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Stella & Dot Launches Foundation Bracelet Benefiting Every Mother Counts

This post is originally from Accessories Magazine – see it HERE.

Stella & Dot Re-Launches Foundation with Every Mother Counts

San Francisco– Stella & Dot, a fashion accessories brand announced this week the global re-launch of the Stella & Dot Foundation in partnership with Every Mother Counts.

Founded in July 2010, Stella & Dot CEO & Founder, Jessica Herrin created the Stella & Dot Foundation as an extension of the company’s mission in its everyday business – to give women the means to style their own lives. “We are committed to making a difference in women’s lives. It’s important for us to extend that mission to impact the lives of women and their families, at home and around the world through the Stella & Dot Foundation,” says Herrin.

In celebration of the Stella & Dot Foundation expansion and global re-launch, Stella & Dot introduces the Enlighten Bracelet (retail:$39). All net proceeds of the bracelet will support Every Mother Counts in their mission to inform, engage, and mobilizes new audiences to take action to improve the health and well-being of girls and women worldwide.

“Every Mother Counts’ is excited to partner with Stella & Dot’s mission driven community to help us achieve our goal to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. We know we can’t do this work alone and are always reassured that there are others who want to contribute in meaningful ways. Through this partnership, we will be able to educate many more about the global maternal healthcare challenges and also raise funds to support programs that improve access to quality maternity care that can prevent unnecessary deaths at birth,” said Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts

For more information on the Stella & Dot Foundation and charitable jewelry pieces, please visit:
http://www.stelladot.com/emarkland

About Every Mother Counts

Every Mother Counts is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded by Christy Turlington Burns in 2010 to increase public awareness and support for improved maternal and child health. Every Mother Counts is committed to ending preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth around the world. EMC informs, engages, and mobilizes new audiences to take action to improve the health and wellbeing of girls and women worldwide.

Maleable gold-plated brass bar sits atop an adjustable, poppy orange leather band. The interior is embossed with the names of all the important women in your life: MERE – SOEUR – FILLE – MOTHER – SISTER – DAUGHTER – MAMA – SCHWESTER – TOCHTER; which translates to Mother, Sister, Daughter in French, English, and German.

Stella & Dot ‘Enlighten’ Bracelet, above: Maleable gold-plated brass bar sits atop an adjustable, poppy orange leather band. The interior is embossed with the names of all the important women in your life: MERE – SOEUR – FILLE – MOTHER – SISTER – DAUGHTER – MAMA – SCHWESTER – TOCHTER; which translates to Mother, Sister, Daughter in French, English, and German.

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

Stella & Dot CEO/Founder Jessica Herrin Coming to SoCal!

I’m so excited to share that Stella & Dot CEO and Founder Jessica Herrin will be in Southern CA for a super fun styling session and meet & greet this month!

Join us on Tuesday, March 18 from 5:30-7:00pm at JW Marriott La Marigot Santa Monica, or on Wednesday, March 19 from 5:30-7pm at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla.

Meet Jessica, learn more about the Stella & Dot opportunity, hear all about spring trends and learn how to accessorize for your body type and style type!

Each guest will receive a FREE piece of jewelry just for attending… Plus we will have lots of giveaways!

Spread the word… Bring a friend or two with you!

Contact Erin for more details or to RSVP to this event & to receive your free swag: simply.stylish@yahoo.com

BYL-SantaMonica

BYL-SanDiego

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.

Take 50% OFF Stella & Dot Earrings – Limited Time!

Stella & Dot’s CEO & founder Jessica Herrin was recently featured on Better TV and they are offering 50% off the gold Swallow Bird Studs, gold Soar Bird Earrings, and Laurel Leaf Stud Earrings — But act fast! The promo is only good until Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 11:59pm PST. Only one purchase per customer. Enter promo code BETTER at checkout. Shop now at www.stelladot.com/emarkland.

See the Better TV clip HERE.

The Stella & Dot stud earrings are less than $10 for each pair, and the bronze bird earrings are less than $20! It’s the perfect, inexpensive holiday gift for secret santa, co-workers, teacher, babysitter, etc!

