Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paint Chip Card and My Thoughts about Stampin Up- A New Direction for this Blog

Today I'm sharing with you a "clean & simple" card made with paint chips that I made for my last batch of Cards for Heroes cards. I just love the paint department at Home Depot! Not only because I always seem to be painting something but I also love to pick up some extra paint chips to play with (they don't seem to mind).
This card uses a paint chip card that has 4 different shades of the same color purple. I ran it through the Cuttlebug with the paisley embossing folder and then used a sanding block to take some of the color down to the white core.
Once I had the paint chip sanded nicely, I used a square punch to cut a square from each of the four colors and mounted them on some white cardstock with a border.
I attached that to the card with some white grosgrain ribbon and tore the very bottom of the front of the card. I used some double stick adhesive to add some white cardstock to the front flap and it's done.

I hope you enjoyed this easy one.

Now, on to another topic....Let me start by saying that for the next couple of weeks I won't be posting very much here to my blog. There are two reasons for this. First, I am leaving next week for a trip to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to attend my 17 year old son's graduation from Army Basic Combat Training. I'm so excited to see him that I just can't wait. My husband and I are flying down there to see him graduate and spend some time with our new soldier. I could not be more proud.

I'm super busy leading up to the trip and I doubt that I'm going to have much stamping time because my studio is all torn apart right now.

And that leads me to my second topic.... Stampin Up. I've been thinking very carefully about what, if anything, I wanted to say about this. Unless you live under a rock, I'm sure you've heard the news and all the talk that is going around about Stampin Up's new demonstrator policies being set forth this month. I have some thoughts and news that I'd like to share.

First, let me tell you that I am not a demonstrator. I'm sure some of you are wondering why I have any opinion at all if I am not a demonstrator and I will tell you why. I was a demonstrator for many years and I've been buying SU products for at least 15 years. And I mean, exclusively SU to the tune of at least $10,000 over those years. You may have already noticed that when I post anything here on my blog it is pretty much all SU, all the time.

I had a love affair with SU and would never buy anything else. Every year I bought all the in-colors. When clear stamps started to be all the rage, I resisted even trying them because I was very partial to SU's wood blocks and sets. I coveted my collection of stamp sets. I designed my studio with lots of storage for all of my SU sets and had them all cataloged in a binder. I used only SU cardstock colors, ink and markers. In my mind, there was nothing else worth buying.

Then they upset me.

I started seeing rumblings about SU online last week so decided to go look up the new demonstrator agreement to read it for myself. And I have to say that I am surprised and appalled by what Stampin Up is trying do. The changes that they are putting forth are unbelievably intrusive and restricting to any demonstrator that stays with the company after September 30th.

You can read the new demonstrator agreement (IDA) for yourself by clicking here. Pay close attention to section 9.

And you can read the FAQ that was released by Stampin Up by clicking here.

So what does all of this mean to me? And why do I care if I am not even a demonstrator? I care because this goes against everything I believe in for women and women in business. In any business, including a Stampin Up demonstratorship, business relationships are a very important aspect of success. In any business relationship there is give and take and SU is taking away the "give" part while promoting the "take" part. What do I mean by this? Well here's an example: When people visit my blog and see all SU products all the time and want to know where they can buy them, I can refer them to my SU demonstrator and I can even put a link on my blog to her site. BUT, my demonstrator cannot refer me and my small charm and embellishment business to her customers- not with a link on her site or even in an email. She can't even send a personal email to her sister saying "hey, I met this really cool lady who sells awesome charms that look great on cards."

Stampin Up wants control of all demonstrator's complete online presence including websites, emails, facebook, twitter, etc. And I mean ALL of their online presence whether it be SU related or personal... including personal emails and personal blogs. This is just plain wrong.

I am the cofounder of a large women's business networking group and one of the basic principals that we founded the group on is "embrace your competition". Your competition can be your best business ally if you handle the relationship in the right way. Nothing will hurt your image or make you look more petty than walking into a room and being uncomfortable because your competition is there. In my opinion Stampin Up is looking very petty and insecure right now. There is enough business out there for everyone, even in this tough economy and there's no need to take the attitude that SU is taking right now. My jewelry business, which is my full time business, is an example of that. My success is a direct result of being contacted by and working with my biggest competitor.

