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Stella & Dot Highlighted on Fast Company

How Stella & Dot Is Giving Old-Fashioned Direct Sales A Mobile Makeover

How a doing-it-all mom became an entrepreneur–and uses tech savvy and common sense to keep her business running.

When she founded Stella & Dot in 2003, Herrin had envisioned it as a direct sales company that would give its sales people, called “stylists,” a way to live balanced flexible entrepreneurial lives. Based on her own experience, she knew things had to change if she wanted to really scale the business.

In the past year in particular, Herrin has given the old-fashioned direct sales model a mobile makeover. And it’s working. Stella & Dot has 16,000 active stylists around the world and in 2013, the company made more than $220 million in sales, up from $100 million the previous year–thanks in large part to the company’s massive mobile push and integration of new technology.

Stella & Dot is what Herrin calls an “omni-channel business”–one that blends the in-person experience with technology. “For a lot of e-commerce companies, their challenge is competing with a company like Amazon. That’s why omni-channel retail can stand apart. It has something Amazon can never offer–a warm body on the end of each sale,” she says. “The use of technology has really unlocked how profitable this business can be.”

Here are four ways Herrin has worked mobile technology into her business model to help grow the company.

A virtual community with on-the-go training.

How do you train 16,000 stylists spread around the world? Stella & Dot has online affinity groups including ones for military spouses, stylists of color, stylists over 50, and the list goes on.

But the company uses more than just social media to connect stylists. Last month, it launched a mobile-optimized “Stylist Lounge,” which gives stylists mobile access to notifications, weekly training videos, peer-to-peer online training, and specific tools depending on how long they have been selling with Stella & Dot.

When new stylists log in, for example, they are given step-by step guidance on how to create their website, send their first trunk-show invitation, and make their first hostess call. More seasoned stylists in charge of teams can access business insights about their team and all stylists can easily choose and share from a collection of customized social media messages. “What used to be a log in and click, click, click is now a swipe and a tap,” says Herrin, who calls the mobile push an “on my phone or bust” model.

Staying lean and savvy about inventory.

Direct-sales models often require sellers to have inventory on hand to sell to customers, which means unsold stuff can quickly start to pile up in their closets. Instead of doing this, Stella & Dot uses trunk shows to test inventory. Last year, the company launched an iPad app for stylists called Dottie that not only allows them to place orders directly to the distribution center in real time when a customer makes a purchase, but also includes tons of images of products that might not be on hand.

The danger, of course, is that the human connection the company so values could be compromised by stylists having screens in front of their faces. But it’s a worry that’s been taken into account when designing the app. “We’ve obsessed over the ease of use,” says Herrin. “We want it to be intuitive so that it doesn’t take away from the human connection.”

Another addition is the social media group called the Style Council, made up of hundreds of the company’s top sellers. The group has direct access to the design and merchandizing teams and votes on the pieces in each season’s collection that are showcased most prominently. “The feedback is very constant in real time,” says Herrin.

Getting orders out instantaneously.

Gone are the days of driving around with trunks full of inventory to deliver. The Dottie app includes a form customers fill out when placing an order, which then gets directly sent to the distribution center. Before that was created, stylists had to keep track of orders on paper that they might not have a chance to submit until the following day. The automated form also lets customers double-check their information, which cuts down on mistakes.

A built-in marketing machine.

At Stella & Dot, stylists play a huge role in marketing. They upload trunk-show photos to the Stella & Dot Instagram feed and are encouraged to post about their work on Facebook. But social media aside, the company has also created a mobile notification that pings stylists when orders are shipped, including the names and notes they took on the customers who made purchases. They can then tap on their phone numbers to make a follow-up call.

Bottom Line: “Our mobile tool isn’t just about sales or transactions. It makes our stylists better at customer service,” says Herrin. “We are using the combination of high tech and high touch to do better merchandizing.”

Original article from Fast Company – read it HERE

CEO/Founder Jessica Herrin Talks About Stella & Dot Updates on Bloomberg TV

Stella & Dot CEO/Founder Jessica Herrin updates us on the latest and greatest with the global accessories company, Stella & Dot. Watch the video on Bloomberg TV. Here are some of the updates:

* Modernizing flexible entrepreneurship, whether you would like to be a side-preneuer” or a full-time sales rep
* Sales reps are called “stylists” because of the high-tech/high-touch philosophy that they offer their customers with individual attention and styling suggestions
* Accessories is a $30 billion dollar business each year! – So much room to thrive and grow!
* Stella & Dot operates like a couture fashion house, utilizing the talents of in-house designers who personally and individually handmake and model each piece.
* High dollar per hour with  higher-than-average trunk show sales and irresistible product
* Celebs and magazine editors continue to LOVE Stella & Dot jewelry and accessories!
* Now in several countries – US, UK, Canada, Ireland, France, Germany — Do you know someone in these countries?
* Stella & Dot Foundation supports several causes, such as partnering with HollyRod in April for Autism Awareness
* Few big investors, so they don’t need to operate like a “big venture business”
* How do they measure success? Payout and impact to their Stylists — Over $200 million was paid out in 2013!
* Revolutionizing and focusing on some basic operations, such as new technology, broader design studio, and in-house shipping warehouse

Bloomberg-JH
To learn more about becoming a Stylist or hosting a casual, easy styling session, contact Erin Markland, Director and Independent Stylist: 949-395-2347 or simply.stylish@yahoo.com

LA Times: Stella & Dot Founder Saw a Way to Dress Up Direct Sales

This article is originally from the LA Times – see it HERE.

Stella & Dot founder saw a way to dress up direct sales

Jessica Herrin, founder of fashion accessories e-commerce company Stella & Dot, was inspired by a Mary Kay convention but decided to give the business model a tech-infused, youthful twist.

Profile: Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of Stella & Dot

The gig: Jessica Herrin is founder and chief executive of Stella & Dot, a fast-growing company that sells fashion jewelry, handbags and other accessories online and via direct sales.

Stella & Dot salespeople, called stylists, pay a minimum of $199 for a starter kit and sell the company’s merchandise at in-home trunk show parties; they also earn money from purchases made on the brand’s website and mobile app. The San Bruno, Calif., company has 370 employees and more than 18,000 active stylists in five countries. Revenue last year was $220 million.

Personal: Herrin lives in Hillsborough, Calif., with her husband, Chad, and their two daughters, 10-year-old Charlie and 7-year-old Tatum.

Education: She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University but dropped out of Stanford’s MBA program after a year to co-create a gift registry and wedding content website called Della & James. The company would go on to become WeddingChannel.com, which was later sold to wedding and family planning website TheKnot.com.

First job: Herrin, 41, grew up in Glendale and got a job serving ice cream at a local Baskin-Robbins when she was 15. As a teenager, she also worked at Haagen-Dazs, Baby Gap, Newport Surf, Chuy’s and Islands to help pay for college.

Career change: After graduating from Stanford, Herrin was set to become an investment banker at J.P. Morgan and had an apartment lined up in Manhattan. But on a whim she took a job interview at a software start-up in Austin, Texas, and decided to pursue what she called “a less certain path.”

Got the idea: In 2001, Herrin happened upon a Mary Kay direct-sales convention while she was on a business trip in Dallas.

She says she noticed how excited the women were to be selling cosmetics and running their own businesses, but she felt direct sales entrepreneurship needed a tech-infused, youthful upgrade that Mary Kay and other brands lacked.

“I didn’t resonate with that sales model. I thought of it as something for my grandmother,” she said. “It didn’t seem very modern. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it didn’t appeal to me or, I thought, any of the women of my generation.”

Double duty: Soon after, Herrin, who was working in the global e-commerce group at Dell, began dabbling with the idea of starting her own direct-sales company. Jewelry seemed easy to sell straight to consumers, and she recognized a hole in the market for mid-priced accessories.

She went to jewelry-making classes and bead shows, and spent her nights and weekends designing necklaces, earrings and bracelets from her Austin living room. She bootstrapped the start-up, which she called Luxe Jewels, and quit Dell in 2004 to work on the business full time.

Working mother: Although she did her first trunk shows when she was pregnant with her first daughter, Herrin decided to wait until the time was right for her family before going all-in with Luxe Jewels.

“I didn’t try to go for hyper-growth in the business in the early years,” she said. “I paced it around the birth of my newborn and then my second child, and only after I was done nursing my second baby and I could travel did I ratchet it up.”

How it works: A customer hosts a trunk show in her home and invites her friends over. A Stella & Dot stylist brings over sample products for the women to try on and takes merchandise orders, earning a 30% commission. The host of the party receives free product credit and other perks.

Herrin said stylists typically earn $250 to $300 per trunk show. Most stylists are women who sell Stella & Dot products part time and make an average of $2,400 a year.

Stella & Dot designs and manufactures all of its products. Half of the jewelry is priced at less than $50.

First big purchase: After Herrin left WeddingChannel.com, she and her husband took three months to see the world, traveling to such places as Thailand, Croatia and Egypt. She also paid off her student loans.

What’s in a name: Herrin and Chief Creative Officer Blythe Harris decided to change the name of the company from Luxe Jewels to Stella & Dot in honor of their grandmothers.

“We wanted a name that really spoke to the spirit of the business, which is — it’s a company inspired by and created for strong women,” she said.

By LA Times writer Andrea Chang
andrea.chang@latimes.com
Twitter: @byandreachang

Are you interested in becoming a Stylist or learning more about Stella & Dot? Contact Director Erin Markland for more info: 949-395-2347 or simply.stylish@yahoo.com


Jessica Herrin of Stella & Dot Talks About Remaking Direct Sales for the Digital Age


Jessica Herrin of Stella & Dot on Remaking Direct Sales for the Digital Age

 

This article is originally from Business of Fashion, read it HERE.

In the latest instalment of Founder Stories, a series highlighting the personal and professional journeys of some of fashion’s most dynamic entrepreneurs, BoF speaks with Jessica Herrin, founder and chief executive of “social selling” jewellery and accessories company Stella & Dot.


Jessica Herrin | Source: Courtesy

SAN BRUNO, United States — The words “direct selling” have long been associated with Tupperware parties and Avon ladies. But that’s not quite what Jessica Herrin had in mind when the Stanford business school dropout and co-founder of WeddingChannel.com started Stella & Dot, a direct sales company reimagined for the age of e-commerce and social media that enlists thousands of women (and a few men) to sell its chic but affordable jewellery and accessories to their network of friends and acquaintances via in-home trunk shows and personalised websites.

