August 11, 1997 - August 11, 2017
Today is my 20th anniversary as a demonstrator for Stampin' Up! Woo hoo!!! Please indulge me in sharing some memories with you.
For many years, I dreamed of owning my own business. Working in the banking and finance industries paid me well, but it didn't fulfill my heart's desire to be my own boss and to make a difference in the world. Did you know that I:
- Sold Avon to co-workers
- Owned an in-home licensed day care
- Owned a word processing business
- Co-owned the Winter Wonderland Boutique
- Sold antiques and collectibles
I definitely dabbled in different businesses through the years. But everything changed when my sister, Jan, came to visit from California in 1996. She brought "her new hobby" in an extra suitcase: glossy white cardstock, a black ink pad, colored markers and artistic rubber stamps. I have never forgotten the feeling of amazement when I inked up a rubber stamp and pressed it on the cardstock. I was an artist! Very quickly, I amassed a collection for my new hobby and began to teach everyone I knew how to make greeting cards with rubber stamps.
One of my first stamp classes with friends at the Blaine United Methodist Church. (L-R): Jenny McElyea, Monica Keyes, Pam Mertz
My friend, Nancy Buchanan's sister was opening up a coffee shop and wanted me to sell greeting cards and gift bags there. That led me to also teaching craft classes at the coffee shop in the evening. It was the people at these classes who would keep asking me if I sold the products we used in class. I would tell them no. They needed to go to a local rubber stamp store to buy them. They didn't want to do that. They wanted to buy the products from me after class. Duh! Finally, the light bulb went off in my head.
I called my brother, Flip, and asked him about a rubber stamping catalog he showed me a while ago. He remembered it was a Stampin' Up! catalog. I called the 1-800 number to get more information. I was working late that evening and my phone rang. It was Terri Gaines, calling about Stampin' Up!. She mailed me a catalog and the agreement forms, which I received the next day. I stewed about completing the forms all weekend. Finally on Sunday evening, I told my husband that I was afraid to sign them because I may be getting into a company like Amway. Dan told me to sign them and said "what's the worst that is going to happen?"
The worst thing that happened was UPS was on strike until the end of August 1997. Guess whose starter kit never left the Stampin' Up! warehouse? You guessed it. Finally, my kit arrived. I mailed a letter to everyone on my Christmas card list, which was out of my comfort zone. But I knew I had to do this in order to get this business going.
Since I had never been to a Stampin' Up! workshop and didn't own any Stampin' Up! products (gasp), I went to one of Terri's workshops and observed what she did. Shortly after that, I received a phone call from the sister of a friend I had met on a weekend retreat. She wanted to book a workshop. There were 17 people that attended. Three people booked workshops from this one. My business was off and running.
I attended my first Convention in July 1998 in San Diego with 3,000 other demonstrators. Here I am with Shelli Gardner, Founder, and Spencer Clawson, President. (Deckle scissors should have been banned.)
Twenty years of workshops, craft fairs, classes, boutiques, expo's, networking groups, meetings, conventions, leadership conferences, open houses, weekend retreats, fundraisers, incentive trips, training sessions, blogging and social media. Whew! It has been a learning experience that I truly never expected to happen when I signed on the dotted line. And through this journey, it is safe to say that I have met thousands of people that I never would have had the privilege to meet, if it wasn't for Stampin' Up! It is truly the friendships that I have made over the last twenty years, that mean the most to me.
This beautiful bouquet was delivered to me yesterday from Kris, Denise and Kat, who are current and former team members, to celebrate my Stampin' Up! anniversary. Their thoughtfulness touched my heart!
Who knew when I signed on the dotted line, that years later, Stampin' Up! would write their Statement of the Heart, which included my dream of making a difference. I love that! I am blessed by your friendship, our love of crafting together, sharing our up's and down's and your continued support. My life is enriched because of you. Thank you for making a difference in my life!!!