* 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
Posts tagged ‘jessica herrin’
* Modernizing flexible entrepreneurship, whether you would like to be a side-preneuer” or a full-time sales rep
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: email@example.com
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’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.
Click the image below to watch the TV segment or CLICK HERE.
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! :)
Stella & Dot’s CEO/founder Jessica Herrin was recently on The Couch talking with Lisa Kerney and John Elliott about summer accessories trends. [CBS Local New York, The Couch - aired Thursday, June 6, 2013]
1.) Tonal — Gorgeous white or a bright pop of color
2.) Arm Party — Stack up your wrist with fun bangles and bracelets for summer
3.) Complete your outfit with a do-it-all bag
Shop Stella & Dot accessories at www.stelladot.com/emarkland
Stella & Dot’s CEO and Founder Jessica Herrin is the epitome of entrepreneurial success and leadership, and she was a guest today on the Katie Couric Show with fellow mom-preneurs [Katie Couric's daytime talk show "Katie," aired on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 on ABC]. Jessica talked about her success with launching a lucrative, fun, flexible, home-based business opportunity for women — especially busy moms!
After having kids, many women miss the creative, business aspects of their work environment but desire to be home with their children, and Stella & Dot has been a source of empowerment for women who don’t want to re-enter the workforce but still want to financially contribute to their families income.
Find out more about Stella & Dot >> Become a sale rep!
About Stella & Dot: Stella and Dot, an Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Company, is a San Francisco based social selling company that creates flexible entrepreneurial opportunities for women. Our boutique-style jewelry and accessories line is available exclusively through in-home Trunk Shows by Independent Stylists and online. Our one of a kind collections are designed by celebrated New York designers and featured in Gossip Girl, In Style and Lucky Magazine as well as on the wrists and necklines of today’s hottest celebrities. The Today Show, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have praised Stella & Dot for our innovative social shopping concept which brings together the best of ecommerce, social media, personal service and passionate earning to create the ultimate home based business for today’s modern woman.
About Jessica Herrin: Stella & Dot CEO and founder Jessica Herrin, a mother of two and mentor to many, had a vision to create a new kind of company that would offer today’s busy woman a career alternative. As co-founder of WeddingChannel.com (yes, you saw her on Oprah!), Jessica wanted to use her savvy to help solve the modern woman’s dilemma: achieving success and balance through a career you love. Never one to go with the status quo, Jessica felt that the typical home based business just didn’t deliver. With lackluster product, high pressure sales tactics, and old school marketing methods, inventory was ending up in people’s closets with little profit in their pockets.
Jessica’s vision called for an entirely new concept that could guarantee women flexibility, reward, style, profit and fun. With an irresistible product and exceedingly personal service, a proven formula for passionate earning and personal success was born.
Learn more about Stella & Dot!!
Become a Sales Rep & Stylist — Do something you love! >> More info
Host a trunk show or schedule a personal styling session >> More info
Shop online anytime to snag great accessories at great prices! >> Shop now!
Have questions? Call me anytime to chat!
With over 5 years experience with Stella & Dot — more than most ALL stylists! — I’d love to share my experience and help you get started with this fun, flexible opportunity.
Erin Markland, Director
This article and photo are originally from the San Francisco Business Chronicle. Read the original post HERE.
Stella & Dot redefines women’s workplace
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:
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 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.
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.
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
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 WeddingChannel.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:
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
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’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
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.
The “mother” of all fashion publications, Women’s Wear Daily featured Stella & Dot’s new leather handbag collection in an article in the WWD 7/15/11 issue. Read the original article HERE or in the print issue.
Stella & Dot Expands Offer With Handbags
Posted Friday July 15, 2011
From WWD Issue 07/15/2011
Forget e-commerce or brick-and-mortar shopping, social shopping is where it’s at for Stella & Dot.
The accessories company, whose business plan is based on the “social selling” model of direct sales, projects retail sales will reach $200 million by year’s end. This is an almost 100 percent increase from 2010, where sales surpassed $100 million, and a 300 percent increase from 2009′s $33 million in sales. Growth has ben exponential since the company’s launch in 2004, and in 2010, th ebusiness also receied an investment from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
The seven year old firm implemented a sales strategy that focuses on using various digital platforms to drive traffic to physical trunk shows, hosted by any of the brand’s 20,000 part- or full-time “wardrobe stylists.” Think Avon, but chicer — and targeted for th emodern, highly fashion concsious woman in the digital age.
