Skip to content

The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling


Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.


CONTENTS
Page 1

Mona Ameli, Belcorp

Dr. Oi-Lin Chen, Sunrider International

Angela Loehr Chrysler, Team National

Kathy Coover, Isagenix

Marjorie Fine, Shaklee

Page 2

Shelli Gardner, Stampin’ Up!

Marla Gottschalk,The Pampered Chef

Jessica Herrin, Stella & Dot

Andrea Jung, Avon

Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh, Silpada

Page 3

Wendy Lewis, Jeunesse Global

Tami Longaberger, Longaberger

Candace Matthews, Amway

Cindy Monroe, Thirty-One Gifts

Kay Napier, Arbo

Page 4

Joani Nielson, Tastefully Simple

Jill Blashack Strahan, Tastefully Simple

Connie Tang, Princess House

Heidi Thompson, Scentsy

Page 5

The Icons of our Industry


October 2012

Throughout the world, more than 65 million women find direct selling to be the answer to gaining control of their own time, often while working in other full- or part-time careers and while being wives and mothers—managers of households. All 65 million, and the hundreds of millions who have gone before, demonstrate the special skills and attributes women bring to an industry built upon the power of relationships.

In celebration of their efforts, along with the celebration of all women in the corporate home offices, Direct Selling News asked 20 of the most influential executive women in direct selling questions about motivation, inspiration, leadership, career advice, opportunity and mentorship.

The path each woman took to the heights of direct selling corporate management is as unique as the individual. Yet all 20 are inextricably linked by the influence they have on the lives of hundreds of thousands, even millions of women across the globe who work in direct sales to enrich their families, make a difference in their communities and in the lives of others, and reach for their own dreams.

Direct Selling News selected this group of women based upon their executive leadership roles in companies that achieved the DSN Global 100 list and $100M Club. It comprises women who help guide our industry through their leadership and vision. There are many women hard at work in far more companies than we’ve listed here. But by proudly honoring these 20, Direct Selling News salutes every female leader—corporate or field—who strives for more, respects those who blazed the trail, and reaches out to those on the way up.


Mona Ameli

USA General Manager, Belcorp USA

Belcorp USA

Mona Ameli

Mona Ameli’s executive career path was a deliberate one, with written career goals and a timetable before she graduated college. But the best-laid plans often hold surprises. “I thought it was about diplomas and technical skills, but it’s really about passion, commitment, nonstop learning and adjusting myself to this ever-changing industry,” she says.

Ameli relocated to the United States 16 years ago for a consumer packaged goods job and worked for a woman who embodied passion and commitment, but struggled with balancing personal, family and work commitments. Eventually, Ameli says, her boss’s health suffered. “For a lot of women it’s hard to find that balance and manage,” she says.

It takes increased flexibility and better understanding from corporate to help women juggle motherhood, family and corporate life. Ameli says, “In our industry, I’m not really sure we’ve been great at providing this internal flexibility. But as companies with distributors, shouldn’t we reflect that same value and opportunity for the women at the corporate level, so they can rank, advance and shine?” Belcorp USA, the company Ameli leads, believes so and proudly boasts 75 percent of managerial positions filled by women.

“We need to adjust the mentality of the industry. I’m not saying become direct selling feminists, but having a more balanced executive management would be healthy for growth and a better reflection of the industry,” Ameli says.

After all, the common denominator in direct selling is personal development and growth. It motivates Ameli every day. She’s seen how women change and become more empowered, regardless of the challenges and long hours. “It’s my true passion as a person and I get paid for it. It’s rare to have this harmony between your true values and what you strive for in life and what you do for a living,” she says.

Admiration for…

Connie Tang: “She has a contagious passion and energy. She inspires me. She is who she is—genuinely herself. I’m amazed by her cultural flexibility. For me, she impersonates the women we work with, both distributors and on the corporate side.”

Giving Back…

Ameli’s Belcorp Foundation gives 100 scholarships based on financial need to women for entrepreneurial training and to young girls to become their family’s first generation to graduate from college.

The Beauty of Belcorp

belcorpLima, Peru-based Belcorp is the 10th-largest direct selling company in the world, even though it didn’t expand into the United States until 2005.

The company was started by Eduardo Belmont—still its international CEO—45 years ago, to make beauty, prestige and economic opportunity accessible to women in Latin America and the United States. It now offers its prestige beauty products through more than 938,000 beauty advisors in 16 countries throughout the Americas.

Belcorp USA is known for its brand, L’Bel. Five years after it established its San Francisco headquarters, Belcorp USA made a strategic move: It broke away from its single-level business model and adopted a multilevel compensation structure, which awards team building as well as personal selling. It also blends its focus on philanthropy with its growth strategy through its non-profit arm, Belcorp Foundation.

Belcorp’s Foundation is present in each country in which Belcorp conducts business. The Foundation has helped thousands of women and young girls create a better future for themselves and within their communities through two key programs: The Amazing Woman program, aimed at providing scholarships to disadvantaged women for comprehensive business training, and Women Enlightening Women, a program providing financial aid to young girls to help them get access to quality education.


Dr. Oi-Lin Chen

President, Sunrider International

Sunrider

Dr. Oi-Lin Chen <br />
President, Sunrider International ” height=”418″ width=”300″ style=”float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 10px;” border: 0;” /></p>
<p><font size=Dr. Oi-Lin Chen is a medical doctor, a mother, a wife, an immigrant and President of Sunrider International. Each facet of her life directed her path to the top of the direct selling industry.

She and husband, Dr. Tei-Fu Chen, a world-renowned herbalist and founder of Sunrider International, immigrated to the United States from Taiwan with suitcases in hand, and through hard work and determination they built a $100M Club direct selling company.

Thirty years ago, Dr. Oi-Lin Chen worked part time as a physician at a Utah clinic while raising her family of five children. Flexibility was a priority for her and she understood how fortunate she was to have the part-time option. It was a luxury most mothers of that era did not have.

Fast-forward five years and her children are growing, and so is Sunrider International. They have relocated to Los Angeles, but staffing the business proves difficult. Dr. Chen, using hands-on management skills learned while running the Utah medical clinic, steps into an operations role and helps create the kind of flexible, moneymaking opportunities mothers need. To this day, making those opportunities possible for women is her greatest motivator. “I’m happy to help people just like me, who take care of children and family,” Dr. Chen says.

Among other benefits, direct selling can provide consistency for families who relocate due to a spouse’s job. Dr. Chen’s life is a testament to that. “We moved from Taiwan to the United States, and we were alone. Once we started Sunrider, it was different. If I move from one city to another, I move my home only. My work is the same,” she says.

Admiration for…

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell: In 1849 she became the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American medical school and later opened a hospital in New York City with two other women doctors.

“It was very hard because the medical field was a man’s world,” Dr. Chen says of Blackwell’s accomplishments. “Even when I was in residency 40 years ago, female doctors had to share rooms with nurses. Only 10 percent of residents were women. Now there are more than 50 percent women. Being a woman is not an obstacle, you just have to work.”

Sunrider products

Sunrider International: International Entity

As a sickly boy, Dr. Tei-Fu Chen ate and learned about herbs from his paternal grandfather in order to improve his health. He became fascinated by his grandfather’s ancient manuscripts on herbs. As a young man, he attended Kaohsiung Medical College and earned a degree in Pharmacy.

During college he married Dr. Oi-Lin Chen, a licensed medical doctor, and they immigrated to the United States. In 1982, after doing research and development for another company, Dr. Tei-Fu Chen seized the opportunity to buy that company and start Sunrider in Utah. His initial mission with Sunrider® was to make a franchise-like opportunity available to anyone without that person needing to invest millions of dollars.

When Sunrider moved to Torrance, Calif., in 1987, Oi Lin Chen closed her medical practice and joined Sunrider as its President. Their five children all work with them at Sunrider.

Sunrider has grown into a global company doing business in 42 countries, with around 2,000 retail stores. The company manufactures more than 415 award-winning health, beauty and household products.

Sunrider independent business owners (IBOs) in the United States, Canada, Israel, Western Europe, Hungary, Eastern Europe, Russia and East Asia operate direct selling businesses with multilevel compensation structures. In China, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan Sunrider authorized business owners own and operate Sunrider retail stores and sell brand-name Sunrider products.


Angela Loehr Chrysler

President and CEO, Team National

Team National

Angela Loehr Chrysler

Angela Loehr Chrysler strives to be the person who sees more in someone else than they do in themselves. The quicker the better, she says, “because it makes the difference in their outcomes.”

Loehr Chrysler’s father, Team National Founder Dick Loehr, did that for her. He lured her away from an unfulfilling career in medical sales and marketing to do “free research” on the travel industry for Team National. The company’s positive energy opened her mind to entrepreneurship and she was hooked.

