The photos / screenshots come from Erynn Brook’s Twitter account. I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety.
I read Erynn’s story. And re-read it. And I’ve been coming back to it nearly every day since stumbling upon it on October 24th.
One thing is for sure: Boundaries are hard. Setting boundaries is even harder. But, at 31, I feel much more at peace with myself because of the boundaries I have set for myself. Many of them are unspoken, for me and myself only, but there are others that I make known, loud and clear.
Why? Unlike Erynn’s awesome mom, I was taught to stick it out. To not quit. To not leave. To not ruin anything.
And I’m now realizing how damaging that is.
I understand why, in a way – My parents are of a different generation. Overall, I think they did a good job of raising me. I know, as an only child and born severely premature, they sheltered me and protected me fiercely.
But, I don’t want to raise my future child or children like my parents did. I want to do some things differently.
Like Erynn’s mom, I want my child or children to have choices, to feel like it’s normal to come to Al or me with anything at any time, to not feel like they are bothering us, to express their discomfort openly. And Al and I both agree that if our child or children call or text at any time, asking to come home, we will come immediately, no questions asked.
Two of my family members have this rule with their daughter – Call us at any time, and we will come get you. There won’t be any questions when we pick you up. There may be questions in the morning / after whatever happened, but there won’t be any questions from us at the time we come get you.
What do you think about this? Let me know in the comments.
I’ve been wanting to write a post about multi-level marketing for a while. But, I’ve resisted. They are everywhere.
Full disclosure: I’ve been swept up in them for a while. Not selling for any company, but buying from them and “supporting” friends.
Throughout my life, I was buying from MLMs and not really realizing it. This means that I have hosted a party, attended a party, or bought product from a seller or consultant.
Stella and Dot
The Pampered Chef
Rodan + Fields
Along the way, I have been approached by consultants to try samples, buy product, or actually sell Cutco, Advocare, Plexus, Norwex, Jamberry, Young Living, Amway, and Sseko Designs.
Over the last several months, I have been researching MLMs. It all started with John Oliver’s piece – Multilevel Marketing. Al and I watch his pieces on YouTube every week. It’s funny, entertaining, but also well-researched and frighteningly real.
I felt sick after watching his piece on MLMs. I realized, in the span of 30 minutes, how much money I had FUCKING WASTED on shitty products for many, many years. I’m also grateful I resisted “investing” in any of these companies, meaning that I never signed up to sell anything. Sure, I hosted a few parties, but I never joined anyone’s team.
And I’m so glad I didn’t.
You see, many of these MLMs are like cults. You’re swept up into the world of the company, its culture, and their products. And it’s really, really hard to leave.
I’m so glad I didn’t pay money upfront to “start a business.” Sure, I bought a lot of product – Makeup, skincare, bags, nail strips, essential oils, diffusers, jewelry, clothing, and more.
I recently added up how much money in extra product I had in my house from Young Living. This included unopened essential oils, laundry detergent, cleaning products, makeup, skincare, and foaming hand soap. It was roughly $2,000.
I had it all out on my kitchen counter. And I wanted to throw up. $2,000 is a mortgage payment and then some.
All because I believed that paying for overpriced, “chemical-free” essential oil products would help my family be healthier. For more than TWO YEARS. I was buying product every month, to the tune of about $100 per month, sometimes up to $400 per month. I went back to my purchasing history and cried. I wasted so much of my hard-earned money.
Al actually asked me to stop using the YL detergent months ago because it wasn’t cleaning his clothes as well. That was the first light bulb moment for me.
Then, I started closely researching the cost of my products with Rodan + Fields, and LuLaRoe (LLR). There was so much money in my bathroom and my closet. R+F was costing me about $300 every eight weeks. My skincare regimen in their fancy bottles, and their tiny tube of LashBoost. The LashBoost alone was almost $70. Per tube.
After I joined a Facebook group called Sounds like MLM but ok, my eyes were opened even wider. There were WAY MORE MLMs than I ever imagined. This group has a master list that is literally pages long.
That’s how I discovered Sseko Designs was a fucking MLM, for example. At first, I felt hurt, betrayed even. Hardly anyone had attended the party I had thrown on Facebook earlier this year, and now I know why.
And then there are the lawsuits. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to stop buying R+F several months ago was because of the class-action lawsuit I discovered specifically about LashBoost.
Another glorious thing I discovered was The Dream podcast. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I highly recommend it. You can find it on Stitcher and Apple Podcasts. Jane Marie is a gem, and I can’t wait to see what happens with Season 2.
I could go on for days about MLMs. They are some of the most deceptive “companies” out there.
What bothers me the most, however, is how predatory they are. They advertise, falsely, that you can make so much money so quickly. Yet, in my interactions with consultants trying to get me to join their teams, all the language is shady and vague. Many pitches are copied and pasted from their upline, or the people above them.
In my research, I’ve discovered that roughly 95 percent of people in MLMs don’t make any money. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Google “income disclosure statement,” and immediately many MLM names come up behind it – Monat, It Works, Arbonne, Young Living, Beachbody.
For example, Monat’s income disclosure statement reads “A typical Participant in the Plan earns between Cdn $22 and $1,188 annualized.”
That’s NOTHING. Fucking nothing. Only $1,188 PER YEAR? And that’s Cdn – Canadian. Currently, 1 Canadian dollar equals 0.76 United States dollar. Quick math – I think that translates to $902.88 USD per year.
That’s not even enough to pay my mortgage for ONE MONTH.
And that $1,188 CDN doesn’t include costs incurred by hosting parties, participating in events, and purchasing products. So, very likely, a Monat partner will never see that $902.88 in a year.
