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Interview with Cents of Style founder, Courtney Brown

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A little while ago, I had the opportunity to sit down for coffee with Courtney Brown, owner and founder of Cents of Style.  Courtney is originally from Boise, Idaho and received her bachelors in Sociology from Brigham Young University in 2003.

Courtney was a stay at home mom after adopting her daughter and later her son, she started looking for something she could do to get her out of the house; she started looking for a hobby.

She chose fashion as her hobby and came up with a great idea to make money doing what she loved:
spending time with other women and shopping.  Courtney came up with Cents of Style.

Originally, she approached her mother and her sister thinking they would down play her idea but she found enthusiasm and support instead.  She started out with a couple thousand dollars, purchased items on clearance, and began doing home parties on her own in March of 2007.

“I did a party in my own home, one in my sister’s home in Utah, one in my sister-in-law’s home here in Idaho, and it all grew from there.”

After a while, her idea started to take off.  Courtney chose direct sales because she wanted to keep prices low and network with a lot of women.  What started as a hobby has since grown to a still relatively small network of 40 women across the United States with home parties, catalogues, and a web site of product offerings.

Courtney has primarily used word of mouth advertising and even used home made invitations for her parties in the beginning.  After awhile, she created a logo, did a photo shoot, and started buying wholesale.

“We buy just like any other retailer, from the same vendors as large retailers, but because we are
selling it direct and don’t have a store front, it keeps our prices low.”

Cents of Style launched their national program to recruit distributors and reach more customers in late  2010.  While still small, the company has no employees and about 3 women running the show.  They still manage to handle large events like the Idaho Dance and Cheer Competition every year and even still make it to home parties; a recent home party having about 50 attendants.

While getting people to come to the parties was the biggest challenge, Courtney says once women learned about the product and the prices by attending a party the response was, “You gotta do it again, you gotta do it again, I’ve gotta come get my fix!”

Cents of Style parties are hugely popular because none of the products are over $32 and all jewelry is currently under $12; so there really is something almost everyone can afford.  Moreover, Cents of Style offers free shipping on all of its products.  The products are comprised of fashion accessories from earrings to boots to handbags.  Courtney says she’s very proud of the leaps and bounds made by the company in such a short amount of time and attributes a lot of it to the fact that they don’t mark up their products by huge percentages.

“I tell this to every girl that gets started with Cents of Style, ‘We’re not Mary Kay, you’re not going to win a car, but if you’re looking for a little extra money, this might be a really good fit for you.’”

When the work load became too much for this mother of two, she hired a babysitter to take care of the kids during the day while she worked at home.  She says her day is never consistent, random, and she works whenever it fits in her schedule.

The basic option to get started as a National Cents of Style distributor is $ $349.00 and includes marketing material and a range of product.

“You don’t have to spend a lot to look good. When you look good, you feel good. Cents of Style is affordable, it’s fashionable and it’s fun.”

Distributors, or  “Stylists”, purchase products in bulk at a discount.  The highest discount is at 28% and managers make a commission off of their direct downline’s orders and sales.  All products have a set price so no one can sell lower than the other.  If a ‘stylist’ purchases too much product or simply can’t sell it, twice a year she’s allowed to exchange it for new product, minus a re-stocking fee.

Courtney thinks Cents of Style really connects with women because it’s not a big corporation and, because they’re small, they’re really accessible to women.  As a thank you to their customers and distributors, Cents of Style rented a theatre and had a weekend retreat for the stylists to watch The Twilight Sage: Eclipse this past July.

“Different, fresh, new. Just like fashion and style should be; that’s Cents of Style.”

January 7. 2011 by Staff Writer Lacy Sereduk. All rights reserved 2011

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