“He expected me to do well and rank up and lead the company. He believed in me, so it gave me the confidence as well,” Loehr Chrysler says. Today she relishes doing the same for others by helping them see the best in themselves by making a positive difference on their self-esteem and offering personal growth within a family culture. “I really believe that as a company we can make a positive difference in the United States by making one positive difference at a time, family to family.”

Loehr Chrysler takes pride in the varied roles of women in direct selling companies, including those who choose to distribute, lead or launch. “It takes an entrepreneur to start a direct sales company. The first five years are incredibly difficult, whether it is a male or female,” she says. “There is so much sacrifice and commitment in that first five years, I don’t know if it’s so easy for women to do that with all that’s going on in their lives. Not that it is easy for men, but they have a different set of rules.”

Still, Loehr Chrysler sees so much positive influence that women make in other roles in direct sales, she says, “I think we’ll see more women start direct sales companies as opportunities arise.”

Admiration for…

Team National productMary Kay Ash: “She built relationships and connected people. She lives on through all of them today. I’ve utilized that with my dad’s passing. I want people to know the founder and keep learning from him.”

Andrea Jung: “While still [CEO at Avon] she said, ‘Sometimes as a leader of a growing organization you have to fire yourself on Friday and hire yourself on Monday with fresh eyes.’ I passed it on to our staff. We’ve been in business over 10 years and sometimes we need a fresh approach.”

Team National: Spend Smart

Team National has unlocked the power of volume purchasing to provide savings in more than 20 industries. Products range from automobiles to furniture to face creams—or even electricity or natural gas, which the company announced as new products at its August convention. The company’s secret: It negotiates contracts with suppliers so it can offer products and services at discounted rates through BigN.com, the company’s website. But access to those discounted products is available only through a membership savings package that U.S. consumers purchase from one of Team National’s 300,000 independent marketing directors.

The idea for the company was the brainchild of the late Dick Loehr, who founded the company in 1997. Dick’s initial focus was simply to provide savings to people who purchased “benefits packages.” In 1999 Team National became a direct selling company.

In 2000 Dick enticed his daughter Angela to join the business, grooming her to become its President and CEO when he was ready to step aside. By the time he died of prostate cancer in May 2008 she was in full stride as the company’s leader.

Team National’s ability to help consumers save money, plus its mid-2011 rollout to the Hispanic marketplace, helped it reach $230 million in net sales last year.


Kathy Coover

Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, Isagenix

isagenix

Kathy Coover <br />
Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, Isagenix ” height=”418″ width=”300″ style=”float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 10px;” border: 0;” /></p>
<p><font size=Kathy Coover absolutely loves network marketing, and why shouldn’t she? Hers is a field leader success story—three times over—culminating in starting her own wellness company, Isagenix, with husband, Jim, 10 years ago.

“We started Isagenix as an ambassador to the industry,” Coover says. Network marketing is a worthwhile career path for men and women, but Coover’s experience told her she needed the right people, the right vision and the right focus on the needs of the field to give Isagenix a culture worth believing in. “You have to attract the right quality of people to your company. If it’s not right for our associates, it’s not right for our company,” Coover says.

“I really want the field to know that we care about them. We are there for them because we’ve walked in their shoes,” she says. So she surrounds herself with a team of dynamic, supportive people who enable one another to do what each does best. “I do not just make decisions. I work with my team. We talk things through, think things through financially, logistically. We ask a lot of questions before making decisions,” she says. “Success takes time. You work step by step. You are always re-evaluating looking into the future, looking at what you’ve done right and considering adjustments.”

“Women,” Coover says, “bring a whole new life, heart and spirit into the industry. There’s a huge opportunity for women to be part of the corporate world in network marketing when they come to us with that experience of the field and have built successful businesses. They bring a brilliance of information.”

Why then the shortage of women in corporate jobs? Coover says, “I believe that 82 percent of the field are women and 82 percent of the people who make six-figure incomes in direct sales are women. That’s a clue.”

Admiration for…

Mary Kay Ash: “I admire her and respect her for everything she’s done for women. I know she had struggles and fought through them. I believe like she did: God first, family second and career third. We have to have priorities in our lives. So many women make the family as their excuse for not doing the business, but really the family should be the reason why they do this business.”

Marilyn Evans: “She taught me how to do a great presentation, empower other people and be so authentic in yourself that you let your heart come out and really care about people.”

Isagenix International: Challenging Growth

Isagenix ProductsWhy do accomplished, financially secure people come out of retirement? For Isagenix® International Founders John Anderson and Jim and Kathy Coover, it was because they had a vision: to impact world health and free people from physical and financial pain, and through that goal, create the largest health-and-wellness company in the world.

Their new product category, nutritional cleansing, gave them a solid start. But growth skyrocketed when Anderson created the Isagenix Cleansing and Fat Burning System and the company teamed it with the IsaBody Challenge. The result: Isagenix sales shot up an astonishing 1,300 percent in just five years. It achieved 2011 net sales of $262 million, fueled by its approximately 200,000 independent associates in eight markets.

Inspired by its vision, Isagenix focuses charitable efforts toward protecting and uplifting children. In August Isagenix became a supporter of Make-A-Wish®, the organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Isagenix associates in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand may make tax-deductible donations to Make-A-Wish to impact young lives in their own communities. Isagenix has helped fund the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-Child, since 2004. As the organization’s sole sponsor, Isagenix and its independent associates, customers and employees have raised nearly $3 million in support of the organization.


Marjorie Fine

Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Shaklee

Shaklee

Marjorie Fine <br />
Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Shaklee ” height=”418″ width=”300″ style=”float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 10px;” border: 0;” /></p>
<p><font size=From her beginnings as Associate General Counsel at Shaklee 23 years ago, Marjorie Fine’s focus was a broad one. Her responsibilities to the company’s legal department proved a stepping-off point for a unique set of internal job responsibilities and external involvement at the Direct Selling Association, which eventually led to industry-wide changes to the DSA’s Code of Ethics.

Fine’s legal acumen led her to become the DSA’s first ethics and self-regulation committee chairperson. “I got to take a hard look at ethics and rewrite the code with the committee. We updated it and put teeth into it, so that bad actors could be expelled from the DSA,” she says.

Fine grew at Shaklee with every promotion, expanding beyond legal to the direct selling side. “It’s an unusual job put together over many years,” Fine says. She loves being part of an organization and industry that develops people. “Women with no business skills, who lacked self-esteem, years later have poise and can stand up in front of an audience and address thousands,” Fine says.

“If you’re not drawn to owning a business and the sales field isn’t what you see as your future, direct selling companies are looking or should be looking to recruit and retain talented women because such a large portion of our field is women,” Fine says. “Direct selling companies have the same departments as other companies. But the thing we have that’s missing in other companies is the people side of our business—the ability to help develop people and transform their lives. You can make a great contribution from either vantage point.

“Women have attained and are attaining more leadership positions in the industry, but women may not be as visible as men because they are not leading our trade association.” Fine encourages DSA involvement for the industry’s women leaders. “You will get back what you put in. I think women are finding that to be true. There are phenomenal women leaders in this industry and you will see them step up and take leadership roles.”

Admiration for…

Doris Christopher: “She taught me it’s possible to be a great businessperson and great human being, simultaneously. She built The Pampered Chef and is personally responsible for the success of the company. She gave generously of her time and financial resources.”

Good Advice…

“I recommend to women to develop relationships with people they admire in and outside their company and learn from them.”

Shaklee Products

Shaklee—Green to the Core

Shaklee was providing premium-quality, natural products in nutrition, personal care and household categories when “green” was just a color—since 1956, in fact.

The vision of the company’s founder, Dr. Forrest Shaklee, was to give people the wealth of health. He helped pioneer both the nutritional supplement industry and the direct selling business model. Although Dr. Shaklee died in 1985, his spirit is very much alive at his namesake company.

A thriving company with 2011 net sales of $515 million, Shaklee has more than 1.2 million members and distributors around the globe. Since 2004 Shaklee has been led by Chairman and CEO Roger Barnett. It currently operates in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and China. In 2000, Shaklee became the first company in the world to be Climate Neutral™—certified to totally offset its CO2 emissions, resulting in a net-zero impact on the environment. Its Pleasanton, Calif., headquarters was built to be a people-friendly, earth-friendly space that reflects Shaklee’s commitment to its motto: Living in Harmony with Nature®.

Shaklee’s commitment to being green is so pervasive that it even extends to its distributor incentives. At its August convention Shaklee kicked off a new car incentive program that included extra incentives for those who lease or purchase hybrid vehicles.


Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.


CONTENTS
Page 1

Mona Ameli, Belcorp

Dr. Oi-Lin Chen, Sunrider International

Angela Loehr Chrysler, Team National

Kathy Coover, Isagenix

Marjorie Fine, Shaklee

Page 2

Shelli Gardner, Stampin’ Up!

