Direct sales is as old-school as your mom selling Tupperware to your neighbors and as current as the Origami Owl party you “attended” last night on Facebook or Google+. According to DirectSellingAssociation. com, there are close to 16 million people in the U.S. involved in direct selling with almost 75 percent of adults reporting they’ve purchased products from a direct seller. From make-up to skincare, educational toys to cookware, gardening items to home décor, there are dozens of companies built on direct sales rather than a fixed retail location. These companies rely on independent contractors who are not employees of the company but instead market and sell the product/services for a commission on their sales.
So why did a busy, single childless, non-salesman-like person like me join the ranks of the direct sellers? For all the same reason millions will make the decision this year to become a consultant, designer or distributor.
Passion for a product
Often it starts with falling in love. You discover a great product and before long, you are sharing it with your friends and even agreeing to host a party in your home or office. You can’t stop talking about how amazing the product is and soon the designer/consultant takes you aside and asks, “Why don’t you join my team?” The chance to purchase the products at a significant discount and to even make a commission when your family, friends, neighbors or co-workers make a purchase is enough incentive to have you sign up.
This is such a common option for many of the people who sign up or enroll that companies often have a unique category just for this participation level termed preferred or discount customers. On my Origami Owl team, these are the designers who “sell off their neck.” They love the chance to share their story through a living locket, but they’re not looking to add anything to their packed schedule. The majority of their sales are to those who notice their unique Living Locket and ask how they can purchase their own.
For many, it is the chance to be their own boss and to work when and where they want that is so incredibly attractive. Today, a direct seller or mompreneur will “work” while sitting at the pool talking to some of the other moms about her product. She’ll meet potential customers at the local coffee shop while her daughter is at karate and fill her orders after her kids go to bed. Fifteen minutes here, an hour and a half there and before she knows it, she’s running a successful business.
With two incredible jobs I love, what makes this work is the chance to spend 20+ hours a week on my Origami Owl side hustle during holidays and then to be able to reduce my hours when projects or appearances fill my schedule. The funny thing is that I’ve discovered that I am a pretty hard task master when it comes to working for myself.
Financial goals can range from enough to place your child in private school all the way up to a desire to replace a significant full-time income. From casual sellers to dedicated entrepreneurs, from those dedicating a couple hours a week to those putting in 40+ hours to building their teams and their business, the incredible attraction of direct sales is that you determine your income as your effort determines your results.
Ease of entry
Direct selling provides an opportunity unrelated to age, sex, race, religion or level of education. This is also an industry where women are able to match men dollar for dollar in earnings. Many have discovered that direct sales are easy to try since start-up costs are usually nominal.
With two teenaged nieces, it was Origami Owl’s unique Owlette program that hooked me initially. Origami Owl was founded by a fourteen year old, Bella Weems, so O2 is committed to raising up the next generation of entrepreneurs by offering young men and women ages 12-17 the opportunity to own and run their own business. Today, some of my top performing designers in the U.S. and Canada are 14 and 15 years old raising money for missions/ school trips, cars, college tuition and just plain fun.
Recognition and self-development
Get several direct sales representatives in a room and many of them will point to the chance to meet new people and to expand their social circles as a major bonus to their work. Combined with the chance to learn all the facets of running a successful business like marketing, customer service, social media, product knowledge, accounting, as well as leadership/mentoring, no wonder many consider direct sales the most challenging job they ever loved.
Though direct selling, I have truly achieved the unimagined wealth that is the stuff of dreams. I experience it every day in the depth of my friendships with customers, fellow designers and other direct sellers — people I would probably never have had the chance to meet let alone come to treasure. I experience wealth beyond my expectations as I watch the men and women on my team work to meet and even surpass their personal goals. Origami Owl has provided me with financial success that has allowed me to be generous and support causes I care deeply about like Compassion and Blood Water Mission, but the greater riches are hidden in encounters like one of my designers had at a local fabric shop. Someone approached her and asked about the stones in her locket. She explained that each color represented an element of her story — the black stone for her sins, the red for the blood of Christ, the green for an abundant life and the gold for the promise of eternity. The woman responded, “I want that” and even as Ingreed moved to take the chain off her neck, the woman said, “No, not the necklace, I want the relationship with Christ you have.” As a writer and radio host, I am often able to tell my story, but I will never grow tired of the chance to be a part of His story in someone else’s life.
But my direct selling story is not unique. Read about the experiences of other women who work with other companies.
Lorie Bibbee’s Rodan + Fields Story
As a believer, author and business owner, Lorie delights to inspire women to uncover their passion and purpose and nudge them into action. And she loves to hear the joy when they fall in love with their skin again. She attends Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach, and this is her story.
I started out with R + F because I wanted some options. I wanted money to be able to visit one kid in college or another. After I started selling the product, my “why” changed. I saw the private struggles, desires, and hopes of men and women with regard to the aging process. I saw their skin problems get solved, and I was excited for them. Then I also started to see other women like me that needed either a new focus, extra money, or hope for something better. And joining me in business seemed to help them
(as it had helped me) rise out of their everyday ruts or depressions. There’s a lot of personal development, training, encouraging, praise and acknowledgement that goes along with this business.
My business became a place where God was using me to minister to very strong, unspoken, inner needs. And while the extra money has become very helpful for my family — I’ve used it to send kids on spiritual retreats, paid for a family vacation, and it’s allowed me to splurge on certain things for myself, like a new iPad and real estate school — the bigger thing for me is that it’s allowed me to wake up to my giftings and talents. And as I’ve come out of my family cocoon of raising kids and back into the world, it’s given me the ability to help others find their inner core again. I will always be grateful for that!
Elizabeth Hagan’s Jamberry Story
Elizabeth is a home-school- ing mother of five, including a foster child. She and her family attend New Dawn Community Church in Coral Springs where Elizabeth serves as nursery coordinator and has authored a children’s book. This is her Jamberry story.
Doing my nails was always a waste of time because they would chip before I was even out of the salon. I heard Jamberry Juniors were effective in stopping nail biting, so I purchased a set for my daughter from a friend. They were amazing and lasted a whole week on her nails. With 10 and 12-year-old daughters, some quick math told me the only way we could afford them was if I signed up.
When I first got married, I joined a make-up company where half the stuff I sold I didn’t use myself and storing it was a lot. With Jamberry it is just sheets of nail wraps, some clippers scissors and a dryer. For me, this is a side business, so when we accepted our first foster child, I barely did anything for the first six weeks so that I could concentrate on her. If I worked at a kiosk at the mall and told my boss, “I’m not coming in for the next month and a half,” I’d be fired. Because I have the flexibility of owning my own business, I’m able to prioritize my schedule according to my values of God first, family second and career third. For me, I love that I am rewarded for how many hours I put in and also that it’s more than just nail wraps. Every February, we celebrate Heart Awareness Month and donate a percentage of the sales of a special wrap to the National Heart Association. When tragedy struck Nepal, we were able to raise over $150,000 in just three days.
To learn more about direct sales and some of the questions to ask before making your decision, go to DirectSellingAssociation. com
Anitra Parmele is a writer for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale and an on-air host for ReachFM. To contact her or any of the other direct sellers mentioned, call 954-675-0768 or [email protected].