Seven years ago my insecurities paralyzed me to the point of awkwardness. I didn’t date. My attempts at small talk fizzled in moments. Outside of my family, I had one or two friends with whom I could really be myself. My world was small.

Seven years ago I began my journey with Premier Designs Jewelry. The previous October I had completed my BA in English, and the following months found me applying for every local position in my field. Being an introvert (or so I thought), nothing sounded sweeter than sitting alone in an office or cubicle tearing apart another’s written work and preparing it for publication, proverbial red pen in hand.

During my journey of the past seven years, I’ve discovered that I am most certainly not an introvert. I love people. I need people. And I would shrivel up and die if I had to be content with just my laptop and those four walls staring down at me.

But I digress.

Opening for business on Monday, January 8th, 2007, my plan was to use my Premier business to tide me over until I landed a “real job.” However, I quickly fell in love with the jewelry and loved sharing it with the women I met.

To date, I have given away over $100,000.00 in free jewelry.

Yes, you read it correctly—100 grand. That’s exciting. But even more exciting are the relationships I’ve made, and the personal growth I’ve experienced.

Jewelers May 019Celebrating a promotion in 2010 with two of my mentors

Today, I can’t count the number of friends I’ve made along the way. I honestly believe that without the confidence Premier has given me, I would never have met my husband on eHarmony because fear would have paralyzed me. Without Premier, I wouldn’t have felt it my right to be a mom with a career that, while not for everyone, to me is very fulfilling. Motherhood in itself is highly challenging, but I knew that I personally would need additional challenges in my life.

I’ll be the first to admit that the direct sales industry has suffered much criticism, and some of it is well-deserved. Relationships have been damaged when representatives abuse family and friends in the pursuit of establishing their businesses. Feelings are hurt. People expect to get rich quickly while doing little or no work, and are disenchanted when they “fail.” People make mistakes. Companies make mistakes.

And yet, I can’t think of an industry I’d rather be affiliated with.

Think about it—how is direct sales different from any other type of organization out there? Everyone makes mistakes. In every line of work there are people and companies who make unethical or unthoughtful choices. And if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit that everyone is in sales in one form or another. You’re either selling your knowledge, your skills, your time, or a product.

It’s not the industry that is the problem—it’s the character of a handful of individuals inside the industry and the fact that as humans we tend to remember our bad experiences with people in this industry rather than our good ones, even though the good outweighs the bad many times over.

The purpose of this post is in no way intended to recruit or promote my business. It’s simply to celebrate a milestone anniversary and all the rewards. If you are looking for a challenge or could use some hardcore personal growth, starting a business is a great way to accomplish both. But starting a direct sales business is a more affordable, safer way to accomplish the same things. Curious? Find a company you love with products you’re passionate about and give it a try. Just keep your character intact so you don’t join the ranks of the annoying.

Jewelry.jpgA sampling of my jewelry collection

As for me, I’m eternally grateful for the people who introduced me to Premier, the people who have mentored and encouraged me, and for the pressure my career puts on me to grow into a better person. These are seven years I wouldn’t trade for anything.