Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When Direct Sales Calls

Tupperware, Mary Kay and Creative Memories were among the first home parties I attended and that was back in the 1990s. There would be a cute display of fun products. Women would eat, talk and visit with each other while flipping through the catalog. The consultant, all dressed up, would tell us about the company and the items she was selling. We'd play games, she'd give away prizes and she'd try to book more parties or recruit new team members. I realized that this woman was running her own business, with the benefit of being under the umbrella of a big, well-known company.

"Direct sales," as I discovered it was called, appealed to me from the beginning. I loved everything about it: shopping, hosting, meeting new people, eating, playing games and finding out about fun, new products. Even as a teenager, I could see myself being a consultant for a direct sales company.

In my twenties, I was known for hosting a home party several times a year and I rarely turned down an invitation to attend a friend's business launch or home party. I felt passionately about supporting these women and their businesses. Often, I would go to a party, observe the consultant the entire time and go home thinking, "I could have done that even better." I saw myself building a team, becoming a leader, earning prizes, making money and helping other women start a business of their own.

In fact, after having my first son in late 2005, I dabbled in a few direct sales businesses with some success. With Tupperware and Blessings Unlimited, I was happy just to get the starter kit. BUT, with Arbonne, Southern Living At HOME, and especially Cookie Lee jewelry, I told my husband each time, "This is THE company" and I set out to "work my business." I would get excited about it, have a launch party, hold a handful of big shows and even recruit a few people. I dreamed of moving up in the ranks and becoming a leader. But eventually, I always lost momentum and then got distracted and moved on to the next thing.

Still, my heart was in direct sales. From 2005 to 2010, I helped a friend with her daughter, did some writing, launched a ministry and ran an Etsy shop, all the while thinking, "Gosh, I just always thought I'd make it big in the direct sales industry."

From August 2009 to August 2010, my family took a break from life. We sold our home and rented near my husband's job. We stepped down from leadership at church, I shut down my Etsy shop and we enjoyed a slower pace. I did sign up for Melalueca and still enjoy ordering from them, especially their natural cleaning products. Other than writing, I didn't "work" and it was marvelous to take a break.

That summer, we fulfilled a long-time dream of living closer to my parents and moved into their neighborhood in Chandler, Arizona in time for our oldest son to start kindergarten at the nearby elementary school. After we got settled, bills began to pile up and reality set in: I needed a job. I had to make real money.

Looking back, I realize that being a stay-at-home mom to a young kid (or kids) meant that I could only dabble in direct sales as more of a hobby. It would have been nearly impossible to have treated any of my direct sales businesses as a real "job," without a nanny, personal assistant and/or maid.

Nevertheless, about a month ago, I realized that I HAD to find a job. I didn't have the luxury of treating another business like a hobby. I knew that whatever I did next HAD to be "it!" Even if it wasn't really "it," I was going to MAKE it "it!" So I started soul searching and praying and trying to figure out my next move. Even as I started to pursue launching a brand new business idea of my own, I could still hear sales was calling.

{keep reading in Part 2, coming soon!!}

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