When Necessity Becomes a Passion

An Interview With Jamie

Many cars advertise the latest home-based businesses with magnetic door signs or window lettering. My email box receives notifications from friends involved with everything from jewelry to cooking utensils. My former neighbor started a Tupperware business. In this economy, people are trying to make money wherever they can, but one sounds the same as the next one until I met Jamie. 

375645_10150355805975840_1151505717_nJamie Clark is a youth pastor’s wife, mother of two, and a member of Word Weavers International. She is also a salesperson with Premier Designs. Her passion and love for her work set her a part from the rest of the home-based businesses. She continues to work with Premier Designs, not only because it helps to support her family, but because she believes in what the business stands for and loves her work. It’s also a calling. So I chose to interview her, because she and her business are so different from the others out there. In fact, Jamie is very different from your typical sales person.

NH: What makes Premier Jewelry better than companies like Avon or other businesses that have a similar business model? What is so different about Premier?

JC:  I think what is different about Premier is that they really do care.  That is one of their mottos.  And people truly are the most important thing with Premier Designs.  From the jewelers like me to the customers and hostesses, the people are what the focus is on and what is best for the people involved, not the bottom line and sales.

We have great customer service and a great guarantee on our jewelry.  If there are any manufacturer defects you can get it replaced for free in the first 60 days and only a $5 + tax service fee after that; no questions asked. We also have great competitive prices and quality. Our company is also unique in the fact that it is based on Biblical principles. 

[Premier Designs] Founded on the verse, “The Lord demands fairness in every business deal.  He established this principle.”  Proverbs 16:11 (LB)  People come before profits and yet you can really make a great profit in this business as well.  I have been with Premier Designs for over 12 years and they are true to their word.  What they say, they live and do.  They are not perfect, but as close to it as I have seen.

We make 50% of what we sell, which is very unusual in a company like this.  We get paid when we work, not having to wait for a check from the company.  We also make a 10% commission, if we choose to sponsor others into the business, on what they do to the third level.  This is also very high compared to other companies.  We do not have certain territories we have to stick to, and our jewelry is a visual product which even a stranger will compliment.  So it is so easy to share with others.  I did not know the first thing to selling when I started and they told me, “wear it and lay it out on a table and you will sell it.”  It is true.

NH: How long have you been selling Premier and who brought you into it? Share your first impressions about that day, the person, and the company.

JC: I just started my 13th year with Premier Designs.  I was not a jewelry person.  Really didn’t wear it much or know anything about fashion.  But a friend of mine had a Premier Designs Jewelry show and she knew my husband was out of work and I was expecting our second child.  She told me I should come hear about it as a way to make an income and be home with our kids.  I was very skeptical and really not interested.  I told her no.  But she said it would be fun to just get together and would just take about 20 minutes and I would get a free piece of jewelry.  So I said, “Okay, but just tell that jewelry lady, I am not interested.”

I went to my friend, Grace’s house to see the jewelry and hear about the opportunity.  The lady, Cindy, who was the jeweler, was very nice and she just shared the information absolutely no pressure at all.  As I listened, I was surprised to find myself actually thinking, I could do this.  I found out that I could make 50% of what I sold in Premier.  There are no quotas in Premier so I could work when I wanted too and not when I didn’t.  Since I was three months from having a second child, I liked that idea as I would want to take some time to be off with that baby and not have anyone hounding me to get busy and sell jewelry.

I also liked that I didn’t have to have inventory.  The jewelry is your samples that you wear, your own property.  So you have what you want and as much or as little as you want.  Just place the orders when people give them to you.  Those things really intrigued me.  Since then, there are many other great benefits I have found to Premier Designs, but those were my first impressions.

I have to be honest, I also felt that this was just too good to be true.  How could a company do all Premier said and make money.  I was still skeptical, but a lot more interested at this point.  I took time to talk to my husband, Tony, who I thought for sure would say no.  To my surprise he said, “Sure, go for it!”  I was trying to find a reason NOT to do Premier.  But after counsel from others and much prayer, I truly felt this is what God was saying He had for me at this time.  So I signed up thinking I would give it 6 months and see if I liked it.