In 2011, Stella & Dot attracted $37 million from famed Silicon Valley venture firm Sequoia Capital. The transaction valued the company at $370 million, no doubt a reflection of the firm’s belief in both Herrin’s personal drive and the growing opportunity in direct sales, created by the sluggish economy, in which more and more people are looking for ways to supplement their incomes; the rise of social media, which enables people to more easily maintain a far greater number of “weak ties,” significantly extending their reach; and the rise of tablet computers, which can display limitless inventory, take credit card payment directly and run easy-to-use enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) software, dramatically improving a seller’s productivity.

According to market sources, in 2012, Stella & Dot surpassed $200 million in annual revenue and, as of June 2013, has paid out a total of over $150 million in commissions to its army of approximately 14,000 active sellers, who the company playfully calls “stylists.”

BoF spoke to Jessica Herrin about the genesis of Stella & Dot, empowering women entrepreneurs and reinventing direct sales for the digital age.

BoF: Let’s go back to the beginning. What were you doing before Stella & Dot?

JH: I grew up in LA, then went to Stanford undergrad to study economics. It’s a magical place that breeds entrepreneurship, probably because it’s rooted in Silicon Valley. But when I finished college, I had a massive amount of debt, so I thought I had to go to Wall Street and take up investment banking or consulting. I actually had an investment banking job all lined up, but on a lark my friend saw this ad in the student paper that said, “Get $1,000 if you refer a friend” to work at this software start-up, and submitted my resume!

I never thought I would do it, but I did the interview anyway and it really changed the trajectory of my career. It was this enterprise software company called Trilogy that was so not sexy and based in Austin, Texas, but it ended up being a phenomenal growth experience and ultimately led me back to Stanford for business school, which I left a year early to start the business that would become Wedding Channel. At the start-up in Austin, I was aggregating price and availability for computer parts and Wedding Channel is really just aggregating price and availability for wedding guests who want to buy a gift, so it’s the same technical approach for a completely different market, one that was ripe for disruption back in 1999.

BoF: Why did you decide to found Stella & Dot?

JH: Wedding Channel was a great experience for me. It was a commercially successful company and was great for the four years that I was there. But I realised that, ultimately, I didn’t want to dedicate my life to the wedding business. Plus, all these women would reach out to me and say: “I want to be an entrepreneur, what’s your advice?” And I remember thinking to myself, “I honestly can’t recommend what I’m doing right now, because I work all the time.” I had just gotten married and I was thinking about becoming a mother, but I was dedicated, day and night, to this business. I realised, I wasn’t running the business, the business was running me.

Around that time, very fortuitously, I went to a conference about the women who pioneered the work-from-home model and I was so intrigued, because I knew it was such an important chapter in the story of women in the workforce. You know, when people think of the most disruptive thing to have changed the economy, they often think of the Internet, but I think it’s the role of women in the workforce. So, I thought to myself, “We haven’t changed the old role for women in society, which is having babies. That’s never going to change. So, we need more ebb and flow. We need to be able to let women seize the opportunity and be whatever we want to be professionally and still be happy [in terms of family life].”

Creating Stella & Dot was not just about going into jewellery and accessories. It was about creating an entrepreneurial platform for women — and then marrying that with my love of design and fashion.

BoF: What was the opportunity you saw in direct sales?

JH: When I looked at what was going on in the realm of home-based business opportunities for women, it felt like the 1950s — not remotely geared for the modern woman or today’s digital world. Nobody was using e-commerce, and certainly not social or mobile. The idea of being flexible, yes. The idea of a community of women, yes. The idea of personal service, yes. But everything else felt antiquated. So, we decided to start with a blank piece of paper and asked ourselves, “How can technology improve that experience?”

BoF: You prefer the term “social selling” to direct sales. What’s the difference?

Social selling is flexible entrepreneurship reinvented for the modern woman that leverages technology like tablets and social commerce. Our stylists, when they sign up and buy a starter kit, get their own website in a couple of clicks. They also get access to a virtual business centre, where they can get online training, as well as access to a community platform where they can get support from people nearby. We also use game mechanics: there are trackers for things like time management and they get badges when they do activities that help them grow their businesses. One of the most revolutionary things we just introduced is our new iPad app for stylists that we call Dottie, which we found raised their earnings by 20 percent because it enabled them to show the product in this really amazing way, supported by video, gives them tips on how to finish the look, and suggests other products that their customers will love.

BoF: What made you think the jewellery market was ripe for this approach?

JH: First of all, accessories are so critical to a woman’s style and they’re simple; they always fit and flatter. I often joke that from the beginning of time, if men had animals, then women had jewellery made from the bones. Specifically, we thought there was a very big opportunity in mid-market accessories. There’s was a lot on the high end and a lot on the low end, but not a lot in between. So, we felt there was an opportunity to create an affordable luxury line, with amazing design and amazing quality.

Plus, the traditional retail environment for buying accessories was not great. At traditional department stores, all the jewellery is locked up in glass cases, otherwise it would walk out of the door. So women don’t have the chance to pick it up, play with it and touch it, the way they do with apparel. There’s this barrier.

As for social selling, accessories are things that people can easily see when a stylist is wearing them. So a stylist is naturally going to be able to sell her jewellery on the go. She’s walking around with our jewellery and people are going to compliment her on it. It’s easy to have it naturally come up in conversation, because it’s a very public, visible, beautiful product. Many of our stylists have full-time jobs outside the home, or they’re busy working as a mother. But when they’re going about their day, people are going to see their jewellery.

BoF: That makes perfect sense. Jewellery is inherently social to begin with.

JH: Right. It’s shiny, women love it and immediately it’s, “Ooh I love your earrings” and they get a compliment on it.

BoF: What are the economic terms for the stylists?

JH: So you sign up for $199 and you get $350 in free accessories to kick-start your business. I wanted to de-risk entrepreneurship. I knew that what’s usually most daunting for would-be entrepreneurs is the capital you need to start a business. So, I wanted to make this easy. There’s not a lot of barriers to entry. Then, they sell as much or as little as they want. But every time they sell, they earn 25 percent commission. It’s an “effort in, results out” kind of business.

BoF: How much does an average seller earn in a year?

JH: There’s a really wide range. Most of our stylists are part-time; this is a business designed to be seasonal and part-time. So, we have teachers that only do it during vacation and holidays. And we have lawyers that only do it when they’re not busy. Many people will sell a couple of hundred dollars a month, because they’re only working five hours a week. That’s about 80 percent of our sales force. Our top earners will earn $10,000 a month, but that’s a very small percentage of people who actually want to do this full time. In the US, where we’ve been operating the longest, our top earner brought in $1.3 million last year and so there’s amazing earning potential. But I always want people to know that it’s an “effort in, results out” business. The people that are earning a lot, they have teams of other stylists working for them and they earn a percentage of those sales.

BoF: So-called multi-level marketing companies have attracted a fair amount of criticism over the years. How is Stella & Dot different?

JH: When people think of these pyramid schemes, that’s because there are indeed companies out there who have a model that’s not straightforward. It’s really a wholesale buying club, where so-called sellers aren’t really selling at all. They’re buying at a discount and selling to other people at a discount. Stella & Dot isn’t remotely like that. Our sellers don’t carry inventory, they don’t get commissions on personal purchases of accessories, and we don’t market this as something that you’re supposed to be selling, but you’re actually buying. We do a tremendous amount of training for our stylists. And I always tell them, listen, it takes work. It only works when you do. There’s no oceanside property in Arizona.

BoF: You bootstrapped the company for three years before taking on Mike Lohner as chairman, Blythe Harris as head designer, and sales guru Danielle Redner. How did you know it was the right moment to expand the team and grow the business?

JH: In the beginning, I had another full-time job, I was pregnant, I worked nights and weekends. Then I went to Doug MacKenzie [Wedding Channel’s first investor, when he was at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers] and said, “Listen, I just had a baby, I’m going to have another one, I don’t know exactly what this is going to be but it’s going to be big and I’m going to make it happen over time. Right now, this is a lifestyle business for me, meaning that I’m a mom working, not a working mom, and that part is going to come first. But one day, I’m going to make something of it, do you want to be a part of this and do this?” Luckily, he was crazy enough to say yes.

The trajectory really changed when I stopped breastfeeding my last child. The business was growing rapidly, but I waited until 2006 to say, “Okay now I’m ready to bring on the talent I need to really ratchet things up.” I went back to my one investor [Doug MacKenzie] and I said, “Okay we’re ready, now it’s time to go find someone who will take this to the next level in terms of design and who really knows everything about home-based businesses. So I brought on Mike [as chairman], then Danielle [as VP of training], then Blythe [as chief creative officer].

BoF: Staging in-home trunk shows enables you to have really intimate interactions with your customers, which I imagine results in extremely valuable insights. How are you gathering and leveraging these insights? Do they inform design?

JH: 100 percent. First of all, we’re in her living room, chatting about her life! People are talking about their marriages, as much as they’re talking about accessories. And as much as we’re fashion accessories designers, we’re also data geeks and we live in Silicon Valley. We use our iPad app to capture a lot of data and do excellent CRM. We’re capturing birthdays and wishlists and all of that is being used generate product recommendations for our stylists, so that we know they’re going to have the best products on their tables. Then, we have regular feedback from our stylists themselves; we’re constantly listening to what they want from us. We even bring stylists into the design studio and give them sticky notes and they look at the product and say “love it” or “lose it.” I also do trunk shows all the time, which informs our assortment.

BoF: Why did you decide to expand from jewellery into bags, wallets, scarves and tech accessories?

JH: Our customers have been asking us for other things for a while. Plus, when you broaden beyond jewellery, you double your market size.

BoF: What have the results been? In 2012, you broke $200 million. Where are you now?

JH: We don’t share revenue figures, but we are doing very healthy double-digit growth. And we’re continuing to have amazing success as a company. In Europe, we are in the UK, Germany and France, and it’s been remarkable; we’re growing at over 100 percent.

BoF: Where do you see Stella & Dot in 3 to 5 years?

JH: A global, billion-dollar, multi-brand, multi-category company that changes the lives of women around the world by providing the right opportunities for them to pursue their passions and succeed as entrepreneurs in a flexible way that works for them.

BoF: When you say changing lives, how are you measuring that?