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 CEO Jessica Herrin on Windy City Live This Morning!

The fabulous, fashion-forward CEO of Stella & Dot, Jessica Herrin, appeared on this morning’s episode of Windy City Live [Wednesday, October 10, 2012] and she talks about flexible entrepreneurship, failure, and work/life balance. Plus, she discusses the latest fall fashion trends, such as mixing metals and pairing feminine design aspects with chains and dark materials.

Watch the Windy City Live video here:

Introducing the NEW Foundation Bracelet Which Supports Stella & Dot’s Charitable Foundation

The mission of the Stella & Dot Foundation is to help empower women and children through economic and educational development. All proceeds from the Foundation Bracelet & Foundation Charms contribute to this charitable cause and benefit three Foundation partners:

  • Accion — Committed to bringing affordable small business loans to entrepreneurs
  • Girls Inc– Inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold
  • buildOn — Breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service & education


As a personal volunteer and college-prep mentor for my local Girls Inc. chapter in Costa Mesa, CA, this cause hits close to home. I spend 4 hours each week as a “college prep” mentor for high school girls and a volunteer for kids ages 5-12 years old, and I have a personal goal to sell 100 Foundation items by October 15th. This would put me in the “running” to visit NYC with our CEO, and to work hands-on with high school students in the Bronx and volunteer in their local community through Girls Inc. and buildOn.

Since this cause is so close to my heart, I have decided to personally donate an additional $5 to my local Girls Inc. chapter for each foundation item sold.

2 easy ways to purchase the Foundation Bracelet & contribute to this cause:
 
1.) Order directly online by visiting www.stelladot.com/emarkland

2.) Contact me to order at 949-395-2347 or itsthestylefile@yahoo.com

Foundation Charm – silver: $34
Foundation Charm – gold: $39
Foundation Bracelet – turquoise: $39
Foundation Bracelet – red/coral: $39
Foundation Beaded Bracelet – turquoise: $39
Little Girls Foundation Bracelet – pink/coral: $22
Little Girls Foundation Bracelet – turquoise: $22

How Stella & Dot uses in-home selling to enable direct communication with customers

This article is originally from Smart Business Online. Read the original article HERE.

How Stella & Dot uses in-home selling to enable direct communication with customers

02.06.2012

Jessica Herrin, Founder & CEO, Stella & Dot

Despite co-founding the successful WeddingChannel.com, Jessica Herrin found herself re-evaluating her personal and entrepreneurial priorities. In 2004, she decided to align the two with the founding of Stella & Dot, for which she also serves as CEO.

Herrin’s main goal in the creation of the social selling company was to alleviate barriers to women entering the entrepreneurial realm. The San Francisco-based company now has more than 10,000 entrepreneurs selling a boutique-style jewelry and accessories line through in-home “Trunk Shows,” giving women the chance to work around busy schedules and still earn a living.

“I was really driven to create a company whose mission I felt soulfully connected to,” Herrin says.

“Our company isn’t about accessories, it’s about giving women economic opportunity. So I’m not interested in just selling product. I’m interested in giving the modern woman a way to love her life — because they deserve it.”

Smart Business sat down with Herrin at the 2011 Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum to discuss how Stella & Dot’s direct, consumer distribution channel benefits its employees, its product line and its customers.

Q: How do you find the inspiration for new products?

Our business is so intimate with our customers — where we go into living rooms and help style women — that I now, after doing thousands of trunk shows myself, can see a woman across a room and be like, ‘OK. I know what’s going to work for you. I can tell what your lifestyle is, how to dress, how to accessorize. I know what you need to feel confident and beautiful. Something that you’re going to wear and you’re going to love, and that’s going to express your style.’ So it becomes something that by doing it, you get to know people. And by focusing on how to please them and delight them, that’s the inspiration for the design.

It’s a marriage between true innovation, creativity and design, and then making sure that that fits into price points and fits that work commercially.

There’s a lot of invention in terms of what’s new, and then it’s about saying, ‘OK, but if someone’s going to wear that comfortably, it needs to be 17 inches with a 2-inch inset,’ or, ‘It needs to be in this price span.’

