Yarlagadda’s ambition was to start a company capable of funding other businesses led by women. Reading online that fine jewelry is typically marked up several times the cost of production was her light-bulb moment; if she went direct-to-consumer, she reasoned, she could take half the profits to fund other companies.
Today the company she launched, Shiffon, sells a single piece, the Duet Pinky Ring, in seven varieties and three price points: $90 for sterling silver, $375 for 14K gold, $640 for 18K gold. The Duet is a one-size adjustable ring that circles twice around the wearer’s littlest finger, topped off with a sapphire or diamond alongside a minuscule, barely visible diamond. The two stones represent a “pinky promise” for women to support one another. Half of the profits from each ring go to the company’s non-profit venture capital arm, the Startup Girl Foundation, which has provided funding to six young companies so far. Startup Girl Foundation holds equity in every company they invest in; the returns from these investments go back into the nonprofit, where they are used to fund more companies.
With Shiffon only selling the one ring (an additional secret menu is available to customers who have already purchased it), Yarlagadda is tapping into a popular new market. Minimalist, “everyday” fine jewelry with relatively affordable price tags is being marketed to millennials and Gen-Z by fellow direct-to-consumer companies Mejuri and AUrate. Investors are noticing their success. AUrate raised $2.6 million in seed funding in 2017, and Mejuri recently closed a $23 million Series B round.