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February 17, 2017

U.S. News

Nu Skin Reports Lower Sales in Fourth Quarter

Photo: The Nu Skin Innovation Center at the company’s Provo, Utah, headquarters.


Annual sales slipped 2 percent at Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. (NUS—NYSE), the beauty and wellness company said Thursday.

Revenue totaled $2.21 billion in 2016, compared to the prior year’s $2.25 billion. Factoring out the impact of currency exchange, overall revenue was flat. Earnings increased from $2.25 to $2.55 per share.

“We made significant progress executing our 2016 priorities, including growing in China, successfully launching our ageLOC Me and ageLOC Youth products, and finalizing development of our upcoming LumiSpa product,” said Truman Hunt, President and CEO. “We believe these steps have positioned us for growth in 2017 and beyond.”

In the fourth quarter, revenue was $531.3 million, down from $572.2 million a year earlier. The comparison reflects about $50 million in revenue from a large-scale product launch in the fourth quarter of 2015. Additionally, in the most recent quarter, the company deferred $7 million in revenue from higher-than-expected sales of ageLOC Me in China.

Quarterly sales fell 7 percent in Greater China, Nu Skin’s largest segment. The company also reported declines of 25 percent in the Americas, 6 percent in South Asia and 4 percent in North Asia, while EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) revenue rose 21 percent.

The Provo, Utah-based company posted a profit of 69 cents per share, versus 62 cents a year ago. On an adjusted basis, earnings came to 79 cents per share, narrowly missing the 80 cents predicted by analysts in a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

In 2017, management expects full-year earnings to be $3.10 to $3.25 per share, with revenue in the range of $2.26 billion to $2.3 billion.

February 16, 2017

World News

Avon Products Reports 2% Dip in Quarterly Revenue

Fourth-quarter sales declined at Avon Products Inc. as the beauty company contended with currency headwinds and fewer active sales reps.

Revenue slipped 2 percent from a year earlier to $1.57 billion. On a regional basis, South Latin America recorded 9 percent growth, offset by a 10 percent drop in North Latin America, 9 percent in Asia Pacific and 7 percent in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The decline in revenue corresponded to a 2 percent decrease in active Representatives. Management said Representative engagement remains a top priority in 2017, as Avon carries out a three-year turnaround plan introduced last year, following the sale of its North America business. The company also plans to cut $350 million in costs and invest heavily in technology.

“We made good progress in the first year of our transformation plan, exceeding our cost savings targets, improving our profit margin, and significantly strengthening our balance sheet,” Sheri McCoy, Avon CEO, said in the company’s release. Despite these advances, fewer reps and an unexpected increase in bad debt expense, primarily in Brazil, contributed to a “disappointing” quarter, said McCoy.

The seller of cosmetics, perfumes and accessories recorded a bottom-line loss of $10.7 million, or 4 cents per share, compared with a loss of $333.4 million, or 76 cents per share, a year earlier.

Avon reported adjusted earnings of a penny a share, which fell short of the 9 cents predicted by analysts. In the same poll by Thomson Reuters, the average revenue estimate was $1.61 billion.

February 16, 2017

World News

Travel Club WorldVentures Expands into Romania

Photo: The city of Sibiu is situated in Romania’s Transylvanian countryside.


WorldVentures is bringing its group travel business to the country of Romania.

In a company release, management said key objectives in the Eastern European market are cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit and culture, tapping into the country’s tourism potential and bringing innovative technologies to consumers.

WorldVentures sells its vacation and lifestyle memberships through Independent Distributors in 29 markets. Members can plan DreamTrips, as the company calls its group travel excursions, through the DreamTrips app, a travel booking tool that allows users to create bucket lists, share their experiences with friends, and view photos from other travelers.

“Today, more than ever, all over the globe WorldVentures is leaving its mark on the travel and direct sales industries, because customers in every market are committed to showing that there’s a different way of travelling in Romania and abroad—one that is more affordable, more fun and more fulfilling.” said Kyle Lowe, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and International Expansion at WorldVentures.

The Texas-based company has experienced rapid growth in recent years, as consumers embrace its philosophy of “fun, freedom and fulfillment.” In 2016, WorldVentures ranked No. 677 on the Inc. 5000, a list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, rising from No. 915 in the previous year’s ranking.

 

February 15, 2017

U.S. News

Amway Hits the Runway at New York Fashion Week

Photo: An Artistry makeup artist hard at work backstage.


Behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week (NYFW), Amway’s Artistry makeup artists teamed with Pamella Roland to create makeup looks for the label’s runway show.

Designer Pamella DeVos, the woman behind the evening-wear line, staged her new collection on Feb. 10. In addition to dramatic gowns, cashmere coats and fur accents, the models sported beauty products by Artistry, Amway’s premium skincare and cosmetics line. DeVos also has a personal connection to the direct selling firm; her husband, Dan, is the son of Amway co-founder Rich DeVos.

Artistry is not only a hot seller for Amway, but also a top-five premium skincare brand worldwide. In the past, Amway has promoted the brand through peripheral events surrounding New York Fashion Week, an eight-day affair that draws industry insiders from around the world, but a couple of years ago, Artistry expanded its presence as Official Makeup Sponsor for Pamella Roland. “NYFW continues to be an incredible venue for Artistry,” Lisa Hunter, Amway North America Director of Product Marketing, said in an email. “Presenting Artistry’s premium skincare and makeup products alongside Pamella’s beautiful collections—which are works of art—represents an ideal partnership.”

Last September at New York Fashion Week, when designers showcased their spring collections, Amway took the partnership a step further. The company’s global makeup artist, Rick DiCecca, created the makeup look for the show, and Amway Business Owners (ABOs) worked with DiCecca backstage to bring the look to life on the models.

The makeup artists, all of whom use and sell Artistry products, are chosen through an invite-only audition process. Last month, about 25 ABOs traveled to Long Island to audition for the February show. DiCecca walked them through multiple looks, asking the makeup artists to recreate each one. “There were challenges that would come up, and he watched how they handled them to ensure they had the skill needed to work in a backstage, high-pressure area,” said Rebecca Goh, Assistant Brand Manager for Artistry.

On the day of the show, Artistry took its social media followers backstage with a Facebook Live broadcast from New York City’s Chelsea Piers. “Working with other creative people is always exciting for me,” DiCecca told viewers. “Even more so is the fact that the ABOs I’m working with today actually sell the Artistry product. That’s unheard of in this industry. They’re backstage doing the fashion show, using the products, and they’re experts in their own business. That to me is very rewarding, because I’ve been training some of these artists for several years.”

DiCecca created the runway look alongside DeVos, whose latest collection was inspired by the paintings of Mark Rothko. His modern art canvases feature bold, rich colors with subtle movement and texture. DiCecca echoed Rothko’s ombre shading effect in the eye makeup, which starts out dark at the base of the lashes and lightens as it moves toward the brow. But, he says, “My homage to Rothko is really the lips—they’re bold, bright and beautiful.” The makeup artists achieved this effect by layering three to four products, including one of the brand’s top sellers, Artistry Light Up Lip Gloss, which comes with a built-in mirror and LED light for easy application.

The foundation of the look, and the foundation of the Artistry line, is skin care. “When it comes to Artistry, we’re about the skin care, and then the cosmetics,” said Goh. “Cosmetics is one thing, but if you don’t have a good palette—nice, smooth skin—to start with, it doesn’t matter what kind of makeup you put on.” Backstage at Pamella Roland, before makeup artists went to work creating the look, they applied a skincare regimen tailored to each model. Artistry’s luxury skincare line, Supreme LX, is formulated to help reduce signs of aging and reenergize the skin.

As the Facebook Live broadcast concluded, DiCecca shared some advice for aspiring makeup artists, particularly those building a direct selling business. “Listen to the people you’re working on,” he said. “Really listen to what they’re saying, because that’s the only way you’ll figure out what they really need. If you solve some of the simple makeup problems women have—choosing the right foundation or skin care—you become her hero.”

February 13, 2017

U.S. News

USANA Appoints Field Development Chief, Two Executive Vice Presidents

USANA Health Sciences has announced three promotions to its senior management team.

The wellness firm, which recently said annual sales topped $1 billion for the first time in 2016, has tapped David Mulham, former Executive Vice President of the Americas, Pacific and Europe, for the role of chief field development officer. Since coming on board in 2009, Mulham has been key to developing new regions for the Salt Lake City-based company.

“I have had the great pleasure of working closely with David throughout the past several years and have been consistently impressed with his commitment to the company’s expansion and success,” said CEO Kevin Guest in a news release.

Additionally, Brent Neidig, former Vice President of China Strategic Development, has been named executive vice president of China, the company’s fastest-growing market. “Brent has been incredibly instrumental in USANA’s sizeable growth in the China market,” noted Jim Brown, President and Chief Operations Officer.

Before transitioning to the China business, Neidig led the company’s ethics and education team. In his new role, he will continue to manage USANA’s China subsidiary, Babycare, and help to expand USANA’s presence in the market. In full-year financial reporting released last week, management disclosed that USANA is conducting an internal investigation of Babycare. The voluntary review is to ensure compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, particularly as it relates to expense reimbursement and other policies.

The company’s final appointment is Josh Foukas, former Vice President of Legal, who is taking on the role of executive vice president of legal. “Josh is one of the brightest and most strategic attorneys I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” said Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel Jim Bramble. “His expertise has continually provided great value to USANA’s Associates, employees and shareholders.”

Previously, Foukas worked with the company’s finance department, overseeing public reporting, investor relations and business development.

February 10, 2017

U.S. News

LifeVantage Reports Quarterly Financial Results

Wellness firm LifeVantage Corp. (LFVN—NASDAQ) has announced results for the second quarter of fiscal 2017.

In the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016, revenue fell 6 percent to $48.9 million, in line with company guidance following an independent audit of parts of LifeVantage’s international operations. Revenue for the first half of fiscal 2017 was $103.8 million, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

“Our recent implementation of new international policies and procedures disrupted second-quarter sales as anticipated,” said LifeVantage President and CEO Darren Jensen. “As the implementation nears completion, we are focused on rebuilding our sales momentum while continuing to focus on additional international opportunities.”

Breaking the results down by region, revenue dipped 6 percent in the Americas and 5 percent in Asia-Pacific and Europe, in comparison to the same period of 2016. The company recently hired on a Hong Kong-based executive who will help to drive development of new Asian markets, including Taiwan and Mainland China.

Quarterly earnings were 2 cents per share, compared to 11 cents in the prior year. Adjusted earnings were 11 cents per share, down from 14 cents.

Management reiterated its previous guidance for fiscal 2017. The company sees full-year revenue of $207 million to $212 million, with earnings of 40 cents to 47 cents.

February 10, 2017

U.S. News

Primerica Tops Wall Street Expectations in Q4

Primerica Inc. (PRI—NYSE) once again delivered record earnings in 2016, the financial services firm said Wednesday.

The Duluth, Georgia-based company cleared a profit of $219.4 million, up 16 percent from 2015. Earnings per share rose 24 percent to $4.59, boosted by $150 million in share buybacks, which amounted to about 6 percent of outstanding shares. Annual revenue rose 8 percent to $1.5 billion.

“During 2016, we continued to execute our strategy to drive growth and improve performance by expanding distribution, deploying mobile technology and repurchasing shares,” said Glenn Williams, Primerica CEO.

In the fourth quarter, revenue totaled $393.9 million, up 11 percent from a year earlier. Revenue topped the $386.5 million predicted by analysts, in a poll conducted by Thomson Reuters. Sales were propelled by growth in the company’s life insurance-licensed salesforce, which expanded 9 percent year-over-year.

Term life insurance is Primerica’s largest revenue driver, accounting for $227.1 million of quarterly revenue. This segment saw a 14 percent increase in policies issued versus a year ago.

Quarterly earnings climbed 25 percent to $1.21 per share, beating analysts’ estimates of $1.19 per share.

February 10, 2017

U.S. News

USANA Hits Billion-Dollar Milestone in Annual Revenue

USANA Health Sciences (USNA—NYSE) is the newest member of direct selling’s Billion Dollar Club, with annual sales exceeding $1 billion.

Management on Tuesday reported revenue of $1.006 billion for 2016, a record for the Salt Lake City-based company. Once again, sales and Associate growth in the Asia-Pacific region drove the positive results. Net income was $100.0 million, or $3.99 per share, an 11 percent increase over 2015. Overall, the company saw a 12 percent increase in active Associates.

“2016 was another exceptional year for USANA,” said Kevin Guest, CEO, in a news release. “We surpassed the $1 billion mark in net sales, generating our 14th consecutive year of record sales, and we reported the highest EPS in the history of the company. On top of these achievements, we successfully launched our new Incelligence product platform, which illustrates the evolution of USANA’s vision of product personalization.”

InCelligence is a cell-signaling technology developed by USANA scientists. Already, the company has incorporated this U.S. patent-pending technology into its core nutrition product, CellSentials, and a handful of others, but going forward it will serve as the foundation of USANA’s entire product portfolio. In addition to developing InCelligence, this year management is focusing on growth initiatives and major investments in global IT infrastructure.

The company closed out the year with fourth-quarter revenue of $252.9 million, up 9 percent from a year earlier. A stronger U.S. dollar cut net sales by $9.2 million in the quarter. Revenue narrowly missed the $253.5 million predicted by analysts, in a poll by Thomson Reuters.

The largest gains occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, where sales rose 12 percent to $193.4 million. North Asia led the region with 23 percent year-over-year growth. In the combined Americas and Europe region, results were mixed, amounting to a 2 percent decrease in quarterly sales. On a constant-currency basis, Mexico and Canada were up 26 percent and 13 percent, respectively, while sales in the U.S. fell 11 percent.

Quarterly earnings were 87 cents per share, compared with 92 cents in the same period of 2015. Analysts had expected earnings of 94 cents per share.

Management also said USANA is conducting an internal review of its China operations, Baby Care Ltd. The voluntary investigation focuses on compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, as it relates to expense reimbursement and other policies. The company did not put forth a timeline for the investigation, which is still in the early stages.

Looking to 2017, USANA sees full-year revenue in the range of $1.04 billion to $1.07 billion, with earnings per share of $3.80 to $4.10.

February 08, 2017

U.S. News

Amway Posts $8.8 Billion in Global Revenue in 2016

Photo: The nutrition category accounted for half of Amway sales in 2016.


Amway Corp. said Wednesday that revenue fell 7 percent in 2016, driven by soft sales in China, the company’s largest market.

In the past 12 months, overall revenue amounted to $8.8 billion, compared with $9.5 billion in 2015. The private company did not break down the results by market, but management said the top 10 markets by revenue were China, United States, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, Russia and Hong Kong. Sales were up in seven of those 10 markets.

“Across the world, Amway did well in 2016,” said Steve Van Andel, Amway Chairman, in a news release. “We experienced sales growth in several top markets, saw double-digit revenue growth in nine additional markets, and continued to evolve the business in China as we seek to take advantage of shifting market conditions and achieve the market’s long-term growth potential.”

Amway has a portfolio of more than 450 nutrition, beauty and home products, which are sold exclusively through Amway Business Owners (ABOs). In 2016, nutrition continued to lead all other product categories, accounting for half of total sales. The company’s nutrition line, Nutrilite, is the world’s top-selling vitamins and dietary supplements brand, according to research by Euromonitor International. Beauty and personal care products accounted for another 25 percent of sales, and durable products 15 percent.

The XS brand exceeded sales goals with 40 percent growth in the past year. Amway acquired the energy drink brand in 2015, but has been sole distributor since 2003. Under Amway’s ownership, the product line has expanded to include snacks and, as of 2016, sports nutrition offerings.

Going forward, the direct sales leader sees plenty of reasons for optimism, not least of all the results of its 2016 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report. The report, based on a survey of more than 50,000 individuals in 45 countries, found that 77 percent of people are positive toward entrepreneurship and 43 percent could imagine starting their own business, an opportunity offered by Amway and other direct selling companies. Additionally, according to World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) data, over the past four years direct selling has grown by 20 percent globally.

“We believe that in a world where people have more choices than ever before—specifically in how they make money, where they find products and who provides them with tips and insights—that we’re well positioned to help individuals meet their varying needs through the choice of an Amway product or Amway business opportunity,” said Doug DeVos, Amway President and Chairman of the WFDSA.

February 07, 2017

U.S. News

DSN Announces the 2017 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling

Building on the positive results from its inaugural year, Direct Selling News has partnered once again with the employee engagement experts at Quantum Workplace to identify the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling. The contest was open to all direct selling companies headquartered in North America and having at least 50 employees.

The 2017 honorees for the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling are listed below in alphabetical order. All of these companies are equal honorees and are recognized collectively as the Best Places to Work within the direct selling channel.

  • AdvoCare
  • Isagenix
  • It Works!
  • LegalShield
  • LifeVantage
  • Nu Skin
  • Plexus
  • Team National
  • Xyngular
  • Younique
  • Zurvita

It is also noteworthy to mention that LegalShield, Nu Skin, Team National and Zurvita are being recognized for the second year in a row.

We celebrate and salute these companies for establishing nurturing work environments that bring out the very best in people. Employee engagement at the workplace is key to increasing retention, motivation and productivity.

For this program, Quantum Workplace asked employees of the self-nominated companies to complete an online survey designed to measure workplace engagement. Quantum then compiled and evaluated the responses, ranking the participating companies based on their overall composite score. Winners were selected based on the results of this survey.

Quantum Workplace’s in-depth employee surveys gauge factors such as employee recognition, engagement and leadership development. The input comes from surveying the employees themselves.

Quantum is an HR technology company that has been collecting Best Places to Work data for more than a decade and currently supports 47 programs across North America. Their software enables companies to discover the strength of their employees, culture and leadership.

Look for profiles of each winning company and additional coverage in the April issue of Direct Selling News.

February 03, 2017

U.S. News

Usborne Books & More Sustains Rapid Growth in Q3

Bookseller Educational Development Corp. (EDUC—NASDAQ) has reported record quarterly sales, driven by the company’s direct selling division.

In the third quarter of fiscal 2017, ended November 30, 2016, overall revenue hit $30.7 million, up from $24.4 million a year earlier. EDC is the sole American distributor of U.K.-based Usborne Books and owns Kane Miller Books, an imprint specializing in children’s literature from around the world. The company sells to retailers and directly to consumers through its Usborne Books & More division.

At Usborne Books & More, quarterly sales rose 27 percent from the same quarter last year. This growth was reflected in the company’s Consultant base, which expanded from 17,200 to 28,000 in the same period.

In the third quarter, the company cleared a profit of $1.3 million, or 31 cents per share, on par with fiscal 2015 results.

This year, overall revenue is on track to exceed $110 million, surging from just $32.5 million in 2015. Prolonged growth had given rise to a significant order backlog in recent months, as the company worked to bring shipping and distribution to scale. Management said that backlog has been cleared, but efforts to streamline operations likely will extend throughout fiscal 2018. EDC also is in the midst of implementing multiple new software systems, a process that delayed reporting and prompted the company to obtain a filing extension.

February 02, 2017

U.S. News

Tupperware Brands Posts Q4 Earnings Beat

Tupperware Brands Corp. (TUP—NYSE) on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter 2016 earnings that topped Wall Street estimates.

The Orlando, Florida-based company said net income was $79.0 million, or $1.55 per share, up from $58.1 million, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier. Factoring out one-time costs, adjusted quarterly earnings were $1.45 per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted $1.37 per share.

Sales of the company’s kitchenware and cosmetics amounted to $600.9 million, up 1 percent in dollars and 3 percent in local currency. The results, driven by 39 percent growth in South America, fell short of the $616.2 million expected by analysts.

“Despite the impact of further economic and political instabilities, our businesses in emerging markets continued on a growth trajectory in the fourth quarter with outstanding results in Argentina, Brazil, China and Tupperware South Africa,” said Rick Goings, Chairman and CEO, in a news release.

