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 Tupperware and other direct sales companies. At one point, they were introduced to rubber stamping and immediately became intrigued with the craft. Shelli was interested in becoming a distributor for a rubber stamp company, but couldn't find one with a direct sales approach she liked.
Her inability to find the right mix sparked an idea for a business. Shelli and her sister began to imagine the possibilities of beginning 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 and her sister 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 Tupperware, Discovery Toys, and Mary Kay, the sisters developed a direct sales approach that incorporated their own personal touches and methods.
The initial product line--made up of stamps produced by other companies--fit in a 64-page catalog. Shelli filled orders out of her living room.
The business grew and relocated to Boulder City, Nevada. Over the next few years the company began custom designing, manufacturing, and selling its own line of exclusive designs of Stampin' Up! rubber stamp sets and accessories. In 1993, the business moved to Shelli's hometown--Kanab, Utah--and opened a manufacturing plant to produce Stampin' Up!'s exclusive rubber stamp sets. Since then, Stampin' Up! has become one of the major private employers in the community.
In 1996, Stampin' Up! opened corporate offices and later a distribution center in Salt Lake City, Utah. In late 2004, Stampin' Up! moved into its own 300,000 square-foot building that combines administrative offices with a distribution center in Riverton, Utah. The new building boasts a Stampin' Display showroom floor, displaying hand-stamped home décor, including living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and more. The Stampin' Display showroom is open to the public during regular business hours. The product catalog has also grown to more than 200-full-color pages, with more than 100 exclusive new designs introduced each year. In 2007, Stampin' Up! opened an 80,000 state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Kanab.
Shelli became the privately held company's CEO in 1998. Currently, more than 40,000 Stampin' Up! demonstrators in all 50 states, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom teach the art of stamping at in-home workshops.
Ernst & Young recognized Shelli with its prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1999 and in 2008. Shelli lives in Salt Lake City with her husband; they have five children and thirteen grandchildren.
Shelli Gardner, CEO and cofounder, Stampin' Up!