Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Silpada Designs Became a Sterling Company

Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh were your typical mothers of three children each living the suburban life in Overland Park, Kansas.  As immediate friends and room-mothers for the first grade, Bonnie and Teresa looked forward to years of scraped knees, homemade cupcakes, and report cards together. What the pair did not know was that their lives would dramatically change because of two very important things that they had in common: a passion for sterling silver jewelry and empowering women.   

The concept was simple: each woman took $25 from their grocery funds to pursue their passion for jewelry.  The ladies started designing their own jewelry creations and hosting fun parties in friends’ homes.  One party led to another, and it wasn’t long before the partygoers began to say, “You look like you are having so much fun. We wish we could have your jobs!” It wasn’t until 1997, however, when a “sterling” idea hit them: why not offer women their jobs by starting a direct-selling jewelry business?  

In 1997, Bonnie, Teresa and Jerry Kelly (Bonnie's husband), launched Silpada Designs from the Kelly’s basement. They created an exclusive line of sterling silver jewelry and their first Silpada Designs Catalog with more than 275 designs.  They invited friends and customers to become independent Silpada Designs Representatives.

Today, there are more than 32,000 independent Silpada representatives in the U.S., Canada and the UK, allowing Silpada to morph from a basement-born beacon to big-time business.

“Silpada has always been committed to being the best at what it does, it strives to produce the best products possible and provide the best opportunities for its representatives,” says Teresa. “This underlying philosophy has fueled the phenomenal growth and laid a solid foundation for Silpada’s bright future.”

Launching a new business did not necessarily come easy for Bonnie and Teresa.  In fact, the two women believe that the hardest part of their entrepreneurial venture was taking that initial leap. 

Bonnie, Teresa and Jerry pooled what minimal funds they had to start Silpada and continued to reinvest in the business over the years.  During the first nine years in business, Silpada simply grew organically by word-of-mouth. From day one the trio was focused on building a solid infrastructure, developing the highest quality jewelry and supporting their representatives and customers in the best way possible–and this continues to be their primary focus. This slow-motion start-up process may have been Silpada’s greatest advantage.  Any fear of failure that twitched in the brains of the two women was remarkably overpowered by their passion for the business—a component that Bonnie and Teresa believe is key for an entrepreneur. 

Bonnie and Teresa’s passion is fueled by the many women who sell Silpada Designs.  “Silpada has allowed us to change peoples’ lives,” the two women note, “Giving women opportunities for the first time in their lives created something beautiful and their enthusiasm keeps us going.  These women are the soul of Silpada.” 

Recently, Silpada Designs joined forces with Avon Products Inc., the world’s largest direct-seller of beauty products.  In July 2010, Avon bought Silpada Designs for $650 million—its biggest purchase since the 1990s.  Orchestrated by Andrea Jung, Avon’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, this purchase has united one of the world’s most powerful direct-sellers with one that is on the verge of national recognition. 

Ginny Fiscella, one of Silpada Designs’ most recognized and successful sales representatives, has been with the company for twelve years and is a firm believer that the Avon and Silpada partnership will perpetuate her and her fellow representatives towards even greater success.  “In the time that I have worked with Silpada, the company has made great changes,” she says.  “I have always believed that change is for the better.  Silpada only changes things to improve and to help me and other sales representatives become more successful.”     

Silpada Designs’ mission is to empower women in their personal quest for success and in their desire to look and feel their very best.  Bonnie and Teresa have to Think Big each and every day in order to implement the importance of passion for a product, establishment of a market need, focus, drive, determination, and of course, partnership, in order to fuel their successful direct-selling business.  Bonnie and Teresa state, “When you Think Big, you imagine the big picture.  The big picture for us is empowering women.” Both Silpada and Avon plan on helping self-sufficient, independent and entrepreneurial women empower one another, and look good while doing it.

For more information about Silpada Designs visit or call 1-888-SILPADA (745-7232).

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