Marla Gottschalk,The Pampered Chef

Jessica Herrin, Stella & Dot

Andrea Jung, Avon

Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh, Silpada

Page 3

Wendy Lewis, Jeunesse Global

Tami Longaberger, Longaberger

Candace Matthews, Amway

Cindy Monroe, Thirty-One Gifts

Kay Napier, Arbo

Page 4

Joani Nielson, Tastefully Simple

Jill Blashack Strahan, Tastefully Simple

Connie Tang, Princess House

Heidi Thompson, Scentsy

Page 5

The Icons of our Industry


Shelli Gardner

Co-Founder and CEO, Stampin’ Up!

Stampin' Up!

Shelli Gardner

“Executive” never landed on Shelli Gardner’s to-do list. “My career path kind of chose me,” the Co-Founder and CEO of Stampin’ Up! says. “My goal in life was to be the best mom ever! I grew up not being told I had to be a mom, but valuing motherhood and family.

“I worked when I was young and was motivated to be busy, productive and self-sufficient,” says Gardner, who earned her first paychecks tending her six younger siblings.

“I never focused on money except for what I needed to pay bills,” she says. Even starting the company, money wasn’t the motivator. A longing for creativity, a love of stamping and the assumption others would want it too, ultimately sent her on this path. “I didn’t think that it would turn into this,” she says.

Inner conflict sometimes left Gardner feeling guilty about time spent away from her daughters. “What happened to the perfect mom?” she would ask herself. But hindsight tells her, “God had a plan and I was moldable enough to execute the plan.” Her daughters, now grown, are Gardner’s best friends and great mothers, she says. “They understand about business and work hard, and they learned that from me.”

Flexibility draws most women to the sales field, but Gardner is still amazed at the Stampin’ Up! demonstrators who apply for corporate positions and are willing to move across the country; or dedicated, talented, career-minded women at corporate who start a family and want to work from home.

“She’s still a career person, but she’s a mom too and she can do both. Her priorities have shifted slightly and her demeanor has changed too. The point is: People need to decide to move forward, and if you change your mind, be OK with that too,” Gardner says.

Admiration for…

Sue Johnson: “She runs a metal fabricating business here in Utah. She is pro employee and very corporate. I watch how she is soft around the edges, intellectual, understanding and a great boss.”

Doris Christopher: “She carries herself poised but approachable and friendly. Some women have this air about them that they are better than you, but she doesn’t. She seems positive and assured. From everything I hear about The Pampered Chef, it is a business run with integrity. That starts somewhere and it has to start with her. She’s a woman of integrity who followed her path and dream.”

Stampin’ Up!: Designing Women

Stampin' Up! productsShelli Gardner and her sister became so intrigued by their decorative rubber stamping hobby that they did what any entrepreneur would do. They built a business around it.

Rubber stamps are traditionally offered in craft stores, and originally the women hoped to work with a retail stamp company to market the hobby in a different way—through workshops at home parties. Unable to find the right mix of products, designs, marketing approach and compensation plan, the sisters decided to create their own company.

Shelli Gardner invested her family’s savings to begin Stampin’ Up! in 1988. During the first year, orders were filled from her living room. Today employees fill orders from the company’s 300,000-square-foot home office located in Riverton, Utah. Stampin’ Up! operates a state-of-the-art 80,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in nearby Kanab. The first Stampin’ Up! product catalog was 64 pages; today the Stampin’ Up! Idea Book & Catalog is over 200 pages of full-color photos of stamp projects, rubber stamps and accessories.

Currently more than 40,000 demonstrators from all 50 states and Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and the United Kingdom teach and share their enthusiasm for rubber stamping, scrapbooking and card-making. The company has announced that it will soon expand into Austria and The Netherlands.


Marla Gottschalk

CEO, The Pampered Chef

The Pampered Chef

Marla Gottschalk

It comes as little surprise that Marla Gottschalk loves to cook. A timesaving recipe and having just the right cooking tool for the job fuels her passion for preparing family meals, as well as her role as CEO of The Pampered Chef. “To me, what I do is so much more than a job. I believe what we do makes a real difference in the lives of our consultants and customers,” she says.

“I believe that when you love what you do and feel that you have a purpose, you will be successful,” Gottschalk says. Passion led her to success and it’s that same passion she sees in the eyes of tens of thousands of talented consultants who inspire her to work hard every day.

“Early in my career, I didn’t have a specific goal of being a corporate chief executive officer; it was an evolution as I continually strived for the next assignment and the next promotion,” she says. “It is that spirit of hard work and striving to grow that set me on this path.”

Throughout corporate America, women are under-represented, which disappoints Gottschalk. “I believe a diverse team can be the most successful. Building this kind of high-performance team begins at the top and becomes part of the culture.”

The direct selling industry, as a whole, is fundamentally about helping women “have it all,” and The Pampered Chef is certainly a culture in tune with women. They fill 60 percent of corporate executive roles, and Gottschalk says, “Every day I have the privilege to talk with women across the world—each with their own definition of ‘having it all.’ The Pampered Chef has helped so many women achieve their goals, whether it’s the ability to replace or supplement their income, stay at home with their children or simply provide an outlet for their love of cooking while earning a little fun money.”

Admiration for…

Doris Christopher: “Doris’ belief that dreams can come true, her passion for enhancing the quality of family life and her advocacy of the importance of shared mealtimes continues to transform millions of lives. She built a company that continues to flourish today behind the mission and vision she created.”

The Pampered Chef: Heating Up Sales in the Kitchen

Pampered Chef MarketingOutside of its premium kitchen tools, The Pampered Chef® is probably best known for its current owner: Warren Buffett. Yes, that Warren Buffett, the astute investor. Well, technically, it was his company, Berkshire Hathaway that acquired The Pampered Chef from its founder Doris K. Christopher and her family in 2002.

Christopher launched the company from the basement of her home in 1980, using her expertise as an educator, home economist and mother. She laid the foundation for an industry icon that now has $500 million in 2011 net sales through its 65,000 independent consultants. From its home base in Addison, Ill., it operates in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Germany. Marla Gottschalk was named CEO in May 2006.

Through home cooking shows, the company offers professional-quality tools for cooking and entertaining. Guests can try out the tools before they buy at the million-plus shows that are held annually in the United States alone. The Pampered Chef Test Kitchens keep demonstrations lively by arming consultants with timesaving tools, tips and recipes that enhance mealtime and suit busy lifestyles. The Pampered Chef carries more than 300 items at any one time—some 80 to 90 percent of them are exclusive to The Pampered Chef.


Jessica Herrin

Founder and CEO, Stella & Dot

Stella & Dot

Jessica Herrin

Fresh out of Stanford, Jessica Herrin deliberated with herself—investment banking or entrepreneurism? She chose the “riskier upside” and joined an entrepreneurial startup. Three startups later, she was 30 and knew “how to get it done and build it from scratch.” But skills for scaling a business eluded her until, she says, “one of my mentors told me if I ever wanted to be successful at running a large company, I should go to work at one.” So she did—at Dell. “I called it my maternity leave job. It gave me the right ‘incubation’ period for having both real babies and business babies.

“It was something I had to do to develop as a leader,” Herrin says, and she later created Stella & Dot with just such an emphasis on personal development. “We try to provide a rich, learning, professional environment and life coaching for our stylists.… My goal is to help women lead better lives, and to me that is more than just about climbing the career plan. It’s about helping her feel bold to take action and dream big in all areas of her life. If it’s training that she gets from us that helps her get promoted in her corporate job, we’ve been successful,” she says.

Herrin confesses hers is a corporate dream job and wants other women to live the lives they want, be the wives and mothers they envision and still thrive professionally. But, she says, “If we want women to lean in and stay engaged as executives, a lot needs to shift culturally. The first and biggest thing has to do with women’s split of the responsibility of the household. If women are going to be equal at work, they have to be equal at home. It has to be 50/50.”

Herrin renegotiated her contract with her husband and splits child transportation and homework tasks, as well as sick days and business trips. “When I see women executives, they have a very supportive spouse, or a lot of creativity in how they divide those jobs, or they get leverage and they get help,” she says.

On Motherhood and Work…

“I am a mom working! I put it in that order because for me the ‘mom’ part is most important.”

Admiration for…

Sheryl Sandburg, COO of Facebook: “It’s incredible how much time she spends nurturing and developing other professional women both inside and outside her company.… Women need each other for that continual support and development.”

Stella & Dot: Glittery Growth

Stella & Dot necklaceIn 2003 Jessica Herrin began devoting nights and weekends to designing jewelry, DIY jewelry kits and a website to show and sell them. The success of her first show inspired her to form Luxe Jewels. By the end of 2006 the company had grown to $1 million in sales.