JH: I would be very happy if we had over 100,000 people getting incremental value in their lives from Stella & Dot. It’s really remarkable when you meet people and you recognise what it’s doing for them. We have people for whom this is taking care of the mortgage or a percent of their bills. There are also people who are stay at home moms and they feel like this is the only money they have that they can spend 100 percent their own discretion and without guilt.

I think it would be crushing if I had to ask my husband whether or not I could buy something. How could you want to live that way? I am as passionate about providing a woman with that $300 as I am about providing her with $300,000, which is what some of our top sellers make.

For me, it’s about providing incremental joy in their lives because they have their own money to spend. I really don’t quantify our success in terms of how much revenue the company generates. Our story isn’t a corporate story, it’s the sum of the success of our stylists. And we can be best measured on how many of those people we are making successful.

BoF: Last question. What about your exit?

JH: My exit is going to be an oxygen tank and a stretcher [laughs]! I just want to get really old and one day fall over a trunk show table and die.

Stella & Dot’s Jessica Herrin is Nobody’s Avon Lady

Stella & Dot’s Jessica Herrin Is Nobody’s Avon Lady

The jewelry retailer’s CEO is turning the trunk show model on its head–with excellent results.
[This article is by Stacy Jones at Fast Company - See the original post HERE.]

Although direct marketing has come a long way from the days of the Mary Kay catalog and neon-green Tupperware, Jessica Herrin, CEO of jewelry and accessories retailer Stella & Dot, has breathed new life into the business model.

Herrin created the company for fashionable women who want higher-quality bangles, earrings, and rings than what’s found at bargain boutiques–but something more approachable than the gems locked in glass cases at traditional jewelers. “My favorite [this season] is the Phoenix Pendant. It’s versatile and reminds you of art deco,” she says. “It’s very Gatsby-esque.”

The company now counts 30,000 sellers, or “stylists,” among its ranks and has paid out more than $100 million in commissions. Its retail sales have grown from $33 million in 2009 to $200 million in 2012. And each piece of Stella & Dot jewelry is created by an in-house design team, in a loft above Barney’s in New York’s SoHo neighborhood.

Herrin, who prefers to spend her time out of the office and with her stylists, says many of the women–there are some men, too–who sell Stella & Dot use it as seasonal work. It’s been especially popular among teachers and nurses. During any given month at least half of the company’s stylists actively sell Stella & Dot’s products by hosting in-home trunk shows. “I think the exciting thing about our company is that despite our rapid growth, at any given trunk show, at least eight out of the 10 people there are shopping with us for the first time,” she says.

It’s not the 40-year-old Stanford graduate’s first company, or even her first successful one. In 1996, Herrin dropped out of business school to start Della & James, a bridal registry website. It evolved into WeddingChannel.com, an all-encompassing online destination for brides. At that point she felt like it was beginning to take over her life and get in the way of starting a family. She left and later became a manager in the e-commerce department at Dell computers. Herrin launched her jewelry company in 2004, then relaunched as Stella & Dot in 2007.

She approached the direct marketing realm with some trepidation, believing that, too often, the products sold by armies of independent salespeople–for companies like Mary Kay, Avon, or Tupperware–were outdated and missing their mark with consumers. Herrin also looked at fashion brands being sold with traditional retail models that didn’t have the personal, energetic sales touch that is often the key to success.

“I thought there were a lot of great brands for retail that didn’t offer great service in the stores,” she says. “And then at trunk shows, I would love interacting with people, but they weren’t selling the products I wanted. I thought technology was missing from the equation.”

So she did her research. As Herrin puts it, she walked a million miles in some very stylish shoes to learn by immersion at trunk shows. She even held some of her own to learn what it would take to make the model successful.

Next year, Herrin wants to see her San Francisco-based company take command of its supply chain and infrastructure. With those goals in mind, she brought on a former vice president of operations at Amazon and a former head of inventory planning at Old Navy. “Saying Amazon is in the book business is like saying Stella & Dot is in the jewelry business,” she says. “We want to expand to include other product categories, but not in other forms of retail. We’re going to stick with this social selling model that’s been so successful for us.

“We’ve made a tremendous splash, but we’re so relatively small compared to what we will be,” she continues. It’s just breakfast time at Stella & Dot.” And there’s no Tupperware at this breakfast table.

Stella & Dot Brings Tech to Jewelry Parties

This article is originally from USA Today. Read it HERE.

LOS ANGELES — Some $2,000 worth of jewelry is spread out across the kitchen table and most will be purchased tonight here at Maya Brenner’s home. Both Brenner, the host, and the woman who staged this “trunk show” will get commissions for their efforts.

If this sounds like a traditional Tupperware or Avon party — friends make money by selling goods to their social network — it should. But there’s a twist: The enhanced online social followings of the digital age and new apps are being utilized to make fewer cold calls and more sales.

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 6.30.19 PM

San Francisco-based jewelry and accessories retailer Stella & Dot updates the old model and considers itself a tech company. It has $37 million in investments from blue-chip venture firm Sequoia Capital, the company that helped seed Google, Apple, Yahoo, Dropbox, LinkedIn and Funny or Die.

“We’re a social-selling company,” says Stella & Dot founder and CEO Jessica Herrin.

Her salesforce — called “stylists” — use digital tools to sell Stella & Dot products. Each stylist has a distinct S&D website to do business with clients. At the trunk shows, they whip out their “Dottie” — that’s the name of the private S&D iPad app for stylists, who use it to show merchandise at the shows, and take orders.

S&D has struck a major chord with shoppers. It will ring in over $200 million in sales this year, up from $100 million just three years ago.

And Herrin predicts she’ll hit $1 billion in yearly sales before the decade is over.

(She has a long way to go to catch up to Avon, which reported sales of $11 billion in 2012.)

Alfred Lin, a partner with Sequoia and a Stella & Dot board member, says he was motivated to invest in the company because he was impressed with Herrin. She “is mission-driven, passionate, and full of energy. She has a wonderful ability to light up a room.”

The old-fashioned women’s network selling to each other has been around for years. The twist, and why it’s resonating today, is because women and society have changed so much, says Herrin.

The 1950s model of staging an afternoon party has been updated for women who are working, hauling their kids around from event to event and eager to socialize and unwind in the evening, she says.

Maggie Jackson, a vice president with New York-based researcher Center for Talent and Innovation, says Herrin has excelled at taking the old direct sales model and updating it with new technology. “She’s made direct sales appear to a certain younger, Gen X woman, by selling very fashionable jewelry through social media,” she says.

Herrin’s challenge: managing the company’s fast growth. “This is really fast. The challenge is continuing the growth model while also expanding at the same time.”

Herrin, who founded Wedding Channel, an early website that offered one-stop planning services to brides (it’s now owned by the Knot), was looking for the next opportunity when the inspiration for Stella & Dot hit in 2006. (The firm is named after the grandmothers of Herrin and her chief creative officer Blythe Harris.)

The idea wasn’t to do a modern Avon, but instead, emulate more contemporary companies like Creative Memories (scrapbooking) and Pampered Chef (selling cooking supplies).

“These were great experiences you couldn’t get in a retail store, for the modern woman,” she says. Even with the shift to online sales, “women wanted to gather, they wanted a group event.”

Because jewelry is generally housed under lock and key in retail stores, Herrin bet correctly that having items spread out on tables and available to try on and sample would have great appeal. (She’s since also added accessories, like handbags.)

Hillary Fogelson said the L.A. gathering was her first time attending such an event. With the emphasis on online shopping today, “it’s nice to have an event where it’s a party, and you can really put the jewelry on and see how it looks on you,” she says.

To become a Stella & Dot stylist, you pay from $200 to $500 for a kit that includes jewelry samples. Then you start working your social network to set up trunk shows at friends’ houses. The stylists and the friend both invite folks to attend. The stylist gets a commission for total sales of the evening, while the host gets free jewelry.

Items are shipped directly to the customer by Stella & Dot, eliminating the need for the stylist and hostess to have to buy inventory and deal with the hassle of shipping.

Herrin says yearly pay for a stylist can range from $50,000 to $300,000. The average profit for the stylist is at least $250-$300 per trunk show, Herrin says.

She has roughly 16,000 stylists. Some work full time, others seasonally. The whole idea is for women to be able to have a side business, she says. “We don’t have quotas. We’re about a business that’s there when she wants it to be.”

Learn more about becoming a Stylist >> READ MORE

Or… Contact Erin for more info: itsthestylefile@yahoo.com

Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin with Hoda & Kathie Lee on Today Show

Stella  & Dot’s visionary founder and CEO Jessica Herrin joined Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on The Today Show [NBC morning television show, The Today Show, aired Tuesday, June 25, 2013]. Today’s morning segment kicked off a special series called “Make It Happen Today.” Jessica chatted with Hoda and Kathie Lee about the Stella & Dot jewelry and accessories brand and how women across America can become their own entrepreneur by becoming a Stella & Dot Stylist.

Become a Stylist in June and receive an additional $100 in FREE jewelry!

Click the image below to watch the TV segment or CLICK HERE.

TodayShow-June2013
Please contact me if you have questions about becoming your own business owner and starting your new journey as a Stella & Dot Stylist! I’m here to help! :)

Bethenny Frankel Wears Stella & Dot Necklace on Ellen Show

Talk about color play! TV personality & entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel wore the Spring Awakening Statement Necklace from Stella & Dot on the Ellen Show earlier this month on May 10, 2013. She paired the bright pink and orange necklace with a green dress on the show. And if you’re interested in knowing more of what Bethenny wears, she mentions the clothing brands that she is wearing on her blog, seen here.

BethennyFrankel-greendress

See Bethenny wearing more Stella & Dot jewelry HERE.

Become a Stella & Dot Stylist and Join Me on This Bold New Adventure!

Do you or someone you know love fashion? Is your girlfriend, neighbor or sister looking for a way to make extra income, re-enter the workforce on a part time basis, or even looking to replace a full time career?? Do you have a friend who is just looking for a way to get out of the house once a week for a little “me” time??  I would LOVE to meet her!!!

Or maybe that someone is YOU (wink wink!)….

Well I am here to tell you that we NEED stylists in Southern California (well, really, we need Stylists all over the US, Canada and the UK!) to share the style of Stella & Dot ESPECIALLY now with our launch into another $10 Billion market — Handbags!  This is a ground floor opportunity with a proven company….and one that has delighted so many women already with fabulous jewelry.

So I personally invite you to come “Meet Stella & Dot,” see what all the buzz is about and learn how we have doubled our market opportunity in the cutest way possible!!