Q: How do you determine what will please and delight your customer?

With this business … there’s really not a lot of mystery between you and you customer. You can just go ask them. And our business model is to go into someone’s home, put out our product and a table and chitchat about it.

We are in person talking to our customers about what they think all the time. Our sales team of 10,000-plus active entrepreneurs that sell our line, we’re in touch with them every single day. They’re in living rooms every day, and I go with them all the time. … I can bring the new spring collection and ask them, ‘What do you think?’ and we give them two colored Post-it notes so they can say, ‘Love it’ or ‘Lose it.’

I think that people think that it’s harder than it is to ask your customers what they want. You can always just ask.

Q: What filters do you then put that information through?

We’re a very mission-driven company, so our filters are very clear and outlined for everyone. Our No. 1 and most simple filter is dollars per hour for our stylist. Because we’re in business to give them a great business, we then say, ‘All right. Is this product going to cannibalize something else that’s already in the line?’ in which case it’s a substitute, it’s not really adding to it.

Imagine if your wife had a trunk show. We’re not just interested in selling to her, because during this season, imagine that her friends coming over are buying for their mother-in-law in Florida and for their teenage daughter that lives in L.A. So stylewise, we try to have a lot of breadth in our line because it makes for a better business.

Q: Once you come up with the product, how do you then align it with your price points?

One of the things that we focus on in this business is adding more value to the customer with better design, better quality and very good pricing. We do that because as a company, we invest heavily in our design process and in our manufacturing process.

So this necklace, for example, is one that in that same production artisan workshop where people in India are hand sewing this piece, they’re sewing pieces … that will sell for $1200. Ours is sold for $295 … but ours is exclusively designed for Stella & Dot by our designers, because we invest in having that staff and team.

Then, we work with the scale and the production where we go into those artisan places and say, ‘OK. Here’s how you can do things efficiently. Here’s how we source materials to help.’ We operate it like supply chain experts.

We do believe that you have to deliver affordable luxury. The consumer wants something where they’re going to get a lot of bang for their buck, so we design into it. It’s more than just price — it’s about use and value. Then, if the price is justified by versatility, wearability and emotion, you earn it.

Q: What do you do to go above and beyond to deliver unexpected service that surprises and delights customers?

We have a manifesto that we share with every stylist. We’re more than a company; we’re a tribe with a very strong culture. And it’s a culture of service to our customers. We always say, ‘We’re not in sales; we’re in service.’ And we work very hard to earn our customer, but we work even harder to deserve her continued devotion, and so we do things where we always make it right. We always return it and give a credit if something goes wrong with a product. We ship incredibly fast in emotionally beautiful packaging. We build joy into everything we do. Our packaging has a hidden heart inside with a little message that says, ‘My, you look gorgeous!’ It’s the details that make the difference in surprise and delight. It’s not enough just to make something.

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 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 to be Featured on President Obama’s “Women in Technology Panel”

Stella & Dot founder/CEO Jessica Herrin will be a guest on the White House’s “Women in Technology” Panel tomorrow, April 20, 2011, directly following President Obama’s Facebook Town Hall. Read more here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=205677632786468

What:
Join us for a panel on Women in Technology hosted by White House Senior Advisor and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarrett.

When:
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm PT / 6:15 pm ET, shortly after President Obama’s facebook Townhall.

Who:
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
Jocelyn Goldfein, Director of Engineering, Facebook
Theresia Gouw Ranzetta, Accel Partners
Jessica Herrin, CEO & Founder of Stella and Dot

Moderated by: Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor and Chair of the White House Council on Women & Girls

Where:
Watch and participate live online at: https://apps.facebook.com/facebooklive/

Why:
More diversity in technology companies means more innovation, increased competitiveness and greater business success. Join us to hear about what the public and private sectors are already doing to reap the benefits of more women in tech roles, and what more can be done.

How you can participate:
RSVP now and submit a question on this event’s wall or submit a question live during the event at: https://apps.facebook.com/facebooklive/

Stella & Dot Featured on Fox Business News – March 31, 2011

Original air time: March 31, 2011 on Fox Business News with Liz Claman.

