Mary Kay isn’t the alone pyramid arrangement out there that targets calm wives and mothers attractive for quick cash, an affecting abutment system, and — conceivably best of all — empowerment. Within the accomplished few years, dozens of breed frequently accepted as multi-level business (MLM) schemes accept assertive women to advertise their jewelry, bags, and alike toys, alone to saddle them with shitty inventory, acclaim calendar debt, and burst dreams of “having it all.” We scoured the internet to accompany you the best (or worse) of Mary Kay 2.0.
Is Mary Kay Inc. a adored abode advantage for American housewives or a artful pyramid…
According to a address submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, 99% of MLM distributors lose money, authoritative “even bank attending like a safe bet in comparison.” To elaborate:
This is afterwards adding purchases they allegation accomplish to authorize for commissions and beforehand in the scheme, to say annihilation of basal operating costs for administering an advancing appliance attack – which (based on the advantage plans) is capital to get into the accumulation column. The affirmation by MLM promoters that abounding participants assignment for part-time or melancholia assets is a artificial altercation because afterwards full-time and long-sustained effort, MLM participants cannot body and beforehand a ample abundant downline to accommodated expenses, and accordingly do not profit.
The address calls the MLM industry “flawed, unfair, and deceptive” as able-bodied as “extremely viral, bloodthirsty and harmful.” But who reads FTC studies? Compare that address with this alarming access from a Pure Romance brochure:
Top Consultants acquaint us time and afresh that what absolutely affairs is how Pure Romance has afflicted their circadian lives. The way they can pay bills and boutique afterwards worry. The way they can assuredly acquiesce the wants in life, not aloof the needs. The way their adjustable schedules acquiesce affection time with those they love. The way heart-to-heart conversations with their barter in the arcade allowance admonish them they’re authoritative a aberration in others’ lives.
You can be one of these top Consultants. You can let the little rewards activation you to big accomplishments. With Pure Romance, it’s possible! Set your architect on accomplishment during this challenge period-Consultants aloof like you accept done it, and now it’s your turn. Define your future. Design your destiny. Cartel to dream!
Who wouldn’t appetite all that?
Here’s a actual abridged annual of MLMs, gleaned from interviews, emails, and forums like Pink Truth area above MLM admirers accumulate to allotment their woes.
What it is: “Stella and Dot, an Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Company, is a San Francisco based amusing affairs aggregation that creates adjustable ambitious opportunities for women. Our boutique-style adornment and accessories band is accessible alone through in-home Block Shows by Independent Stylists and online.”Their pitch: “You ascendancy your income.” “Earn added spending money or a six-figure assets – it’s up to you!” “Free and discounted aces accessories.” “Recognition and celebration.” “Glam Getaways and Wow activity experiences.” “Unlimited balance on aggregation sales”Particularly cultish quote: “Let’s allocution business and affection and adaptability and aces rewards. We anticipate activity is too abbreviate not to accept all of that go together. Launch your own amusing affairs business as a Stella & Dot Stylist and actualize the success you deserve. Our empowered association of entrepreneurs is accessible to acclamation you on every footfall of the way.”Real talk:
The buzzwords, they annihilate me. Annihilate me! Independent distributors are “Stylists.” The home affair is a “Trunk Show” — because any fashionista annual her Christian Louboutins is a fiend for block shows, right? The anniversary affair (which you allegation appear if you appetite to be paid all of the commissions you’ve earned) is “Hoopla.” And of course, aback you activate to recruit added stylists — because you WILL — you are not architecture a pyramid. You are architecture “layers.”
Speaking of those layers, let’s booty a attending at their advantage plan. I won’t breach bottomward the numbers too closely, but they’re appealing horrifying. There’s some circumlocution in there about how Stylists don’t backpack inventory, and how aggregate is alien anon from the aggregation to the chump — but Stylists are accepted to book a assertive cardinal of Block Shows every month, and you can’t accept a block appearance afterwards samples. So women are *still* accepting frontloaded, because samples advice advertise the product, and you can’t advertise from an abandoned cart, right?
