You see, 22 years ago today Stampin' Up! accepted my application to become a demonstrator with their almost 8-year-old rubber stamp company. Little did I know at the time what a profound effect my decision would have on the course of the next 1/3 of my life!
Deciding to join Stampin' Up! didn't really take me very long, actually. I'd only been introduced to rubber stamp art fewer than 4 months earlier (yes, not surprisingly at a Stampin' Up! home workshop I'd been invited to), and I joined for the exact same reason most demonstrators still join today: to get a discount on my own future orders. Back in 1996 "joining" amounted to signing an application (yes, a paper application that you had to send through the mail because there was no such thing as a Stampin' Up! website yet), and enclosing a check for $350 or so for one's "Starter Kit"...... which consisted of a pre-determined collection of stamps (some wood mount, and some "foam"; the latter of which I hated and eventually threw out without even opening or using, lol), along with a few accessories, some business supplies and a printed copy of the "Demonstrator Manual".) Contrast that to today's starter kit, where each new demonstrator gets to select up to $125-worth of current product of her own choosing, and only pays $99 plus tax!
I was assigned demonstrator number 3992, meaning at the time that I was the 3,992nd demonstrator to join the company. By contrast, today's demonstrator numbering system does not have a similar meaning; the numbering system was changed up entirely quite some time ago to include many more digits in the more "modern" numbers, but I'm super thankful they allowed us "oldies" to retain our original numbers. Four digits are so much easier to remember and faster to type!
I'm also immensely grateful for how long we "oldies" have stayed with the company. While my 2nd-level upline eventually moved on, my immediate and 3rd level uplines are still active, and I think my 4th level is, as well. Lots of significant life changes among us, but we're still here!
Notice how "back in the day" my acceptance letter bore the signatures of Stampin' Up!'s co-founders: Shelli Gardner and her sister LaVonne Crosby, and it also featured an image hand-stamped with what was commonly known as a "Rainbow Pad". (When you get a chance to look at your new 2018-2019 Annual Catalog, you'll understand why I'm smiling as I mention that "Rainbow Pad".)
Fast-forwarding through the years, those of us who've been with Stampin' Up! for most of their 30 years (come this October) have really seen a lot of changes! The first major whopper was when it was announced at our 1997 Convention that we would be going "exclusive" with our stamps and colors. You see, prior to that point Stampin' Up! carried stamp designs and supplies from a number of other rubber stamp companies; quite a different focus from the company most know today!
Since that time, Stampin' Up! has continued to be both a pioneer and leader in the rubber stamp art industry, introducing the concept of coordinating colors across inks, cardstocks, markers and other accessories, as well as multi-step stamping (we call it "2-step Stampin' ", even though there are often more than 2 images used nowadays), and ultimately coordinating stamp images and dies. There are a lot more choices in the rubber stamping market place now than there used to be, and a lot of today's companies have benefited from Stampin' Up! demonstrators having introduced the hobby to the masses, thereby paving the way for the options and tools that today's stampers appreciate.
Remember how I mentioned I joined for the discount? Well, I'll let you in on a little secret; I also joined with my quitting date already on the calendar. My brilliantly thought-out plan was to purchase $100 in product each month for 6 consecutive months and then quit because I would obviously have all the stamping supplies I would ever need. But I often admit that I made a serious mistake on the way to my quitting date; I signed up for and attended Convention within 2 months of joining. And while there, I came to understand and fall in love with Stampin' Up!'s philosophy, vision and ethics. And instead of coming home and quitting, I came home and hosted an open house that qualified me for my first promotion! Suddenly I was "in business", and here I am 22 years later..... still doing what I love, and loving what I do.
Will I be able to continue teaching stamping for another 22 years? Only time will tell, but I sure intend to hang with it as long as I'm physically able. When I think of all the people who've come into my life and blessed me with their friendship over these past 2+ decades, nearly all of them have been because of my association with Stampin' Up! in one way or another. I can't imagine ever giving that up willingly!