According to co-founder and chief executive officer Jessica Herrin — also the brainchild of that little Wed site that revolutionized the bridal registry process, the WeddingChannel — the key is creating highly designed accessories and delivering them to consumers at an attractive value. Prices range from $24 for a pair of stud earrings to $228 for a statement necklace,a nd half of the collection is under $50.
“Every living room in the world is our store,” HErrin told WWD in the brand’s New York City showroom. “We create modular pieces that she can mix and match. The average customer wears three pieces at once. Pur pieces aren’t locked up in a glass case, it’s about playing with options that are easy to wardrobe.”
The brand’s personal trunk shows bring in 70 percent of the compnay’s revenue, and last year alone, stylists earned more than $50 million in commissions and bonuses.
Rather than putting a large percentage of the company’s budget into retail locations, Herrin says paying generous commissions to Stella & Dot’s highly trained stylists is one of the reasons the firm has seen so much success. Social media is also an essential part of the equation, and without it, the brand wouldn’t be able to grow at such a rate.
“Our stylists aren’t only doing trunk shows — they each have their own branded sites through us and a Facebook page. The Internet makes people accessible. We love using social media, because ultimately it’s way of crowd-sourcing style solutions and delivering style and contect to our shoppers,” Herrin said, adding that stelladot.com houses an “online university” with courses that team the ins and outs of social media and merchandising.
Now, for the first tiem since it launched, Stella & Dot will expand its product offerings beyond jewelry, offering five handbags for the fall season. A clutch; a convertible three-way style; a cross-body bag; a wristlet and a key pouch will comprise the first collection. Prices start at $44 for the key puuch and go up to $258 for the convertible bag.
The above are priced at a “sweet spot,” according to their chief creative officer Blythe Harris. “Handbags are a natural extension for Stella & Dot. Our mission is to create style solutions for our customer with our jewelry and accessories. Like jewelry, handbags have the ability to be transformative in the way they can instantly update or completely change a woman’s look,” she said.
Additionally, the company has plans to move into Europe later this year. The first stop is the U.K — with a London-based headquarters that will bow in October.
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
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.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm PT / 6:15 pm ET, shortly after President Obama’s facebook Townhall.
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
Watch and participate live online at: https://apps.facebook.com/facebooklive/
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/
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.
CNBC featured direct sales jewelry company Stella & Dot in their Hot Startups segment on March 17, 2011. Stella & Dot recently gained even more buzz when Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm, invested $37 million into the couture jewelry brand, bringing its valuation to a stunning $370 million.
Below: A look at one venture capitalist’s new bet in the direct sales jewelry business, with Jessica Herrin, Stella & Dot co-founder and Alfred Lin, of Sequoia Capital.
This article is originally from Direct Selling News, written by J.M. Emmert, February 2011 Issue. Read it HERE.
Founder and CEO Jessica Herrin has Stella & Dot poised to make direct selling history.
When the news broke on Jan. 10 that Sequoia Capital, one of the most influential venture-capital firms in Silicon Valley, had invested $37 million in Stella & Dot, more than a few eyebrows were raised. Many wondered why a firm that, by some estimates, is responsible for nearly 14 percent of the value on NASDAQ—funding such technology and Internet giants as Apple, Google, YouTube and Zappos—would be interested in a direct seller of boutique-style designer jewelry.
According to Alfred Lin, former COO of Zappos.com and now partner at Sequoia Capital, the decision to pursue Stella & Dot was fueled by the belief that the direct selling industry is on the cusp of a new age, with e-commerce and social networking transforming the landscape of the traditional direct-sales approach. Sequoia believes Stella & Dot is poised to be a “billion dollar opportunity” due to the innovative “social selling” approach of Founder and CEO Jessica Herrin.
“Sequoia rarely sees a business built so strong, with such little capital,” says Lin. “We pursued Stella & Dot based on the performance of the company, the strength and track record of the team, and the tremendous potential for this brand.”
