Shelli Gardner: Mormon Businesswoman
Shelli Gardner is the co-founder and CEO of Stampin’ Up!, a greeting card and scrapbooking multilevel marketing company. She and her sister LaVonne Crosby started the company in 1988 for interaction and some needed extra cash. The company has grown to over 450 employees, 40,000 demonstrators and more than $200 million worth of products sold, which include rubber stamp sets, papers, ribbons, and metal embellishments. The company has a manufacturing plant in Kanab, Utah, and distribution headquarters in Riverton, Utah.
Gardner was born in Southern California and her family moved to Kanab, Utah, when she was young. She married at age eighteen and moved to Las Vegas, where her husband operated a custom home building business with her sister’s husband. To earn a little extra money, she ventured into Tupperware and other direct sales companies. When she and her sister LaVonne couldn’t find a rubber stamp company they liked to independently distribute for, they created Stampin’ Up! and personalized the business models they had seen used in Tupperware, Mary Kay, and Discovery Toys. Initially they sold stamps produced by other companies, but as Stampin’ Up! grew, they began designing, manufacturing, and selling their own line of stamps. They relocated the business to Boulder City, Nevada, and then five years later (1993), they moved the business to their hometown of Kanab.
In 1996, Gardner opened corporate offices in Salt Lake City. The combination administrative offices and distribution center was opened in Riverton in 2004. The company has product demonstrators in each of the United States and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
She is known for putting her employees first. She makes a card for each employee’s birthday, once a year she and other executives serve breakfast to factory workers, and she once closed the plant so all 100 employees could attend the funeral of one of their co-workers. Ernst & Young recognized her with its Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1999 and 2008.
Gardner became company CEO in 1998. In 2014, she announced that her daughter Sara Douglass will take control of the company while she and her husband, Sterling, serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which they are both members. He will preside over the Honolulu Hawaii mission beginning in March 2015. They are the parents of five daughters.
Gardner recently opened Brick Canvas at Thanksgiving Point, offering a variety of services for balancing body and soul. She suffered serious injuries in August 2013 while riding a horse in the Grand Canyon and relies on Bikram yoga to help her with her own wellness.