Top5ReasonsToBeAStylist

The entire collection of totes and handbags will be there for you to see for yourself!
Watch the adorable handbag video HERE!!

PLUS: All of my personal guests will receive a Swag Bag that includes a FREE Soar Necklace & Earrings!!

Southern California Spring Launch Events — Find one near you in SoCal!
Yorba Linda — Tuesday, April 16th at 6:30pm >> DETAILS
Irvine — Monday, April 22nd at 6:30pm >> DETAILS

If you have EVER been curious, I would LOVE to help you discover if this bold new adventure is right for YOU!

Find out more:
www.stelladot.com/emarkland

OurMission
Have questions? Ask away!
Contact me anytime … itsthestylefile@yahoo.com -or- 949.395.2347

Stella & Dot Highlighted in the San Francisco Chronicle

This article and photo are originally from the San Francisco Business Chronicle. Read the original post HERE.

Stella & Dot redefines women’s workplace

Blythe&Jess-SFBC

Walking into Stella & Dot‘s San Bruno offices, it’s clear that this is a company geared toward girlie fun, from the friendly employees to the jar of blue and green candy in the entryway.

Founder and CEO Jessica Herrin and Chief Creative Officer Blythe Harris are admirably camera-ready, yet casual. Both are wearing the company’s jewelry; Herrin in layered, delicate pieces, and Harris in a statement bib necklace. They share a comfortable camaraderie, laughing often and nodding while the other is talking, like sisters.

The delight, as they say, is in the details. But while the direct-selling brand is known for “just-us-girls” house parties and versatile, eye-catching accessories, it’s quietly building a group of entrepreneurial women who are redefining professional independence.

Stella & Dot is a boutique-style jewelry and accessories company that utilizes independent consultants, whom they term stylists, to sell products directly to consumers through at-home trunk shows and through e-commerce websites. The company has more than 10,000 active stylists worldwide, in countries ranging from Puerto Rico and Canada to the United Kingdom and Germany.

Last year, Stella & Dot’s sales were expected to exceed $200 million, and the company was No. 57 in the Inc. 500 list of the 5,000 Fastest Growing Private Companies. Herrin was named a Top Ten Female CEO by Inc. Magazine, and Harris received the Rising Star Award for Accessories from the Fashion Group International. In November, the company received the ACE Award for Retail Innovation from the Accessories Council.

In other words, this isn’t your grandmother’s Tupperware party.

“When you talk about a flexible business for women,” Herrin says, “you really have to think about what’s possible today, and why would that be different, because the woman has changed, technology has changed, consumers have changed. You really have to start from scratch.”

In 2003, three months pregnant with her first daughter and working as a senior manager in e-commerce at Dell, she had a vision of solving, as she saw it, the “modern woman’s dilemma” – a career that offered a livable wage yet provided the flexibility that a corporate career wouldn’t.

She became intrigued with reinventing flexible entrepreneurship, she says, recognizing that women today are fundamentally different than they were 20 or 30 years ago.

Herrin began experimenting with the idea of do-it-yourself jewelry sold through house parties. The serial entrepreneur developed the concept while she was still working on another company she founded at Stanford Business School in 1999: WeddingChannel.com, which was sold to the Knot in 2006. Her new company, called Luxe Jewels, was profitable, though Herrin admittedly was “bootstrapping” it and creating all the designs herself.

It wasn’t until 2007, when Herrin brought on Harris, along with Chairman Mike Lohner and sales guru Danielle Redner, that Stella & Dot was officially born. Named after Herrin’s and Harris’ inspiring grandmothers, Stella & Dot intended to break the mold of at-home businesses, which Herrin felt offered less-than-desirable products in high-pressure sales environments.

The DIY idea had been scrapped. In its place was Harris’ expertise and eye for design. A former student and artist in residence at Parsons Paris School of Art and Design, Harris had stints at Cartier, DeBeers and Banana Republic and had earned an MBA from Columbia University.

Herrin envisioned a design-driven product that stylists could be passionate about and proud to share, combined with multichannel selling opportunities. She wanted something that could be sold and shared person-to-person, on the go with an app, on a website featuring video-style tips or by gathering friends to create a social experience.

Direct selling – basically, distributing goods directly to consumers, according to the Direct Selling Association – isn’t new. From Tupperware to candles to clothing, women looking for some spare income (and an excuse to socialize), many of them stay-at-home moms, have been organizing trunk shows at the homes of friends and friends of friends for decades.

“I think we really innovated this concept,” Herrin says. “We said, what if you just started with a blank piece of paper and designed a business that worked for today’s woman? It really was about putting the business into a modern age.”

Stella & Dot stylists earn 25 to 30 percent commission on what they sell, and the hostess of the party is offered up to 25 percent of party sales in free jewelry, and up to four items at 50 percent off. The average trunk show earns the stylist between $250 and $300. To get started, stylists buy a starter kit for $199. Many stylists go on to mentor and train sales teams, which generates additional income.

San Francisco’s Lindsay Walsh is one example. The mother of three young boys, Walsh had worked in high-tech public relations before taking eight years off to raise her family. She wasn’t really looking for a job, and she had never worked in sales, but an article on the company in the San Francisco Business Times intrigued her.

In less than five years, she has become a platinum director, meaning Walsh has about 4,000 women across the United States on her team. In November alone, she estimates they sold more than $2 million in jewelry.

“Our sales teams are growing organically,” Walsh explains. “People are coming to the trunk shows, having a great time, loving the product and seeing that it’s an opportunity.”

Walsh declined to give specifics on her income, but says, “A six-figure income for someone who is pursuing it, and who has had success, is very plausible.”

“We have stylists who do this because they want to earn an extra $300 a month, they want to earn $1,000 a month, or they want to earn an extra $1,000 a week,” Herrin says. “We have a stylist who just earned over $70,000 last month, and who will earn close to a million dollars this year.”

The range is broad, she explains, because there are no sales quotas.

Stella & Dot is a member of the Direct Selling Association and adheres to their code of ethics, which strictly monitors direct-selling businesses to prevent pyramid or recruitment schemes.

“Here we define success as happiness,” Herrin says. “If you’re happy, then you’re succeeding, and you have to decide if that’s part time or full time.”

“We have a lot of stay-at-home moms, but now we have stylists who are much younger,” Walsh says. “We have grandmas, and we have doctors and lawyers, and people who are architects.

“They are smart and motivated and have something to offer, but they can’t plug into the traditional workplace right now,” she says.

The company also offers a unique excuse to socialize.

“I’m in my early 40s, and women in my demographic – there is no way that we are going to meet a bunch of girlfriends, have a coffee, and go shopping on Chestnut Street,” Walsh says.

“But can people pop over to their neighbor’s house after dinner, have a glass of wine, and spend that time catching up and buying a necklace? That whole communal experience is a really important part of it.”

And while social selling has a proven track record, Stella & Dot has added mobile shopping and social media to the mix. Stylists can have a personal e-commerce website for $99 a year, and product pages are often accompanied by an instructional video featuring Herrin and Harris

“Our store,” Herrin says, “is every living room in the world, every mobile device, every computer.”

Stella & Dot introduces a new line of accessories with a catalog twice a year, in addition to occasional capsule collections.

Harris, along with her New York design team, has a background working in fine jewelry. She recently relocated to the Bay Area for most of the year, along with the new print development and handbag design teams, making the effort bicoastal.

“Every element is custom done; we work with in-house model makers,” Harris says. The piece she is wearing, the limited-edition Virginia Bib Necklace, was made by the same workshop that does work for Lanvin, Prada and Manolo Blahnik.

For Harris, joining Stella & Dot was as much about the mission of the company as it was the chance to design a quality product for the underrepresented midrange accessories market.

In the beginning, it was a small company, and by default, Herrin was the designer. “It was very ugly in the beginning!” she says with a laugh.

The designs are a combination of crowdsourcing and intuitive trend-forecasting.

Before they begin work on the upcoming season, Harris says, “I take a step back and set the vision. My jewelry design director and I travel to Europe twice a year to see vintage dealers and look at art and architecture and, most of all, street style.”

“While we get a lot of information from our customers,” Herrin says, “it’s also about being ahead of trend. There’s always a piece that when I first see it, I think it’s crazy. And luckily, Blythe has that vision to be far ahead of that.”

The pieces are deliberately meant to work for a range of women, both geographically and age-wise. For every piece, Harris asks, “Is it flattering? Is it feminine, versatile, wearable and special?”

Stella & Dot has been photographed on celebrities (Sofia Vergara, Selena Gomez, Katherine Heigl), spotted on TV (“The Bachelorette”) and featured in magazines (Vogue, Real Simple). But Harris and Herrin agree that their favorite place to spy a piece of Stella & Dot jewelry is “passing a random person on the street.”

Prices range from $16 to $300, and half of the line is less than $50.

“I think we have totally nailed it from a product standpoint,” Walsh says. “We have the price-value ratio perfect. It’s super-cute, really high-quality, but because of our channel, able to be delivered at an incredible price.”

“We want someone to tell you that you look amazing in that jewelry,” Herrin says. “We love surprise and delight … and we want to go beyond your expectations.”

For Harris, the potential is as much stylistic as it is empowering. “As a culture, we’re not very comfortable accessorizing. India is one of my favorite places to get inspiration,” she says, “because everyone is wearing layers of bangles, and it’s incredible. Wearing accessories is part of living a bold and joyful life.”

“I meet women at trunk shows all the time who say, ‘I don’t really wear jewelry,’ ” says Herrin, who, along with Harris, attend at least one trunk show a month.

“And those are the ones I like to help the most, because I’m like, ‘That’s OK – I’m going to help.’ ‘”

Stella & Dot spring 2013, starter pieces

For the spring collection, released January 11, the inspirations were twofold. One of the major themes, Harris explains, was a “modern take on a desert road trip,” including the hues of a desert landscape. The design team was inspired by traditional Navajo elements, chevron patterns, fringe, mixed metals and more. “You can’t help but feel adventurous and daring,” Herrin says. The second theme is a nod to both one of the earlier Stella & Dot collections, as well as Harris’ own grandmother. “One of the starting points was my grandmother’s flower brooches,” Harris says, with bold colors and fresh whites. “Imagine what you would wear to a chic, hip garden party,” Herrin says.

Not a “jewelry person?” Have no fear. They advise women to start small, experiment with layering and eventually build up to statement piece. Here are some recommendations.

