For the past 15 years, Jennifer Flavin-Stallone has made a $1 billion name for herself in the competitive skincare business without cashing in on her husband’s fame to do so-not exactly your typical trophy wife. Here, Flavin-Stallone breaks the silence and tells Haute Living how her thriving company has made both her and her marriage stronger. By Stephanie Wilson
“They are like, ‘What? I thought you were just Sly’s fun, pretty wife!’” Little did they know that she is so much more.
Jennifer Flavin-Stallone has built her career on the sly. And by that, I am not trying to say that her exploding career is thanks to her husband, Sylvester “Sly” Stallone. Instead, she started her beauty empire on her own, and she certainly didn’t rely on him to get her business out there-that she handled herself. So it goes without saying that Flavin-Stallone, while doubling as the movie mega-star’s third missus, is far from his trophy wife. She is pulling her own alongside Sylvester, whom she has been married to for ten years-his longest marriage, her only. The two both know what it’s like to struggle to succeed… and what it’s like to succeed beyond their wildest dreams.
While there is no doubt that Flavin-Stallone is beautiful in every sense of the word, she claims, as most models do, that she grew up as an awkward, geeky child. “I didn’t grow up beautiful,” Flavin-Stallone reveals. But she did grow up tough. Her father passed away when she was only 12 years old, leaving her mother, a housewife, to raise seven children. Watching her mother struggle with the everyday tasks of writing checks and getting insurance-tasks that before had been left in her father’s care-Flavin-Stallone learned early on that life was either sink or swim. She resolved to never, ever sink.
“I knew that if-God forbid-anything ever happened in my life, I needed to know how to take care of myself,” she explains. She began her modeling career in her late teens as a way to earn her keep. She quickly began making a mark in the highly competitive modeling world, thanks to her drive to succeed, which far surpassed the will to win of her colleagues. “I stayed really focused because I didn’t have a backup plan,” she recalls. “I had to work, I had to make money-I had to support myself.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before her career was sidetracked-by skin blemishes. After trying every product available (even the powerful drug Accutane), Flavin-Stallone found no relief to her years-long skin plights, which were hindering her modeling career-which was the one thing keeping her above water.
Luckily, almost 13 years ago, when Flavin-Stallone was 26, she discovered a system, developed for a friend’s daughter, which led to dramatic improvements in Flavin-Stallone’s skin, a system that was rooted in knowledge in addition to product. It is a system that changed her life in countless ways. “I never knew there had to be a system,” she explains. “I always thought that putting one product on your face or taking a pill could change everything. And I was wrong.”
Aside from the dramatic results the system provided to her acne-ravaged skin, clearing up the blemishes almost instantly, the new system provided an outlet for her to take full control of her life. Instead of continuing to use her beautiful looks to peddle products for other companies, Flavin-Stallone asked herself, “Why shouldn’t I sell something I totally believe in?” She decided to go into business for herself, but was lacking money for start-up or advertising. At this juncture, most models-turned-wives-of-international-superstars (Flavin and Stallone were married in 1997, two years after the initial development of the system) would have simply batted a pretty eyelash at their husbands and gotten the necessary capital to blow any competition out of the water. But Flavin-Stallone, who had learned from the hard lessons of her childhood, knew she had to make it on her own.
Home Shopping Network provided the solution to the funding problem. Flavin-Stallone contacted the company on her own accord, and flew out to Florida to pitch her ideas to them. While many would be quick to assume she made the profitable connection thanks to her husband, she did it on her own; he wasn’t even aware. Home Shopping Network was impressed with her pitch, giving her airtime to explain and sell her products. With the help of skin care guru Lesa Stock, the line expanded, grossing $1 billion in the highly competitive beauty market over the past 12 years, a number that trumps what other competitors could even dream of making. Even more impressive: Serious Skin Care is one of the best selling skincare lines in HSN history, even holding a network sales record for InstA-tox, which sold 90,000 units in one weekend. Still, Flavin-Stallone chose to fly under the radar, never cashing in on her internationally recognizable name.
