 to 1499.99 GV a month
  • a 34% retail commission rate if they generate up to 1500 to 2499.99 GV a month
  • a 36% retail commission rate if they generate up to 2500 to 3499.99 GV a month
  • a 38% retail commission rate if they generate up to 3500 or more GV a month

Residual Commissions

Stampin’ Up pay residual commissions down three levels of recruitment (unilevel).

Residual commission rates are based on monthly and downline sales volume generation from month to month as follows:

  • generate 300 GV and 300 CSV a month and recruit at least one affiliate = 3% on level 1 (personally recruited affiliates)
  • generate 600 GV and 1500 CSV a month and recruit at least three affiliates = 5% on level 1, 2.5% on level 2 and 1% on level 3
  • generate 900 GV and 2500 CSV a month and recruit at least six affiliates = 5.5% on level 1, 3% on level 2 and 1.5% on level 3
  • generate 1200 GV and 5000 CSV a month and recruit at least twelve affiliates = 6% on level 1, 3.5% on level 2 and 2% on level 3
  • maintain 1200 GV and generate 10,000 CSV a month and recruit at least eighteen affiliates = 6.5% on level 1, 4% on level 2 and 2.5% on level 3
  • generate 1500 GV and 15,000 CSV a month and recruit at least eighteen affiliates = 6.5% on level 1, 5% on level 2 and 3% on level 3
  • maintain 1500 GV and generate 20,000 CSV a month and recruit at least thirty-two affiliates = 6.5% on level 1, 5.5% on level 2 and 3.5% on level 3

For the purpose of residual commission rate calculation, CSV is sales volume generated by an affiliate and their personally recruited affiliates.

Bonus Sales Volume

Upon hitting certain qualification criteria, Stampin’ Up rewards affiliates with bonus commissionable sales volume:

  • generate 100,000 GV (recurring) – 1000 GV bonus
  • generate 1,000,000 GV (recurring) – 10,000 GV bonus
  • generate 10,000 GV in a quarter – 500 GV bonus
  • each 5000 GV generated over 10,000 GV in a quarter – 250 GV bonus
  • recruit five affiliates within a year – 700 GV bonus
  • each additional recruited affiliate over five within the same year – 300 GV bonus
  • have eight personally recruited affiliates advance in rank within a year (Bronze Elite and higher) – 1600 GV bonus
  • each additional rank advancement beyond the initial eight within the same year – 200 GV bonus
  • “Silver Elite boost” – 300 GV bonus

A “qualified recruit” is a Stampin’ Up affiliate who has generated at least 900 GV since signing up.

There’s also no explanation for what the “Silver Elite boost” , however I believe it’s an additional bonus when personally recruited affiliates qualify at the Silver Elite rank.

Party Rewards

One of the ways a Stampin’ Up affiliate can market products is through home parties.

Sales generated at home party events qualify affiliates for discounts on Stampin’ Up product purchases:

  • $150 in home party sales = 10% reward
  • $300 in home party sales = 12% reward
  • $450 in home party sales = 14% reward
  • $600 or more in home party sales = 16% reward

Hosting a home party even that generates at least $150 in sales also qualifies an affiliate to receive 50% of one purchased item.

Rank Achievement Bonus

Stampin’ Up reward affiliates who qualify at the Bronze Elite and higher ranks with a one-time Rank Achievement Bonus:

  • Bronze Elite – “Bronze Elite Bonus”
  • Silver – silver necklace or money clip
  • Silver Elite – “CenterStage”
  • Gold – gold necklace or pen
  • Gold Elite – “Gold elite bonus”
  • Platinum – platinum necklace or watch
  • Platinum Elite – “Wall of Fame”

I’ve quoted the more vague bonuses verbatim from the Stampin’ Up compensation plan. No further details are provided.

Flex Points

There’s no explanation of what Flex Points are in the Stampin’ Up compensation plan.

A separate document titled “compensation plan overview” however states:

Flex points can be redeemed for a variety of items such as Stampin’ Up! product credits, catalogs, and the incentive trip.

