Monday, February 15, 2010

The Opportunity


When I was a little girl in the 1960s, “the opportunity” for women was selling Avon or Tupperware. I have memories of an adult cousin selling Avon products; her home always filled with boxes, and the scent of her body as evidence that she believed in what she was doing.

Tupperware was another biggie. I don’t recall my mom going to a Tupperware Party, but we had a few pieces of the plastic, no leak, wonder containers in our kitchen cabinets.

When I entered the full-time job world in the 1970s, “the opportunity” was Amway and Mary Kay, both of which had been around many years – long before my introduction to them. Co-workers and neighbors in my apartment complex began to ask if they could give me a facial and make up my face. With Amway, I was asked to visit their homes to listen to a business presentation; an opportunity to make money.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I don’t have “the opportunity” personality.

Soooo many people do, though.

Let’s see…some of the parties I’ve been invited to in the last thirty years are: Avon, Tupperware, Mary Kay, Stampin’ Up!, Arbonne, Southern Living at Home, Pampered Chef, USANA, Silpada, Premier Designs, Beach Body, Melaleuca, Pre-Paid Legal Services, Longaberger, Creative Memories, and Usborne. I’m sure I’m missed a few.

While I know I will never be a “consultant,” I have been known to attend a party once a year. Most of the time, I’m supporting the friend hosting the party, and expecting a “girls get-together.” Another party I attended because the consultant was recently separated and working very hard to earn money. A few times I’ve been because I actually had something in mind I wanted to purchase – a kitchen item or something for my kids, like books or crafts.

But now, the kids are older, time is limited, and everything’s at the mall.

I’ve known many people who have tried to succeed with “the opportunity,” i.e., invested in the start-up kit, bought a few of the products, booked a party, and quit...sorta like...a gym membership.

I know others who are rockin’ and rollin’ - and have been for years! They are the ones who believe in their product, have the gift of selling, and the winning personalities. I applaud them for their business sense and entrepreneurial spirit.

What’s your experience with multi-level marketing?
Are you a consultant? What’s your product?
Do you host or attend the parties?

35 comments:

Judy Thomas said...

I understand the need some people have to do this kind of business and the attraction of it- need the income, want to be with their kids, need the flexibility, etc- but I really dislike being "invited" to someone's home for a sales pitch and have always declined the "invitation." It is another blurring of the line between friendship and commercialism and I find it distasteful.

My Aimless Infatuation said...

Like you I often purchase things just to help a friend but I don't care for these parties. As far as trying to sell these products myself,no way. I have often said "I couldn't sell a boat to a drowning man,on credit". Have a great day.

Menopausal New Mom said...

Hi Anita, I've never tried any of these home sales based businesses and the only party I go to are the ones that offer Sex Toys. (aren't you glad you asked LOl!) I can't remember the exact name of the outfit but buying plastic containers and make up that I can get at the mall doesn't interest me, however, getting pretty scented gels and sexy sleepwear does Lol!

Cindy (Letters From Midlife) said...

Mine was Mary Kay because my sister got into it and recruited me. I did like the products but I just am not a "rah-rah, this is the best thing since sliced bread" type person who enjoys going up to strangers to offer them a facial or calling friends on the phone to ask them to host a party. If people came to me, I enjoyed showing them how to do makeup but I didn't enjoy the pressure to close the sale.

arlee bird said...

In the early 70's my parents--well, my father mainly-- got into Amway. He really went gung ho. He was a showman and like to come up with innovative ways to reach out to people. They (he) did it for a while and eventually found that perhaps doing it along with a full time job, or maybe just where we lived and the type of people he was reaching, he finally dropped it. Seemed like we had tons of Amway products in our house for years after that.

A few years later some guy approached me in a mall where I was doing consumer research surveys and he liked my outgoing attitude. He offered me this "tremendous opportunity". I politely declined-- been there, seen that.

Now the closest thing to MLM that I do is blogging -- you gotta admit, it uses some of the same principles.

Lee

Bernie said...

