Chloe + Isabel's inventive spin on direct sales

(MoneyWatch) Here at The Startup, we're dedicating the month of March -- National Women's Month -- to featuring female entrepreneurs.

Chantel Waterbury was on maternity leave when she began developing the idea for her online, direct-sales jewelry business, Chloe + Isabel. The California native, who put herself through college by selling knives door-to-door, had already spent 15 years cutting her teeth in the jewelry business by merchandising for Macy's, Old Navy, LVMH luxury retailer DFS Group, and Miriam Haskell, and believed there had to be a better direct sales model that tapped into the changing demands of younger generations. Her goal with Chloe + Isabel is to help build that model and create a new generation of female entrepreneurs. Each Chloe + Isabel sales person, aka merchandiser, is hand selected by Waterbury and her team, and gets the tools and resources of Chloe + Isabel to build a mini e-boutique. Watch The Startup to find out how she did it and landed funding from the likes of celebrity investor Ashton Kutcher.

Rebecca Jarvis: What were you doing before you started your company?

Chantel Waterbury: I spent more than 15 years learning the jewelry business inside and out. I worked in corporate buying for companies such as Macy's, GAP and LVMH. Prior to starting Chloe + Isabel, I oversaw jewelry design and merchandising for Kenneth Cole at Miriam Haskell.

RJ: How long did it take to turn your idea into a business?

CW: I worked on the business plan while I was on maternity leave...so 3 months!

RJ: What's your number one piece of advice to entrepreneurs?

CW: Surround yourself with positive and passionate people.

RJ: If you could ask one person for advice, who would it be and what would you ask?

CW: Well, the one person I find myself turning to over and over is Mickey Drexler. He is the best merchandising mind I have met and knows branding and consumer behavior better than anyone.

RJ: Are you hiring? How do you get hired by a start-up?

CW: Yes! We are hiring people for almost every team at Chloe + Isabel. We look for people who are passionate about our business, show intelligence and entrepreneurial scrappiness!

For more on Chloe + Isabel visit their website.