Stella & Dot founder and CEO Jessica Herrin appeared today on Fox Business News with Liz Claman. The two discussed sales and hiring, as Stella & Dot has over 100 employees and will add an additional 30 employees in the next six months. Additionally, Stella & Dot’s independent stylist force (often called sales representatives or consulatants in other direct sales companies) is growing tremendously, with over 17,000 stylists now in the US and Canada.

Several Stella & Dot stylists are earning significant income – either part time or full time – and some are earning up to $400K a year, or up to $100 per hour.

The jewelry line is all about affordable luxury, as over half the jewelry line is less than $50. The jewelry is sold by independent stylists in private, in-home trunk shows, through catalogs and online. For more information on becoming a Stella & Dot Stylist, CLICK HERE.

To watch the Fox Business News video, click HERE or click the image below.

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.

    Stella & Dot’s Jewelry Parties Dazzle

    This article is originally from San Francisco Business Times, written by Jessica Heller; October 25, 2010. Read the original post HERE.

    This isn’t your mother’s Tupperware party.

    Jessica Herrin, founder of the jewelry company Stella & Dot, has found a way to bring together e-commerce, social networking and direct sales, while at the same time helping women work from home on their own schedules.

    With 11,000 sales representatives, or “stylists,” hosting trunk shows, the Burlingame-based direct sales company has seen 2,683 percent growth between 2007 and 2009, with 2009 revenue of $32.88 million.

    “It’s not that we are just trying to grow any way we can,” said Herrin. “We are a mission-driven company. Our stylists range from (earning) a couple hundred dollars a month to $30,000 a month.”

    Ruthe Woods has been a Stella & Dot stylist since January 2009.

    “We were a single-income family with three small daughters and struggling to make ends meet,” said Woods, who lives in the Bay Area. “Stella & Dot offered me an opportunity to contribute to our family finances while still allowing me to be available to do the carpool run.”

    “It’s all about word of mouth,” said Herrin. “Our stylists’ jewelry is an easy product to sell. People see it, people wear it, and people love it.”

    The business continued to grow throughout the recession, and now has 70 employees in their Burlingame headquarters. Last year alone, Stella & Dot paid out over $17 million to their stylists, according to Herrin. She calls the business design-driven and entrepreneurship focused with at-home opportunities.

    “I think the recession has aided the growth of Stella & Dot because they are providing opportunities for additional income right when it is needed,” said Woods, who is already nearly booked through the holiday season. At a recent trunk show, she sold $1,300 worth of jewelry in two hours.

    Herrin calls direct selling, “an industry ripe for renovation.” Today, Stella & Dot jewelry is regularly featured in fashion magazines and photographed on celebrities.

    Herrin wasn’t new to the idea of entrepreneurship, but going into direct sales was new for her. At age 24, after graduating from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, she co-founded WeddingChannel.com, which is a comprehensive wedding site for planning suggestions and creative ideas. In 2007, Herrin sold her stake in the startup for $90 million to The Knot.

    Most of the jewelry is sold through the company’s network of stylists, but some sales are generated through the website. No products are available in stores.

    How it works: A stylist orders a starter kit from Stella & Dot for $199 that includes samples, instructional material and tips. Then the stylist, or more often a friend of the stylist, hosts a casual party where friends and guests can try on the jewelry samples and order what they like. For every item sold at a trunk show, the stylist makes a 30 percent commission and the host gets free jewelry.

    The pieces range in price from $29 to $250 and come in a variety of up-to-date styles. More than half of the pieces are under $50.

    The idea is that women will feel more comfortable buying from a friend who will show them what really looks good rather than gazing at jewelry through the glass of a cabinet while a sales person stands sentinel — and the idea has taken off.

    “I think our stylists have really sensed that there is something different about Stella & Dot,” Herrin said. “There is something different about our company. Success can be contagious.”

