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Women entrepreneurs: The Silpada success story

Silpada jewelry has become a household name for women around the world who love finely crafted sterling silver jewelry that can be brought right to their home. Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh, co-founders of Silpada, built their business on friendship and hard work and are here to share their secrets to both.


Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh, the women behind Silpada, a gorgeous line of sterling silver jewelry, can best be described as a dream team, combining the spirit of entrepreneurship and friendship. SheKnows had a chance to ask them a few questions about the secret to their amazing success and how they went from two mothers with big dreams to the powerhouse they are today.

SheKnows: You have such a great success story. Can you share a little bit about how Silpada began?

Silpada: We first met in 1985 when our oldest of three children started first grade. We had both signed up as room mothers and immediately became the best of friends. After chatting about how we could earn a little extra cash, we tried a few new business ideas. We had a lot of fun, but it wasn’t until we each took $25 from our grocery fund and pursued our passion for sterling silver jewelry that we really began to love our “jobs.” We started designing our own jewelry creations and hosting what we called “A Fun Ladies’ Night Out Playing Dress-up with Jewelry”! Quickly, one party led to another, and it wasn’t long before hostesses and customers began telling us, “You look like you are having so much fun. We wish we could have your jobs!” After hearing this again and again, we decided we would start a company where we could offer the opportunity to other people to build their own business while balancing family life.

Silpada Designs officially began in 1997, and we created our exclusive line of Silpada Designs sterling silver jewelry and our very first Silpada Designs catalog. Friends and customers became independent Silpada Designs representatives, and we realized our dreams of running our own business.

SK: Not only are you successful, but you manage friendship and business so well. Any tips on how to maintain a friendship while working together?

Silpada: Silpada is a business built on friendship. We started out as best friends and went into business wanting to empower women and allow financial freedom. We didn’t expect our personal relationship and our “Fun Ladies’ Night Out” to also inspire such a strong opportunity for friendships. It’s been incredible to watch! For us, we’ve always looked to each other as mentors, so utilize your friendships in that way. As best friends, we know we can always count on one another. And, it’s all about having fun!

SK: Do you have a favorite moment in your rise to success?

Silpada: For the last 15 years, we have been inspired on a daily basis when we hear emotional stories from Silpada representatives about how Silpada has changed their lives. It is our greatest success to share the Silpada business opportunity with other women and hear how it has impacted their lives. It gives us chills.

SK: So many try to enter the jewelry industry. What is it about Silpada that has helped you rise to the top?

Silpada: During the first nine years in business, Silpada simply grew organically by word-of-mouth. From day one, we have been focused on building a solid infrastructure, developing the highest-quality jewelry and supporting our representatives and customers in the best way possible — and this continues to be our focus.

Silpada has always been committed to being the best at what it does; that is, it produces the best products possible and provides the best opportunities for its representatives. This underlying philosophy has fueled the phenomenal growth and laid a solid foundation for Silpada’s future.

SK: Family, friendship and a successful business… how do you balance it all?

Silpada: Our approach has always been to get it done instead of worrying about it. We prioritize our tasks and aren’t afraid to ask for help if necessary. We also have a wonderful support system in our families, each other, friends, representatives and dedicated employees who we can always count on.

SK: If you could give one piece of advice to female entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Silpada: There are a number of preliminary steps you should take before diving into a new business venture. It’s important to do something you’re good at and make sure there is a need for your product or service by testing the market. For six years prior to starting Silpada, we pursued our passion by helping women reinvent their wardrobes and hosting home jewelry parties.

A few other guiding principles we live by:

  • Most likely if you’re really passionate about something and willing to put work into it you will be successful.
  • Stay open and flexible for what is around the corner.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something once.
  • Discover your strengths and then follow your passion and dreams.
  • Remember, passion and fun is contagious.

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