Should You Sign Up to Sell Mary Kay Products?

If you’ve ever purchased cosmetics for yourself or someone else, you’re probably well aware of Mary Kay, a privately-owned cosmetics company founded in 1963 by Mary Kay Ash. This company has yearly revenues now totaling over $3 billion and focuses on six major product lines: skin care, cosmetics, sunscreens, fragrances, men’s personal care (colognes, face soap, shaving cream), and gifts.

You can buy Mary Kay products by going online to its website; however, what’s more strongly encouraged is that you work with your local Mary Kay “Independent Beauty Consultant” and purchase through her or him. Why?

Because Mary Kay is a direct sales and multilevel marketing (MLM) company.

What is Mary Kay all about?

Companies that wish to reach different marketplaces and sell their products by the gross usually make deals with area distributors, who purchase their items in bulk and at wholesale prices. Those distributors then sell their products to retailers at a set markup. Finally, the retailer sells those products to consumers, and also at a set markup.

With direct sales companies like Mary Kay, there are no distributors or retailers. Individuals purchase directly from the company, paying wholesale prices for the products. These individuals then mark up their goods as they see fit in order to make a profit from their customers.

To sell their products, individuals will host product parties at their homes or list items via special company-hosted websites. Other consultants might even go door-to-door, with samples in hand, to sell.

Such individuals, who are often called consultants, can also recruit others to sell product (this is the MLM side of the company). Through this recruitment, the original consultants earn referral commissions. When their recruits, in turn, recruit others, the commissions to the original recruiter increase. With some MLMs, commissions can trickle up through four or even more levels of recruits.

How do you start a Mary Kay business?

You can sign up to become a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant by purchasing the $100 Starter Kit. Within this Starter Kit, you get a few products, brochures and access to a personal website.

You can then start taking orders for customers and buying their products for them at 50% off retail value. So, if a customer orders a $10 lipstick from you from an MK catalog, you make $5 in profit when you purchase that item and deliver it to her.

Keep in mind that, to remain an active consultant in Mary Kay, you must purchase at least $225 of wholesale-priced (or $450 retail-priced) product every three months.

You can also earn additional income from consultant recruitment. In fact, recruitment is the surest way to leverage your selling efforts and to rise up in the Mary Kay sales ranks. There are 15 total levels for MK consultants, with each level paying out higher commissions, bigger bonuses, and major incentives like the use of a pink Cadillac “career car.” Keep in mind, though, that the car perks require high personal and team wholesale product sales, sometimes to the tune of roughly $200,000/year.

Should you become a Mary Kay consultant?

Like every direct sales MLM reviewed so far, Mary Kay has its pros and cons:

Pros:

  1. Quality products– Mary Kay sells medium-end personal care products that are on par with those of Avon and Nu Skin. There are many products to choose from, including a line of products directed towards men.
  2. Market reach– Mary Kay products are applicable to a wide audience, including women, men and kids. The company sells much more than just makeup.
  3. High commissions– Being able to pocket 50% of the product price means that consultants can run promotions and discounts and still make a profit.

Cons:

  1. Market saturation– When I looked up Mary Kay reps for my geographic area, I found not one or two, or even three, but six local beauty consultants. That’s a fairly high number for a geographic radius spanning about 15 miles.
  2. Peer pressure– If you thought buying $225 worth of wholesale product every 3 months was bad, be prepared to undergo some major sales pressure by your local sales director to purchase “inventory packages” that run $600 to as much as $4,800. This is because the higher up you go at Mary Kay, the more you are pressed to have your underlings purchase wholesale packages and thousands of dollars of inventory each month.

  3. Storage– Unlike Avon, where you take orders from customers and then purchase the inventory, here you are first purchasing massive amounts of wholesale inventory to (hopefully) sell later on. But until that inventory is sold, you need to store it. The question is where, of course. If you rent out a storage unit, you’ll be paying a monthly fee for your extra space. Unless you have some spare basement or closet space, you’ll be surrounded by inventory.
  4. Restrictions– Mary Kay emphasizes that you sell to your “warm market,” which consists of your family members and friends. However, such a market is easily and quickly tapped out, so you must soon look for new customers. Many people use third-party platforms like eBay, Facebook or Craigslist to sell their goods. With Mary Kay, however, you are not allowed to take advantage of these opportunities. Additional information about where you can advertise your products is provided here (spoiler alert: it’s only the company website).

Is starting a Mary Kay business a good idea?

Despite the fact that Mary Kay offers high commissions and good products, I’d be hesitant to sign up with this company because of the high pressure to buy loads of company inventory and to then try to sell it only via the approved company website. This limits you to doing mostly house parties and/or fairs in order to sell your massive amounts of stock. And speaking of which, that stock does come with expiration dates, so you must either move it or be stuck with stuff that you never wanted in the first place.

Have you sold Mary Kay products or are you a current consultant with this company? Please leave a comment about your experiences below.

Is It Worth Becoming a Stampin Up Demonstrator?

If you like completing crafts and/or do crafts as your job, then you might already know about Stampin’ Up!. This company, which has been around for over 25 years, offers a direct sales MLM business opportunity to individuals wherein they can make stationary items and earn money from their efforts. So, what is Stampin’ Up! all about and how can you get started?

What is Stampin’ Up?

The Stampin’ Up! company offers craft and hobby supplies for making custom stationary, greeting cards and scrapbooks.

You can go to the Stampin’ Up! website and purchase all kinds of items to help you in this venture, including rubber stamps, paper, envelopes, ribbon, twine, etc. You can also join Stampin’ Up! as an “Independent Demonstrator,” which enables you to not only engage in your hobby, but to make money by selling Stampin’ Up! products to others via home parties, demonstrations and through the online catalog.

Getting Started with Stampin’ Up

If you want to start earning money with Stampin’ Up!, you need to first purchase a $99 starter kit. This starter kit is advertised to contain $125 worth of product. You get to pick the products you want in your starter kit, with the idea being that you can create one to two crafts from your selected products when you use them in your first at-home party. There are many items to choose from when you build that starter kit, as this online selection table shows:

Fortunately, Stampin’ Up! provides you with advice on which stationary, stamps, ribbons, twine, etc. you should select in order to have a full kit for creating a birthday card, for example. Or a vacation scrapbook page. In the starter kit outlined below, you’ll have sufficient materials to create both a birthday and congratulatory card if you select all the recommended products.

Once you receive your customized kit, it’s time to start generating some money. This can occur in one or more of the following ways:

Stamp Camp– With this approach, you invite guests over for a session of crafting and collect a set ‘camp fee’ from each participant. Depending on how much material you ordered beforehand, you might charge anywhere from $25-$100 for such a camp. Your guests will end up creating several cards, scrapbook pages, etc. and take these crafts home with them for their own personal use. This approach can be very successful because you make money by offering camps and don’t necessarily have to sell any product.

Open House– With this approach, you invite guests over and introduce the Stampin’ Up! products to them. Some products might be tested out by the guests or demonstrated by you. The end goal is to collect product orders and submit those orders to the company. Each product purchase earns the Stampin’ Up! demonstrator a set commission.

Opportunity Night– Here, you attempt to recruit other individuals into joining Stampin’ Up! as demonstrators via your referral. By recruiting others, you earn a percentage from their eventual product purchases and/or sales.

