Stylebook snapshot: Pittsburgh-based Sabika marks 15 years in direct sales jewelry industry
January 24, 2016 12:00 AM
Handcrafted accessories from the Sabika spring/summer 2016 collection.
Warm pops of color are among the highlights of the spring/summer 2016 jewelry collection by Sabika.
By Sara Bauknecht / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
This year, Pittsburgh-based direct sales jewelry brand Sabika marks 15 years in business. But that’s not all the family-owned company is celebrating.
Sabika, headquartered in Robinson and known for its Swarovski collaborations and hand-crafted accessories by European artisans, is thriving, with millions in sales and more than 1,700 consultants in 42 states — and growing. (That’s up from just a couple dozen about a decade ago.)
This weekend, many of them are in town for Sabika’s national conference at the Westin Convention Center, Downtown, where they got a sneak peek at the spring/summer 2016 collection, and heard a presentation by Ralf Weinberger, Swarovski’s head of interior and new segment trend intelligence innovation and portfolio management.
“It’s exciting because we did, after all, start 15 years ago without any funding, without experience in that particular market of direct sales or jewelry,” says Karin Mayr, Sabika’s founder. At the time, her husband’s business had closed and the family was looking for an extra source of income. Ms. Mayr, then 50 and a native of Austria, decided to channel what she did know about fashion from her time as a liaison between European textile mills and leading fashion houses such as Donna Karan and Armani A/X into creating her own company.
Sabika attributes its success to a set of core values, key among them its mission to be a company by women that’s for women. In 2011, it introduced a career planning program, which equips consultants with the training and mentorship to be prosperous saleswomen, with some of its top consultants earning more than $100,000 per year. Sabika offers incentives to those who recruit and mentor others, as well as different levels of rewards, ranging from limited-edition Sabika jewelry to trips, to its leading earners.
In 2014, Lynn Branham, who has more than 30 years of experience in the direct sales industry, joined the brand as its executive director of sales, field services and marketing to help develop more ways to engage consultants and shoppers alike.
These days, Ms. Mayr takes to social media and Web platforms such as Skype to build connections with Sabika’s consultants across the country. Plus, she tries to travel as much as possible so people can meet the lady behind the brand and share with her their ideas and concerns.
“I notice when you grow so much, I could no longer know everybody, and they felt the same,” she says. “We have started to close that gap, and I’ve seen a tremendous response.”
One of the company’s latest innovations is personal websites for consultants that allow them to sell select pieces via e-commerce in addition to at-home jewelry parties.
“We’re really trying to give them more tools and better tools to help them build their business,” says Alexandra Mayr-Gracik, Sabika’s head designer and vice president of marketing.
At the heart of it all, though, is a product of integrity, which stems from the quality of the jewelry to the working conditions of the artisans who create them. For the spring/summer collection, some of the highlights include brilliant pops of color, detailed hand-pressed medallions and vintage-inspired selections that have a modern sensibility — all of which can be mixed and matched with a woman’s everyday wardrobe. Sabika also recently worked with Swarovski to create a stone cut that’s exclusive to the brand.
“I believe if there’s good energy touching our pieces all the way along, it’s carried on,” Ms. Mayr says.
For more from Post-Gazette style editor Sara Bauknecht, visit the PG’s fashion blog Stylebook at www.post-gazette.com/stylebook. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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