But she did appear on the Home Shopping Network to sell her products, although being in front of the camera was never really a goal. “I could have had my husband put me on a lot of TV shows every day,” she declares, “but I chose not to. I am a serious businesswoman. I don’t enjoy being out there on TV; it’s not what I do well. But I love building companies, I love making products.”
It is this anti-Hollywood attitude that ultimately surprises many people. When Flavin-Stallone does eventfully get around to tooting her own horn, she says people are genuinely surprised. “They are like, ‘What? I thought you were just Sly’s fun, pretty wife!’” Little did they know that she is so much more.
The Serious Skin Care System has become a complete line of hypo-allergenic solutions for everyone’s skin care needs, helping countless women transform their lives and win the fight over blemishes, wrinkles, and other skin ailments. In addition to allowing Flavin-Stallone to win the battle over blemishes, Serious Skin Care gave her the platform to change other aspects of her life as well. “I used to be, even through my modeling years, really shy,” she explains. “And now I feel like I have so much more confidence in my life, in my relationship. It really changed everything when I took control of my financial situation, because then I didn’t have to rely on anyone.”
She knew this newfound control was something that could be marketed, as well. Thus, Serious Skin Care has evolved into Seriesse International, a multi-level marketing venture that gives people the opportunity to become beauty consultants by selling Seriesse health and beauty products. Flavin-Stallone explains that the choice to expand in this realm was a natural progression. “Honestly, I had so many people that were my Serious Skin Care customers asking me how to sell my products,” she explains. “Also, there were a lot of things I couldn’t [market] on Home Shopping. I couldn’t do beauty from the inside; I could only do it from the outside with creams and makeup. I wanted to expand, but my hands were sort of tied.”
So, this past October, with the help of her husband, Flavin-Stallone launched Seriesse International to much fanfare at the new Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, which is owned in part by Stallone. In just two short months, the consultant and customer base has grown to include more than 6,000 individuals who headed to www.seriesse.com, which is the only place to purchase the products or become a member of the team. Seriesse includes Flavin-Stallone’s skincare line and makeup, alongside S-Force, Sylvester’s anti-aging, nutrition, and vitamin supplement product line. While Flavin-Stallone’s goal is, as always, to help people overcome their skin problems with the use of innovative products, Seriesse International is a way for her customers to take control of their lives, providing a way for people to earn their financial freedom, something Flavin-Stallone is very familiar with.
“The biggest joy that came to be [with the development of my companies] is having more control of my situation,” she says. “Not just that I made a great deal of money, which is wonderful, but that it gave me control of that aspect of my life-that’s what I love. I am here because I want to be here, not because I have to be here.”
She claims that the success of her marriage and the success of her business run hand-in-hand. Thanks to her financial stability, no one-including her husband-has to question her motives for being in the relationship. Flavin-Stallone is not looking for a handout from her movie star husband, with whom she has three beautiful daughters. “I think that is why we have lasted so long.” she explains. “Because of my success, because I feel better about myself, I am not trying to go out and get an acting job at 40 and feeling like, ‘Oh, God, my career is over!’ My career is just beginning. And what keeps it going is that I don’t need Sly, I don’t need him financially and I don’t need him to get me a job.”
What she does need the star for, though, is helping her with the delicate balance between work and family. “It’s not easy, but I have a very supportive husband and that helps a lot,” she says. “For example, right now, I am doing this interview, but normally I am driving the carpool. He is driving it this morning.”
But it can get pretty hard to synchronize schedules. Stallone is currently putting the finishing touches on the fourth installment in the highly successful Rambo franchise, set to premiere January 25, 2008. The film, which Stallone wrote, directed, and starred in, is in the post-production phase, so he is working nights, allowing him to dedicate daytime to his family.
Flavin-Stallone is using the time to continue to expand Seriesse International, which, in turn, gives her the ability to continue to positively effect people throughout the globe. Knowing that her products are the best out there, combined with the knowledge that she is in control of her situation, makes her giddy.
“I am ecstatic!” she exclaims. “I can’t wait to conquer the world.”