So it only seems fitting that Waterbury, now 40, is at the helm of a direct-selling empire of her own, New York City–based Chloe + Isabel. The social-commerce company allows merchandisers to set up curated online jewelry boutiques to sell to customers on the web and in person.
What's more, she is employing over 10,000 saleswomen across the country, 70 percent under age 34. Products retail for under $200, and merchandisers keep between 25 and 40 percent of sales — the more they sell, the more they keep. Chloe + Isabel keeps the rest, generating revenue off its merchandisers' sales online and in pop-up shops.
The retail veteran walked away from a 15-year corporate career to launch Chloe + Isabel in 2011. She was a vice president of merchandise and design at Haskell Jewels in New York City, developing jewelry for big brands like Kenneth Cole. Then a conversation with her mother, who was losing her battle to breast cancer, gave her the push she needed to launch her business.
"I always knew I wanted my own company, but you get to a point in your life where you become comfortable," Waterbury says. In "the last conversation I had with my mom, she said, 'This isn't the daughter that I know. The daughter that I know was fearless — she wouldn't have been afraid to take that plunge.'"
Waterbury, then a new mom to a baby boy, gave herself six months to get off the ground. She did just that, raising $3.5 million before launching. Five years later, the company has raised over $37 million from investors, including SoftBank Capital and General Catalyst Partners, and is reportedly valued at more than $100 million, a number the company declines to confirm.
"It's amazing to me how fearless I was at the time," she says. "It was this or nothing."