Elizabeth Street Meets Blythe Harris
The creative mind behind the Stella & Dot jewelry line discusses why great accessories are so important and how her business can help moms get their grooves back
Launched in 2004, Stella & Dot has since grown to become a major force in the accessories industry. But what makes this brand different—besides offering fabulous jewelry at very reasonable prices—is how it has empowered moms across the country with its Avon-style business model. As a savvy entrepreneur and a mad talented jewelry designer, Stella & Dot ‘s Chief Creative Officer (and mom of two) Blythe Harris tells us how she melded her passion for accessories with her desire to help other moms claim their independence. —Melissa Schweiger
Tell us how Stella & Dot got started.
I joined my partner Jessica Herrin, who’s our CEO and founder, in 2007. It was really the experience of all my friends having kids and being faced with this very binary decision of working all the time or not working at all. It seemed so unfair to me that there were so few choices. Jessica was really passionate about creating a modern, flexible work opportunity for women and I’m really passionate about creating an amazing product, especially for moms. So we created Stella & Dot, which is named after our grandmothers.
How can moms get involved with Stella & Dot?
There are two ways to participate. One way is to become a stylist. That’s when you sign up and you get your own personal website that’s like an e-boutique online. You also invest in samples to take with you to trunk shows. People usually have the kick-off trunk show in their home but then how you grow the business is to book trunk shows through your extended social network. At a trunk show, the stylist makes 25% of sales from the show and the hostess gets 25% of sales plus free jewelry. We now have over 20,000 stylists.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s so inspiring to see how financial independence is linked to empowerment. I don’t feel like it’s something we talk about enough as a culture. It’s good to keep something that’s just your own and carve out time for that.
How has becoming a mom helped you with Stella & Dot?
I would never be able to understand our customer the way that I do if I wasn’t a mom. With kids, you have different priorities, and a different amount of time for grooming. I think seeing the world through your kids’ perspective is so eye-opening. It makes you slow down and see things more—it’s such a gift and a huge source of inspiration.
When you became a mom how did you adapt your schedule?
I really narrowed down my priorities and set my boundaries. I swapped working out every day to going to barre method once a week. I wanted to find the most efficient exercise I could do that would leave me sore for four days. I swapped my hair stylist for another one who's in my neighborhood. I cut out everything unnecessary. I even do my own nails now when the kids are sleeping,
Tell us about the new Stella & Dot fall collection!
I’m really inspired by vintage and like everything to have a story. I’m most excited for our new charm collection, which is inspired by Victorian charms. I inherited charms from my grandma Dot and I loved how they all looked together, so we hand-produced all these beautiful charms from India. The New Romantics collection has a lot of texture and mixed plaiting and looks really rich, whereas the Mod Safari collection is all about really bold colors and animal motifs.
What’s your mom uniform?
I always wear my Isabel Marant booties with a little dress and some rocker chic necklace, like the Zoe Lariat. Or I wear boyfriend skinny jeans with a tee shirt and a statement necklace.
Best parenting advice you’ve ever gotten?
Don’t react immediately. Take a deep breath and discipline from a calm place. Also, set really firm boundaries.
Interested in launching your own fashion business with Stella & Dot? Find out how to become a Stella & Dot stylist here.