In 2007 Herrin and her new business partner and Chief Creative Officer Blythe Harris rebranded the company as Stella & Dot, naming it after their beloved grandmothers.

Today’s Stella & Dot is an Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Company based in San Bruno, Calif., near San Francisco. This year Inc. magazine ranked Stella & Dot the 57th fastest-growing company in the country. It reported that the company’s 2011 revenues were $175.3 million and three-year growth rate was a staggering 4,315 percent. Stella & Dot’s more than 10,000 independent stylists show its boutique-style jewelry and accessories line exclusively through in-home gatherings called Trunk Shows and also online.

Stella & Dot’s in-house designers create jewelry collections using a mix of materials, such as semiprecious stones, resins, crystals, glass, .925 sterling silver, bronze, 18-24 karat gold vermeil, and hand-painted enamel. And the company makes sure that it regularly adorns celebrities, ranging from Katherine Heigl and Katy Perry to Kathie Lee Gifford, Elle MacPherson and Brooke Burke Charvet.


Andrea Jung

Executive Chairman and former CEO, Avon Products

Avon

Andrea Jung

When Andrea Jung graduated college, her heart pined to make a difference and join the Peace Corps. But lack of income tugged at her pocketbook, so she entered management training with Federated Department Stores. “I thought the two were mutually exclusive options,” she says. But 15 years and one Avon project later, “I realized it was possible to have a career in business and make a difference in the world.”

Women remain disproportionately affected by the world’s most serious problems. In fact, “600 million women globally live on $1 or less per day; women account for two-thirds of the population living below the poverty line; and despite strides in developed countries, women in most of the world have little access to the mainstream economy. These are serious numbers and serious issues,” Jung says. Direct selling opens doors to opportunities for women empowerment and family support that otherwise wouldn’t exist. More than 80 percent of U.S. direct sellers are women.

Yet women lag behind in corporate America. Jung sites 2011 Catalyst research indicating that only 14 percent of all officer-level positions in Fortune 500 companies and less than 8 percent of top earners were women. “At Avon, we’re proud that we have more women in management than any other Fortune 500 company. We have a 50/50 male-to-female ratio throughout our ranks of management,” she says.

Gradually, more women are rising to operating heads, CFOs and other leadership roles in the direct selling industry. “I believe they will champion and role-model the next generation of women leaders. I think the next 10 years are going to look a lot different than the last, which is great,” Jung says.

True throughout her career, and extremely relevant for today’s up-and-coming leaders, Jung says, “Follow your compass, not your clock. Do what you’re passionate about and let each opportunity lead you to your next. In this unpredictable economic landscape where nothing is secure, the only real security comes from having a passion for what you do and knowing in your heart that it is the right fit for you.”

Admiration for…

Mrs. P.F.E. Albee, the first Avon representative in 1886: “Whenever I think of breaking down boundaries and opening opportunities to empower women, I think of Mrs. Albee. I learned from her passion and tenacity that just because something hasn’t been done before, there is no reason to believe it can’t be done now. That was Mrs. Albee’s attitude about taking on a traveling door-to-door sales job in an entirely male industry, and it’s an important lesson for us all today.”

Avon products

Avon: Leader of the Pack

Traveling book salesman David H. McConnell didn’t originally intend to create a beauty company. But he found that his women customers—isolated at home while their husbands went off to work—were often much more interested in his free perfume samples than in his books. So he created the California Perfume Company. Women had very limited employment opportunities in 1886, so his company was a revolutionary concept. The company was rebranded as Avon in 1939 and became known as “the company for women.”

With headquarters in New York City, Avon is now the world’s largest direct selling company. With $11.3 billion in net sales in 2011, today’s Avon is the industry’s highly respected mother ship. It has 6.5 million independent representatives in 100 markets around the globe. Avon acquired silver-jewelry direct seller Silpada in mid-2010.

Avon is one of the few direct selling companies with women at the helm. Andrea Jung joined Avon in 1994, advancing through the company until she was named Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO in September 2001. She held that position until April 2012, when she became Executive Chairman. Her successor: scientist-businesswoman Sheri S. McCoy, CEO and a director of Avon Products Inc.


Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh

Co-Founders, Silpada

Silpada

Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh

When Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh put their names on the “Room Mom” list as their oldest children started first grade, they got way more than they bargained for. Soon they were best friends, not only making plans for holiday parties at school, but also laying the foundation for Silpada.

“We started designing our own jewelry and hosting what we called ‘A Fun Ladies’ Night Out Playing Dress-up With Jewelry!’ ” Kelly and Walsh recall. One party turned into two, then three. “It wasn’t long before hostesses and customers began telling us, ‘You look like you are having so much fun. We wish we could have your jobs!’ ”

“For six years prior to starting Silpada, we pursued our passion by helping women reinvent their wardrobes and hosting home jewelry parties,” the co-founders say. It was immensely valuable time spent. “It’s important to do something you believe in and make sure there is a need for your product or service by testing the market.”

By 1997, friends and customers became the first independent Silpada Designs representatives, the very first catalog of high-quality sterling silver jewelry was sent to press, and a direct selling company was born.

“Designing jewelry and making women feel good about themselves has been our biggest motivator,” they say. Silpada enriches lives by giving women the ability to balance family life and work hours, earn as much income as they want and feel beautiful. Take it from this pair of best friends: The positive impact of friendship is immeasurable.

Kelly and Walsh agree, “This industry provides endless opportunity and value for women, both in the field and at the corporate level. In the 1960s, the direct sales industry empowered women to untie their aprons and get out of the house to make money. Today, direct sales is empowering women to have the best of both worlds—the opportunity to have a career they love while maintaining the freedom and flexibility to take care of their families.”

Admiration for…

Each other: “We’ve always looked to each other as mentors. As best friends, we know we can always count on one another.”

On Corporate…

“There are many ways women can transition from field leadership roles to corporate leadership positions. Having knowledge and experience within different dimensions of the business can be extremely valuable.”

Silpada Designs: Silver Sizzle

Silpada ProductsBest friends Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh loved silver jewelry so much that the stay-at-home moms each took $25 from their grocery money to start a company they called Cool Jewels. They achieved an impressive return on investment. For each of the next five years, Bonnie and Teresa averaged 125 parties and $175,000 in sales.

They knew they had started something special. So in 1997 Bonnie, Teresa and Bonnie’s husband, Jerry, launched Silpada Designs. They photographed their first catalog in the Kellys’ home basement. It featured more than 275 sterling silver jewelry designs and helped them recruit their first 14 independent sales representatives.

By the time the company joined with Avon in mid-2010, Silpada Designs had become the largest, fastest-growing direct seller of sterling silver jewelry, with $280 million in sales. It has operations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and boasts 33,000 independent representatives who have average party sales of $1,000.

Tom Kelly, a longtime Avon executive and formerly President and COO of Silpada Designs, was named CEO and President of Silpada in August. Jerry Kelly remains Silpada’s Chairman, and the two run the company from its headquarters in Lenexa, Kan. Bonnie and Teresa continue to lead and inspire Silpada representatives and the company’s jewelry design team.


Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.


CONTENTS
Page 1

Mona Ameli, Belcorp

Dr. Oi-Lin Chen, Sunrider International

Angela Loehr Chrysler, Team National

Kathy Coover, Isagenix

Marjorie Fine, Shaklee

Page 2

Shelli Gardner, Stampin’ Up!

Marla Gottschalk,The Pampered Chef

Jessica Herrin, Stella & Dot

Andrea Jung, Avon

Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh, Silpada

Page 3

Wendy Lewis, Jeunesse Global

Tami Longaberger, Longaberger

Candace Matthews, Amway

Cindy Monroe, Thirty-One Gifts

Kay Napier, Arbo

Page 4

Joani Nielson, Tastefully Simple

Jill Blashack Strahan, Tastefully Simple

Connie Tang, Princess House

Heidi Thompson, Scentsy

Page 5

The Icons of our Industry


Wendy Lewis

Founder and CEO, Jeunesse Global

Jeunesse

Wendy Lewis

Wendy Lewis admits it. She’s a serial entrepreneur. The summer camp she started from her parents’ back patio when she was 8 foreshadowed a lucrative career building companies and selling them. Lewis laughs about it now. “I charged neighborhood kids to come make arts and crafts projects and play games like Mother May I and Red Light, Green Light,” she says.

In the ’80s and ’90s, Lewis’ medical software and computer hardware maintenance companies both ranked nationally for performance and both sold. Lewis tried retirement, but it didn’t stick. Expertise in mathematics and statistics had Lewis back in the entrepreneurial game developing back-office software for companies with a multilevel marketing structure and constructing compensation plans.

Launching Jeunesse Global was a natural progression.

