Initials Inc. Founders Named Outstanding Georgia Citizens

Britney Vickery and Ivy Hall, Co-Founders of Initials Inc., were honored with the Outstanding Georgia Citizen Awards during their recent Leader Day at the State Capitol.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp presented the awards with District 10 State Representative Terry Rogers and District 28 State Representative Dan Gasaway in attendance. Sisters Vickery and Hall co-founded Initials Inc. in 2005, having recently celebrated eight years in business.

Leader Day at the Capitol was part of the company’s Annual Leadership Retreat held in Atlanta, with over 65 independent creative leaders and directors from all over the country participating.

With a core philosophy of “There’s only one you!” Initials Inc. is a direct seller of personalized handbags and accessories offered through home parties.


Options Increase Success for Our Young Company

August 2012

Working Smart

Options Increase Success for Our Young Company

by Britney C. Vickery, President and Co-Founder, Initials Inc.

Initial Inc.

Have you ever thought about the fact that there is only one you? This seemingly simple statement has the uncanny ability to cut to the very core of who you are as a person. It also can inspire you to think about who you want to become. Here at Initials Inc., these four words are our guiding philosophy in everything we do. From our very early years—a mere seven years ago—this philosophy has shaped us as a company, and how we view our journey with some of the most amazing women on Earth! We realize that we do a few things pretty differently, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We believe that our personalized products, our Creative Partners (consultants), and most of all, our entrepreneurial opportunity create not only a fabulous journey, but truly the career of a lifetime.

Our Creative Partners choose. It’s about knowing their audience and being sensitive to their needs.

If you read any of the reports for recent college graduates today, they say they want to be an entrepreneur. Some experts say it is just this next generation’s gig; some say it is simply a response to recent economic times; I say it is the only way to real freedom, and I believe they and millions of others know it and believe it. Millennials want to be who they are but also have a safety net. That’s the beautiful sweet spot of direct selling. It is personal empowerment, and we offer a variety of ways to make that possible. The freedom and flexibility afforded to someone who chooses to shape their future, on their terms, is limitless.

This spirit is the lifeblood of Initials Inc. We purposefully want to attract those seeking a more long-term vision for themselves and their families. As I say to our Creative Partners, “We don’t want to date you, we want to get married.” Even though we are young, we want to go the distance together in creating the most exciting entrepreneurial adventure—ever. We know that the only way we can accomplish this goal is to share our passion, inspire a bigger and bolder way of thinking and give them the freedom to launch on their terms. Each day we are reminded that we are building leaders, not workers.

Entrepreneurial Opportunity

At Initials Inc., we embrace the absolute specialness of you; after all, there is only one of you in the entire world. We also believe that our products are where the deep meaning of personalization and the vast, wide world of fashion and function can collide in a beautiful way. We aim to celebrate the individual for who they are with their single initial, three-initial monogram, name, nickname, or favorite quote, among others. In doing so we also believe that this unique experience should be fun—and free! It is for this reason that since our opening day we have never charged for personalization.

We know that our products allow us to start a conversation, engage in a current way, and ultimately become a part of someone’s life whether they are interested in being a customer, hosting a party or participating in the business opportunity.

And it was so important in the beginning to bring our philosophy together with our products and how we do business. So when Initials Inc. was taking shape, the topic of what we would “name” our consultants was a top focus. A name or a title is a label; it is an immediate brand of who you are. So, as those early discussions were happening, we kept coming back to a partnership, a joint effort in creating a new kind of company—something from nothing. Creative + Partner—it was when these words came together that we said, “That’s it!” It spoke to the very essence of what we were building, together.

Once a Creative Partner enrolls we continue that team spirit by exposing them to as many different ways of selling as we can because we want them to succeed. One example is our training, which is not about showing a standard way to do a party, or about specifically what to say and how to say it. If we say there’s only one way to do a party then we are training to the opposite of our core philosophy of, There’s only one you! We want them to bring them to their business—they should approach their business from the perspective that only they have. The way Mary does a party should be different from Jan’s party, and Jan’s different from Molly’s. Everyone has their own personality and spirit they are bringing to their business. We want them to find an incredible source of freedom in that experience. Some Creative Partners prefer party cards that simply walk through the catalog, some do a formal party presentation, and some have their guests pick a product that speaks to them and share with others how they connect with the product. The parties are all different and unique, just like the Creative Partners who lead them.

In our most recent party training video, there are five of our President’s Council members casually seated in a living room—the council is made up of a total of 10 Creative Partners. They are chatting and openly sharing how they do their parties. One of them will say, “Hey, this is something that I really like and works for me,” and then someone else comes in and says, “Yeah, I tried that and this works too.” Or, “I also like to say it like this … .” It’s total brainstorming and therefore our Creative Partners get to see each and every personality. We say, “Come as you are and let’s go build something amazing together.”

