Stella & Dot co-founder launched a business where women are boss
Jessica Herrin is the CEO and co-founder of the highly popular jewelry and accessory brand Stella & Dot that allows women to run their own businesses through direct sales.
Herrin was the co-founder of WeddingChannel.com, now owned by The Knot, when she founded Stella & Dot with partner Blythe Harris in 2004 as a way to give women a career alternative.
In 2014, Herrin launched Stella & Dot Family Brands with KEEP Collective charm accessories and EVER skincare products.
A graduate of Stanford University and of Stanford Graduate School of Business, Herrin lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her family.
When she was on the island for the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce Women’s Conference in May, Herrin sat down with Coast Monthly to discuss entrepreneurship and women in business.
Q: What did you want to bring to the table for women when you started Stella & Dot?
A: I had started early in my career doing e-commerce. All I could think was, ‘Whatever you do, don’t do what I’m doing.’ It looks so good on TV, but it’s a nightmare. I worked seven days a week and I was struggling to define success as happiness rather than what looks good on TV. I became curious and, ultimately, obsessed with coming up with what business could look like for the modern woman who wants to have her own thing, but doesn’t want to sacrifice everything for it.
Q: How have responsibilities for women changed since you started this company?
A: The thing that we need to focus on is not just the pay gap, which is clear and obvious that we need to do that, but we also need to close the happiness gap. The government has done a study on basic happiness by gender since 1972. Women have become progressively less happy than men. What’s interesting is we have more choice now. With more choice, comes more pressure and more ways that we believe we can fall short. Women have to give themselves permission to not be all things to all people all the time.
Q: How does Stella & Dot give women the flexibility to pursue their passions?
A: Because we are so mission-driven and focused on growth and learning, they learn skills, whether it’s management or social media marketing or confidence, that benefit them at their other jobs and often bolsters them to go and do something else on the side. It really does provide choice. Choice is power.
Q: How important is community to the success of women entrepreneurs?
A: People can know what to do and they can know how to do it, but if they don’t have the motivation to actually do it, nothing changes. Energy comes from other people.
Q: Is the intersection of personal and professional becoming a larger part of the conversation in entrepreneurship?
A: I think it has to be more of a conversation.
For me, I had to opt out of a traditional role that I thought was too rigid and start my own path. I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I’m all these other things outside of being a CEO, and those things are important.