Stella & Dot did not need nor was it seeking capital. However, Lin and Sequoia partner Mike Moritz were able to convince Herrin that they truly wanted to be involved in creating a game-changing company for generations to come.
“It’s exciting to be part of a brain trust that has guided the growth of so many successful companies,” says Herrin. “Alfred’s passion for customer service and company building acumen meshes perfectly with our team. I believe you build a truly special company by bringing together the right group of passionate people to lend their DNA to your cause.”
That cause is helping woman successfully balance career and family. When Herrin first founded the company out of her living room in 2004 as Luxe Jewels, she envisioned a new approach to traditional direct-sales ideas. She focused entirely on learning the sales channel by doing trunk shows. She wanted to combine the best of direct selling with the ease of e-commerce and social networking to create a flexible and lucrative home-based business that would appeal to the modern woman and offer professional-level earnings per hour.
“With Stella & Dot, I‘ve paced the growth of the company around becoming a mom and raising two kids,” says Herrin. “Though we passed a million in annual sales, I wasn’t ready to kick it into high gear until after my youngest was born in 2006. Then I began to build a team and really grow our field. In March 2008, our Chief Creative Officer, Blythe Harris, and I rebranded the company as Stella & Dot, after our two grandmothers.”
Herrin adds that she wanted to create a mission-driven company that was truly transformative and special. “I have bootstrapped this company and built it very differently,” she says. “The people around the table are here for the long haul, building the company the right way, for the right reasons. We have an incredibly high bar for hiring—we’re looking for missionaries, not mercenaries.”
While Herrin’s business strategy incorporates new technology to drive sales, the most important business component for Stella & Dot remains the focus of the company’s sellers, known as “Stylists,” on cultivating personal relationships with customers at in-home shows and one on one.
The combination of old and new practices has paid off. Stella & Dot has seen impressive revenue growth. The company had sales of $33 million in 2009 and $104 million in 2010—impressive numbers when sales figures in the direct selling industry as a whole have remained flat, or as some suggest, even declined, over the past four years.
“None of this would have been possible if we didn’t design irresistible products people love and deliver with incredible customer service,” says Herrin. “The credit goes to the amazing team of talented individuals who’ve joined our home office team. They work tirelessly to continually surprise and delight our Stylists and customers.”
Herrin is no stranger to success. A serial entrepreneur, she’s been recognized for her business savvy in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes and O, The Oprah Magazine.
After earning a degree in economics from Stanford, Herrin worked for two tech startups before enrolling in the Stanford Graduate School of Business. At age 24, she launched her first company, the WeddingChannel.com, which is now part of the world’s leading wedding site, The Knot.
Now, with Stella & Dot, Herrin employs the same proven leadership skills that made WeddingChannel.com a success, although, as she admits, the two experiences are very different now that she is a mother of two.
“I co-founded WeddingChannel.com in the go-go-go days of the dotcom boom,” she says. “It was a 24/7 activity, with much of the world focused on an IPO instead of sustainability and profits. It bred a ‘flip it’ mentality in so many investors and employees.”
With Sequoia Capital as a supportive partner for the long haul, Herrin looks to growing Stella & Dot. “When people ask me my exit strategy, I tell them I plan to exit very old, on a stretcher with an air tank. This is my last gig,” she says.
Stella & Dot may be the first gig for many women entering the direct selling industry. The company is becoming a viable opportunity for women of all walks of life, including a higher demographic with higher expectations around earnings. The company has a diverse group of independent business owners finding success with the company, including doctors, lawyers, stay-at-home moms and college students.
“Our business has proven to work just as well for the single girl in Manhattan as it does for a work-at-home mom in Texas, a newlywed in Boulder or a retiree in Miami,” Herrin says. “Our business model really works for our Stylists. Their success and happiness is attracting others who want to do it and are looking at it as an alternative or supplement to a corporate job. They love the income, flexibility, professional development, fun and community Stella & Dot offers.”
Stella & Dot stylists average over $1,000 per show in sales generated by selling necklaces, bracelets, rings and other jewelry and accessories. What’s interesting to note is that the earnings are not due to higher prices for the products. The average price point of Stella & Dot products is comparable to others in the industry—about $50.
