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.
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.
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?