Even though the name of Stella & Dot is derived from the grandmothers of Stella & Dot Family Brands founder and chief executive officer Jessica Herrin and chief creative officer and co-creator Blythe Harris, the brand’s parties are often touted as “not your grandmother’s Tupperware party.” The direct-sales company is known as much for its modern tech tools used by its stylists as it is for its house parties that resemble the Avon or Tupperware parties of previous generations.
After seeing massive success from developing its in-house software for selling and buying costume jewelry for Stella & Dot, Herrin said the two used what they had learned to create two more offerings that utilize their approach to flexible entrepreneurship: Keep Collective, which is a “personalized modular accessories concept,” and Ever, a skin-care company, both introduced one year ago.
Stella & Dot Family Brands became “a platform company” that built on Stella & Dot’s core tenants, Herrin said. During their presentation, “Social Selling By Design: How the Stella & Dot Family Brands Innovate and Iterate Through Crowdsourcing” the two shared lessons that they had learned since founding their company in 2007.
First, Herrin discussed the ability to “balance listening with leading.” In other words, while it’s important to listen to and filter feedback from stylists, she’s also found success in “giving people what they don’t know they want.”
With Keep Collective, Herrin and Harris built something that was designed to be shared on social media; by having customers assemble personal Keepers, Herrin said, they’d taken what they learned at Stella & Dot, then “brought it up a notch” in terms of crowdsourcing and microinfluencers. At that time, they also started to work more with bloggers instead of models.
In the first week after launching Keep Collective, which focuses on customizable charm bracelets and necklaces, more than 30,000 designs were shared on social media. So far, Keep Collective is on track to do $50 million in sales during the first year. (It took Stella & Dot four years to reach that.)
Next, they emphasized the popular tech world dictum to fail fast — but added that it was important not to stay wrong for long. One example Harris offered was Stella & Dot’s “design studio,” for which they sourced and sold one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. Ultimately, they found that initiative proved to be “a distraction,” since many of their stylists wear, then sell, the same pieces.
The focus instead, Herrin said, was to keep the process “simple, easy and rewarding.” “We had lost that vision,” she said.
Finally, she shared, “high tech will never replace high touch” and their intention that the technology that stylists and buyers use doesn’t replace the in-person experience, but rather enhances it.
“Fashion is not a rational purchase. We are in the confidence business, not the fashion or charm jewelry business.”