    No. 3: Stella & Dot
    Growth: 2,683.2%
    What it does: Direct sales jewelry company
    Founder and CEO: Jessica Herrin
    HQ: Burlingame, CA
    2010 employees: 70
    2009 revenue: $32.88 million
    2008 revenue: $3.77 million
    2007 revenue: $1.18 million

    Stella & Dot Featured on Good Morning America

    Career guru Tory Johnson talks about the secrets of direct sales on this morning’s Good Morning America (aired Monday, September 13, 2010 on ABC). The direct sales industry helps over 16 million people earn extra income — or earn a living — each year. Tory Johnson highlights Stella & Dot stylist, Zandra Gay, mother to three kids all under the age of six. Tory states that Stella & Dot is one of her favorite companies and for good reason: Zandra Gay is earning over $5,000 per month by selling jewelry, hosting Stella & Dot in-home trunk shows and building a sales team. Click HERE to watch the short video clip from ABC’s Good Morning America.

    Click here to learn more about Stella & Dot!

    Click here to request more info about Stella & Dot

    Become a Stella & Dot stylist now!

    *  *  *

    Here’s the original article from ABC’s Good Morning America, “Secrets of Direct Sales Success Uncovered” by Women For Hire Founder and CEO Tory Johnson. She goes inside the $28 billion industry to see how sales reps reach success with their in-home businesses.

    In a challenging economy, many people have not only turned to direct sales to supplement their income, but they’ve also turned up the heat on their commitment to generating a serious paycheck in this $28 billion industry.

    Only a quarter of all active direct sellers earn more than $10,000 a year, so I set out to learn their success secrets.

    Avon: Grace Campbell Success Secret: Ask Around First Grace Campbell’s ‘s husband owns a plumbing business that tanked in the recession, which forced Grace to find a way to help pay the bills. When someone suggested Avon, Grace worried that she’d become the “pest who’s always pushing something” on other people, so she first asked friends and family what they would think if she became an independent representative. Would they be interested in the product? Would they buy from her? When everyone answered with an enthusiastic yes, she had the confidence to go for it. (Plus, the starter fee of just $10 was a big draw.) Don’t sign up with a company until you’ve done some research among your likely target market.

    Stella & Dot: Zandra Gay Success Secret: Build a Team with Serious Networking Zandra Gay is a stay at home mom of three kids under 6—and at the end of last year her husband lost his job in internet sales. Within 10 days, she snapped into action with jewelry giant Stella & Dot because she needed the money and the flexibility. She loves the jewelry, wears it every day and naturally gets a lot of compliments. That’s an obvious segue into sharing what she does. She also has another secret: Zandra asks everyone what they do, and they in turn ask what she does. (Smart for any professional!) That’s helped her recruit other reps who are now on her team. She makes money on her own sales – and on the sales of the people under her. With any legitimate direct sales opportunity, you will only make money on your recruits if you’re also an active seller.

    Lia Sophia: Kim Phillips Success Secret: Share Your Personal Story Kim Phillips and her husband both lost their jobs, wound up on food stamps, living in a friend’s home, and sharing a ’93 Buick. They’re both college educated—she’s a classically-trained pianist too—and she kept asking, how did things get like this? Kim admits she always turned her nose when invited to direct sales parties, but when someone said there was real money to be made, she dove in with another jewelry leader: Lia Sophia. Now this is her full-time job, and she tells everyone her story. So many of the women she meets are down and out because of the economy or a troubled marriage, and they’re buoyed by Kim’s triumph over adversity.

    Barefoot Books: Chaunci Pirhalla Success Secret: Pursue Innovative Marketing that Matches Your Lifestyle Chaunci Pirhalla and her husband ran a language learning business that went under because of the economy. She homeschools her 6-year-old son and has always had a passion for books. That passion, plus the need for a new paycheck, led her to Barefoot Books, a unique line of more than 400 books and activity packs for children. She’s found really innovative ways to incorporate this business into her lifestyle. She markets to a homeschooling co-op of 500 families. She partners with farm co-ops in her area to promote the books related to healthy eating and cooking. She’s convinced baby boutiques to carry the books on consignment. Chaunci’s check average $3,000 a month.