I signed up four days before 9/11.  When that happened, I thought I had made a huge mistake.  But instead of laying off people like so many companies at that time, Premier was growing by leaps and bounds.  People didn’t want to go out of their homes.  They wanted friends and family around and to shop in the safety and comfort of home.

NH: Give us a woman’s perspective of selling jewelry.

JC: I have learned that jewelry is just a product, but the relationships I make because of my jewelry business are what really counts.  I have learned that jewelry is the #1 gift in our country and it is a want not a need, so a lot more fun.

People will keep buying even though it is not consumable, because they like it, they like the person, they want to give it as a gift, or they just want to reward themselves or update their wardrobe. Jewelry is a cheaper way to update a wardrobe than going out and buying a whole new outfit.  I have learned that my job is to make people feel important, not to sell jewelry.

The focus, as Premier has always said, is on the person; not the jewelry.  People make the jewelry look good.  I have learned that jewelry can make you feel better about yourself.  You can even look thinner with some easy fashion tips.  Hey, fake it till you make it.  It is nice to look thinner while in the process of really trying to get there.  Nothing wrong with that.  I have also seen women with low self esteem issues, shy, etc. come out of their shell and blossom as they became involved with Premier.

I have learned that Premier is so much more than jewelry!

NH: Sometimes, you go to conferences for premier. Describe those experiences.

JC: The conferences are amazing!  You meet so many people who are doing exactly what you are doing!  You make lifetime friends.  You get to be the first to see the new jewelry line!  You get to learn and pick the brains of others and what they are doing that is working, as well as share your own successes.  You hear amazing testimonies from others of how God is working in their lives and how He brought them into Premier and has used it to help them get out of debt, or meet a physical, mental, spiritual even emotional needs.   The stories are amazing and only God could work things in this way.  Some stories are very sad as they are real life and heartache, but it is so incredible to see how God can use a company like Premier Designs in so many wonderful ways.  Premier even has a prayer ministry for people to share their requests and they have staff they have hired just to pray for all the needs of the jewelers, customers, hostesses and even the home office workers.  It is so unbelievable and unusual for a company today to care so much!

You meet the missionaries who come from all all over the United States and the world to “Thank us” for all we do!  That seems so backwards to me, as I am grateful to them for being on the front line and sacrificing their lives for a greater cause, to bring others to Jesus.

And yet they thank us for doing our jewelry shows and providing for them.  Premier Designs was started to support Christian missions all over the world. They also started to help moms be home with their kids. They wanted to help people who are in Christian ministry (like my family, my husband being a youth pastor) who don’t get paid like they should.

We have lots of teachers who also do Premier as they are another under paid position for the important job that they do.  And they wanted to help single moms to be able to provide for their families.  I have a friend who provided for her two girls and herself solely with Premier Designs for over 11 years.The missionaries will tell us how they were able to build a youth camp, hospital, etc. because of the  jewelry shows we are holding.  Premier Designs takes a portion of each piece of jewelry sold and sends it to the different missionaries to help them do what they need to do.

Premier is so very generous and for that reason I think God has so blessed them.  They are debt free and give away so much each year.We also meet the vendors who help Premier do all we need to do.  The people who make the jewelry as well as other partners with us.  Premier started with several companies in Rhode Island making the jewelry.  That is where most High Fashion jewelry is made in America.  As Premier grew, Premier Manufacturing was created to design and make about 60% of our jewelry.  We still also use these manufacturers in Rhode Island, because Premier wanted to be loyal to the ones they started with.  And they didn’t want to have all their eggs in one basket so to speak.  Their was a fire in one of the manufacturing warehouses and if all of our jewelry was made in one place we would have been temporarily shut down. Premier is very wise in business.

The manufacturers will tell us how Premier is very picky and particular in how the jewelry is made. That they are held to a much higher standard when they make jewelry for Premier Designs compared to other companies they produce jewelry for.   I have gotten to see the jewelry being made and they do everything by hand.  Each crystal, every piece put together carefully and tested.  They really care that the jewelry be exceptional quality and as I said before, they take care of it if it is not.Another thing that happens at these conferences is that we hear about serving.

