August 12


Is Stampin’ Up! a Pyramid Scheme? – Art of Success or Craft of Scam?

Personalized colorful Stampin’ Up! cards detailed with tiny cut-out images and glittery stones never fail to touch our hearts. I mean, receiving one from a toddler is already heart-melting but realizing you can do it on your own even if you’re already an adult makes the idea more exciting. After all, creativity has no age, right? However, would you still find Stampin’ Up! products cute especially that friends of yours have been bugging you around to join in the opportunity? Would you still find the idea of Stampin’ Up! impressive especially that it has the possibility of being a scam? That said, is Stampin’ Up! a pyramid scheme?

The Basics

  • Company: Stampin’ Up!
  • Founders: LaVonne Crosby and Shelli Gardner
  • Products: Decorative Rubber Stamps and Accessories Arts and Crafts
  • Website:
  • Cost to Join: $99 Starter Kit

The story of Stampin’ Up! started in 1988 with two sisters, Shelli Gardner and LaVonne Crosby. When the two married, both of their husbands, who know each other, decided to venture into a custom home building business in the real estate industry in Las Vegas. With their husbands busy over the business, the sisters kept themselves occupied by earning a small amount of money as individual contractors of various multi-level marketing (MLM) companies like Tupperware.

After gambling with various opportunities, the two were introduced with the fun of creating crafts and arts using rubber stamps. The two were instantly amazed by the idea that let individuals like them, who aren’t artistic enough to even draw perfect images, to make astounding arts just by using the stamps as fun tools.

The two then discovered that besides them, there are also other bored women, especially housewives, who are into designing and customizing things like cards, tags, gift wraps, and scrapbooks. Then the idea hit the two. Ding! Ding! Ding! They just found the perfect product for an MLM company!

The two sisters then brave the industry in 1988 without a single experience running an entire company themselves. By studying the business models of various MLMs like Mary Kay's and Tupperware's, they developed their own approach as an MLM company with Crosby as its first CEO. In 1988, Crosby left the position and the company completely leaving the responsibility to Gardner as the CEO.

In 2016, Gardner passed the position to her daughter, Sara Douglass, as she would be taking “a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Nonetheless, Gardner still works as Chair of the Board of Directors where her “warmth and influence are felt throughout the company and our community.”

The Products

Describing Stampin’ Up! products as craft supplies “developed in an unparalleled system of coordinated color, artwork, and design for papercrafters of all skill levels,” the company offers a wide variety of products that revolves around the concept of creativity.

Some of the individual products being offered by the company include stamps, ink, marker, pens, cards, envelopes, patterned and specialty papers, adhesives, punches, scrapbook materials, embellishments and ribbons.

The company also offers the products in bundles (ranging from $31.50 to $63) and kits (ranging from $10 to $70) such as the stamp block bundles, stamp and die bundles, stamp and punch bundles, ink bundles, all-inclusive project kits and semi-inclusive project kits.

Currently, the products are being offered in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Austria, the Netherlands, and Japan. According to the company, there are “thousands” of Stampin’ Up! demonstrators currently offering the products in the said countries.

Since the company was founded by two wives who primarily made their first sales to their fellow mothers, the company recorded in 2006 that most of their core market was made of “99 percent female; largely Caucasian, mid-30s and older, mainly married, mostly with children.” Though the said market figure could have changed by now since the company continues to grow, are these products competitive enough to bring someone decent earnings?

Compensation: How Can I Earn at Stampin’ Up!?

If there is one thing in common about all MLMs, it is the unstoppable instinct of each one to boast of lucrative opportunity. Nonetheless, it all depends on the honest generosity of companies reflected on their compensation plans. How about Stampin’ Up!? Can it give you the promising opportunity in the MLM industry? We will find that out on its compensation plan. But before diving in, there are some few things that you need to remember. Of course, just like most of the MLM companies, getting in means – Oh, you know it – money, Honey. MLMs are not charities, you know it.