Catalog Workshop– If you can’t host a lot of camps or other home events, you can supply a hostess with catalogs and order forms and she can distribute these items through various channels (e.g., work, door-to-door, coffee shops). Once a few orders have been submitted to the hostess, that hostess submits those order forms to you for placement.

How much can you earn with Stampin’ Up?

Demonstrators earn different commissions based on their sales volume and on how many new demonstrators they recruit into their downline. The commission structures based on personal sales and downlines are outlined below:

Demonstrators must sell a minimum of $300 every 3 months in order to remain active in the Stampin’ Up! program and make at least the 20% commission from product sales. To earn commissions from their downline, demonstrators must meet personal sales quotas every month.

Should you sign up with Stampin’ Up?

Like all direct sales MLM opportunities, there are pros and cons to being part of the Stampin’ Up! business.

Pros:

Great products– Stampin’ Up! offers quality stationary products that are beautiful to look at and receive. The company has even won awards for its unique designs.

Flexible sales model– Demonstrators can choose to sell Stampin’ Up! products several different ways. You don’t have to peddle any products, at least overtly, by holding Stamp Camps. In this way, your customers pay their fee up-front and get to participate in an event with no sales pressure to buy.

Cons:

Low commissions– MLMs offer commissions that range from 20%-40% to start. So, with Stampin’ Up! offering a 20% commission to start, that’s on the low end of the scale. As noted on other reviews, having a lower than average commission makes it harder to run promos and other offers and undercuts your potential profits.

Ex-demonstrator competition– Many Stampin’ Up demonstrators sell their inventory and supplies at cut-throat prices once they decide to shut down their businesses. This is bad news for active demonstrators who still want to sell products at a reasonable profit.

Parties– Stampin’ Up still relies on the in-home party model as a way to make the majority of product sales. Call them Stamp Camps if you will, but hosting customers and having these camps will still require a lot of your time and attention, plus other expenses such as food and drinks.

Sales minimums– To collect regular commissions, you must meet monthly sales minimums. This can become a big issue if you need to take time off for health or leisure reasons.

Stampin’ Up! may not be profitable enough for you

Given the pros and cons inherent in running a Stampin’ Up! business, it may not be profitable enough to be worth your time and effort. Additionally, you will need to purchase and keep company inventory at your house if you wish to offer Stamp Camps to your customers. Unless you really enjoy the hobby of making beautiful stationary and don’t much care about making lots of money with it, you are better off seeking out other business opportunities.

Have you had experience with Stampin’ Up? Please let us know in the comments below.

Should You Invest in and Sell PartyLite Products?

If you’ve been to a craft fair or neighborhood festival, you’ve probably seen PartyLite products being sold. The company has been around since 1973 and sells a variety of candles, candle holders, flameless fragrance and wax warmers. The company sells these products via a direct sales MLM model through its independent contractors, who are called consultants. Anyone can sign up and become a consultant for PartyLite. The question is, should you?

How to get started with PartyLite

Individuals who wish to start a PartyLite business of their own must order a starter kit from the company. The cheapest kit costs $30 and includes product fragrance samples, a candle, and a candle holder. The larger starter kit costs $99 and includes fragrance samples, candle holders, two candles, a dozen tea lights, six votives and wax warmers. Both kits also contain catalogs and business supplies (e.g., sales receipts).

These kits are all intended to be used as “party starters.” In other words, they are a way to get people involved in finding out what their preferred scents are, after which they place orders for corresponding products. So, the PartyLite sales model relies quite heavily on having parties (sometimes up to four/week).

The paid-for starter kits enable the new consultant to instantly earn 25% commissions on her sales. She can also earn an additional 7% bonus if her product sales exceed $2,300 in a month.

If the potential consultant cannot afford to invest in a starter kit, she can still receive one, and for free- provided she earns at least $350 at her next next in-home party. The consultant does not earn a commission on her sales during this party (unless sales exceed $350).

Consultants earn bonuses on top of their 25% commissions if they also recruit others into becoming consultants. However, this is where the issues start with being a PartyLite consultant.

Sales minimums, sponsored members and quotas- oh my!

The chart below shows potential commissions that a consultant can earn as she moves up the ranks. Initially, a 25% commission is earned on personal sales- the caveat, however, is that a minimum amount of $1K/month is required. A Team Builder earns a 32% commission, but only if she moves a minimum of $2,000 worth of product in that month and has two active consultants under her. Then, to reach 38% in commissions, the Unit Leader must reach a minimum of $2,000 in sales and have 4 active consultants under her and ensure the team makes a minimum of $5,000 in the same month.

This is a lot of work to earn the minimum combined commissions and bonuses of $250, $640 or $1,110, respectively.

All these requirements are noted in the following PartyLite graphic:

Should your host a party instead?

PartyLite also offers non-consultants the option of simply hosting a party in exchange for product credits and discounts. The idea is that if you book a party and host it, sales generated from that party will earn you credit towards free and/or reduced price product.

However, if you again read the fine print provided here, you are not only required to have a set minimum for product sales, you must also have one of your guests book a party of his own. Without a booking, you earn only 15% product credit.

That sounds like a lot of work for a free candle (maybe).

And speaking of candles and other PartyLite products…

PartyLite products ain’t cheap

Some people really love PartyLite products- their unique smells, their quality, etc. Personally, I have used PartyLite  products as well as similar products from Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works, and I have found all these products to be of similar variety and quality.

However, what I have also discovered is that, in comparison to PartyLite products, Yankee and Bath& Body Works items are priced much more affordably.

Looking at just one PartyLite item, the signature 3-wick jar candle, you’ll find the following prices posted:

In comparison, large Yankee candles are priced at $27.99, which is almost the same price for a lot more candle.

On the Bath & Body Works website, these 3-wick candles were priced at $22.50- and select 3-wick candles were only $15. Plus, the site was offering a promo code for $10 off a $30 purchase.

In fairness, the PartyLite website does feature an outlet area which showcases discounted products. However, that option poses an issue all its own: How will you, the consultant, be able to compete with a parent company that undercuts your own profit margin?

Should you pass on PartyLite?

PartyLite features unique scents and quality candle products and accessories. However, so do other companies like Yankee or Bath & Body Works- and for less money. PartyLite consultants are required to meet personal and team sales quotas before they get their cut of the profits. Finally, the company competes with its own consultants on price. With so many negatives around PartyLite, you’re better off passing on this business opportunity altogether.

Have you sold PartyLite products? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

Should You Start Selling Tupperware Products from Home?

Tupperware has been a household name for over 65 years and is arguably one of the founders of the direct marketing/MLM model business. Back in the 1950’s the company, via its VP of marketing, Brownie Wise, refined the “Party Plan” aspect of product selling, enabling Tupperware to achieve impressive yearly revenues. Successful Tupperware consultants were rewarded with lavish ‘jubilee’ events and sales awards, a tradition that continues to this day.

What is Tupperware all about?

Tupperware currently offers a line of kitchen accessories and food storage products that are not only functional and durable but even pretty to look at. The following photo showcases a representative group of Tupperware products:

Regular individuals can sign up to sell Tupperware from their home, office or even online. Such Tupperware consultants, as they are called, join the company by first purchasing a starter pack for $99. 

