Stella & Dot CEO on creating "flexible" business for women

For an introduction to Stella and Dot, look no further than Jessica Herrin's closet, where the 43-year-old CEO keeps the jewelry, handbags, scarves and other accessories that have turned Stella and Dot into a multi-million-dollar business.

"This is just incredibly sexy," Herrin said as she showed off a necklace. "I pinch myself. I love my life."

Herrin lives in the heart of Silicon Valley, where she has created something rare -- a company for women, that's run by women, reports CBS' Allie LaForce.


"There are too few success stories about women in business, not only in Silicon Valley, but everywhere," Herrin said.

She set out to change that when she launched the company in 2003.

"It was about creating opportunity for women that was more flexible," Herrin said.

For the wife and mother of two, flexibility wasn't just a business strategy -- it was personal. She started the business out of her living room when she was pregnant.

She was inspired by the cosmetics company Mary Kay, which was founded in 1963 to provide an income stream for thousands of women by offering a product that could be sold from home.

In some ways, her concept isn't that different. Stella & Dot sells its accessories through stylists -- usually women who've purchased a starter kit of goods. Many sales come from trunk shows hosted in someone's home, where wine often flows and guests can try on and then order the trinkets.

But Herrin has also made it easy for her stylists to run their businesses entirely online. In just minutes, they can create their own personalized Stella & Dot website.

"Somebody can click a button and have a personalized page... it's a dream," Herrin said.

The company also has a team of marketers constantly creating content for stylists to share on social media.

"Everything's laid out for us, which makes it really easy -- we don't have to deal with creating any images," said stylist Lindsay Jabara, who's been selling Stella & Dot for five years. "It's just really easy to click on something and then share it on Instagram or Facebook."

1979: Making millions the Mary Kay way

Jabara, a mother of two, is married to an Army major and has lived in six states over the past 12 years.

"When we're moving, I can choose to work during the move. I can still sell and be relevant in the midst of moving," Jabara said.

Jabara spends five to 10 hours a week selling the accessories, while also raising her kids and running a dance company. She pulls in between two and three thousand dollars a month through her own sales, and by earning commission from the sales of other stylists she has recruited.

Stella & Dot offers financial incentives to stylists who bring new salespeople on board. The more you recruit, the more you earn. It's a multi-level marketing strategy employed by many direct sales companies, but viewed skeptically by some.

"Stella & Dot is a business platform. It actually works just like many Fortune 500 company sales models," Herrin explained. "If you're a sales leader, you're not just compensated on servicing your own accounts -- if you help your sales team succeed, then that's part of your compensation system."

In the 13 years since Herrin started the company, Stella & Dot has expanded to include a personalized jewelry brand and a skincare line. Altogether, the company has over 50,000 independent business owners in six countries and has paid out over $300 million in commissions.

Now, Herrin is sharing the lessons she's learned along the way in a new book entitled "Find Your Extraordinary." "I find the secret to success in life is knowing which balls are rubber and which balls are glass when you're juggling," Herrin said. "And for me, my family is a glass ball. You can't drop it and pick it up later. That's what I'm going to prioritize."