Last night I watched a four part series on Amazon Prime called LulaRich.
It chronicles the unraveling of LuLaRoe. Known for their buttery soft leggings, the infamous multi-level marketing company went viral promising young mothers a work-from-home salvation. LuLaRoe’s eccentric founders recruited an astonishing army of independent retailers to peddle its increasingly bizarre and defective clothing products…until it all went wrong.
What was interesting to me was the number of women who bought into the promise but were served a nightmare.
Everyone loved the idea of having a business where they didn’t have to leave their homes or their children. Then they started to love how easy it was for them to earn money.
Throughout the series there are many red flags, most of which were highlighted in this Rolling Stones article by Elizabeth Yuko.
- Changing the refund policy after they knowingly delivered less than acceptable merchandise
- The leadership established themselves as untouchable, infallible and owed obedience
- “These people at the top are portrayed as near godlike figures. They are enlightened beings, and the epitome of good people, just trying to help you,” MLM and pyramid scheme expert Robert FitzPatrick says in the documentary. “That’s the culture of a cult.”
Mark’s theory of financial success:
- Onboarding costs ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 were financially out of reach for many prospective LuLaRoe consultants, but that was spun as a small price to pay for the independence and prestige of owning your own business, and being able to do it while staying home with your kids. According to several former sales reps and full-time employees interviewed in the series, company leadership encouraged women to do whatever it took to get the money they needed to turn their dream into a reality — including opening new credit cards, taking out loans, even selling their breast milk.
- Mark and DeAnne Stidham weren’t content influencing just some aspects of LuLaRoe members’ lives — according to the docuseries, they wanted total control, to the point where their consultants were entirely financially dependent on the company.
- As former sales reps explain, once they had a successful business up and running, the company made it clear that their next goal should be “retiring” their husbands. That’s not a euphemism for getting rid of them so the women could run off to form a matriarchal society where all waistbands are elastic. The idea, on the surface, is to provide your husband with the financial freedom to quit his job, so he can stay at home and help you grow your business. What it really means is that women should step back from the business they worked so hard to build, and relinquish all control to their husbands.
- At that stage, the household would be entirely dependent on LuLaRoe as its sole source of income, likely being in such extreme debt that walking away wasn’t a possibility. This is strikingly similar to the cult-leader tactic of making members so reliant on the group that they believe they have no other viable options.
For many women, it didn’t feel right but they kept going more and more into debt to sustain an external appearance that they were successful. In the end, women lost their husbands, their homes, their cars and their dignity.
Usually if it’s too good to be true you need to pay attention.
It is never a good idea to invest with debt and a promise that you will make back the money. Be wise.
We love to chase what seems easy. We love how it looks – the glamour – the cars, the clothes, the credit cards…but you really have no idea do you, what is going on in someone’s life.
If you can look at the series I encourage you to do so. Lots of learning, many a-has and a cautionary tale in four parts.
You need to ensure that you are managing your own destiny. That you understand how things work. That you don’t get caught up in the pomp and celebration and join in pretending it’s OK even though your gut is telling you otherwise.
Your success track is based on you. Not anyone else’s model and certainly you don’t want to be promised independence but are really being served reliance.
Don’t let insta-success cloud your vision!