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 been exponential since the company’s launch in 2004, and in 2010, the business also received an investment from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
The seven-year-old firm implemented a sales strategy that focuses on utilizing 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 the modern, highly fashion conscious woman in the digital age.
According to co-founder and chief executive officer Jessie Herrin — also the brainchild of that little Web 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, and 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 consumer wears three pieces at once. Our 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 company’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 said 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 have been 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 a way of crowdsourcing style solutions and delivering style and content to our shoppers,” Herrin said, adding that stelladot.com houses an “online university” with courses that teach the ins and outs of social media and merchandising.
Now, for first time since it launched, Stella & Dot will expand its product offerings beyond jewelry, unveiling 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 pouch and go up to $258 for the convertible bag.
The above are priced at a “sweet spot,” according to 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.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye