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Silpada jewelry story
Silpada "Commanders in Chic"
The company of Silpada Designs has a unique story that all businesswomen and entrepreneurs can appreciate. It is a uniquely successful example of a jewelry business promoted by a loyal home-based sales force. The two founders of the company are Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh. They first met as stay-at-home moms (back in the 90s) looking for a way to have fun and make money while still keeping time for their families.
History of the company
It all started with a jewelry catalog in 1997 (jewelry photos were taken in the basement by Bonnie’s husband) and a group of close friends were lending a hand. In 1998, the company had a line up of 125 handcrafted designs. By the year 2004, they had over 50 million in sales. The business was off and running (high heels optional).
In 2010, Avon Products, Inc acquired Silpada Designs while the company was expanding. But by 2013, the founders and family re-acquired the Silpada Designs and now have passed the leadership roles to the next family generation. The daughters of the founders, Bonnie and Teresa have taken the company forward as co-presidents. Now Kelsey Perry and Ryane Delka are hands-on leaders offering new ideas and products.
Keeping the company competitive, Kelsey and Ryane have just launched a new collection of jewelry this year called the ‘K&R” collection that introduces new elements of brass and stones and gems to complement the sterling silver foundation.
Behind the scenes
The company is headquartered in Kansas City and the down-home Midwest hard-working attitude is evident in all the business communications.
I had an opportunity to attend the recent national conference in KC this year. So I had a chance to see for myself how the people and products were presented. I was pleasantly surprised that the conference attendees were friendly and eager to share their ideas. The company was generous with awards and prizes, including a trip for two to Australia and a variety of give away prizes that included $1000 gift certificates, just for attending the conference.
In addition to the fun and games, there were some serious workshops offered and networking events throughout the conference to help improve everyone's business level. The meeting was a good blend of a learning and rewarding opportunity for all the attendees.
The only negative that I observed at the conference, was recognizing that this sales role was frequently a woman's second or third job. A busy teacher or hair dresser or full time mom was able to fit in time for Silpada around all the other responsibilities in her life. I would hear "this is my FUN job" or "I do this to make time for friends" or "I need something for me after all I do for others". So that negative is the frequent observation of the low pay status and missing rewards that are faced by many working women.It was inspiring to see just how resourceful women are at finding financial solutions in their lives.
People and Product
The role of a Silpada representative can be found among all ages groups and embraced for many reasons. Some reps look for the extra money promoting home parties and some like the incentives of trips and free jewelry. And for some representatives, it is the “Silpada Sisterhood”, that common understanding that bonds women who want to enjoy a job without the sales quotas or corporate demands.
How to get started as a sales representative
It starts with an easy online registration form and a start up fee of $149 which gets you a "style kit" filled with marketing materials, catalogs, a sample of jewelry, a website and all the staff support you could ever need.
There are frequent training sessions via conference calls or local events that help to get those first timers going with extra rewards during the first 100 days. And the continued motivation comes in the form of commissions and free jewelry plus those who are high achievers are rewarded with free incentive trips. The method of promoting the business is primarily at home sales parties, but there are reps using social media, local events and coffee chats to expand their connections and sales.
The Silpada product is jewelry
The core product line is high quality .925 sterling silver with gemstones at an average retail price of $90. The variety of items are updated to keep up with changing fashions. Items are retired and new items launched with each new catalog release so there is a eagerness throughout the year. There was even some talk at the conference of other accessories that may be introduced later to complement the jewelry line.
Why Silpada is unique
The company logo is easy to recognize and the tag line is "find yourself in it", which is more than just about the sparkle of jewelry, the message extends to the very reason women want to find rewards in their work
The history of the Silpada company, (in under twenty years), carries a message of empowerment for women to enjoy what they do, to look their best and share the experience with friends in a party environment.
The goal of the company as stated by Kelsey & Ryane, “…offer women gorgeous jewelry that makes them look and feel amazing. We want to prove that style is an adventure.”