For full year 2016, the company reported profit of $223.6 million, or $4.41 per share. Revenue was $2.21 billion, down 3 percent from the prior year.

Management sees first quarter 2017 sales up 2 percent, to $536.2 million, with earnings in the range of 84 cents to 89 cents per share.

February 01, 2017

World News

Isagenix to Add First European Market in 2017

Isagenix has announced plans to bring its wellness solutions to the United Kingdom.

The announcement was made to company Associates at a recent New Year Kick Off event in San Antonio. Entry into the U.K. will introduce Isagenix not only to a new market, but to a new region as well. Up to now, the company has done business in the Americas, Asia and Australia.

Management is targeting the second quarter of 2017 for a soft launch in the U.K. In the meantime, pre-enrollment is open for residents to express their interest in the products or Associate opportunity.

“The U.K. has been experiencing a renewed interest in exercise and aerobic activity since the 2012 Summer Olympics were hosted in London,” reads a company announcement, citing research by Euromonitor International. “Despite this, 67 percent of working-age men and 57 percent of working-age women in the U.K. are overweight or obese.”

Isagenix sees an opportunity to address these needs with its wide range of health products, which are categorized as “solutions” targeting weight loss, energy, performance and other aspects of wellness. The company also encourages a healthy lifestyle through its 16-week IsaBody Challenge. Those who complete the challenge have a chance to win an assortment of cash, prizes and trips awarded by the company.

February 01, 2017

Company Spotlight

Arbonne: Growth Propelled by Technology

by J.M. Emmert


Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


ARBONNE

Founded: 1980
Headquarters: Irvine, California
Founder: Petter Mørck
CEO: Kay (Napier) Zanotti
Products: Cosmetics, skin care, personal care, wellness


nameKay (Napier) Zanotti
nameGuy Thier

For direct selling companies, harnessing the power of today’s technology is critical to sustained success. Technology impacts every area of a business, from back-office operations and supply chain management to consultant training and sales and marketing.

Kay (Napier) Zanotti understood the importance of a strong technology underpinning when she took over the helm of Irvine, California-based Arbonne seven and a half years ago, although she says she did not realize the full extent of just how reliant Arbonne’s Independent Consultants were on technology tools and platforms.

“When I came into the company I really did not have a full understanding of IT,” says Zanotti. “I knew it was important, but I had never seen a business that was so totally dependent on technology. All our Consultants operate from their own computers, increasingly from their own mobile devices. They run their businesses and reach out to preferred clients, as do we, through technology. The other pieces—supply chain, shipping, manufacturing—are all technology-based.”

Arbonne, which offers cosmetics as well as skincare, personal care and wellness products, was in four markets when Zanotti began her term back in 2009—the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia. Her vision for the company included international expansion, but to do that successfully, she knew the company had to commit to upgrading its technology capabilities to meet the needs of both Consultants and consumers. 


Executives were confident they had found a great platform for growth, a great platform for international expansion and a great platform for opening alternative selling methods. 


Embracing New Technologies

With that in mind, Zanotti brought in Guy Thier, who joined the company in 2013 and today is Arbonne’s Chief Information Officer. Thier’s background in the fitness industry, including 10 years at Bally Total Fitness, prepared him well for the challenges facing his new company. “Many of the challenges were similar in that it was a business-to-consumer environment where technology was enabling growth,” says Thier. “The technology platform that was in place at Arbonne was really near the threshold of where it could not support more growth. So being able to put in a new platform and put ourselves in a position where we could grow substantially was really the focus initially.” 

After evaluating the situation and putting a plan into action, Arbonne’s technology virtually changed overnight across its global markets, which at the time of the 2015 relaunch had expanded to include Poland. The company came out with a new e-commerce platform, enhanced its back-office capabilities and greatly increased its scalability. This was done through partnerships with Thatcher Technology, an MLM software specialist; Keste, an e-business suite provider; and Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides cloud-computing services. 

“Thatcher provides support in e-commerce, the sale of products over the Internet, as well as management of the Consultants’ genealogy, compensation calculations and tools to help Consultants manage their downlines,” says Thier. “For the back office we brought in a lot of stability, creating an integration layer, which we are actively using for mobile and other products.”


“The technology platform that was in place at Arbonne was really near the threshold of where it could not support more growth.”
Guy Thier, Chief Information Officer, Arbonne


The integration layer was one of the major contributions by Keste. What AWS provided was the ability to scale dramatically and quickly for the last day of the month. “Like other MLM businesses, a great percentage of our business occurs the last few days of the month, so we needed to increase our capacity five-fold within 10 to 15 minutes on those days,” says Thier. 

The three partners were instrumental in getting Arbonne to the point where executives were confident they had found a great platform for growth, a great platform for international expansion and a great platform for opening alternative selling methods.

A Companywide Effort

The relaunch of the new technology platforms and tools was a concerted effort across the organization, from Arbonne’s executives to the Consultants who had to learn the new systems. Such changes within a company oftentimes can be slow to show progress or, even worse, detrimental when so much is new and untried, but Arbonne continued to grow through this period. “We never crashed,” says Zanotti. “Not that we were perfect, because we were far from it, but it’s hard to be perfect with the kind of end-to-end change that we made.” 

Understandably, there was some frustration at the beginning of the launch, says Zanotti, but, in general, the Consultants have been supportive. “Change is hard, and there were some changes in the way they had to operate their business,” Zanotti says. “We were very rapid in making the changes, and everyone was heavily involved—from our customer service operations to our top executives and myself—in understanding what was less than optimal and then changing it as quickly as possible.”

Throughout it all, Zanotti tracked the effectiveness of the changes through Consultant satisfaction surveys. While the feedback is now positive, she knows that expectations run high on the future of the new platforms and tools. “I find that technology is a moving target,” she says. “The real expectation has been based largely on consumer interaction with Amazon. Our consultants are operating with e-commerce to run their businesses, so they have certain expectations that we seek to achieve by offering the speeds and functionality they get from Amazon. I think we upgraded dramatically in 2015 to get that functionality that they needed, but we’re still on that journey and things change. It’s a very dynamic area for us to be constantly providing ease of use, ease of access, the ability to place orders and access to information, from anywhere, anytime.” 

Seeking Continued Growth and Future Expansion

While the end-to-end technology changes were indeed a contributing factor to Arbonne’s success over the past few years—enabling the company to react more quickly, be more agile and increase greater variety from a marketing standpoint for new product, discounts and promotions—it was by no means the only reason. New product launches, improvement in the compensation plan and providing consultants with better and easier access to information all played a role.

Yet, as Zanotti acknowledges, the technology underpinning of the company is fundamental to Arbonne’s ability to grow its business. “There have been multiple contributors to our business growth, but one thing is clear: Without well-functioning technology, we could have been in big trouble,” she says. “If the systems were to shut down for any extensive period of time, or people were unable to place orders, or there was credit card fraud, it would have been a major detriment to our business.”


“I find that technology is a moving target. The real expectation has been based largely on consumer interaction with Amazon.”
Kay (Napier) Zanotti, CEO, Arbonne


Now, Zanotti and her team can look confidently into the future. The new technology gave Arbonne the capability to expand into two additional countries last year—New Zealand and Taiwan—and the company does plan to capitalize on the strong foundation to further expand.

“We are certainly looking at potential expansion in Asia,” Zanotti says. “However, we’re not the type of company that moves quickly on international expansion because we want to make sure we are successful wherever we go. We’re very proud of our record of sustainable and consistent growth. So we are not on a rapid expansion, but by the same token, we believe international expansion is a key tenet of future growth.”

Zanotti has every reason to believe the company will be successful in other parts of Europe and particularly in Asia, where discerning consumers appreciate Arbonne’s focus on pure, safe and beneficial products. “[Asian consumers] buy into our positioning very strongly, and they have extremely high standards for products, as do we,” she says. “Our research indicates that our products continue to be extremely well received, and we really upped the game in terms of removing any ingredients that we believe have the potential to be harmful.” 

Arbonne has made a committed effort to develop products for the Asian market—defining what products should be in the market as well as a marketing and sales plan; building relationships with Taiwanese prospects; and perhaps most importantly, using the new technology to develop Experience Centers, which are storefronts not typical in its Western markets. 

Rounding Up Donations

Arbonne also is expanding the company’s mission to make an impact on the world, specifically, today’s youth. In April 2012, the company established the Arbonne Charitable Foundation to provide support for programs and opportunities that promote the development of self-esteem in teenage boys and girls.

As of today, the foundation has raised over $4.2 million, already distributing over $2.5 million to help more than 155,000 teens from around the globe develop increased confidence through such projects as the North London Youth Project; the Annual Healthy Girl Festival in Laguna Beach, California; and the Breakthrough Miami LEAD Program.

“I am proud of the Foundation and particularly proud of the fact that the money raised can only be given as a grant to one of our Independent Consultants’ or one of our employees’ organizations that they support,” says Zanotti. 


“There have been multiple contributors to our business growth, but one thing is clear: Without well-functioning technology, we could have been in big trouble.”
Kay (Napier) Zanotti


Grants are typically between $3,000 to $8,000, and that money goes directly back into the community where that consultant or employee plays a role. While most of the money is raised through events and the contributions by consultants and employees, the company has utilized its new e-commerce capabilities to increase donations. “As part of our e-commerce platform we have a step in the checkout process that talks about the foundation and asks for a donation by rounding up to the next dollar,” says Thier. “A large percentage of the funds are raised via the website and checkout process.”

Still More to Come

Throughout the changes across its business systems, Arbonne never skipped a beat in reaching new revenue heights. The company eclipsed the $400 million in 2013, and by 2015 had reached the half-billion dollar milestone, with revenue of $502 million. For 2016, each of the company’s markets will show revenue numbers have climbed; North America was up 8 percent; Poland, 90 percent; the U.K., 24 percent and Canada, 13 percent.


The Arbonne Charitable Foundation has already distributed over $2.5 million to help more than 155,000 teens develop increased confidence.


For the new year, Arbonne executives will focus their attention on four additional initiatives, three of which will seek further improvement of technology capabilities. The first focus involves product formulation. Now that the company has stability in the back office, Arbonne will fine-tune its processes and tools to help bring new products to market faster, increasing the speed from concept to introduction. 

Another focus will be the refinement of its e-commerce business tools. “Now that we have a pretty solid e-commerce platform, we are looking at techniques used by other retailing companies for companion products, marketing within the shopping cart, and giving our consultants CRM-like tools for them to market specific messages to specific constituencies of their market base,” says Thier.

The third initiative will relate to building a base of substantial end-consumers through social media channels, which Zanotti sees as a real opportunity for growth. As with other direct selling companies, Arbonne had a preferred client base in which many of the Consultants were wholesale buyers. “Now we have a very strong preferred client base of close to 700,000 people, which is about three times the size of our Consultant base, who buy our products strictly for their own use,” she says. “We believe there is a huge opportunity in continuing to grow that base, so we all are working collaboratively to drive it through technology and social media and tie it back to our Consultants to provide a greater degree of reach-out to more of the world’s consumers.” 

This initiative will include creating a greater synergy between the Arbonne corporate voice and Consultants’ personal networks on platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. “Some of what we are going to be doing this year is putting in some techniques to expand the network beyond the Consultant’s immediate network to the Consultants’ customers’ customers,” says Thier. “We’re really focused on expanding our reach in the social media arena, and there is some technology we are putting in place to make it easier to share information, make it easier to purchase off social media and give Consultants feedback on what is working and what is not working within their social media networks.” 


For 2016, North America was up 8 Percent; Poland, 90 percent; U.K., 24 percent and Canada, 13 percent.


The final major focus is one that is generating much excitement in the company: the Arbonne Intelligence Genius Ultra. Introduced last year, this new product is a patent-pending skincare device that uses safe and effective ultrasound technology, allowing Arbonne skincare topicals to work smarter and optimize skin care performance. “We launched in April of last year and it sold out immediately,” says Zanotti. “It’s quite a game-changing product for us. We have never had any kind of skincare electronic tool and it’s clearly an increasing area of growth in our existing markets as well as in Asia.” 

With a solid technology foundation, a popular new product, plans for future expansion and a focus on continued enhancement of its business tools, Arbonne is poised to make 2017 another very successful year. “It’s a big world and it is changing very rapidly,” says Zanotti. “We want to leverage everything that technology has to offer in getting the message out about our products, so there will be more to follow.”

February 01, 2017

Company Focus

Think Pink: Scents get Personal at Pink Zebra

by Lin Grensing-Pophal


Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Pink Zebra

Founded: 2011
Headquarters: Sugar land, Texas
Top Executive: Founders Tom and Kelly Gaines  
Consultants: 38,000
strong>Products: Sprinkle candles and other customizable scents and accessories


nameTom and Kelly Gaines

Fragrance is personal. What appeals to the olfactory senses of one individual may not appeal to another. Traditionally, though, consumers seeking opportunities to bring fragrance into their homes have been faced with pretty cut-and-dried decisions. You get this fragrance or that one, say vanilla bean or fresh linen. And, while a myriad of different fragrances exists in a variety of different forms (from candles to wax bars to essential oils), “what you smell is what you get,” in most cases.

But not when you buy fragrance from Pink Zebra. Pink Zebra is different—hence its name, and its mascot, Paisley. Pink Zebra broke into the fragrance realm in 2011 by manufacturing fragrance “Sprinkles”—small beads of fragrance that customers can mix and match to meet their personal scent preferences. Today, the company offers a variety of other products—from simmering lights to shades, simmer pots, soaks, and even scented jewelry. 


“Pink stands for the power of women, and zebras are unique in their stripes. They’re like fingerprints—each one is unique.”
Tom Gaines, Founder, Pink Zebra


Pink Zebra’s original manufacturing site and new headquarters are based in Sugar Land, Texas, where they held a ribbon-cutting in September. The company outgrew its first space and has leased a 85,000-square-foot location in the area, which executives say has a great environment for businesses and is centrally located. They have another manufacturing site in Kentucky. The real magic happens at these two manufacturing facilities, through an onsite pastillator—or “sprinklator” as company founders Tom and Kelly Gaines call it. This is a machine that makes granular pieces of soy wax for Pink Zebra’s flagship product. With a total of 100 employees in the Sugar Land location, the company has room to produce and distribute its own products as it looks to expand distribution warehouses throughout the U.S. 

The Gaineses are no strangers to the fragrance business. Before launching Pink Zebra they made candles for other brands—including Pier One, Bath & Body Works, Walmart and Walgreens. They were financially successful, but they felt a disconnect from the end user. To drive that connection and focus on quality, they embraced direct selling. From the outset, Pink Zebra was established as a direct sales company.


The company had 300 consultants after its first year and, today, has more than 38,000 with consistent double-digit growth in annual revenue.


The couple hired Colby Waisath, a consultant with direct sales experience, to help them launch the brand. Waisath, who now serves as Vice President of Sales, says he was brought on board to help the Gaineses “connect with Mary,” a persona they had developed to represent their ideal customer, a woman everyone could relate to. “Because they were so heavy in the retail environments and because of the way the buyers bought products, they were no longer able to connect with Mary,” says Waisath. 

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Entrepreneurs tend to be a tough bunch and don’t take failure readily. In fact, when one idea or approach doesn’t work, the most successful entrepreneurs will just tackle the issue from another perspective. That’s exactly what happened with the introduction of Pink Zebra’s signature product—Sprinkles.

Back in 1997, well before launching Pink Zebra, the Gaineses had tested the Sprinkles product through Bath & Body Works. “If it was going to be successful anywhere, it would be successful there,” Tom says. The store’s approach is very hands-on and service-oriented, providing an opportunity for staff to engage with customers and to have the opportunity to tell them about the products. The product was distributed in 30 stores and, says Tom, “it was a complete failure.” Tom, Kelly and the buyers thought the product was great. The consumers, though, he says, “didn’t really understand it—it really needed demonstration.” It needed the direct sales approach that would allow for that personal touch.


“Pink Zebra was brand-new, but the culture they had created prior to Pink Zebra being launched really drew me to the type of people they were.”
Colby Waisath, Vice President of Sales, Pink Zebra


The Gaineses knew they had a winning product, so they didn’t give up on their vision. They conceived of Pink Zebra as a way to provide the kind of demonstration and engagement they knew would make their idea a hit. Tom came up with the early concept, and Kelly was immediately enticed. 

The Power of Women

The Pink Zebra name and logo have special meaning, because “Pink stands for the power of women,” and “zebras are unique in their stripes,” Tom says. “They’re like fingerprints—each one is unique. But together they’re stronger as a herd because the lions can’t pick them out. They’re all together in one confusing pattern.” Similarly, he says, “there are very powerful women that are strong individuals, but even stronger together—so that’s why we named it Pink Zebra.”

Consultants—and customers—love the concept, says Kelly. “The unique part of reaching consultants is that they can create their own kind of recipe, if you will. They all have the same unique fragrances to sell, but they can also use their ingenuity to blend their own creations.” 

When the Gaineses launched Pink Zebra they were still producing candles for other brands as well. But, as Pink Zebra grew they soon realized where their heart was and where their focus needed to be. “We sold off all of the other businesses we had in candles that were not Pink Zebra,” says Tom. And they never looked back. He adds: “We’re really, really happy and loving it.”


Through Pink Zebra, the Gaineses want to “connect with Mary,” a persona they have developed to represent their ideal customer, a woman everyone can relate to.


Through Pink Zebra, the couple was able to find the connection they were looking for. “Being able to listen to that end user directly is probably the most rewarding,” Kelly says. 

Bringing warmth and compassion to all they meet, the founders have made the Pink Zebra culture a big driver in the company’s growth, Waisath adds. “Part of the reason I came here is that I fell in love with the culture that Tom and Kelly had created in their old business. Pink Zebra was brand-new, but the culture they had created prior to Pink Zebra being launched really drew me to the type of people they were.”

In fact, it’s a family culture. So much so that company meetings are referred to as “reunions,” because the Gaineses are very welcoming and embrace everyone in the company. Whether meetings or incentive trips, they make the environments comfortable and inviting, Waisath says.

Direct Sales from the Ground Up

When it came to the nuts and bolts of a direct selling company, Pink Zebra was established “from the ground up,” he says. “We started from scratch and developed a complete system, with training and processes to support a direct selling model.” Simultaneously, consultant numbers grew organically with recruitment through personal connections. “In our first month we had 22 people join and I can remember the CFO, and even Tom, asking, ‘Is this really going to work?’ and I said ‘I think so,’ ” Waisath recalls. He was right. The company had 300 consultants after its first year and, today, has more than 38,000, with strong double-digit growth in annual revenue, according to Waisath. 

The success of the company has been driven by a number of factors. Like any company, of course, product is foundational. The Pink Zebra product, and the ability for consumers to create their own scents, has been a big hit. It’s a product that is also difficult for others to replicate. There are plenty of scented products on the market, but Pink Zebra’s Sprinkles stand on their own.

The brand has been built on the power of this product and its strong, long-lasting smell. On their website, David Hoag, Vice President of R&D, shares the secret behind what makes Pink Zebra smell so strong and last so long. He says three minutes is about the time it takes to turn the liquid wax into solid Sprinkles—a fraction of the time it would take to make traditional candles; that short timeframe, Hoag says, is another factor in helping to prevent fragrance loss. The company also is careful about what ingredients go into the wax: only ingredients approved by the International Fragrance Association, no “crop watch” listed essential oils, no phthalates, no ingredients considered harmful by California’s Proposition 65 or SARA 313, and no diacetyl.  

Because of their prior experience, of course, the Gaineses had another big benefit that other startups don’t typically have. They already had the infrastructure in place for manufacturing and inventorying their products, including a 600,000-square-foot facility. “Many other companies have to invest in that over time as they can afford it,” says Tom. “We already had that infrastructure there.”