It is amazing to me that in all these years, our founders, Andy and Joan Horner, never spoke of selling.  They only spoke of serving.  Andy says, “You can sell without serving, but you can’t serve and not sell.”

We get fashion tips and ideas on how to grow our business and keep it going, but the emphasis is not on selling. Another fun part of the conference is Recognition.  I will be honest.  This was really important to me when I first started.  I had gone from a job where I was good at what I did and got recognition from others for it, to being a stay at home mom where you just don’t get recognition for all those sleepless nights and all you are doing over and over at home.

I loved getting to walk across that stage and get those awards and acknowledgement for my accomplishments.  I don’t feel I have to have that so much anymore, but it is still nice to be recognized for what you do.  Premier really is great at that.  It’s not just about how much you sold or who you brought into the business either, but they give all kinds of awards for Vision, Encouragement, Helping others, on and on.And Premier always entertains us with great Christian artists, comedians, speakers.  It is a huge boost to my spiritual life.

When I first came into Premier, someone said the conference is like a cross between a Billy Graham crusade and the Price is Right.  I thought that was really funny.  But I understand now.  You get a lot of rich teaching from others about life and God and they are so generous. They give away jewelry lines, money, all kinds of Free stuff and even cars!  So that is the Price is Right part when you are screaming because you just won a full line of jewelry or a new car!  I have never seen or known any company like this one.  I keep up on what is out there and if there was something better, I would do it.  Premier is so unique and unlike any company I have ever seen.

NH: Share some stories (without names) about how selling jewelry has helped others or has impacted others, being a Christian, and working to help support a family with a husband who is a youth pastor?

JC: Well, I mentioned earlier some things I have seen in Premier.  But when I first came into Premier, I was just selling jewelry to help pay the bills.  I really didn’t get yet, that it would be so much more than that.  I honestly don’t think I would still be doing this if that was all it was.  But I have seen women who had low self esteems buy jewelry and start wearing it.  As they did they felt better about themselves, more confident.  It sounds crazy, but one lady told me it changed her life.

She went out and got a great job and it started with the jewelry.  Some ladies who are business women have told me they were taken seriously for the first time when they learned at one of my jewelry shows how they can have a pulled together and polished look.  Since they started looking the part, their co workers had more respect for them.

I have seen women who have come into Premier and they were not confident.  They were told by others you will fail.  You cannot succeed at this.  But they can.  I told them, that I believed enough for both of us that they can do this.  If I can do this, I think everyone can.

I have seen women, including myself, grow in speaking and getting up in front of others.  I had been in front of others often in my past jobs, but not something like this.  I never thought I could sell anything.  But I have learned how and become good at it.  Anyone can do that in this company.  I have moved several times during my career with Premier Designs.  My Premier leader told me I would someday lead trainings in one of the cities I moved too.  I laughed and said no way.  But not long after that, I was leading and training others.

I have had the privilege to lead ladies to Christ who come into Premier and then ask me how they can have that relationship too.  I feel that this is not just my business, but it has become my ministry.  I have been in Youth Ministry for many many years.  But now I also have a very vibrant ministry to women.  Women I would never meet or be invited into their homes if it were not for Premier Designs.  I love what I do!

I would never have picked this for myself or even believed I would do this.  But I am so glad God knows better than we do.  I thank my friend Grace all the time for sharing this gift with me.  Premier has blessed our family over and over and I have seen it bless so many others as well.  I have been able to be home with my children for the past 12 plus years because of Premier Designs.  I would never have been able to do that without it.  As you said, my husband is a youth pastor.  That is a special calling to be in ministry, but you do not do it for the money.  Premier has been how we make ends meet.  We have been able to go on dream trips that we would never have been able to go on if not for Premier.  They do special trips that you can win each year.  I have had the privilege to be invited or win several of them.

I can also be more flexible to help with the youth ministry and other things at church and in our community with our children because of Premier.  I set my hours, so I can work around the things I need to do and be more available than with a regular job.

NH: How many hours a week do you work to sell jewelry? Or how many shows per month do you do?