Based on the following qualification criteria, Stampin’ Up reward affiliates with Flex Points as follows:

  • generate up to 9,999 GV in a year = 1 point per 1 GV generated
  • generate 10,000 or more GV in a year = 5 points per 1 GV generated
  • receive 5000 points per qualified personally recruited affiliate
  • 5000 points for advancing in rank
  • an additional 1500 points for qualifying as a Bronze Elite
  • an additional 4000 points for qualifying as a Silver or Silver Elite
  • an additional 7500 points for qualifying as a Gold or Gold Elite
  • an additional 10,000 points for qualifying as a Platinum or Platinum Elite
  • 7500 points when a personally recruited affiliate qualifies as a Bronze Elite or Silver
  • 10,000 points when a personally recruited affiliate qualifies as a Silver Elite or higher
  • generate 900 GV within three months of signing up as a Stampin’ Up affiliate and receive 5000 points
  • generate 1800 GV within six months of signing up as a Stampin’ Up affiliate and receive 10,000 points
  • 1 year Stampin’ Up affiliate anniversary = 2000 points
  • 5 year Stampin’ Up affiliate anniversary = 5000 points
  • 10 year Stampin’ Up affiliate anniversary = 7500 points
  • 15 year Stampin’ Up affiliate anniversary = 10,000 points
  • 20 year Stampin’ Up affiliate anniversary = 12,500 points
  • 25 year Stampin’ Up affiliate anniversary = 15,000 points
  • 30 year Stampin’ Up affiliate anniversary = 17,500 points

Flex Points are valid for a a year plus month during the period they are earned.

A Stampin’ Up compensation plan overview document provides an example of a Flex Point year running from October to September the following year.

In this example Flex Points would expire in October following September.

Joining Stampin’ Up

Stampin’ Up affiliate membership is $99, which includes $125 worth of Stampin’ Up products (retail value).

New affiliates also require “a copy of Stampin’ Up!’s current catalog(s)”, which the company sells for $5.

Conclusion

Stampin’ Up identify their “core market” as ‘99 percent female, largely Caucasian, mid-30s and older, mainly married, mostly with children‘.

I’m about as far from that as you can get, so it’s not surprising I don’t see myself sitting around making cards and arts and craft memories.

That said, I can appreciate walking into a newsagent and dropping $8-$15 on a paper gift card and feeling ripped off.

The question I guess is how often you buy cards and whether making your own is something you’re interested in.

You’d have to be putting together quite a few projects to justify spending money on a permanent kit to create your own designs.

I guess this is where the “mom factor” kicks in, as women with children are far more likely to be preparing cards and scrapbooks. Men too if that’s your thing (the percentage quoted above is from 2006, I couldn’t find anything more recent).

With who your target market is likely to be in mind, Stampin’ Up appears to be a genuine attempt to offer scrapbooking related products at competitive prices.

And that’s important, because scrapbooking products are readily shippable and available all over the internet.

Stampin’ Up’s edge is a continuously updated catalog and community of like-minded scrapbookers. Very much a hobby and consumable, I can see scrapbooking groups being a great way to keep in touch with people.

Not something I’d be into but again you have to keep in mind the target demographic.

On the compensation plan side of things Stampin’ Up keeps it tight with just three levels.

This is very manageable and ties in perfectly with creating a scrapbooking community. Even with a large downline personal responsibility across three levels shouldn’t be too hard to manage.

One quirk in the Stampin’ Up compensation plan was the separation of rank from residual commission rates.

Affiliate ranks is exclusively tied to bonuses, whereas residual (and retail) commission rates are based on GV production.

Not sure if that’s any better, but things could be simplified by adjusting ranks to their respective commission rate equivalents (add a few more corresponding ranks if required).

Marketing wise Stampin’ Up appear to be primarily party driven. A downside of this approach is inventory required to host parties.

As a Stampin’ Up affiliate you can hardly organize a party event and then rock up with not enough samples to demo.

Stampin’ Up do a good job of rewarding affiliates who are already generating sales, however new affiliates might find the initial cost of building up party event inventory a bit daunting.

Worse still if they’re not finding the business a good fit, costs could quickly escalate. Although not unique to Stampin’ Up, this is definitely something to watch out for.

Other than that you’re looking at a $99 entry point, which is pretty much a $125 retail order at wholesale.

If scrapbooking is your thing and you know others who are like-minded, take a look at what Stampin’ Up have to offer and go from there. Good luck!

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