Jen Tufford – A Sales Success Story

Jen at conference
Direct Sales is a wonderful industry for men and women who want flexible hours and the ability to work from home or alongside a full-time job. These small businesses offer a way to add income to an existing family budget, or to provide full-time income by building and leading a team. Jen Tufford’s story is inspiring! She offers great tips and advice for those who are thinking about joining a party plan business, or who have been working it for some time!

Tell us about your business and the products you offer.

Thirty-One Gifts is a direct sales company in the fashion industry. We sell handbags, totes, and a great spirit line that features many colleges and universities. Our new Spring 2013 catalog has an amazing new organizational line! Many of our products can be personalized. We also offer an incredible business opportunity that can do everything from getting you out of the house a few times to month to replacing a full-time income…or more!

Direct sales is a great business for women – what specifically do you like about the party plan model?

I think women crave positive, fun relationships. Often in the workplace and at home we receive little to no recognition or support. I love that the party plan model introduces us to a whole group of women that we may never have met otherwise. Many of my hostesses and customers have become some of my best friends.

You are a Senior Executive Director at Thirty-One Gifts.  What exactly does that mean and how did you get there?

Jen's teamThis is the second level from the top of our career path (until recently, it was the top level, but we grew so quickly, another level was added.) I am responsible for celebrating, encouraging, and rewarding my entire downline organization for their achievements and successes.

Direct sales is not hard work, but you do have to work hard.

After my husband was laid off, we had no regular source of income. I had to work even harder to further develop relationships with my customers, hostesses, and team, and to improve my customer service so that I could get referrals to continue to grow my business.

What do you like best about being a small business owner?

Jen's FamilyI love that I work mostly from home. This allows me to not only be there for my kids at their school and sporting events, but also for my husband and me to spend more time together (after a layoff, he was able to start his own business as a result of my Thirty-One success). The flexibility and the income can’t be beat!

What are the frustrations?

Staying self-motivated and focused! Because there is no one looking over my shoulder or giving me deadlines, it can sometimes be hard to come down to my home office to do what I need to do.  Many times, I’d rather than go to lunch with a friend or watch TV!

What advice do you have for other women who are looking for a small business and think direct sales might be the answer?

Choose a company whose products you LOVE! I wasn’t planning to do Thirty-One as a business; I just liked the products. Go to a local vendor show and talk to the people in the companies you are looking at. Most importantly, be sure you like the person who will be your sponsor. If you don’t connect, or she isn’t answering your questions during the “courting” phase, chances are good that she will not be any easier to work with once you join.

What advice do you have for women who are working out of their home?

  1. Hand out 5 business cards per day, Monday-Friday. Make it a game to not come home until you do.
  2. Set office hours, and STICK TO THEM! I do not answer my phone or check emails outside of my office hours. Trust me, this will make your spouse and children much more supportive when you keep business hours rather than constantly answering the phone during dinner or family movie night.
  3. Stay consistent – in whatever way works for you. It is so much easier to stay motivated with your business if you are consistent.
  4. Remember that your family is the reason you are working your business, not an excuse as to why you AREN’T working it!
About Laura Harbolt

Laura's passion is helping women succeed in small business. With years of sales and teaching experience she will help you create a meaningful business so you can make money and make a difference.


  1. Thanks, Laura! Great article!

    • We love showcasing successful business women, Jen! Thanks for being willing to share your story…