I’ll admit it, when I first heard about multi-level marketing, I immediately thought pyramid scheme.
Though they aren’t the exact same thing as the 80s bad marketing tactic that led to the financial demise of millions, multi-level marketing companies get a bad rep from some members of their communities. And, to be honest, there are some similarities between the two business practices.
There’s the hard sell element wherein random people are adding me to groups I didn’t ask to be a part of and then DMing me constantly about hosting a party or buying their product. The constant attempts to bring me over to the dark side get me to sell as well. The glassy eyed testimonials about how being a part of “insert whichever direct sell MLM company you want to here” has given them financial freedom and changed their lives.
It all seemed super fishy to me.
I mean, if you think about it, even the name leads you down that path because pyramids have multiple levels too!
As I’ve grown in my understanding of these companies that seem to have taken off in recent years by selling everything from children’s books to kitchen utensils, I’ve come to appreciate their place in our retail market.
They do allow for many individuals, particularly women and mothers, to enjoy the benefits of their own income while also allowing them to be available for their children and families.
Y’all know I am so here for that.
So I decided to educate myself –learn about some of these companies, understand how their products are a solution for the problems many of us face, and get to know some of the women behind the lower levels of the business. Because truly, they are where the hard work and dedication can be seen. And they are the ones I want to support.
Which is why I decided to give some of the top MLM sellers (as recommended by DudeMom readers on Facebook) a chance to convince me (and all of you) that they are not just some common pyramid scheme selling creepers and that buying from them will truly be a positive and rewarding experience for you, your wallet, and your home.
Up first, Lularoe.
Caught up in a ton of legal issues and bad press at the moment, this MLM company is one of the most well known after growing popular for their “like butter” leggings. But the brand is about so much more than that and so are the women who remain committed to selling. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s Not Just Leggings: The Truth About Lularoe
Lularoe is super popular.
They’re “the leggings people,” and pretty much every woman, every where has heard of this company at this point. They have over 80,000 independent sellers and are reported to have sales of over $1billion at this point.
You can see their seller hosted pop-up shops at local venues –I see them at my kids’ athletic events and in our mall quite frequently, and have probably even been invited to a party or event hosted by one of your friends.
If you’re super unlucky, someone who loosely knows you may have added you to a selling group on Facebook without asking you first.
Unfriend that person immediately, that’s no way to live.
And some people REALLY hate them.
They also seem to be a brand that has as many haters as they do lovers.
People either see Lularoe clothing as hideously designed, overpriced nightmares peddled by seedy, unprofessional slackers who are stealing their cash for crap products, or as the softest most wonderfulest leggings on the planet sold with love by women eager to contribute to their family income who truly care about your ability to feel good in your body.
I’d say both are probably true, but they have, in fact, encountered some real legal issues lately and have even been accused by sellers of being a pyramid scheme. You can read more about it here: Lularoe Lawsuit.
There are countless claims that the company rips off women at the lower levels, requiring a huge investment with little likelihood of recovering that money in sales. It’s difficult for the average seller to turn a profit on the items they purchase, all marketing fees and other business fees are yours to cover, and it’s even unlikely that you will earn any bonus money from the brand because the rate of inventory you have to move is prohibitive to a beginning seller. You can read more about the process here: Untold Truth of Lularoe
In addition to all of this info about their alleged business practices, some consumers have said the product is faulty and have come seeking refunds they weren’t afforded. This led to another big battle among the company owners, sellers, and consumers, and an eventual policy change to allow for refunds.
Apparently it was too little too late because the brand currently has an F rating by the Better Business Bureau.
But, there are things to love too.
Basically, there is little middle ground here and those who hate Lularoe with a passion are matched on the other side by those who seem to love the brand with the same vigor.
I love their leggings. They fit me well, they feel super soft, and they don’t slip or roll despite my belly’s desire to live a free life. I find some of their patterns downright cringeworthy, but I can generally find a few pairs that I like.
Women who rock their clothing seem to love it and feel empowered by the way it makes them look and feel.
And, unlike many companies, they have for years embraced the curvy woman offering many plus-sized clothing options to consumers.
