Friday, December 12, 2014

Lia Sophia Direct Sales/Party Plan Closing

Lia Sophia, direct sales jewelry company, closing after 28 years in business was a big surprise to me. Here's an excerpt from the NBC Chicago article ...

“We are so proud of building Lia Sophia over the past 28 years into an outstanding company that has empowered women, and whose jewelry has been a favorite of so many,” creative director Elena Kiam wrote in a blog post on the company's website Monday. “However, given the challenging business environment, we made the painful decision to wind down Lia Sophia in the United States and Canada by December 31, and cease operations by the end of February.”


What does this mean for the jewelry direct sales/party plan industry, for thousands of Lia Sophia sales consultants, and what this means for other party plan jewelry companies?

The good news is that there are other jewelry party plan companies that will happily welcome existing Lia Sophia consultants if they choose to move on. If it's not jewelry, there are food companies, beauty, skin care, wellness, and so many other products to choose from.

The sad news is that it is a very sad time for existing Lia Sophia consultants especially for those that have been with the company for many years. But I believe that a true entrepreneur particularly for those that love the direct sales business model like I do will eventually move on.

What does this mean for other jewelry party plan companies? One company that pops to mind is Jewel Kade which recently merged with Thirty-One Gifts! Who saw this coming? This was a huge surprise to me. I don't know all the details as to why they merged with Thirty-One Gifts but at face value it makes sense as they offer complimentary products (handbags and jewelry) but I'm curious as to why Janet Kinkade, founder of Jewel Kade would merge with Thirty-One Gifts? Would love to hear from others in the comments below.

If you're relying on a party plan format should you be worried with the recent closing of Lia Sophia and maybe even Jewel Kade merging with Thirty-One Gifts? Absolutely not. First, I'm optimistic and sitting around worrying isn't productive when you could be building your business. That said, if you are with a direct sales/party plan company, whether it's jewelry or something else, I'd pay attention to the health of your company.

Is the sales force growing? 
Do you see increase in sales and recruiting growth shared by the company?
Resale orders? 
Are there too many changes (ie comp plan, corporate staff changes, frequent recruiting incentives, etc.)?

These signs are necessarily indicative of a company closing but I'd pay attention to sales growth and recruitment of new consultants.



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