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$250 Million For A 14-Year-Old's Big Idea

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#1 Hum

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:37

All Isabella “Bella” Weems really wanted was a used car. That desire set in motion a chain of events that led to the Arizona teenager spearheading what is now a multi-million dollar enterprise that she may someday control. When she finishes school, that is.

Weems, now 17, is founder of Origami Owl, a custom jewelry company whose direct sales business model turns would-be entrepreneurs into salespeople and evangelists. The company, which she founded in 2010 at age 14, generated $24 million in revenue in 2012 and this year expects to reach $250 million, according to the company.

Origami Owl takes on independent associates – known as “designers” – who buy products at a discount and then peddle them to others for a marked up price. One of the favorite points of sale are “jewelry bars,” or private parties at someone’s home or another venue operated by a “hostess” (the hostesses get discounts and some free products too). The company has about 50,887 designers.

In a sense, what Origami Owl is offering is a canned small business that could appeal to would-be entrepreneurs interested in making a few extra dollars. That motivation is really what got Weems herself started in the first place.

At 14 Weems announced that she felt a car would be an appropriate gift for her 16th birthday, but was told by her parents, Chrissy and Warren, that she should earn her own wheels instead of relying on their funding. They suggested she start a business.

“I started researching and looking for ideas,” she told FORBES. “The locket’s been around for a long time and I thought, ‘well, what if you could make a locket with charms?’” Weems asked her parents to match the $350 she’d earned for babysitting, which she then spent on wholesale components to make her lockets. She quickly leveraged her network of friends to find buyers. “We started selling our product at house parties and boutiques and selling at any jewelry show we could. The product started selling itself.” In 2010 Weems opened a kiosk at the Chandler, Arizona mall in time for Black Friday shoppers.

The company adopted the direct sales platform in 2011 and generated about $280,000. The following year revenue took off like a rocket, multiplying 86 times.

 

How did Weems’ dream of getting a car work out? The founder that started it all is the proud owner of a white Jeep which she acquired in 2012 and named Alice. :huh:

full story




#2 +zhiVago

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:56

It's a cool story. What's left is that her parents had poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into her business before it took off.

 

I also checked her website, www.origamiowl.com, and thought that I had already seen the same concept at www.pandora.net



#3 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:59

Sounds like your standard pyramid selling company, just like the 1000's already out there.  Soon, she'll move from making money from the products themselves, to making money from the "sales kits" she sells to her resellers, who will then start encouraging other people to start with reselling the products too...

 

The only people who make money on these things are the founders.



#4 FrostAM

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:16

Sounds like your standard pyramid selling company, just like the 1000's already out there.  Soon, she'll move from making money from the products themselves, to making money from the "sales kits" she sells to her resellers, who will then start encouraging other people to start with reselling the products too...

 

The only people who make money on these things are the founders.

 

I thought the same thing when I read it. It reminded me of Tupperware Parties :p



#5 OP Hum

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:20

Teens earning their own money ?  What is this country coming too ...



#6 Growled

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:30

The only people who make money on these things are the founders.

 

Pretty much. I guess at least she got her car.