Let’s get personal… diary entry time…? This is a biggin’ so settle in…
My Husband Lost His Job
I haven’t talked about this here but back in June my husband lost his job. He was a photo stylist for a large sporting goods company and they went bankrupt. We didn’t have much warning that it was happening and pretty suddenly he was without a job and without a severance package. He was laid off in June and thankfully, we’re also wedding photographers so we had that to help support us along with a bit of income from this blog, my book sales, and the Fearless Minimalism Guide. My husband also had unemployment money coming in so we were piecing things together pretty good throughout the summer and early-fall. And then… fall came, the weather got cold, wedding season slowed down to a stop, and my husband’s unemployment ran out. Along with paying crazy amounts for health insurance, we were just not feeling super secure financially. We went from having the stable, reliable “day-job” income there as a safety net to now straight-up hustling mode. Sink or swim felt more like drowning. We were cutting into our savings to help make ends meet and thankfully, THANKFULLY! we are debt-free (hallelujah Spending Fast!!) so the stress from losing his income wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. Looking back, I realize now that we had kind of taken his day job with its steady, reliable income, and benefits for granted. Not that we were ungrateful, we just didn’t realize how hard things would be without it. We were really having to HUSTLE, cut back, and be even more careful about our spending. With our savings getting hit harder each month my husband started talking about us both getting full-time, traditional day-jobs with insurance and retirement, you know, the whole thing. I’ve worked for myself for awhile now and I’m pretty out of the habit of working for someone else and dreaded the idea of that but, of course, if it came down to it, I’d do whatever I had to, to support my family.
Now What Are We Gonna Do?
Right around that time of semi-panic/what-the-hell-should-we-do-now?! I was up way later then I should’ve been and I was scrolling through Instagram. I came across a friend’s profile, someone I had met at a blogger’s conference years ago, and she was talking about this lipstick that doesn’t smudge and I was thinking, “Oh shit… She’s still doing this lipstick thing? That’s crazy…” You see, back in August when she first started posting about her new business on her Facebook profile I rolled my eyes and promptly “unfollowed” her. Not “unfriended” mind you, I didn’t want to be a total b* but I just couldn’t deal with seeing yet another person trying to sell me stuff. Now, up late and looking through Instagram one of her post popped up and now, I’m incredibly grateful it did. Suddenly, I found myself in her lipstick group and was scouring her page for more info because that shit actually didn’t budge or smear and I had always gotten so grossed out with my lipstick because it got all over everything. It’s this stuff called LipSense, have you heard of it? So, then, I started trying to figure out what shade to get. It was now probably 2 in the morning and I ended up with a massive list of colors I wanted. You know I’m a cheapskate so I went back to my trusty motto of “how can I get what I want for free or super cheap?” As I was looking at her posts I saw that it was the same amount to sign up (55/year) as it was to get a Starter Kit (55) so I started thinking about the options… I asked myself, “Could I make money doing this too? A few hundred extra each month would help so much!” I knew if I signed up I could get a 20% to 50% discount and get all those colors I had on my list way cheaper. I also saw a map that showed how at the time there were only 35k distributors in the whole U.S. and that Colorado, where I live, it was one of the states with the fewest distributors. SeneGence now has less than 150k distributors nationwide where Avon and Mary Kay have upwards of 3 to 4 million! I will be the first to tell you that I am THE BIGGEST SKEPTIC ever. I’ve always stayed away from direct sales companies and I’ve also been snobby about the idea of them because I always thought they were a scam. I figured there just had to be something sketchy going on, right?! Turns out, that skepticism was actually me just not having any clue how the direct sales business model actually works! I’ll get more into that in a bit… So, my wish list of colors was growing, along with the mounting total, and I was realizing this could be a super great business opportunity. I figured if I’d never heard of it then most of my friends probably hadn’t either. I also thought about how most millionaires have 7 different income streams. I wasn’t going to make any hasty decisions so I decided I’d place an order, ask my friend a million questions about how it works, and then, once I did all my research and saw if I even liked the product maybe then I’d sign up. I was determined to find the “catch”. The big “gotcha!” and despite all my asking and probing, there was no “catch” to find…
Okay, So, Before We Get to Far Into All This, What is SeneGence/LipSense Anyway?
