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Stella & Dot, LulaRoe among direct sales fashion lines

Ever Skin saleswoman Jessica Marotti leads fellow specialists

Ever Skin saleswoman Jessica Marotti leads fellow specialists at a meeting about the brand's products, Jan. 24, 2018. Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Two years ago, Melissa Mikola was saving to buy a home and was looking to supplement her income. After doing some online research, it didn’t take long for her to connect the dots.

Mikola had traded a job at Maybelline’s corporate offices in the city for an administrative assistant position at a real estate firm in Port Washington since moving to Melville from Manhattan a decade ago with her family. Working full time and having two young children left her little to no time to socialize. Selling jewelry and accessories on a part-time basis for Stella & Dot gets her out of the house, she says, while also bringing in money.

The boutique-style brand is available only through independent stylists like Mikola, at in-home or online trunk shows and online at stelladot.com.

A modern-day Mary Kay-style enterprise, Stella & Dot shares many of the tenets as the traditional direct sales company: entrepreneurial opportunities for women, commission for selling products and perks for recruiting others to join the business.

Stella & Dot stylists pay about $199 for a starter kit, make 25 to 35 percent commission on sales and receive discounts of up to a 50 percent on merchandise. Products range from $16 to $400.

The brand relies heavily on social media to spread its mission and bling. The jewelry line includes pendants, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Since its inception in 2004, Stella & Dot has expanded to include sunglasses, scarves, clothing and handbags.

Mikola, who hosts at least one trunk show a month, says new seasons and jewelry collections always bring the most business. Her profits pay for her children’s monthly dance and gymnastics activities — which she says totals “a good amount.” In the past two years, she has built a base of customers for whom she provides style consulting.

“People also don’t have much time, so they can send me a price point and some things they need or want, and I can send them suggestions and then order and ship to them, which saves them time and stress,” says Mikola, 44.

It’s not uncommon for her to FaceTime with faraway contacts or frequent local meetups with other stylists, she says.

“We get together to share ideas and usually one or two people bring brand-new pieces that have launched to get a feel for the new collections,” Mikola says.

It was through her involvement with Stella & Dot that Jessica Marotti became a specialist with its sister brand, Ever Skin. The skin care line of cleansers, masks, serums and moisturizers ranges from $26 to $88 and is also available in regimens.

Marotti, 36, of East Setauket, is a kindergarten teacher in Sachem. The mother of two dedicates 20 hours a week growing and mentoring her team of more than 100 specialists — and her profits.

Ninety percent of her business, Marotti says, is done one-on-one and via social media through Facebook or Instagram.

NEW DIRECT-SALES LINES

Beauty brands Avon and Mary Kay have been selling their products through direct sales consultants for decades. Here are some newer fashion and beauty lines:

Essential Bodywear

SELLS Women’s shapewear and undergarments

PRICE $27-$77

INFO essentialbodywear.com

EverSkin

SELLS Skin care items ranging from cleansers and serums to masks and moisturizers

PRICE $26-$88

INFO everskin.com

LuLaRoe

SELLS Brightly patterned leggings, dresses and separates for women and kids with an emphasis on comfort

PRICE About $23-$100

INFO lularoe.com

Stella & Dot

SELLS Costume jewelry, handbags and accessories including scarves and sunglasses

PRICE $16 to $400

INFO stelladot.com

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