Design Your Life

(Family Crossings) – If you ask most women to write their ideal job description, consistent raises, more family time and more “me time” would be essential.

These three essentials are at the top of working women’s wish lists, according to the 2008 Ask A Working Woman Survey, an annual online survey conducted by Working America.

The 20,000 survey respondents echoed what so many more working women are feeling these days. They want more time with their families, but can’t afford it. They want some time to themselves, but can’t get it. In fact, 72 percent of the working mothers surveyed said they had less than an hour to themselves a day.

These are some of the very reasons that millions of women have turned away from traditional nine-to-five office jobs and have found exactly what they’re looking for in the home-based business of direct sales.

Direct selling is simply person-to-person selling, without the middle man of a retail store. Most often it’s done through fun and casual home parties where people gather to eat, talk and shop together.

At a time when the U.S. economy is in recession, the stock market is down, unemployment is on the rise, consumer confidence is low and legendary retailers are closing their doors, the direct sales industry is strong. With stable, proven and growing companies, direct sales offers an opportunity to earn significant income quickly with minimal investment and risk, and more personal and family time.

More and more women have found the direct sales industry to be an attractive career option. In 2007, U.S. direct sales exceeded $30.8 billion. Of the more than 15 million direct sellers nationwide, 87.9 percent are women. Approximately 90 percent of direct sellers operate their businesses part-time, leaving them more time for family and themselves.

From recent college graduates to stay-at-home moms, working professionals to retirees looking for something more satisfying, women are finding that with a career in direct sales, they can design the life they’ve always wanted.

Success Story

In 1997, Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh were two stay-at-home moms looking for a way to earn extra money without sacrificing personal and family time. They started Silpada Designs, a direct sales company specializing in handcrafted sterling silver jewelry.

Today, Silpada is the largest direct seller, and one of the top retailers, of sterling silver jewelry in the United States. In 2008, the company exceeded $265 million in retail sales. Its more than 27,000 U.S. representatives had more than 275,000 home parties, distributing more than eight million pieces of jewelry.

Kelly and Walsh turned a passion for jewelry into a business that provided financial freedom, flexibility and, most importantly, a way to infuse some fun into every day – a goal for any woman trying to juggle work and home life while maintaining her own sense of self.

“It’s all about empowering women with a wonderful business opportunity and creating lifelong friendships,” Kelly said. “Silpada means ‘the best of everything,’ and that’s what we really try to focus on. It’s more than jewelry, it’s more than a job. It’s a lifestyle.”

Walsh adds, “We believe that success doesn’t come from the degrees you have or the initial investment you make, but from a passion to design the life you want. You can make your goals and dreams as big as you want them to be or as simple as you need them to be. With a company like Silpada, if you want a little time away or dream of redecorating your house or need to take on your family’s expenses, you can.”

Kelly and Walsh want to encourage women of all ages to take charge of their lives and consider a home-based business. “It’s a way to achieve financial freedom, increase self-confidence, and maintain a work-life balance that blends with any lifestyle,” Walsh says.

“We are inspired on a daily basis by our representatives’ emotional stories about how owning their own business and having control of their income has had a positive impact on their families,” Kelly said.

To find out more about Silpada or to learn about becoming a representative, visit

Tips for choosing the right direct sales company for you

It’s important to take your time evaluating any direct sales company you consider joining. Bonnie and Teresa offer these tips to help you find the company that is right for you.

Passion for the Product. Join a company that you feel confident sharing their product. How do they ensure high quality and uniqueness? Does the product have a lifetime guarantee? The more passion and confidence you have in your product, the easier it is to sell.

Initial Investment. Evaluate the cost of beginning your own business, how quickly you can expect to recoup your initial investment, and what the company offers to continue to support you as your business grows. Ask what incentives they have in place for new representatives to support them in the beginning of their business.

At Silpada, for example, representatives do not carry inventory. Their initial investment is for their jewelry that they can wear and display at their home parties. On average, representatives make up their initial business investment within the first four to six home parties.

Fair and Competitive Compensation. Ask questions regarding the direct profit, override commissions and pay structure of the company’s compensation plan. It’s important to feel confident that the company you choose has a fair and competitive compensation plan and that you can continue to increase your earnings as your grow your business.

Great Customer Service. Your customers are your current and future business, so it is important that the company you choose is customer focused. Make sure to ask questions such as: What does the company do to support its customers? Do customers have to pay for their returns? The better your customers are taken care of the better your business will be.

Training and Support. Ensure that the company you join is dedicated to helping you achieve the success you are looking for. What type of training do they offer? How will they support your business? Is there a cost involved? What types of training events are company sponsored?

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