SeneGence is an MLM (multi-level marketing)/ direct sales/networking marketing company that sells skin care products direct to independent distributors who then sell direct to consumers. SeneGence’s most popular product is a liquid lipstick called LipSense. LipSense is a lipstick that doesn’t budge or smudge and it stays on for up to 18 hours. SeneGence’s business model is like the other well-known direct-sales companies I mentioned above, Avon, Mary Kay, or Tupperware. MLM’s/direct sales companies forgo the “middle-man” of retail stores and instead the company gives the profits that would normally go to the retail store to the independent distributors. An independent distributor is someone who paid a $55 entry fee in order to start their own SeneGence business to sell the SeneGence products. The independent distributors are all types of people, both women and men, who range from boutique and salon owners to stay-at-home moms. They’re people who incorporate the products into their current business or they make it their full-time job.
How Do You Make Money with SeneGence?
The 1st way is to purchase the product at wholesale (20%-50% off) then you sell it at retail prices. The 2nd way is to build a team, supporting and training them the whole way and then when they place orders with the company you receive a commission on their order.
The Direct Sales Business Model
LipSense/Senegence is a direct sales company company. While I thought I understood that business model I soon realized I actually didn’t, and I had a ton of wrong assumptions and stereotypes. Getting started with an MLM is easy. Most, like SeneGence, require a start up fee to join (I’ve seen them vary from 55 to upwards of 5500!) and you can start selling and making money right away. Networking marketing isn’t hard but it does require certain skills, all that can be learned, and it’s definitely one of those things that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Depending on how much time and effort you put into learning, marketing, and selling your checks from be anywhere from $0 to amounts you can’t even imagine (I personally know people who have been with the company less than a year and they’re making 6 figures a month.) While it’s not a get-rich-quick situation, there is unlimited potential. Also, the recognition from hitting goals is something I realized I had been starved for while working for myself. If you like the products and want to get them at a discount (even if the business side of it doesn’t appeal to you) then then signing on with an MLM could be a great fit.
But Isn’t It a Pyramid Scheme?!
I had to do a bit more research to be sure it definitely wasn’t something sketchy, because I never in a million years would’ve imagined I’d sign up with an MLM. So, let’s talk more about what MLM’s actually are. MLM’s are a team of people. You sign up undersomeone that supports you, trains you and helps you with your business. If you then in turn decide to have people join you than you then pass along the same support and training you got to help the people who signed up with you succeed too. One of the neatest things about the MLM model is that it’s set-up so that everyone is supportive because when the team succeeds you succeed.
Back when I was a skeptic about the direct sales/MLM business model I thought well, “I don’t like the idea of people trying to make money off me”. The thing is, that’s normal in almost all business models – and especially in sales… the supervisors make money off the sales reps, the managers make money off the supervisors, the owners make money off the managers, etc… There was an article on the HuffingtonPost.com recently about “The Brutal Truth about those Pyramid Schemes” and this paragraph sums it up perfectly: “Think about your traditional brick and mortar business where people aren’t ‘afraid’ of a scheme. Is there a manager that helps assist people at their job? Does that person have a boss? And does that boss have an overseeing boss or manager? And so on, and so forth? Yes. Yes. Yes. And absolutely YES. Now do those managers, bosses and CEO’s depend upon their staff to do their jobs diligently in order for their business and companies to be successful? Yup. Now anyone who is a motivated individual, would they want to move up in their company? Would they like more pay and higher success? I would hope that every single working individual would answer yes to this. Likewise, if these people like their job, do they talk about it? If you personally go to a restaurant you like, do you tell your friends about it? If you find a store whose clothing you have fallen in love with, do you share it? What about a new recipe you just tried that your family enjoyed…you probably have shared this with your co-workers and friends, no? If this is the case, then every single one of us are involved in some type of pyramid scheme. God help us all.”
Why Do MLM’s Get a Bad Rap?
MLM’s get a bad rap because most people don’t have realistic expectations and/or they don’t fully understand how it all works. They think you sign up and boom! tons of money. Legit companies, direct sales or otherwise, require work, just like anything else. It’s a business and at their core, direct sales IS network marketing. Many people think that they can throw up a bunch of posts on social media (essentially spamming their friends and family) then when that doesn’t work they’re surprised and say MLM’s don’t work. When the reality is that they didn’t learn the skill of networking marketing. It’s not hard and anyone can learn it but it is a skill.
Another reason people fail at direct sales is because they simply give up too soon. The people that succeed are the ones that stick with it and work at it.