JC: I usually hold 6~8 jewelry shows per month.  Around the holidays that number increases.  I spend 15~20 hours per week on my business.  That may increase later, but it seems now that my kids are in Middle School and High School, they sometimes need me to be more available to them than even when they were younger.7. Premier has been very cautious about going online with the catalog and giving us websites, because they wanted what was best for us.  Premier’s standard is “what is right and what is best for Premier. “

I work usually about 15~20 hours a week but that is my choice.  If someone only has 5 hours a week to work extra, that is fine.  It is your business so you work when you can and decide too. If you want to work 40 hours per week that is fine too

So they talked and prayed and discussed this over and over until as you mentioned, they just recently gave us the option to have our own websites and share the catalog online.  I was so excited to finally get this opportunity.  I feel it is a good thing for us to share with even more people.  But I also appreciate all the care and concern that went into the decision.

Premier is a very personal touch type of business.  So many companies are having online parties and have had websites for a long time.  But that is not personal.  I am glad that I won’t be offering online parties, because I get to build relationships with my hostesses and the ladies who come to her jewelry show.

NH: What is your favorite part of selling jewelry, and if someone wanted to get involved in it, how would you direct them?

JC: Of course I started Premier because we needed the money and that is still an issue, but my favorite part of selling jewelry is the relationships!  If someone wanted to get involved it is so easy now.

There are many recorded and live phone calls you can listen to, to hear the information in a very non threatening way.  Of course I think talking to someone in person is still the best though and it only takes a few minutes to hear about the opportunity. There is no pressure whatsoever, just information.   I think people owe it to themselves to just hear about this business.  I always say, it is okay to say no, but just know what you are saying no to.  There is nothing that I have found like Premier Designs out there.

Even if someone is not interested, take time to hear about this company.  You might be an answer to prayer for someone out there like my friend was for me when she asked me to hear about it.  To get involved all you do is hear about it and get some info. to look at and think it over.  If you feel this is for you, then it is easy to sign up online using the sponsoring jewelers information and you set a date to have your training show.  This is where the sponsoring jeweler (like me) would come to do your jewelry show.

You would invite all your friends and let them know you are starting your own business.  I know it sounds scary, but it is great, because you are not alone!  You have me or someone like me, helping you all along the way and then there are at least two other gals, but usually more who also help train you.  We have local trainings, phone and online trainings and of course the conferences twice a year.  You will never lack for training along with all the websites with information that are out there just for you!  We hold your training show with all your friends and family and you get all the hostess benefits from the show.

NH: Premier only recently gave you a website. Their main website didn’t have a catalog. Why is that? Why are they so hesitant to go online?

JC: Premier did not want to take the personal touch away from us by doing our business online.  They understood that it was nice to be able to get online to see the catalog if you live in another state or you couldn’t come to the jewelry show and that is easier and cheaper than mailing lots of catalogs out every year.  But they also didn’t want to take away from our businesses by having people say, well, I will just look online and order something, instead of coming to the jewelry show and getting the experience of touching and trying it on.  Being able to have that social interaction and others pouring into their lives.  We definitely miss out on a lot these days with all the social media.  It is great and has a valid place, but nothing can replace personal relationships with a real person.

They have honored their values as they have given us these websites.  We have control.  People still have to contact us to get the access code to view the catalog.  Some just give it freely.  But if you choose to, you can give it to only those you wish to have it.  We will also be able to view who gets on so we can still have that personal touch with them.

Jamie’s website: http://jamieclark.mypremierdesigns.com/

You get 30% ~ 50% of retail of sales from your show in FREE JEWELRY.  You can earn two $50 bonuses.  One for holding the show on the date you scheduled it and having $100 in advance orders before your show.  And the second $50 bonus is when you have three people who decide to also host a jewelry show from your show.  On top of all of this which usually averages to be $150 ~ $300 in FREE JEWELRY!!  You can also pick up to 8 items at half price and get more FREE jewelry from the half price items if you want to.

You will also make 50% of the profit that night!!  This is incredible.  I do the show for you and you get the money that night.  Premier takes care of me as well.  You will also get all the bookings from that show to help you get started.  Your business will grow because people will want to help their friend, get FREE jewelry and because they like YOU!!  This is not rocket science.  It is fun and you have to work for results, but it is not hard.  I would love to just share it with you!

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