“When we did this, it was more for the gratitude we feel and to help other people achieve their goals and be successful,” Lewis says. “I love working with the salesforce distributors and leaders, helping them find personal success and seeing people who have never been successful rise and become successful entrepreneurs.

“What this industry does for people is make it a level playing field. It doesn’t matter if you have a Ph.D. or graduated high school. If you can listen and learn how to do the business, you can be extremely successful,” she says.

But, Lewis believes, “Personal development needs to transcend to our corporate employees as well as the salesforce.” Lewis loves to hire women, but sometimes it’s not easy to find them for high-level positions. “I think the problem is women are still trying to gain the self-confidence to let their voices be heard. They are often afraid to be assertive, afraid of criticism. I even find that in myself sometimes.”

Admiration for…

Her mother: “She taught me the most important things: compassion, patience and independence. I hope that’s what I’ve taught my daughter. Be your own person, have your own career and your own life besides having a husband or significant other.”

Hillary Clinton: “Not necessarily from a political standpoint, but I respect that she is brilliant. It takes a lot of independence, compassion and intelligence. First we saw her as the wife of a president, but now we see her as a person who can do so much more in her own right, not just as the first lady.”

On Building a Company…

“If you listen to what the customers are telling you, you know what you have to do. You have to listen to what the distributors think. You can’t build a company on just how you see it in your mind.”

Jeunesse Global: Youthful Aging

JeunesseThe founders of Jeunesse™ Global have a special fondness for baby boomers—the company’s best customers.

Husband and wife team Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis, now CEO and Chief Operating Officer, respectively, founded Jeunesse in September 2009 to market an anti-aging serum, Luminesce™. The couple learned about Luminesce from its creator, Dr. Nathan Newman, a world-renowned cosmetic surgeon. Ray was considering a trip to Singapore for stem cell treatments for his injured knee, but he heard about Newman’s work with stem cells. He visited Newman in hopes that he could receive the treatment he was seeking closer to home. That discussion led to the foundation of Jeunesse. Since then the company has expanded the product line, maintaining focus on anti-aging solutions based on cutting-edge science, such as adult stem cell technology, DNA repair and nutrigenomics. Products are made in the United States and are exclusively formulated for Jeunesse.

The company, located in Altamonte Springs, Fla., is fully operational in 11 countries across the globe, with shipping available to 81 countries. In 2011 its 92,000 salespeople produced $65 million in net sales. Jeunesse uses a single-level compensation structure.

Earlier this year, Jeunesse acquired direct seller GreatLife International.


Tami Longaberger

CEO, Longaberger

Longaberger

Tami Longaberger

Hear Longaberger, think baskets—a family tradition dating to the 1890s. Depression-era basket making helped feed 12 Longaberger children, including CEO Tami Longaberger’s father, Dave, who started the direct selling company nearly 40 years ago.

Fresh from college, Tami Longaberger took a seat outside two offices: VP of Sales and company founder. “Sit there for the next five years and learn something,” her dad told her. And she did—manufacturing and distribution, customer service, sales and marketing, product development and promotion. “When you are a part of a family business, you do what needs to be done—even running errands for Dad—to keep things going,” she says.

“Life throws challenges at you, you are going to have the ups and downs, and you really have to have a backbone of steel in this industry and keep moving forward,” Longaberger says. With her dad’s gift for perseverance, she sees herself “as a guardian and a keeper” of a great American tradition of handcrafting, and she also loves crafting relationships between the salesforce, employees and basket makers. “That’s the point of differentiation that makes you sustainable.”

While the male-to-female ratio in corporate direct selling leadership weighs heavily in men’s favor, Longaberger says, perhaps, “Women have figured out the right spot to be in, in this industry.… If your goal is to contribute to your family, personal development and growth, economic opportunity… if your goal is to do what you can as a woman to keep the traditional roles as a mother and wife intact, I’m not sure you can find anything better in the corporate world than what you can get in the sales field owning your own business and working from home,” she says.

Juggling motherhood, marriage and work is difficult, but Longaberger says, “When you push yourself to do things in the industry that you don’t feel like you have time to do, you are rewarded with relationships that become so important in your life.” That’s really the gift of direct selling, whether in the salesforce, a corporate job or reaching out to the entire industry through the DSA.

Admiration for…

The composite woman: “I feel like every woman I have met, I have learned something from… mostly what to do, but sometimes what not to do! From every conversation, I gain something that contributes to this relational business that we have.”

Entrepreneurial Spirit…

“We are moving all our manufacturing to the U.S.… I truly believe with all my heart that it’s this kind of action that will rebuild this country, and I felt like we had to step up and do our part.”

Longaberger: Thinking Outside the Basket

Longaberger ProductsYou wouldn’t think that anyone with a stutter would create a direct selling company. But Dave Longaberger actually took a job as a door-to-door salesman to overcome his affliction. His lifelong goal was to improve lives. To follow that dream, he expanded his basket-maker father’s craft when he founded The Longaberger Company in 1973 and began selling products through direct sales in 1978.

Tami Longaberger, the company’s current Chair of the Board and CEO, as well as Dave’s daughter, had worked for the company in college and joined her father full time after graduation. She took over his responsibilities after his death in 1999.

Under Tami Longaberger’s leadership, the company leveraged the reputation of its artisan, hand-crafted baskets by adding other products for the home, including pottery, wrought iron, fabric accessories, specialty foods, and most recently, coffee, which independent home consultants offer in home shows. The Longaberger Company has announced that its full product line will soon be made in the United States.

Longaberger also owns three guest destinations: Longaberger Homestead®, Longaberger Golf Club®, and The Place Off the Square™. The destinations attract Longaberger devotees who come by the busloads to take the basket-making tour. And then there’s The Longaberger Company’s home office—a seven-story replica of the company’s Medium Market Basket.


Candace Matthews

Global CMO, Amway

Amway

Candace Matthews

Rock star status still shocks Amway’s Global CMO Candace Matthews every time she steps on stage at an event. Distributor excitement and enthusiasm is palpable. “Direct selling is about motivating people, not putting a promotional coupon in the Sunday circular. It’s about helping people achieve their human potential,” she says.

“Five years ago, I had no idea how global Amway was, the actual opportunities that existed, how wonderful it would be to be part of a global enterprise and bring the skills I’d developed into the organization,” Matthews says. Today she’s a student of world cultures, relishing the warmth and reverence of a Thai distributor’s bow or the connectedness of karaoke to a Korean Amway event. “I encourage people to look beyond what they believe is traditional to wonderful opportunities that exist in our industry.”

With Amway, Matthews makes good on a pay-it-forward promise made years ago to Ann Fudge, her first mentor and recruiter. She taught Matthews how to successfully advocate for herself and her career, perform and deliver with the utmost distinction, get her “game face” on amid difficult circumstances, and the necessity of a sponsor in the company and in the room when decisions are made. “It made a huge difference to have someone like that in my life from the outset of my career,” Matthews says.

“It’s flat-out hard,” she says, for women to rise to the top in male-dominated corporate environments. Even though a recent Folkman and Zenger study shows women outscore men on 12 of the 16 attributes most associated with great leaders, corporate realities change at a glacial pace. “I view it as my job as a woman in the room with the men to bring these things to their attention. Every woman in those roles is going to have to do this for it to get better. I don’t believe men are intentional about it. It’s just not top of mind,” she says.

On Education…

Candace Matthews augmented her metallurgical engineering degree with an MBA from Stanford just as the steel industry shifted away from her home state of Pennsylvania. She says, “The advisor told me, ‘Make that MBA count.’ ” Matthews did. She not only met her career goal of division president by age 50, but beat it by eight years.

Amway products

Amway: Entrepreneurial Family

As huge as it is—$10.9 billion in 2011 net sales, generated by 3 million independent business owners from 80 countries—Amway is still all in the family. Chairman Steve Van Andel and President Doug DeVos now lead the company that their entrepreneurial fathers Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos launched in their Ada, Mich., homes.

Jay and Rich started their business in 1959 to sell one of the first biodegradable products, L.O.C.™ (Liquid Organic Cleaner) Multipurpose Cleaner, but today’s Amway is known primarily for its health and beauty products.

With ingredients that are grown, harvested and processed on certified organic farms, Nutrilite® is the world’s leading brand of vitamin and dietary supplements, based on 2010 sales. Nutrition product sales accounted for 45 percent, or $4.7 billion, of Amway sales in 2011. Amway is fueling those sales by investing nearly $180 million to expand U.S. manufacturing and processing capacity to meet growing global demand for supplements.

Amway’s beauty brand, Artistry® skincare and cosmetics, was the brainchild of Edith Rehnborg, wife of Nutrilite brand founder Carl Rehnborg. Artistry is now among the world’s top five largest-selling premium skincare brands. Artistry is a phenomenal success in most of the world, and Amway is working to raise its U.S. profile through prestige sponsorships, such as the Miss America pageant.