I also think that Stampin Up is being very unfair to their demonstrators because they are going to have a hard time promoting their product if they cannot participate in the real papercrafting world. It's all about networking and getting to know people. You aren't going to get very far when you are restricted to the point that you can't form a synergistic relationship with someone else in the business or papercrafting industry. Why would online forums and other online resources want to have SU demonstrators participating if they get no reciprocity from the demonstrators or Stampin Up. Stampin Up is trying to build one sided relationships that only benefit them and business does not work that way.

In my opinion Stampin Up has a wonderful, quality selection of exclusive products and should be able to stand on their own in the competitive papercrafting market without imposing these strict rules. If they are concerned and want to look at their business practices, they should consider not carrying things are not exclusive to them (because the ones they carry are overpriced) and expand their exclusive line. They should take a look at pricing or at the percentage they are paying their demonstrators, which in my opinion is low but I guess it's in line with other direct sales companies.

So now that I've told you how I feel, let me tell what I've decided. I've decided that I no longer want to be a customer of Stampin Up and I no longer want my blog to be one big Stampin Up promotion. Why should I allow my blog to be one big Stampin Up promotion when they take the attitude that they are? And to that end, I've decided to sell off all of my Stampin Up stamp sets and supplies. This may sound harsh but I feel very strongly about not supporting or promoting a company that takes this kind of business approach.

I've spent the last couple of days listing my stamp sets on ebay for a starting price of 99 cents each. I've got about 120 sets on there starting today and I'm trying to find time to list the rest- about another 150 sets. I am hoping that they all sell for enough money that I can place some decent orders with companies like Papertrey (which carries a nice line of coordinating papers and inks), GinaK (who seems to be a class act and has some great stamp images) and maybe even some Close to My Heart to replenish my stamps and supplies.

So back to my original point.... with all of this going on, my studio is in disarray as I sell off all of my stamps and buy new. This is going to make it difficult to create and post to my blog for the next couple of weeks. I hope if you are a regular reader of mine that you will stick with me and wait to see what new stamps and new projects this change brings.

As for Stampin Up... just as demonstrators will never be able to mention another company on their blogs, this will be the very last time they are ever mentioned on my blog.

One last thing.... I know that this whole situation has caused much debate all over the internet and I also know that some blogs that state opinions are being bombarded with comments both good and bad. Please know that I do not mean to start or continue controversy by stating my opinion here. I felt the need to state my opinion because it's something I feel strongly about and it is significantly changing the course of this blog. I hope you understand that.

Thanks for reading this far and I look forward to taking this blog in a new direction soon. I hope you'll join me.

(Edited to add: I've been asked to share my ebay name so that some can take advantage of my sale. My ebay seller name is moonwitch106. Thanks for taking a look at my items and remember, there will be more listed next week too.)


Donna said...

Very well said. Your integrity is honorable. Good luck with your sales. I am going to link to your blog so that my readers can see.

mudmaven said...

Found your blog via Donna and am so glad I did. I am a demo who is going to give the company one last chance and I am hoping that they will come to their senses and embrace the new and exciting direction that the crafting community is going. Your analysis and comments were very insightful and I thank you for sharing them with us. I look forward to seeing all your new creations. Congrats to your son and I hope you have a wonderful visit! ~chris

Jackie said...

Well put, and I just wanted to say that I agree with you totally.

Joan B said...

First, congrats about your son. Job well done Mom! Second, I keep meaning to buy some of your jewelry -- very clever and beautiful stuff.
Third, about SU. You stated your position very clearly. I quit SU as soon as I saw the IDA. But it is a personal decision and I don't fault anyone for staying and promoting the company. Shame this had to happen.

Best of luck selling your stash and welcome to the wonderful world of clear!

nise said...

LOVE that purple card and how you cuttled and sanded the chips. I told ya before ~ I'm here because of YOUR art. So looking forward to being on board for the future because It's All Good!

marciad said...

Just read your post and took the tour of your studio. Hope it isn't silent for long. Congrats to you on your son's graduation.

Nancy said...

ongrats to your son. I am sure you are proud of him.
I commend you on your stand against Stampin UP.

