Looking for a new bra? Or gold ring? Or handbag? Busy women who cannot get to the shops will welcome the Bay trend for "home party boutiques", where a party host showcases a whole product range to her guests over wine and nibbles. The concept is not new. Avon and Tupperware have sold this way for decades but the idea is coming back into vogue as there is more demand for combining shopping with socialising ... Not to mention a glass of sav, says ANNEMARIE QUILL
Busy mum-of-two Jackie Thornton hosts Intimo Underwear parties throughout the Bay and finds the hours suit her family. It fits in with her hobby of sewing, as well as another business she has just started, selling sewing products at Little Big Markets.
"I was looking to add to the family income to enable us to be able to have family holidays, etc. I met a lady who showed me the Intimo Catalogue and it sounded like something I could do and still have time to do all the things I needed to do with the children. I do about two Intimo parties a week but you decide when and how often."
The Intimo Lingerie collection is sold exclusively through trained stylists who offer presentations at parties. It's so much fun to build your outfit from the lingerie out.
"Treat yourself, catch up with the girls, shop in style and be rewarded with a new Intimo wardrobe. It doesn't have to cost a lot to hold a party - you can have coffee and cake or wine and nibbles."
Jackie says women like the flexibility that home shopping offers.
"We can travel where regular boutiques cannot; we're open the hours other stores are not."
Jackie says she has never looked back since becoming an Intimo host.
"It has given me opportunities I would not have been able to experience otherwise. Intimo have taken me to Australia many times and treated me to some wonderful memories and, of course, I have a fantastic wardrobe of lingerie and anywhere clothing."
At-home jewellery parties are a fairly new concept in New Zealand but one of the fastest growing social selling companies in Australasia is esteem - a high-end fashion-forward jewellery collection.
Esteem director and designer, Pauline Kelly, says the high price of gold has led women to opt for more affordable alternatives, and the company offers maximum bling without breaking the bank.
As Jackie Thornton found with Intimo, esteem offers women the chance to chase their dreams by building their own businesses and working the hours they choose, and for the women who attend the parties, they can enjoy a new shopping experience.
"Women of all ages are now enjoying intimate, inspirational and fun gatherings with esteem as they seek to enhance how they look and feel about themselves."
The company's stylists host style sessions in people's homes, and the direct sales approach has proven to be a winning formula.
"New collections are added to our range every month ensuring our stylists and clients are never short of the latest looks."
Esteem is poised to expand over the next 12 months. The company has just launched its new-look website online shopping cart this week and its jewellery is now available on the Shopping Channel.
"Esteem was created to be a face-to-face business and this will never change but, as the industry changes, we need to keep up," says Kelly.
Indulge Boutique's (not linked to the Bay of Plenty Times' indulge) at-home parties are also growing in number in the Bay.
The company currently operates here and in Waikato. Guests "shop" at a store set up in the host's lounge. Stock includes an ever-changing selection of giftware, clothing, accessories, jewellery and art.
Carolyn Shaw, owner of Shaw Builders, finds it hard to find time to shop with work and family always competing for her time.
"A friend of mine had an Indulge party and I liked the idea of shopping while you socialise. I was also keen to see the products myself. Girls always like fashion and jewellery."
Carolyn says she had done this sort of thing before with Tupperware and Avon, and was pleased with the feedback from the party.
"It was a great way to get the girls around, have a wine and view products in the comfort of our home. When you work full-time and have a family it is sometimes hard to get out so having a home Indulge party works for everyone. I ended up buying a vase and some jewellery, and was eyeing up a nice bag, too."
Beauty boutiques are another experience women want in groups at home.
Mandy Priestly used to do spray tans and makeovers from her shop, Blush, in Fraser Cove.
Such was the demand to go to people's homes that Mandy is now completely mobile not only for individuals but for group bookings.
"The spray tanning parties are really popular as it's something the girls can get together, have a few wines and gossip, and lounge around in loose black clothes after their tan. It beats having to squeeze it in in your lunch hour and all the hassle disappears."