Cindy Monroe

Founder and CEO, Thirty-One Gifts

Thirty-One Gifts

Cindy Monroe

“We have to make sure and be careful how we define success in our industry,” says Cindy Monroe, Founder and CEO of Thirty-One Gifts. “I believe success is defined by positive change, personally and financially.”

A desire to help others make that change is why Monroe started Thirty-One Gifts when she was still in her 20s. “We built the company on helping women find financial freedom that enables them to make choices. We want women to be able to make the right choice at the right time and dream bigger than they ever imagined,” she says.

But often, women don’t realize there are choices within the direct sales industry, beyond products and companies. “We do have huge opportunities in the field. These are careers, and the impact you have on so many families and the power you have as a leader in the field is crazy,” Monroe says. “We also have some of the most fabulous corporate jobs out there, but people don’t know about them.” Thirty-One Gifts has 300 professional jobs at its headquarters.

Often the direct selling industry is so focused on marketing to the field, they forget to market from a corporate standpoint. “I don’t think we’re doing a great job helping people understand the difference between working in an executive position at a bank and one within our direct sales industry,” she says.

Monroe feels she was called to entrepreneurship to support her desire to make a difference in the world. Many women are drawn to philanthropic organizations for the same reason, she says. “Direct sales is the best of both worlds.”

To keep pace with younger demographics, it’s essential to “make young women, who want to be part of an impactful career, understand that direct sales is a great industry to be part of,” Monroe says.

Admiration for…

Mary Crowley, Mary Kay Ash and Doris Christopher: “They were willing to put themselves out there when it wasn’t necessarily popular for women to do it. They loaned me the confidence that I needed to build Thirty-One.”

On Starting a Company…

“It was kind of like being a mom. There’s no instruction manual. There are lots of books and advice, but you have to find your way.”

Thirty-One Gifts: Principles Rule

Thirty-One Gifts ProductThe first question executives at Thirty-One Gifts, based in Columbus, Ohio, often hear from those just learning about the company: What’s behind the company’s name?

The answer surprises a lot of folks.

Thirty-One refers to Proverbs 31, which describes the characteristics of a good woman: virtuous, business-minded, always taking care of her family. That Scripture has also become the working description of the company’s 72,000 consultants who offer handbags, fashion accessories, totes and organization solutions at home parties. Chief Branding Officer Scott Monroe explains, “We are a company that was founded by Christian people and run by Christian principles; and our business, therefore, is really an extension of who we are.”

Founder and CEO Cindy Monroe created the company in 2003 to offer expanded career, income and shopping options to busy women. Since then, its culture has fueled furious growth. During its first three years, it saw 300 to 400 percent annual growth. Since then, growth has consistently ranged between 200 and 500 percent annually. Its 2011 net sales were $482 million, and on the Direct Selling News Global 100 list, it shot from No. 83 in 2010 to No. 24 in 2011.

The company keeps customers coming back by introducing lots of new products. Some 60 to 80 percent of its product line is new every fashion season.


Kay Napier

CEO, Arbonne

Arbonne

Kay Napier

Kay Napier built a career in blue-chip business. Thrust into a man’s world, or at least a man’s set of norms in the business environment, Napier adapted. It took a great deal of energy to learn effective approaches, strategies and styles, but she persisted. “You’re growing and developing every day but it’s important to grow in your core of who you are,” she says. “You have to be comfortable in your own skin and be the best you can be personally. Go with your gut and armed with good business experience and factual information.”

Napier believes in checking out every angle, so when Arbonne came knocking three years ago she did her homework. Between increasing Internet capabilities and a declining retail sales model, direct selling made sense. She was also intrigued by the incredible talent direct selling was pulling from corporate America. “There are a lot of women, and now increasingly more men, who want balance to spend time with family. At one point, there were more women choosing to stay at home than have full-time jobs. I saw so many friends do this,” she says.

Most striking to Napier is the opportunity for personal leadership development. Direct sales transforms everyday people into extraordinary leaders, who are part of a broader community of support. “There’s nothing else like it. It’s an amazing phenomena—an opportunity for greater financial growth, which buys them all sorts of freedom and flexibility in their personal lives,” Napier says.

But a paradox exists with direct selling that reflects the broader business world. Women make up a small portion of corporate leadership positions. Napier says, “A lot of these companies were founded by men. At the time they were founded, women weren’t working full time and that created a culture of management by men.

“It’s changing in the broader world in which we live as people become more comfortable across cultures. The best people will get the jobs, whether they are male or female,” Napier says.

As for Arbonne, this CEO says, “The field seems to relate better to me being a woman because I understand what they are dealing with.”

Appreciation for…

Claudia Kotchka: “I’ve only had one female boss in my entire career. She came to be my boss after the birth of my first child, my daughter. She so believed in me and wanted me to succeed that she took projects off my plate and guided me.… She did it out of kindness, but it was a smart business decision. Me getting burnt out and quitting would not be good for the company. She made me feel valued and that was quite remarkable.”

Arbonne Products

Arbonne: Goodbye Debt, Hello Health

In 2010, personal-care and wellness company Arbonne celebrated its 30-year anniversary in the United States with a high-speed financial restructuring that reduced its debt by 80 percent and gave it the financial flexibility to invest in growth.

Since then it has added about a dozen new products to its portfolio, amped up consultant training and achieved media recognition. It reported 2011 net sales of $353 million through more than 550,000 consultants.

Petter Mørck founded Arbonne in Switzerland in 1975 and brought the company to America five years later with 19 original products that reflected Swiss quality and an integrative approach to beauty, health and wellness. The company’s U.S. base is in Irvine, Calif.

This year Arbonne launched its official philanthropic organization in the United States: The Arbonne Charitable Foundation™. Registrations are pending for foundations in the other three countries where Arbonne currently does business—Canada, Australia and the UK. Together, the four entities will work to drive support for programs that build self-esteem in teens. The Foundation established a national partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America that rolled out with a pilot program featuring the delivery of Arbonne products and the volunteer efforts of Arbonne Angels—the foundation’s corps of donors and volunteers. Similar partnerships will be formed in Arbonne’s other markets.


Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.


CONTENTS
Page 1

Mona Ameli, Belcorp

Dr. Oi-Lin Chen, Sunrider International

Angela Loehr Chrysler, Team National

Kathy Coover, Isagenix

Marjorie Fine, Shaklee

Page 2

Shelli Gardner, Stampin’ Up!

Marla Gottschalk,The Pampered Chef

Jessica Herrin, Stella & Dot

Andrea Jung, Avon

Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh, Silpada

Page 3

Wendy Lewis, Jeunesse Global

Tami Longaberger, Longaberger

Candace Matthews, Amway

Cindy Monroe, Thirty-One Gifts

Kay Napier, Arbo

Page 4

Joani Nielson, Tastefully Simple

Jill Blashack Strahan, Tastefully Simple

Connie Tang, Princess House

Heidi Thompson, Scentsy

Page 5
The Icons of our Industry

Joani Nielson

Founding Partner and COO, Tastefully Simple

Tastefully Simple

Joani Nielson

Age was no deterrent for Joani Nielson’s first boss, who focused on the leadership potential of the 15-year-old, rather than her limitations. Decades after working at Burger King, she’s thankful and consistently pays those lessons forward through mentoring, giving people hope to believe in themselves, and helping them discover personal passions and inner strengths.

“I believe there are times when people get overwhelmed with where they are and with where they want to be and only see obstacles. They may think they need to make giant leaps of change, however incremental steps a person does every day may have a greater impact,” Nielson says.

She encourages women to embrace their powerful, female intuition and not be afraid to step toward something they want for themselves. “I encourage women to believe their strengths come from within and not to wait for external affirmations,” Nielson says.

“As humans it is important to reflect upon and understand our personal definition of success; it makes everyday decisions clearer. During the ages of 25–35, people are generally growing in career advancement, that’s also when women are typically building their families. Some women choose one over the other. They think they must make a choice and haven’t recognized they can do both successfully,” Nielson says.

“Many women in my generation still struggle with the fact they can’t work a 10-hour day and still magically have a special St. Patrick’s Day dinner on the table,” she says. “Our daughters are really fortunate because they will see that their mom was a great mom and a great businessperson. Our daughters have a better perspective of what life could be going forward.”

Admiration for…

Mother Teresa: “She led by example and lived her life in a way that others wanted to follow, but she didn’t grandstand it. She did it in a quiet, humble way. I think that’s an important reminder in leadership. Are you modeling the behavior that you want others to have? You can’t ask people to be genuine and giving if you aren’t modeling that yourself.”

Final Words…

“Upon my death I hope being a successful business owner is at the bottom of my list of accomplishments. I don’t ever want that to define who I am. The reality is success comes from living the life that you desire to live and leaving the legacy you desire to leave.”