Starter Piece: “A personalized necklace from our charm collection is the perfect everyday piece. Start out with an initial and a birthstone charm and layer over time. Layered bracelets are also an ideal way to start wearing more jewelry.” (Charm necklace is about $66.)

Statement necklace: “For this season, I love the Dot Bloom necklace. It is so happy and fresh and works over any color.” ($198, available January 11)

“Non-Jewelry” converter: “The Pegasus is a showstopper. It transforms any outfit into a ‘wow’ and is perfect for day or night. Each piece takes over two days to hand-embroider.”($198)

Best day-to-night: “The Zoe Lariat looks effortless and chic over jeans and a T-shirt and has the perfect amount of sparkle and sexiness to take you into evening. It can be worn as a wrap bracelet or a necktie.”($98)

Most versatile: “The Gitane Tassel necklace is a great delicate statement that has a removable tassel. It can be worn long, doubled or tripled as an everyday layering necklace.” ($69)

“A-ha” moment: “Our Tempest Necklace can be worn with the sparkle on the outside or reversed for an edgier daytime look. It’s like transformers for girls!”($198)

Work essentials: “Our new delicate layering styles for Spring (Valor, Maya, Avalon) or our signature link styles (Odette) offer a timeless sculpted look.”(All starting at $39, available January 11)

SHOP OR FIND OUT MORE ABOUT STELLA & DOT:
www.stelladot.com/emarkland

Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin Featured on Bloomberg TV

Stella & Dot CEO and founder Jessica Herrin was featured on Bloomberg TV in a technology segment called “Women to Watch: Women Take the Lead in Technology.”

Click here to watch the segment on Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin on Bloomberg TV:

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) — Bloomberg’s Willow Bay speaks with Jessica Herrin, chief executive officer of Stella & Dot, Theresia Gouw Ranzetta, managing partner at Accel Partners, Selina Tobaccowala, product and engineering senior vice president at SurveyMonkey, and Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, about the role of women in the technology industry. They speak on Bloomberg Television’s “Women to Watch.”

Watch the full episode of “Women to Watch” HERE.

Stella & Dot’s CEO on the Brink of Making a Billion

This article is originally from the October issue of More magazine, written by Amanda Robb. Read it HERE.

Stella & Dot’s CEO on the Brink of Making a Billion

Jessica Herrin reinvented her jewelry business twice before finding a concept that really clicked with consumers—and made her seriously rich

by Amanda Robb

It’s a sunny, cold morning in Manhattan, too early for most people to be up. But in the New York showroom of the costume jewelry retailer Stella & Dot, a posse of chic employees are already caffeinated and hard at work. They are shoulder to shoulder around a long conference table, looking at bling—bib necklaces, bangle bracelets, cocktail rings, a rhinestone brooch fanned in feathers. Busy grouping pieces into families is a raven-haired woman dressed like a high-fashion biker, right down to her black ankle boots: Jessica Herrin, 39, Stella & Dot’s CEO and founder. She lines up a row of necklaces, pulling out a golden rope chain that has a dangling trio of hearts. She puts it around her neck and hoists the chain until the pendants lie against her sternum. “We need midlength,” she says decisively to her team. “It’s a style that works for everyone, everywhere. Dresses up or down. It’s fun or functional.”

Herrin’s close attention to her products and to the reasons women buy them has turned the business into a huge success. Since relaunching in 2007, Stella & Dot (stelladot.com/emarkland) has paid out more than $100 million in commissions to its 20,000 sales reps. Remarkably, it is the second phenomenal business Herrin has launched. In 1996, as a 24-year-old student at Stanford Business School, she cofounded one of the first online gift registries for brides, Della & James. Within months, the site expanded into a full-service bridal portal and merged with WeddingChannel.com. Herrin and a business partner appeared as guests on Oprah, where they were introduced as women who “followed their hearts and found their fortunes.” But grateful as she was for her success as an entrepreneur, she also felt deeply ambivalent about the cost to her life. “For four years, I worked every night and weekend,” she says. “I’d just married, and I never saw my husband. I wanted to start a family, but I couldn’t see adding a baby to the picture.”

Then Herrin’s husband was offered his dream job, out of state. She left Wedding​Channel​.com and moved from Northern California to Austin, Texas, where she became a senior manager in e-commerce at Dell computers. “The job was challenging, but in a completely sane way,” Herrin says. So sane that by the time she found out she was pregnant with her first child, Herrin was using some of her free nights and weekends to work on creating her ideal business—in her words, “a company that you own but that doesn’t own you.”

This time, instead of thinking about developing a business the usual ways —what will be my product? Who will be my customer?—Herrin focused on a target employee: a woman with kids who needs flexibility. At first, all Herrin had to go on was a memory of a Mary Kay cosmetics convention she’d once observed at a hotel. “It blew my mind,” she says. “The women were over the moon with excitement and joy.” She began researching home-based direct-sales businesses that sold makeup, vitamins, candles or kitchenware. “But none of them resonated with me,” she says. In her view, the products weren’t irresistible. Worst of all, they weren’t very lucrative for the salespeople. (The Direct Sales Association reports that the median annual income for a home-based vendor is $2,400.)

Still, Herrin saw potential. Crafting was booming, and Herrin thought a business based on at-home jewelry-making parties seemed like a possibility. “Everyone wants beautiful things,” she says. She turned a sunroom off her kitchen into a craft room, bought some beads, stones, chains, hooks and clasps and came up with the design for a DIY kit. While still working at Dell, Herrin named her fledging company Luxe Jewels and found a factory that would produce the kits.

Three months pregnant with daughter Charlie, Herrin held her first trunk show. She served her friends Merlot and artisanal cheeses and pocketed $450. By the time Charlie was crawling, Herrin had hosted 13 Luxe Jewels trunk shows, most at other women’s homes, and earned $8,000 in profits. In 2004, Herrin resigned from Dell so that she could begin recruiting Luxe Jewels sales reps. In 2005 the company’s revenue hit $550,000.

More than half a million dollars sounds like a lot. But when Herrin left WeddingChannel.com, its sales were upwards of $100 million. To get back into the really big leagues, Herrin did something she felt was key to her first business success: She found a mentor.

Early in her career, during Della & James’s start-up phase, Herrin had sought investment from the venture capitalist Doug Mackenzie, then a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “He told me, ‘Nine out of 10 companies in their successful form look nothing like their original form when they began,’ ” says Herrin. “So achieving a good outcome is not about being right from the start. It’s about being tenacious and committed to constant improvement.”

Now Herrin wondered, How could she improve Luxe Jewels? She decided to cold-call Mike Lohner, former CEO of a direct-sales company, Home Interiors & Gifts, that during his tenure had deployed a force of 120,000 consultants and generated about a billion dollars in annual retail revenue. Herrin got Lohner’s home phone number in Dallas through a friend and asked to meet with him. “She was on a plane the next day,” Lohner says with a laugh. “She explained Luxe Jewels, then asked what I liked and what I didn’t. I told her flat out that I didn’t like the beading-party concept. There wasn’t enough money in it—for her and her sales force.”

Herrin’s response: “Oh, great! We can change that.” Lohner was impressed. “You could give her bad news, and it took her about 30 seconds to get over it and turn it into a positive.”

Herrin knew she didn’t have the design chops to create a whole jewelry line. So she signed up Maya Brenner, whose delicate, playful jewelry is a celebrity favorite. Then Herrin rebranded. Luxe Jewels was no longer just a direct-sales business; it was also a “social selling” company. Herrin’s reps, called stylists, ask customers about their social lives (a training manual suggests asking, “What special events are coming up? Weddings? Parties?”), then offer to help them find the right jewelry for their outfits. Stylists learn to mix and match different looks. They make money through a tiered system in which they recruit other reps and earn their own sales commissions (25 to 30 percent of retail) as well as varying commissions on sales made by reps “down-line.” Like most other direct sellers, Herrin requires her salespeople to buy a starter kit (currently $199, which includes $350 worth of jewelry), and they typically invest an additional $800 to buy more jewelry, business cards, display trays and a carrying case.
In 2006, Luxe Jewels hit $1 million in sales. But Herrin was far from satisfied. “I saw the company as something that could do more than make a million dollars,” she says. “We offer people—women mostly—the opportunity to work when they want, as much as they want.” That summer she spotted a chance to reach her goal when she met Blythe Harris, who had recently introduced Banana Republic’s jewelry line. The two shared a vision of selling fashionable jewelry that had broad appeal, and Herrin decided to relaunch her company a second time. She offered Harris the title of chief creative officer and asked her to participate in renaming the enterprise. (Brenner, who already had her own successful high-end line of jewelry, would continue to design for the company.) Harris feels her sense of style and passion for beautiful things come from her grandmother Dot. Herrin traces her drive and tenacity to her grandmother Stella. Stella & Dot was born.


With Harris as lead designer, the company doubled its earnings within the year. Doctors, teachers, stay-at-home moms and even a pecan farmer bought start-up kits and became stylists. Tysh Mefferd, who owned a stationery company and now oversees 2,500 Stella & Dot stylists, consistently earns six figures. Others have far more modest earnings. In 2011 the average monthly revenue for a rep was $261; a typical “star stylist” (a seller supervising four active stylists) takes in $2,673. A senior director (who oversees four star stylists) makes, on average, $13,765 a month.
“Some stylists are really brand ambassadors. They like hosting an occasional trunk show and the opportunity to buy affordable jewelry,” explains Herrin. “Other stylists work full time during the school year and take the summers off. The important thing is that they choose how much and when they work.”

Today, Stella & Dot stylists operate in one third of U.S. zip codes and in the United Kingdom and Canada. This August, Stella & Dot launched in Germany, and it is expanding into accessories such as handbags. Herrin expects to reach $1 billion in sales by 2015. Last year she and her husband reportedly bought an 8,000-square-foot home in Hillsborough, California, for $6 million. Not that she spends much time there. “Obviously I’m wired to work 80 hours a week,” she says. “I accept that now. I’ve learned to divide and conquer. If the parenting activity doesn’t involve physically being with my kids [a second daughter was born in 2006], I don’t do it. I do the school art project for Halloween because we can be side by side, but I don’t volunteer to raise money. That way, there is actually plenty of time for me to be the entrepreneur I want to be as well as the mom and family member I want to be.”