Personally, I won’t buy a single thing outside of their leggings department. I find most of their clothing frumpy and unflattering. The bright colors and cuts seem juvenile and boring. I appreciate that they are going for modesty, but frankly I’ve seen it done better.
Every now and then I encounter a cute top or adorable dress, but I haven’t ever pulled the trigger on any of them because I also find them slightly overpriced.
The buying experience can be cumbersome.
In most cases, sellers don’t have a standard online storefront where you can easily click and buy, and many sellers run these Facebook groups where you have to basically participate in a live event to get the leggings.
On the bright side, since sellers are all pretty eager to turn a profit, I did find that many of them are willing to work with you if you reach out and establish how you prefer to shop.
In addition to the Facebook groups, popups and parties are a popular means of marketing and closing sales. The pop-ups seem like a lot of work on the sellers part, and the parties rely on help from friends and family.
As a consumer, I am never hosting a party of any sort for any person selling anything. I don’t even like giving my kids birthday parties so the idea that I am going to clean my house and set up veggie trays for a bunch of women who I know will ultimately just feel trapped and pressured to buy something is 100% not happening. I’ve never felt comfortable going to those parties (the whole I-feel-like-I-have-to-buy-something element), and I will feel even less comfortable hosting one.
But there is room for success.
At the end of the day, like so many other MLMs, the success of individual Lularoe sellers seems to be based largely on relationships and less on quality of product. And that’s not to say that they’re stuff is trash, that’s just to say that because of the direct selling nature of this business, and the personal nature of women buying clothing from other women, closing sells is more about your ability to connect with your buyer, provide them with a quality buying experience, and make them feel good about their purchase than it is about how well that brightly colored tunic you sell holds up in the wash.
Which is how so many women who shared their favorite sellers with me felt. They all gushed over the wonderfulness of the Lularoe seller they recommended –her business savvy, her helpfulness, her kindness, her ability to make the process smooth and easy, that she truly cares about her customers were just a few of the reasons Lularoe sellers were recommended to me.
They’re all clearly well loved.
Shop from the cream of the crop.
None of these sellers have been vetted by me for inventory, selling techniques, or anything else really. They were all recommended by people who actually buy from them and who were willing to stand up and say they are great.
If you want to buy Lularoe or are looking for someone to talk to about becoming a successful seller, here are a few you might want to start with.
Ezara Bergstrom, seller since
Shop here: Lularoe Ezara Bergstrom
“I honestly got into it because of nerve damage I have. They are the most comfortable clothes I’ve worn. They cause less pain than anything else I’ve found. Lularoe has also helped me become more outgoing and I’ve met a lot of new friends.” –Ezara Bergstrom
Temple Gibson Hergenrader, Lularoe seller since June, 2017
Shop here: Lularoe Temple Hergenrader
“I got into it because I was tired of wearing yoga pants and sweatshirts to feel comfortable. Now I’m comfortable and look nice. And I am wearing dresses on a regular basis! I hadn’t worn a dress in 10 years!! I don’t push myself on people because I’m kind of an introvert. And I never ask my VIPS to add people willy nilly.” –Temple Gibson Hergenrader
Courtney Fosnaugh, seller since December, 2016
Buy here: Lularoe Courtney Fosnaugh
“I ♥️ LuLaRoe! I started selling LuLaRoe a few months after my second kiddo was born. LuLaRoe helped me feel comfortable in my postpartum body like department store clothing never did. I despised going shopping and even had a made for TV breakdown in a dressing room! Now, it is my absolute joy to help women of EVERY size find comfortable, FASHIONABLE clothing that they feel amazing in! The biggest blessing has been fundraisers! I’ve been able to donate to individuals and causes I could not afford to prior to being a retailer. And my two girls get to see their mama be a boss, a mom, and a woman with a purpose and a dream!” –Courtney Fosnaugh
Whisper Montgomery-Cramer, Lularoe seller since November, 2017
Buy here: Lularoe Whisper Montgomery
“I am an active consultant! Small group (under 200), so I get to spend quality time helping my customers feel and look beautiful!” –Whisper Montgomery-Cramer