If a potential consultant doesn’t have the $99, there is the Confident Start Program, wherein one puts down only a $35 down payment. If that consultant then makes $1,000 or more in personal sales in his first 90 days, the remaining $64 is compensated for by the company.

Consultants make 25% commissions from product sales up to $1,500. After that amount, an additional 5% bonus is received from the company. At $10,000, the company bonus becomes 10%. So, a truly successful consultant can earn up to 35% in commissions even with no downline.

However, the downline, called a unit by Tupperware, enables consultants to earn even more money. Beginner consultants who recruit others are called managers and earn a percentage of sales from their unit up to three levels down. In addition, managers who achieve a team sales volume of at least $2,500 start earning an additional bonus, called the Vanguard Bonus. The Vanguard Bonus applies until managers exit their rank and become directors.

Once at director level, which actually consists of eight total levels, a different commission structure comes into play. Directors still earn 25% on their personal sales and up to 35% depending on sales volume. However, directors also earn a 6-8% bonus in commissionable team sales. This commissionable amount is calculated as 75% of team total sales. So, if a director’s team sells $20,000 of product, its commissionable sales will be $15,000, which will result in a personal bonus of $1,050/month.  

Obviously, using this bonus and incentives structure, higher level consultants are encouraged to motivate others to sell, and to sell more.

Tupperware’s MLM model

In the Tupperware MLM structure, each consultant, whether a beginner consultant, manager or director, is encouraged to complete three tasks on a regular basis:

Welcome and/or promote 1-2 consultants each week. This means that you are either recruiting 8 new consultants each month or, if you are a director, promoting consultants from within your team to higher level positions. At the top-level director positions, you are actually encouraging your already promoted consultants (i.e., managers and directors) to promote other consultants. Promotion means that these consultants are qualifying for those advanced positions via their selling and recruitment activities.

Host 2 personal parties each week. No matter what their level, all Tupperware consultants are expected to host parties per week in order to sell their expected volume.

Tupperware pros and cons

As with any business, there are positives and negatives to entering and working at Tupperware.

Pros:

Quality brand– Tupperware has decades of brand name recognition and there are very few complaints about its products.

Large market– Anyone who eats can use Tupperware products. Also, Tupperware items are often used for non-food storage purposes such as holding sewing kits, bait, office supplies, screws and nails, etc.

Generous recruitment commissions– If a consultant is talented at recruiting others to sell Tupperware, she can earn sizable bonuses on her team’s sales. Once sales reach the 100K to million dollar ranges, the bonuses include trips to exotic locales and even sports cars.

Cons:

Required quarterly volume– Consultants must sell at least $250 of product every 4 months or they are deactivated. While $250 in product sales doesn’t sound like a lot, it can become a pivotal factor if you need to take a break from selling because of a vacation, sickness, new baby or other disruption in your schedule.

Warm market emphasis– I’m not sure what information is presented at the events that Tupperware throws for its consultants; however, the content on its website is all about selling to one’s “warm” market (i.e., family and friends). Unfortunately, a warm market won’t sustain repeated and large volume sales. To truly become successful in an MLM, one must learn how to reach out to cold markets and have them buy- and buy repeatedly. It’s uncertain if Tupperware provides any sales training to this end.

High wholesale cost– Consultants purchase Tupperware products at only 25% off their suggested retail price. This is not a huge discount and creates a problem for consultants who may want to sell their products through a promotion or product discount. It also leads to the nagging question of who exactly is the real customer here, the consultant or their ‘customer?’

Discounted products– eBay, Amazon and even yard sales all offer lots of discounted Tupperware product. When one can purchase an entire box of pre-owned Tupperware for $25, why should he pay a consultant ten times that amount for brand new items?

Tupperware is a great product but a so-so business

Tupperware is sold in almost 100 countries and its quality is known the world over. Supposedly, 9/10 households in the U.S. own at least one Tupperware product. Frankly, the bright colors and unique designs of Tupperware containers make them fun to use.

However, selling Tupperware as a personal business is fraught with risk. To begin with, the wholesale inventory isn’t cheap- and if it doesn’t sell, one is stuck with some rather expensive product. Also, selling successfully requires a large customer base, not just one’s network of friends and relatives. Finally, it doesn’t appear that Tupperware teaches its consultants how to vary their selling strategies to include online advertisement, brick-and-mortar stores, kiosks, fairs and trade shows, etc.

Do you currently sell or have you sold Tupperware as a consultant? Please leave a comment about your experiences below.

Should You Become a Pampered Chef Consultant?

If you like to cook or bake, then you may have heard of Pampered Chef.

This company was started in 1980 by Doris Christopher and offers several lines of cookware, bakeware, food products, cookbooks and kitchen accessories. Here is a sampling of just a few products that Pampered Chef offers:

Pampered Chef Products

One of the notable facts about this company is that, in 2002, it was purchased by Berkshire Hathaway. So, Pampered Chef is actually owned by Warren Buffett.

Another notable fact about Pampered Chef is that it’s an MLM (multi-level marketing) company. In other words, the company contracts with private individuals, who are called consultants, to sell its products. These consultants sell the company’s products at house parties, craft fairs, or online. Consultants’ customers can range from complete strangers to family members and friends.

Pampered Chef consultants can be just about anyone- your neighbor, boss, or colleague at work. Even you. So…should you consider Pampered Chef as your side or full-time work gig?

Getting started with Pampered Chef

Enrolling with Pampered Chef requires a purchase of a starter kit. There are three kit sizes ranging in price from $109 to $249. Within each kit, you receive an assortment of kitchen bakeware, cookware and accessories. You also receive marketing collateral such as brochures, catalogs, sales receipts, invitations, thank you cards, etc.

Pampered Chef Kits

Incidentally, if you don’t want to, or simply can’t shell out $100-$200 for a starter kit, Pampered Chef offers host credits to consultants who host a party. These credits can be used to knock off up to $50 from your starter kit.

Pampered Chef consultants also have the option of creating a company-supported website; the charge for this service is $10/month. Unless you have a lot of current customers who are just dying to buy a bundt pan, your best bet is to snag new customers by advertising products online.

Depending on their volume, Pampered Chef consultants earn 20-25% commissions from the sales of their products to others. The following table outlines how the sales volumes, expected work hours and commissions work:

Pampered Chef Commissions

Consultants can also earn 3% bonus commissions from any individuals whom they recruit and who then go on to also sell Pampered Chef products.

Pampered Chef offers a good line of products which are backed by a 30-day return policy. The company also offers discounts to its consultants for selling products and for hosting parties- even virtual (i.e., social media) parties. So, are these incentives and the overall compensation plan worth becoming involved with this company?

The good:

Broad market base– Pampered Chef offers several lines of kitchen products that can be used by just anyone in the world. Whether you choose to sell online or in person, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who can’t use a spatula or a cake pan.

Quality products- This company prides itself on offering great products, some of which come with lifetime guarantees. Additionally, the company has a 30-day “no questions asked” return policy.

Consultant discounts– When you host virtual/in-home parties, you can score product discounts with the following party sales:

Pampered Chef Discounts

So, if you like Pampered Chef products, hosting parties is one way to get them (more) cheaply.