Jodie said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely! I totally agree with you on the quality of SU products and lines. I have often thought they have the right idea.
However, they lost me as a customer early on when I could not sell my work created with their stamps. Now I would NEVER consider recommending them to anyone, ever.
Thanks for taking a stand, so clearly and wonderfully said.

Allison said...

Well said...very thoughtful and persuasive argument! Love your paint chip card (so stealing this idea!).

Carmen said...

Well worded argument. I think SU is shooting themselves in the foot, but only time will tell. Good luck on your stamp sales!

cat said...

Ok you linked me to the SU site, ... but wish you had linked me to the stuff you are selling. I work with seniors at an old folks home and really like using some of the SU stamps with them since the sets have themes that go together - that is my excuse for wanting to get some SU sets on sale.

PS ... I loVED it when you went through your sewing on cards phase. I love EVERYTHING you do! IT is fun to watch you grow as an artist.

Lauri said...

Hi! I found your blog by someone who had linked here and I really appreciat your perspectives!! I agree wholeheartedly as well; I am a demo who will be leaving SU shortly, just giving them one last chance to change things before I do. I was most dissappointed after I penned a letter with questions and my opinions and received a form letter back directing me to the online Q&A and webinar. Not even a response. oh well...

anyway the card is gorgeous! I love what you did with the paint chip and I will be paint chip shopping this weekend!!

~amy~ said...

I found you via Allison's blog...glad that I did...great post...and great card :) Congrats on your son's graduation..

Our Little Inspirations said...

Ruby Slippers linked me here and I'm glad she did! Your perspective on the SU! situation has hit the nail right on the head! I admire your stand against business practices such as this. For me, it's got that familiar tone of the Wall Street greed we've all seen of late. I cannot imagine that this ideology will enhance SU's business in any way, when so many wonderful crafters who promote their products (without profit) are going to be offended and turn elsewhere! I feel many SU demos will be hurt by this new policy as business will continue to fall for them. In all honesty, I visualize PTI becoming the next big thing. Thanks for your thoughts on the subject and best wishes. BTW, I love what you've done with that paint chip! What a lovely card!!!

Taylor said...

Well said! I'm so glad I found your blog, and can't wait to see what non-SU creations you make in that gorgeous studio!!

Lissame said...

I so agree with your statements about SU. They in my opinion gone too far...and I too love your studio and can't wait to see what you will be creating in the future.

Cindee Stacey said...

Thank you for your great post! It really helped me to understand all this craziness. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out! God Bless your family and especially your son! Congrats on his graduation!! Also, your artwork is beautiful and I'm sure it will continue to be regardless of the products you chose to use!! Thank you again!

Jan Scholl said...

Bravo! You made more sense in 5 minutes of writing than SU made is the last 5 years. I got a mini catty the day this new agreement went viral and all my SU demo has to say is she loves SU? I guess she loves her free trips better than she loves her customers. Sad. I would have at least addressed the situation (and everyone is talking about it). I guess it takes an outsider to see the real picture. Thanks for you intelligent insight.

Becky said...

I found your blog via Allison. I agree with you.I started scrapbooking years ago with Creative Memories & it took me about 6 months to figure out that there was so much more stuff out there than just CM and I stopped using a majority of their stuff and scrapbooking their way. The same thing happened with SU, I was introduced to stamping through them and I loved them, but it did not take long to find all the other companies out there. Personally I find the SU approved blogs limiting. I still use some SU products but not exclusively and not matter how hard they try SU cannot make all the crafters in the world just use one product line. If we do we will stagnate, we need to see competing ideas in order to grow.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tara, Well done. It's great to hear of someone that sticks to her principles. There are loads of stamps out there. SU needs to know they are not the only company around and some of the smaller companies will surely enjoy your business. I never became an SU demo because I never wanted to stick with just one company. See you on GW. KateD

Kim Teasdale said...

I found you blog via Allision and I absolutely couldn't agree more with you! I am resigning at the end of the month due to the IDA because the 20% discount is not worth my freedom of speech in my personal time (I was a hobby demo). "The Big Direct Sales Stamp Company" will not be getting any more advertising on my blog either. I still love the products and it's a shame that they have taken such a stance. I will continue to use the rest of my supplies, and after that? I haven't decided which company to go with.

