MLM companies and influencers

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

MLM stands for multi-level marketing. It’s what used to be called a pyramid scheme since it’s hard to make any real money unless you’re at the top and the people under you are recruiting others, who recruit others, etc., on and on ad infinitum. Some examples of this are Mary Kay, Avon, Younique, Pure Romance, Scentsy, Lularoe, Pampered Chef, Tupperware… the list goes on. These companies tout big payoffs and financial freedom if you work hard and put in the time, which is great. We should all make enough money to take care of our families and be financially free. And the profit margins for these companies can be as high as 50%, but there are lots of cons. First and foremost, to me, is that you have to hit up your friends and family and random people you went to high school with to start your business. I think at this point we’ve all gotten that random weird Facebook message from the person you haven’t talked to in a decade asking if you’d be interested in hosting a party.

This is the biggest reason why I didn’t make it as a Mary Kay lady. I largely signed up because consultants get a 50% discount on products, and as you know I’m a beauty junkie. It seemed like a perfect fit. The problem was that my “director”, basically my recruiter’s recruiter, was constantly calling me and pressuring me to do parties and get more sales. It got to a point where I just started blocking her calls because it was so annoying. I’m not into the high-pressure sales thing, either as a consumer or a salesperson, so the hard sell from this lady was not cool. I sold a little bit, mainly to the friends and family who already used MK, but I quickly ran out of the products everyone used, and in order to receive my discount, I had to place a minimum order. I don’t remember how much it was exactly, but it was $200 or $300. I didn’t have the money to be doing that every few months, and I could never find enough useful products to hit the minimum. So I’d either have to pay full price or find a bunch of junk I’d never use to get the discount. Not awesome. I didn’t last long as a Mary Kay lady.

So why have I been thinking about this?

The other day I was scrolling through the YouTubes, bored and looking for background noise, and I started seeing videos promoting some of these companies. I have mixed feelings about this. Some of these companies are just plain terrible and sell garbage products. Some of them take advantage of their distributors and their customers.

lularoe

Take Lularoe for example; I totally adore their clothing and I love that they’ve made an effort to be more size inclusive, but a few months ago they were having serious issues with product quality, specifically with holes randomly appearing in their leggings. The company attributed these problems to customers purchasing incorrect sizes or accidentally poking holes in them with fingernails and whatever. They also weren’t offering their distributors any sort of compensation for the refunds and exchanges they were doing for their customers. This isn’t even taking into account the totally weird ass-backward way that they distributed product to their consultants. They’d just send a box of random product, so consultants never knew if they’d get a specific collection or piece their customers really wanted. Asinine. As a result of these problems the whole Lularoe craze completely died. I used to personally know five or six Lularoe consultants and they’ve all bailed out in the past year.

Since we talk a lot about beauty, how about Younique? That shit was all the rage a few years ago and people were absolutely obsessed with that fiber mascara. It was hella expensive and dried up in about a minute, but so many women jumped on that wagon. A bunch of them even tried to recruit me with their “exciting business opportunity”. It was like a cult, and I never tried a single product from that company that I thought was worth the money or the hassle to procure them.

So, when it comes to beauty influencers who are sent these products, myself included (though I don’t like to think of myself as an influencer because… I don’t know, it’s just weird), what kind of responsibility do we have to research the company’s practices before recommending the products? A while ago a lovely Senegence distributor sent me a few ShadowSense cream shadows to review, and because I know a little bit about the company and have never been harassed by a distributor, I didn’t have any qualms about trying and reviewing the products.

senegence

Is that something we should be taking into consideration?

I know a lot of people don’t like purchasing things from companies that promote or contribute to causes they don’t agree with. So many people swore off Kat Von D when she expressed her opinions about vaccines, but the people who work for her haven’t been impacted. They’re still getting paychecks. With MLM companies the people being impacted by negative press or pressure to sell aren’t the people at the top. Those people are still making bank. It’s the people at the bottom just trying to make ends meet that feel the squeeze when product quality changes or the company does something dumb. And that sucks.

