When I was a little girl I remember perfumed women with slicked back hair selling cosmetics to my mother in our kitchen. They wore pink outfits, touted large suitcases filled with powders, brushes and lipsticks and worked for companies like Mary Kay and Avon.
The direct sales industry is in need of a modern day makeover. And New York City company chloe + isabel is doing just that with fashion jewelry sales. While global jewelry manufacturing and marketing might not catch your ear at first, the list of investors will. The impressively backed startup launched in beta on May 1st of this year after receiving $3.25 mil in series A funding in November led by First Round Capital and Floodgate, with a handful of angel investors that include SV Angel Ron Conway, Founder Collectives’ Caterina Fake; Felicis Ventures’ Aydin Senkut, Ashton Kutcher, The Consigliere’s Mike Duda and Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten Green.
Founder and CEO, Chantel Waterbury spent 14 years in corporate merchandising working with brands like Cartier, Tiffany and Co., and Van Cleef and Arpels and has developed jewelry for almost every major retailer in the United States. The jewelry expert is revamping the direct sales industry, an industry that does $30 billion annually in the U.S. and $114 billion worldwide by building new direct selling software that provides eager sellers with personalized store fronts and the ability to make data driven recommendations. According to Waterbury, 86% of direct sellers being female, making jewelry an ideal category to launch a new and modern lifestyle brand.
The beta group launched with a handful of girls, the majority of which range in age from 19-27. The platform enables sellers to make pages that allow women to sell their own curated collections and take part in a community, interacting directly with customers online: (Click to enlarge)
Waterbury, who comes from a family of entrepreneurs and supported herself through private university by selling Cutco knives, made the jump working for $15 billion dollar retailers to working at a startups because she truly wants to empower the next generation of young women.
“We have an amazing price value proposition. I can produce and source materials at top quality and absolute best prices because of my relationships with factories,” says Waterbury. “I worked with several different designers in my old jobs and it’s surprising to know that most jewelry is made from a handful of large companies. I love working with young, fresh designers just coming out of school because they are so much more creative than someone doing this for 20 years, who has a little bit more of a process in place. Chloe + Isabel is very involved in the design process, which is the #1 reason why we’re in New York City.”
Sellers first attend an opportunity meeting to learn about the brand and how it works. Then they go through an online training process to learn tips, tricks, and access data driven recommendations such as regional sale results. From there on out, it’s up to the sellers to host trunk shows, sell jewelry and stay in touch with customers. Sellers receive 30% of each sale and Chloe + Isabel takes 70%.
Jordan, a 22-year old who took part in Chloe + Isabel’s beta group says she met Waterbury through a mutual friend and started talking about her “passion for fashion”. Waterbury told her about the financial opportunity that Chloe + Isabel could offer in the fashion jewelry industry and quickly realized she’d be a good fit. She describes her first Trunk Show, a wine and cheese ‘fashion therapy’ theme at her parent’s house in Connecticut:
“It was incredibly successful! I had an awesome turn out of women, they all oooh’d and ahhh’d over the jewelry, and everyone had a great time. The biggest perk was that I left with almost $400 for 3-4 hours of work….$100 an hour? I’ll take that!”
It’s a platform bound to attract thousands of girls eager wanting to take advantage of a smart platform to earn money selling jewelry to their friends. I imagine the model would work brilliantly across multiple fashion categories be it makeup, clothing, handbags or any other accessory a young girl could think of. While Chloe + Isabel’s beta group is currently closed, it will open up its doors nationally this fall.