Ann Dalton: Passionate, persistent, poised … and Perfectly Posh
Ann Dalton is a diminutive 5’1”, but she has the energy, stamina and presence of a business giant. Haven’t heard of her yet? Consider this your introduction to a major player in Utah’s direct selling community.
Dalton is the founder of Perfectly Posh, a beauty product company that launched in 2011 and reached $50 million in annual sales within four short years. Perfectly Posh relies on a direct sales “party plan” model, and within five months of its opening, the company had consultants in all 50 states.
Perfectly Posh not only offers luxurious products to women, but it also offers them a flexible, autonomous way to make a living, says Dalton. She is passionate about supporting and empowering women, and she hopes her example inspires her consultants and helps them embrace their own ambitions.
A Force to Reckon With
Dalton was a young mother doing freelance graphic design from her home when she won the exclusive rights to create marketing materials for candle warmer company Scentsy, which also uses a direct sales party plan model. Her experience with Scentsy taught her how to work with dozens of different products, how to create promotional campaigns and how to interact with sales consultants.
She merged this experience into her passion for skin care and the idea for Perfectly Posh was born. Dalton envisioned a luxurious beauty product line using quality, healthy and—importantly—affordable ingredients. It was important to her that women could not only afford the products, but would be inspired to become a part of the company. As a graphic designer, she knew packaging was important, and offering her products in fun, creative packaging would set her company apart from the competition.
Dalton contacted a former colleague, Andrew McBride, and sold him on her vision to provide beautifully packaged, high-quality skin care products at an affordable price. With such a fully conceived vision, it didn’t take much to convince him to sign on as president and co-founder. McBride used his extensive background in finance, analytics and organizational management to develop a robust infrastructure for the company.
“I think Ann is brilliant,” says McBride. “She’s an unusual combination of a strong business mind and a creative mind. You don’t find that very often. She and I have very complementary personalities. She’s very creative and very fashion-forward, current, on trend and has energy for days. I’m the opposite.”
While building the business model, the duo researched prestigious companies like the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain and Apple computers to see how they treated their employees. Dalton believes that appreciated and lavishly-rewarded personnel are the foundation of a viable, successful company.
She and McBride took the party plan idea and transformed it into a concept that is adaptable, relevant and sustainable by defining seven core values that had to be considered as the company evolved. Innovation, creativity, energy, fun, honesty, respect and passion were non-negotiable standards, and all decisions made for Perfectly Posh are measured against those precepts.
“The success is the result of something we’re very passionate about,” McBride says. “Ann sets the bar really high. As her business partner, she makes me better. I think she sets the tone for the whole organization. She wants to be excellent at everything we do. Mediocrity won’t cut it. Mediocrity is dangerous because that truck will just run you over.”
Once the concept for Perfectly Posh was in place, intense research into manufacturing companies, quality ingredients and product recipes began. Phone calls were made all over the country from New Jersey to California before locating the right manufacturing partner.
“Quite frankly, I had no idea what I was doing,” Dalton admits. “But I knew there was a gap in the market and I wanted to create effective skin care products that didn’t smell like a prescription and didn’t break a budget.”
None of the Perfectly Posh products are priced higher than $25, but the ingredients are sulfate- and paraben-free and include essential oils and lavish combinations of butters, fruits and flowers. The line is designed to pamper women and men with products like the Drop Dead Gorgeous face mask, Impish Eyes serum and Hairy Beast shaving gel.
Each product is packaged with a sharp eye for design. For example, Perfectly Posh’s Hispter skin stick is decked out in plaid, and the It’s Da Bee’s Knees body scrub is festooned in a colorful beehive pattern.
“We’re an exceptional brand and we’re proud of what we’re doing,” McBride says. “We want to stand out from all the noise.”
While Dalton was optimistic her ideas, packaging and products would find success, demand for Perfectly Posh products grew faster than even she expected. Consultants flocked to the new company; the number of consultants selling the products worldwide is expected to reach more than 45,000 by spring of this year, with the strongest markets located in places like Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.