“Stella & Dot is just filling a unique style need,” says Herrin. “In terms of price points, our line is accessible luxury, with half of our styles under $50. It’s not that we’re more expensive; it’s that our customers like our products so much that they are buying more of it.”
While the strong potential for earnings has attracted many, Herrin also believes that one of the secrets to the company’s success is the sustainable focus and balance between family and career.
“Our ‘work’ is so incredibly inspiring, creative and rewarding, it hardly feels like work at all,” she says. “As much as we are about enabling flexible jobs for women in our sales field, we are also incredibly ‘love your life’ friendly at the home office. We want people to thrive at Stella & Dot. Our goal is to be a place people love to come to work, where they feel challenged, balanced and like they are growing.”
With the success of its first three years and the support from Sequoia Capital, Stella & Dot is positioned well for the future. But can it make direct selling history by becoming the first direct seller to reach $1 billion in five years?
Herrin replies with a confident “Yes.”
This article is originally from San Antonio magazine, November 2010 issue.
Designer Spotlight: JESSICA HERRIN, Founder & CEO, Stella & Dot
Listen up ladies, Jessica Herrin is dispensing pearls of wisdom. “Jewelry isn’t like a husband. You can have more than one at a time,” says the 37-year-old founder and CEO of Stella & Dot jewelry. Herrin describes her philosophy of building “a jewelry wardrobe” as self-expression through accessorizing, finding one’s fashion identity “with an ounce of confidence around your neck.”
The line of vintage-look pieces is named for and inspired by Herrin’s grandmother, Stella, and the company’s chief creative officer’s grandmother Dot. “Our company was created by strong women, in a lot of ways like the women of our grandmother’s generation,” Herrin says. “When you think about what that generation did — sailed across oceans, crossed borders, raised children, got the vote — they are a graceful reminder to today’s woman, who is still trying to do it all.”
Her home-based business model for jewelry sales employs “stylists” — primarily women — who hold trunk shows at home and share in the profit of the sales. Much as Tupperware and Avon revolutionized the woman-driven business model, Stella & Dot has adapted the home-based business platform to the accessory category. The boutique-style line that was first crafted in Herrin’s living room is now manufactured throughout the world but maintains the artisan touch its creator always intended. Since 2003, when Herrin held her first trunk show in Round Rock, TX, the company has turned profits into the millions and made its founder — mother of two and marathon runner — an under-40 style icon. “I always say I had two babies in Texas,” the California-born designer and entrepreneur says, “my firstborn, and Stella & Dot.”
Best described as Mad Men-esque in style, Stella & Dot’s Vintage Luxe collection takes a page from early- to mid-20th century style, with opulent pieces and classically pretty designs. “Ironically, I’m more on the rocker chic, boho chic vibe,” Herrin says of her personal style. The line’s Metro Chic collection meets the needs of this “Carrie Bradshaw meets Joan of Arc” aesthetic, with touched of black, chains and metal. “I grew up in California, so that had to have some effect,” she says. “But I spent years in Texas, so I learned to dress up nice.”
Herrin will be the keynote speaker at the 2010 Texas Conference for Women held Nov 10 in Houston and hosted by Governor Perry and first lady Anita Perry.
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, November 6, 2009 | Modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This article is from the San Francisco Business Times – by Sarah Duxbury
People say recessions breed entrepreneurs, which may account for explosive growth at Stella & Dot.
In August 2008, the direct sale jewelry company conservatively estimated it would double sales in 2009 for revenue between $9 million and $11 million. Now it looks like the Burlingame-based company will hit $30 million.
“Last year, when you think of the times, people were hesitant to hope,” said Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of Stella & Dot, and before that the founder of WeddingChannel.com. “We knew the momentum of our business … and even with all that confidence, we were hesitant to say we would more than double our growth.”
Between August 2008 and today, Stella & Dot has grown from 500 stylists to 4,000. It had 14 employees then and has 30 today, with 13 open positions for everything from technology to HR to accounting. The company became profitable earlier this year, and it is almost entirely self-funded.