I failed multilevel marketing. I learned a lot about myself.

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  • I was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • There, the conversion culture and gender roles pushed me and other women to join multilevel marketing companies.
  • It didn’t work as expected and I, like many others, lost money.

Hello, my name is Brynne and I grew up in the Mormon Church. And like many women of my faith, I joined a multilevel marketing company.

Growing up in the Mormon Church immersed me in the culture of conversion

Raised in a devout family within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or “LDS,” for short), I was perfectly prepared for MLMs. It’s no secret that the church has a strong emphasis on conversion, and the culture was similar: As children, we were often asked to think of several friends we could invite to church events. church, with the ultimate goal of redeeming their souls through baptism.

This behavior comes from a place of genuine love for most church members, as they want to see everyone enjoy their own brand of spiritual happiness. They think they have found “the” way and they want to share their joy with others.

Sometimes that spiritual desire turns into something more transactional, though. For example, many young missionaries who go into the field believe that the more people they baptize, the more “attractive” their bride will be. You won’t find this belief in any scripture, but it’s a culturally normative meme that proliferates in most Mormon youth groups.

Whether Mormons are motivated by pure intentions or misogynistic rewards, they are encouraged to put people in awkward positions on a regular basis. Either your friends may hurt you by saying no, or they will dishonestly engage in your spiritual practices to maintain their relationship with you.

This makes the transition to MLMs natural for members of the LDS Church. Inviting people to your parties and converting them to share your supposed monetary abundance goes a long way to convincing people to come to church with you to share your spiritual blessings.

MLMs Served as an Acceptable Business Model for Housewives

MLMs are prolific among church women in particular. As Mormon women, our most sacred calling was that of mother and homemaker. We weren’t allowed to hold the priesthood, and our greatest spiritual power and blessings came from supporting the men in our lives who did.

Over the past two decades, the church has moved forward – no longer demonizing women who work outside the home as much. But if you can afford it, being a Molly Mormon Housewife is still ideal.

The MLMs I was exposed to gave participants the opportunity to always be seen by the community as a housewife first. Each of them was directly related to the duties of wife or mother of an LDS woman, which made it even more acceptable in the social mores of the church.

As a kid, I watched my mom go to parties for kitchen gadgets — falling in line with MLMs like Pampered Chef and Tupperware. It was also acceptable to join Discovery Toys and sell children’s items to other stay-at-home moms.

Finally, there were the beauty companies. Mary Kay. Melaleuca. Jafra. And the one I ended up joining: Arbonne.

Arbonne will say it’s not an MLM because you can technically outrank the people above you in the pyramid. But the fact remains that to earn a serious income, you need to add a significant number of new people below you in the pyramid, which makes it like every other MLM I’ve ever come across.

Why I Joined a Multilevel Marketing Company

I was exposed to Arbonne at a confusing time in my life. I had no funding for college, so I dropped out. I worked two jobs at a pizza place and a computer repair shop to make ends meet. In addition to this, I was providing child care services to a family in my LDS parish, which is similar to a parish or congregation in other faiths.

It was through babysitting that I was converted to Arbonne. The mother of the family sold the beauty products, and she suggested that I try them. She knew that I was in a bad economic situation and suggested that I become a consultant.

She won me over quickly. The training I had received as a Mormon child trying to convert my friends to the church made me an excellent salesperson. I could get a discount on products I bought as a consultant. Also, the inspirational training CDs in the consultant’s package provided me with positive affirmations during a difficult time in my life.

She helped me pay for my initial consulting fee, which saved me from taking on the full $250 investment on my own. The package included these ambitious training CDs, demo products to use at parties, and products to sell directly to my future customers. She entered because she believed in me, but in retrospect, I’m grateful to her for saving me from losing the entire $250 myself.

As you might expect, my experience with MLMs didn’t work out

I first sold a lot of high-end products to other members of my LDS congregation. But just like LuLaRoe with his moldy leggings, I ended up unknowingly selling a batch of skincare products that had been contaminated with shampoo during the manufacturing process.

It pissed everyone off. I offered apologies and refunds out of my own pocket. (I didn’t ask Arbonne for a refund, but the company didn’t offer it either.) But I still lost all of my clientele before I even really got started.

I kept trying to believe that I could succeed. That God would bless me with monetary riches if I prayed and stuck to the sales and recruiting formula contained on my CDs. I’ve hosted a few parties after I got married and moved to another state, but they brought me less than $100 and never fully compensated for the initial investment in the product.

What my experience has helped me do is separate myself from the conversion culture

My story has no decisive end. As my faith in the Mormon Church waned, my willingness to continue my journey with Arbonne also waned. I found other ways to be entrepreneurial and support myself without exploiting my closest friends and family members, putting them in positions where they felt like they couldn’t say” No”.

Perhaps most importantly, I learned to build a business that didn’t perpetuate the need for a woman to pack diapers of makeup in an effort to become the returning missionary’s trophy wife with the most recorded baptisms. .

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