I hope you enjoyed these profound comments about basically nothing. What do you think about MLM companies or products?

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22 Comments

  1. Diana
    Permalink

    Very interesting topic. I thought of selling Avon in the past but it was only a passing thought. There’s a company called Beauticontrol that’s similar. I had a friend that sold and tried to get me to do the same. I even went to one of there little makeup parties. My friend’s director said to me, “I’ve been looking for someone like you!” I thought to myself I could make some extra cash! But at the same time, she didn’t sound sincere. I didn’t even dabble with it, that idea went out the window. To sum it up, you’re correct, this is a clever pyramid scheme. I feel it only works for certain people that are very aggressive with sales. That’s definitely not me!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Teresa
      Permalink

      I don’t know how these director ladies do it, but they suck people in with that “I’ve been looking for someone like you” or “You’d be so great at this, I can see you in that pink Cadillac!” I used to wonder if they taught lying at seminars.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Karalee
    Permalink

    I am 100% against mlms. I have been approached by so many people to join them so I could make some extra money & I’m always like no thanks. Also I watched the documentary Betting On Zero (it’s about Herbalife) & it was horrible seeing all of the people who’ve lost money by joining. I know there was a study done that found that 99% of people who join a mlm lose money & the average income was less than $10 a week.

    Liked by 3 people

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    • Teresa
      Permalink

      Oh man, I haven’t seen this documentary but now I need to. I can’t believe the average income is so, sooooo low. That’s even more sad that I thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Karalee
        Permalink

        It’s on Netflix but I’m not sure if it’s available to watch elsewhere.
        It is sad & $40 a month is not even enough to pay for the products they have to sell let alone pay for any living expenses.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. andreamargo
    Permalink

    For myself personally I do not and will never again purchase from any MLM company. I used to buy Young Living, but having learned more about MLMs I just can’t support them. They take advantage of low-income individuals, they prey on consumers in vulnerable situations (e.g. people in nursing homes, hospitals, etc.), most of their products are not worth even half the price, and honestly they’re just really annoying! Lol. If any of my Facebook friends get into a MLM company they’re usually blocked or at least unfollowed shortly after

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. April
    Permalink

    I’m vocally against MLM “businesses”. Everyone I went to hs with is in one. One of my old middle school teachers, who was always really supportive of young girls, is now hawking Rodan and Fields and trying to make people feel bad about their ~flaws~ so they’ll buy her stuff.

    I hate it. They’re all predatory and gross.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Teresa
      Permalink

      I never thought about that, but these companies do prey on people’s insecurities more than most. Norwex makes people paranoid that their houses aren’t clean, Lularoe promises chubby girls that even they will look fantastic in leggings, Mary Kay promises you’ll never age… wow. That’s pretty crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

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      • April
        Permalink

        They prey on people to sell to them AND they’re predatory to get people to sign up. It’s all single moms, promising them they can make income while staying at home. All of these people lose money. It’s disgusting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Teresa
        Permalink

        The only person ever met who’s successful is my friend with Senegence. That company doesn’t seem so bad, but it’s so rare.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. hethrgood
    Permalink

    It doesn’t seem like the other side of the coin is represented here so, for fear of being personally attacked, here’s my story:

    I’ve been an Avon lady since 1996. I joined purely as a “personal shopper” – which is simply a fancy term for someone who becomes a rep for the discounted products. While many claim their products are cheap and worthless, I disagree – by and large, I find their products to be affordable and, very often, comparable to high end products.

    Folks tend to find out you’re a rep whether you actively push it or not, so I managed to gain customers through the years without really trying to. One of the reasons I opted to become an Avon lady is because they do not have any required minimums and, depending who your upline is (I’ve never had an upline as I contacted Avon directly and appointed myself as a rep), you aren’t harassed about performance.