“We all had tons of experience with developing product lines that had someone else’s name on it. All we did was create a brand for ourselves.”
Kelly Gaines, Founder, Pink Zebra


They also had people in place, Kelly notes. “We had all of the people who knew how to develop product, how to buy product, how to schedule a warehouse—all of those things. We all had tons of experience with developing product lines that had someone else’s name on it. All we did was create a brand for ourselves.”

Attention to detail and the ability to “connect with Mary” have not only fueled the founders’ success, but have led to a lot of fun along the way, as well as opportunities to impact others’ lives in very positive ways.

Changing Lives

The Gaineses had been somewhat taken aback when a consultant told them that “if this business takes off, you’re both going to be overwhelmed by the people who come to you to tell you their lives have been changed.” But the consultant was right. Throughout the year, and at their annual “family reunions,” the Gaineses are inundated with input and gratitude from their consultants.  

They’re grateful for their consultants as well and have taken steps to give back, recognizing the challenges that some of their consultants face in their personal lives. Their HEROES program—Helping Encouraging Rewarding Obtaining Education for Single moms—offers an opportunity for consultants to apply for free day care and scholarships. Single moms who are 17 years or older with children 13 and under, who have held a party of $500 or more can apply to get $500 of free day care. The scholarship program offers an opportunity for up to $1,000. “Supporting them, helping them and encouraging them is what it’s all about,” Kelly says. 

Constant Communication

At Pink Zebra there is no doubt about who drives success—the consultants. Training and frequent connections with consultants help to keep them engaged, says Waisath. In addition to annual reunions, Pink Zebra also holds rallies in a number of locations in February, May and October. It’s a way to ensure that the maximum number of consultants can be involved, says Waisath. Annual meetings can be difficult for all to attend, given geographic barriers for some. Rallies, held in multiple locations, mean that consultants will generally need to travel no more than two or three hours to attend. The most recent October rally was held in 31 locations. 

In addition to the rallies and annual reunion, consultants are also able to connect with each other via social media groups where they can ask questions, share ideas and give support.

Jeff Dahl

The consultants bring their own voices to the Pink Zebra team and their input is highly valued. “We try to be very engaged with consultants in letting them provide ideas and feedback to us,” says Waisath. “It’s pretty common for us to introduce something that has come from the field.” Those ideas can impact everything from process improvements to new product ideas, he says. 

The Future

Looking forward, says Tom, Pink Zebra’s future will include expansion into Canada in 2017. The team will also continue to explore how social media can help them reach their audience—particularly millennials—most effectively. The company just launched a new mobile app and are working on streamlining a number of their processes to be more efficient so they can build and expand, even going so far as to say they want their shipping to one day compete with Amazon, according to Waisath.

He again points to the Pink Zebra culture as the force behind the company and the consultants’ success. “We have two owners who are just down-to-earth people. Success does not, or will not, go to their heads. They engage with everyone and make them part of the group. I think that connection with the consultants is so strong. 

“They have employees who have been with them from day one,” he adds. “It’s a culture of wanting to be part of something—our consultants love the business and they love the company.”

February 01, 2017

Industry with Heart

dōTERRA: Healing Hands Contribute to the Wellbeing of All

by Courtney Roush


Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Photo: A Haitian farmer harvests vetiver, a fragrant grass, dōTERRA sources for one of its essential oils.


dōTERRA

Founded: 2008
Headquarters: Pleasant Grove, Utah
Top Executive: David Stirling, Founding Executive and CEO 
Products: Essential oils and related personal care, nutrition and gifts


nameDavid Stirling
name Emily Wright

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an integral part of company missions everywhere, both inside and outside of our channel of distribution. Direct selling companies are in the unique position, however, to create maximum impact by engaging not only their own employees, but also thousands (and sometimes millions) of independent salesforce members and customers in their charitable efforts. One direct selling company that illustrates that potential is dōTERRA.

For the founders of Utah-based dōTERRA, a direct seller of therapeutic grade essential oils, CSR and philanthropy  were always the plan. In fact, even in their earliest days as a company, dōTERRA’s team of seven founding executives were earmarking funds and making plans for what would become their first CSR initiatives. A direct selling business model, coupled with a firm belief in the power of essential oils to enhance well-being and vitality, has led to a significant philanthropic focus on women and children. Specifically, dōTERRA founders wanted to give women a means to improve their own health and that of their children. That’s a message that resonates strongly with dōTERRA’s global independent salesforce of 3 million Wellness Advocates, 94 percent of whom are women.


“With our commitment to philanthropy as a backdrop, we were determined to develop a supply chain initiative that created shared value.”
David Stirling, Founding Executive and CEO, DŌTerra


Established in 2008, dōTERRA, a Latin derivative meaning “gift of the Earth,” was founded by David Stirling, Emily Wright, Gregory Cook, Dr. David Hill, Robert Young, Mark Wolfert and Corey Lindley, a group of health care and business executives who understand the therapeutic benefits of essential oils, and also know that oil purity is critical. Back in 2008, the essential oil industry didn’t require a set standard for quality, so dōTERRA’s founders set out to create their own. The result of their efforts was a new testing process: CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®. In a nutshell, CPTG meticulously screens for fillers, synthetics or harmful contaminants that would compromise product efficacy or potency. Relying on a world-class team of more than 30 scientists, 2,200 square feet of cutting-edge laboratory space, and more than 115 partnerships with top researchers and practitioners around the world, dōTERRA has established robust analytical and testing processes, ensuring each batch of essential oils is consistently pure, potent and effective.


“With our commitment to philanthropy as a backdrop, we were determined to develop a supply chain initiative that created shared value.”
David Stirling, Founding Executive and CEO, DŌTerra


As you can imagine, sourcing high-grade essential oils that meet the CPTG standard from nearly every corner of the globe is no easy task. 

Commitment to sustainability

“From our earliest days as a company, we have been relentlessly committed to ensuring the best possible growing conditions for each essential oil we source, even though it means going to the ends of the earth,” says dōTERRA CEO David Stirling. “We also knew, right from the beginning, we needed to ensure the long-term supply of essential oils. With our commitment to philanthropy as a backdrop, we were determined to develp a supply chain initiative that created shared value.”

Accordingly, dōTERRA created a Global Botanical Network, including the expertise of local growers and distillers throughout the world, to develop a robust and seamless supply chain. When looking for sourcing partnerships, dōTERRA deliberately chooses locations where the company can improve the quality of the lives of its partners while simultaneously producing the highest quality essential oils. Establishing such partnerships requires a great deal of trust; farmers and distillers in developing countries are often at the mercy of third parties, and can be taken advantage of or paid unfairly. dōTERRA’s ongoing objective is to forge relationships with growers to ensure they are paid fairly and on time, and to provide them with the resources, trainings, and tools required to develop a profitable business and ultimately help them escape poverty. 

dōTERRA calls this supply chain initiative, which seeks to create shared value throughout its Global Botanical Network, Cō-Impact Sourcing®. While these are mutually beneficial partnerships, they are also designed to keep power and ownership in the hands of the farmers. 

Emily Wright, Founding Executive, Sales and Marketing, explains, “Cō-Impact Sourcing provides the tools needed to help lift these families out of poverty and promote economic development. We recognize the tremendous opportunity we have to considerably improve lives and reduce extreme poverty through the ethical production of essential oils, and we take that very seriously. Before we enter into any partnership, we make certain our sourcing partners will observe strict Sourcing Guiding Principles. After a partnership is formed, we regularly review and inspect all partners to ensure they are truly adhering to our Sourcing Guiding Principles.”

Some growers and harvesters within these areas have formed cooperatives in an effort to share benefits and increase bargaining power. Today, dōTERRA nurtures Co-Impact Sourcing partnerships with farmers and distillers around the world, and sources from more than 40 countries. Approximately 15,000 people worldwide are employed through the initiative. 

“By intentionally striving to improve the lives of our partners, we secure the continued supply and quality of essential oils for decades to come, all while creating shared value with our growers and distillers,” says Kirk Jowers, Vice President of Corporate Relations and European Markets. “These suppliers are integral to the success of the company.”


Emily Wright, Founding Executive, Sales and Marketing, shares a moment with children in Madagascar where dōTERRA’s Healing Hands Foundation has helped with economic and medical needs.

A Hand up for Global Communities

The company took its commitment to sustainability several steps further in 2012 with the founding of the dōTERRA Healing Hands FoundationTM, a 501(c)(3) organization that conducts humanitarian projects in Cō-Impact Sourcing locations with the aim of eradicating disease and poverty. The Healing Hands Foundation has contributed funds and sweat equity to construct schools and orphanages in Guatemala and Bulgaria, install solar power water pumps in Haiti, and set up a mobile health clinic in Madagascar, to name a few projects. 

dōTERRA covers all overhead and administrative costs for the foundation, enabling 100 percent of donations to be channeled directly to those in need. Along with on-the-ground projects, Healing Hands also maintains a microcredit lending fund through its partner, Mentors International. Entrepreneurs in developing communities, including areas in which financing is either not available or offered through unethical or even dangerous means, may apply for small business loans and education to help maximize their chances of success. 

All proceeds from the sales of two dōTERRA products, Rose Oil Lotion and Hope Oil, go directly to the foundation. Hope Oil proceeds are earmarked for the nonprofit organization Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R. Rescue), dedicated to rescuing young victims of sex trafficking and slavery. Healing Hands also maintains a partnership with Days for Girls, which to date has distributed sustainable feminine hygiene kits and promoted education, sanitation, greater self-worth and community participation among girls and women in 75 countries.

TextFounders David Stirling and Emily Wright greet the Napalese when visiting the Himalayan country to help rebuild after a 2015 earthquake.

Perhaps the biggest life force behind the Healing Hands Foundation, however, is the company’s independent salesforce. dōTERRA actively encourages its Wellness Advocates to seek additional opportunities to help others, either locally or globally, and through its Wellness Advocate Partner Project initiative offers matching contributions for those who qualify. Wellness Advocates have taken the ball and run with the offer, paying their own way to travel throughout the U.S. as well as to places such as Nicaragua, Bolivia, Haiti, Slovakia, Ghana, South Africa, Greece and Mozambique to complete service projects including disaster relief, well construction and literacy education. Customers, too, are welcome to support the various causes represented by dōTERRA; donations may be added to a single order or set up on a recurring basis. At the corporate level, the company’s headquarters in Pleasant Grove, Utah, spearheads CSR events at least once per quarter, participating in everything from house builds to blood drives. 

For employees and Wellness Advocates alike, there’s simply no better way to immerse themselves in dōTERRA’s distinct culture than to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Jowers, who joined dōTERRA after serving as the University of Utah’s Chief Advisor to the Office of Global Engagement, Director of Federal Relations and Director of the university’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, believes that humanitarian aid could provide significant and measurable benefits for our world economy. Already a believer in the company’s products, he was struck, he says, by dōTERRA’s commitment to layering their sourcing partnerships with the construction of schools, hospitals and other projects to encourage sustainability. 


Every week from November 2016 through May 2017, dōTERRA and its salesforce are conducting a humanitarian project somewhere in the world.


Shortly after joining the company’s leadership team, Jowers and his family traveled to Guatemala, where they joined the dōTERRA Healing Hands Foundation at a Cō-Impact Sourcing site where Cardamom essential oil is sourced. Local families were living on dirt floors and cooking over open fires, which presented a host of potential health risks due to smoke inhalation. Jowers and a team of volunteers built stoves with ventilation for simple homes, allowing for clean, safe, breathable air in the home. The experience made an impact on him and his family. “After my family and I went to Guatemala,” he says, “I was fully invested in this company.” So was Jowers’ daughter, Lucy, who chronicled her trip with a blog and video. 

CEO David Stirling and his family routinely attend company mission trips—his wife, Laurea, attended the Guatemala Cō-Impact Sourcing Expedition in 2015—and Emily Wright recently spent time in a Mexican sanctuary for victims of trafficking. For leadership, employees and distributors, this is an all-in commitment, and it’s personal.  “We try to be more than just a donor,” Jowers says. “We also participate.” 

Abby, a dōTERRA Wellness Advocate and participant at the conclusion of the Guatemala Cardamom Cō-Impact Sourcing Expedition was equally impacted by her experience. “If you’d asked me a week ago if I truly knew myself and my whole actual worth… I’d have thought I did. I would have said yes. Now I know how wrong I would have been.” 

Volunteers in Action: Nepal

The company’s work in Nepal, among its most recent initiatives, provides a vivid example of dōTERRA’s hands-on approach to addressing need in developing communities. Through its Cō-Impact Sourcing initiative, dōTERRA obtains its Wintergreen essential oil from Nepalese farmers. In April 2015, however, the region was stuck by a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a series of damaging aftershocks. Homes belonging to wintergreen growers and harvesters were largely destroyed, as many wintergreen distillation units were damaged. Wellness Advocates rallied to raise nearly $318,000 for aid. dōTERRA matched that donation for a total of nearly $650,000 for earthquake relief. Over the next several months, the company funded temporary housing tents for earthquake victims, the construction of earthquake-resistant permanent homes and Nepal’s first earthquake-resistant school. dōTERRA also led the rebuilding of distillation units, latrines and additional schools. Collectively, these efforts helped families in the region regain their economic footing and rebuild their lives. 

Essential oils now represent a $7.5 billion global market, a figure to which dōTERRA’s employees and Wellness Advocates have in no small way contributed. dōTERRA ships product to customers in nearly 100 countries and maintains corporate offices in 17 countries, including its newest offices in Mexico, Singapore and Canada. The company employs nearly 2,000 people worldwide and opened a new 400,000 square-foot corporate headquarters in Pleasant Grove, Utah, in 2014, where more than 1,700 of those employees are based. 

Impact on Retention

Last year, the dōTERRA Healing Hands Foundation donated nearly $3 million for the betterment of impoverished communities around the globe. Consider this: Every week from November 2016 through May 2017, dōTERRA and its salesforce are conducting a humanitarian project somewhere in the world. When a company walks the talk, so to speak, actively participating in causes beyond its walls and inviting others to do the same, what does that do to its retention rates, both from a corporate and salesforce standpoint? For starters, Forbes magazine named dōTERRA among America’s best midsize employers, ranking it No. 10 on its 2016 list, and the No. 1 enterprise in the state of Utah. It was also named International Company of the Year in 2016 by the World Trade Association of Utah. 


“[Service] is a big part of the fulfillment we feel as employees. None of us got into this for financial gain.”
Kirk Jowers, Vice President of Corporate Relations and European Markets, dŌterra


According to company statistics, 68 percent of dōTERRA customers reorder, continue to share dōTERRA products or build a dōTERRA business. The company’s year-over-year retention rate among all of those categories is currently 83 percent. Eighteen percent of dōTERRA’s customer base comprise its distributor base, and 98 percent of those Wellness Advocates remain active in their businesses. “Among the salesforce, they say that our emphasis on service is one of the things they love most about dōTERRA,” says Jowers. “The ability to get funding for causes they believe in fuels their passion for this company. And it’s a big part of the fulfillment we feel as employees. None of us got into this for financial gain.”

At a recent meeting for its top-level salesforce members, dōTERRA featured guest speaker Karen Dillon, co-author of the New York Times Best Seller How Will You Measure Your Life? A line from Dillon’s book sums up the responsibility we all share, both as representatives of this channel and as human beings: “The only metrics that will truly matter to my life are the individuals whom I have been able to help, one by one, to become better people.

February 01, 2017

DSA News

It’s Not All about the Money

by Joseph N. Mariano



Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


As with other retail entities, direct selling companies grow when more products are sold to more customers, and we sell more products when we have more salespeople selling them. No misunderstanding there. But how do we attract people to sell for us?

A direct selling executive once enthusiastically told me: “We are selling the dream!” But the “dream” of those who become involved in direct selling is as varied as the people who dream it, grounded in their own reality and with the anticipation of nothing more. The dream need not be to obtain a lavish lifestyle: to get rich quick, quit your job, and sail off around the world—although some salespeople accomplish these remarkable things—and neither should that be our promise.

In 2015, 20.2 million people were “involved in direct selling” in the United States. Those are incredible figures, but not all of those 20.2 million became involved in order to make a lot of money or even with the expectation of selling. DSA surveys clearly demonstrate, in fact, that the opportunity to obtain much-loved products at a discount ranks as one of the top motivators for becoming, and staying, involved in direct selling. Never intending to sell the product or recruit others to do so, our most loyal customers often commit to our companies to improve their access to the products on which they rely. That is their dream.

Without agenda, these participants become our most authentic product marketers, passionately extolling the virtues of our products to family and friends who, in turn, go on to become new customers. We should meet such loyalty with acknowledgement and recognition. How much time and energy does your company devote to its non-selling participants, those who purely buy but who nevertheless serve as reliable champions of our businesses, products and business model?

What better way to demonstrate the positivity of our sales channel than by promoting all of the great motivators that bring people to direct selling. Talk of recruiting and we usually mean attracting people into our plan in order for them to sell. But there’s another approach. Attract people into our plan—or “family,” one might say—to gain access to discounts on the products they already use, perhaps as “preferred customers.” Then promote the social aspect associated with using the product as well as the personal and professional development available. Finally, convey that selling the product affords supplemental income and possibly, with hard work and perseverance, a new career. Casual and preferred buyers can become committed sellers.

All roads can lead to Rome, but let’s offer individuals the means to travel those roads in the manner of their own choosing—promoting our virtues and the good name of direct selling and its companies along the way. Someone has a specific dream? Let’s do what we can to make it a reality.


NameJoseph N. Mariano is President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation.

February 01, 2017

New Perspectives

The Ever Changing Game that Remains the Same

by John T. Fleming

The title of this article sounds like an oxymoron, and it is for virtually every direct selling company. 

But exactly what should change, and what should remain the same? How do you know how to tell the difference between the two? Before answering or attempting to provide perspective to either of these questions, we might reflect on what the direct seller does. Even as we use the term “direct seller” as our label, much has changed there as well. Perhaps, one day soon, there will be some other descriptor for the work of an entrepreneur who has no stationary location, who transacts business via a phone as easily as a personal visit, and who presents products and services without the expense of having to engage sophisticated marketing personnel. They will have an app for everything too, from daily reminders to tracking the business itself, and they can compete with any competitor because they are supported with the finest in tools, training, and products and services. 

As I wrote the preceding sentence, it occurred to me that maybe the new descriptor for the direct seller should be magician! How is it possible that this entrepreneur without a store or fixed location can take an order for a product or service on Saturday and have it delivered on Monday? Better yet, this new magician can invite others to enroll in the same experience and, when they do, share in the results of what those enrolled might do with their magical opportunity.

Of course, we know that magic is not real. However, what I just described is real. Yes, it is possible to explore opportunities that didn’t exist 10 years ago, yet are proven by over 100 years of experience. A direct selling opportunity has always been focused on the products and services offered and the business training and personal development guidance needed to support a diverse sales organization. The game may have changed but it is still the same.

What has changed is how a direct selling business is built and managed. “Easy” is not a word I like to use when describing anything. However, having been a participant and observer of the direct selling model for many years, I know that it has never been easier for an independent contractor to build a business. This fact activates even greater potential for direct selling companies as long as they maintain an appealing corporate voice, unique products and services, state-of-the-art tools, systems and processes inclusive of personal development. It’s also become important now more than ever to support the acquisition of business builders and real customers, alike. 

We know that in a few short years, up to 50 percent of the workforce could be in independent contractor status. The previous stat is driven by the emergence of the new gig economy or shared economy, what we refer to as the YouEconomy. Regardless of the label used to refer to this new surge in micro-entrepreneurship, direct selling companies are well positioned to benefit from this increasing segment of diverse people who now seek a form of control over their work that is quite different from that of a full-time job.   

