In today’s social media, direct-messaging, online world, you have undoubtedly heard the term “multi-level marketing” or MLM. This term encompasses many companies from Herbalife to Beachbody to Tupperware and a plethora of beauty suppliers. Wait… which dirty would did you think I was going to talk about?? While you all get your minds out of the gutter, let me give you a bit of a backstory.
Almost everyone has encountered an MLM-style company at one point in their lives. I can remember Avon catalogues in dental offices and other waiting rooms. Years ago, no one knocked women for selling creams and shampoos to help support their families. They were celebrated for finding a side-hustle and making some extra income. Avon and the like weren’t dirty, scammy companies. They were avenues to empower women.
Fast forward to today, and watch people’s faces change when you mention an MLM. Unless they are familiar with the way these companies work, they will run in the other direction faster than you can say “nail polish”. If they stay long enough to get a word out, they will most likely tell you all about pyramid schemes and why MLMs are all scams in sheep’s clothing. They will tell you about so-and-so in their circle of friends who became a consultant and hounded them to buy whatever product they were selling that day. Or how they were added to multiple online parties without their consent and were spammed with messages about buying the flavour of the day.
So, I’m here to set the record straight, since stories like this simply break my heart. Let’s start with the obvious question: what IS a pyramid scheme? A pyramid scheme is an illegal business model. It involves recruiting people and having them pay into a company with the promise of success, without getting anything in return. With MLM companies, you are selling products. This is a key (and legal) difference. Yes, they are both structured with someone at the top, and many people below them, but name me a company that ISN’T structured like that?? Pyramid structures recruit people with the allure of financial gain, only to bring the opposite. MLMs do recruit others, but with the promise of a business model and products to sell.
In my humble opinion, multi-level marketing companies have suffered the same fate as many other businesses. A bunch of people, who don’t know how to do things properly, ruin it for everyone else. The same is true for lawyers, real estate agents, and car salespeople. Everyone has a story about the sleazy, money-hungry professional who didn’t have their best interest at heart. That doesn’t mean there aren’t amazing ones (heck, I’m married to one!), but what sticks out are the bad apples. When MLMs exploded in the industry, so many people flooded the market without training or social know-how. They began creating parties, inviting everyone on their social media, and trying to recruit everyone they knew. They came off as sketchy without even meaning to. But, in the process, they gave these companies a bad name. Now, the moment people hear you are working with an MLM, they think you are going to message you relentlessly to try to sell you everything and the kitchen sink, and then try to recruit you for their downline.
By now, you will probably realize where I stand in the MLM world. For many years I was a part of a company where I thrived personally and professionally. It started as a side-hustle but gave me a source of passion and happiness. What’s more, I gained a family. These are women I have never met in person, but I know would have my back. Together we have celebrated milestones, and gotten to know each other on a deeper level. In my heyday, I ranked as a team manager, with over 50 women in my downline. Together, with my upline leaders, we trained women how to sell strategically – without jeopardizing friendships or their integrity. Sadly, the company took a turn. It turned hands several times, and the dynamic changed. It was something that became difficult to get behind. Many of us ended up leaving, knowing we needed to be able to support what we were selling. But in the back of our minds we were nervous that the shoes of the original company were too big to fill, that we would never find that family-vibe again.
This was true….. until now. It seems the MLM world can’t get rid of me that easily. I was recently introduced to a company that is in its infancy in Canada. It has already been around in the United States market and has moved into Canadian waters, as well. When I heard that it created gel strips for nails (similar to the last company I worked with) AND included many of the women from the previous company, how could I NOT say yes?? There will definitely be more to come. So stay tuned. On the change something here struck a chord, and you want to join me on this journey, then let me know. And don’t worry – it will all be legal 😉
This is life. Love, Mom.