Congratulations on your son's graduations and thank you for reading into the IDA and voicing your opinion from a customer stand point!


Kim Teasdale

SSquyres said...

A big hug of thanks to your son!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I stumbled upon your blog and found this post very insightful...and actually have felt the same way. I hade considered selling my SU products however I have taken them all of the wooden blocks so I don't know how well they will sell. I enjoy your blog!

becs said...

MORE than "very well said", in my opinion. I will NOT be signing the agreement as it stands, and for all the reasons you listed PLUS some. I am giving to the end of the month to see if things change.
It is my opinion that SU is just starting to touch the surface. After carefully thinking this out, and wondering "why", I have a conspiracy theory of my own. I predict, (and this is ONLY my personal wacky prediction) that SU will eventually phase out *ALL* their demos, multi level marketing and ALL, and go online like most major companies. Also just my personal opinion, they have simply outgrown themselves and the economic downturn has started to sour things. Technology has taken hold, and MLM in any business will be hard to perform by today's standards, especially with economic times being hard and all.
It will certainly be something to hide and watch- all the backbiting between demos over this has split the sisterhood. When it all comes snowballing down the pike, and IF any of my predictions come true, let's see how the "big girls" take it. I know it has been terribly hard for me to sit on the fence.
Thank you for providing a wonderful place to vent- I love your blog.
-Rebecca from GW

Kathy said...

I found your blog via Allison and really appreciate your comments. I'm also a former demo, albeit just a hobby/discount demo, and considered re-signing with the most recent promo but it's just not worth the discount to sign the IDA--especially since I have no intent to make it a business-I have a full-time job that supports our family.

I know that since I've discovered other companies, I really do think twice before I buy something SU.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Very well said! I admire you standing by your principles! I wish I could do the same...I just can't afford to do it. Bah! Though I have spent my last penny on SU.

Wishing you and your family best of luck!



Tami Gadd said...

Wow, I hope you have examined all other multi-level marketing companies, to evaluate their Demo Agreements..... and then I hope you also post your opinion on whether or not you think they are being fair...........

Shannon said...

I'm another hobby demo that is dropping with the new IDA. I can not limit myself to that in this electronic age. I teach Copic markers at the LSS and design for a Scrapbooking Kit company - I want to be able to showcase my work and promote my classes and designs. I won't be selling off my SU stuff however, I am sure over time I will let some of it goes as it is losing its appeal.

Aznewmom said...

This is the first time I've seen your blog. I'm glad I'm here! It's terrific.

I just wanted to say, "Well said!!" I respect your take and stand on this situation very much.

I AM a demo and love SU, however I do NOT like what they are doing right now at all. I think it is just plain wrong. I honestly do not know what I will do at the end of the month. I'm so very sad and disappointed.

Rebecca -- Wow! Insightful. I wonder.......??
Your take on all this is quite interesting and I appreciate your input on this topic.

I know that SU is suddenly branching into non-stamping realms, such as digi-scrapping, yet demos who may already be involved in this area are expected to just "drop it" in the new agreement. Not only am I having a problem with the privacy and networking issues, I have a problem w/the expansion of this company.

I will probably "be in trouble" for posting this, but 'ce la vie'.....

Again, thanks for some insightful discussions here.

Belinda said...

I am surprised to see that you are part of a Professional Woman's group as your post regarding SU is so very unprofessional. All you had to say was ""SU as a company has taken a direction with their demo's that I do not agree with and for this reason, I will be selling off all of my SU supplies" and no longer using SU on my blog."

That would have been a professional reply rather than the extended discussion and bashing of SU.

Rachel W. said...

Since when is it "greed" for a company to finally tell its contractors/demonstrators that they must abide by the exclusivity guidelines that have been in place for years? Frankly I used to wonder about the extreme leniency they've had these past few years as more and more demos promoted the competition through their participation on design teams and the extolling of non-SU! products on their blogs and other websites. The demo manual and demonstrator agreements have had clauses about not promoting competitors' products at least since August 2005, when I first signed up.

Lisa B said...

Well, I certainly respect your point of view, but...I feel that SU is simply updating their demo agreement in a way that is much more in line with other direct sales companies. There are so many harsh and unfounded things flying around the internet right now that it makes me want to quit reading.