Stability– Pampered Chef has been around for decades and, much like Tupperware, is a viable household name. It’s also part of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies. Unlike some MLMs, this company is not about to go bankrupt or close down anytime soon, leaving you with a bunch of inventory you can’t sell.

No inventory– Speaking of inventory, Pampered Chef consultants don’t have to store it in their homes. Aside from the starter kit components, all orders placed by consultants are delivered directly to the consumers through the company.

The not-so-good:

Expensive products– Pampered Chef products are not cheap by any measure. For example, this stainless steel steamer costs $17.50. Is it really any better than a similar stainless steel steamer that I can purchase at Wal-Mart for $11.56?

Pampered Chef Stainless Steel Steamer

Walmart Stainless Steel Steamer

Your “warm market”– Pampered Chef strongly encourages consultants to sell to their “warm market;” in other words, their relatives and friends. This approach might work initially, such as during the first virtual/house party, but then what? Consultants need to cast a much wider net than their “warm market” or their “warm market” will soon become the “oh no, not another Pampered Chef party” market.

Low commissions– As mentioned on other MLM review posts, commissions that are 30% or below make it more challenging for the consultant to earn a viable full-time or even part-time income because it is difficult to launch effective promos or product discounts. As such, one has no real advantage against the glut of other Pampered Chef consultants, or even other third-party kitchenware companies.

Market saturation– Pampered Chef products are offered on Amazon, on eBay, and on many other websites set up by consultants- so why is anyone going to pick you out of this crowd of established sellers? Furthermore, consultants who have leftover inventory and just want to leave the business often post their wares online. These can be found at a significant discount, compared to the actual retail cost of those items.

Party costs- Eating and cooking are sensory experiences that cannot be fully enjoyed just by going to a computer and landing on a social media page. To truly make the bucks in this business, you will need to host actual home parties and, preferably, cooking demonstrations. Such events will not be cheap, and they will certainly not take up the few hours per week that are advertised on the Pampered Chef website.

Is Pampered Chef worthwhile?

Overall, Pampered Chef does not offer the benefits that come with the efforts involved in selling its products. You may want to try hosting a party just to score some product discounts for yourself. But doing this line of work as a business will test your patience and your personal finances. Furthermore, the market is already glutted with kitchen products and accessories, which makes your late entry even more of a challenge. Overall, you are better off seeking other business opportunities elsewhere.

Have you had any experiences with Pampered Chef as either a buyer or seller? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Should You Start a Paparazzi Accessories Jewelry Business from Home?

There are many direct sales MLM jewelry businesses like Paparazzi Accessories to choose from, including Park Lane, KEEP Collective, etc.

All of these businesses offer their representative contractors the opportunity to make a profit by selling jewelry directly to their friends, relatives, neighbors, etc.

The profits are made when reps purchase wholesale jewelry from the business and then sell it to others at a marked up price. In some cases, the business may already have a suggested selling price that all the reps adhere to; in other cases, reps have more personal discretion at marking up their merchandise.

Most jewelry MLMs require that their reps first purchase starter packages that enable them to enroll in the business and give them some product to sell. Starter package prices vary depending on what amount and type of merchandise is included, as well as add-ons such as software, website(s), order forms, business cards, etc.

With all these jewelry businesses to choose from, it pays to shop around and compare MLM businesses on their starter packages, profit margins, commissions, and terms.

One MLM jewelry business you may have heard of is Paparazzi Accessories.

What is Paparazzi Accessories?

Paparazzi Accessories is a direct sales jewelry business that was started by sisters Misty and Chani and prides itself on offering the majority of its jewelry items for the retail price of just $5. The jewelry items range from necklaces to bracelets to rings to earrings- and more. Here are a few example pieces available on the Paparazzi website:

Paparazzi Accessories Jewelry

Paparazzi consultants who join the business and sell their products earn an impressive 45% commission, which is hard to find in direct sales MLMs. The norm for most MLMs is 25%.

Paparazzi Accessories Benefits

Furthermore, Paparazzi consultants earn even higher commissions if they recruit other consultants under them.

Consultants can earn percent commissions from recruits that are up to three levels below them. So, first level recruits would be those individuals that were personally recruited, second level recruits would be consultants that the first level recruits recruited, and third level recruits would be consultants that second level consultants recruited.

Paparazzi Accessories Team

How do you start a Paparazzi business?

Anyone who is interested in becoming a consultant must purchase a start kit from the company. There are three starter kit sizes to choose from, including preview, small and large.

Paparazzi Accessories Starter Kit

This all sounds good in theory…but is it?

The good:

High commissions- Paparazzi definitely offers a higher than average commission to its consultants. This enables them to take a more liberal approach to pricing and promotion strategies. On Facebook, you can find quite a few Paparazzi online parties, with consultants advertising all kinds of discounts and freebies (e.g., buy 4 get 1 free).

High bonuses- Other MLMs pay out 2-5% on recruit sales. With Paparazzi, you instantly earn 5% on the sales generated by your direct recruits. Once you surpass three recruits, your bonus is bumped up to 10%. This makes having a downline very profitable for the consultant.

Cheap products- Jewelry is, arguably, one of the most evergreen products out there. People buy jewelry regardless of need or personal financial situation. And because Paparazzi jewelry is priced at just $5, it becomes an easy impulse purchase for just about anyone.

The not-so-good:

Required bulk purchases– Paparazzi consultants must buy their jewelry packages in bulk, after which they sell their inventory at fairs, at home parties, or online. When a consultant orders a bulk jewelry package, this is what she might receive:

Paparazzi Accessories Kit

Because individual pieces cannot be purchased, this leads to some inventory not getting sold due to low popularity, inability to match/accessorize, etc. For example, if a consultant had a customer who wanted 10 sets of a certain earring, necklace and bracelet, she would be hard-pressed to have that much inventory on hand to make a sale.

Update: I have been corrected. As pointed out in the comments below, you no longer have to make bulk purchases.

Levels are sales-driven– Paparazzi consultants who wish to ascend the ranks and earn bonuses from their recruits need to not only fulfill a given amount of personal sales (or PV for personal volume), they also must eventually have a set amount of sales from their team (or OV for organizational volume). This is a monthly requirement, by the way- in other words, if in a given month you do not meet your PV and/or OV requirements, you slide down the ranks and lose out on potential bonuses.

Minimum monthly cost– According to Paparazzi, each $5 in sales provides 2 PV. So, to even ascend to the Star Consultant level, you need to sell 25 pieces of jewelry in that month. Now, if the total amount of revenue for 50 PV is $125 ($5 x 25 pieces), and the basic commission is 45%, that means you’ll need to pay $56.25 each month for a jewelry package that you can mark up.

So, while the company bonus is a ‘nice’ thing to have, it will cost you a monthly fee to obtain and maintain.

Is Paparazzi a worthwhile business to start?

Many MLMs are operated by stay-at-home parents and spouses who have some extra time on their hands. The money that is earned via the MLM is side income that is not the primary income of the household.

At least, that’s the theory.

