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Catherine Arthur - Vice President of lia sophia

1. lia sophia is the leading fashion jewelry direct sales company in the US. How did it all begin?

lia sophia actually began in the 1970's and was originally called Act II. The company was purchased in 1986 by my father-in-law, Victor Kiam, and renamed Lady Remington. The company was subsequently renamed lia sophia in 2004. This year the company will pass Avon to become the largest seller of fashion jewelry not only in the US, but in the world. Currently, we have over 27,000 active independent sales representatives who sell lia sophia jewelry.

2. What are your own experiences in working as a designer for the company?

It's very gratifying to get an opportunity to collaborate on the creative end of things. I am fortunate to work with many in house designers and an outside designer (for our Red Carpet celebrity collections) who is the style editor of a major fashion magazine. As a result, we can anticipate what the trends will be and it's exhilarating to know we are on the cutting edge. It's a great feeling to see our designs sought after by celebrities and tastemakers around the country. Our Red Carpet jewelry in particular speaks to current trends, is chic and stylish but stands out because it really looks unique.

3. Has it been difficult to juggle a career and kids?

In my previous career, I worked on Wall Street for 15 years and it was difficult to feel like I was doing as much as I would have liked to both as it related to my career and being a mother. The natural schedules of children conflict with the demands of many, if not most, careers and I often felt as if I was not excelling in either area of my life. Not all careers are created equal-by that I mean that some careers have more opportunity for flexibility around work hours, travel requirements and required meetings. At lia sophia, women have the chance to work as much or as little as they wish as they are the CEOs of their own businesses. This structure removes the natural conflicts present in most jobs between job and kids. Attending a child's soccer game, doctors appointment or just picking up from school routinely happens for lia sophia advisors without any repercussion-financial or otherwise. There are few careers where this is the case.

4. Do you see Lia Sophia as a great business opportunity for moms?

Yes, because lia sophia allows all women, Moms included, to earn extra income on a flexible schedule, the company's opportunity is perfect for people who want to make more money and do so in such a way that they can be there for their kids. As I mentioned, we like to say each of lia sophia's sales representatives is the CEO of a business with unlimited potential, which she is. However, close to 90% of lia sophia sales representatives, whom we call advisors, are part time. Because the product the company offers for sale is so desirable and the compensation plan is so lucrative, the return on investment for the time spent by a lia sophia sales representative is very high. The average lia sophia representative makes over $200 from each party which typically takes her only 3 to 4 hours, including traveling time. In addition, the company provides tremendous support, does not make the sales representative carry inventory or deliver product to customers. The cost to become a representative is low, only $149 for which the representative receives over $1,000 worth of jewelry and supplies to get started.

5. How rewarding is it?

The financial rewards can be amazing for those who really want to work the business, particularly by becoming a manager. The way the lia sophia compensation plan works is as a sales representative recruits people to be part of her team, her compensation on her own sales is increased and she gets an override compensation on the sales of her recruits in return for managing them. As the team gets bigger, the compensation can really soar. One example is a New Hampshire school teacher, who in just 16 months has recruited a team of 240 people and actually earned $200,000 during the last twelve months. Another is a former shop owner who has been with us for 13 years, has 8,000 people on her team and will earn over $3 million this year. While the money is fantastic, many advisors say the biggest reward is seeing the positive changes in their own approach to life that comes with running a successful, independent business. Other advisors say helping people to change their lives is the best reward possible they could imagine. Being surrounded by extraordinary women doing extraordinary things is indeed very powerful and brings rewards that many of the lia sophia advisors never dreamed were possible.

6. Tell us more about becoming an Advisor for Lia Sophia.

It is easy to become a lia sophia advisor. The best way is to go to the company website and click on Locate An Advisor. The name and contact information of the current lia sophia advisor who is geographically nearest to the person who wants to join will come up. You can also call the lia sophia at 1-800-487-3323 to get this information. From there, the person needs to sign an advisor contract and pay the $149 one time fee mentioned above. The contact person will walk her through all the steps on how to become successful and the company's home office also provides tremendous support and training. We always say while a lia sophia advisor is in business for herself, she is never in business by herself.

7. Do you believe that women can have it all?

I do think that women can have it all depending on how they define "all". It's a very personal definition. In fact I think it's healthy and exhilarating to have various facets of one's life that one is passionate about-which may include career, family, physical fitness and hobbies. Of course this makes for a much faster paced life but it seems to me to be well worth it. I also think that having a career or significant outside interest is critical to be prepared for the time in life when the kids are older, more independent and just not around. It's much easier to ramp up at this stage rather than have to reinvent oneself from scratch.

8. Any model advisors in your company?

At lia sophia, each woman who joins our family has her own unique reasons why she joined and unique dreams of what she hopes to get out of her experience. Having said that, I believe for those women who want to make a major change in their lifestyles, lia sophia can help them accomplish this. One example is Lisa Riportella, a mother of five, who moved to Maine two years ago along with her husband, Craig. Craig is a pastor and moved to take over a small congregation but unfortunately the congregation could not afford to pay Craig enough to support his family. Craig took on other jobs and even so the Riportella family was stretched. That is until Lisa decided to become a lia sophia representative. Although Lisa got off to a rocky start (selling jewelry from the wrong catalog), she has been able to make enough money so her family could take their first vacation in three years, she can afford after school karate lessons, and most importantly Craig could quit his other jobs and spend time with his congregation and most importantly his family. We call Lisa's story a "butterfly story" and we have many of them.

9. Your advice to our mompreneurs ...

My advice is to start the process right away rather than postponing for the moment when all the pieces have been completely thought through and are ready to be launched. Better to be a bit disorganized but active and involved in that project or new business than completely organized and immobile. You can't succeed at something new if you haven't tried something new.

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