The “Why” Remains a Powerful Magnet

Our industry “why” has always been one of our strongest competitive advantages. Direct selling companies, each in their own special way, offer a value proposition that goes far beyond the characteristics of quality product, quality service and traditional methods of compensation. The ability to contribute to positive change in someone’s life through a business opportunity that has few barriers to entry remains unique. The combination of this unique blend of opportunity, products, services and value, along with excellent guidance and recognition, has provided people with a reason “why” they should embrace something they might never have thought of doing—building a direct selling business. 

So what is it that attracts this breed of entrepreneur? Is it simply a unique product/service? Is it the compensation plan? Is it the benefits personally derived/experienced? Is it a belief that this opportunity appears to be different from what they have been accustomed to? Is it more a belief that “I think I can do this”? Is it a belief in and respect for the corporate story, the corporate mission, vision, principles and values? Is it because they think the company cares about their personal and professional development as well as the level of success they may achieve? Is it because the company and the people who have introduced the company do not appear to be concerned about what one has or has not accomplished—only about what they can accomplish? I believe each of these thoughts forms a part of what motivates people to do something they never ever thought about doing. 

Everything mentioned in the preceding paragraph represents what I refer to as the voice of the company. The voice of the company is what speaks to people. The company voice is the aggregate of how all messages are prioritized and blended into what people hear. The voice is a reflection of the heart and soul of the company—the heart being sensitive to the fact that people come from all backgrounds and most would never choose to sell something to earn a living. The soul of the company is about the brand. What do people think about when they think of you? Are they happy, excited and satisfied, building their businesses enthusiastically or are they dissatisfied to some degree and not performing to their potential? We do well to remember that they are always one or the other. 

As we look at the brilliant talent in charge of all the game-changing tools now available, I ask “Who oversees the voice, the heart and the soul of the company?” Is this, perhaps, a new position within the company? We know and recognize the importance of the Chief Executive Officer, the President, the Chief Sales, Marketing, Legal, Technology and Operations Officers. As we change the game, we might keep a watchful eye on who is the Chief in charge of the Company Voice—the real brand. 

New direct selling companies, growth companies and mature companies will continue to be challenged to keep their corporate voice clear and free from the clutter that often arises when so many chiefs have so much to say about the importance of what matters most to them.

Game Changer: Technology

Technology has definitely changed the game for direct sellers. Technology has provided direct sellers with more valuable tools and services than ever before. Sales can be expanded, parties can be held differently, personalized service can be offered more effectively, just to name a few of the advantages technology has brought to the table. The average direct seller can immediately adopt tools that provide branding and perception of a very sophisticated business within 24 hours of startup. No other business opportunity offers anything comparable. 

Even the speed of technological change is changing, becoming exponential to what it was less than 10 years ago. Some companies thought the internet would change the game and it did. Social media is thought to have changed the game and it has. Order processing and delivery of products and services within a few days was once thought by direct selling companies to be an impossible standard to achieve. However, today it is the standard whether we like it or not, due to competition that takes your order and delivers within 24 to 48 hours max. 

Technology has even enhanced the direct selling value proposition, once thought to be solely focused on attracting business builders. Regulatory scrutiny and evolving public opinion have steered us to now include company guidance and support for how best to acquire customers, and technology has made the task easier and more far-reaching. 

Brilliant Talent to Guide the Future

When I reflect on many years of observation, the talent I observe working in direct selling has never been better. I see the best marketers and sales support experts determining how best to use incentives, and merchandisers that keep a focus on products through campaigns and special pricing to fit the season and the needs of the business. Customer service, order processing and operational support often compare with the best in any industry. 

We observe innovative technology applications that enable easy use of just about anything you can imagine, from bookkeeping to tracking travel miles. There are even applications that suggest what the direct seller might do on any given day to run his or her business. It is simply amazing how far we have come in the evolution of the business model. Amazon, Zappos and other innovators have changed everyone’s game and direct sellers have a solid presence in the new game!

We do not know what trends in the future may cause us to make additional changes to our game, but we can hold firm the things we know we must keep the same: those attributes that have always attracted and motivated people from all walks of life to participate in our channel. This always has been and always should be our primary competitive advantage and value proposition. 


DSN Ambassador John T. Fleming, a retired direct selling executive and former Publisher/Editor in Chief of Direct Selling News, is the Direct Selling Association’s 2016 Hall of Fame Honoree and 2016 Direct Selling News Lifetime Achiever.

February 01, 2017

Working Smart

Differentiating Yourself in the Weight Management Industry

by Bruce Abedon, Ph.D.


Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


How direct selling companies can create winning weight management dietary supplements by using innovative, scientifically supported nutraceutical ingredients

For many people, happily indulging themselves at family gatherings and parties over the holidays is a ritual they eagerly look forward to every year. But now that the new year is upon us, many may be having regrets about that extra piece of pie they couldn’t resist, and what it has done to their waistlines.

Many consumers are now turning their attention to evidence-based healthy weight management products that can help them return to their “pre-holiday” selves. They are joined by a majority of Americans—as well as many people throughout the world—who are overweight and are seeking products and services to effectively manage their weight throughout the year, not just after the holidays.

For direct selling companies in the healthy weight management category, or considering expanding into the category, there is tremendous opportunity in formulating products that have met the following:

  • had their efficacy and safety demonstrated in human clinical trial testing, 
  • are compliant with DSHEA regulations (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) 
  • feature multiple mechanisms of action
  • address related conditions 
  • include a comprehensive safety profile
  • offer other features and benefits highly popular with consumers today.

Human Trials and Dosage Frequency

The dietary supplement landscape has changed considerably in the past few years. This is due, in part, to a heightened regulatory environment but also to increased consumer interest in evidence-based products containing ingredients that have shown significant benefits during human clinical trial testing. Gone are the days when companies could easily create winning weight management formulations just by blending tried and true, standby generic ingredients marketed primarily on their traditional use.

To be successful in today’s competitive environment, dietary supplement products often require one or more premium, clinically tested weight management ingredients that possess substantiated structure/function claims supported by clinical results. The “Gold Standard” for human clinical trial testing is the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

The most accurate weight management studies are conducted for a minimum of eight weeks, with 15-20 subjects each, who complete the trial for the treatment group and also for the placebo group. Most weight management ingredients work best when taken twice daily, but also look for ingredients that are efficacious when taken once daily, as this dosage regimen increases the attractiveness of the product for consumers. Keep in mind that most people find it difficult to comply with a program that requires three daily doses. 

DSHEA Compliance

Regulatory compliance has always been an important issue but scrutiny has increased in recent years. Weight management ingredients can be more effectively marketed when they possess structure/function claims in accordance with DSHEA. Ensuring that proper language surrounds the claims of the ingredients is critical. It may be helpful to look for ingredients with claims that have been substantiated by an FDA law firm specializing in the dietary supplement industry. 

Claim areas that resonate well with consumers include healthy weight management, satiety and appetite control, thermogenesis (the production of heat in the body) and digestive enzyme inhibition (e.g., carb control).

Multiple Mechanisms of Action

The more mechanisms a weight management finished product features, the more effective it may be in bringing about enhanced health and wellness, and the more attractive it may be to a consumer. One strategy formulators use to increase the number of mechanisms is to create a proprietary blend that combines various weight management ingredients, each featuring a different mechanism. But use of multiple ingredients may be prohibitively costly. 

An alternate, often more successful, strategy is to incorporate one or two individual ingredients where each possesses multiple mechanisms of action. This multidimensional approach allows multiple mechanisms to be employed in the finished product while keeping the cost-of-goods per dose low because fewer ingredients are required.

Addressing Related Conditions

Often, the process of weight management may be accompanied by other significant physical and metabolic challenges. Superior weight management ingredients should not only contribute to a healthy weight but also help promote metabolic wellness with clinical efficacy demonstrated in other related areas such as cardiovascular health (including healthy blood lipid levels), blood sugar balance (such as supporting blood sugar levels that are already in the normal range), and joint health.

Joint health can be challenging for those who are overweight because extra weight puts added pressure on the knees during movement. Ingredients that help support healthy joint function can be added to weight management formulations to address this and increase appeal to consumers.

Comprehensive Safety Profiles

All nutraceutical ingredients used in weight management dietary supplements should possess comprehensive safety profiles and be well tolerated, which simply means that during in vivo toxicity testing and human clinical trial testing, it was shown that no adverse effects occurred when the recommended dose was taken. An added plus is if an ingredient is GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe). This is achieved either through FDA GRAS-affirmation (after a review by the FDA) or by becoming self-affirmed GRAS (in which an expert panel of toxicologists reviews the available safety data and history of use of the ingredient).

GRAS status indicates the ingredient has been determined safe for human consumption at the recommended dose of the finished product. An added feature of GRAS status is that the ingredient can be used not only in dietary supplements but also in functional food and beverage products that display a nutrition facts panel. This broadens the number and type of weight management products formulators can create using the ingredient to generate additional sales.

Also important is recognizing that international markets may have differing approvals for ingredients. Utilizing ingredients that have been approved for sale in multiple countries (the more the better) can help avoid any disruption in service during an international expansion. Many premium weight management ingredients available to formulators have been registered in multiple countries, with the number of countries growing annually.

Additional Benefits in Demand by Consumers

It is also important that dietary supplements contain weight management nutraceutical ingredients featuring a number of widely desired characteristics consumers demand with increased frequency, and which have become industry-wide standards (not just for direct selling companies but the dietary supplement industry as a whole). These include non-GMO status, vegetarian, gluten-free, allergen-free, Kosher- and Halal-certified, and being a good value.

Additional characteristics are that a nutraceutical extract be manufactured using an extraction process utilizing only water or ethanol as the solvent, and that the ingredient be water soluble, which allows it to be incorporated not only in traditional capsules and tablets but also in liquid applications such as shots, beverages, stick packs, etc.

The right product formulation in the weight management category can boost and foster sales for your company. By providing what consumers are searching for in safe, efficacious and multi-functional products, you can take your company to the next level.


NameBruce Abedon, Ph.D. is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Icon Group LLC, a NutraGenesis affiliate company that provides nutraceutical ingredients.

February 01, 2017

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, February 2017



Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Avon Products Taps Chris Wermann for Chief Communications Officer

TextChris Wermann

Beauty giant Avon Products Inc. has appointed Chris Wermann to the role of Chief Communications Officer.

Wermann will take on oversight of communications and corporate social responsibility (CSR) at Avon, as well as operations at the Avon Foundation for Women. He has been tapped to replace outgoing Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations Cheryl Heinonen, who advised consumer brands on communications, branding and public affairs at Burson-Marsteller before joining Avon in 2012.

Wermann hails from United Kingdom-based retailer Home Retail Group, where he led communications as Group Director of Corporate Affairs. Previously, Wermann served as European Director of Corporate Affairs for Kellogg, and in that role led a total realignment of the company’s CSR programs in Europe. Other past roles have included Director of Corporate Affairs for Avis Europe and Deputy Director, Group Communications, for the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

Wermann’s appointment comes at a time when, according to CEO Sheri McCoy, effective communication is “more important than ever” for Avon. The second-largest direct sales company in the world is currently executing a three-year turnaround plan and transitioning its headquarters to the U.K. “With his strong leadership and impressive strategic communications experience, Chris will be an invaluable addition to our management team,” said McCoy.


Herbalife Adds Hong Kong-Based Nutrition Expert to Advisory Board

TextZhen-Yu Chen

The latest addition to Herbalife’s Nutrition Advisory Board is Zhen-Yu Chen, Ph.D., an expert in food and nutritional sciences.

Chen is Chair Professor of the Food and Nutritional Sciences Programme and Head of the Graduate Division of the School of Life Sciences at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. In addition to lecturing, he has contributed to more than 200 journal papers, which have garnered more than 10,000 citations.

“As a highly regarded expert in the field of food and nutrition sciences, Dr. Chen is a valuable asset to the team as we look to ramp up our health and nutrition advocacy efforts all across Asia Pacific,” said Dr. John Agwunobi, Herbalife’s Chief Health and Nutrition Officer.

Chen previously has been Deputy Chairman of the Expert Committee on Food Safety at the Food and Health Bureau of Hong Kong SAR Government, and Associate Editor for the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

In 2016, the American Chemical Society presented Chen with its Advancement of Application of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Award—one of many such accolades he has collected over the years.


ViSalus CEO Steps Down, Succeeded by Co-Founder

TextRyan Blair
TextNick Sarnicola

ViSalus has entered the new year with a new CEO, as longtime chief executive Ryan Blair steps down, after leading the company from its inception in 2005. Succeeding him is Nick Sarnicola, who co-founded ViSalus with Blair and company President Blake Mallen. Blair will remain active in the business as a board member and investor in addition to advising Sarnicola through the transition.

Connecticut-based Blyth acquired ViSalus in 2012 for $792.4 million, but in 2014 the founders led a $148 million management buyout and subsequently took the company private. 

“I spent the past 12 years pouring my blood, sweat and tears into ViSalus and am pleased with the current health of the business,” Blair said in a news release. “I leave the company in my fellow co-founder’s very capable hands.”

As he resigns the top job at ViSalus, Blair is selling controlling interest in the company to an investor group led by Sarnicola. The heir to the CEO position is the company’s top Promoter, or independent seller, with a business that has helped generate more than $1 billion in cumulative sales. 

The company also announced that Vice President and General Manager for Europe Aldo Moreno, who also serves as Chief Information Officer, is transitioning to the role of Chief Operating Officer. 


Medifast’s Michael MacDonald Named Board Leadership Fellow

TextMichael MacDonald

Medifast’s Michael MacDonald, Executive Chairman of the Board, has been named a Board Leadership Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors.

The fellowship is an avenue of professional development for board members such as MacDonald, who became a Medifast director in 1998 and was named executive chairman in 2011. He also led the wellness firm as CEO from February 2012 until October 2016, when direct sales veteran Dan Chard stepped into the role. Medifast does about three-quarters of its business—$273 million in 2015—through direct sales division Take Shape For Life, soon to be Optavia.

“I am honored to join the distinguished and diverse group of individuals who make up the NACD Fellow community and who are committed to advancing the highest standards of boardroom excellence,” MacDonald said in a news release. “The resources, insights, and connections offered through NACD Fellowship will be key assets to Medifast.”

In addition to his board seat at Medifast, MacDonald currently serves as Treasurer of the Direct Selling Association and sits on the board of The V Foundation for Cancer Research. His past board appointments have included PAETEC Communications Inc., where he was lead director, Rutgers University and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


Wellness Firm Genesis PURE Names New CEO

TextDaren Hogge
TextTim Hough

Two former Genesis PURE executives are rejoining the corporate team.

The purveyor of health and wellness products has tapped Daren Hogge to serve as CEO. Hogge, who has spent 29 years in the direct sales channel, was CEO of wellness firm GoYin when it merged with Genesis PURE in 2008. He then came on as president of Genesis PURE until his departure in 2012.

“It’s great to get back to the company and products I love so much,” Hogge said in a news release. “Taking a step away in 2012 was the right decision, but today I’m excited to rejoin Genesis PURE and do great things in 2017 and beyond.”

At the outset of his career, Hogge was a CPA with Arthur Andersen, before he transitioned to the channel, taking on a succession of leadership roles.

Genesis PURE also is gaining the expertise of Tim Hough, an original officer of the company who is returning as Vice President of International. Beyond Genesis PURE, Hough’s past roles have taken him from Fortune 500 companies to startups, and include a stint as marketing director for Dell Asia Pacific.


4Life Bolsters Global Leadership with VP Appointments

TextTony Lee
TextKelly Bellerose
TextDustin Rose
TextRick Eastman

The wellness company 4Life has announced a slate of executive promotions, both at home and abroad, starting with General Manager of South Korea Tony Lee, who has been promoted to Vice President of Northern Asia. In his new role, Lee will oversee growth in South Korea and Japan and implement strategic initiatives in these markets. 

“Tony has a unique ability to support and partner with 4Life distributors to achieve incredible success,” said President and CEO Steve Tew. “Under his leadership, South Korea has experienced record growth as the company’s largest international market outside of the United States.” 

The health and wellness company also has promoted Dustin Rose to VP of Software Development, Rick Eastman to VP of IT Infrastructure, and Kelly Bellerose to VP of Marketing. 

A software engineer for nearly 20 years, Rose started at 4Life in 2007. He oversees the Software Development team and the architecture that drives 4Life mobile, web, and desktop applications. 

Eastman joined the IT Department in 2011 as Help Desk Manager. He has since served as of Director of IT Support and Senior Director of IT Support and Systems. In his new role, Eastman will oversee the Support and Service teams, as well as infrastructure security protocols. 

Bellerose is expanding her former role as Vice President of Product Marketing to encompass digital and social media efforts. Having joined 4Life in 2013, she also is completing a Master of Humanities degree with an emphasis in depth psychology.

February 01, 2017

Cover Story

Starter Kits: A New Consultant’s First Impression

by Courtney Roush


Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Imagine, if you will, that moment when a new independent representative opens a starter kit for the first time. What happens in that moment and in the moments that immediately follow are crucial. Until now, she hasn’t had much tangible evidence of her new business. It’s an idea on which a lot of hope may be riding. She’s imagining the scenarios in her head of where this new business will take her, the objectives that this venture could empower her to achieve—professional development, perhaps, or more self-determination over the hours she works or the speed with which she advances. Or maybe she just wants a bit of extra spending money. Regardless, she started her business for a reason.

When the new representative opens that box, do the contents inside either validate or question his decision to start a business? That’s the challenge all direct selling companies are attempting to conquer, and it’s a tough one, given changing demographics across the board, the diversity of ways in which consumers now prefer to receive information and the frantic pace of technology, not to mention the simple cost of starter kit design, production and distribution. 

Another inevitable question: When he orders his starter kit, what should he expect? 

Paul Adams, Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing for SUCCESS Partners, has a few opinions on this. He’s spent 28 years working with direct selling companies on this very topic, advising them on best practices and making recommendations for their respective starter kit communication tools and strategies, design, content and delivery. He’s also audited and provided insight for a multitude of companies. 

Regardless of the age or size of a company, salesforce demographics or the product they sell, every company’s starter kit should have three objectives, Adams says:

  • First, it should validate the representative’s decision to start a business. The early days of any new business are critical. From time to time, especially if several days elapse between signing her agreement and receiving her kit in hand, that informational void could spur a bit of buyer’s remorse. It’s vital that her starter kit arrives early and that it provides assurance on her new venture.
  • Second, the kit should validate the new business for the representative’s spouse, partner or significant other, especially if he or she isn’t familiar with the direct selling channel, and/or has preconceived notions.
  • Third, a starter kit should provide a bit of “hand-holding” as representatives take their first steps in the business, because they most likely don’t know exactly what they signed up for. Simplicity is key here—more on that later.

The “good old days” before technology now seem awfully simple. Starter kits were, of course, printed and relatively straightforward. It was a one-size-fits-all approach that seemed to work, and if it didn’t, well, we made periodic changes to the contents. The occasional survey or focus group could help gauge reactions from representatives. It was difficult to trace with any certainty whether and how a starter kit affected a representative’s beliefs and actions. Updates were occasional, made mostly to reflect new products or changes to the existing product line, and the bones of a starter kit often remained static for years, unless a major rebranding necessitated it.

Components of a Great Kit

Welcome Letter – Customized instead of generic.

Getting Started Guide – The first 24 are very important, so create this guide with that in mind. It could be as simple as a single page stating “what to do right now.”

Basic Business Info – Policies and procedures (physical format as well as online access), along with other elements such as important numbers, event information, tools order and compensation plan information, are crucial to help the new person build confidence while providing best practices and understanding.

Product Brochures - 5 to 10 copies

Opportunity Brochures – 5 to 10 copies

Prospecting Tools – 5 to 10 copies

Corporate Credibility – Share the story that will back up your company’s credibility as the right choice for a direct selling venture. Whether it’s the history of the company, the science of the products, or commitment to philanthropy. 