That said, you need to purchase a $99 starter kit with $125 worth of Stampin’ Up! products that you can customize depending on the products you want. It also comes with a two-month free personal website that you need to pay for $12.95 for each following month if you want to continue using it. Of course, using the website is a good idea as it would widen your audience and market. However, as it is just a replicated website, people would most likely find it hard to look for your “website” from the entire bunch of other replicated websites of other Stampin’ Up! demonstrators. The good thing is, it is just optional. This makes Stampin’ Up! a heck lot better than any other MLM companies requiring and pushing their individual contractors to pay for the monthly use of such websites. Ain’t that right, Ms. Pink Zebra and Mr. LimeLife?

With that, let us have a look at the company’s compensation plan.

  • Stampin’ Rewards

One of the main points that you need to realize before stepping into this opportunity is that Stampin’ Up! mainly focuses on the old fashion of making sales: PARTIES. So, if you still have that shy-type personality which was the reason why you only had the school librarian as your friend during your poor high school days, this might not work for you. Obviously these parties would require you to invite as many friends as you can. With that, you can earn percentages of the sales you could generate from the said parties.

It starts at 10 percent for sales reaching $150, 12 percent for $300 sales, 14 percent for $450 sales and 16 percent for $600 sales and above. Hence, by reaching flat $600 worth of sales, you’d get $96. Just imagine making sales of $10,000 in one party! You’d get $1,600! Oh, of course, that would be impossible. You should invite the Queen to get such sales. A cup of tea would be a good idea to close a good deal.

  • Title Bonuses

Since Stampin’ Up is an MLM company, do expect that you as a demonstrator would be encouraged to recruit your downline members. Apparently, it is not for nothing. Acquiring great numbers of your downline demonstrators would bring you somewhere: higher ranks.

Securing high ranks at Stampin’ Up! offers demonstrators the Title Bonus. It depends on the rank that would be reached by a certain demonstrator.

According to the company’s compensation plan, the Bronze Elite rank is eligible of Bronze Elite bonus, Silver Necklace bonus for Silver rank, Silver Elite Reception bonus for Silver Elite rank, Gold Necklace bonus for Gold rank, Gold Elite bonus for Gold Elite rank, Platinum Necklace bonus for Platinum rank and Wall of Fame bonus for Platinum Elite rank. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t specify what these bonuses mean. Anyway, a gold necklace would be lovely in any case, right? Oh, who am I kidding?

  • Instant Income Volume and Rebates

By making sales, you would be able to produce amounts of Commissionable Sales Volume (CSV that are generated products that you sell or the personal purchases that you make). If you want to benefit from your CSV, do keep in mind that a demonstrator needs to produce at least 300 CSV every three months to be eligible for the bonuses. This will then be changed to 300 CV every month when you progress to higher ranks.

By securing a certain amount of CSV personal sales, you would get percentages of Instant Income and Volume Rebate. This depends on the rank that you are in. The Bronze rank is eligible for 20 percent Instant Income while the Bronze Elite rank and above receive 25 percent. On the other hand, the percentages of Volume Rebate depend on the personal CSV that would be produced by each rank. It ranges from 0 percent to 13 percent.

  • Team Commissions

It is a fact that everyone needs to invest a great amount of effort and diligence in any opportunity before being rewarded. That is true and is proven by this company’s commission.

This, I think, is one of the challenging parts at Stampin’ Up! since building a team to earn for your Team Commission would require you  a heck lot of requirements. It includes your monthly personal CSV, First Level CSV, and minimum numbers of demonstrators on your First Level.

By meeting the said requirements, a demonstrator would be eligible for 3.0 percent up to 6.5 percent First Level Team Commission and 0 percent to 5.5 percent for Second and Third Level Team Commission.

The percentage that you would receive primarily depends on your personal CSV and your First Level’s CSV that reaches up to 20,000 CSV. This explains why to get to the farthest point of this commission, a demonstrator is required to have 32 heads of demonstrator on First Level alone. However, are the given percentages enough to compensate the hard work entailed by the said requirements?

