It’s been a long road…one filled with a lot of emotion, both positive and negative…which I think has finally led me to this decision…
My whole venture into the world of paper crafting and my eventual evolution into the world of art journaling and mixed media started back in 2004, with my decision to join Stampin’ Up! as a demonstrator. If you knew me at the time, one of the things you’ll probably remember was my overwhelming lack of creative confidence – in fact the tagline of the Sunny Stampin’ blog used to be “Simple Stamping for the Creatively Challenged” – with the reference “creatively challenged” being a description of myself – or rather, how I felt about myself at the time.
It was through what a l learned as a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator – through being part of the community of Stampin’ Up! demonstrators, and through my interactions with my customers – that that perception of myself started to change. My involvement with Stampin’ Up! brought so many things into my life. It brought creativity into my life – something that I had longed for for years. It helped me develop confidence both personally and professionally. It brought friendship into my life – pretty much ALL of the friends I have right now are friendships that developed through my involvement in Stampin’ Up!. It provided me with the opportunity to supplement my husband’s income, and to be there for my children as a stay-at-home mom. Then, when I brought my Stampin’ Up! business online through the launch of the Sunny Stampin’ Blog in March of 2007, the opportunities exploded – all because of YOU, my faithful blog followers and readers. What had been a part-time direct sales business, exploded pretty quickly into a full time online business.
Through my Stampin’ Up!-focused class planners, tutorials, kits, and online classes I was blessed to be able to share my passion for teaching and inspiring others to discover and develop their own creativity. Eventually though, I started to find myself being more and more drawn to the world of mixed media, art journaling and paper crafting as a whole. I started to feel constrained in using only one company’s products. I also didn’t think that it was real or realistic. One company, no matter how fantastic their products are, cannot meet every need. What company in the world, in any industry can be everything to everyone? The answer is none. The problem was, that during this time (around the end of 2010), Stampin’ Up!’s policies were becoming more and more rigid towards what they considered to be “competitive”, almost to the point that just about any craft product – even if they didn’t have an equivalent product – was considered “competitive”
At that point I was already well under way developing my newest initiative – Paper Crafter’s Library. A website whose purpose was purely educational – whose mission was to offer ongoing instruction and inspiration for paper crafters of all levels. a website whose goal was to become the largest and most comprehensive online library of video tutorials in the entire paper crafting industry. My philosophy was that the website would educate about the paper crafting industry as a whole. The paper crafting industry as a whole, is obviously more than just Stampin’ Up!, so my video tutorials used more than just Stampin’ Up! product. At the time, the non-Stampin’ Up! products we did use were those that Stampin’ Up! did not have – things like Copic Markers, Color pencils, Nestabilities, etc.
And that’s where the problems started. My understanding of the Independent Demonstrator agreement at the time was that we were only restricted from promoting competitive products. I was not selling those products, I was not linking to where those products could be purchased, and as far as I believed, they were not even “competitive” anyways since Stampin’ Up! didn’t sell anything like them. It wasn’t enough. When my website launched in January of 2011, despite the fact that over 90% of the content was Stampin’ Up!, I was asked to take down every video that was not 100% Stampin’ Up!.
I had invested so much time, money and work in my website, and this was so totally contrary to what I believed in, that I refused. I felt it was dishonest (and ridiculous) to have to say “I used a marker from a craft store”, rather than saying “I used a Copic Marker”. I honestly did not see anything wrong with what I was doing. In fact, I believed that it would serve to introduce new people to Stampin’ Up! products. Anyone coming to my website to learn about Copics or Prismacolor & Gamsol, etc. would inevitably be introduced to Stampin’ Up! products, since that was primarily what was in there. Stampin’ Up! disagreed, and as we couldn’t reach a resolution, I was required to resign. That was in January of 2011.
Why am I telling you all this? As background to the emotional struggles that followed. As much as I tried to pretend I didn’t care, and nothing had changed, I was hurt and I was angry. I felt betrayed. I felt like here I had given my 110% to promoting Stampin’ Up! products in all the years I had been a demonstrator, and they weren’t willing to hear or consider my side of the story. Although I continued creating with Stampin’ Up! products, and I continued developing and selling my Stampin’ Up! class planners and tutorials for awhile, my heart wasn’t it it. I posted less and less to this blog, and more and more to the Paper Crafter’s Library blog. Within about 6- 8 months of resigning, I had given up using just about all my Stampin’ Up! product. Why? truthfully, I think it’s because I was sulking.
Despite being angry with Stampin’ Up!, I missed everything else about being a demonstrator. I guess I adopted the attitude that if Stampin’ Up! was going to turn their back on me, I’d turn my back on them. What I never thought about though, and the fundamental truth that I was ignoring, was that for me Stampin’ Up! was WAY more than the company itself, or their product.
For me, Stampin’ Up! is the community – of demonstrators and customers, and blog readers and blog followers whom I shared a mutual love of Stampin’ Up! products with, who loved me for me, who supported me during my ups and downs, who encouraged and supported me in all of my endeavours, and who were inspired by what I had to share. That’s why I feel like I owe YOU an apology for deserting you.
Over the last year and half since I left Stampin’ Up! I’ve received countless emails from people who have missed all that I shared with the online Stampin’ Up! community – both demonstrators and non-demonstrators.
Which leads me to the decision that I wanted to share with you…which is that I have decided to re-dedicate this blog to my Stampin’ Up! readers and followers, both demonstrators and non-demonstrators. What this means is:
- I’m removing all the mixed-media, art journaling and non-Stampin’ Up! content I’ve uploaded to this blog, and moving it over the the Paper Crafter’s Library blog. Going forward, this blog will share projects using primarily Stampin’ Up! products. Initially you can probably expect anywhere between 2 and 4 posts a week.
- I am launching a new (and free) Sunny Stampin’ Project Ideas Newsletter which will featuring project ideas, video tutorials and pdf handouts of projects using all Stampin’ Up! products.
- My Twelve Weeks of Christmas Event where we offer a free Christmas project idea with video tutorial and pdf handout will once again focus on projects only using Stampin’ Up! products. You’ll need to make sure you sign up for the newsletter through the form in the top right sidebar above to get both the newsletter and 12 Weeks of Christmas newsletters.
- For those of you that have been asking, I will also resume with some Stampin’ Up! focused tutorials, class planners and online classes. They won’t be on a subscription basis, and they won’t be exactly the same as the old class planners (in that they are not all going to be 4 cards and a box) – but they will all be projects you can use for your classes, and we will provide demo cost information and suggested class pricing.
While I would love to be able to tell you that I have re-joined Stampin’ Up! as a demonstrator, unfortunately at this point in time, that door is still closed to me. I would have to give up posting and sharing my art journaling and mixed media, and I would have to give up Paper Crafter’s Library – which right now is my livelihood. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that at some point in time I’ll be able to work something out with Stampin’ Up! that I can come back. In the meantime, you’ll be able to see all my art journaling and mixed media projects at Paper Crafter’s Library, and all my Stampin’ Up! creations will remain here.
Before I sign off, I have a huge favour to ask of you. I know that I lost a number of blog readers and followers after I stopped posting my Stampin’ Up! related content – I would really appreciate it if any of you that have access to Stampin’ Up! related groups and boards, would help spread the news that I’m back. Thanks!