Tastefully Simple: Culture Club

Tastefully Simple productsJoani Nielson has a long history of entrepreneurship, having started her career as owner and operator of Salon Alexis in Alexandria, Minn. In 1995 she became a silent founding partner in Tastefully Simple, Inc., and since 2000 has served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. In this role, she oversees all operational aspects of the enterprise, including legal, finance, distribution, inventory, team relations, strategic initiatives and technology.

In addition, she is responsible for leading and strengthening banking, legal and key vendor relationships and partners with Founder and CEO Jill Blashack Strahan to direct the long-term vision, goals and mission of the company. Last year its line of easy-to-prepare foods—sold by its 28,000 consultants—led to $110 million in net sales.

Tastefully Simple’s products and consultants are fed by its culture, which is focused on teamwork, passion and helping people reach their full potential. The combination has led to recognition for the company from Inc. magazine, the Stevie Awards, The Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company magazine. For eight years in a row, Tastefully Simple has ranked in the top 5 percent of companies nationwide in employee satisfaction, according to the Center for Values Research (CVR), an employee relations consulting group.


Jill Blashack Strahan

Founder and CEO, Tastefully Simple

Tastefully Simple

Jill Blashack Strahan

Jill Blashack Strahan thinks of herself as an entrepreneur, not an executive. During Tastefully Simple’s journey to the top of the direct selling industry, she saw the never-ending string of leadership lessons, the chaos of startup, the first-time decisions, and the insanity of doing $100 million in business in five years through entrepreneurial eyes.

Now as the intensity of the business mellows with maturity, Strahan works to make the best decisions as a leader—“best for me as an entrepreneur and the best for the company,” she says.

Often that translates to brainstorming with her team in the search for marketing and sales synergy. Strahan confesses her perfectionism for communication—selecting just the right words, video clips and music to “stir someone’s soul, to inspire them to do something different, and help them see why.

“It’s cool to see growth in people’s lives and the impact to families. Money is almost secondary to their emotional and psychological growth and the ripple effect,” Strahan says. It’s a personal motivator she didn’t foresee when Tastefully Simple began, but she says, “Just flow with it. You’re meant to learn something. Take it, wring it out. It’s not going to fall in your lap.”

For the median age—a 37-year-old mom—staying home with children and being challenged with a direct sales field opportunity is appealing. The lifestyle of a CEO is attainable too, but Strahan asks, “Do they want it? Because it is a sacrifice. Whatever we say yes to, we’re saying no to something else. As women I believe we struggle with that more. That’s changing, but you don’t want it to change entirely. That’s why we give birth.”

Admiration for…

Margaret Thatcher: “Her conviction—she was true to her belief in adversarial position and people. She made tough decisions. You’re not always going to be liked. It’s difficult to find that balance. You have to have the heart of the business and the consultant. You have to be wired with that emotion, but you have to have the left-brain decision-making too.”

Working Motto…

“We reserve the right to get smarter.”

“You build trust when you are humble enough to admit mistakes. People’s natural tendency is to candy-coat it, but from the beginning we used the motto—we told them when we screwed up.”

Tastefully Simple: Culture Club

Tastefully SimpleMinnesota-based easy-to-prepare foods direct seller Tastefully Simple grew out of Founder and CEO Jill Blashack Strahan’s gift-basket business.

Nestled in the baskets she sold to business clients in the early 1990s was a collection of gourmet foods. But when the gourmet foods sales shot past her baskets’ results, she had an epiphany: Getting together in homes, eating and talking could turn into a great business. Tastefully Simple was born in 1995.

Strahan intentionally started small so she could remain debt-free. But once the company’s early leaders developed their vision for Tastefully Simple, it grew quickly. Last year its line of easy-to-prepare foods—sold by its 28,000 consultants—led to $110 million in net sales.

Tastefully Simple’s products and consultants are fed by its culture, which is focused on teamwork, passion and helping people reach their full potential. The combination has led to recognition for the company and its founder from Inc. magazine, the Stevie Awards, The Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company magazine. For eight years in a row, Tastefully Simple has ranked in the top 5 percent of companies nationwide in employee satisfaction, according to the Center for Values Research (CVR), an employee relations consulting group.


Connie Tang

President and CEO, Princess House

Princess House

Connie Tang

When Connie Tang was invited to the White House a few years ago, she wore a “blazing hot red jacket and black slacks,” intent on representing herself as an authentically feminine leader, not just one of the guys. “As a society, we are still defining leadership and what it looks like and what women’s role is and what it looks like too,” she says.

“Organizations fear what outside-world impressions will be if women are placed in leadership roles, but nontraditional, nonconformists are slowly breaking through the tradition or vision of what leaders look like,” Tang says.

Tang is the first woman President and CEO of Princess House. A career focused on authenticity, adaptability and personal fortitude got her there, but women executives are a decided minority in direct sales and elsewhere. She says, “There is a clear disparity and misalignment of salesforce representation and the corporate offices… and in direct sales, we probably fare a lot better than other industries.

“But direct sales is a common denominator—an equalizer—where everyone has the same equal opportunity. There are not many industries, businesses or careers where your pedigree doesn’t matter. It is all about you—the individual. It’s all in your control,” she says.

As an immigrant to the United States when she was just a toddler, Tang could have focused on her differences growing up as a Chinese girl, in what some call the “melting pot” of New York City. But she didn’t. Instead, she opted to think of NYC as a “stew.” Tang says, “We don’t become something else. We blend. It’s the synergy. One brings out the flavor of the other.

“Authenticity is really important and women struggle with it because they struggle with being true to themselves and what they believe the world expects of them,” she says. “It’s very hard to be who you are. It’s taken my whole life to grow up into myself.” She’s adapted, coped and integrated, but never lost her sense of identity.

Admiration for…

Phyllis Wrynn, third- and fourth-grade teacher, PS 130, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “She was the first person who said, ‘You can do and be anything.’ That was the beginning. The faith and belief that she had in me was unconditional and different.”

Jo-Anne Jaeger: “She was confident. She wasn’t afraid to be who she was. She had an amazingly giving heart and was one of the smartest and savviest businesspeople.”

Princess House Products

Princess House: Focused on the Heart of the Home

As Princess House prepares to turn 50 next year, it is already celebrating the growth rate of a youngster.

Since 2009 the company has revamped its product line, increased support for its fast-growing Hispanic market, and revolutionized its events. The result: more consultants and higher sales despite a soft economy. Last year the company’s more than 25,000 U.S. consultants produced $102 million in net sales, up from $94 million in 2010.

For years Princess House was known for crystal figurines, beverage ware and serve ware. But Princess House had always had two key initiatives: Field First, which keeps the staff in close touch with hostesses and consultants; and Voice of the Customer, which sends employees to visit customers’ homes to watch them cook and see the products they use. Both programs showed the same trend: Family life was moving into the kitchen. So Princess House did, too. It tripled its high-quality stainless steel cookware line and reduced crystal. Today’s product line includes bakeware, cookware, entertaining products, dining accessories and home accents, plus packaged food products. More than 85 percent of sales are from kitchen-related items.

Launched in 1963 by Direct Selling Association Hall of Fame member Charlie Collis, Princess House is now led by Connie Tang, its first woman President and CEO.


Heidi Thompson

Co-Owner and President, Scentsy

Scentsy

Heidi Thompson

“Don’t expect to be comfortable when you are growing, or to grow when you are comfortable.” It’s a motto Heidi Thompson clings to. “I was a comfortable stay-at-home mom, now I’m a busy executive making decisions that affect thousands of lives. I’ve had to grow to do that,” she says.

Thompson discovered—to a large degree out of necessity—comfort is overrated when you are $700,000 in debt and your fledgling direct sales company is your family’s only hope. “I needed to allow myself to be uncomfortable, not worry about what other people think and just focus on how I am growing,” Thompson says. She still battles a “scared-to-death” fear of public speaking, but the nerves are slowly fading.

Today she often glimpses a bit of herself in Scentsy’s consultants. “It’s people who never saw it in themselves and they are now these amazing women that they never thought they could be. It is very inspirational and motivational for sure,” she says.

Eight years ago, Scentsy was just getting started and so was Thompson in Direct Selling 101. Lack of funds prevented her and husband, Orville, from taking much advice, but they found infinitely better options on their own. “You don’t have to follow conventional wisdom to be successful because we didn’t,” Thompson says.

The couple works together all day, every day, and Thompson relishes it. “It’s brought us closer together as a couple. We don’t always initially agree on things, but we’ve learned to be patient until we do and to compromise. We have different strengths and weaknesses and together we make a whole,” she says.

