Born in Southern California, Shelli Gardner’s family moved to Kanab, Utah, while she was still in school. She graduated from Kanab High School, married at 18, and eventually moved with her husband to Las Vegas. Shelli’s sister also married and moved to Las Vegas where their husbands operated a custom home building business.
Both sisters had children and led busy lives as homemakers while earning a little extra cash as independent contractors for various direct sales companies. At one point, they were introduced to rubber stamping and immediately became intrigued with the craft. The sisters were interested in becoming distributors for a rubber stamp company, but couldn’t find one with a direct sales approach she liked.
Not finding the right mix sparked an idea in Shelli's mind for a new business. Shelli began imagining the possibilities of starting a stamp company that offered a wide variety of stamp styles, high-quality accessories, and an ongoing commitment to customer service and sharing the art of rubber stamping through home workshops with family and friends. Shelli envisioned the company working much like a family, where each demonstrator could participate at whatever level worked best for her personal circumstance.
In 1988, with little college or business experience, Shelli invested her family’s nest egg (intended to finance building a new home) to launch Stampin’ Up! Building on the business models of other successful direct selling companies, Shelli developed a direct sales approach that incorporated her own personal touches and methods.
The initial product line—made up of stamps produced by other companies—fit in a 64-page catalogue. Shelli filled orders out of her living room. The business grew and relocated to Boulder City, Nevada. In 1992, the company began custom designing, manufacturing, and selling its own line of exclusive rubber stamp sets and accessories.
In 1993, the business moved to Shelli’s hometown—Kanab, Utah. The company opened a manufacturing plant to produce Stampin’ Up!’s exclusive rubber stamp sets and has since become the largest major private employer in the community.
In 1996, Stampin’ Up! opened corporate offices and later a distribution center in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1998, Shelli became the privately held company’s CEO. She oversees all employees and over 40,000 Stampin’ Up! independent demonstrators located throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—and those numbers will continue to increase as papercraft enthusiasts throughout Europe sign up to become Stampin' Up! demonstrators.
Under Shelli's leadership, Stampin' Up! has begun developing opportunities internationally. What began with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, has now spread to the UK, where paper crafting is already a popular pastime.
Shelli Gardner, CEO and cofounder of Stampin' Up!