Basic Training – This includes 7-30 days’ worth of training materials focused on the person who knows NOTHING about your business or any business. Keep it very simple. Make more in-depth training available online or through other methods, but avoid too much information too quickly.

Customized Business Cards – A single page of 8-10 business cards with the ability to order more.

Personal Development Content – A single piece of wisdom or step in the right direction can give someone the little nudge they’re looking for and encourage them to reach their goals. Showing them their potential is a powerful motivator!

As technology began to infiltrate our information stream more predominantly, some companies began to toy with moving their starter kit materials online in part or, in more recent years, exclusively. However, remaining staunchly print or jumping ship to go all digital runs the risk of isolating potential team members. It’s a fine line that requires a bit of trial and error. And, as direct selling continues to increase in popularity—it’s now a $36 billion channel of distribution in the United States alone—companies are examining ways to cut costs. That’s a bit of a dilemma where the starter kit is involved. 

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. You want a new representative to get the warm fuzzies from that starter kit, even with your knowledge that she may or may not be in the salesforce a year from now. You want her to be empowered with a streamlined action plan. And, perhaps above all else, you want her to become your brand advocate through exposure to your products. 

That’s no easy task. So where should you focus your priorities when you’re either creating or revising your starter kit? How do you create maximum impact? To what extent should technology play a role? And are there supplemental actions you can take to reaffirm the new recruit’s decision, beyond the kit?

A Product-Focused Experience

We’ve seen that one of the most powerful ways to acquire and retain new customers, some of whom will become your next active, loyal distributors, is to lead with your products. And in today’s environment of increased regulatory scrutiny, keeping your products front and center is increasingly important.

That’s the approach Young Living took when the company launched a brand-new starter kit in summer 2015, following some 18 months of extensive research. It was “a game-changing moment,” says Eddie Silcock, Executive Vice President of Global Sales. Prior to that time, Young Living’s kit “fit the task, but it wasn’t an experience,” he says. It was the perfect time to make a change; between 50,000 and 100,000 new customers were joining Young Living every month, including millennials en masse, and essential oils were starting to generate traction in the market. “We needed a best-in-class kit,” he says. “We wanted our members’ first experience to represent how we feel as employees, and our previous kit didn’t do it.”


”We know full well that first impressions ultimately can affect retention.”
Eddie Silcock, Executive Vice President of Global Sales, Young Living


The result was a kit designed to unveil for Young Living’s new distributors, called Members, a classy, “Christmas morning” type of experience. Packaged in a sleek box and featuring images of nature, the box opens with a magnetic closure and resembles a book. Ten of the company’s best-selling essential oils are packaged on one side, while the other side contains a concise selection of literature. The emphasis is on members’ further exposure to Young Living’s product line, with the hope that sharing with friends and family will be a natural outgrowth of that experience. 

Silcock adds that one of the company’s highest priorities with the redesign was to affirm in new members’ minds that they’ve invested their money well, not just with the kit, but also with the products, the business opportunity and their alignment with the company’s positive culture. 

“We know full well that first impressions ultimately can affect retention,” Silcock says, adding that the company’s retention rates have increased since the rollout of the new kit.  

The Power of Presentation

Whether you’re a new consultant or a potential customer, there’s often no substitute for holding a product in your hand. Call it tangible evidence of legitimacy. For those direct sellers whose products can be held in hand, an entirely digital starter kit simply can’t generate that critical first impression.  

But it’s not just the mere presence of the products that counts; the manner in which those products are packaged also matters. There’s a bit of psychology at work here. As Young Living demonstrates, the starter kit’s job is to “wow” the new distributor, so that she, in turn, can wow potential customers in a natural, organic way. There’s nothing forced when a distributor is a sincere product user and brand advocate. And prospects can tell the difference. Conversation evolves more easily; there’s no hard sell.

LimeLight by Alcone faced an interesting conundrum when it attempted to change its business model to direct sales. This 65-year-old, family-owned company provides professional makeup and skincare to the stage and film industry, and it never intended to become a direct selling company. Over time, however, CEO and Founder Michele Gay wanted to compensate referrals from professional makeup artists, who were sending clients to Alcone to buy the products they had in their kits. Gay also wanted to expand her market to include makeup enthusiasts everywhere.

Creating more widespread appeal would prove challenging at first. Alcone products were presented in “generally minimal packaging,” says Gay. “It was a big problem when we tried to cross over. The packaging wasn’t appealing.” In fact, some consumers who sampled the products and were wowed ended up back at their department store cosmetic counters. What was happening here? Those consumers wanted something more: a product that looked as fabulous in the package as it did on the face. A consultant’s ability to sell those products to customers would hinge not just upon their efficacy, but also on their presentation. 

The company found vendors to pour the makeup into metal pans, which are then placed into paper pallets for a more visually enticing experience. Eventually, the company’s transition to direct selling became official, and LimeLight by Alcone was born. For a while, its starter kits were personalized, but that proved to be too difficult to sustain as the company’s salesforce of Beauty Guides grew. Current starter kits take a more generalized approach, offering a choice of dark, medium and light complexions and including a sampling of makeup and skincare products, plus educational resources and access to an eight-day online training. 

Initially, the company’s independent salesforce consisted primarily of professional makeup artists who could now be compensated for their brand loyalty and advocacy. Today, the LimeLight by Alcone opportunity has expanded to some 5,000 women from various demographics, actively working their businesses. Beauty Guides pay both a monthly fee for their respective websites and an annual renewal fee to maintain their businesses. Requiring a bit of financial skin in the game, Gay says, helps avoid “kit-nappers,” or those who start a business merely for the starter kit, and then abruptly quit.

Keeping It Simple

During the research phase for its new starter kit, Young Living sought feedback from its independent salesforce, including older and younger demographics. “There was a lot of pre-work and a lot of pain,” Silcock says. “Sometimes we thought we were onto something great, but our members didn’t agree. They offered feedback at every step.”

Chief among those learnings was a reminder about simplicity. “You want to put the kitchen sink in that box,” Silcock says, but you run the risk of overwhelming and ultimately losing new recruits. Young Living finally whittled the educational materials in their starter kit down to four simple pages, again based on feedback from its independent salesforce.

The company currently maintains a presence in 18 markets worldwide. Aside from the obvious translations, regional product availability and legislative factors, Young Living hasn’t had to make major revisions on its starter kit to accommodate demographic differences. “Simplicity translates across all markets,” Silcock says. “I think the time we took to develop our kit helped us.”

Keeping the process simple, however, can be complicated. It often means that a lot of information has to be distilled down to short, meaningful pieces that make it impactful. Too often, though, companies provide too much too fast. 

l

“I’m certainly not a psychologist, but I do know that people can be easily persuaded not to do something if we make it seem long, daunting and complicated,” Adams says. Remembering that the salesforce is made up of volunteers, and many didn’t sign up to get a new job, can help provide guidance. Most recruits initially sign on because they believe they can make a few dollars by telling a few friends about a product or service they like, not to enter a burdensome training course.  

Filling the Gap: Communication until the Starter Kit Arrives

While the starter kit is important, it’s not the only critical component of a consultant’s introduction to her new business. Most companies have an entire onboarding process. The challenge is engaging someone in a meaningful way so that he or she is willing and even anxious to participate in a developmental process, since the salesforce is voluntarily present. Email or push notifications, the back office, events, calls and webinars can all enhance the impact of the onboarding process. The key is to moderate the delivery to give the representative what they need, when they need it.

One area to address is the communication void that can take place between a consultant signing her independent business agreement and then receiving her starter kit, which should arrive on her doorstep as quickly as possible. During the early days of a new consultant’s business, a direct selling company should fill the silence with regular communication—brief, to the point, not overwhelming and including a link or two to concise online resources where the consultant can do some reading on her own time. 

It’s tempting to turn on the fire hose of emails, texts and other forms of communication during those early days with the belief that the new person needs everything right away. However, if we put ourselves in his shoes, keeping in mind that he’s also receiving numerous other emails from a multitude of sources, it becomes easier to understand why a little restraint is necessary. Overload a new representative, and you run the risk of sending him into either analysis paralysis, or just plain old paralysis. 


Whatever format a company chooses, the content should be relatively fluid, changing to reflect new product launches, training tools and branding.


A new representative needs structure, or he’ll fill the gaps with his own suppositions, whether they’re valid or not. A schedule of regular, but not intrusive or excessive touchpoints will call attention to your company’s support until that package arrives. That communication should remind him of your support and your culture while directing him back to his recruiter for personal—and face-to-face, if possible—mentoring. The focus here is on walking the new representative through those early milestones and celebrating the wins at each step, which can help build confidence. 

“If people are going to succeed in this business, they need flexibility,” Silcock says. “Some people do everything online after receiving a starter kit, and some prefer their materials in print. We allow them to do both.” Young Living is about to launch a new business suite app, including a 90-day game plan for those just starting a business. Members can focus their educational efforts online or receive the materials on paper, if they’d prefer. They also receive a series of strategically timed emails designed not to bombard, but rather point the way during these early days.  


”I’m certainly not a psychologist, but I do know that people can be easily persuaded not to do something if we make it seem long, daunting and complicated. “
Paul Adams, Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing, SUCCESS Partners


Think of it this way: What new representatives have really signed up for is direct selling “101” for that particular company—in other words, guidance, and regardless of whether their respective recruiters provide it. The company can help fill any gaps left by the recruiter through a series of methodical and strategically timed touchpoints. Best practices for the exact schedule and content of those touchpoints will vary according to your own company culture, but two points are worth considering: stating your frequency up front (for example, telling new distributors that they’ll receive an email from the company every Monday and Thursday); and keeping your content brief, with links to more content if applicable. 

Alternative Strategies

Ordering a starter kit isn’t the only way that direct selling companies are engaging new recruits. 

Some companies offer the opportunity to purchase product packs of varying size and price points, after which enrollees may purchase a starter kit if they choose. Again, the emphasis being on exposure to the products.

Other direct sellers are rolling out options like a reduced sign-up fee without a starter kit. Thirty-One Gifts has implemented on two occasions a limited-time $1 enrollment for potential new consultants. Under the terms of this promotion, potential consultants in the United States may choose from either a $1 enrollment or the traditional $99 enrollment, which includes the company’s starter kit of products and marketing materials. The $1 enrollment option doesn’t include the starter kit, so it’s particularly vital for the recruiter to onboard her new recruits. However, new consultants receive access to a personal website for a monthly fee of $14.95, along with access to online versions of business, learning and marketing materials. 

Under this model, the new consultant begins without a Thirty-One Gifts starter kit on hand, which includes several of the company’s best-selling totes, home organization products and purses. She then begins to earn products, which subsequently places her in a position to hold in-person and online parties. 


”If people are going to succeed in this business, they need flexibility.”
Eddie Silcock


The response to these offers has been positive. “We’ve had a lot more sign-ups during these $1 promotions,” says Julie Sutton, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Sales Strategy. “We’re still measuring how these consultants do in the long term versus those who make the initial starter kit purchase.” 

At LimeLight, Gay adds that she and her company leadership are looking at some alternative ways to engage new Beauty Guides, including printed catalogs with product samples embedded in the page for easy trial. The company also has begun a crossover effort into beauty schools, presenting its starter kit as a student kit. Throughout their education, ongoing communication of the company’s close-knit community, unique culture and business opportunity helps establish LimeLight as a viable career choice upon the students’ graduation.

Print vs. Digital: Finding the Balance

At this point, most direct sales companies offer their starter kit materials, with the exception of their products, of course, in both print and online form to accommodate the learning preferences of all demographics.

A best practice these days is to incorporate digital delivery of some content along with the physical contents of a kit. Things that change quickly or don’t need to be physical can easily be delivered via email links or back office access. Policies and procedures, apps and order forms, for example, can be digitally delivered. 


What’s important is that enrollers meet with recruits the day they receive their kits, go through it with them, and be excited for them.”
Brian Altman, Senior Vice President of Operations, Zurvita


Very few companies have moved their kits entirely online. The cost-cutting benefits of an online kit are obvious, but in a channel in which personal connections are so critical, going purely digital has its limitations. “What’s important is that enrollers meet with recruits the day they receive their kits, go through it with them, and be excited for them,” says Brian Altman, Senior Vice President of Operations for Zurvita. In Altman’s own experience, he adds, “Paper components work best. We did a digital brochure kit that played videos, but it didn’t increase enrollments or retention. It was very expensive and looked cool, but there wasn’t any difference.”

Cultural differences, too, can put the brakes on the digital migration of starter kits. For example, the Spanish-speaking demographic. Adams mentions a company he worked with that rolled out a high-tech, flashy version of its starter kit. Its Spanish-speaking salesforce members were slow to embrace it. This brand-loyal segment wanted back the “heart and soul” of the previous physical kit with its DVDs, literature and other physical components. Nor did they necessarily want to refer to education on their smartphones. “They didn’t want too much change or flash,” Adams says. In fact, the “changes caused a lack of trust among their prospects.”

For now, whatever format a company chooses, the content should be relatively fluid, changing to reflect new product launches, training tools and branding. The challenge is to maintain a consistent message throughout all of those pieces, a concise message that inspires action and conveys the company’s distinct culture.

Personalization will remain a cornerstone of direct selling, so we may also see greater efforts to personalize starter kits using technology. For now, companies with print-on-demand capability are including personalized welcome letters, business cards and other printed pieces within their kits. 

Will print ever go out of style? That depends on who you ask, but many direct selling executives can’t imagine it. The tactile experience is such a part of making the business feel real. Perhaps the upcoming generations of “digital natives” will demand less print. Only time will tell.

February 01, 2017

News in Brief

News in Brief, February 2017



Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Avon Foundation Helps Colleges Take Action on Sexual Assault

The Avon Foundation for Women is funding a first-of-its-kind national leadership program to address gender-based violence on college campuses.

The charitable arm of cosmetics maker Avon is behind a new collaborative of 20 colleges and universities that recently came together for The National Leadership Institute: Changing the Narrative on Campus Gender-Based Violence. The program equips schools with action plans for preventing and responding to sexual violence. Avon tapped the health and social justice nonprofit Futures Without Violence to develop the National Leadership Institute curriculum, which advocates trauma-informed care in cases of assault.

To research, design and implement the curriculum, Futures Without Violence partnered with Harvard Law School’s Gender Violence Program and the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. The resulting material was presented at the first two National Leadership Institute events, held in Boston and Atlanta in late 2016. According to Lonna Davis, Director of Children & Youth Program for Futures Without Violence, “The Institute is part of a long-term investment to shift the narrative and introduce a primary prevention and trauma-focused approach that engages the entire school community.”

The Institute is the brainchild of the Avon Foundation for Women, which also underwrote the project with a $200,000 grant. The foundation has long supported domestic violence awareness and prevention through its Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program, launched in 2004. For more than five years now, that program has included campaigns and bystander initiatives on college campuses, but with its latest initiative Avon is empowering students and schools to take the lead in addressing assault and sexual violence.

More than 70 schools applied to participate in the program, but just 20 were selected to attend the two-day event. With ongoing support, these schools will create a campus action plan that engages students, college administration, campus police and leading consultants. “We’ve just spent two days looking at best practices and solutions to shift campus culture away from victim blaming to a more trauma-based perspective,” said Christine Jaworsky, Avon Foundation Program Director. “Now the real work begins.”

Participating Colleges and Universities

  • Benedict College
  • Brandeis University
  • Clemson University
  • College of Charleston
  • Dean College
  • Eastern Nazarene College
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Emerson College
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Georgia State University
  • Lasell College
  • Lesley University
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Morehouse College
  • Providence College
  • Stonehill College
  • Tuskegee University
  • University of Massachusetts, Lowell
  • University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • Wheaton College

Amway Rolls Out Global Volunteer Initiative

The world’s largest direct selling company wants to build the world’s largest volunteer force.

Amway Corp. is kicking off a global initiative known as #AmwayVolunteers to highlight the volunteer efforts of its employees and Amway Business Owners, or ABOs, who number more than 3 million worldwide. With that kind of volunteer base, Amway can afford to set some ambitious goals, and it has. The direct selling company, already a leader in terms of direct sales revenue, is gunning to build the world’s largest volunteer force by 2019, when Amway will celebrate 60 years in business.

The concept is simple: ABOs sign up to participate by taking an online pledge to “be the change” in their communities and help people live better lives, specifying what that might look like for them. The next step is to take action and volunteer through the organization or cause of their choice. Finally, the company encourages individuals to share their experiences on social media using #AmwayVolunteers.

“We value the passion and volunteer efforts of Amway Business Owners and Amway employees that are making a dramatic impact in their local communities,” Amway’s Jeff Terry, Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, told DSN. “#AmwayVolunteers showcases their individual works, on a global scale, in an effort to create the world’s largest volunteer community by 2019.”

This new undertaking broadens the scope of Amway’s grassroots volunteer efforts, and joins the Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign—fighting childhood malnutrition—as the company’s primary CSR focus.


Jeunesse Acquires Naming Rights to Former Rio Olympic Arena

Jeunesse Global has acquired naming rights to the former Rio Olympic Arena in Brazil, a fast-growing market for the cosmetics company.

Jeunesse has signed a three-year deal to display its brand throughout the venue and install a retail shop on site, following in the footsteps of direct sales firms like Amway and USANA Health Sciences.

As the only multi-purpose arena in Brazil, the newly christened Jeunesse Arena has hosted marquee events including the gymnastics competition at last year’s Summer Olympics, the NBA Global Games, Disney on Ice and musical acts from Beyoncé to Paul McCartney. The facility can hold about 15,000 for sporting events and nearly 19,000 for concerts.

Jeunesse Arena is a symbol of the hard work and success of Distributors across the region, Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis said in a news release. “We are honored Jeunesse will now have a presence in a place where hundreds of thousands of people gather annually to celebrate life through culture, sports and music.”

On April 7–8, the company will celebrate its expanded presence in Rio de Janeiro, the sixth most populous city in the Americas, with an exclusive event for Distributors at the arena. The celebration will include a concert by musical artist Anitta, three-time winner of Best Brazilian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards, and will mark the company’s first anniversary in Brazil.


Plexus Ushers in 2017 with ‘Super Saturday’ Events in 26 Cities

Plexus Worldwide jumpstarted 2017 with a coast-to-coast training event known as Super Saturday.

On Jan. 7, the health and wellness company held simultaneous live training forums in 26 cities across the U.S. and Canada, from Honolulu to Toronto. Management reports that more than 21,000 registered for Super Saturday, making it the company’s largest single event of the year.

The educational sessions were open to anyone currently running or interested in running a Plexus business. Last year, more than 15,000 were in attendance.

“Super Saturday continues to grow each year, as more people are eager to learn about the possibly life-changing opportunity of Plexus Worldwide, or even just recharging and refining their current business as an Ambassador,” said Alec Clark, Plexus Worldwide President.

The four-hour sessions were led by local Ambassadors and top-ranking sales leaders, who shared the company’s entrepreneurial opportunity and insights on operating a successful business.


Mannatech Launches E-Commerce Business in China

Mannatech is using a cross-border e-commerce model to introduce its products to Chinese consumers.

The Texas-based company now operates in 25 countries, but Mainland China is the only market where products are retailed online directly to consumers. This strategy allowed Mannatech to expedite its expansion into the market, said Mike Crouch, the company’s Director of Communications. “The cross-border e-commerce model is in compliance with all governmental regulations and local business customs,” he added in an email to DSN.

The company launched its new website and its business in China under the MeiTai name, a combination of terms and characters associated with beauty and prosperity on one hand, and health, wellness and peace on the other.

Initially, 15 of Mannatech’s top products are available in China. These include the new TruHealth Fat-Loss System and the Ambrotose product line, which has been found in clinical studies to improve focus, attention and memory. Customers purchasing through the new e-commerce platform also can earn rewards for referring friends and family to shop.


Natura Exercises Options to Acquire 100% of Aesop

Australian skincare brand Aesop is now wholly owned by Brazil’s Natura Cosmetics.

In April 2013, Natura approved the acquisition of 65 percent of Emeis Holdings Pty Ltd., which operates under the brand name Aesop. The agreement included put and call options, empowering Natura to acquire up to 100 percent of Emeis upon approval of the company’s financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016.

Natura has exercised its purchase options to acquire all remaining common shares of Emeis, which has operations in 20 countries. In 2013, Aesop products were sold in just eight countries, through 57 signature—or standalone—stores and 54 department stores. Three years later, the hair, skin and body care formulations are available in 177 signature stores and 84 department stores.

Natura has gradually expanded its own retail strategy since opening its first boutique in Paris in 2005. 


Herbalife Recognized by Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility

Herbalife’s efforts to promote diversity recently earned a nod from the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR).

The association represents 14 national Hispanic organizations in the U.S. In partnership with the HACR Research Institute, the association invited Herbalife to participate in its annual Corporate Inclusion Index, which gauges the inclusion of Hispanics in corporate America, where they account for about 15 percent of the reported employee base.

This marks the third year Herbalife has taken part in the initiative. “By adopting Hispanic inclusiveness, companies such as Herbalife are cultivating a corporate culture that promotes forward thinking, which sustains their competitive edge to outpace competitors,” said Dr. Lisette Garcia, HACR’s Senior Vice President and COO.


Coty Buys Majority Stake in Social Media Sensation Younique

Beauty products manufacturer Coty Inc. (COTY—NYSE) is set to take a majority stake in social selling firm Younique, at a valuation of roughly $1 billion.

Coty announced that it will acquire 60 percent of Younique for about $600 million in cash, while company founders Derek Maxfield, CEO, and Melanie Huscroft, Chief Visionary Officer, will own the remaining 40 percent. The brother-and-sister duo will continue to lead Younique as a standalone brand within Coty’s Consumer Beauty division.

“Derek and Melanie are tremendous entrepreneurs who have built one of the most engaging and fastest growing e-commerce companies in beauty,” said Camillo Pane, Coty’s CEO.

For Younique, founded in 2012, the investment is a major vote of confidence from one of the biggest players on the global beauty scene. Coty’s portfolio of 70-plus brands includes COVERGIRL, Clairol and OPI, as well as premium fragrance and skincare labels such as Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs. Back in 2012, the New York-based firm made a $10.7 billion offer to acquire another direct sales business, Avon Products Inc., but after two months of back-and-forth, Coty withdrew its bid, citing a “lack of engagement” on Avon’s part.

“We are thrilled to have Coty as a partner and expect that together we will be able to take Younique to new heights,” Maxfield said in a news release. “Coty and Younique share a passion for beauty, an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as complementary missions.”

In four years of business, Younique has built a network of about 200,000 Presenters, who host virtual parties showcasing the brand’s cosmetics and skincare products. Sales for 2016 are estimated at approximately $400 million. Both companies see the new partnership as a way to accelerate product development and international expansion at Younique, which has more than 4.1 million customers in 10 countries.

Coty officials said the transaction with Younique likely will close in the third quarter of 2017.


Tech Investments Help LegalShield Boost Memberships

LegalShield entered 2017 with memberships at an all-time high, thanks in part to a significant investment in new technologies.

Over the course of 2016, more than 500,000 enrolled in the company’s subscription-based legal plans, which offer unlimited legal advice and a 24/7 hotline, for members needing emergency assistance. 

The company’s sizable growth over the past year dovetailed with the launch of several new digital products and services, including the new-and-improved LegalShield App, which enables users to contact a law firm, prepare a will or process a parking ticket. In the words of LegalShield CEO Jeff Bell, “The LegalShield App is a game changer, because it puts your law firm in the palm of your hand.”

Two additional apps introduced in 2016 are the Shake by LegalShield app, which allows users to create—at no cost—legal forms tailored to their specific U.S. state or Canadian province. The in-house team behind Shake also created Ask by LegalShield, which provides answers to more than 1,500 common legal questions.

The company’s focus on digital initiatives was reinforced by the recent promotion of David Coffey to Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer. Coffey formerly served as LegalShield’s Chief Media Director.

February 01, 2017

Publisher's Note

Take Your Place among the Channel’s Distinguished Players

by Lauren Lawley Head



Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Lawley Head

Eight years ago, Direct Selling News embarked on an ambitious project to identify the 100 largest direct selling companies in the world. The team started from scratch, putting in untold hours of preliminary research just to create a target list of companies for outreach, and then began the painstaking work of encouraging what are, for the most part, very private companies to put their annual revenue out there for everyone to see. Some people attempted to dissuade the team from making the attempt. A few even said it couldn’t be done. But in 2010, the Direct Selling News Global 100 made its debut.

Each year, we refine our research process. We’ve tweaked our survey process to generate more relevant data for our readers. We’ve brought in new partners and sources who have helped enhance global participation on the list. And we’re always working to make participation as simple as possible. However, we know the success of the Global 100 project would not be achieved without the collective effort of the direct selling community we champion. 

On behalf of the entire team at DSN, I ask all active company executives to do two things to support the project: 

  1. Ensure that your company has submitted its information for consideration on the list.
  2. Plan to join us in Dallas April 19 as we celebrate this year’s honorees.

You’ll find the information you need to complete both of these by visiting DSNGlobal100.com. If you’ve never attended the Global 100 Celebration, you’ve been missing out. It is a wonderful evening to recognize the top 100 companies as well as to honor the contributions all direct sellers are making in the world. You’ll experience a warm, welcoming environment where you can network with your executive peers from around the channel, celebrate the achievements of 2016 and toast the possibilities of the year ahead. As one executive told us following a past Celebration, “Ours is an industry which thrives on stories and examples, and the chance to sit in a room with all our peers and hear their stories and see the examples and the fruits of those stories is quite extraordinary. It is a great chance for us to see how far we’ve come, and also how far we have to go.”

I look forward to seeing you there!

All the best,

February 01, 2017

Exclusive Interviews

Sara Douglass Puts Her Own Stamp on the Family Business

by Emily Reagan


Click here to order the February 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Paper, ink, rubber stamps. These are the humble materials transformed into an interactive crafting experience by the folks at Stampin’ Up! The personalized designs demonstrated by independent sellers may be worthy of Pinterest (the company’s account has more than 68,000 followers), but the experience itself is low-tech—and that’s part of its charm, says CEO Sara Douglass. She should know. Though she’s only been CEO for about a year, Douglass grew up with the company, so to speak. Her mother, Shelli Gardner, co-founded Stampin’ Up! and served as CEO until March 2016, when she passed the reins to her daughter. By that point, Douglass had been involved in many aspects of the business, and even served as interim CEO from March 2015, when her parents undertook a yearlong service mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The mother of five recently spoke to DSN about taking on leadership of the family business, which has 45,000-plus Demonstrators in 10 countries. The following is excerpted from that conversation.

TextSara Douglass

DSN: You’ve led the company for nearly a year, but this isn’t your first stint as chief executive. What did you learn from your year as interim CEO?

SD: For years preceding that, I’d been back in the business and mentoring under my mom. The way things worked out, it provided a way to get my feet wet. My mom and I worked together closely while she was away. Of course, she wasn’t on site, but that helped me gain a different perspective from what I’d previously experienced. It was a good opportunity to step in, see different areas of the business and glean as much as I could during that year.

DSN: What priorities have you set for 2017?

SD: I hope we’re continuing to grow and change even more lives. For the coming year, we want to help individuals succeed—not just Demonstrators and customers, but also our employees. I’m highly invested in our home office family as well as our Demonstrator family, and then of course our customer family. Specific goals are increased collaboration and continually learning and improving and doing what we do well, even better.

DSN: You grew up with Stampin’ Up!, but at what point did you decide to get involved in the business?

SD: I’ve always been interested in the business side, having grown up with that surrounding me. I have four sisters, and though none of them are involved on the corporate side, any one of them could’ve had the same experience I’ve had. For me it was a matter of timing, focus and interest, as well as my mom being adamant that if we were to get involved, it would be our own choice. She wanted us to find our own story, and she’s been instrumental in allowing that to happen.

DSN: What is your background with the company?

SD: There were a couple years when I was not involved at the corporate level, when my husband was getting his master’s degree and we’d moved to a different state. About seven years ago was when things really started to take off. We actually moved back to the Salt Lake City area for that reason. We felt this was an opportunity to take on more, embrace the company, and also allow my mom the freedom and flexibility to do what she’d like in her life. This is a 28-year-old business, and she’s been working hard at it! I wanted to give her and my dad the freedom to serve missions as they’ve done, spend time together, and pursue other things.

DSN: Did you have a succession plan in place leading up to the transition?

SD: It began organically. I first got involved as a young teenager in the inner workings, like filing and picking orders. My interest led me into the creative side, where I’d use our products to make the samples showcased in our catalog or at our annual events, those kinds of thing. From there, I signed up to be a Demonstrator when my eldest daughter was born, and then my husband pursued his degree. 

 It took a few years to figure out what I wanted to do. I remember asking my mom, “Where do you see me? What path do you see for me?” She would say, “Sara, I want you to discover what you love about the business and let that guide you.” Over the past three to five years, it’s been more along the lines of that corporate focus, running a business, caring about our employees, valuing their opinions, helping them become successful, and in turn helping our Demonstrators become successful. When my mom was involved in a horseback-riding accident in 2013, I picked up a bit more responsibility, which set the stage for them serving a mission. 

DSN: How does Stampin’ Up! approach creativity?

SD: When you’re creating something with our products, it’s personal, and so you get the satisfaction of giving someone a thing you made—a little bit of you—and it means something to them. We’re not just about the products, but also the discovery of creativity and exploring your inner artist. I think we all have that innate desire to create in some way. One of the common things we hear from new customers is, “I’m just not that creative!” Over time, they discover they actually are. I love that about what we do.

DSN: With a focus on handcrafted, personalized products, how do you incorporate digital tools and platforms?

SD: We have a very low-tech product in a high-tech world. It doesn’t require a screen, which is what I love about it; it’s tactile and tangible. The way we sell our products and talk about them has changed. We still very much embrace an in-home party experience. A lot of our Demonstrators provide classes with one-on-one interaction, but we’ve also seen a swing toward social media and online sales, and we embrace that as well, because at the core of all of it is the relationship from person to person, and the creativity that goes along with that.

DSN: Stampin’ Up! has a history of giving back. What does that effort look like today?

SD: We have a Making a Difference program I’m very passionate about. Most recently, we donated $2.5 million in product to the TODAY Toy Drive. We also have an ongoing partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities, which allows us to give back in all the communities where we have a presence. We donate a portion of proceeds from one of our stamp sets to the charity, our Demonstrators volunteer at the local level, and then we always donate cards, journals and other products for Ronald McDonald House residents to use.

January 31, 2017

World News

PM-International Tops $460M in Annual Revenue

PM-International saw continued growth in 2016, with sales up 30 percent from a year earlier.

Revenue for the year exceeded $460 million, Rolf Sorg told sales partners at a recent 2017 Kick Off event. Sorg is founder and CEO of PM, marketer of the FitLine and BeautyLine brands, which have made it one of Europe’s largest direct selling companies in the health and beauty categories.

In the past 12 months, Italy and Hong Kong led the group in terms of growth, with each more than doubling 2015 revenue. Norway followed with an 83 percent increase from the prior year. The privately held company does business in more than 35 markets, including the U.S., where it launched in 2016.

To keep pace with sales growth the company is taking steps to expand its global infrastructure, said Sorg. This summer, a new warehouse will be completed at the PM Logistics Center in Europe, nearly tripling storage capacity on site. The company also is adding office space at its global headquarters in Luxembourg.

January 27, 2017

World News

Immunotec Reports Record Sales, Currency Headwinds in 2016

Immunotec logged record sales in 2016, but gains in Mexico were offset by the country’s weakening currency.

In the fiscal fourth quarter, ended October 31, 2016, sales of the company’s nutrition products were up 58 percent year-over-year in Mexico, 16 percent in the U.S. and 7 percent in Canada, where Immunotec is headquartered. Overall, sales rose 31 percent from a year earlier to $29.7 million*.

“Annual revenues surpassed our expectations and reached an all-time high of $109 million, reflecting solid performances in all regions by Immunotec’s Consultants and employees,” said Charles Orr, CEO of Immunotec.

Despite higher volume in 2016, the bottom line contracted to $2.1 million, or 3 cents a share, from the prior year’s $4.0 million, or 6 cents a share. Adjusted EBITDA was $6.1 million, cut approximately $3.4 million by currency fluctuations. To minimize the effects of the weak peso, as of the first of the year Immunotec implemented price increases of 5 to 7 percent on products sold in Mexico.

Reporting on the full year, CFO Patrick Montpetit said the company took a disciplined approach to corporate expenses, reducing their impact on overall revenue. “Finally, our balance sheet improved substantially with year-end cash of $13.9 million, reflecting solid cash flows from operations,” said Montpetit.

*All amounts are in Canadian dollars. At the time of this writing, CAD$1.00 was equal to USD$0.76.

January 27, 2017

U.S. News

MONAT Global Taps Linda Lucas Padilla as CMO

A new chief marketing officer, Linda Lucas Padilla, is joining the team at haircare brand MONAT Global.

Padilla is no stranger to the direct sales channel, having held top marketing posts with multiple companies. Her past roles have included vice president of marketing, global marketing officer and senior vice president of global sales and marketing. In this last position, she was integral to establishing a footprint in the Greater China and Asia Pacific regions.

“We are confident that Linda’s deep well of marketing knowledge and her record achievements in setting new benchmarks in innovative product development, as well as creative promotional and incentive strategies, will make a strong impact on MONAT operations,” company President Stuart MacMillan said in a news release.

MONAT got its start in 2014 and, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Alcora Corp., is part of a multimillion-dollar global enterprise. Alcora’s holdings also include L’EUDINE, a direct seller of beauty and wellness products primarily focused on Latin America. Florida-based MONAT sells premium, “anti-aging” hair care that targets the actual causes of hair loss and aging. The company takes a social marketing approach to sharing its products.

“I look forward to working with this impressive organization as we help thousands of entrepreneurs transform their lives through MONAT’s proprietary products and generous opportunity,” said Padilla.

January 26, 2017

World News

Tupperware Welcomes Third Global Links Scholar

Photo: Dr. Chakraborty is a professor at Shri Shikshayatan College in Kolkata.


Tupperware is making strides toward women’s economic empowerment and social change through Global Links, a public private partnership launched in 2011.

The program was co-founded by Orlando-based Tupperware and nearby Rollins College, with the support of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. The aim is to grow entrepreneurial opportunities for women in developing and post-conflict countries. Through Global Links, scholars from these countries are handpicked to travel to the U.S. for about a year, where they receive immersive training in social entrepreneurship.

“For more than 70 years, we have provided women with opportunities to grow as entrepreneurs and business leaders,” said Rick Goings, Tupperware Chairman and CEO. “Global Links takes this effort a step further, connecting scholars across cultures to disseminate best practices in entrepreneurship to communities in developing countries.”

This month, the third Global Links scholar, Dr. Rumpa Chakraborty, arrived in Orlando. Like her predecessor in the program, Chakraborty hails from India, where she is a professor of finance and accounting at Shri Shikshayatan College, a liberal arts women’s college in Kolkata. India currently boasts the 10th-largest economy in the world, but female participation in the job market hovers around 35 percent.

During her time in the U.S., Chakraborty will participate in business classes at the Rollins College Social Entrepreneurship and Business Department and Crummer Graduate School of Business. The program also provides hands-on training through an externship at Tupperware’s global headquarters.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to enrich my knowledge of entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment,” Chakraborty said in a news release. “Most of all, through Global Links, I look forward to helping my students work with real-life entrepreneurs in India, especially those from underprivileged communities and rural areas.”

Upon returning to India, Chakraborty will apply her experience both inside and outside the classroom. She is faculty coordinator of the entrepreneurship program at Shri Shikshayatan College, and she regularly offers career development workshops and seminars. Building upon these efforts, Chakraborty plans to launch a community service project for students to mentor local women on running a business.

January 26, 2017

U.S. News

LegalShield Appoints VP and Head of New Startup Offering

LegalShield has named a new vice president to oversee the company’s planned startup offering, Launch.

Jacob Varghese is joining the legal services provider as Vice President, and as General Manager for the new undertaking, which LegalShield will introduce later this year. “We are thrilled to welcome Jake to the LegalShield family,” Jeff Bell, CEO, said in a news release. “He is joining a few months before we officially add Launch to our offering and will help us in our endeavor to fuel America’s entrepreneurial spirit with the adequate tools.”

Launch will help entrepreneurs navigate the legal side of starting a business, with a mobile app that guides them through the incorporation process and provides on-demand legal services. According to Varghese, “It will cater to the needs of the many entrepreneurs who look for guidance and support during the crucial early days of business formation, when legal issues may arise after filing paperwork.”

The new offering, which starts at $145 and includes a three-month membership with LegalShield, is part of the company’s ongoing expansion of digital services. Varghese will bring working knowledge to that effort, having spent the past 11 years with LegalZoom, a web-based provider of legal services. There his roles included vice president of sales and business development and vice president of business services. Formerly, Varghese practiced law in Iowa.

January 25, 2017

U.S. News

Get a First Look at the New Skincare Line from Origami Owl

Origami Owl has unveiled the name and look of its forthcoming skincare brand.

Willing Beauty, with its five “better-for-you” skincare products, was introduced to Designers and the public during Origami Owl’s recent L.E.A.D. Empowerment Summit. This Valentine’s Day, individuals can officially join Willing Beauty with products—including a day moisturizer, tinted primer and night serum—going on sale in April.

Origami Owl has expanded its brand family through the acquisition of willa, a natural skincare line that caters to teens and tweens. Willa was started in 2009 by then 9-year-old Willa Doss and her mother, Christy Prunier. Now, the pair is joining forces with the mother-daughter team behind Origami Owl, Chrissy and Bella Weems. Bella was 14 when she began selling jewelry to raise funds for her first car, launching the business that would become Origami Owl.

Both companies have focused on creating opportunities for other mother-daughter teams to share their products through social selling. Since 2010, Origami Owl has built a salesforce of more than 45,000. Willa shifted to direct sales in 2014, and from that point has signed on 500 consultants. Both young founders recently spoke to DSN about the new partnership and what to expect from Willing Beauty.

January 25, 2017

World News

Kleeneze to Consolidate Operations at New UK Hub

United Kingdom-based Kleeneze is consolidating logistics, fulfillment and distribution in a new 100,000-square-foot facility.

The seller of household and beauty products was acquired in 2015 by direct-to-consumer firm JRJR Networks, but up to now logistics had been contracted out to the former owner. Bringing the operation in house will enable Kleeneze to make a significant leap in development, said JRJR Networks Founder and Vice Chairman John Rochon Jr.

Kleeneze’s new facility is located in Rochdale, in the Greater Manchester area of northern England. The company, which has operated in the U.K. for nearly a century, is financing the investment through a $1.5 million deal with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The logistics hub is expected to bring more than 100 new jobs to Rochdale.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to make this contribution to the local economy and to offer additional employment support in the region,” said Michael Khatkar, Kleeneze Managing Director. “This new facility should enable us to drive our business further in 2017, expanding into new markets and enabling more people to engage in personal economic development.”

Kleeneze is one of 10 direct selling businesses operating independently under the JRJR Networks umbrella. Combined, these brands are sold through more than 70,000 independent distributors around the world. Kleeneze has expanded into markets across Europe, in addition to Great Britain.

January 23, 2017

World News

USANA Raises $2.6 Million for Aid Efforts in 2016

Photo: USANA True Health Foundation volunteers on a humanitarian trip to Baja California, Mexico.


Picture $738,722 worth of children’s multivitamins, and you have just a fragment of what USANA donated in 2016 through its True Health Foundation.

The supplements were distributed to aid networks, orphanages and clinics around the world. One such orphanage is located in Vincente Guerrero, an impoverished community on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, where a group of USANA Associates took part in a humanitarian trip with the True Health Foundation. In addition to delivering a year’s worth of multivitamins for all of the children at the orphanage, Associates administered medical aid and dental care, and participated in local construction projects.

Meeting these basic human needs is the mission of the True Health Foundation, and USANA encourages Associates and employees to get involved on many levels. Last year, the foundation recorded more than 400 hours of volunteer service, and it was able to donate more than 6.2 million meals through its partnership with Children’s Hunger Fund. An additional $180,000 funded health education programs, food supplies and home construction.

“We look forward to beginning another year where we will help alleviate suffering in impoverished and disaster-stricken areas,” said Brian Paul, THF’s Executive Director of Communications. “We are so thankful for our Associates who continue to generously donate their time and resources to assisting those less fortunate.”

The True Health Foundation, now in its fifth year, has raised more than $13 million in funds. The company itself covers administrative expenses, meaning all donations go to the humanitarian work USANA is doing around the world.

January 20, 2017

World News

Nerium Opens Second Latin America Market

Photo: Nerium products now available in Colombia.


Skincare brand Nerium International is expanding its footprint in Latin America with the opening of Nerium Colombia.

The new market will be led by Adriana Sarmiento, General Manager, who has extensive experience building corporate sales and marketing teams, within the direct sales channel. “Nerium International is a company with a culture rooted deeply in a philosophy of loving, caring and sharing, and I am very proud to be part of this organization,” said Sarmiento.

The new general manager is a native of Bogotá, Colombia, where Nerium has opened its first Brand Center in the region. In addition to housing corporate offices, these centers are a destination for consumers to learn more about Nerium products, and for the company’s independent distributors, known as Brand Partners, to obtain tools and training.

“We decided to open our Nerium International Colombia Brand Center in Bogotá, a capital city exuding vitality and verve,” said Nerium Founder and CEO Jeff Olson. “This lively city is filled with colonial architecture and a high-style sophistication, making it the perfect location for our first Brand Center in South America.”

The company also announced that it has selected World Vision, a humanitarian organization fighting poverty and injustice, as its philanthropic partner in Colombia.

With the addition of Colombia Nerium is now in seven markets, two of which—Japan and Australia—opened in the second half of 2016. In Latin America, the company has existing operations in Mexico.

January 19, 2017

U.S. News

LifeVantage Names Gary Koos Interim CFO

LifeVantage is bringing in an interim chief financial officer as it seeks a candidate to fill the position.

Company officials said for the time being Gary Koos will take on the position formerly held by Mark Jaggi. Koos brings a wide range of experience to the role, which will include implementation of new processes across international markets. Last year, company accountants raised concerns about certain international sales policies and associated taxes and tariffs. A resulting independent audit identified gaps in internal processes, which the company has moved to correct. Pending the ongoing review LifeVantage delayed reporting for 2016 and the first quarter of fiscal 2017.

“In addition to his international financial expertise and leadership capabilities, Gary’s extensive operational skills and experience establishing enterprise-wide policies and controls will be vital as we continue to focus on creating value for our shareholders,” said Darren Jensen, LifeVantage President and CEO.

Koos hails from Comet Technologies USA, where he served as head of finance for the company’s Plasma Control Technologies division. His previous roles included president, CEO and CFO of Worldwide Energy and Manufacturing USA Inc., where he led a financial and operational restructuring for the publicly traded company. At LifeVantage, he steps in as interim CFO effective Thursday.

January 19, 2017

U.S. News

Modere to Acquire Wellness Brand Jusuru International

Photo: Liquid BioCell Life, part of Jusuru’s flagship dietary supplement line.


Wellness firm Modere on Wednesday announced plans to acquire another health-focused direct selling company, Jusuru International.

As a result, the two companies will integrate operations, with Jusuru functioning as the new Modere Collagen Sciences division, led by Jusuru Co-Founder and President Asma Ishaq. The alliance is expected to speed up international distribution of Jusuru’s product offering, which incorporates a proprietary Liquid BioCell technology, and drive future innovations from Modere.

“Modere is experiencing significant success with our global social retail model and rapid growth in the United States,” said Robert S. Conlee, CEO of Modere. “The acquisition of Jusuru will further expand our reach to position Modere to meet our global goal of 10 million healthy homes by 2020.”

Modere itself was acquired in 2013 by Z Capital Partners LLC, a private equity firm managing $2.2 billion in regulatory assets. Up to that point, the Utah-based company had operated under the Neways brand name. Z Capital’s President and CEO, James Zenni, said the Jusuru deal is a significant opportunity to diversify Modere’s offerings. “The breadth of our collective expertise in marketing safe, innovative health and wellness products will create additional opportunities for Modere,” said Zenni.

For Jusuru, the partnership offers a vehicle to get its patented technology into the hands of more people around the world, through an organization likewise dedicated to healthy living. “By leveraging Modere’s modern marketing and global support, we look forward to introducing Liquid BioCell internationally and providing greater opportunities for our salesforce of Independent Representatives to bring health and wellness benefits to individuals worldwide,” said Ishaq.

January 19, 2017

U.S. News

LegalShield CEO Accepted to Forbes Technology Council

LegalShield CEO Jeff Bell is joining the ranks of CIOs, CTOs and other executives on the Forbes Technology Council.

Forbes Councils are invite-only communities that offer access to resources and other council members, as well as the chance to contribute thought leadership articles to Forbes.com. The Technology Council’s current makeup is diverse, ranging from the director of engineering at Rent the Runway to the vice president of enterprise architecture at Salesforce.

“We are honored to welcome Jeff Bell into the community,” said Scott Gerber, Founder of Forbes Councils. “Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world.”

Before joining LegalShield, Bell had held leadership roles with multinational corporations including DaimlerChrysler, where he was vice president of the Jeep and Chrysler divisions, and Microsoft, where he rose to corporate vice president, global marketing, for the company’s Interactive Entertainment Business, maker of Xbox.

Since taking on leadership of LegalShield in August 2014, Bell has made technology a priority for the company. He compares the business, leveraging technology to sell subscription-based legal plans, to the sort of disruptive model that gave rise to the YouEconomy. “Like Uber, we have a growing marketplace that matches members with law firms,” said Bell. “Like Yelp!, our law firms and their lawyers are held accountable because every member is surveyed on their satisfaction with the service. Like PayPal, we also provide many helpful DIY tools for our members.”

LegalShield is seeing early returns on its investment in technology, as membership levels hit record highs. Moving into 2017, the company had surpassed 1.6 million member accounts, covering more than 4.2 million individuals.

January 18, 2017

World News

4Life Bolsters Global Leadership with VP Appointments

Wellness company 4Life has announced a slate of executive promotions, both at home and abroad.

On the technology side of the business, Dustin Rose is advancing to Vice President of Software Development and Rick Eastman to Vice Pesident of IT infrastructure. Rose has been a software engineer for nearly 20 years, the last 10 of them with 4Life. Eastman joined the Salt Lake City company in 2011, and most recently served as senior director of IT support and systems.

“These individuals are exemplary leaders who have a passion for their areas of expertise and use their talents to support our worldwide network of distributors,” said Steve Tew, 4Life President and CEO.

The company also has tapped its South Korea General Manager, Tony Lee, to serve as Vice President of Northern Asia. “Tony has a unique ability to support and partner with 4Life Distributors to achieve incredible success,” said Tew. “Under his leadership, South Korea has experienced record growth as the company’s largest international market.”

As general manager, Lee led the South Korea business to a succession of both product volume and sales records. His new role includes oversight of operations in Japan and South Korea, from the company’s regional headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.

January 18, 2017

U.S. News

Mutual Fund Clients Name Primerica Best in Customer Service

In 2016, financial services firm Primerica not only reached an all-time high in managed assets but also earned another DALBAR Mutual Fund Service Award.

The customer service award is a nod to Primerica’s ISP (Investment and Savings Products) segment. Each year, independent research firm DALBAR recognizes standout companies based on its comprehensive testing of service delivery, which takes place over the course of the year. Primerica has collected the DALBAR award in the mutual fund category for 14 years running.

“Primerica places real value on the customer experience and has made outstanding service a core part of their brand,” Brendon Yeager, Director at DALBAR, said in a news release. “This achievement underscores Primerica’s commitment to consistently delivering a superior standard of care.”

The company also closed out 2016 with a record $51 billion in client assets under management, a benchmark that goes hand-in-hand with Primerica’s focus on service, according to the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Gregory Pitts. “Customer service has always been a top priority at Primerica. We continue to enhance servicing processes to deliver an excellent client experience.”

In the coming months, those enhancements will include the launch of an improved technology platform for the company’s managed accounts.

January 17, 2017

World News

Jeunesse Raises $1.4 Million in 2016 to Aid Children

Photo: Jeunesse Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis and his wife, Isabel, participate in a service trip to the company’s adopted Kenyan village.


Looking back at 2016, Jeunesse reports that company Distributors donated more than $1.4 million through the Jeunesse Kids foundation.

Jeunesse Kids is dedicated to empowering communities to give children a brighter future. Working at the local level, Jeunesse supports after-school programs, children’s hospitals and other projects in markets where the company operates.

“The mission of Jeunesse Kids is the heart and soul of this company and the cause-driven focus for which we stand,” said Scott Lewis, Chief Visionary Officer with Jeunesse. “We are deeply grateful for and humbled by the generosity of our family of Jeunesse Distributors and their commitment to lift up and support children around the world.”

A major initiative of the foundation is its partnership with WE Charity, formerly Free the Children. Jeunesse has adopted three villages through the nonprofit’s WE Village program, which applies sustainable solutions to the primary causes of poverty. In these villages—located in China, Kenya and Ecuador—Jeunesse donations and service trips are providing new school buildings, sanitation systems and the like, as well as training in agriculture and other livelihoods.

Company officials report that in 2017 Jeunesse Kids will add new initiatives to supply basic necessities, education and protection for abused and neglected children.

January 16, 2017

U.S. News

WIN Worldwide Adds Director of Field Development

WIN Worldwide is bringing in a director of field development to support the nutrition company’s Brand Partners.

Direct sales veteran Ricky Frank has been tapped to fill the role, which will focus on Brand Partner communications, training and events, both in existing markets and with an eye toward international expansion.

In the past three decades, Frank has worked with a number of direct selling companies as a top independent distributor, managing sales teams of thousands, but in recent years he has transitioned to consulting for a variety of companies. Outside the channel, Frank has worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies.

“We are pleased to have Ricky join us,” Ralph Oats, who co-founded WIN with his wife, Cathy, said in a news release. “His training and emphasis on personal development aligns perfectly with the vision Cathy and I have to make WIN Worldwide into a billion-dollar company.”

WIN is currently building upon a company-wide rebranding and all-new product line introduced in 2015. Formerly known as Wellness International Network, the Texas-based firm rolled out a wellness line centered on Daily Lift, a powdered-drink mix containing 59 superfoods. At its Lift Experience event next month, the company also will unveil a new digital initiative to help Brand Partners boost productivity.

January 13, 2017

World News

The Roundup: Advice for Would-Be Entrepreneurs, Eyes on EVER Skincare

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January 13, 2017

World News

Herbalife-Sponsored Cristiano Ronaldo Collects Soccer’s Top Honors

Whatever is in Herbalife’s nutrition products, it seems to be working for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Herbalife is Official Nutrition Sponsor of the international soccer star, who this week was crowned Best FIFA Men’s Player 2016 by the sport’s international governing body. The Best FIFA Football Awards is a new format rolled out this year. The title of Best Women’s Player went to midfielder Carli Lloyd, currently playing for the Houston Dash, who has her own ties to direct sales as a past USANA Ambassador, one of the professional athletes using and promoting the company’s nutrition products.

FIFA’s top athletes are determined by the votes of national team captains and managers from around the world, an online public ballot of fans, and a select group of journalists covering the sport. Each of these groups hold equal sway in deciding the winners.

“Herbalife Nutrition is proud to congratulate Cristiano Ronaldo for this well-deserved award that celebrates an incredible year filled with amazing accomplishments,” said Michael O. Johnson, Herbalife Chairman and CEO. “We have a proud heritage of supporting athletes around the world like Cristiano who exemplify our belief in proper nutrition and a healthy, active lifestyle.”

Herbalife sponsors professional athletes of all stripes, though none so widely revered as Ronaldo, who is currently ranked the most famous athlete in the world by ESPN. Sponsored athletes use Herbalife Nutrition products on a regular basis, and Ronaldo has even collaborated with the company on a co-branded offering, Herbalife24 CR7 Drive. The sports drink was formulated with Ronaldo’s nutritional needs in mind, but is intended to boost athletic performance at any level.

The FIFA honor is one of several major awards Ronaldo has collected in the past year. Most recently, the Real Madrid forward won the 2016 Ballon d’Or, the annual award presented by France Football. He also earned an unprecedented fourth Golden Boot from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), an award given to the leading scorer in league matches from the top division of every European national league. The organization also named Ronaldo its 2015/16 UEFA Best Player in Europe.

January 13, 2017

U.S. News

Mary Kay Conference-Goers Give Back to New Orleans Community

Photo: Mary Kay Consultants assemble care kits for victims of domestic violence.


New Orleans is seeing pink this week as nearly 11,000 Mary Kay Consultants converge on the Big Easy.

The beauty company selected New Orleans as the site of its annual U.S. Leadership Conference, an event that will pump an estimated $12.9 million into the local economy, according to the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. The first of two back-to-back, four-day conferences kicked off Wednesday.

“With its historic architecture, rich culture, live music scene, incredible restaurants and hotels, we’re thrilled to be back in New Orleans with Mary Kay Independent Sales Directors from across the nation,” said Nathan Moore, President of Mary Kay North America.

Amid the recognition, education and inspiration, the Leadership Conference offers an opportunity to give back to the New Orleans community. Attendees are invited to help assemble 2,000 care kits, which will be donated to local domestic violence shelters as a part of the company’s Don’t Look Away initiative. The kits contain basic hygiene products from Mary Kay, to equip those who have fled abusive situations.

Mary Claire Landry is Executive Director of Crescent House, one of six shelters tagged to receive the kits. “With an overwhelming demand for services and limited funding, we are always in need of basic necessities, and the Mary Kay care kits fill that gap at a critical and emotional time for our clients,” said Landry.

Over the years, Mary Kay and its charitable arm, The Mary Kay Foundation, have donated more than $53 million to domestic violence prevention and awareness programs.

January 12, 2017

U.S. News

Coty Buys Majority Stake in Social Media Sensation Younique

Beauty products manufacturer Coty Inc. (COTY—NYSE) is set to take a majority stake in social selling firm Younique, at a valuation of roughly $1 billion.

Coty announced that it will acquire 60 percent of Younique for about $600 million in cash, while company founders Derek Maxfield, CEO, and Melanie Huscroft, Chief Visionary Officer, will own the remaining 40 percent. The brother-and-sister duo will continue to lead Younique as a standalone brand within Coty’s Consumer Beauty division.

“Derek and Melanie are tremendous entrepreneurs who have built one of the most engaging and fastest growing e-commerce companies in beauty,” said Camillo Pane, Coty’s CEO. “Alongside the rest of Younique’s team and in partnership with their Presenters, they have been able to impact the lives of millions of consumers across a number of countries with a mission to uplift and empower women.”

For Younique, founded in 2012, the investment is a major vote of confidence from one of the biggest players on the global beauty scene. Coty’s portfolio of 70-plus brands includes COVERGIRL, Clairol and OPI, as well as premium fragrance and skincare labels like Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs. Back in 2012, the New York-based firm made a $10.7 billion offer to acquire another direct sales business, Avon Products Inc., but after two months of back-and-forth, Coty withdrew its bid, citing a “lack of engagement” on Avon’s part.

“We are thrilled to have Coty as a partner and expect that together we will be able to take Younique to new heights,” Maxfield said in a news release. “Coty and Younique share a passion for beauty, an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as complementary missions.”

In four years of business, Younique has built a network of about 200,000 Presenters, who host virtual parties showcasing the brand’s cosmetics and skincare products. Sales for 2016 are estimated at approximately $400 million. Both companies see the new partnership as a way to accelerate product development and international expansion at Younique, which has more than 4.1 million customers in 10 countries.

Coty officials said the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017.

January 12, 2017

World News

Jeunesse Acquires Naming Rights to Former Rio Olympic Arena

Jeunesse Global has acquired naming rights to the former Rio Olympic Arena in Brazil, a fast-growing market for the cosmetics company.

The sponsorship was unveiled to Distributors in Maui, Hawaii, last week for the company’s Emerald Experience incentive trip. Jeunesse has signed a three-year deal to display its brand throughout the venue and install a retail shop on site, following in the footsteps of direct sales firms like Amway and USANA Health Sciences, which have contracted with Orlando’s Amway Center and Utah’s USANA Amphitheatre.

As the only multi-purpose arena in Brazil, the newly christened Jeunesse Arena has hosted marquee events including the gymnastics competition at last year’s Summer Olympics, the NBA Global Games, Disney on Ice and musical acts from Beyoncé to Paul McCartney. The facility can hold about 15,000 for sporting events and nearly 19,000 for concerts.

Jeunesse Arena is a symbol of the hard work and success of Distributors across the region, Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis said in a news release. “We are honored Jeunesse will now have a presence in a place where hundreds of thousands of people gather annually to celebrate life through culture, sports and music.”

On April 7–8, the company will celebrate its expanded presence in Rio de Janeiro, the sixth most populous city in the Americas, with an exclusive event for Distributors at the arena. The celebration will include a concert by musical artist Anitta, three-time winner of Best Brazilian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards, and will mark the company’s first anniversary in Brazil.

January 11, 2017

U.S. News

ForeverGreen Makes COO and President Appointments

Two executives at ForeverGreen Worldwide are expanding their roles with the wellness company.

Former Chief Sales Officer Rick Redford has been named chief operating officer, a role that will include continued oversight of the company’s sales strategy in North America and Southeast Asia. Additionally, Jorge Alvarado, Chief Marketing Officer, is taking on the responsibilities of company president.

“I’m fully confident in these two great executives,” said Ron Williams, CEO of ForeverGreen. “Their leadership will allow me more quality time with our field leaders in growing and developing the business.”

Redford’s background in manufacturing, sales, marketing and international expansion includes 25 years in the direct sales channel. Alvarado likewise has spent more than two decades working with direct selling firms. He has a background in marketing and communications, and is fluent in both English and Spanish.

The news comes on the heels of two other promotions within ForeverGreen’s ranks. In December 2016, the company tapped Shane Manwaring to serve as general counsel and Dan Eastman as chief information officer.

January 11, 2017

U.S. News

Celebrity Trainer Erin Oprea Named USANA Fitness Ambassador

Photo: Erin Oprea. (USANA Health Sciences)


USANA’s newest Fitness Ambassador, Erin Oprea, also holds the titles of mom, author, former U.S. Marine and celebrity trainer.

Oprea’s passion for fitness served her well in the military, which she joined because, in her words, it looked like fun. “I joined the U.S Marines when I was 20 and loved getting into trouble during boot camp,” Oprea said in the company’s announcement. “I couldn’t help but enjoy a little bonus amount of push-ups. I don’t think they realized that I was completely okay with their ‘punishments.’ ”

She would go on to serve two tours in Iraq, becoming the first female platoon leader to be attached to the infantry in a war zone. In addition to discipline and structure, the military taught Oprea that a solid workout does not require fancy equipment. “Getting in your exercise when and where you can is very important, and it’s more than likely never in a gym. Fifteen minutes here or 30 minutes there will have to suffice,” said Oprea.