Anita, I so don't like any of these parties....I always feel obligated to buy something and I don't ever need anything from these companies. I'm just not sure the proper way to say "no". I received many tupper wear pieces at my wedding showers and as wedding gifts over 40 years ago and I am still using them....oh well it can be a night out with the girls.......:-) Hugs

Farila said...

When the medical bills were piling up for my daughter.. I had to do something because my husband was not willing to spend that huge amount of money. So I started making, teaching soft toys at first and then buying them in bulk from people who make them at home.. give them finishing touches and sell them. It went on very well but had to give up because the fad started fading and then my lungs started troubling me due to loose fur.

MissKris said...

I avoid -- and have avoided -- all those 'parties' like the plague for my entire adult life. I never attend them unless I absolutely HAVE to, like when my d-i-l has one, so I don't offend her. Luckily, she isn't in to them either. I think I can count the ones I've been to since I got married on both hands, maybe a finger or two less. I am NOT a girly-girl-who-loves-the-company-of-other-women type of person anyway. I'd rather stay at home on those evenings and spend time with my husband whose company I hardly ever tire of, ha!

andrea said...

I could never be a salesperson! As for the parties, I have attended a couple of them (mainly jewelry) but it gets a little uncomfortable because you kind of feel obligated to buy something, and most of the stuff is overpriced. I do remember back in the 70s my aunt, who was a SAHM, sold Avon for quite some time. It actually is really good makeup.

Pink said...

I'd never be a "consultant", just like you. lol
But i did bought Avon, Amway & Oriflame products. :D Mostly because I was tempted! Oh dear.. hihihi

Robin said...

Ive been to many ..some the same as yours..but not anymore...the last one I participated in was a Selling of the Old Gold party..but I didnt go..just sent my gold..Ive also been to the candles, lingerie ones and sex toys too...Im kinda done with them..I always ended up buying stuff I didnt need or want..and they always cost so much..some of my friends were offended..but I always say.."dont be offended and Ill never host one of these parties for you to come to"..great deal...huh..?

Trish said...

I am definitely not consultant material. Although I do remember those parties as a child, especially my mom hosting some because she had friends that were consultants and/or wanted some free loot!

Those were the days, the parties now a days are a little crazy. My mom still has some but there is one called Private Quarters (I think) and its all high end sheets/bedding/blankets! I could never buy that stuff, I tell my mom shes crazy!

My mother is a real estate agent so she does have that "consultant" personality, not me!

BTW- Thanks for the comment about my hair do! I HATE IT, Im literally in a bad mood every morning I do my hair, its not getting any better!

gayle said...

Before I went back to work full time I sold Avon!! I loved it but I had to really work very hard to make any money. I also tended to buy to much and then just ended up breaking even. As for going to parties, I been to all the same ones that you have. When I am in the mood I don't mind going!

Bernie said...

We went into Amway once because our best friends were going great guns (according to them)We soom found out that the guy who enlisted us made the money and we did not and dropped out losing a lot of money buying our own supplies. The stuff is good but very expensive. And my do you lose friends or should I say acquaintances asking people to buy something.

ModernMom said...

I have gone to a LOT of those parties...bought many produts I just don't need, but so far have avoided starting a bus I've my own. So far:)

Anita said...

Lots of great opinions EVERYONE. It seems that most lean towards being less than thrilled, with a couple being okay with going to the parties.

MENONEWMOM-DEB & ROBIN - sex toy parties ??? lol
That reminds me of the lingerie party I went to back in 1980 or so. There was even a journalist there to write an article about it in the newspaper.
I'd forgotten about those.

ARLEE BIRD - Multi-level marketing and blogging sharing principles. That's something to think about.

MISS KRIS - What a nice relationship you must have with your husband. :)

THANKS EVERYONE!

ANY MORE OPINIONS?
DON'T LET THE NAY SAYERS INTIMIDATE YOU. :)

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

I am so not a MLM gal. I envy those that can and do and earn a living at it, but it's just not me.

Hilary said...