Also, I feel like I have to say that signing up with the right company is VITAL to success! Let’s talk for a minute about what to look for in a direct sales company…
Things You’ll Want to Consider When Thinking About Joining a Direct Sales Company:
– Are they product focused? (This should be a “yes” answer. Sketchy companies are selling an opportunity to sell an opportunity = that’s a bad sign!)
– Do you have to build a team if you don’t want to? (This should be a “no” answer. Remember, it should be product-focused.)
– Can you “outrank” your sponsor? (This should be a “yes” answer.)
– How old is the company? (You’ll want to get with a company that has been around for quite awhile so they’re not constantly working out “kinks”. SeneGence has been around since 1999 so that’s a good thing. They’re “proven”.)
– How saturated is the market? (You want to get with a company that not many people have heard about yet. SeneGence is just starting the “momentum” phase” so it’s not yet saturated – look into the 4 stages of MLM growth if you want to know more about the stages.)
– Is the product a consumable? (Meaning, will people want/need to buy the product fairly often? For example with Tupperware, that’s not a consumable so you have to think, how many plastic bowls can 1 person actually buy?)
– Is the product unique? Can someone just go and get it (or something super similar) just anywhere? (It’s important that customers can’t go and get the product on their own because you want them to have to come to you to get it. LipSense is patented so there’s literally nothing like it on the market. That’s a very, very good thing.)
– How well do the products sell? (For obvious reasons, you want to be with a company that has a product that’s in high demand. That’s 100% true for LipSense!)
– What does the company believe in? Does that align with your values? (SeneGence is a company that supports women and they give generously to charities. I dig that.)
Okay, Now, Back to the Story…
I liked what I had been finding out about the company. I liked that it was no pressure and no auto-ships. I liked that I could do it at my own pace and fit it into my life. I liked that the products were in high demand. I liked that the lady I was considering signing up with wasn’t desperate. I liked her and most importantly, I trusted her. I liked that there was so much room for growth with the company. I liked that I could make up to 50% on the product. I liked that the company would even refund me the $55 if I decided it wasn’t for me within 6 months. I liked how I could do things as inexpensively (or as expensively) as I wanted and that there were no out-of-pocket costs other than the 55 to sign up if I didn’t want there to be. I liked that there would be support and training. I liked that I could make it work for me and with what I was comfortable with. I liked that it was a product that was patented and that actually worked the way it said it would. So, while I was waiting for my order to arrive I weighed it all. I thought about it and I just could not shake it. It’s the weirdest thing but I almost feel like I was being pulled to this company. Also, I kept thinking about how my husband wanted me to start looking for a “day-job” and how I really wanted to avoid that if at all possible. I started thinking about how I could make it work. How selling lipstick was super random but hey, if nothing else I’d have some awesome lipstick! I also thought that maybe I could make a few hundred bucks to relieve the financial pressure we were experiencing. So, without ever trying the product before I took a risk. A risk that I will be forever thankful that I took. One I only wished I had took back in August when I first saw my friend selling it.
And Then I Joined an MLM
I signed up as a LipSense/Senegence distributor at the very end of November and in just a few months I’ve made more than ever planned to. I made that initial 55 sign up fee back the day after I signed up and while I can’t share actual commission check amounts (because of federal regulations) I can tell you about how my life has changed because of this little “side gig” that’s become so much more…
How My Life Has Changed Because of SeneGence/LipSense:
– The daily financial stress of my husband losing his job has been relieved
– I’ve been able to buy groceries for my family, stress free
– I’ve been able to build my savings back up
– I’ve been able to fill up the gas tank!
– We got a new vacuum!
– My commission checks have a comma in them!
– My check for this month will be 5 figures!
– The total for my product sales alone is enough to pay for my mortgage 5x
– I got to pick out a new car that I earned and the company is paying for it! (I’ve never had a new car so this still blows my mind! It makes me feel super spoiled! That’s it above at the top of this post!)
– I feel better about myself than ever before. I’ve got a new confidence!
– Recognition for doing a good job!
– My Facebook feed is now full of beautiful women telling the beautiful women how amazing they look!
– I’ve never felt alone in this business! There is so much support and training that it’s kind of mind-blowing.
– I’ve gotten to show my son what a strong business woman looks like! I love being that kind of role-model for him.
