Direct-selling jewelry company Stella & Dot is reinventing the “Avon lady” stereotype with the help of new talent and new technology.
After an extensive career in publishing, Lynette Brubaker made an unexpected turn, becoming chief marketing officer of Stella & Dot this month.
“I had a fulfilling career, I had done everything, but I was traveling 65 percent of my time,” Brubaker said. “I woke up one day and thought, ‘What am I doing?’ I believe there are different jobs for different life cycles, and it’s time for me to try something that gave me a little more flexibility for my own time.”
Brubaker will oversee the marketing team, the field development team and the sales team.
Also this month, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital announced plans for a 10 percent minority investment in the company.
In addition, Alfred Lin, former chief operating officer of Zappos, will be joining the Stella & Dot board. Lin said, “Despite its already rocket-ship growth, it’s clear this company is in its infancy, with multibillion-dollar potential. They are creating tremendous and real value for their sellers.”
Stella & Dot was founded in 2004 by Jessica Herrin in San Francisco. Herrin was hardly new to the entrepreneurial world — in 1998 she started, and later sold, weddingchannel.com.
Herrin said with Stella & Dot, however, she had a new mission. “I wanted to start with a blank piece of paper and say, ‘What would the best business platform be for the modern woman?’” As a businesswoman with two young children, Herrin hoped to build a model “that really works for today’s professional-savvy woman.”
She conceived of a direct-selling fashion company with a strong online component. “Any business today has to be multichannel and customer-obsessed. Our customer wants the same level of service you’d get from Zappos,” she said. Backed by Douglas Mackenzie from Radar Partners, a venture capital firm, Herrin launched her company.
The core of Stella & Dot is its direct-seller model, which focuses on “stylists” who sell the company’s jewelry. Unlike other direct-selling organizations, the firm’s stylists aren’t reliant on “Tupperware parties” and physical gatherings, as they’re given their own Stella & Dot URL from which to conduct business.
Additionally, Stella & Dot’s jewelry aims to be fashion-focused and has an 11-person design team. “This is a fashion business. The product is extremely well designed, high quality and on-trend,” said Brubaker.
Seven years and 13,000 stylists later, Stella & Dot reported revenue of $104 million in 2010.
“We are a billion-dollar brand in the making. This year we’re focusing on expansion across the board, both with geography and products. Next year we’re looking to expand to Europe.” Herrin added, “The most delightful surprise is I’ve been able to grow and nurture three babies — [my two daughters] and Stella & Dot.”