To finalize the new season’s line, Herrin is in New York for exactly 48 hours. She moves and talks quickly, determining the size of the perfect clutch and the mix of materials that should go into manufacturing the company’s charms. She reminds her team that the collection has to have something “for you, your mom, your daughter and even Aunt Rachel.” For the briefest moment she revisits the issue of necklace length. “Every woman needs a necklace that comes here,” Herrin says, touching the soft spot on her clavicle, “because, you know, that length can go anywhere.”

Do you want to learn more about the Stella & Dot opportunity?
Become a Stylist — Contact me to learn more:
949-395-2347
itsthestylefile@yahoo.com
http://www.stelladot.com/emarkland

Stella & Dot in the Washington Post: Jewelry Selling Attractive for Local Entrepreneurs

This article is originally from Danielle Douglas for the Washington Post. Read it HERE.

Jewelry selling attractive to local entrepreneurs

Lauren Sigler loved being at home in Alexandria with her two daughters, ages 3 and 6. But the former attorney was looking for a way to make money, without having to spend too much time away from her toddler who has cerebral palsy.

One of Sigler’s friends suggested she check out Stella & Dot, a jewelry line primarily sold through in-home trunk shows — a modern take on Tupperware parties. That friend had made $1,000 in matter of weeks selling stylish baubles from the comfort of her living room.

Sigler was intrigued, but hesitant.

“I was a lawyer. What in the world was I doing signing up to sell jewelry?” she recalls thinking. “I had never been to a trunk show, never even seen the jewelry in person.”

Sigler became a Stella & Dot “stylist” in August 2010. Since then, she has hosted 73 trunk shows in the Washington area, taking home $40,000 last year.

“This business has been a godsend,” Sigler said. “It has given me an opportunity to get out of the house, create my own business and still be there for both my children.”

There are 100 Stella & Dot stylists in the Washington area, from stay-at-home moms to college students. They are a part of a network of 12,000 sellers across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom who have earned nearly $100 million in commissions.

“The idea here is to democratize entre­pre­neur­ship … lower the cost of capital to start, lower the time commitment that a small business can require,” said Jessica Herrin, who founded San Francisco-based Stella & Dot in 2003.

A starter kit with marketing materials and $350 worth of sample jewelry costs $199. Stylists receive 25 to 30 percent of the sales — ranging from $22 to $248 in price. They must produce at least $250 in sales for a three-month period to be considered “active.”

Considering the average trunk show brings in $1,000, which would earn $250 to $300 in commission, it would take quite a lot of shows to earn a living. The company, however, pays up to 18 percent in additional commission to stylists who train and manage a team of representatives.

Sigler coaches 50 people, including Karen Curtis, a licensed counselor based in the District. Curtis stumbled across a Stella & Dot stylist, while attending a Shecky’s Girls Night Out event in November.

“It was the one vendor that stood out to me. I was like ‘I could wear everything on this table.’ That was a good sign,” she said. “I did my research, but waited until I had a purpose, or goal, in mind before signing up.”

Curtis joined the network in January, with the set goal of earning enough money to take a $12,000 leadership coaching program at Georgetown University. She has earned 25 percent, or $3,000, of the money she needs.

Direct sales companies such as Stella & Dot, Avon or Mary Kay Cosmetics see a surge in interest during economic slumps as people look for ways to earn supplemental income, said Amy Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Direct Selling Association, a trade group.

The number of direct sellers climbed 6.2 percent to 16.1 million people at the height of the recession in 2009, leveling off as the economy grew stronger. Direct sales averaged $29.4 billion from 2001 to 2010, with marginal increase or decline.

Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin is San Francisco’s “40 Under 40″

This post was originally from an article in the San Francisco Business Times, seen HERE.

Forty Under 40: Jessica Herrin

Founder and CEO, Stella & Dot

San Francisco Business Times

Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO, Stella & Dot.
Photo: Spencer Brown / SFBT File 2010

Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO, Stella & Dot.

Age: 39.

Hometown: Burlingame.

Education: B.A., economics, Stanford University; M.B.A., Stanford Graduate School of Business.

About the business: A jewelry company that combines direct selling with ecommerce based in San Bruno.

Word that best describes you: Tenacious.

Hours per week you work: 65-plus.

For which organizations do you volunteer: The Stella & Dot Foundation, which supports BuildOn, Accion and Girls Inc.

Favorite escape: Mexico.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Stella & Dot creating 12,000 incremental jobs and building a business platform that in a short time is going to pay out over $100 million in earnings to women running their own flexible businesses.

Stress relief: Running.

Favorite quote: “Be daring, be different, be impractical; be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” — Cecil Beaton.

What is a typical day like for you: 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Wake up to get some work done before the kids wake up. Get my 5- and 7-year-old girls ready for school; Go for a run, get to work. At work tasks vary from planning our next product line launch, working on our next technology release or developing training for the field. Go home for dinner, homework and playtime with the kids, relax with my husband.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up: I wrote a report in the first grade that said something like I want to be a lawyer so I can afford to be an actress. But, by the time I hit high school and started working the mall for minimum wage, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Goal by 40: I want to make sure I have enough lunch dates with my daughter before she gets out of kindergarten this year and create another 10,000 flexible jobs to help more women to take control of their own lives.

Stella & Dot Trunk Show Experience is Highlighted in the NY Times

A trunk show party with wine and cocktails for the jewelry company Stella & Dot at the Manhattan apartment of Jacqueline Troccoli, right. Her sister, Noelle, was the hostess.

By MARISA MELTZER
Published: February 8, 2012

ON a recent Friday night, a dozen women gathered in a Chelsea apartment for a direct-sales soiree. But instead of eye creams or Tupperware, the items for sale included cocktail rings, iPad cases and statement necklaces by a girlish jewelry line, Stella & Dot, that has been stealthily gaining market share since changing its name from Luxe Jewels in 2008. The line has appeared on celebrities including Katy Perry, Emmy Rossum, Kelly Ripa, Fergie and Emma Roberts.

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Emily Berl for The New York Times
The jewelry designs on display.
Emily Berl for The New York Times
Above, Joslyn Dehner, center, a senior director of the company, helps guests.

“This is so Pippa Middleton,” said Jill Hansen, 26, a teacher who lives in Greenwich Village. She was holding up one of the line’s long chain necklaces, and mentioned that she wanted jewelry to make her look less like “a standard teacher, a little more fashionable.”

The hostess, Noelle Troccoli, 27, would earn almost $500 in free jewelry when the night was over and $1,500 in orders had been placed. She wore the Contessa jade necklace, Amelia drop earrings and Camilla ring. A friend, Stephanie Lyndon, 26, picked out a snake necklace she saw as perfect for peeking out of a white tailored shirt, just conservative enough for her finance job.

Joslyn Dehner, 34, a senior director at Stella & Dot, was mingling in the crowd, clasping necklaces and doling out outfit advice. (She would be paid 25 to 30 percent of the evening’s earnings.) Teddy, a Pomapoo puppy, sought attention, but he and the crudités platter largely went ignored in favor of the jewels.

“I always notice how under-accessorized we are as a country,” Blythe Harris, Stella & Dot’s chief creative officer, said later by telephone. “In India, even the poorest woman has bangles.” In the United States, she said, “people play it pretty safe and need guidance on how to be accessorized.”

Ms. Harris added: “There is something so broken about traditional retail channels in terms of selling jewelry” — by which she meant the possibly intimidating factors of glass cases and having to ask to try on a piece, not to mention that swilling Champagne while shopping in public is generally frowned upon.

So Stella & Dot (the name comes from the grandmothers of the brand’s founders, Ms. Harris and Jessica Herrin) is sold, like Mary Kay or Avon, directly, with stylists recruiting hostesses for trunk shows. The line — ranging from $22 to $248, with a lot of sterling silver and semiprecious gems — is laid out, women try pieces on, and orders are placed. A few days later the orders arrive in gift boxes bearing slogans like “you are fabulous,” “hello gorgeous” and “you’ve got smarts and style.”

The company, which has offices in New York and Burlingame, Calif., has 12,000 active “stylists” in the United States, Canada and Britain, Ms. Harris said. Instead of being given territories, they are encouraged to recruit from any part of their lives. Rebekah Coleman-Brahler, 34, a stylist in Ithaca, N.Y., manages some stylists she met online, through the photo-sharing site Instagram. Ms. Coleman-Brahler said she earns about $500 a month doing three or four trunk shows.

The median income for direct sales companies is $2,400 a year, according to Ms. Herrin, the chief executive. Stella & Dot stylists pay for a $199 starter kit and are paid $75 to $90 an hour. Some saleswomen, like Zandra Gay, a senior director in Westport, Conn., who does a lot of parties on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, make in the six figures on trunk shows for which they get 25 to 30 percent of the profits. The company is about to hit the $100 million mark on commissions, Ms. Herrin said.

Tom Binns it isn’t, and its enthusiasts are fine with that. “I think of that line as reflective of the trends, not pacesetting or fashion forward, but a lot of really wearable pieces in there,” Elise Loehnen, the editor in chief of the shopping site Beso.com, said of Stella & Dot. “Unless it’s a really signature designer, or fine jewelry like an Hermès necklace, people don’t care who designs their jewels the way they care about who designs their clothes or shoes. Jewelry is more anonymous.”

The line, which has expanded to a small handbag and tech accessories range, is available in about a third of the ZIP codes in the United States (and online as well). “We’re more urban than most direct-sales companies,” Ms. Herrin said. “We have a lot of urban shoppers. Stylists aren’t just soccer moms; we have lawyers, doctors, editors, pharmaceutical sales reps.”

Ms. Loehnen said that there is “something retro chic about direct sales.”

“My mom bought Mary Kay jewelry,” she continued, “and now the idea of shopping with friends seems sort of fun — it has become so solitary with online shopping. I can imagine its having a resurgence.”

Ms. Herrin “ran into” a Mary Kay convention in Dallas once, she said, and was “immediately taken with how joyous these women seemed.”

“I didn’t connect with that brand or sales model,” she added.

But she soon became a convert to her own version of direct sales. “Amazing personal service is great, shopping with your girlfriends is great, getting personally styled is great, there’s nothing icky about it,” she said. “That’s how we change people’s minds: one trunk show at a time.”

Stella & Dot Necklace Featured in Harper’s Bazaar UK

The fabulous Rio Triple Strand Necklace from Stella & Dot was recently featured in the December issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK. Layering jewels for a bohemian look is a popular trend right now, even across the pond! Try pairing the it with the the Rio Coin Bracelet for a complete look.


Are you in the UK and want to learn more about Stella & Dot? We just launched in October 2011 and are looking for women just like you who want to be a part of the Stella & Dot experience. Please contact me for more info: itsthestylefile@yahoo.com

Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin Featured in Fortune Magazine

Stella & Dot’s CEO Jessica Herrin was recently featured in the October 17, 2011 issue of Fortune magazine. Read the original article online HERE.

Full-time motivation for part-time employees

Jessica Herrin, CEO and founder of Stella & Dot, offers some advice on how to keep a freelance workforce moving.

Interview By Beth Kowitt, writer-reporter

The expert: Jessica Herrin, CEO and founder of Stella & Dot, the $104 million seller of jewelry and accessories

FORTUNE — Getting your regular employees fired up about their jobs is hard enough. But try doing it when they’re working from home and part-time. For Jessica Herrin, that’s business as usual at Stella & Dot, where the onetime WeddingChannel.com co-founder now oversees 10,000 mostly part-time stylists. They sell accessories online and through in-home trunk shows. The key to motivating a freelance workforce? Treat them like the professionals that they are. “Recognition is the most powerful currency you have, and it costs you nothing,” she says. That’s why she makes a point of hiring managers who have a natural sense of gratitude. “It is the careful art of catching somebody doing something good that you want them to repeat,” she adds. Here’s her advice.

Provide your own training

We have an online university, so we’re providing professional development, just like great companies provide continued learning and the opportunity to grow. We write all of our own content because a lot of what’s out there isn’t right in tone. It talks down to people. When someone takes our quiz and gets an answer right, a little video flies in that says, “You got it, baby, you’re ready to go.” It gives salespeople a lot of instant gratification. Just because we’re professional doesn’t mean that we’re not fun too.

Get to know your employees

Although my stylists rarely come into my office, I personally e-mail and call at least 10 stylists every day. I text them, I post on their Facebook page. Part of my regular to-do list is to find and celebrate successes. When we promote someone, we send flowers, champagne, or chocolates. When was the last time your boss sent you flowers and said, “I appreciate you”? It’s so simple, and it goes so far with people.

Top performers trade tips

Rather than mandate how a successful employee acts, we let them tell us — and everyone else — what works. We have a stylist tell her own story into a webcam, standing in her home, getting recognized with her own world in the background, giving a message to everyone. I like to tell people that it’s not like you have the monopoly on busy. This person’s got five kids, just so you know, and look at what she did. Here’s how she did it, and you can do it too. We try to specifically have a takeaway. For example, if they had an amazing month, what were the challenges they had to overcome to get there? When we recognize people we do it in a way that’s not preachy or demoralizing to others.

This article is from the October 17, 2011 issue of Fortune.

Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin on NBC’s Press: Here

Entrepreneur Jessica Herrin tops her first $90 million company with a $370 million dollar followup.
Click HEREto watch the video clip or click on the image below.

Stella & Dot Business Opportunity Featured on Good Morning America

CEO of Women for Hire, Tory Johnson, was a guest on Good Morning America this morning [Wednesday, August 31, 2011, Good Morning America on ABC] and prominitely featured the Stella & Dot business opportunity.

Click HERE to learn more about earning extra income with Stella & Dot!

Become a Stella & Dot Stylist NOW!

Tory shared her top tips for being a social selling superstar, seen here:

1. Be Sure.

Be sure you’re willing to sell.  Don’t be fooled by anyone who says, “Oh it’s not really ‘selling,’ it’s just ‘sharing’ stuff you love.” It’s called social SELLING and direct SALESfor a reason. If you think you can just put products “out there” and have tons of cash flow in, it won’t happen on its own. Making money at direct sales takes work. If you’re never going to make a cold call, never demo a product, never chat up your wares, then it’s not going to work for you.  Do an honest assessment with yourself.

2. Choose Product You Prefer

Select a company that mirrors your personal interests. There are dozens of categories to choose from: cosmetics, clothing, jewelry, cooking, clothing, vitamins and so much more. Rep products that you personally would use. When they become part of your routine, you’ll be more comfortable selling them.  In fact, Chrissy McManus, a Stella & Dot stylist, wears the jewelry regularly.  She’s an ideal customer, which also makes her a perfect stylist.

3. Time is Money

Recognize what you’ll get out money-wise is directly connected to what you put in time wise. The median income in direct sales is $2,400 annually.  A part-time gig that brings in a couple hundred bucks a month is perfect for many people. But if you want a full-time salary, you’ll have to make it your full-time business.  McManus of Stella & Dot spends at least 15 hours a week on her business and is averaging $50,000 a year. The beauty of direct selling is that it offers the flexibility to ramp up or down as time permits and bills warrant.

4. Be Prepared to Pay

Prepare to pay to get started. Expect to pay a start-up fee to get going, which should be under a couple hundred dollars  — tops. Stella & Dot’s starter kit is $199, and includes $350 of jewelry, plus all of the training materials to get going. And here’s the key:  you have up to one year to return all of it and receive up to a 90 percent refund assuming it’s in new condition. That’s the sign of a legitimate opportunity: Can you get the majority of your money back if it’s not for you?  (ManCave, the grilling company which hosts “meat”ings, says its starter kit is $149 and can be found here.)

Follow Tory at Facebook.com/Tory or Twitter.com/ToryJohnson

Click HERE to watch Tory’s video on 10 ways to make money at home >>

Tory features new direct selling company ManCave & couture jewelry company Stella & Dot on GMA on Wednesday, August 31, 2011, in the “Social Selling: It’s a Job, Not a Party” segment. Click below to watch the video or click HERE.

Tory talks about the new social selling platform and how it can be lucrative for you. Click the image below to watch the video or click HERE.

Introducing the Stella & Dot College Entrepreneur Program

Calling all college students! Spread the word — Stella & Dot’s new college Entrepreneur Program is your dream internship in fashion and social selling. Why? Because instead of getting coffee for your boss, you’ll be getting hands-on, resume building experience learning real world skills in marketing, sales, e-commerce, public relations, public speaking and fashion merchandising- — all while you earn a great income. Check out the video below or visit www.stelladotintern.com for details.

About the Stella & Dot Entrepreneur Program (STEPs)… for students

Stella & Dot is your dream internship in fashion and social selling. Why? Because instead of getting coffee for your boss, you’ll be getting hands-on, resume building experience learning real world skills in marketing, sales, e-commerce, public relations, public speaking and fashion merchandising- all while you earn a great income.

You’ll learn to run your own business as a Stella & Dot Stylist, getting plenty of support and training to succeed, including shadowing a successful Stylist near you. Not only will your training include the functional skills you need to market and sell our jewelry online on your own e-commerce website and at Trunk Shows, you’ll also get a general fashion and social selling education.

At Stella & Dot, our mission in our day-to-day business is to empower women- and a few good men- by providing them with a professional, flexible, lucrative career they love. We have over 15,000 Stylists in North America styling their own lives with Stella & Dot. Now, through STEPs, we’d like to extend that mission to the future generation of women leaders; women who may be our daughters, sisters, nieces and friends, to arm them for success in today’s job market.You must apply and be accepted to STEPs to be eligible for the special training, incentives, and financial aid.

You must apply and be accepted to STEPs program to be eligible for the special training, incentives, and financial aid.

Is this opportunity right for you?

Are you a self-starter who isn’t afraid of hard work, with a passion for fashion, e-commerce and people? Are you enthusiastic, tenacious and ready to learn? Through our application, we will help you determine if the program is a fit for you. This flexible and entrepreneurial program will work best for those that are self disciplined and eager to engage in sales.

  • Qualified applicants will be offered a phone interview
  • Applicants are reviewed on a rolling basis year round
  • Once accepted you will be matched with a sponsor who will help train you
  • If accepted, you may sponsor other accepted Student Stylists, who will then be co-trained by your Stylist
  • We are coming to a college campus near you!!

    Click HERE to see the list of campus events.

    San Bruno Jewelry Company Bringing Back Home Parties

    This post is originally from CBS San Francisco Consumer Watch, February 23, 2011. Read it HERE.

    SAN BRUNO (CBS) – While the economy continues to make a slow recovery, women are finding creative ways to get ahead. According to the Direct Selling Association, more then 16 million Americans most being women participate in home party sales.

    But there’s a new local company that’s giving women the tools to start their own business. Stella & Dot, a San Bruno jewelry company, provides women with marketing, web design and a jewelry kit to get started.

    Former stay at home mom Vickie Berkowitz said she never imagined getting into the business. But after having her first jewelry party, Berkowitz said she signed up. For every party Berkowitz has, she earns a 30 percent commission on total sales.

    According to founder Jessica Herrin, it’s a low risk investment. In fact, Herrin adds a stylist can make anywhere from $1000 a month to $375,000 a year. There are no requirements or quotas said Herrin. Still marketing consultant Karen Auguste adds this type of business may not be for everyone. Auguste adds most women have to be social and willing to book many parties regularly.

    Stella & Dot Featured in Inc. Magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies

    Jessica Herrin, CEO and founder of Stella & Dot, was featured in Inc. Magazine’s September 2010 issue and voted one of their 500 fastest growing private companies. See the original article HERE.

    Jessica DiLullo Herrin co-founded the prominent wedding website WeddingChannel at 24, and for the next few years, she devoted almost all her waking hours to her start-up. Her next business had to be different—because it had to accommodate a growing family. From the start, Stella & Dot has sold its custom jewelry through in-home trunk shows led by independent sales reps—stylists, in the company’s vernacular. Today, Stella & Dot has 10,000 stylists and Herrin has, in her own fashion, learned to slow down.

    I started working on the business model for Stella & Dot in 2003 when my husband and I were living in Austin, and I was working for Dell in the global e-commerce group. We moved from San Francisco after my husband graduated from Stanford business school and was offered a job at a venture capital firm in Austin. One of my mentors and board members at WeddingChannel told me that if I ever wanted to learn how to run a big company, I had better go work at one. All I had ever done in my career was work at start-ups, but as an entrepreneur who wanted to build a big business one day, I took his advice and went to work at Dell. 

    I learned a tremendous amount about managing in a large organization, and it was also the perfect maternity-leave job, because it offered a lot of balance. In fact, after working almost every weekend for four years building WeddingChannel, it felt so balanced that I had plenty of time on the nights and weekends to start another company.