I think that selling your stamps and changing your blog is a giant over reaction to the situation, but it's certainly your choice. You're a very talented stamper--good luck!

jpmayo said...

Very well said and I agree with you completely!
I've already begun the SU! purge and had a big yard sale to unload some of mine and it felt great!

Julie Masse said...

Very well put! I agree with everything you've said and loved reading your well worded and articulate post!

Sandi said...

Your statement:
"Please know that I do not mean to start or continue controversy by stating my opinion here."
Then why did you write your opinion if not for this reason. It is so obvious. There is so much information in your statement that you should be embarassed to write you belong to a women's group. No professional would write only half-truths. If you "were" a demo than you would know that 90% of the demos were hoping that SU would take a stand and specifically spell out what having a business is all about. By the way, it was specifically spelled out that "jewlery" links were okay. I am so sorry that you did not do a better research of the subject before reacting to those statements made by bloggers who had other businesses on the side or were getting paid to advertise on their blog other companies. That would be like you advertising on your site to go to another jewlery store because their prices were cheaper (which we all know you can always get "cheaper" but quality you have to pay a little more for). Sorry I have a very different opinion than yours.

Sandi said...

Oops, I meant to say "mis" information in this line:
"There is so much information [sic] in your statement that you should be embarassed to write you belong to a women's group."

Tara D. said...


The beauty of our wonderful country is that we are allowed to have totally different opinions and we are both entitled to share them. However, I do not believe that I am misinformed and I am not telling half-truths. Everything I stated is 100% backed up by the wording of the new Independent Demonstrator Agreement. If you can prove to me otherwise, I would be happy to correct my statements.

For the record, the business I am referring to is not my jewelry business, but rather my charm and embellishment business which is considered competition and therefore my statements are accurate.

Tara D

Sandi said...

"For the record, the business I am referring to is not my jewelry business, but rather my charm and embellishment business which is considered competition and therefore my statements are accurate."

Either way, it doesn't matter because your friend can still have a link to this web site because there is no button for them to make a purchase (you have a link to your "other" business). But I know I wouldn't now. And you do refer above to your "jewelry" business so that is why I used the word jewelry. So a link to this site would be in compliance. The thing is this would not be in issue with you if you were not in "competition" with SU (as you say SU is). You have the potential to lose business and your message sounds to me like sour grapes. Especially as you are not even a SU demonstrator. by "half-truths" I mean that you don't have the most recent information and your interpretations are incorrect. I respect your right to say what you want on your blog, just like I can on my blog. The only difference is that I choose to be positive and in no way do I feel like I am being constrained by the SU IDA (which was the same as I signed 5 years ago -- just emphasizing now what advertising for competitive companies means. Totally makes sense to me. I love what I do, and love SU products -- they are the best (even you said that -- thank you). There has also been more information provided by the company that clarifies this issue, but as it only pertains to demonstrators there is no need to pass this information on to non-demonstrators. I wish you the best in your business, but you have lost my business, as I don't feel it reflects a "professional" image. Thanks for letting me respond and I won't come back to carry on further discussion regarding this subject as it just "continues controversy" and I know you don't want this.

Tara D. said...

Responding to Sandy:

"There has also been more information provided by the company that clarifies this issue, but as it only pertains to demonstrators there is no need to pass this information on to non-demonstrators."

Has SU changed the wording of the IDA? And why wouldn't you share this new information with non-demos? Especially those who are concerned or considering becoming a demonstrator?

stampershusband said...

Hi, What is your EBay store would love to see what your selling off.

Renee said...

This is my first visit to your blog. I will definitely be bookmarking it. Thanks for your insight.

I would like to wish you the best in all you do. Oh, I really like the purple card.

Congrats, on your son's graduation.

'Looking forward to sharing with you again.

Kathy W said...

Hi Tara, I really like this purple paint chip card! I've used paint chips on my cards, but I haven't come up with anything close to as wonderful as this. Great card; tfs.

Petite said...

I agree with you 100% about Stampin Up! especially the part that they are overpriced and that they are over controlling. Very very well are honest to yourself by making a stand in what you believe in!

Congrats on your son's graduation! Love your cards!

andrew said...

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