Those 'Fun' Mom-to-Mom Sales Businesses Are Totally Ripping Women Off

 lularoe ripoff
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Direct sales businesses, multilevel marketing, new age pyramid schemes -- whatever you want to call them, they have been around for a long time. Whether it's one of your aunts selling vibrators out of her living room or your mom friends using Facebook to hawk leggings to other women, these things aren't new. They also aren't nearly as fun or harmless as they seem. In fact, companies like Avon and LuLaRoe are actively hurting the stay-at-home-mom community.

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Direct sales businesses have always targeted women -- more specifically, housewives and stay-at-home moms. Companies lure women in with promises of working from home, making their own income, and becoming bona fide entrepreneurs. In the past, these businesses were pretty easy to spot. You either had one of your neighbors knocking down your door trying to sell you makeup or you were invited to some kind of Tupperware party with the promise of stale cookies and juice in hopes that you'd shell out some cash. 

While the women who took part in these businesses in the '80s were annoying, they were usually pretty easy to avoid. With the nonstop rise of social media, though, multilevel marketing companies have switched up their business models. For many moms, Facebook and Instagram serve as more than just places to share cute pics of the kids -- they also help drum up business. The constant barrage of LuLaRoe ads on your Facebook feed is more than annoying; it's downright insidious.

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So many of those happy, smiling mom-trepreneurs are being ripped off by the companies they represent. And even worse, the only way to even think about getting themselves out of the dangerous web is to bring even more unsuspecting moms into the fold. Whether they're selling vitamins or clothes, just about every multilevel marketing company has a model that requires upfront costs from sellers and runs on 100 percent commission. 

The women who are recruited by these companies are required to buy inventory with their own funds up front, usually spending somewhere around $5,000 for their initial buy-in and even more as time goes on. At face value, this doesn't sound so bad, but statistics show that 99 percent of those recruited by direct sales businesses end up losing their money because they are unable to turn a profit.

In early 2017, it was reported that LuLaRoe had officially reached $1 billion in sales, officially making its way into the country's top 10 list of multilevel marketing (or MLM) companies. Many of the women who aided them in getting there, however, are in both emotional and financial distress. "I was urged to stop paying my bills to invest in more inventory," one woman told Quartz. "I was urged to get rid of television. I was urged to pawn my vehicle. I just had to get on anxiety meds over all of it because I've started having panic attacks."

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Sure, there are people that find success in MLM, but the vast majority -- most being stay-at-home moms and people who don't have tons of cash to burn -- wind up crumbling under debt and stuck with garages full of old products that will never see the light of day again. 

Any company that promises to help you "be your own boss" and "make six figures in six months" is almost certainly full of sh*t. Taking advantage of moms and their desire to provide for their families and build communities is always unacceptable, no matter how affordable your crappy leopard-print leggings are.

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