Our Creative Partners choose. It’s about knowing their audience and being sensitive to their needs. They have all these different ways of thinking and doing. It goes back to that entrepreneurial spirit. We want Creative Partners who think on their feet. When they walk into an environment and something is working for them, it is authentic and attractive and they will then do it again and again. If they try something new and things are not going well, we want them to be able to go to their arsenal and turn it around. It is only when someone has been exposed to a variety of ways that they then have the tools and the confidence to respond to their environment.

We further this training philosophy with our Tuesday Training (TT) calls. On these weekly calls we have different members of our sales field train the company on what they are doing that is working for them. So again, we are exposing them and tuning them in to a different way of thinking about their business. There are four to five calls each month that offer insight on things such as hostess coaching, party flow, recruiting conversations, and so on. “Book. Sell. Recruit.,” right? They can do it their way. If they want to do business only through their website, they can. But we know they will find their next hostess or next team member, and have higher sales if they will engage in a party environment. Our top Creative Partners are not doing it only electronically—their website is a bonus to their strong personal party calendar.

Because we are providing a platform for that freedom, it has, in turn, taken away some of the party stigma and helped shape our brand promise of HappyHipHelpful. Removing it from a canned approach, they are not being forced into a mold. It gives them that freedom to be happy in the environment they are creating, be current and hip with their personal and authentic approach and behelpful with how they engage their customers to be a part of their life. That’s the filter we are taking them through, something that is natural and normal for them to thrive within.

Leads Program

After becoming a Creative Partner, one incentive for growth and success is our Corporate Leads Program. Established a couple of years ago it has quickly become a driver for our sales field—they want to be a part of this group and work to do so.

In order to qualify, they must first achieve the rank of Senior Creative Partner, meaning that they have personally recruited two team members and reached a certain sales level. Then the second step is to maintain a sales minimum for two consecutive months. Basing it on these requirements we are assured that they are able to accomplish the basics of selling and recruiting on their own—they are working. We don’t want people in the Corporate Leads Program accidentally; we want it to be something they want to do and are willing to work for. We only want to be passing along leads to those who have the entrepreneurial spirit and want to grow a strong business.

Because we are young and growing so rapidly we receive thousands of leads each month. So we want them to have a propensity to grow a team, and not just through leads. By establishing these two requirements it lets us know that their success wouldn’t have been solely based on our leads program. It confirms that they are working on their own first.

And our Creative Partners have heartily risen to the challenge. We don’t have a cap. Everyone who has caught that vision for more understands the “newness to market concept” that we have by simply being a young company. We positioned it that way, so they have a real opportunity locally on their own and through the leads program nationwide.

Social Media

Another way we engage our Creative Partners and new recruits is through social media. We work Facebook pretty significantly. All our internal groups, such as President’s Council, Boot Camp and others, as well as all leaders and teams, each have their own private pages, in addition to our company Facebook page. We use our internal/private pages to engage with those select users privately, but post daily on our company page to keep it fresh and current and have all of our followers involved in what we are doing now!

We actively do product giveaways each month and might run a share incentive rewarding those who share the most links with their friends. We actively engage, and always link back to the corporate website.

However, with having a strong presence on Facebook we had to quickly create a policy on how we will handle that activity internally. Therefore, we do not process leads from Facebook. If someone is interested in engaging with us or wanting to get more information, we route them back to the corporate site to be processed through the Corporate Leads Program. We want those individuals to get to a person who is a proven personal recruiter and personal seller, and that’s why we have that program. We realized we didn’t want to use Facebook to make the potential recruits feel like they’re being pounced on. Now social media is so much a part of our culture, Creative Partners self-monitor the site and actively direct others back to the company website and the Leads Program. We love that they have taken ownership of protecting the integrity of that program for everyone.

By using social media we are opening ourselves up to the public, so there are sometimes negative posts, but we don’t have anything to hide. So we don’t delete those. We put ourselves in the minds of our consumers because we want them to experience openness and transparency. We know that if they’ve had a bad experience, and we don’t know about it, we can’t fix it. This way we can go in and respond.

We put ourselves in the minds of our consumers because we want them to experience openness and transparency.

Just like people, I believe that each company has its own DNA—they have their own rhythm and feel; they are unique. So, while we know we are a bit different, we are also pretty passionate about our unique approach. We want to create and build a personal opportunity worthy of living for. There’s only one you!—go leave your mark!

Britney C. Vickery is President and Co-Founder of Initials Inc.