When I think of direct sales, I think of Mary Kay and old ladies, the Pampered Chef and middle-aged ladies, and, thanks to some aggressively enthusiastic Facebook friends, Arbonne and 30-something stay-at-home-moms. I don’t think of anything resembling modern or cool. The new NYC company chloe + isabel is trying to change that. But can they change the very essence of a fuddy-duddy sales model?
Chloe + isabel is bringing the direct sales model — in which individual sellers do the work and take a cut of each sale — to jewelry. The website is reminiscent of Anthropologie or and the jewelry with quirky pendants, stacked vintage-style bangles, and bird imagery galore. Chloe + isabel provides its sellers with “personalized store fronts” online, and they can created curated collections and interact with customers online, which means they don’t have to count on selling to housewives with time to kill. Sellers take home 30% of each sale. As TNW Insider reports, founder Chantel Waterbury has some impressive investors (including Ashton Kutcher), who put $3.25 million into launching a beta version of the site.
Interested in getting into the new wage of direct sales? Chloe + isabel sellers start by attending a meeting to learn about the brand and the sale system, and then undergo an online training process. After that, it’s up to individual saleswomen to drum up business, which can include hosting trunk sales. The brand’s beta group is closed for now, but it will launch nationally within the next few months.
Selling boutique-worthy jewelry online is a lot more appealing than foisting storage containers or face creams on your neighbors. But when you boil it down, this is still a sales model that requires convincing people you know to buy stuff you know they don’t really need. You can dress direct sale up in chic clothing, but if any of my friends approach me about some cool new jewelry I absolutely must try, I’ll still be running the other way.
What about you? Would you consider making some extra money with direct sales, even if it meant hitting up your friends?
Image: chloe + isabel