I’ve heard horror stories of people, mostly women, (but men are targeted for MLMs, too) have accumulated THOUSANDS of dollars in debt from purchasing inventory. My Facebook Marketplace is full of people desperate to unload their excess stock of Young Living oils, unsold LuLaRoe clothes and leggings, Scentsy products, and more.
Bottom line: MLMs are designed to prey on vulnerable people – Women and men. And many are stuck in it for years. It’s all very sad, and infuriating.
However, there is some good news. At the beginning of October, AdvoCare and its former CEO agreed to pay $150 million and be banned from multi-level marketing to resolve Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that the company operated an illegal pyramid scheme.
My hope is the FTC continues to investigate these predatory companies and take action. Like many industries, however, there are lobbyists and politics involved. I’ve posted a link to the Direct Selling Association (DSA) below in my resources list.
So, what can you do about MLMs?
Become aware. Many MLMs follow similar models, and use similar language to get people to buy in.
If you know someone involved in an MLM, don’t try to convince them to get out or stop. It’s like being in an abusive relationship – Only the person involved can decide when they want to leave. No one else, sadly, can change their mind.
If you are approached by someone to invest or buy in, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be your own advocate. Use words such as MLM, multi-level marketing, direct sales, or pyramid scheme.
At craft fairs, farmers markets, and other local events, support your neighbors and their small businesses. I guarantee you it will be a better experience for everyone. The money you spend will help them grow and invest in their products, whether it’s handmade soap, hand-crafted jewelry, doll clothes, or locally-sourced food.
If you help organize craft fairs, fundraisers, or farmers markets, work to limit the number of MLMs that are allowed to participate. Some places and organizations have gone so far to ban them entirely. I’m not telling you what to do, but just be mindful of the businesses you want to attract and support.
I really liked her advice about requesting a physical ARC from a publisher. She says to “focus on building your follower base first and foremost. Most publishers are looking for bloggers who have at least 500 followers across platforms (including your blog and social media) and have been blogging for at least six months.”
In addition, she gave a lot of tips and tricks for searching for publishers. One key takeaway I found was the following”
“Know that there are a TON of imprints for the big publishers (Harper, Penguin, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, etc.) So sometimes you’ll need to figure out which publishing house the imprint belongs to. If you google ‘Greenwillow Publishing imprint of,’ you can see that they are an imprint for Harper.”
I’m definitely going to take this advice to heart.
Also, she graciously shared her template for email requests for ARCs copies:
I’m such a huge fan of Flux Books, and I would like to request a review copy of Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood to review on my blog YA and Wine, where I have previously posted about Amy’s debut novel, Nothing But Sky.
I started my blog in November of 2016 and as of today, I currently have:
I really like her approach, and I definitely plan to adopt my own version for future use. I’m hoping to read at least three ARCs before the end of 2019. I have one physical copy in my hand now, thanks to my friend Jennifer who sold it to me. Check out her blog at J.N. Cahill.
Have you read any ARCs?
Have you requests any ARCs from publishers? If so, how did you go about it?
Thanks to my friend Hannah for posting the trailer on Facebook recently. I hadn’t heard of this movie until I watched the trailer. I cried.
I finally sat down and watched it last night. What a powerful, emotional movie.
The tag line reads, in part, “based on a million true stories,” and that’s so true.
Although it’s been a few years since it was released, it’s still so sadly relevant.
As I started watching, I immediately thought of a young man named Alex, who died by suicide when he was a freshman at Oscar Smith. He was 14-years-old. He had just started the IB program. I didn’t know him at all, but I felt compelled to go to his funeral. I didn’t know his story, but I wanted to be there for his family, and the IB family.
As the movie progressed, I thought about the other people I knew who have died by suicide. Not necessarily from bullying, but other circumstances. The most poignant bullying tragedy was Nick L’Hoste. He was only 12 when he died. It sent shockwaves through our schools, and especially our church. He was only a year younger than me. It’s hard to believe he would have turned 30 this year.
This movie makes me incredibly grateful I didn’t have the access to the far reaches of the Internet when I was in high school. But, it’s still sobering. Bullying has expanded to online and offline, and it’s so sad.
The other lesson I learned is that no one should be afraid to ask for help, whether you’re the victim or the bully. It’s a bit of a contradiction, so let me explain.
When I was younger, I was taunted and teased. I wasn’t classically “bullied.” I never considered suicide as an option or a way out.
However, when I brought up instances on the school bus and in the classroom, my parents typically said, “Oh, if it’s a boy, it’s just because he likes you.” I’ve NEVER liked that phrase, nor did I believe it was true. I’m writing another blog post about that – More to come.
But that’s not my point. Kids, regardless of their age, should be able to go to their parents, or any trusted adult, with their problems and struggles. They shouldn’t be dismissed or brushed off. They need to be believed.
Also, if they don’t want to talk about it right away, that’s perfectly fine. They need to feel like they’re being heard, and that’s huge!
And, the bullies need as much help as the victims. I’m glad the movie showed both perspectives. By the end of the movie, it was painfully obvious how much Avery was dealing with, and she felt like she had no one to turn to.
I appreciate what the principal said about there being two sides to every story. That’s absolutely true.
However, bullying is still incredibly complicated! Jessica was targeted in multiple ways – In person, physical abuse, text messages, emails, social media posts, and more. It gutted me to watch it all unfold.
I cried multiple times. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the ending, but I understand why it was framed that way. The point is the movie as a whole, not necessarily how it ends.
I applaud Amy S. Weber for making this movie. I think many more people need to see it. I was able to find it on Amazon Prime Video for free. And I will likely watch it again. It’s a good reminder to be kind, and recognize that you probably have no idea what someone is going through.
So, thank you, Hannah. You introduced me to a movie that’s left a mark on me. Thank you for inspiring me to share it.