In many ways Jessica Herrin doesn’t appear too much different than any other 30-something woman; she’s married, has two kids and a career. What’s different about Herrin, 37, is that she co-founded two highly successful businesses that have followed the trajectory of her life — Della.com, a virtual wedding registry that became WeddingChannel.com just a year before she got married, and Luxe Jewels, a new type of home-based e-commerce jewelry business geared toward working moms that she birthed just about the time she was about to give birth to her first daughter. Now called Stella & Dot, the company has some 14,000 sales representatives known as stylists and recently caught the eye of venture capitalists, who pumped $37 million into it.
As she told Inc. magazine, which named her one of the top 10 female entrepreneurs in 2010, “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.” She sees Stella & Dot as a way to help other moms do that, too.
Herrin, her husband, Chad, and their daughters, 7 and 4, live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
You have said that, in creating Stella & Dot, you were, “looking to create the modern women's business.” What is a modern women's business?
Women are very different today than our mothers’ generation. In general, they’re more educated, the have children later and they had a career before they had to get to the question of how do I find balance of not only being the mother I want to be but also have my own sense of accomplishment and continued personal growth so I can be a role model for my children as well. So, to me the modern woman is someone who isn’t a certain age but is living in today’s world, who’s being entrepreneurial and creative. How they’re going to create a life that’s happy for me, that’s about having a flexible but intellectually challenging and professional-level rewarding career but is something that you can schedule and control.
Home parties sound so retro; its what our moms did with Tupperware in the 1950s and Avon later on. Why are home parties still so attractive to women, as a business and as something to attend?
What differentiates Stella & Dot is that we don’t see ourselves as a traditional party-form company, but rather a multichannel company for woman to have a much more broad customer base. It’s about personal customer service. Jewelry is a $9 billion market and women love to accessorize and feel pulled together, but in a retail environment jewelry is locked up in a glass case where women can’t really try it. At a truck show, where all the pieces are laid out, a woman can get really personal styling tips and learn how to look fabulous in it. The trunk show is still the heart of our business, even though most of our customers go on to repeat shop online.