Business

US jewellery firm Stella & Dot 'to exit European market'

Jessica Herrin Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The firm was founded by Jessica Herrin in 2003

San Francisco-based jewellery firm Stella & Dot appears to be exiting the European market after seven years.

A number of its UK sales reps, some of whom host parties to sell jewellery, have posted messages on social media.

They say they have been messaged by the firm to say it has been hit by declines in the value of the pound and euro.

Stella & Dot, founded in 2003, targets women looking for work and says it "creates flexible entrepreneurial opportunities".

Messages have been posted online by the sales reps from chief executive and founder Jessica Herrin, who also founded WeddingChannel.com.

In them, she says the once profitable European business is now operating at a loss.

"Sadly the market conditions in Europe have become very difficult. In the last few years the British pound and Euro have devalued against the US dollar by almost 20%, causing a deep decline in our margin, whilst at the same time operating costs have increased," she writes.

It is of "utmost importance" to exit gracefully, she says, according to the messages posted by UK sales representatives. They will be able to continue to sell products and earn commissions until 7 April.

She wrote the decision to close had been taken with a "heavy heart" and after "countless deliberations".

Its sales reps - known as stylists - hold trunk shows, similar to Tupperware parties, and also sell though websites. As well as jewellery, clothes and bags are available for sale.

The company did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the social media posts.

'It will be really upsetting when it's gone from my life'

Image copyright Laura McFadden

Laura McFadden, a mother of two young children from Bristol, became one of Stella & Dot's 3,000 UK stylists in August 2017, when her younger child started school.

Initially, she became part of a team headed by a Stella & Dot mentor, before building up a small team of her own.

Stylists buy jewellery and other products from Stella & Dot at a discount.

The main way of selling to customers is through "style sessions", parties held in people's homes, where the stylists take along their wares, talk about them and give people a chance to try them.

If someone wants to buy something the order is placed online at the party, directly with Stella & Dot.

Laura describes stylists as a "shop front" for the company's products.

Her commission was 25%-30% on sales before tax.

In addition, if she and her team both did well in terms of sales, she could earn extra commission from Stella & Dot as well.

She says she made an average of £300-£400 a month through her involvement with the company.

Some 80% of Stella & Dot's UK stylists have other jobs. Laura runs a bridal wear business from her home, but she says "that extra £300-400 will be missed".

However, she says she feels "more distraught" for those women for whom the Stella and Dot was their main income.

Laura found out the company was pulling out of Europe on Monday evening. Jessica Herrin held a conference call for UK stylists during which Ms Herrin was "close to tears", says Laura.

"Many of us feel very protective of Stella & Dot and feel they have looked after our interests in what is a very difficult time for them.

"Their main mission is to give women the opportunity to have a flexible income that fits into their lives and they are devastated that this has been taken away from their stylists.

"It will be really upsetting when it's gone from my life."

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