Ten years ago, sisters Britney Vickery and Ivy Hall were like many other young moms: they wanted to devote lots of time to their kids yet still find a creative outlet, contribute financially to their families and get some much-needed time with adults. Their solution: make handbags and sell them at house parties.
That was the origin of Initials Inc., a women’s accessories manufacturer and retailer that today has thousands of independent sales representatives around the country selling products as the company founders did. “A lot of women at Britney’s and Ivy’s parties wanted to sell the products too,” says York. “We always say that we didn’t choose a direct-selling model for the company, but rather that the model chose us.”
Initials’ growth curve, which was fairly flat the first few years, has turned sharply upward since James York came aboard as CFO in 2010.
But the future certainly poses some risks. Perhaps most concerning is the current general stagnation in wages and disposable income in many areas of the country — an unfavorable trend for a vendor of nonessential consumer goods. York is also paying close attention to a growing trend whereby a number of revenue-seeking states are looking into classifying some kinds of independent contractors as employees for tax-collection purposes. Such policies, if adopted, would place a significant, new financial burden on Initials.