As the products became popular so quickly, rapid growth became the company’s biggest problem. Dalton says she is appreciative of the thousands of consultants and customers who have been patient as the company works through its growing pains. Even so, she says building relationships with people in all parts of the organization was the top priority; selling products was secondary.
The company has outgrown its 22,000-square-foot building in Salt Lake and will move into a larger building this spring. Dalton employs nearly 160 workers during the regular season, a number that bumps up to 300 during the holidays. That’s on top of the battalion of consultants that grows by another 1,000 each month.
You Deserve It
As the company is based in direct sales, Dalton pays special attention to her consultants. She and McBride travel frequently, often spending their week visiting different states to interact with the people involved with the business around the country.
Perfectly Posh hosts 30 events each year, including regional meetings to inspire and encourage consultants. There are days spent visiting consultants in the area and on-going training to keep them energized, informed and equipped with the tools they need to succeed.
Dalton loves seeing her consultants bloom because of their work at her company. She says she has dozens of stories where women gained confidence and control as they see the results of their efforts. Consultants can allocate time spent selling products by establishing their own hours, customers, websites and creative ideas. But Dalton says one of the best outcomes of her brand’s performance is seeing how empowered her consultants have become.
Last year’s top-performing consultant, Terri Berry, says the company’s empowerment of smart women is a big part of why Perfectly Posh is setting records and garnering attention.
As a 55-year-old retired teacher living in Maryland, Berry struggled to make ends meet living off her retirement and her husband’s pension. Now, a little more than four years after teaming up as a consultant with Perfectly Posh, Berry’s annual income is quickly approaching six figures.
“The way they make the consultants and the customers their top priority is amazing,” Berry says. “This job has given me a sense of self-worth. I am a monetarily contributing member of my family.”
Women shouldn’t think of “ambition” as a bad word, says Dalton. She describes ambition as doing something you feel passionate about. “You have to get out of your comfort zone and ask, ‘what if life were a little bit better?’ I’m perfectly terrified most days. You just don’t let it stop you.”
Dalton says she has watched lives change as women in her company find talents and potential they never imagined. She’s seen women take control of their financial futures and use their income to benefit their families and friends, and she is touched by their dedication to the Perfectly Posh brand.
Even now, Dalton believes smart women continue to be undervalued and underestimated. By embracing the formidable qualities women bring to a business, she hopes more companies will tap into that underutilized resource to help their businesses succeed. Her motto is “You deserve it!” which encompasses the idea that women deserve to be treated well in the home, in the community and in business.
Dalton knows that some women are working more than full time to make their sales goals, and she knows that some women just want to earn a few extra hundred dollars each month to enable them to stay home with their children. With the Perfectly Posh platform, she says, consultants can adapt their schedule to fit their needs.
“I loved that I could stay home with my kids,” she says of the time she worked as a freelance designer. “That was very important to me. And now I watch these women make a difference in their families and in their lives. Whatever you feel passionate about, you can go out there and get it. You don’t have to be particularly talented. You don’t have to be particularly skilled.”
As a champion for women, Dalton recently launched a charitable foundation called You Deserve It with the goal of bringing women together to embrace causes and organizations. She is creating scholarship opportunities and has partnered with charities like Make-a-Wish.
“I feel profoundly blessed. You start something like this and get so humbled. We have a strong group of women that love the camaraderie,” she says. “They come and meet with other women who love the same things they do. We’re big enough now that we can do anything we want. There’s something inspiring and liberating about that.”
Dalton knows that what’s working now for her company might not work in six months, but she and McBride are anticipating growth, industry trends and the complex business of adapting to a very fluid economy. She realizes that she is a role model for other women who might be considering an entrepreneurial venture and she takes that role very seriously.
“There are lots of dreams out there,” McBride says. “What I’ve learned as a friend and business partner is that Ann is not afraid to put that dream into action. She’s inspiring to me and to everyone in this company.