In many cases, MLM contractors and reps end up investing significantly more money into the business than they end up earning through their sales. Also, it takes a lot of work to keep hitting people up for purchases of non-essential items like jewelry. A good majority of MLM reps are burned out and done after putting in about two years into their business. Many of these reps have extra inventory they can’t sell, or that they sell at a loss. The only sure winner in all this is the MLM itself, which has managed to clear out its own inventory to its main buyers, the distributors (i.e., reps).

Have you had experiences with Paparazzi as either a buyer or a seller? Please let us know in the comments below!

Is India Hicks a “Safer” MLM to Invest In?

In the wide, wide world of MLMs, you can choose from businesses that sell everything from jewelry to food to clothing to financial services. Membership rules and compensation plans vary widely with MLMs, so it pays to do your research and find the one with the biggest benefits, best merchandise and lowest risks.

One of those MLMs might in fact be India Hicks.

Who and what is India Hicks?

India Hicks is a direct sales MLM that was started by the former fashion model India Hicks in 2015. This MLM markets higher-end bags, beauty products and accessories, akin to those that would be reputably be found at stores like Bergdorf Goodman. The prices for India Hicks products range from $16-$480, although, according to the site, at least 75% of the items cost under $100.

You can purchase India Hicks products directly from the website; however, the site’s message strongly encourages that people join its ranks as “Ambassadors,” and then sell the company’s merchandise through events called “Get Togethers.” These Get Togethers entail hosting parties at one’s home or inviting people out to an event at a restaurant, bar, park, etc.

How do you join India Hicks?

To join this direct sales MLM, you must first purchase a starter kit from the company. There are three starter kit sizes: The Baby, which costs $99, The Booty, which costs $449, and Big Kahuna, which costs $749. These kits contain different amounts of product plus business items such as order forms, brochures, catalogs and fabric samples.

In addition to the kit costs, Ambassadors pay a monthly fee of $12.95 for a website that can be populated with India Hicks products. This website also contains training modules, product images, etc.

The India Hicks compensation plan

India Hicks Ambassadors are rewarded with 25% commissions on sold merchandise. They also earn 6-10% commissions on the sales of their recruits.

So, is the India Hicks MLM the right business opportunity for you? Here are the pros and cons of this business and the selling model it’s set up on:

The good:

No sales pressure: India Hicks ambassadors are not pressured to sell a given volume of merchandise or have their memberships deactivated.

Training: India Hicks ambassadors are provided with online and live training courses, as well as course materials including documents, videos and graphics. They are also in contact with their sponsor and other ambassadors.

Generous opt-out policy: If an ambassador decided that the program is not for her, she can return all her purchased merchandise and the company will credit it at 90% or higher of its original net cost for up to a year after its purchase.

The not-so-good:

Expensive goods: While 75% of India Hicks items are advertised as costing $100 or less, that still doesn’t put them in impulse purchase territory. Ambassadors who really want to push product will need to target wealthier consumers who can afford to splurge on an expensive purse or set of body lotions.

Lack of originality: India Hicks products appear to be of higher-end quality and fabrication, but they do not appear unique enough to generate universal appeal. Here is a sampling of items that the company produces and sells:

Frankly, with sites like Gilt Groupe, Fab and HauteLook, it will be difficult to convince anyone but diehard India Hicks fans that these pieces are fashion musts and/or incredibly original products.

Get Togethers: India Hicks emphasizes that ambassadors host Get Togethers, which are essentially home parties, to showcase merchandise and motivate people to buy. Unless you enjoy bringing strangers into your home every week, you’ll soon find yourself tiring of constant houseguests. Furthermore, it’s not free to host a party, yet those costs aren’t detailed on the India Hicks website, nor are they compensated.

Lower than average commissions: By receiving just 25% in commissions, you won’t find it easy to periodically discount your merchandise or have promotions. This will make it harder to garner in those impulse purchase consumers. Alternately, you’ll find yourself chasing after your friends and family members in order to enrol

Your market is small: India Hicks merchandise is marketed to women only. So, you’re cutting out 49% of your available worldwide market right from the start. Furthermore, while the site says that any woman, whether 18 or 80, could use the India Hicks merchandise, speaking from an economy and name recognition standpoint, your market will consist mainly of women from 45-60 years of age.

Is India Hicks a worthwhile direct sales MLM?

As noted from the start of this post, there are many MLMs one can choose to work with, each offering different benefits and risks. India Hicks appears to be at the higher end of the MLM scale, which may be useful if your typical crowd has more disposable income or is really into British fashions and designers. Otherwise, you will be hard put to sell expensive women’s accessories to a population that may not even know who this person is, and may not even care. Overall, when it comes to enrolling in any MLM, you’re better off finding a different business opportunity.

Is a Park Lane Jewelry Business a Good Investment of Your Time?

Park Lane Jewelry was founded in 1955 by Arthur and Shirely LeVin and calls itself “the world’s leading direct sales jewelry party plan company.” It is based in Schaumburg, Illinois. Similar jewelry companies to Park Lane include Lia Sophia (now closed), Silpada, Premier Designs and Stella & Dot.

This higher end jewelry company offers bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, watches, and more through its website and its representatives, the latter of which go by the moniker of “Fashion Directors.” The company also states that its jewelry is backed by an unconditional guarantee.

How does Park Lane Operate?

Direct sales companies do not deal with retailers. Instead, they contract with private individuals who sell the merchandise directly from the company. In so doing, these individuals become wholesale distributors and mark up the merchandise as they deem appropriate in order to make a profit.

With Park Lane, individuals who wish to become such distributors pay $39 to join the company. They then select one of three starter kits. The first kit is the “Free Kit”- provided you make $600 in sales to cover its cost. The next kit is the same as the Free Kit except that you pay $129 for it and do not worry about generating any sales. The last kit is the Presidential Kit, which costs $500 and includes a huge assortment of jewelry and supplies.

Fashion Directors who manage to sell their purchased inventory make a 30% commission on their goods. That commission increases to as much as 50% depending on sales volume or the number of recruited Fashion Directors on one’s team. Interestingly, the company reports that it has no MLM-type multilevels, and commissions are earned from all the members of one’s team.

Unfortunately, the company’s website doesn’t show how the commissions are calculated and how much sales volume or recruitment is required to kick earnings up to 50%.

About that unconditional guarantee…

Park Lane Jewelry pieces are guaranteed to be free of defects for up to 120 days after purchase. What that means is that the customer or Fashion Director can send a piece back to the company for an exchange or replacement and pay nothing on shipment or handling. After 120 days, a $7 or $12 handling fee is added to jewelry or watch items, respectively.

Cash refunds are also possible if the items are returned within 30 days of their purchase and are accompanied by a receipt.

Minimal pressure to sell

Some direct sales companies require that the rep sell a given volume of merchandise or face deactivation of her membership in the program. With Park Lane, Jewelry Directors can work when they want and collect their 30% commissions as time allows. Leaders who have actually recruited Jewelry Directors must host two parties or recruit one team member per month in order to continue earning commissions from their team’s sales.

Is Park Lane a worthwhile business opportunity?

With so many business opportunities out there, you may be wondering if Park Lane is a worthwhile investment of your time.

The good:

Straightforward commission structure- It seems that Park Lane is not into building downlines of downlines, as is the case with a majority of direct sales companies. Granted, recruits are always welcome and also earn the Jewelry Director an extra commission. However, it appears that the company places a greater emphasis on actually having its reps simply sell jewelry.