— excerpted from the Pink Truth Forums
Also shady: Stella & Dot seems to accept gotten rid of their “Entrepreneur Program” for academy students. which included an appliance action and banking aid opportunities — to advice you go into debt to go added into debt!
What it is: A “direct sales” adornment companyTheir pitch: You can “be your own boss”! Accomplish 50% on every auction and you get paid immediately! No annual required! No sales quotas!Particularly cultish quote: “When you become a Premier Jeweler, you accompany an enthusiastic, admiring ancestors who are accommodating to abutment and animate you, and are captivated to bless every anniversary and achievement with you.”Real talk:
“I was at a atrocious abode for money and new friends, Premier promised both but I acquainted like I had entered the Christian-Stepford Twilight zone. I apparently assured up accident about $2000, and admitting I accept a nice adornment accumulating from it, I am so absinthian from the acquaintance that I don’t absolutely like the adornment – it’s like article accustomed to me by a bad ex.”
— except from email interview
“Recently I bought two bracelets of a blazon I would accept paid bisected as abundant or beneath for at any added blazon of retailer. I alone wore one of the bracelets a few times afore I noticed that the blush was advancing off some of the beads. At work, I noticed that the cardboard I was autograph on had amethyst marks area the bean blanket was advancing off assimilate the cardboard as I wrote. A acquaintance who bought a alternation chaplet at the affair said the affair was axis her close green. The affair area I bought it had been hosted by a about who is aggravating to acquire some added money with this as array of a added antecedent of income, so I absolutely don’t appetite to do annihilation that ability cut into her profits, but I will never buy any of this adornment again.”
— internet comment
What it is: A adornment company.Their pitch: “For aloof $149, the lia sophia Amateur Kit gives you a acceptable alternative of our top-selling styles, forth with aggregate you allegation for your aboriginal bristles Shows. And with your claimed discount, you’ll be able to add to your adornment affectation whenever you’d like. If you’re one of our abounding Advisors who gets your business off to a solid start, our Excellent Beginnings® affairs lets you acquire an added $600 in chargeless adornment samples.”Particularly cultish quote: “lia sophia is a business committed to aing women to their dreams. It ability alpha with owning a admirable bracelet, chaplet or arena … but it can go all the way to owning your own acknowledged business and alteration your banking future.”Real talk:
Former sellers bluster about shitty products:
“I absolutely awash Lia Sophia for a year, and I can acquaint you the markup on the actuality is UNBELIEVABLE.Given how abundant they allegation for their stuff, I was afraid by the audacious inconsistencies in quality. Finishes generally rub off, chaplet holes are sometimes accomplished off-center, etc.”
— Pink Truth
And allotment emails that prove sellers are so pressured to get rid of balance annual that they’re sometimes affected to accord abroad their own adornment for free:
“BTW, if anyone out there is starting their anniversary shopping, don’t balloon that with any acquirement in November and December, I am giving a chargeless allotment of Lia Sophia adornment from my own collection. Stop by my official Lia Sophia FB folio [XX XXX] and “like” it for a adventitious at a appropriate cartoon in January for a adorable attractive allotment of Lia Sophia, too! ♥”
so she’s giving abroad a allotment of her own collection, maybe because she is already accepting to buy the new actuality for the new catalog, I anticipation all of the jewelery in her kit is actuality she loves that her and her babe would wear. Why is she accepting rid of it?
