Pando

Stella & Dot’s Jessica Herrin on running your company, not letting it run you

By Sarah Lacy , written on June 10, 2016

From The From the Trenches Desk

I’m three episodes into the “Uterus is a feature not a bug” podcast.

And already a theme has emerged: Women who thought they were making some sort of career sacrifice to be a mom, that ultimately lead to a far more ambitious, financially lucrative, and impressive career.

In episode one, Lynn Perkins talked about turning down a promotion at her corporate job because of the travel…. And wound up founding the hugely successful Urban Sitter instead. In episode two, Nichole Farb talked about the restrictions of banking and the freedom she has as CEO of startup Darby Smart. And in this week’s episode Jessica Herrin -- co-founder and CEO of Stella & Dot-- had a similar story.

Herrin was a co-founder of a hotshot dot com back in the late 1990s, and the company ruled her life. When she started Stella & Dot, she intended to bootstrap it, growing it slowly as she had kids and grew her family. Instead, she was sitting on top of a fast growing phenomenon.

That it’s an ecommerce survivor is stunning enough. That its raised less than $50 million in cash to get there is also impressive in our age of hefty customer acquisition payments. But the bulk of that were secondaries. It’s not a surprise that the Sequoia partner who backed Herrin was Alfred Lin, who noted at our PandoMonthly last year that Zappos got only $10 million in primary capital and exited for $1 billion.

In this interview, Herrin talks about how she had to battle her inner perfectionist to find balance as a mother and a CEO, what her breaking point was, and why she’s found so much satisfaction building a high-growth company in a very different way than she did the first time around.

As a reminder, this podcast series is supported by patrons. Once we hit $1000 in pledges per show, we’ll go weekly. This is the third successful podcast spin off Pando has done, with hundreds of folks paying just $1 per show. If you want to support more programming on badass moms building badass companies, go here to support the podcast.