High quality merchandise– There are many direct sales jewelry companies out there, offering jewelry and other accessories. Hands down, Park Lane has a larger assortment of high-end jewelry pieces, with some of its pieces costing as much as $400.

Open work schedule– Park Lane is more flexible than most direct sales companies when it says that its reps can work when and how much they want to. There is no rep deactivation. Also, the fee to join the company is fairly low when compared to other companies.

Incentives– Park Lane members can enroll in incentives programs to earn trips to locales such as Aruba. They are also eligible to work towards a Mercedes. The company has contests and drawings for such prizes as well.

The not-so-good:

Expensive jewelry– Jewelry purchases, especially at home parties, are often a spur-of-the-moment thing. One does not consider spending $5 or $10 on a piece of costume jewelry. However, Park Lane’s jewelry is more expensive on average than that of other direct sales companies. So, customers may hesitate and not purchase merchandise.

Parties, parties and more parties- Park Lane emphasizes that parties are the way to snag customers and make them purchase merchandise. These parties do not necessarily have to happen at one’s home, but they need to happen. As such, reps will be spending time and money to host parties, and these expenses are not accounted for by the company.

No guarantee of income– Working for a direct sales company can sometimes feel like shooting fish in a bucket. You may host a lot of parties. You may get a lot of interest in the merchandise. You may even get a few orders…followed by silence and requests for refunds. In short, there is no actual guarantee that you can rely on this side gig for income or even side income.

In MLM world, Park Lane is better than most, but…

It’s still not a recommended side business to get into because it’s hard to predict how much you will earn as one of its Jewelry Directors. Furthermore, you’ll be traveling far and wide to locate customers who have deeper pockets and can afford jewelry pieces that cost several hundred dollars.

Have you bought or sold Park Lane Jewelry? Please let us know in the comments below!

Is a Tastefully Simple Business Really that Simple?

If you like to cook and experiment with new recipes, you may have considered starting a Tastefully Simple business from your home. Maybe one of your friends or coworkers even recommended Tastefully Simple to you.

What is Tastefully Simple?

Tastefully Simple (TS) was founded in 1995 by Jill Blashack Strahan and Joani Nielson and offers food items, seasonings, recipes and cook-at-home meal kits. The company operates as an MLM and hires contractors, called consultants, to advertise, demonstrate and sell its products. TS consultants may be found selling their wares at festivals and trade shows, at home parties, or even online.

These are but a few of the products that TS advertises on its main website:

How do you start as a Tastefully Simple consultant?

TS consultants can join the company by purchasing one of these three join kits:

  • A 30-meal kit that costs $200.
  • A $69.95 10-meal kit in a choice of Family Faves, Fix It Fast or Easy Grillin.
  • Any other qualifying meal kit.

In addition to buying a meal kit, the new consultant also pays a $39.95 join fee.

Is Tastefully Simple a good business investment?

The TS website doesn’t provide a lot of information about how much money its consultants can earn or how much of a commission they earn once they recruit other team members and rise up in the TS ranks. However, one piece of info that is noted on the website is that consultants earn 30% on the items they sell.

Consultants also earn the following rewards if they host a party and sell a given volume of product:

There are additional incentives offered to consultants who sell lots of product or recruit many downline consultants. Trips to tropical locations, for example, are touted as one of the incentives of being a TS superstar.

So, what stands out about Tastefully Simple in terms of its pros and cons?

The good:

Good quality products– TS food products are advertised as being as natural as possible, gluten-free, etc. In effect, I would expect to find TS stocked on the shelves of Whole Foods or some other natural foods store.

Market saturation is harder– Unlike jewelry, clothing or candles, food is consumed on a regular basis. As such, you are less likely to saturate your market with TS products once you’ve sold to all available customers. Sure, you may have to wait a week or two before advertising to the same clientele…but eventually cake mixes, sauce packets and spice jars are used up and people are hungry again.

Products transparency- Some food-based MLMs showcase finished meals and other foods on ther websites without telling the consumer that she isn’t getting the actual portrayed food, just the seasonings or sauces. TS makes a good effort to emphasize that it isn’t selling entire meals, just the kits and additives to make them.

Food items are listed with ingredients as well as customer reviews. For example, here is the information on the Brown Sugar & Maple Bacon Seasoning:

The not-so-good:

Products aren’t cheap– In general, TS products are pricier than those found in a regular grocery store. For example, the spice jars on TS run almost $10. In contrast, McCormick seasonings at a Kroger store cost $4-$8.

Unfortunately, as is the case with most MLMs, products must be priced higher if consultants are to be paid a commission. The company must also make a profit.

Products are consumed- As a TS consultant, you’ll soon learn that you need to spend money on products in order to make money on products. As you host parties and give out food samples, you’ll run low on your initially ordered TS kit(s). So, you’ll find yourself ordering more kits as time goes on.

The silver lining to this is the fact that you’ll score free and 50% off products as you sell a given volume of TS products at your hosted parties. So, those free and reduced cost items will at least partly cover your supplies. On the downside, you’ll need to continually order products even if you never sell anything for TS.

You can be deactivated- In the TS legal agreement, there is the following stated term: “I agree to maintain a minimum of $200.00 of Part One Retail orders, less credits, per quarter. In the event that I fail to have and place the required quarterly minimum, the Company need not provide any written or electronic notice that this Agreement has been terminated.”

So, if you don’t purchase and/or sell at least $800 of product each year with TS, you won’t be an active member.

Parties are a must– Food is a sensory experience, meaning that customers are more likely to purchase a food item once they’ve tasted it. As such, you’ll need to host house parties in order to move product. Given that TS even rewards you based on how much product you move at a house party, you may not even have the option of not hosting parties on a regular basis.

There’s a website fee- TS Consultants who wish to list products on their own TS-sponsored website must pay a $10.95 monthly fee for the website. Additionally, consultant must pay $29.95/month for the ecommerce platform that connects to their website.

Tastefully Simple is a business pass

In a world of many upon many business opportunities, Tastefully Simple simply costs too much money and time to be a feasible long-term business. TS is a business you may wish to shop from while compiling your family’s dinner plans; however, buying the actual business requires that you devote all your spare time to hosting parties, cooking, shopping for groceries, and making sure your stockpile of products doesn’t go bad or become contaminated.

Have you sold products for Tastefully Simple? Please leave your comments about this business opportunity below.

Should You Become a Pink Zebra Consultant?

If you’ve attended any kind of arts and crafts trade show, especially during the holidays, you may have already seen Pink Zebra. Or maybe you were approached by a Pink Zebra consultant and introduced to this company and its products.

Maybe at some point you even signed up to be a Pink Zebra consultant.

Regardless, I’m going to review Pink Zebra and go over the pros and cons of signing up with this company in order to work from home as one of its independent consultants.

What is Pink Zebra?

Pink Zebra is a relatively new business on the scene, having been founded in 2011. The company operates as an MLM direct sales organization, meaning that it sells through independent contractors, not employees. These contractors, who are called consultants, are compensated with commissions when they sell product and when they recruit other consultants. Because those recruited consultants eventually recruit other consultants, the original consultants at the top of this many-leveled marketing pyramid can make significantly more money from their recruits than their own individual sales.