  • Performance Bonus

Since meeting the required CSV could be a burden for the demonstrators, Stampin’ Up provides demonstrators other ways to fill the required amount of CSV. Through the Performance Bonus, demonstrators are given amounts of CSV as bonuses.

The Performance Bonus is divided in various categories. It includes Career-to-Date Milestones, Quarterly Sales, numbers of First Level recruits, and Leadership Advancement. This could bring a demonstrator 200 to 10,000 CSV points.

  • Flex Account Earning

Besides granting CSV to its demonstrators, Stampin’ Up! also offers “Flex Points” that they can use to get free products from the company. Getting the points can be done in several ways. It includes the accumulated CSV by the demonstrator, numbers of recruits, title advancement, years of service, and performance during the first months in the company.

How Much Will I Earn?

Oh, here we are! How much would you earn when you jump into this opportunity? There is only one way to know that: income disclosure statement.

Finding an honest income disclosure statement in the MLM industry seems to be downright impossible. MLMs have a bad reputation (Shuuuush… We’ll talk about that later!). With that, it seems that the only hope for each one to uplift their dignity is to present the ugly figures in murky ways. Nonetheless, there are companies that choose to play the game safely by totally concealing the figures. This is what Stampin’ Up! does.

That said, it leaves us with no idea how much an average or a distributor in high rank makes in a month or year. I tried to find some testimonial videos from demonstrators about their earnings. That is the last option anyone trying to scrutinize the honest truth would pick. I mean, we could simply believe demonstrators with their claims. However, hearing it from someone who’s trying to promote the products could also mean the details being partly opinionated. According to the video I found, the demonstrator earned $3,400 that month and ended up with $1326 after subtracting her expenses. That still seems to be a fair amount, doesn’t it? However, does it cover fairly all the efforts, diligence and time invested by the demonstrator just to reach those sales?

Also, do remember that conducting parties to make your Stampin’ Up! sales would require you not just time and preparation but expenses as well. Don’t expect that people would come into your party just to buy your products. There would be expenses for drinks and snacks to think about. They are no saints without appetite. 

On the other hand, the commissions being offered by the company is way, like waaaay, lower than other compensations being offered by other MLM companies. Let us have the Team Commissions part in particular. Having 6.5 percent as the extremity of its benefit is still low despite the fact that you would be getting it from the sales of an entire level.

Lastly, the compensation plan of Stampin’ Up! surely presents various ways to be compensated. However, do notice that half of it only brings you actual income as the other half only grants you POINTS. That’s right. So, where would you use these points? You use it to meet the CSV requirements being asked by the company to compensate financially. Hence, in the simplest way, only half of the compensation plan would help you generate your income.

Diving In: Is Stampin’ Up! a Pyramid Scheme?

With pure certainty, no. Stampin’ Up! is not a pyramid scheme.

Pyramid schemes primarily generate its income through the investments of its unknowing recruits. However, without products or services to generate profit for the entire system, the idea of it is entirely unsustainable. With demonstrators obviously producing income from sales, we could at least say that Stampin’ Up! is a legit MLM. However, is it enough to trust the opportunity?

Unfortunately, despite MLMs being legally accepted, the industry’s entirety relies on a structure you might find questionable: pyramid structure.

MLM companies arrange the organization of their individual contractors in a pyramid structure: those who earlier joined the company would be placed at the top part and those who are newly-recruited would be placed at the bottom. This is where things go crazy.

MLM companies pride themselves and their compensation plans by saying that prospects could receive great “commissions”. However, the way this perk is being earned is truly dismaying.

In an MLM pyramid structure, those at the top of the system are granted the eligibility to profit by acquiring some percentages of commissions from the people below them. Though it is something that is considered as a benefit for those people, it is a curse for those at the bottom as portions of their earnings are being taken away to them.

