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Direct Selling News  > perspectives  > Publisher's Note

Our cover story this month offers an overview of an exciting product category that is a strong testament to the direct selling way of doing business: jewelry and accessories. Not only are these products being viewed as fun to sell, but they are also seen as the perfect vehicles for budding entrepreneurs, offering business opportunities ranging from lower-end fashion jewelry and accessories to the more upscale products from the likes of Silpada Designs and others.

Happy New Year! It is always exhilarating to close a year and start anew. For those who celebrated closing 2010 with growth and positive momentum, we salute you! You are an inspiration for all! To all of you who are part of the direct selling way of doing business, we know that there are more than 16 million independent business owners, and millions of prospective business owners, who will be looking to you and your companies as their vehicles for renewal in 2011.

Exactly two years ago, the top stories were the election and the economy. As we now reflect on the close of another year, the stories that are still at the forefront in our minds are whether the leadership of this country is moving us toward recovery from the recession or whether we are still very deep into a recessionary economy.

With less than two months left in another year, many are already offering their assessments as to which companies were truly able to adapt to and benefit from recession in the United States. We know the direct selling business model is well suited—if not an ideal solution—to challenging times, when job eliminations have become the norm along with a high anxiety index… if there is such a thing. We also know the direct selling business model cannot sell itself; therefore, the messaging companies use to gain the attention of their sales organizations will always be critical to the performance of those companies. It is always what a company does with the model that makes the difference between survival and the ability to maintain or grow during the challenging period.

This past month, our industry lost a passionate advocate. Harry Hersey Jr., DSA Hall of Famer and former company owner, leader and longtime consultant for many, left us in an unfortunate accident. Those of us who knew Harry will always remember him, not just for his sincere friendship but for what he believed direct selling means to the people who choose it as a way to build a business on their terms. Harry will be missed!

The big news within the industry over the past 30 days has been the Avon acquisition of Silpada! When we saw the first release come through we could only think: “WOW! What a story!” Having been around the direct selling industry for many years it was not difficult for me to remember the beginnings of Silpada, for it was only about 13 years ago that they started. If you don’t know the story, it is definitely worth a trip to their website to browse this company and review its beginnings and its mission. Talk about dreams coming true, this is quite a story, but there are many stories within this story.

This month our cover story returns to one of the hottest topics to emerge in the past few years: how best to use social media functionality and how to measure its effectiveness if you are using it. We all agree that Facebook and Twitter are changing the way many of us communicate. While Facebook started out as a tool for individuals to use in forming communication networks, today you can find a Facebook page for practically every major company, including each branch of the U.S. armed forces.

One half of another year means so many different things, depending on one’s perspective. The discussion about the economy continues and is often one of much debate. While some success stories have emerged in the first six months of the new year, challenges remain, and celebrating the economic recovery appears to still be on hold in most mature markets. These times call for careful analysis of the editorial calendar for publications like ours, as “content relevance” becomes even more important with so much uncertainty.

Each of us, during the course of our lives, celebrates many accomplishments and achievements that affect our own lives as well as the lives of others. This month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). Founded in 1910 as the Agents Credit Association, the DSA has protected the rights of direct sellers, fought for our way of doing business, and done more to preserve the freedoms that allow a direct selling business model to exist than any other single entity. Of the 10 founding member companies, only one remains in the active ranks of membership today: Avon Products Inc.

Our cover story this month probes how important it is to understand the changing demographics of America, with a focus on the Hispanic segment. As we assigned and reviewed the story, including thoughts from the executives we interviewed, it became apparent that we would also share information smaller companies may appreciate. Larger companies always have internal market-research departments that make significant investments to stay abreast of changes in the marketplace. However, smaller and newer companies that are not yet ready to invest extensively might be well-served by what we share.

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