Pink Zebra sells several lines of products focused on home décor, jewelry and personal care. One of its signature product lines is Sprinkles, which are fragranced soy wax beads used to create custom candles. The Sprinkles are sold in cylindrical jars, as shown below:

You can purchase several jars of Sprinkles and mix them together when creating a unique candle scent. Once all the mixing is done, you just add a wick and have your candle.

In addition to Sprinkles, Pink Zebra also offers scented jewelry, candle containers and shades, wax simmer pots, air freshener hangers and clips, and select bath products.

The company’s online catalog for these products is extensive. There’s even an outlet area, complete with clearance merchandise.

Other sections of the website are devoted to recruitment of independent consultants. Signing up as a consultant is heavily encouraged, and the rewards of becoming a consultant are also strongly touted.

What are Pink Zebra consultants?

Pink Zebra consultant are contractors who sign up with the company to sell its products via direct (person-to-person) sales. Consultants can sell Pink Zebra wares by hosting parties, by posting their products on social media platforms, or by conducting private one-on-one consults.

Consultants sign up to Pink Zebra by buying one of two starter kits. The smaller kits is $99, while the larger one is $199.

Inside these kits, the consultant gets small batches of Sprinkles products, marketing materials, invoice pads, catalogs, etc. The deluxe kit comes with the blue-gray Boho candle shade shown in the photo and Pink Zebra backpack.

Consultants are compensated at with 25%-35% commissions depending on their product sales volumes. This is a fairly good commission level given that it does not yet involve any recruitment.

However, if a consultant were to personally recruit someone else, s/he would earn quite a hefty 7% commission from that recruit’s future product sales.

Commissions continue to build as recruited consultants personally recruit other consultants.

Pink Zebra consultants earn an additional 2% on their team’s sales.

Pink Zebra also offers online training videos, monthly webinars and access to a Web-based workstation called “ZebraNET” for tracking orders, tracking your team’s progress and accessing your training tools.

Pink Zebra: As good as it sounds?

All the above-noted commissions and training materials make Pink Zebra sound like a really decent at-home business opportunity. Here’s my breakdown of the pros and cons of this business.

The good:

Good quality products– The soy candle Sprinkles and other products offered through this company appear to be of good quality. One of the company’s videos even goes over how eco-friendly and safe the products are for everyday use. The candle shades and holders offer some quirky yet applicable designs for home use to “out-in-the-sticks” cabin use.

Higher than average commissions– Pink Zebra states that its commissions are higher than those of its competitors, and it’s right. This is also one of the benefits of working with a relatively young MLM company. As you can see, no one has even advanced to the level of Presidential Director (as of 2015):

The not-so-good:

Low earnings– To its credit, Pink Zebra discloses the 2015 numbers for average consultant earnings in the above graphic. Unfortunately, this graphic also shows just how little money the average beginner consultant earns. Even managers, who have two downlines, don’t earn much more than $6K/year.

This hints that each consultant may only have recruited one additional consultant under him/her. As a result, the Pink Zebra marketing pyramid may be extremely thin.

Parties, parties and more parties– Pink Zebra is strongly based on a home party model. While it is mentioned that you can sell online or through fundraisers, the company emphasizes how much more money you’ll earn through parties.

The problem with having two parties each week is that that entails a lot of work. House cleaning, prepping food/drinks, inviting guests, post-party cleanup…there’s a big reason why people don’t want to host parties at their house. Even during those obligatory house party holidays like Easter or Christmas.

In the above graphic, Pink Zebra states that, somehow, having eight parties each month will take only 25 total hours or about 3 hours per party. Somehow, I find that hard to believe. Food prep alone takes a few hours. For a Pink Zebra party, I would also need time to prepare product samples, lay out ordering forms, process orders, etc.

Also, after hosting one or two house parties, who would be left to invite (again)?

eBay is booked– I did a quick search on Pink Zebra products for sale on eBay. To my surprise, I located over 70,000 listings. In some cases, the products being listed on eBay were going at far below their retail value on the Pink Zebra website. This tells me that some consultants are dropping out of the program- and creating a sales hole for other active consultants who still wish to sell their products at full price.

Buy Pink Zebra products, not the business

Pink Zebra offers quirky, unique and good quality products. However, its business model may not be as lucrative as advertised. Also, for the work you’ll be required to put in to make that $1,120/month in profit, you’re better off starting a different online business instead. Finally, even $1,120/month does not make for a full-time wage, so you’ll be keeping your regular job.

Have you experienced Pink Zebra as a customer or a sales rep? Let us know how it went in the comments below.

Does it Make Sense to Start a Scentsy Business?

If you’ve ever been invited to a Scentsy party, you may already be aware of this company and its brand. However, you may not be aware of how the company operates and what the motivating factors of its consultants might be. If you’re considering becoming a Scentsy consultant, this review will help make your decision easier.

What is Scentsy?

Scentsy was started in 2003 by Orville and Heidi Thompson and is now headquartered in Meridian, Idaho. The company operates via a direct sales model, meaning that most product sales are conducted through word-of-mouth and product demonstrations at home. Scentsy is also an MLM because current distributors recruit new distributors and make a commission from their sales.

Scentsy, which used to be officially called Scentsy Family, offered three product lines:

Scentsy Fragrance– warmers, fragrances, stuffed animals, laundry products, greeting cards.

Velata– fondue warmers, chocolate.

Grace Adele– purses and bags, clutches, clothing accessories.

In 2014, Grace Adele was discontinued; in 2016, Velata was shut down. The company then became Scentsy Fragrance. The company changed its name to Scentsy Fragrance, but still operates under the Scentsy Family corporate name.

Scentsy Fragrance continues to offer scented lotions, scrubs, laundry detergents, room sprays, cards, etc. One of their best-known product lines is the wax warmers, which includes a plug-in warmer containing wax cubes. Once those cubes warm up, the room fills with fragrance.

The products are actually of a decent quality and do smell good. I know this because I have received some of the waxes as gifts. Comparable quality items would include those that could be purchased from stores like Yankee Candle Co or Bath & Body Works.

You can purchase Scentsy products by going online and shopping on the company’s website. However, the company strongly encourages those individuals who are really interested in the products to become “fragrance consultants.”

What are Scentsy Consultants?

Consultants for Scentsy sell products for the company by signing up and purchasing a $99 startup kit. The items includes in this kit “include EVERYTHING you need to launch your business, including fabulous Scentsy products and business tools…”

Not much more detail is provided beyond that.

Once you do become a Scentsy consultant, you are advised to sell company products by hosting house parties and advertising online, especially through social media platforms  like Facebook and Instagram. What’s in it for you?

The company compensates you with a 20% commission for your Personal Retail Volume (PRV) of up to $999.99. In other words, if you sell $999.99 worth of products, you earn almost $200. If you sell $1,000 worth of products or more, you make a 25% commission.

Because you don’t ever earn more than 25% on your PRV, you are motivated to recruit others into becoming Scentsy consultants. Through your downline, you earn anywhere from 2% to 9% via their product sales. In turn, those consultants are encouraged to recruit other consultants so that they also build their downline and kick up more earnings to you.