So, what if we lower the commission percentages or perhaps, completely remove it? This will ruin the entire system since individuals in the MLM industry rely on commissions due to low earnings in product sale profits. With that, whatever way you take in the MLM industry, there would always be a losing side. This explains why the industry itself is considered to have a problematic system. According to Jon M. Taylor, MBA, Ph.D. (Consumer Awareness Institute) in his 15-year study, “MLM as a business model – with its endless chain of recruitment of participants as primary customers – is flawed, unfair, and deceptive. Worldwide feedback suggests it is also extremely viral, predatory and harmful to many participants. This conclusion does not apply just to a specific MLM company, but to the entire MLM industry. It is a systemic problem.”

With this, according to Dr. Taylor, the vast majority of the commissions being paid by MLM companies could only affect those at the top of the system while it leaves 99 percent of the individual contractors nothing. This is the reason why the entirety of the MLM industry serves as an unsustainable opportunity for anyone.

Well, at least it’s legit, right? After all, you don’t mind being broke, do you?

Should I Trust This Opportunity?

If there is one more thing the same about MLM companies, it is their soldiers of fanatics. They could be your aunt who persistently opens a business topic in the middle of a gathering, an old forgotten friend who spontaneously chats you to offer you the “opportunity”, or your social media friends that flood your wall with luxurious pictures boasting that they come from their hard-earned MLM profit. Even reviews like this can’t escape them. Read MLM reviews and you’d find ferocious folks trying their best to uplift the name of their company. Right, It Works!?

However, after all those heavenly testimonies of MLM folks, there are those individuals who formerly experienced the companies themselves just to come into their realization. Let’s have this one.

Okaaay. No need to explain this but for someone who experienced it herself, this is totally something to think about before jumping in. The worst is, this is just one of the dozens of problematic testimonies out there. There are still stories out there of stagnant Stampin’ Up! products in the basement, unreached quota, low compensations, wasted time and strength and a lot more. Name it.

Weighing Things: Pros and Cons

Though the essential points are already laid out earlier, let us still have a short review of some specific points that you should consider before diving into this opportunity.


  1. Stampin’ Up! products seem to be all nice! I mean, who doesn’t love doing crafts? One thing’s for sure, mothers aren’t the only ones who love these products. Men love it, too!
  2. It requires low payment to start your business!
  3. The company’s replicated website is just an option for you. This is a good thing since some MLM companies charge their individual contractors monthly just to access their websites. Those companies would surely pass the criteria of being politicians.
  4. Its compensation plan has parts that aid you in attaining the given requirements to get commissions.


  1. Though the products are truly lovely, selling it could be a challenge. Don’t expect that you could find people needing art crafts everyday. Not everyone has the blood of Van Gogh.
  2. Conducting parties could cause you expenses. Nonetheless, that is the least of your concerns if you are an introvert.
  3. The compensation plan offers little opportunity to earn. Most of all, the earnings you could generate, based on the proposed percentages of commission, would be too little.
  4. Stampin’ Up! doesn’t produce its income disclosure statement in public. That’s a red flag for you! Anyway, what is it hiding?
  5. It is an MLM. Though it is legal, it has a high failure rate due to its problematic system.

Conclusion: The Verdict

Though Stampin’ Up! is a legitimate company, it is clear that it fails to offer anyone a bright opportunity. It is true that you can always strive, do your best, and give your all to succeed in companies like this. That’s true! No work is a picnic. However, do consider the compensation that you deserve in all the hard words and diligence you would be investing. We are all working to gain something. We don’t work like robots just to be showered with tiny parts of what we deserve. Most of all, we don’t work in an industry that compensates its people using an unfair system.

Thank you for reading this article! Thanks for your time! I hope that you learned a lot about Stampin’ Up! and the MLM industry. If you are still looking for better ways to earn, we can help you! We have been doing it since 2015 in an honest and fair manner. No more commission-sharing and bloody sale persuasions. The best part is that we earn decent incomes every month! Click here to discover how!


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