That reflects the experience of many top Scentsy sales leaders, essentially CEOs of their own businesses. “Many of them get to the point where they need help running their businesses, and we’ve seen more and more instances of husbands—often with corporate jobs—quitting their work to join them,” Thompson says.

Admiration for…

My mom: “She was right there for us to help us get Scentsy off the ground. She worked at least two years without pay and never complained. Then she wanted to sign up to be a consultant. She’s built a very successful business and is now 71. Along the way she taught me all those things that are important: dedication, perseverance and she modeled faith for me because she always believed in us.”

On Motherhood…

“Being a mom is the most valuable executive training.”

Scentsy: Fragrance, Fondue and Fashion

Scentsy ProductFrom the time Heidi and Orville Thompson launched Scentsy in 2004, they were determined to build their business around core values of simplicity, authenticity and generosity. Their ideals launched one of the industry’s growth rocket ships.

The couple works hard to ensure that those key values extend to everything that happens within the Scentsy family of brands: the company’s original Scentsy Wickless brand of scented, wickless candles and other fragrance products; Velata, which offers patent-pending silicone fondue warmers and premium Belgian melting chocolate; and Grace Adele, which offers a “style system” of accessories that includes handbags, clutches, wallets, clip-ons and jewelry. Velata and Grace Adele were both launched in 2012.

Scentsy developed three distinctive brands to provide their consultants a way to get a larger slice of the economy by providing additional opportunities to engage with hostesses. Each of the company’s brands appeals to a slightly different group of consultants and consumers, and consultants may offer any or all of them. Each has a separate consultant agreement and starter kit.

Scentsy’s 2011 net sales were $537 million, solely from Scentsy Wickless sales. The Thompsons believe that the Grace Adele brand has the potential to equal Scentsy Wickless revenues in three years.


Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.


CONTENTS
Page 1

Mona Ameli, Belcorp

Dr. Oi-Lin Chen, Sunrider International

Angela Loehr Chrysler, Team National

Kathy Coover, Isagenix

Marjorie Fine, Shaklee

Page 2

Shelli Gardner, Stampin’ Up!

Marla Gottschalk,The Pampered Chef

Jessica Herrin, Stella & Dot

Andrea Jung, Avon

Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh, Silpada

Page 3

Wendy Lewis, Jeunesse Global

Tami Longaberger, Longaberger

Candace Matthews, Amway

Cindy Monroe, Thirty-One Gifts

Kay Napier, Arbo

Page 4

Joani Nielson, Tastefully Simple

Jill Blashack Strahan, Tastefully Simple

Connie Tang, Princess House

Heidi Thompson, Scentsy

Page 5

The Icons of our Industry


The Icons of our Industry

While we are thrilled here at DSN to recognize each of the women on the previous pages, we know that the recognition is not complete without mention of the amazing women who blazed the trail and pointed the way for each of them. Though we don’t have space to record all of the hard-working and dedicated women who have widened the path we now walk, we couldn’t finish this issue without calling out a few. The most notable icons of our industry are featured here.

Mrs. P.F.E. Albee

Mrs. P.F.E. Albee (1836-1914)

The very first “Avon Lady,” Mrs. Persis Albee began selling perfumes for David McConnell in 1886.

The Historical Society of Chesire County, N.H., relates this story about Albee on their website (www.hsccnh.org):

“With her good business sense, the 50-year-old Persis welcomed the chance to sell perfume as a second career, earning income with which to raise her two children during a time when there were few employment options. The face-to-face direct selling approach relied on Persis’ social skills and her reputation in the community, in addition to the quality and desirability of the products she promoted. Her stature in Winchester added respectability to her door-to-door sales approach. She could gain entry to her neighbors’ households more easily and for longer periods of time than out-of-town peddlers. Attired as she was in her elegant clothing and with her friendly manner, Persis was a welcome sight. She was not considered a nuisance, but as a ‘friendly neighbor come to call.’ It was in this way that Persis pioneered the company’s now famous direct selling.”


Mary Kay

Mary Kay Ash (1918-2001)

Mary Kay Ash had written that in 1963, when a man she had trained was promoted above her and paid twice her salary, she quit her job and planned to write a book about the injustice of it all. The notes, however, became the foundation for her legendary beauty and cosmetics company. Ash’s salesforce was made up of women—an uncommon situation in the 1960s—as she laid the groundwork for hundreds of companies to build upon. Recognition programs, ranging from sparkling tiaras to the famous pink Cadillacs, and compensation plans that included commissions for building teams of salespeople have become core parts of most direct selling companies operating today.


Doris Christopher

Doris Christopher

In 1980, Doris Christopher decided to start a business from her Chicago home selling high-quality and time-saving kitchen tools. She knew she wanted to utilize the direct-to-consumer model, so that her consultants could demonstrate the tools with real food and share tips through an in-home party that included the guests eating the end results of the demonstration. The company flourished so much that in 2003, investor Warren Buffet asked Christopher to meet with him and made her an offer to buy her company, saying in a press release, “Doris Christopher has created from scratch an absolutely wonderful business. We are delighted to add The Pampered Chef to the family.”


Mary Crowley (1915-1987)

By 1957, Mary Crowley had experienced some of the difficulties that push individuals to achieve greater heights, including becoming a single parent of two small children in the 1930s and putting herself through night school. She discovered her talent for sales and briefly joined her friend Mary Kay Ash at Stanley Home Products. But when she began selling home accessories for a small company called World Gift, Crowley had discovered her place to shine, growing to have 500 salespeople underneath her. When the owner put a limit on the amount of commission the women sales staff could earn, Crowley knew it was time to quit and start her own home décor company that would never limit a woman’s potential in that way. Home Interiors & Gifts became a direct selling powerhouse and by the early 1990s had surpassed $850 million in sales.


Jan Day (1920-1997)

1956 bore witness to the founding of yet another legendary company JAFRA, by Jan Day and her husband, Frank. The company name is a combination of their first names. Jan Day had represented Stanley Home Products as did her successful contemporaries Mary Kay Ash and Mary Crowley, where each had experienced success and seen the power of in-home selling. Remaining committed to the empowerment of women to become successful small business owners, Day started JAFRA from her Malibu, Calif. home with skincare products based on a natural substance produced by bees called Royal Jelly. Gillette bought the successful company in 1973; Vorwerk acquired it in 2004.


Jinger Heath

In 1981, Jinger Heath and her husband, Richard, bought a defunct cosmetics company, BeautiControl, from then-owner Tri-Chem. The Heaths’ tenacity, which included a willingness to mop floors and fill jars, along with Jinger Heath’s ability to demonstrate the products and attract women to the business brought the company back to prosperity. She continued to bring new ideas into the company to complement the skincare and cosmetics line such as professional color analysis, total image analysis and product innovations. The Heaths took the company public in 1986 and continued to manage daily operations. Tupperware acquired the company in 2000.   


Joan Horner (1925-2010)

Joan Horner and her husband, Andy, spent 17 years working alongside their friend Mary Crowley encouraging the salesforce at Home Interiors & Gifts and working with regional groups. Though near retirement age themselves in 1985, the Horners decided to start their own direct selling company for four very specific reasons: to support women who wanted to stay home to raise children, to provide encouragement and extra income for single moms, to provide a way for those in full-time ministry to meet their financial needs, and to give financial support to the many various ministries they believed in. They had seen the power of equipping women to own and run their own businesses and decided that jewelry, as a high-selling gift item, would be their product choice. Premier Designs has fulfilled the Horner’s mission for over 26 years and is still run by the family.


Cheryl Lightle and Rhonda Anderson

In 1987 Rhonda Anderson was a stay-at-home mom who made creative albums for her family out of the photos most people store in boxes under their beds. She gave a talk in her community on the processes she used and took 40 orders for the brand of album she used. When she discovered the company was no longer going to produce the albums, she called after hours again and again until then Marketing Vice President Cheryl Lightle finally picked up the phone. Intrigued that someone would want such a large order, Lightle started discussing a number of possibilities with Anderson, and they developed the vision for a new business. This phone call started what became the largest scrapbook company in the world, Creative Memories.


Brownie Wise (1913-1992)

Brownie Wise (1913-1992)

Another dynamic woman whose first experience in direct selling was at Stanley Home Products, Brownie Wise was responsible for steering Tupperware into the home-party arena by convincing the company founder, Earl Tupper, that it was the best place for understanding the functions of the containers’ plastic seal. She was appointed Vice President of Tupperware Home Parties in 1951 and led the salesforce with her remarkable marketing intuition, especially concerning women and social selling in the home. Wise also pioneered the extravagant rewards and recognition system now common among direct selling companies, giving top sellers at Tupperware such items as speedboats and exotic trips. Her intuition about what marketing styles and recognition systems appealed to women led her to become the first woman featured on the cover of Business Week magazine in 1954.

Please follow and like us:
error

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Scroll To Top