Stella & Dot Review: Fashionable jewelry, bags and accessories
Stella & Dot launched back in 2003 and operate in the fashion and jewelry MLM niche.
The company was founded by Jessica Herrin and originally began life as Luxe Jewels.
According to an interview with The Everygirl, Herrin came up with the idea for Luxe Jewels in an elevator at a Mary Kay convention.
it wasn’t until Jessica met fellow Stanford grad, Blythe Harris, at an alumni event that they realized with Jessica’s original vision and Blythe’s creativity that they could re-launch this social-selling model under a new name, Stella & Dot (named after their grandmothers).
Herrin (right) serves as Stella & Dot’s CEO, Harris as Chief Creative Officer.
Prior to Stella & Dot Herrin created the bridal registry themed website, which was purchased by the Wedding Channel website (in turn sold to The Knot five years later for $78 million).
I wasn’t able to confirm if Herrin was a Mary Kay affiliate herself. At the time she launched Stella & Dot Herrin was working as a Marketing Manager for Dell.
Read on for a full review of the Stella & Dot MLM opportunity
Stella & Dot Products
Stella & Dot position themselves as a “modern day” Mary Kay and market a range of
- jewelry – necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, charms & engravables, watches
- bags – totes, clutches and crossbody, wallets and companions, versatile bags, travel and
- accessories – sunglasses, scarves, tunics and sarongs, bag charms
Stella & Dot have far too many products for me to cover individually here, however a full retail catalog is available on the company website.
The Stella & Dot Compensation Plan
Stella & Dot have a separate affiliate program to their MLM opportunity. To differentiate between the two, Stella & Dot refer to their MLM affiliates as “stylists”.
The non-MLM affiliate commission structure has nothing to do with Stella & Dot’s MLM offering.
To keep things simple I’m going to refer to stylists as “affiliates” and the other affiliates as “non-MLM affiliates”.
The Stella & Dot MLM compensation combines a shallow residual unilevel with a five generation deep bonus. Additional performance-based bonuses are also on offer.
To qualify for commissions a Stella & Dot affiliate must generate at least 500 PV a month.
PV stands for “Personal Volume” and is sales volume generated by retail orders and an affiliate’s own product purchases.
Stella & Dot Affiliate Ranks
There are thirteen affiliate ranks within the Stella & Dot compensation plan.
Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- Stylist – sign up as a Stella & Dot affiliate
- Lead Stylist – generate and maintain 500 PV and 1000 GV a month and recruit at least one commission qualified affiliate
- Associate Stylist – generate and maintain 1000 PV and 2500 GV a month and maintain at least one personally recruited commission qualified affiliate
- Senior Stylist – generate and maintain 1500 PV and 5000 GV a month and recruit at least two commission qualified affiliates
- Star Stylist – generate and maintain 2000 PV and 10,000 GV a month and recruit at least three commission qualified affiliates
- Associate Director – generate and maintain 2000 PV and 20,000 GV a month and recruit and maintain at least four commission qualified affiliates (one of which must be a Star Stylist and two of which were recruited in the last twelve months)
- Director – generate and maintain 2000 PV and 50,000 GV a month and maintain at least four commission qualified affiliates (two of which must be Star Stylists and three of which were recruited in the last twelve months)
- Senior Director – generate and maintain 2000 PV and 120,000 GV a month, maintain at least four personally recruited Star Stylists or higher and have recruited at least four commission qualified affiliates within the last twelve months (can also count as Star Stylists if at the appropriate rank)
- Star Director – generate and maintain 2000 PV and 250,000 GV a month, recruit and maintain at least four Star Stylists and one Director or higher and have recruited at least six commission qualified affiliates within the last twelve months (can also count towards recruited rank requirements if at the appropriate rank)
- Executive Director – generate and maintain 2000 PV and 500,000 GV a month, recruit and maintain at least four Star Stylists and two Directors or higher and have recruited at least eight commission qualified affiliates within the last twelve months (can also count towards recruited rank requirements if at the appropriate rank)
- Platinum Director – generate and maintain 2000 PV and 1,000,000 GV a month, recruit and maintain at least five Star Stylists, two Directors or higher and one Senior Director or higher and have recruited at least eight commission qualified affiliates within the last twelve months (can also count towards recruited rank requirements if at the appropriate rank)
- Diamond Director – generate and maintain 2000 PV and 2,500,000 GV a month, recruit and maintain at least six Star Stylists, three Senior Directors or higher and one Star Director or higher and have recruited at least eight commission qualified affiliates within the last twelve months (can also count towards recruited rank requirements if at the appropriate rank)
- Double Diamond Director – generate and maintain 2000 PV and 6,000,000 GV a month, recruit and maintain at least six Star Stylists, four Senior Directors or higher and two Star Directors or higher and have recruited at least eight commission qualified affiliates within the last twelve months (can also count towards recruited rank requirements if at the appropriate rank)
GV stands for “Group Volume” and is PV generated by an affiliate’s entire downline.