What a timely post! I'm hosting a Stella and Dot party in a few weeks. Like you, I host every now and then help out a friend. I've hosted Mary Kay, Stampin' Up, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, BeautiControl and have been hit up to host Arbonne, Silpada and another jewelry line. It's ridiculous! I'm not a consultant, though some of those hostesses are relentless in trying to convince me otherwise. I often feel that I have to explain away the party to the people I invite by portraying the consultant as "just getting started" or "she's an old friend and I'm doing her a solid" or I may even say, "it's just an excuse to get together and eat -- don't buy anything". Terrible, I know. It just puts you in a awkward position and so I try to limit the frequency with which I host an event to once a millenia and I will NEVER be a consultant.

Anita said...

HILARY - Oh no...I do not host parties...never have. That would totally stress me out. :)
I only ATTEND once a year.
Funny...all the reasons you've given to the invitees, I've heard.
Thanks for telling us about your experiences. Because you're younger, you may not be burned out on the parties...yet? Did you get any worthwhile freebies? :)
And, what is Stella and Dot? Gotta Google that one.

COME ON GIRLS (& GUYS TOO). I KNOW THERE ARE SOME CONSULTANTS OUT THERE. DEFEND YOURSELVES! :)

Southpaw said...

I don't have the personality for this kids of work, but I too have a lot of things I've purchase when a family member or friend threw a party.

One I like is usborne books.

Oh and do you remember jafra? I think that is what it was called.

Anita said...

SOUTHPAW - How could I have forgotten Jafra. :) A very close friend sold the makeup, and of course, had me over for a demo. No one else that she invited came.
That was probably around 1991.

Thanks for visiting. :)

AJ said...

I am no network marketing guru! I have tried Party Lite, but couldn't believe in the product enough to get really successful.

I felt like I was pushing stuff people don't need for money they don't have... made me feel dirty.

newmumover40 said...

Most recently I have been to a linen party and an Intimo party. As my friend is just starting out in Intimo I've also agreed to host a party for her.
I still love tupperware and I also love the Enjo products I bought through hosting one of their parties.

newmumover40 said...

oh, I used to be a Neways distributor because I believed in the products and it was a way I could get them cheaply!! I did a few parties but wasn't very good at it! I don't buy the products now because they are so expensive and there are other natural alternatives around now.

BTW - I loved your answer Deb!!

Menopausal New Mom said...

I've got an award for you :)

Michelle said...

I used to sell Mary Kay!

Abby said...

I tried the herbalife gig for about 4 months. It was creepy. Like a cult. Seriously! Got out while the getting was good and was able to sell my leftovers back. I don't have the pushy personality for it anyway.

I've been to DK Books, Discovery Toys, Mary Kay, and Slumber Party (that's the sex toys thing) and never bought a thing! HA! Well... except for the sex toys thing...

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I'm neither a salesman or buyer. A friend had to explain to me that you went to Discovery Toy or Mary Kay parties to get out of the house. I decided I liked my house.

Rebecca S. said...

Oh Lord. Multi-level marketing...since most of these schemes work on selling to your friends I find the whole thing lacking in ethics. I have supported friends trying for good reasons to make a better living, but not one of them has. Not one.

suzicate said...

I've never been a consultant, but have been known to give into hosting parties many times. It takes a lot of networking to be successful...I am too lazy but applaud those who do it.

Anita said...

AJ, NEWMMUMOVER40, MICHELLE, ABBY, MIDLIFE JOBHUNTER, REBECCA, SUZICATE - thanks for adding to this conversation; for your honesty and humor. :)

Tracie said...

I could never become a consultant for one of these companies. I don't like to pressure people into anything. I used to go to these parties but now I politely decline all invitations. If not I end up spending money on products I don't really want or need.

Anita said...

TRACIE - this post and everyone's thoughts have made me wonder if I will ever attend a party again. Hmmmm...

Alicia said...

I've done Avon and Pre-paid Leval... there's good $$ to be made if you really work the process. I'm evidently not much of a "work the process" type of girl - so I've just had mediocre success with both. I still do Avon, but really just for the discount at this point! Ha! I really do like their products.

*plug* if anyone's intersted in any Avon product, I can give you the link to my e-store! :-)

Anita said...

ALICIA - I always say, if it's workin' for you, why not. :)