Is Scentsy a worthwhile business venture?

As with all MLM and direct sale companies, Scentsy requires that you be comfortable approaching others and selling products and/or consultant opportunities to them. Where does Scentsy excel in this arena, and where does it fall behind?

The good:

Product quality– The company’s products are of good quality, have a pleasant smell, and are fairly safe to use.

Product relevance– Scentsy markets its line of fragrance product to women, men and kids. So, you are cornering almost every portion of the available consumer base.

Rewards– If you like Scentsy products, one way to score a deal on them is by selling them to others. If you choose to do this online and have a large following, you could end up making several hundred dollars in party sales. In addition to making 20%-25% in commissions, you’d also gain access to the following rewards:

The not-so-good:

Commissions– The chart below is derived from 2014 data that appear with the Scentsy business disclaimer. Commissions are shown for all levels of Scentsy consultants, from Escential (beginner) to Superstar Director (a Scentsy god).

It appears that the majority of Scentsy consultants are placed at the Certified Consultants level. This is the level where a consultant has sold $1,000 or more of product but has no downline (other consultants). So, these consultants are basically pulling in 25% commissions on their sales.

Scentsy Commission Earnings

As noted in other direct sales/MLM reviews, a low commission makes it difficult to not only earn a sustainable monthly income from a business, it limits your ability to launch product promos and discounts. And, not to mention, recruit other (new) consultants too.

Recruitment– What’s really disheartening about Scentsy is that, no matter how much product you sell each month, you can’t increase your commission beyond 25% unless you recruit other consultants. In fact, at the very top level consultant position, you can earn up to another 44% in commissions from your downlines in addition to the 25% you already earn on your own sales. With that kind of money flowing in, it becomes much easier to run promos, ads, discounts, etc.- and still make a healthy profit from your sales.

Scentsy is a great product, not a great business

Scentsy products smell great and come in a number of attractive scents and unique designs. However, that’s where the greatness stops. By all means, shop Scentsy for your home, office, garage, car, etc. fragrance needs. But do not shop this company if your intent is to start an at-home business venture.

Have you started a Scentsy business? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Should You Start Your Own At-Home Jewelry Business with KEEP Collective?

Judging by its own descriptor, KEEP Collective sounds great: You get to design your own personalized keepsake jewelry. Also, you help others design their keepsake jewelry and make a commission from your sales.

KEEP Collective has a very catchy slogan: “Design your own jewelry business from home.”

So, is it worth your time and money to get involved with KEEP Collective? Let’s find out.

What is KEEP Collective?

This direct sales company was founded in 2014 by Blythe and Jessica, who, the website story goes, quit their corporate jobs to start KEEP Collective. The company itself sells personalized keepsake jewelry through a direct sales model, meaning that it hires independent contractors, called designers, who purchase company inventory and sell it to their personal customers. There’s also an MLM side to the business because designers can recruit other designers and make commissions from their sales.

KEEP Collective sells two main lines of products, called Keepers and Charms. The Keepers are the base of the jewelry item, such as a bracelet, earring, bag, key fob or necklace. To these Keepers, one can add specific charms like birthstones, engraved metal plates, lockets, timepieces, etc.

The Keepers range in price from $29 to $49 and are made from either leather or silicone. Necklaces range from $19 to $79. Bags are three sizes and range from $29 to $79. These prices do not include the charms.

Once you have your Keeper selected, you can purchase different charms for personalization. Charms range from $9 to $34.

While you can shop the website and purchase your jewelry online, the company heavily promotes direct selling to others by becoming a “jewelry designer.”

You become a jewelry designer by first purchasing a starter kit from the company. There are three sizes of starter kits. The Basics Kit retails for $99 and provides you with a personal website, training and support. You do not receive any actual products to sell, however.

The Essentials Kit costs $149 and includes everything in the Basics Kit, $500 worth of Keepers and Charms, a display tray and a leather swatch ring.

The Business Builder Kit costs $349, includes everything in the Basics Kit, $1,000 worth of Keepers and Charms, a display tray and a leather swatch ring. You also receive a foldable neck display, three display pillows and five gift bags.

Once any one of the kits is purchased, the newly-minted ‘jewelry designer’ can start her marketing. In this regard, most designers use social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to promote their jewelry. Of course, designers can also host parties, whether in their homes or online. Likewise, each designer has a website she can use for promotions and announcements.

What is the KEEP Collective compensation plan?

With KEEP Collective, designers make back 25%-35% of their sales volume as commission. As the below chart shows, designers can technically make enough commission money to actually replace their job income.

Designers also earn commissions by recruiting other designers and building their team (i.e., downline). Downline levels go down as deep as six levels, enabling designers to earn up to 6% from the sales of others.

Is KEEP Collective a worthwhile business?

The good:

The product is nice. Keepers and Charms, as well as the bags and other items from KEEP Collective, look very presentable and can be worn for both casual and formal events. They are each unique in that they are customizable, and so are perfect for events like weddings, graduations, etc.

The company is young. Because KEEP Collective was started only three years ago, it has not yet reached complete market saturation. So, if you can recruit others and/or sell a lot of product, you can rise relatively easily in the ranks. As the below map shows, there is still room to grow.

The not-so-good:

The items aren’t cheap. To create a single Keeper and Charm jewelry item for yourself, you’ll need to spend anywhere from $28 to over $100. The bracelet Keepers are made from relatively inexpensive materials such as leather and silicone, so it makes no sense why they are priced as high as $49.

This means that it will be difficult to sell vast quantities of jewelry to all but the more affluent of customers who don’t mind shelling out a few hundred bucks on keepsake jewelry. KEEP Collective will not be an impulse purchase, that’s for sure.

The commissions aren’t high enough. Making 25%-35% in commissions is kind of ridiculous when you consider that you’re the one marketing the products, selling them, hosting parties, collecting payment and maybe even shipping the pieces out. If you’re going to perform three or more jobs for a company, you should start making commissions that are at least 50% (or higher.)

Also, without higher commissions, designers are limited in what kinds of promos and discounts they can offer. A designer can’t run a 50% off deal, for example, or at least not very easily, because then she’s making very little money for herself.

Are designers bailing? If you search for KEEP Collective on eBay, you’ll find loads of items priced at rock-bottom prices. Here are just some eBay listings for KEEP Collective items that are running way below retail value:

For a relatively young company, having over 1,000 eBay listings featuring heavily discounted merchandise is a troubling sign.

Don’t keep KEEP Collective

If you’re interested in creating custom jewelry for yourself and others, you could easily dropship many KEEP-like items from AliExpress and save yourself a ton of cash. You could even try selling off your excess items and see how well others like them. With AliExpress, you have lots of custom jewelry to choose from, as just this one listing indicates:

Quite honestly, you could even start your own KEEP Collective business, paying others a commission for each jewelry set they sold. But, that’s a subject for another blog post.

The bottom line with KEEP Collective is that there just isn’t enough of a bottom line to justify the work involved with selling this jewelry. Plus, the jewelry itself isn’t cheap, so many potential customers will pass on the impulse to buy. With so many other jewelry vendors out there, including custom jewelry vendors, the KEEP Collective unique value prop just isn’t that unique.