Lia Sophia, a direct-sales jewelry business that enlisted thousands of women as independent sales reps in the tradition of Avon and Tupperware, is going out of business after 28 years, the Wood Dale, Illinois-based company said Monday.
Creative director Elena Kiam wrote in a blog post on liasophia.com that “given the challenging business environment, we made the painful decision to wind down Lia Sophia in the United States and Canada by December 31, and cease operations by the end of February.”
Kiam and her husband, Tory Kiam, the company’s CEO, were not immediately available for comment.
The couple took over the fashion jewelry business from Tory Kiam’s father, Victor Kiam, onetime owner of a professional football team and President of Remington Products. Victor Kiam was famous in the 1980s for featuring himself in Remington commercials in which he said he liked the shavers so much, he bought the company.
Victor Kiam bought direct-sales jewelry company Act II in 1986 and renamed it Lady Remington. His son renamed it Lia Sophia, after the names of two of his daughters, in 2004.
A 2008 Chicago Tribune story said Lia Sophia had 27,000 independent sales representatives nationwide who collectively sold more than $100 million worth of costume jewelry a year.
According to the Lia Sophia website, entry-level “advisers,” who take home 30 percent of their sales, on average made $7,420 annually in 2012. Earnings rose as they climbed the ranks, to an average of $357,872 annual income for a “zone leader.”
Sales representatives took to the company’s Facebook page Monday to express surprise about the announcement, gratitude to the business and frustration about recently ordered starter kits that would go unused. They also decried the “vultures” from other direct-sales companies that swarmed the page to recruit Lia Sophia reps.
The company is selling thousands of pieces of jewelry at up to 50 percent off when purchased through its representatives through December.