    I got pregnant with my first child during my time at Dell. I’ve always been one of those people who is very driven about work, but I also always wanted to be a mom. All your priorities change when you are shifting your career to accommodate a family. With Stella & Dot, I was looking to create the modern women’s business. Women today are having kids later, and many had a career first before staying home. They have different wants and expectations out of life, and I wanted to cater the business to that. The home-based model is really what gives women the flexibility they want.

    The original concept included DIY jewelry, and it evolved into strictly ready-made jewelry. The Internet has made everything accessible and convenient, so if you’re going to do direct selling, it has to be a product that is enhanced by a person-to-person sales environment and is also a social, public-facing product. Women love jewelry and accessorizing with custom pieces, and so the product really sells itself. That’s really important, because most people don’t get up in the morning and say, “I want to sell something”—but they will be a brand ambassador for something that they truly love wearing and want to recommend to others.I did my first trunk show when I was three months pregnant. I was pregnant or had a newborn the majority ofthat time starting up. After starting WeddingChannel, I knew how all-consuming that experience was, so once I had a family, I knew that I had to put Stella & Dot on a slower trajectory. For the first few years, I did a lot of testing of the product by doing as many trunk shows as I could. I was trying to create that one perfect stylist experience and build a business that could be duplicated by thousands of women. At the beginning, I was really committed to bootstrapping Stella & Dot. So I made every piece of jewelry, I made the website, I made the invitations, I did everything. Now we have an amazing design team in New York that creates all the jewelry for the Stella & Dot brand. 

    When I look back,
    I had no idea what I was really doing, but I am an extrovert, so I knew I could go into a room and talk to the women about the product. I’m wired to want to work hard. Balance is not my forte. I’m someone who can yell go, go, go and just start from scratch and do things. But a lot of women don’t want to make all the sacrifices that it takes to do that or can’t because they already have three kids or they already have a full-time job that they need to pay the bills.

    When my first daughter was born, I took my maternity leave and stayed home with her for three solid months. I brought my second daughter on my hip back to the office when she was 1 week old, because by then I had it down. And people would say to me, “That’s so hard-core to bring your daughter to work when she’s a week old.” But to me, it was hard-core to stay home with an infant and a toddler. What’s easy is having a nanny and bringing one of your babies to work.

    I feel like I’ve ebbed and flowed with building this company, but I always focused on my greatest need, which was my children. I work in an office like most CEOs, but I didn’t do that full time until my second daughter was 2 and a half. I always joke that I created this company for women to work from home, but I go into an office. Make no mistake: I do work from home, but only after I work a full day in the office and come home and put my children to bed, and then I do the night shift.

    I did my first round of financing in 2005. We had a fledgling stylist force at the time, but the company had over half a million in revenue. My children were a little bit older, and my family was a little bit more settled, and that’s when I felt I could really check all the way into work. And when I did, that’s when it started having this rocket-ship growth. When I took the external capital, it was an escalation of my commitment, because now I was accountable to other people. I went and really built a team; it was no longer just me driving the business forward.

    Our company is growing because our stylists love what they’re doing, and that translates to their success. It’s not a new business idea, but it’s about changing the lives of our sales force. There are so many women out there who are so accomplished, and then they get to this time in their lives where they want to become moms and they don’t quite want to go on the mommy track. But a lot of them feel like they have to step out or step to the sidelines. With Stella & Dot, you can still be building something, and even if you choose to keep it part time, maybe until your youngest goes off to kindergarten, you’re still building something that doesn’t have a glass ceiling and that has an endless runway.

    Stella & Dot is made up of all kinds of women—former corporate lawyers, dentists, PR reps—with all different needs. We have team leaders who are earning over $30,000 a month managing stylists all over the country. We have women who want to be independent stylists and make a few thousand in extra income a month. Then there are women who have turned this into a full-time career and are running million-dollar sales organizations on their own. And those are choices that Stella & Dot allows these women to make.

    At this point, I’m in a couple of cities a week doing training and working with our leaders to help them grow. When you’re running a hypergrowth start-up, there’s not a lot of part time. But this is my company, and that means I am going to have lunch with my daughter every Tuesday and make time for vacations. I still control my own schedule. It’s not a job where I have to choose between dropping my daughter off at preschool or being at a 7 a.m. meeting.

    This year, we’ll do over $100 million in revenue. In the first half of the year, we exceeded our entire revenue for 2009, so we are set to triple revenue in 2010. But, more than the company’s revenue figures, the biggest source of pride for me is the amount of commission we are able to pay out to our sales force, in a time when people have really needed it most. We’ve paid out over $20 million to our stylists. And that’s money that women are using to make ends meet. That’s the reason why I bound of bed in the morning.

    Stella & Dot in Gentry Magazine

    This article was originally featured in Gentry Magazine, January 2010 issue — By Lindsay Schaler

    THE FASHIONISTAS — Blythe Harris and Jessica Herrin

    CCO and CEO of jewelry home-retail business Stella & Dot
    What do you get when you combine artistic talent with business savvy and add a dose of style? One bright little company called Stella & Dot. Well that’s what came about when high-end jewelry designer Blythe Harris and eager entrepreneur Jessica Herrin went into business together in Burlingame, CA. A jewelry company with a home-based selling model, Stella & Dot has gained fans across the country since its founding in 2004. It has provided jobs for thousands of women and has grown an amazing 700 percent in the past year. Clearly, Blythe and Jessica are quite a winning combo.

    Their business relationship started with a friendship after the two women were introduced at a Stanford University reunion. Jessica, who had gone to business school there and subsequently founded the Wedding Channel has been dreaming up the business model that would become Stella & Dot but lacked a designer. With a degree from Parsons School of Design in PAris and an MBA from Columbia, globe-trotter Blythe was happily creating Banana Republic’s jewelry collections at the time, but saw room to grow. “I was blwon away when I met Jessica,” Blythe remembers.

    The two women were also at a familiar crux in their lives. “I was entering the phase in life of having kids and I felt that I was faced with a binary choice — keep your career or get to see your kids,” Blythe adds. Jessica, a mother of two, agreed that educated women who want to stay home shouldn’t have to give up bread-winning. Jessica says, “The need for home-based businesses has always been there, but we reinvented it for the modern woman.”

    Their company, which is named after their fashion-forward grandmothers, produces high-end yet affordable jewelry sold online and through their “stylists” — women who sell at trunk shows and parties. “Our jewelry is geared toward the modern woman on the go,” says Jessica, who certainly fits that description. Between raising her kids and running the business, she has found time to run a half marathon — which turned into a marathon when she decided to “go for it” halfway through. Equally busy, Blythe currently divides her time between New York and Burlingame, frequenting flea markets whenever she can find them for inspiration. But despite their accomplishments, their quick to point out that Stella & Dot not about them. “Our story isn’t about us,” Jessica adds. “It’s about the amazing women Stella & Dot is for.”

    Stella & Dot Stylist Featured on Houston's Channel 2 News

    Fellow Stella & Dot Stylist, Tysh Mefford, was featured on Houston’s Channel 2 News in a segment featuring women heading back to the work force during this difficult economic recession. More and more women are seeking jobs — any job — to help supplement the family income. Tysh found her answer to financial stability through Stella & Dot. As one of the newest home-based businesses on the market, Stella & Dot grew 1000% in its first year alone and has quickly become the spotlight of celebrity fashions and national media. Stella & Dot offers women the chance to earn extra cash in style as they bedazzle and bejewel their friends and family in high-end, low-cost jewelry. Read more about starting your own Stella & Dot business HERE.


    Click here to watch the video.

    Stella & Dot Stylist On CBS Atlanta News

    Fellow Stella & Dot Stylist Leslie Meshad was featured on CBS Atlanta News in a segment featuring women making money in a home-based, party plan business, called “Mothers Go Back to Work.” Just like the women of the ’30s, todays’ modern woman is finding that she needs to contribute to the family’s income during this economic recession. Stella & Dot is the perfect way to earn significant income and offer your close friends style and luxury for less money. Plus, the party hostess gets some free jewels of her own!

    Click here to watch the news segment.

    Get The Look: Jillian Harris on Regis and Kelly

    At first glance, I could have sworn Jillian Harris was wearing the Kelly Cuff from Stella & Dot, but no (although she does wear it often!)… And then I stood back and looked at her entire outfit. It’s so simple, yet… so fabulous! How easy is it throw on a bright colored skirt, a neutral tank and some accesories, and then run out the door? You’d be set to go just about anywhere. Bring along a cardigan or a fitted jean jacket (ya know, for those chilly offices or for the occasional spring breeze) and you’re set to go.


    On the show, Jillian wore the Walk-A-Ways Dress from Anthropologie. It’s super cute and versatile, and it’s just $128! It’s also available in Green.

    To get a similar look, try a fun, flirty skirt. This way you can change the shirt that you wear with it. I found some pretty enchanting skirts at Oli, a fashion site based in the United Kingdom, such as the Tommy Hifiger printed full skirt, £70.00 or the back zip, pink skirt,  £25.00. Also, Oli had some fabulous black skirts that would be great staple pieces for any woman’s wardrobe.

    Blue is a great color for everyone; check out the Navy Full Pleated Skirt, $60, from Express. Jillian’s orange look may seem a little intimidating, but it is actually an easy color to pull off — it’s about finding a hue that’s just right (i.e. not too peach, not too red, and not too cheap looking).

    You might think a full, colorful skirt is more dressy, but you could easily slide into your sandals and wear this to a fair, around the mall or along the boardwalk on a hot summer day. On the same not, you can slip into your stillettos and it’s a whole new look. The shoes and accessories are what determine the overall style.

    This outfit can easily be dressed up or down, but to get Jillian’s sophisticated, yet fun and sexy look, dress it up with some killer heels in a neutral shade, such as the BCBG Clady heel, $110, or the Joan and David Odetta Sandal, $199, from endless.com. Also check out the Victoria’s Secret Peep Toe Sandal, $48, from SHOP.COM. Metallics are surprisingly subtle and if they aren’t super shiny or patent, then they can be considered a neutral as well. Try the Hypnotic Quest silver heel, $45, from ShiekhShoes.com.

    Pair it with a large enamel cuff and funky earrings like Jillian’s on the show. Try the Colorburst Enamel Bangle, $128; Della Brushed Stone Earrings, $39; Kelly Cuff, $89; Hoopla Sterling Silver Hoop Earrings, $39; all from Stella & Dot.

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