– While I love sharing our wedding photography business with my husband it sure is nice to have something that’s all my own. Something that I get to call all the shots on.
– I get to help other women become business owners and I get to see them feel supported and empowered. I get to change other people’s lives! I love helping and supporting small-businesses!
– I’ve gotten to (re)connect with people that I had lost contact with
– I’ve gotten to feel proud of myself by getting out of my comfort zone
– I’ve actually spent less money on Amazon (Amazon-aholic much?) because I’m not “bored”/“stress” spending
– I have a whole new group of women friends! We support each other and we build each other
Okay, while I really do believe in this business and this company and while my life has been completely changed by this company and while I want to scream about it from the roof-tops since I’ve seen how it’s helped so many people get out of debt and how it’s changed so many lives, I’m going to get real because, believe it or not, I actually don’t think it’s a great fit for everyone.
Who This Business Would Be Good For:
– Someone who has skin/lips;) (while the best seller/most popular product is the long-lasting liquid lipstick, LipSense, we also have insanely awesome skincare so there is SO much room for men to go super far in this business too)
– People who want to be business owners and who are willing to treat it like a business
– People who are willing to learn and work (this is not a get-rich-quick thing)
– People who have a positive outlook on things
– People who are committed to succeeding
– People that need/want a few extra hundred+ a month
– People who have some disposable income to put into building stock (while you don’t have to have stock to do this business, think about it like this, if you went into Target you’d want to take the items home with you, you wouldn’t want to pre-order it)
Who This Business Would Not be Good For:
– Not willing to learn/be open
– Not willing to try new things/get out of comfort zone
– Negative people
– No disposable income
Wrapping It Up
I didn’t plan on writing such a massive post but there’s so much that goes into this business and why I decided to join this company that I wanted to just get it all out there. My family has been so incredibly blessed by this company. I’m not trying to be dramatic but this company really has changed our lives. I know it could help so many other people, too, so I don’t want to keep it to myself. If you have even the slightest bit of curiosity or know of anyone that might be interested, send ’em my way. Ask me all your questions! Email me at email@example.com, message me through Facebook, or comment below. I never would’ve guessed that I’d grow up to be a personal finance, lipstick slingin’, wedding photographer but I guess that’s just what happens when you’re open to new ideas. Who knows, maybe this could be just the thing you’ve been looking for too!
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Anna, I must admit. I am very intrigued! I tried direct sales years ago with a product line that I loved and truly believed in – and failed massively. All I accomplished was getting into debt. Even my upline said, “Carrie you’ve worked so hard! Anybody else who worked this hard would be a Director already!” – which didn’t exactly make me feel awesome.
I am so tempted by this though, because I LOVE lipstick and I’m impressed by your success! The thing that makes me hesitate is that I’m so focused on my blog right now. I’m working my tail off with Elite Blog Academy and I’m scared to split my focus. I would like to know how you’re marketing this: because I don’t see you posting constantly about this on Insta or here, it’s been subtle which I appreciate!
If you don’t mind sharing how you’re marketing your business? I am considering signing up just to get the products at a discount, and could see how it went from there.
Hey Carrie! I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience with the last company you were with. That would’ve definitely been frustrating!! Yes, I’ve been very strategic about my posting here and on my social media channels. I keep things as separate as possible. I saw an email from you so I can reply more in detail there about my approach! Signing up for the discount and going from there is a great way to get started and check it out!
I want to thank you for making this post and explaining this type of business in a way I hadn’t thought of before. I am in the process of deciding between two different MLMs and your post has given much more to think about. So thank you.
Thanks so much, Tiffany! I’m so glad you found it helpful!
this is going to sound bitchy and maybe don’t approve it for publishing ok? but I honestly want to know after reading all that — why doesn’t your husband (or you) get another full-time job with the benefits and everything?????
thanks for your concern and I appreciate your honest question. :) he’s been looking but hasn’t had any luck with securing another “day-job” yet. I haven’t gotten a traditional job because I know I can make more working for myself than working for someone else. when we work for other people/other companies there’s a cap on what we can make. when we’re self-employed there’s no cap. the only limit is ourselves and our own resourcefulness. there’s no doubt that having that potential also comes with ups and downs and the money ebbs and flows. that’s just part of working for yourself. things have improved drastically since I started my side gig with senegence and I am so beyond grateful that I found this company when I did! it’s truly been one of the biggest surprises of my life!