A woman can never have too much jewelry.
In most cases, Amanda Lowery of Vallonia said she believes that to be true.
But as a Silpada Designs sales representative for the past eight years, Lowery said she has purchased or earned more free jewelry than she needs.
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“I probably have 500 or so pieces myself,” Lowery said.
Silpada is known for producing high-quality, hand-crafted sterling silver jewelry and other fashion accessories that are considered “affordable luxury” items.
From rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets to watches and belts, Lowery said she has something for every occasion and never leaves home without first putting on her Silpada.
On May 24, Lowery and the 15,000 other Silpada reps across the country learned the company, founded by two stay-at-home Kansas moms in 1997, was calling it quits. It was devastating news, Lowery said, especially to those women who sell the jewelry full time and rely on the commission income to pay the bills.
At the height of the company’s sales in 2009, there were about 30,000 representatives nationwide.
Silpada will officially end its 19-year history July 31. At that time, people will no longer be able to purchase Silpada items from the company through direct-sales parties or online.
Lowery said the decline in sales reps is due to more women working outside the home and being too busy with their children’s activities to have parties.
“I was shocked and heartbroken,” Lowery said of the unexpected announcement. “Not just for myself and the other reps, but for all the customers who have come to love this jewelry as much as I do and who won’t be able to get it anymore.”
Lowery said Silpada offered her a “life-changing” business opportunity, giving her the chance to stay home and raise her family but still earn money to supplement her husband’s income.
Before becoming a full-time Silpada representative in Jackson County in July 2008, Lowery had worked as an expanded assistant for a local dental office for about 10 years. She was introduced to Silpada by her friend, Abby Hoene, who had just signed up to sell the jewelry.
“I was getting invited to Silpada parties about once a week,” Lowery said. “There were so many things that I loved and that I wanted. After seeing me at these parties, Abby said, ‘Amanda, why don’t you just sell this and get the jewelry that you want and make some money while you’re doing it?’”
After telling her husband she needed him to “take a leap of faith” with her, Lowery signed up to sell Silpada, too.
To be successful at selling any product to others, Lowery said you have to be passionate about it, and she loved Silpada.
“Silpada is .925 sterling silver jewelry, so that’s the highest quality sterling silver that you can purchase,” she said. “They also offered a lifetime guarantee on their products, which is unheard of. It was almost like making an investment rather than just buying a piece of jewelry.”
She started thinking about who might be interested in buying Silpada and began booking home parties.
“I did hundreds of parties,” she said.
Lowery found out she was good at selling because she believed in the product so much. Although she was only doing it part time at first, she realized she could do more.
“There was definitely a lot of interest in it at the time because there were several reps in the area,” she said. “But I was going to enough parties and selling enough jewelry and doing enough business that I thought I could do this full time. So I told my husband that I needed him to take another leap of faith.”
Local reps began expanding outside of Jackson County to serve surrounding counties.
“It was never a problem. There were plenty of ladies who wanted to have parties and earn free jewelry,” she said. “We really had great customers who were working with us to help us be successful.”
Lowery said she believes the rising cost of silver also contributed to the company’s downfall because jewelry prices had increased.
But she doesn’t regret her time spent working for Silpada.
“They offered amazing incentives for their representatives,” she said. “The commission rate that I would make as a hostess is the highest commission rate that I’ve ever heard of for a direct sales company. There were monthly incentives for us to earn free jewelry. You could earn trips to places all around the world if you built up your sales team and sold at a high enough level.”
Although she never got to go on one of the big trips, Lowery did make the “Sterling Club” and was invited to the national Silpada conference in her first year of selling.
Since that first year, Lowery has sold thousands of pieces of Silpada jewelry.
“If I stopped and thought about the money attached to what I’ve sold, it would blow my mind,” she said. “Millions of dollars.”
In 2010, Lowery transitioned back to selling part time because she was elected to serve as Jackson County clerk.
“I went from actively calling people on a daily basis to more people reaching out to me,” she said. “Silpada also opened it up for people to order on their website, and that helped because it made it more convenient for people to buy.”
To give customers one last opportunity to purchase Silpada, Lowery decided to organize a Farewell Silpada Sample Sale.
From 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, the public is invited to the sale inside the former Deck’d Out Photography studio at 202 S. Main St. in Brownstown.
“I have been gathering pieces from other area reps and will have hundreds if not thousands of pieces available at deeply discounted sample sale prices,” Lowery said. “I guarantee anyone that comes to the sale is going to find a treasure.”
People also still will be able to place orders during the sale.
Because of the interest she was generating, Lowery decided to get other Brownstown businesses involved to benefit from the traffic that will be coming into town.
“I thought it would be great if women could come for a fun evening of shopping and visit several places at once,” she said. “A lot of businesses close before people get off of work during the week, so I asked some of the owners if they would consider staying open later on Friday.”
A dozen businesses agreed, and her jewelry sale evolved into Brownstown/Ewing Girls Night Out. Besides the Silpada sale, people will be able to shop extended hours at All ‘Bout That Junque, Ewing Unique and Boutique, Simply Treasures, Boutique Elise, The Mercantile, Wild Gourd and Friends, Funky Junk and Brownstown Hardware.
Blondie’s Pizzeria and Pub, Back Porch Ice Cream and Casey’s Cakes and Classes also will be open that evening for hungry shoppers, Lowery said.
She hopes to see many people come out to support small, local businesses.
As for looking for another business venture like Silpada, Lowery said she doesn’t see that in her future.
“I don’t know that I’m ever going to find something of the quality that Silpada was,” she said. “Silpada means the best of everything, and they were.”
What: Farewell Silpada Sample Sale and Brownstown/Ewing Girls Night Out
When: 4 to 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Former Deck’d Out Photography studio at 202 S. Main St. in Brownstown and other businesses in Brownstown and Ewing