Stella & Dot affiliates earn a 25% commission on retail sales.
This can be increased up to 35% based on total PV production for the month:
- 2500 PV = 30%
- 5000 PV = 32%
- 10,000 PV = 35%
Stella & Dot pay residual commissions down two levels of recruitment (unilevel):
- Lead Stylists earn 4% on level 1 (personally recruited affiliates)
- Associate Stylists earn 8% on level 1
- Senior Stylists earn 9% on level 1 and 3% on level 2
- Star Stylists and higher earn 10% on level 1 and 5% on level 2
The Generation Bonus uses the same unilevel compensation structure as residual commissions above.
A unilevel compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of a unilevel team, with every personally recruited affiliate placed directly under them (level 1):
If any level 1 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 2 of the original affiliate’s unilevel team.
If any level 2 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 3 and so on and so forth down a theoretical infinite number of levels.
A ‘generation” is defined in any unilevel leg when a Star Stylist or higher ranked affiliate is found.
This affiliate caps off the firs generation in that unilevel leg, with the second beginning immediately after.
If there are no other Star Stylist or higher ranked affiliates in the unilevel leg, the second generation runs the full length of the leg.
The Generation Bonus is paid out on up to five generations per unilevel leg, based on a Stella & Dot affiliate’s rank:
- Star Stylists earn 1% on one generation
- Associate Directors earn 2.5% on one generation
- Directors earn 2.5% on two generations
- Senior Directors to Platinum Directors earn 2.5% on three generations
- Diamond Directors earn 2.5% on three generations and 1% on the fourth
- Double Diamond Directors earn 2.5% on three generations and 1% on the fourth and fifth
Rank Achievement Bonus
Stella & Dot affiliates earn a one-time Rank Achievement Bonus when they qualify at the Associate Stylist and higher levels.
- Associate Stylists receive $100 plus $250 in product credit
- Senior Stylists receive $250
- Star Stylists receive $500
- Associate Directors receive $750
- Directors receive $1000
- Senior Directors receive $1500
- Star Directors receive $3000
- Executive Directors receive $5000
- Platinum Directors receive $7500
- Diamond Directors receive $15,000
- Double Diamond Directors receive $25,000
A 100% matching bonus is paid to the immediate upline at the Associate Stylist, Senior Stylist and Star Stylist ranks.
Star Maker Bonus
The Star Maker Bonus rewards affiliates when their personally recruited affiliates qualify at the Star Stylist rank.
- Star Stylists receive $300 if a personally recruited affiliate qualifies at the Star Stylist rank within 6 months
- Associate Directors receive $400 if a personally recruited affiliate qualifies at the Star Stylist rank within 12 months
Joining Stella & Dot
Stella & Dot affiliate membership is available via purchase of one of the following three kits:
- Essentials Kit – $199 ($350 product voucher)
- More to Love Kit – $499 ($1000 product voucher)
- Ultimate Kit – $699 ($1500 product voucher)
To maintain a Stella & Dot affiliate membership an affiliate must generate at least 500 PV a month over a rolling three-month consecutive period.