    Pampered Chef: Cinnamon Burk Success Secret: Follow “3, 2, 1″ Rule Cinnamon Burk lost her sales job and realized it would be difficult to find a similar position. A friend suggested Pampered Chef and she had nothing to lose by giving it a shot. Cinnamon says success boils down to a rule called, “3, 2, 1,” which is part of the training she receives: Make 3 contacts every day, host 2 cooking shows a week and recruit 1 person per month. Research the training tools and support available before signing on with any company. The amount the company invests in videos, pamphlets, catalogues, coaching calls will tell you a lot about the support available. READ MORE >

    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.

    News and Updates from Stella & Dot

    Some exciting news from the Stella & Dot home office and straight from our CEO & Founder, the fabulous Jessica Herrin …. And you know I can’t help but share it with you, right??

    * Stella & Dot jewelry is going to pre-release a ‘capsule’ collection’ from the Fall 2010 jewelry collection. The pre-release date is set for June 7th and features gorgeous gold flower rings, pearl necklaces and gold flower charms — Just in time for summer wedding season! (Below left.)

    * The much anticipated Fall jewelry line from Stella & Dot is set to be released on or arund July 15th. I will keep you updated if the dates changes.

    * Stella & Dot now has nearly 9,000 stylists! The company has helped countless women reach success in a short amount of time. Read the success story of Jessica Chatterton to find out more.

    * Real Simple magazine featured the Priya Ruby Ring from Stella & Dot in a fashion spread in its June 2010 issue. See the ruby ring on page 48, worn by the model on left.

    Stella & Dot Founder/CEO Featured on Forbes.com

    CEO and Founder Jessica Herrin talks to Forbes about her direct sales company Stella & Dot, the modern business opportunity for women in the US and Canada. She ultimately learned her business building strategies from her cabbie, of all other people, and she talks about how entrepreneurship is about taking risks, being persistent and willing “to seem crazy.” Watch the videos below!

    Stella & Dot CEO Jessic Herrin Featured in Wall Street Journal

    This article is by Grace Williams for the Wall Street Journal. Read the original article HERE.

    Who:
    Jessica Herrin
    What: Stella & Dot, a jewelry company
    Where: Burlingame, CA
    Web Site: www.stelladot.com/emarkland
    Year founded: Founded as Luxe Jewels in 2004. In 2008, Luxe Jewels name was changed to Stella & Dot.
    Number of employees: 28
    Annual revenues: $30million

    When Jessica Herrin learned that the projected growth for 2009 at her jewelry boutique company, Stella & Dot, was significantly higher than expected, she knew the company had a “high class problem” on its hands. “Whether you are above or below your forecast, if you are significantly off-plan, it’s a problem,” she says.

    Ms. Herrin credits the company’s success to “social shopping,” essentially taking the 1950s version of in-home trunk shows such as Avon and Tupperware to social-media sites like Twitter and Facebook. With celebrity clientele spanning from Paris Hilton to Teri Hatcher, Herrin anticipated Stella & Dot would double its growth in 2009. In fact, the company expects to grow seven times as much.

    The rapid growth meant Stella & Dot’s inventory and customer-service capabilities were way too limited. With orders coming in, Ms. Herrin moved quickly to hire a team. Not wanting to sacrifice the company’s high standards when it comes to hiring, she brought in a number of key positions as contractors. “This gave us the comfort in making quick decisions and getting quick resources,” she says. If they performed well, most contractors were hired as full-time employees; if they didn’t, Ms. Herrin would replace them with other contractors so as not to short-cut the company’s talent search. “There are a lot of great people out there and not a lot of great jobs,” she says. “That was advantageous to us.”

    The new staff enabled Stella & Dot to stay on top of the orders and maintain the quality that Ms. Herrin desired. “The result is that we’ve been able to handle the growth,” she says. “We surpassed our goals and we’ve delivered.”

    Fast Fixes features an entrepreneur who thinks outside the box to solve a routine problem or a major obstacle in his or her small business. If you’d like to be considered, email your story to colleen.debaise@wsj.com.

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