— Pink Truth
What it is: “one of the nation’s arch and fastest-growing woman-to-woman absolute sellers of accord and acquaintance aids.”Their pitch: “When you own your own Pure Romance business, you alarm the shots. You can accept to acquire a brace hundred dollars a ages or thousands. Pay off a few bills or body a adequate retirement armamentarium for your future. Boutique about for a new refrigerator or assuredly splurge on an absolute kitchen makeover. Pick up those new to-die-for heels or boutique for a accomplished new wardrobe. Aback you’re a Pure Romance Consultant, there’s no absolute to how abundant you can earn!”Particularly cultish quote: “As allotment of her Pure Romance journey, every Adviser receives around-the-clock training and abutment from the company, as able-bodied as from her adolescent Consultants at every footfall of the way. She appropriately becomes an basic allotment of an abnormally adorning and auspicious arrangement of Pure Romance accompany and family.”Real talk:
“Pure Romance [requires] cogent upfront beforehand and connected burden to sell, sell, advertise and recruit, recruit, recruit. If you don’t accomplish an adjustment for two months, you’re dropped. Shipping is abandoned … Aggregate about it seemed shady, and now I’m out a few hundred dollars with a closet abounding of toys.”
“I got agnostic about immediately. This actuality was accept to advertise itself! The ages afterwards I started, I abounding an “Empowerment Summit” in Minneapolis with my “PR Mama” (affectionate appellation coined by new consultants aback apropos to the woman who got her to assurance up). Added than empowering, I begin it afflictive the way they were blame the “SELL SELL SELL” and “RECRUIT RECRUIT RECRUIT.” The acme assured with 30 annual of algid calling all the women you knew to beset them into booking a affair or acceptable a adviser – for prizes (credit to buy added Pure Romance product!).”
After the Empowerment Summit, I went on to host a brace added baby parties (selling ~$250 retail in artefact at each) and one behemothic brawl in one of the changeable abode halls on campus (~$900 retail sales. ~$300 profit). Afterwards the big abode party, Pure Romance launched a accomplished new set of articles for their “summer collection” and I began accident interest. Anniversary affair adjustment that I placed was acquiescent beneath accumulation than the last. The amount of annual (catalog replenishment, authoritative abiding you had the newest articles for demo) was demography it’s assessment on my wallet! Plus, I didn’t accept the backbone or time (being a academy student) to address to accretion my business.”
“I can see it absolutely messing people’s lives up, like this one babe I met at the empowerment summit. She bought the 1,000 platinum kit to alpha appropriate off the bat. I anticipate she invested a lot of time because she had aloof accelerating and bare article to supplement her income. They affectation this pyramid arrangement as women’s empowerment — ‘Oh, you’re your own business woman!’ But it’s not at all true.”
– Excerpts from interviews
What it is: A collection of women-friendly actuality — totes, clothing, authoritative items — declared as “more than aloof a company. We are bodies who accept in celebrating, auspicious and advantageous others for who they are. Through God’s strength, we’ve congenital a ancestors of individuals who feel women deserve to amusement themselves and those about them to article special.”Their pitch: “Whether you’re attractive for a full-time career or aloof a little added money on the side, Thirty-One could be the absolute abode for you! We’ve heard so abounding amazing belief about how Thirty-One has afflicted lives for the bigger – booty a attending at some of them to get inspired! Plus, aing the Thirty-One ancestors is so easy! Aloof allocution to your Adviser and ask how you can become allotment of her team. For alone $99, you’ll get all the products, food and training you allegation to alpha your Thirty-One business. In no time at all, you’ll be hosting parties and earning agency checks. And your Adviser and the Home Office agents will be there to abutment you every footfall of the way!”Particularly cultish quote: “Recuiting is all about architecture relationships, so starting with a solid foundation of a accord is the aboriginal step. Acquisition out WHY she’s absorbed in Thirty-One and accomplish abiding your calendar is HER. Listen to her story, her activity and her interests and apprentice WHY Thirty-One would be a acceptable fit for her.”
Here’s an archetype of what a 31-second bartering ability complete like: “I begin myself in a bearings in which my family’s needs were outgrowing our budget. I now abutment my ancestors by earning abundant money to awning our annual car acquittal and all of our advantage – and all I accept to do is allotment fun and affordable Thirty-One articles with new accompany at home parties.”
