Just ring the bell

© Written by Rachael Taylor for VO+

When a defeated Hilary Clinton finally took to the stage the morning after the US presidential election slipped away from her, she addressed part of her concession speech to young girls in the audience: “To all the little girls watching… never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

This message of female empowerment is one shared by Californian jewellery company Stella & Dot, which through home-based flexible sales models has been enabling women in the US, Canada and Europe to find financial independence. Its network of salespeople – or stylists, as the company refers to them – sell the brand’s jewellery and fashion accessories through what it calls social selling, running pop-up trunk shows in their own homes and taking 35% of the total sales values. They can also tap into other women’s networks by encouraging them to become Stella & Dot hosts – this shifts the sales party to the host’s home who, in return for hosting and inviting their own network of friends, will receive vouchers to spend with Stella & Dot (typically £300 per hosting).

Rather than smashing the glass ceiling that Clinton saw as keeping her from the top job, the Stella & Dot model is about gently repositioning the barriers keeping women from work by allowing them to find a balance between earning money and looking after children, for example, or simply topping up a regular but limited income. “When they share their stories, you realise that the key to women’s empowerment is financial independence,” says Stella & Dot co-founder and creative director Blythe Harris, who describes hiding backstage at the brand’s annual stylist conference to hide her tears as the women share their motivations. “Some women use [the money earned with Stella & Dot] to pay for fertility treatments or extra chemotherapy. Some are paying the mortgage while their husbands are off at war.”…

This article was originally written for the January 2017 issue of VO+. Continue reading to see layouts.

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