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How 6 Moms Made Money from Direct Sales

Millions of women are weathering the still-tough economy by earning extra cash through direct sales: supplementing a salary that just doesn't cover everything or replacing one that vanished. Innovative options include power tools, home decor items, even professionally fitted bras. These moms are all making a home-party business work for them.
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Ginny Fiscella
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Ginny Fiscella

Ginny Fiscella, 47

Mom of two, ages 15 and 12

Lives in Overland Park, Kansas

Product: Silpada jewelry (silpada.com)

Started: 1999

Works: 4 days and 2 nights a week

Manages: 2,000

Earns: Over $200,000 per year

It's a typical workday in the Fiscella home: Ginny, leader of Silpada jewelry company's top sales force, makes phone calls in her home office, while husband Doug handles her administrative tasks from his laptop in the kitchen. The arrangement gives him time with daughters Caroline and Molly and frees Ginny to focus on what she does best—selling, recruiting, and motivating her team.

Backstory: In 1999 Ginny left her full-time job in hospice management when the family moved from Arizona to Kansas so that Doug could take a new job. Bored one afternoon, she browsed through a Silpada catalog that belonged to her sister-in-law. "Halfway through, I already had a $350 wish list," she says. So Ginny decided to become a rep to earn some free bling and hopefully make friends. She took $1,000 from savings to purchase display jewelry, conservatively calculating that she'd need 12 parties to replenish the account. Her first party yielded $1,500 in sales, $450 each in commission and free jewelry, and six more bookings. Doug said, "Something tells me we've got a good thing going here."

Then what? Within a year and a half, Ginny was earning $3,000 to $4,000 a month, doing two to three parties a week. However, not wanting to seem pushy, she wasn't recruiting her hostesses to sell. After her best friend signed up as a rep, and found she could finally afford to cover all her kids' sports activities, she told Ginny, "Shame on you for keeping this to yourself." That's when Ginny started recruiting anywhere and everywhere: at the supermarket, on vacation, even in restaurants. (When a fellow diner complimented her bracelets, Ginny gave them to her, along with an info kit. The woman became a rep a few weeks later.) By 2005, Ginny was making six figures annually from three parties a week and commissions on her team's sales. Meanwhile, Doug had changed jobs and was miserable. He decided to quit so Ginny could expand her business even more. His handling of car pools and homework has enabled her to achieve $1 million in cumulative retail sales and become the family's main breadwinner. Ginny admits initially feeling guilty about delegating "mom" tasks to Doug. "But I feel much more fulfilled now," says Ginny, "which is better for all of us."

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