    I remained a personal shopper (with my customer list organically growing) until mid-2015 when I decided to test out my online marketing skills with my Avon business. I had zero expectations and really just wanted to keep Avon a sometime hobby that, primarily, provided me a discount on the products I personally wanted. Surprisingly, many of my friends were interested in purchasing Avon products from me – and they referred THEIR friends to do the same. By the end of 2015, I had achieved $10,000+ in sales (a first -previous years tended to only be between $1,500-$3,000 in sales) which gained me guaranteed 40% commissions for the next fiscal year and many other perks.

    I am not a hard sell person, nor do I “actively” recruit team members. I currently have 3 people on my team – all joined by contacting me because they enjoyed watching what I was doing and wanted to be a part of it. I am the upline leader I would have hoped to have had: support is available at any level/frequency that the rep chooses – I don’t force anything down my team members’ throats.

    Here’s the part you all probably are most interested in: how much do I make? First, a caveat: I am still doing this as a hobby. While I am open to it becoming a full time thing, I’m not pushing it in that direction. So, the details: Each two-week campaign I am currently averaging about $113 in commissions from sales and sponsoring team members. So, will this be replacing my regular salaries job anytime soon? Not likely. However, an extra ~$250 per month is certainly nice. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Teresa
      Permalink

      First, no one here is going to personally attack you. That’s not how we roll.

      Second, welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here, and thank you for sharing your experience.

      I’ve always liked Avon products; growing up my grandma was an Avon lady so I tend to associate the brand with old women, but some of their fragrances are nice and their makeup has always been good quality. I feel like Avon is one of the more chill MLMs when it comes to sales and recruiting, since I’ve never been harassed by an Avon lady to sign up.

      So I have some questions for you: when you start are you required to purchase a “starter kit” or invest a bunch of money up front? How much overhead are you required to have? Do you have to pay the company for things like credit card processing or having your info available to new customers who purchase on the website?

      Liked by 1 person

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      • hethrgood
        Permalink

        That’s comforting to know – some aren’t so kind and it makes one a bit gun shy to post a comment that goes against the flow of other comments. 🙂

        Thank you! It’s a pleasure to meet you!

        You are required to purchase a starter kit, but you get to choose which one. Currently, they are $25, $50 or $100, but a new incentive will be starting on 7/11 for folks to join for only $10.

        There is no overhead required. You are allowed to run your business however you want to run it – it’s one of the reasons I’ve remained a rep with the company for so long. For nearly 20 years, I didn’t carry any inventory at all (aside from my own personal backup products) and there has never been any mandatory minimum orders. They will place a rep’s status as inactive if they haven’t placed an order within 6 campaigns (12 weeks), but they don’t remove you as rep from the system until you’ve failed to place an order for an entire year. And by place an order, I mean ANY SIZED order…even if it’s a $0.99 lip balm, it counts.

        You can run credit card payments directly through Avon’s rep site for free. Your eStore is also free and you can customize it to include whatever info you want shown to customers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Teresa
        Permalink

        I appreciate that info… it makes me feel better about ordering from Avon. When I was selling Mary Kay they made you pay for everything, even the ability to process credit cards, and they expected you to have a TON of overhead so no one ever had to wait to receive their order. My first order was over $2k, and then I had to find a place to store it all. It was insane. Even though the commission is 50% even as a standard rep, I would never recommend MK.

        Liked by 1 person

      • hethrgood
        Permalink

        I’m sorry you had such an awful experience, though you are certainly not alone. I’ve heard similar stories from reps at other companies too – it’s a shame that those companies force (at least some of) their reps into financial hardship just for trying to hawk their products for them. It improperly inflates their sales numbers to make them appear more successful than they actually are.

        Avon reps do actually lose some customers because many Avon reps don’t carry product on hand and some folks just don’t have the patience to wait for an order to arrive. It’s their right, of course, but it’s always a bit frustrating to lose out on a sale just because we are unable to deliver a product on demand.

