You may or may not know this, but I became in Independent Consultant for Jamberry Nails in mid-February. This week a popular blog featured a strongly worded article bashing the direct sales industry, including the company I chose to join. (If you're interested, you can read it here. I still hate the article, but it is sort of relevant to the one you're reading.) While I find it disappointing from a business standpoint (Thanks lady! You just made my job even harder!) this hurt more on a personal level. Why? Because I didn't start my business with money in mind. Sorta. Read on to hear my explanation.
It's no secret that I am a stay at home mom to 2 young children. It's a job that's challenging, rewarding, and exhausting. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. My staying at home though means one thing...every dollar that comes into our household is earned by my husband. My children and I depend on him for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, recreation, you name it. Without his job we have nothing. But that's the thing about marriage, you're supposed to put your trust in your spouse and you work through things together. In our family he's the breadwinner and I manage the household. It works for us. For me, the catch is when it comes to "want" items instead of "need" items.
I have a lot of crafting hobbies. I also like fun things like pretty nails, or a new pair of shoes, even cool gadgets to use in my kitchen. Those "want" items cost money. When I spend money on things for the family it's no big deal because it's something we all enjoy together or it's essential for our survival. (Somebody has to go grocery shopping!) But when I'm spending money that somebody else (hubby) earned on an item that is just for me it doesn't feel like a fun splurge. It makes me feel guilty and selfish. Never mind if I actually deserve a nice treat. I felt like if I wanted to continue purchasing these fun things, I needed to chip in somehow. My answer was Jamberry.
Now you might be thinking, "Well...Why don't you just go out and get a job?" Here's why: Even though we are solidly parked in a middle-class neighborhood, the city we live in is the overall wealthiest area in the state. The opportunistic folks who live here have jacked up the prices of all goods and services accordingly. If I were to get a part time job outside my home 2 things happen. First, ALL and I do mean ALL of the money I would make from that job would be spent on childcare. More likely, it would be all of my paycheck plus a portion of my husbands since we have 2 kids still in diapers. (Some of my husbands friends invited us over for dinner a few weeks ago and confessed that the daycare rate they'll be paying once their second child is born will be over $1800 per month. That's after giving them a break for having a 2nd child in the same daycare, and a break for the oldest for being potty trained.) These child care costs were a major factor in my deciding to stay home with the kids in the first place. Even if we could afford to spend that much, I would not be willing to. The second thing that happens if I take a job outside the home is that I lose any teensy bit of free time I have. Since daycare is not an option, I would be forced to work nights and weekends so that I could work around hubby's schedule. This would mean no free time for me and no time together as a family. Sure we could survive it, but what's the point of the extra income if there's no opportunity to enjoy it? My answer was Jamberry.
Here's the other thing about being a stay at home mom...it can be lonely and isolating. Yes, I love my children, but they cannot carry on a meaningful conversation just yet. We also moved over an hour away from family and friends to be near my husband's job. The couple I mentioned above...they are the ONLY friends I have who live within a 30 minute drive from our house. I have a solid group of online friends through Ravelry, but those friendships revolve around our children. We only found each other because we were all pregnant at the same time. I have tried finding mommy groups in the area only to discover that I can't stand the people in them. (Turns out that some wealthy folks live up to the stereotype of being snotty.) And again...those friendships would all be based around the kids. How long can you go without interaction with another adult? How long can you go without the conversations being about one of your children? After spending over 2 years without real-life friends nearby, I didn't just want a conversation that has nothing to do with kids. I needed it. My answer was Jamberry.
My answer was Jamberry because I needed something just for me. Not for the kids, not for the whole family, not for my husband. ME. The fact that I could run a business completely online, with my wild ones screaming in the background the whole time was the golden ticket. I don't need to find child care. I can work with them right beside me. Jamberry allows me the opportunity to earn a little something extra to pay for my "want" items, and I don't have the guilt anymore when I actually purchase them. Am I rolling in dough over here? Obviously not, but I didn't expect that going in. The option is there, but I just don't want to work that hard. This is a hobby for me. (Jamberry suggests the average consultant holds 2-4 parties a week. I do 2-4 in a month.)
In addition to the extra fun money I have met so many amazing people, even in the short amount of time I've been doing this. Jamberry has a slogan that says, "Run your own business without being alone." This has never been more true. I have felt valued by every team member I have encountered so far. I've even reached out to the home office with some suggestions about our consultant websites and they responded to me! Not a robot-response, but a personal, back-and-forth conversation! Consultants support each other with tips and ideas for our businesses, but we've also gotten to know each other in more personal settings. One of the girls is getting married next month. Her Jamberry business is helping to pay for her wedding. Some of the other girls are helping her coordinate nail wraps (and design custom wraps) to match her bridesmaids dresses. Show me another direct sales company with teammates who are that awesome! I feel like I have friends again!
As for the portion of that rotten article that states, "The products are secondary. It's the exploiting of friendships to gain new recruits that really squicks me out." I call baloney. Nobody is going to sign up and pay to be part of something like this if they don't truly want it. Especially your friends. I flat out told my sponsor, "I'm not creating a team." (She told me that was great and I could run my business however I wanted!) Well guess what...I've got a girl set to sign up this coming Friday! Not because I conned her into it, but because SHE ASKED to join this company. Just like me, she has a need for some extra income, and along with whatever other reasons she has, she realized that Jamberry was a good fit to meet those needs.
Digression: At this point I'd like to make another thing clear. My business is NOT a pyramid scheme. Will I make bonuses based on my recruits? Yes. BUT! I need to hit my OWN sales goals in order to earn those bonuses. I'm not just sitting back raking in money that somebody else worked hard for, and somebody else higher up isn't doing the same to me. /end digression.
So this long rambling post boils down to this...There are also BENEFITS to direct sales companies. Focusing on bad business practices and the irritation of receiving multiple Facebook invites does not reflect the true nature of my business. I've gotten so much more out of this opportunity than I ever expected. The people on social media who are inviting you to these parties are just trying to share the same joy that they've found. If you aren't interested, politely say "No, Thank you." and move on. A good consultant will respect that.