Stella & Dot have been around for a while now and consistently generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year in sales company-wide.
Things are kept fresh by a rotating catalog, providing new arrivals season round.
This works both for and against Stella & Dot affiliates, who run the potential risk of getting stuck with dated lines. Although I suppose like a department store, probably nothing a bit of a discount can’t take care of.
With respect to Stella & Dot’s range, this is definitely one for the ladies. I, for instance, had no idea what a “clutch or crossbody” bag was when I going through the product catalog.
Turns out a clutch bag is a purse you specifically hold (clutch), and a crossbody is a small bag with a strap. Who knew.
Then again I’m not the target demographic, so whether I’m familiar with the latest in women’s fashion is neither here nor there. Ditto any other guys researching Stella & Dot.
Theoretically there’s nothing stopping a guy from signing up and working the business, but I think women are going to have an infinitely easier time.
Pricing seemed pretty reasonably too. For the most part Stella & Dot products start at $40 or $50 and run into the hundreds. Not much different to a department store.
All Stella & Dot products are designed by an in house team in New York and California, who sometimes also collaborate with outside designers.
The company additionally claims its products are “artisan crafted and hand finished” and “lead and nickel safe”.
Moving onto the business model, the first thing that struck me was affiliates have to generate 500 PV and 1000 GV to qualify for commissions (4% on level 1).
That’s potentially a steep volume requirement for not much of a commission.
The good news is PV tops out at 2000 early on which, if you’re working the business, shouldn’t be all that hard to generate retail. Do be aware though that rolling twelve-month commission qualified recruitment requirements have to be met at the upper affiliate ranks.
Even 500 PV isn’t a stretch considering some Stella & Dot products do cost a few hundred (PV is typically 70% to 80% of RRP, I wasn’t able to find an exact number).
The combination of a shallow unilevel with deep generation is interesting. The combination works out at the upper ranks but does unfortunately still leave the Lead Stylist and Associate Stylist ranks shallow (4% and 8% only on level 1).
Even a 1% or 2% level 2 commission at these ranks wouldn’t hurt.
The Generation Bonus kicks in at the Star Stylist rank, which is 5000 GV a month.
From there is grows healthily, initially paying an affiliate on most levels of their unilevel team (this will constrict at the upper ranks but overall volume increases).
Retail sales are locked in at 25% to 35%, which is pretty respectable for an MLM opportunity. The percentage increase tied to retail PV is a great incentive.
With respect to marketing, Stella & Dot utilize the party plan (which they refer to as a “trunk show”).
There is a potential danger for inventory loading, as it’s obviously hard to hold a product party without and products to display. You can rely on catalogs but having some inventory on hand is a must.
This is where the Stella & Dot affiliate kits come in, each providing a dollar value selection of products (left up to the affiliate to decide on).
Be wary of spending too much beyond that on products each month unless you’re making retail sales and moving inventory.
It might be all to easy to fall into the trap of justifying initial large monthly purchases to wear yourself, but this isn’t going to be sustainable in the long-term.
Especially when you consider you’re probably going to be doing a bit of it anywhere as product lines change from season to season.
On the compliance side of things, the only thing red flag I could find was this from the Stella & Dot FAQ:
HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO INVEST?
When you sign up as an Independent Stylist, you’ll receive a Starter Kit, which includes everything you need to succeed.
Having gone through the compensation plan I can state with certainty that there’s no investment going on here, but you can never be too careful in how you describe an MLM opportunity.
Oh and then there was also this snippet from Jessica Herrin’s Stella & Dot corporate bio;
Typical Jessica: Endless optimism. Taking a look at the Pyramids and saying “Hmmm, that actually looks very doable.”
Again, while Stella & Dot’s business model doesn’t facilitate pyramid fraud, taken out of context I certainly had a giggle at the potentially poor choice of words.
Other than that Stella & Dot is an otherwise solid MLM offering. Definitely try some of the products first before committing yourself (these are products most women are buying anyway), and go from there.