        For the record, I was a huge fan of MK’s sensitive skin line – while spendy, it was truly the one line that worked wonders for my oily and sensitive skin. I was brokenhearted when they discontinued the line. My old MK rep was pretty upset too, since those were the only MK products I actually ordered or utilized.

        Like

      • Teresa
        Permalink

        I love some of MK’s products, and I credit them with keeping my acne at bay when I was a teenager. They discontinued basically all of the products I loved so I haven’t used any of their stuff in a long time. At this point, I’m almost afraid to buy anything because I could find a really aggressive salesperson and that’s annoying.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Teresa
        Permalink

        If you were going to suggest some makeup or skincare products for an Avon newbie to try to get a feel for the brand, what would you recommend?

        Liked by 1 person

      • hethrgood
        Permalink

        Avon has an extensive line of skin care and makeup. I’d first ask what skin type they had and what types of makeup they favored.

        Failing any response at all, I’d suggest some tried and true customer fave products:

        SKIN CARE:

        Cleanser:
        Anew Clean Facial Cleansing Wipes (they do double duty by removing makeup and cleaning your face – great for travel too); OR,
        Anew Clean Micellar Cleansing Water (for lazy skin care folks that also does double duty and there’s no need to rinse from your face).

        Moisturizer:
        Anew Skinvincible Day Lotion (great SPF coverage, no added fragrance, works with sensitive skin)

        Eye Care:
        Anew Clinical Eye Lift Pro Dual Eye System (has a gel for firming/lifting and cream for moisturizing – this stuff is THE BOMB! Despite what the directions say, I use the gel under my eyes to reduce puffiness.)

        Masks:
        One or all three of the Anew Clay Masks – they have Brightening, Purifying and Calming. You can use whichever ones you need wherever you need.

        MAKEUP:

        Many of my customers swear by the MagiX Face Perfector – though it clogs my pores, so I can’t use it. 😦

        If you don’t like heavy foundation, I’d suggest the True Color Ideal Nude Liquid Foundation – it’s really light. If you want more coverage, I’d suggest the True Color Ideal Flawless Liquid Foundation.

        For concealer, I prefer a creamy one rather than a liquid one, so I usually direct my customers to test out the True Color Flawless Creme Concealer.

        For powder, I like the True Color Flawless Mattifying Pressed Powder – which doesn’t clog up my pores at all and really does mattify. A miracle powder, IMO.

        For an all over glow without looking like a 20-year-old glitter queen, I love the True Color Moonlit Highlighting Powder.

        The True Color Smooth Minerals Blush is what I usually suggest to customer to test out first as most people like the shades and are impressed with how long a tiny container will last and how affordable it is compared to Bare Minerals and the like.

        The True Color Glimmersticks eyeliners and brow liners are my go-to solution. They have a huge range of shades, are self-sharpening, are soft enough to go on without yanking your skin and, when on sale, are super cheap!

        The Wash-Off Waterproof Mascara is a longtime favorite of mine and I can’t keep it in stock. You can cry your eyes out and it won’t flake or run, but it cleans off with soap and water or makeup remover.

        If you love eye shadow, I’d suggest one of the 8-in-1 palettes – all the shades in a palette works with each other and it gives you options. If you’re an eye shadow idiot (like me), I’d suggest going for one of the quads – the shades in each quad are numbered so you can’t mess up where a shade is applied.

        I love the True Color Lipstick (they have various types and about 40 shades), but if you’re a gloss fiend, the newly released Lip Glow is pretty great too. I’ve tested it out to make sure their claim to it being not sticky was accurate – and it is. It’s not like LipSense though – it doesn’t stay on for 10 days. 😉 If you hate color on your lips but want moisture, the Moisture Therapy Lip Balm is my personal fave.

        I’m sorry this post is stupid long, but without specifics, I figured I’d cover the basics and answer more involved questions should you have them. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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