When Bella Weems was 14-years-old, she had just one dream and that was to get a car for her sixteenth birthday. The problem was, she didn’t have the money and her parents weren’t willing to buy a car for her. Instead, they told her if she really wanted a car, she would have to work for, and work she did; Arizona teen Bella Weems had an idea to sell jewelry and she built that idea into a $250 million business called Origami Owl.
When she was only 14-years-old, Weems started her business, Origami Owl, on a small investment of $350, which she had saved from working as a babysitter. In 2011, Weems started running the business out of a kiosk at her local mall, and it didn’t take long for her unique “living locket” idea to catch on and business started pouring in. In the first year the business brought in hefty revenues totaling $20 million.
The living locket is unique because it allows buyers to customize a locket with charms that relate to their family, their lives, hobbies, and so much more, which helps them tell be able to their story through a one of a kind piece of jewelry.
One year later, in 2012, after seeing how well the business was doing and hearing some of the stories about how her new jewelry idea had affected the lives of so many women, Weems, with the support of her loving family decided to expand the business and branch out nationwide. So the Arizona teen, Bella Weems starting offering her jewelry business, Origami Owl across the country through a direct sell business model, which enabled her to build a business worth more than $250 million.
The business model works much like that of Tupperware or Avon in that it is a direct to consumer business model. Women can sign up and purchase a kit for $149 to become a designer for Origami Owl. The kit gives the new designer everything they need to get started in the business and begin selling the living lockets. Designers start their home-based business by inviting friends, family members, and friends of friends to parties. From there, the designer shares fun and refreshments with her guests, shows the living lockets and charms, swaps life stories, and sells the customized jewelry, all while earning a percentage of the sales and jewelry for themselves.
Once Weems started offering the direct sell model for Origami Owl, it did not take long for the business to explode in popularity and in sales. Currently, Origami Owl has 60,000 designers nationwide, and as of the end of 2013 had revenues in excess of $250 million.
So did Weems get her car? You bet she did! In 2012, she was able to make her dream of buying a car for her sixteenth birthday come true when she purchased a white Jeep. She named it Alice.
Weems, who is now 17-years-old, is involved in the business as much as possible for a high school senior, and she is still in charge of overseeing the designs of both Origami Owl’s lockets and charms. “I try to be in the office as often as I possibly can.” And while she plans to go to college after high school, she said she will remain part of Origami Owl. “I want to be involved with the business for the rest of my life,” she said. “I love it.”
The Arizona teen offered a bit of advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs by saying they too could succeed in building a business like her $250 million jewelry empire, Origami Owl by simply never thinking a dream is too big.
Opinion By Donna W. Martin