The room at the Christiana Hilton was packed with a crowd ready to party. They jammed on a contemporary gospel tune with golden party shakers in hand. A rock star was about to bring the house down.
Traci Lynn of Bear did not disappoint. She rocked the house—but with her words rather than a guitar. She’s used to being treated like a star, at least by those who sell her jewelry at home parties. And as an inspirational speaker, she’s a natural.
“Stay positive, attitude is everything,” Lynn says to a sold-out audience that’s dominated by her independent consultants.
“I want you to be a millionaire,” she yells. Her “businesstry,” as she calls it, is a combination of business wit and spiritual wisdom.
Lynn, an ordained minister in her 40s, earned her first million in 1989. She was 26. But she walked away from the business world, too young to understand the nuances of a startup company.
“I wasn’t ready for the wolves of the world,” she says.
But five years ago, a much wiser, tougher-skinned Lynn moved from her native New Jersey to Delaware and relaunched her jewelry line. She designed each piece herself.
Other companies have struggled through unsettling economic times but Lynn’s business has “grown to unbelievable heights in the middle of a recession,” she says, “because we’re teaching women—we’re teaching people—how to take back financial control and never give it away.”
That’s a lesson Lynn learned from her grandmother, a clothing buyer. “I’ve been counting money since I was four,” says Lynn, whose grandmother taught her to be a savvy businessperson and to put customer service first.
Accompanying her grandmother to stores in Detroit, Lynn was charged with remembering clients’ names. She also learned about style. Lynn turns heads today in her classic outfits, but her jewelry is her passion.
The Traci Lynn jewelry line is priced strategically to sell to women who want to look like a million bucks, though nothing costs more than $64. The head-turning necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets are made of cubic zirconia, rhodium plating and Austrian crystals. Some of the baubles are as big as Lynn’s personality. The breathtaking necklace she often wears shines as brilliantly as her eyes, which light up whenever she talks about her business and consultants. Maybe that’s because those staffers reap 50 percent of the profits.
“You’ve got to think about a plan for the future,” Lynn tells her consultants.
In her wealth-building seminars, Lynn shares openly her secrets to success. “My God-given mission is to equip women financially,” she says, “to help you push yourself. One of the biggest things that holds us back from our destinies and our future is ourselves.”
Lynn’s advice doesn’t go unappreciated. Those within earshot understand that Lynn could keep her wisdom to herself. Given her gift of gab, quick wit and good looks, many realize that Lynn is a woman who would be an instant success on a home shopping network like QVC.
“She could have sold out, but she thought enough of us to reach down and pick us up,” says Shirley Whitfield, a 59-year-old consultant, who is determined to follow in Lynn’s footsteps, garnering financial
independence. “She’s a godsend because she cares about her people.”
So what’s Lynn’s empire really worth? The queen of bling is reluctant to say, adding only that her jewelry company is a multimillion-dollar, debt-free business with about 6,200 consultants in 44 states.
“I teach women how to take back financial empowerment,” she says. “You must have a plan B, so if anything happens to you for any reason, your lifestyle is still maintained.”
When Tamara Jones decided to leave her corporate career, her plan B earned her top diamond status in Lynn’s direct sales company. After hosting five years of jewelry shows for friends and colleagues, Jones made the largest one-month commission check in company history: a whopping $15,006.25. According to Lynn, another full-time consultant brought home $80,000 in one year. Most consultants, however, average much less. Lynn figures many of them are making about $185 an hour during a two-hour home show.
Jacqualine Carthon, 45, acknowledges she makes a good living as a systems engineer in Columbia, Md. But the wife and mother wanted to earn some extra cash, so she became a Traci Lynn consultant. The loot adds up to about $500 a month, which covers her daughter’s college tuition payments.
Having the Traci Lynn catalog handy helps clinch deals. Actress Vivica Fox appeared on the cover in spring 2011. Asked how she landed the Hollywood actress, Lynn says, “Why couldn’t I have her? That’s my thing. My philosophy this year is ‘expect the great.’ I think big, and why not?”
Thinking big is how Lynn landed model Cynthia Bailey, a star of the reality TV show “The Housewives of Atlanta.” Bailey didn’t just grace the catalog cover—she came to the Chase Center in Wilmington last summer to walk the runway with other models and delight 1,600 consultants.
Phyllis Henry, a consultant from Bear, says she’s watching this season’s “Housewives” show to see Bailey wear the bling.
“I just can’t wait to see what pieces she chooses so I can tell everyone about it at my home shows,” she says. “Everybody will want to buy whatever Cynthia has on. She always looks like a million bucks.”
Mentor, minister and millionaire, Lynn is, indeed, all that. Cosmetic queen Mary Kay rewards her personal consultants with pink Cadillacs. Lynn rewards hers with all-expenses paid cruises.
And in truth, this self-made diva is cruising to success. It’s not just about the money. It’s about teaching others how to set sail to success for themselves.