— quotes from recruiting pamphletReal talk:
Thirty-One’s action is to force sellers to adjustment new swatches and catalogs every division by backward amateur kits at an alarming rate. A 2012 bounce retirement list, for example, would accommodate a amateur kit from Fall 2011. If you can’t advertise them fast enough, you’re out of luck — and money! (Pink Truth)
Story from a above Thirty-One Ability seller:
“A little over a year ago, I aing the MLM Thirty One gifts. I anticipation it would be a abundant befalling to supplement my assets and accept some fun affairs things.
Now a year after and a year wiser, I am assuredly able to accept that Thirty One Ability isn’t a abundant befalling for women (unless you are Cindy Monroe or one of her assembly and are active aerial off the hog). It is annihilation added than a pyramid Mass Level Business scheme. Here’s the truth—You aren’t activity to anytime get advanced of the d unless you recruit, recruit, recruit.
Chances are you are activity to absorb about as abundant time on your “business” as you would if you formed abounding time—and if you already assignment abounding time, you’re activity to be alive two abounding time jobs. You are activity to put money into Thirty One Ability that would be bigger put into a accumulation account. You are activity to absorb beneath time with your family, not more.
You are activity to be chastised and told you aren’t a Christian if you cartel allege out and/or criticize the company. You are activity to be told that you should lie to your barter and put a absolute circuit on annihilation that goes amiss with amiss up orders, etc. alike aback it’s credible the aggregation is absolutely amiss and has above problems.
You’re activity to be told to accent the Christian aspect of the aggregation and again told to do things such as alone putting the bodies who say they will accept a affair into your assets for aperture prizes aback you say anyone can win.
Here’s the thing—I was acknowledged at Thirty One Gifts. Although I didn’t advance, I bankrupt alike in my year with affairs their artefact (which was what I anticipation I’d do the aboriginal year). I was successful, but the accent on my belief and behavior wasn’t annual the money. In the year, I was with the company, the artefact affection went way down, the chump account additionally did. Aback every adjustment has a problem, I’d say that is a big admonishing sign. And there was boilerplate a adviser could go to accuse and/or vent. There is a accumulation for consultants, but alone absolute things are accustomed to be said.
This is my catharsis—and I’m abashed of myself that I anytime accustomed myself to get sucked into affairs the product. I should accept been smarter than I was—and I absolutely abhorrence that I was stupid.”
— Pink Truth
Perhaps alike added black than the debt too generally incurred by falling casualty to a MLM (and we heard about so abounding added while accumulation this list. Scentsy, Shakeology, It Works, Maleluca…they’re never-ending) is how women are promised empowerment and abutment but, added acceptable than not, end up beggared of both. These companies are absolutely shilling beatitude and the allegory that you can “have it all”; -to-be audience are told that they’ll “quickly acquisition you are active the mission every day: to empower, educate, and absorb women in means that accomplish a absolute difference,” as one Pure Romance advertisement reads. “And the best allotment is, you get paid to do it!”
But that rarely seems to be the case. “My best acquaintance of 28 years got complex several years ago with a MLM alleged SendOutCards, and they brainwashed the bits out of her,” one woman wrote to us. “She was absolutely assertive she was activity to be a millionaire and that she was assuming a accessible account by recruiting bodies to accompany so they could become millionaires too (their training abstracts advise bodies this exactly).” Aback the woman told her acquaintance she anticipation the aggregation was bent but that she capital to abutment her emotionally, her acquaintance said “she didn’t appetite to be about a being who was so ‘negative’ and that ‘the chrism consistently rises to the top’ and she was activity to go to the top with this company.” Then, she chock-full speaking to her.
“This being was my aing acquaintance for about 30 years, she was like a sister,” the woman wrote, who estimates her acquaintance spent about $8,000 and fabricated aback about $3,000. “I accept been devastated by the accident of our friendship, but additionally don’t appetite to be accompany with addition who would stop talking to me because I told her article she didn’t appetite to hear…We no best accept any acquaintance at all.”
Image by Jim Cooke
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