The Nashville-based fitness guru shares her approach to healthy living in a book, The 4 x 4 Diet: 4 Key Foods, 4-Minute Workouts, Four Weeks to the Body You Want, released last year by Random House. The foreword was penned by country music star Carrie Underwood, who has trained with Oprea for years.

Explaining what drew her to USANA, Oprea points to the quality of the company’s ingredients, as well as its versatile product offerings. “I am a big fan of being able to modify what I eat to stay consistent with how I want to stay healthy. USANA gives me that flexibility in their products.” One of the newest innovations from the nutrition company is MySmartFoods, a line of protein shakes and bars that allows customers to pick and choose the proteins, flavors and nutrient boosters that work for them.

January 10, 2017

U.S. News

Millions of Scentsy Customers Vote to ‘Bring Back My Bar’

Scentsy is giving customers a happy start to the new year with a limited-time revival of some beloved products.

Everyone knows the feeling, when a favorite product disappears from the shelves, discontinued by the manufacturer, leaving one adrift and in search of a viable alternative. At Scentsy, the brand known for its wickless warmers and wax fragrance bars, this unceremonious end is a natural part of the product life cycle, but that does not make the parting any easier for loyal customers.

For several years the Scentsy team would look at sales data and simply discontinue underperforming fragrances to make room for new offerings, meaning that with the exception of a few core products, no fragrance was safe. New releases might keep customers coming back for more, but this strategy inevitably left some disappointed. The phenomenon even inspired a March 2016 post on the company’s lifestyle blog titled, “Love Stinks: How to Cope When Your Scentsy Fragrance Is Discontinued.”

Perhaps in Scentsy’s case, customer loyalty is compounded by the fact that smell is closely linked with memory, and for an individual, a specific fragrance can invoke memories of a person, place or period of time. Whatever the source of this enthusiasm, in 2011 Scentsy responded by launching Bring Back My Bar, a semiannual promotion that gives customers the opportunity to vote for their favorite retired fragrances. Once the votes are tallied, the top 20 fragrances are resurrected for a month—ample time for customers and Consultants to replenish their stock.

Bring Back My Bar voting takes place in April, for fragrances available in July, and in October, for those available in January. The company disclosed that in April 2016, customers cast more than 3 million votes in Bring Back My Bar—or BBMB, for those in the know. One alliance of Scentsy Consultants voted 80,000 times in two weeks for their fragrance of choice, Huckleberry Heaven. The latest round of winners, reintroduced this month, includes favorites like Autumn Stroll, Cherry Vanilla and Coffee Tree.

January 09, 2017

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January 08, 2017

World News

The Roundup: Insights from Stella & Dot Creative Chief, UK DSA on Changing Workforce

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January 07, 2017

U.S. News

MonaVie Co-Founder Dallin Larsen Launches New Wellness Venture

Photo: Dallin Larsen, Co-Founder of Vasayo and MonaVie.


This week marked the soft launch of Vasayo, a new health and wellness company from the founder of MonaVie.

Dallin Larsen has spent more than two decades in the direct sales channel, first as an independent distributor and then at the corporate level. Now, he and his wife, Karree, are launching a new direct sales venture, the Lehi, Utah-based Vasayo.

In 2005, Larsen, his brother Randy, and Olympic athlete Henry Marsh co-founded MonaVie, a wellness firm known for its acai berry juice blends. The company’s annual revenue skyrocketed to $850 million in 2008, but sales slowed to $600 million in 2010, the last year MonaVie participated in the DSN Global 100 ranking.

Larsen retired from MonaVie in July 2014, and about a year later the company was acquired by skincare and supplement manufacturer Jeunesse Global. Financial details were not disclosed, but as part of the transaction Jeunesse cleared considerable debt that had been incurred by MonaVie.

“Retirement wasn’t for us,” Larsen said in a news release announcing his latest venture. “But we were only going to return to build a new—and final—company if we could find a truly innovative product and a disruptive story. And we have done that.”

Vasayo’s initial offering consists of five targeted nutrition supplements, all under the MicroLife sub-brand. “Vasayo products feature Advanced Delivery Technology (ADT), where nutrients are wrapped in cell-loving liposomal ‘bubbles’ for superior absorption and delivery,” said Dallin.

Having found what they consider an innovative product, the Larsens were also encouraged by trends in the wider direct sales market. For example, in 2015, the number of people involved in direct selling rose 11 percent, according to the U.S. Direct Selling Association. Additionally, advances in technology and social media are introducing brands to new audiences and sales methods.

A grand opening event celebrating the official launch of Vasayo will take place May 29–30 in Las Vegas.

January 05, 2017

World News

Herbalife Adds Hong Kong-Based Nutrition Expert to Advisory Board

The latest addition to Herbalife’s Nutrition Advisory Board is Zhen-Yu Chen, Ph.D., an expert in food and nutritional sciences.

The board consists of outside nutrition and health professionals, who help Herbalife educate its members on balanced nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Chen brings the board’s membership to 26, with six hailing from Asia Pacific. In recent years, the company has been keen to add advisors in the region, which accounted for $231.4 million, or about 20 percent, of third-quarter revenue.

Chen is Chair Professor of the Food and Nutritional Sciences Programme and Head of the Graduate Division of the School of Life Sciences at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. In addition to lecturing, he has contributed to more than 200 journal papers, which have garnered more than 10,000 citations.

“As a highly regarded expert in the field of food and nutrition sciences, Dr. Chen is a valuable asset to the team as we look to ramp up our health and nutrition advocacy efforts all across Asia Pacific,” said Dr. John Agwunobi, Herbalife’s Chief Health and Nutrition Officer.

Chen has been tapped to fill leadership or advisory roles within a number of other organizations, including the China Nutrition Society, where he formerly served as a council member. He also has been deputy chairman of the Expert Committee on Food Safety at the Food and Health Bureau of Hong Kong SAR Government, and associate editor for the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In 2016, the American Chemical Society presented Chen with its Advancement of Application of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Award—one of many such accolades he has collected over the years.

January 05, 2017

U.S. News

Wellness Firm Genesis PURE Names New CEO

Photo: Daren Hogge, CEO of Genesis PURE.


Two former Genesis PURE executives are rejoining the corporate team.

The purveyor of health and wellness products has tapped Daren Hogge to serve as CEO. Hogge, who has spent 29 years in the direct sales channel, was CEO of wellness firm GoYin when it merged with Genesis PURE in 2008. He then came on as president of Genesis PURE until his departure in 2012.

“It’s great to get back to the company and products I love so much,” Hogge said in a news release. “Taking a step away in 2012 was the right decision, but today I’m excited to rejoin Genesis PURE and do great things in 2017 and beyond.”

At the outset of his career, Hogge was a CPA with Arthur Andersen, where his work included financial consulting for an established direct selling company. He then transitioned to the channel, taking on a succession of leadership roles, and even serving for three years as president of the Direct Selling Management Association in Utah.

Genesis PURE also is gaining the expertise of Tim Hough, an original officer of the company who is returning as Vice President of International. Beyond Genesis PURE, Hough’s past roles have taken him from Fortune 500 companies to startups, and include a stint as marketing director for Dell Asia Pacific.

January 05, 2017

Credit Card/Payment Processing

Global Payroll Gateway, Inc.


January 04, 2017

U.S. News

Tech Investments Help LegalShield Boost Memberships

LegalShield is moving into 2017 with memberships at an all-time high, thanks in part to a significant investment in new technologies.

Over the course of 2016, more than 500,000 enrolled in the company’s subscription-based legal plans, which offer unlimited legal advice and what is touted as the industry’s only 24/7 hotline, for members needing emergency assistance. The Oklahoma-based company also offers a plan for small businesses. As it enters the new year, LegalShield is serving more than 1.6 million member accounts.

The company’s sizable growth over the past year dovetailed with the launch of several new digital products and services, foremost among them the new-and-improved LegalShield App. The tool enables users to contact a law firm, prepare a will or process a parking ticket with all the ease of placing a mobile order at Starbucks. In the words of LegalShield’s CEO, Jeff Bell, “The LegalShield App is a game changer, because it puts your law firm in the palm of your hand.”

Two additional apps introduced in 2016 are helping the company reach new audiences. The Shake by LegalShield app allows users to create—at no cost—legal forms tailored to their specific U.S. state or Canadian province. The in-house team behind Shake also created Ask by LegalShield, which provides answers to more than 1,500 common legal questions.

The company’s focus on digital initiatives was reinforced by the November promotion of David Coffey to Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer. Coffey, formerly LegalShield’s Chief Media Director, has been tasked with leading a continued expansion of online marketing.

January 04, 2017

World News

ORGANO Opens for Business in Bolivia

ORGANO, a maker of specialty beverages and wellness products, is expanding its Latin America presence with a market opening in Bolivia.

Bolivia’s growing economy and entrepreneurial spirit were key factors in the decision, management said in a launch announcement.

According to a 2014 report from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Bolivia ranks sixth among 70 economies evaluated in terms of early-stage entrepreneurial activity. The survey of adults ages 18 to 64 found that 73 percent believe they have the skills to start a business; 58 percent see existing opportunities to do so; and just 38 percent are inhibited by fear of failure.

The country’s appetite for entrepreneurship could help ORGANO raise its profile in a highly competitive market, as the company is limiting its initial product offering to specialty coffees. Like all ORGANO products, the beverages are enhanced with Ganoderma, a mushroom used for thousands of years in traditional Asian medicines. 

“ORGANO continues its Latin America expansion with our premium coffee products, competing head-to-head with specialty coffees in one of the richest coffee-growing continents in the world,” said Bernardo Chua, ORGANO Founder and CEO.

With the addition of Bolivia, the British Columbia-based company has operations in 51 countries.

January 03, 2017

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, January 2017


Click here to order the November 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Mary Kay Promotes Moore to President of North America

At Mary Kay, longtime Chief Legal Officer and Secretary Nathan Moore is transitioning to President of Mary Kay North America.

In his new role, Moore will draw from more than two decades of experience with the beauty company, which he joined in 1995 as a staff attorney. His responsibilities have included a number of leadership positions within the legal department. Moore also is a founding member of the Mary Kay Culture Committee.

“He brings a deep and unique understanding of our business to his new position along with an unrivaled passion for celebrating the success of the Mary Kay independent salesforce,” said David Holl, Mary Kay President and CEO.

Mary Kay has tapped one of its own, Julia A. Simon, to succeed Moore as Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary.

Simon’s 25-plus years of legal experience have included private law practice, including time spent at Locke Purnell Rain Harrell, as well as in-house positions for Mary Kay—most recently senior vice president, deputy general counsel and assistant secretary.

“In addition to her solid legal experience, Julia has developed a keen understanding of what our business is all about,” said Holl. “This will allow her to make an immediate impact in her new role.”


RBC Life Sciences Names Carolyn Rachaner as Marketing Chief

As it marks 25 years in business, RBC Life Sciences Inc. is appointing a new vice president to carry the company’s marketing efforts into the future.

The health supplement maker has promoted Carolyn M. Rachaner, N.D., to Vice President, Marketing and Product Development. As the daughter of company founder Clinton Howard, she brings unique insight into the mission and culture of RBC Life.

The promotion formalizes a role Rachaner has filled for several months, according to CEO Steve Brown. “She has dedicated her full-time effort and then some over the past year as we have developed new sales and marketing strategies for RBC Life.”

As vice president, Rachaner will play a key role in company-wide initiatives planned for 2017, including the launch of a new website, fresh product packaging, an expanded social media strategy and enhanced salesforce training.

Rachaner has been on staff more than 15 years, developing a number of the company’s health products and coaching customers on proper nutrition and supplementation, while also running her own nutritional consulting practice. Outside the company, Rachaner, who holds a doctorate in naturopathy, has completed more than 150 study hours in applied clinical nutrition through Parker College of Chiropractic.


Nu Skin President and CEO Truman Hunt to Exit in 2017

The man who has led Nu Skin Enterprises for nearly 14 years will step down in mid-2017.

President and CEO Truman Hunt will depart Nu Skin next year to take on a three-year leadership assignment with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At that time, Chief Financial Officer Ritch Wood will transition to CEO and Ryan Napierski, currently President of Global Sales and Operations, will take on the role
of president.

Hunt’s career with Nu Skin began in 1994, when as a young lawyer he was appointed counsel to the president. During his tenure as president and CEO, the Provo, Utah-based company has seen sales grow from $986.5 million in 2003 to a projected $2.2 billion in 2016.

“Truman has established a tremendous legacy at Nu Skin that we will continue to build upon going forward,” said Steven J. Lund, Chairman of the Board.

Lund also noted that Hunt’s successors have been integral to shaping the strategy that will guide Nu Skin into the future. 

The pair have more than four decades of combined experience with the company. Wood was promoted to finance chief in 2002, and in 2010 was recognized as CFO of the Year by Utah Business magazine. Napierski was named President of Global Sales and Operations in 2015, having spent the prior eight years leading key international markets for Nu Skin.


USANA’s Dave Wentz Steps Down, New Appointments Made

Co-CEO Dave Wentz is departing USANA Health Sciences after more than two decades with the nutrition company.

As Wentz steps down as a board member and Co-CEO, the man with whom he shared the office, Kevin Guest, will transition to CEO. 

Wentz plans to spend more time with family and continue to be a voice for direct selling companies as Chairman of the Direct Selling Education Foundation.

“USANA has always been, and will remain, a positive influence for so many lives, including my own, and I am confident in the company’s future under Kevin’s leadership,” said Wentz.

Wentz initially was named CEO in 2008, succeeding his father, Dr. Myron Wentz, who founded USANA in 1992. The younger Wentz’s tenure saw USANA through many years of record sales growth, including 2015, when revenue rose 16.2 percent to $918.5 million.

Guest has been with USANA since 2003, and previously served as Interim CEO while Wentz was on a yearlong sabbatical. Before that Guest was President.

Also Jim Brown, Chief Operations Officer since 2006, is now adding company president to his job description, and Walter Noot has been hired as Chief Information Officer. 


David Coffey to Take On Chief Digital Officer Role at LegalShield

LegalShield is making further changes to its executive team with the promotion of David Coffey as Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer.

Formerly the company’s Chief Media Director, Coffey has been tasked with leading a continued expansion of online marketing at the legal services provider. Digital initiatives have been front and center at LegalShield this year, with more than a dozen new technology-based products and services slated to launch.

The company’s new digital chief has 23 years of experience in media and marketing, working with clients such as Allstate, Chrysler and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

For a time Coffey served as president of his own media and marketing consultancy, The Coffey Group, whose clientele included NBCUniversal’s reality show The Biggest Loser, as well as a number of national marketing agencies. Most recently, he held the title of vice president of marketing and IT with vRide, a ride sharing platform and TPG Growth portfolio company.


Avon Drafts Former SABMiller Executive as CFO

Avon Products Inc. is getting its third finance chief in the past three years with the appointment of Jamie Wilson, a former executive at brewing giant SABMiller.

The beauty company has named Wilson as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective Jan. 1. Avon’s current CFO and Chief Operating Officer, James Scully, will remain on board as COO through 2017, overseeing supply chain and IT. Scully joined the company from apparel chain J.Crew, where he most recently had led international expansion efforts as COO. He came on board at Avon in January 2015.

In the coming year, Scully also will continue to guide Avon’s turnaround efforts, a three-year plan that includes reducing costs and transitioning its corporate headquarters to the United Kingdom. 

Avon’s incoming CFO held the top finance job at SABMiller from 2011 to 2015. He joined the brewer in 2005, and went on to be key to the global integration of the business, as well as its $11.5 billion acquisition of Foster’s Group, now Carlton & United Brewers.

“Jamie has a proven track record of strong financial leadership over an impressive and diverse career,” said Avon CEO Sheri McCoy. 


Young Living Creates Chief Science Officer Role

Young Living Essential Oils has named its first-ever Chief Science Officer.

The company has appointed Michael Buch, Ph.D., former Senior Vice President of Research and Development and Product Management, to fill the new role. Buch joined Young Living in 2015, with nearly 30 years of experience in health and wellness. Since starting his career in quality control, he has led scientific divisions within top global companies and run advanced analytical laboratories.

At Young Living, Buch spearheaded bringing all product testing in-house as well as developing new products, including an over-the-counter category.

“Dr. Buch has taken members of an already skilled team and expanded their scientific capabilities, while enhancing the company’s ability to stay on the cutting edge of innovation,” said Jared Turner, Chief Operating Officer.

January 03, 2017

World News

Natura Exercises Options to Acquire 100% of Aesop

Australian skincare brand Aesop is now wholly owned by Brazil’s Natura Cosmetics.

In April 2013, Natura approved the acquisition of 65 percent of Emeis Holdings Pty Ltd., which operates under the brand name Aesop. The agreement includes put and call options, and empowers Natura to acquire up to 100 percent of Emeis upon approval of the company’s financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016.

Natura has exercised its purchase options to acquire all remaining common shares of Emeis, which has operations in 20 countries. In 2013, Aesop products were sold in just eight countries, through 57 signature—or standalone—stores and 54 department stores. Three years later, the hair, skin and body care formulations are available in 177 signature stores and 84 department stores.

Natura has gradually expanded its own retail strategy since opening its first boutique in Paris in 2005. Though direct sales continue to drive the bulk of revenue, in developed markets Natura is looking to build its brand through retail stores and e-commerce. That strategy extends to the U.S., where the company will open its first store in New York in February, according to a recent report from Women’s Wear Daily.

January 03, 2017

News in Brief

News in Brief, January 2017


Click here to order the November 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Amway Report Probes Gender, Education Gaps in Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a perennially popular concept, but do individuals consider it an attainable one? It depends whom you ask, according to the 2016 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report (AGER).

Amway surveyed more than 50,000 individuals in 45 countries to produce its seventh annual report, a collaboration between the direct sales powerhouse and the Technical University of Munich, Germany. The survey gauges attitudes toward entrepreneurship, which remain decidedly positive, with 77 percent responding favorably to the prospect of starting a business. Independence from an employer (50 percent) and self-fulfillment (47 percent) were cited as the most appealing reasons to do so.

“Today’s work environment is different from years ago with more people wanting to work independently and find greater fulfillment in life—especially today’s millennial generation,” said Doug DeVos, Amway President and Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. “AGER tells us these trends are growing but are affected by gender and education levels.”

Indeed, while responses were positive on the whole, individuals without a university degree (74 percent) were less enthusiastic about entrepreneurship than those with a degree (84 percent). This education gap extends to specific aspects of starting a business as well. For example, university graduates (60 percent) are more comfortable with the prospect of acquiring customers than non-graduates (55 percent).

The Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report also identified disparate attitudes between men and women on the subject of entrepreneurship. When polled, 48 percent of men said they could imagine starting a business, compared to 38 percent of women. Similarly, 52 percent of women and 60 percent of men expressed confidence in their ability to acquire customers.

These responses point to untapped economic potential, DeVos said in the company’s release. “We think it’s important to have dialog about how to close these gaps and create more entrepreneurial equality and accessibility around the world, especially considering that entrepreneurship is known to drive economies and create jobs.”


Beauty Fans Vote Mary Kay for Best Pinterest, YouTube and App

Beauty fans around the world voted Mary Kay Inc. “Best Pinterest,” “Best YouTube” and “Best App” for 2016’s #beauty20 Awards presented by innoCos Digital. The annual program recognizes beauty brands that are finding innovative ways to connect with consumers through digital technology and social media.

To identify brands cutting through the noise, a panel of industry experts selected five finalists in each of 10 categories, with the winners chosen by the public. Mary Kay has been named a top digital marketer in the #beauty20 Awards for four consecutive years.

On the brand’s Pinterest page—which has more than 95,000 followers—users can find anything from Hollywood-inspired makeup tutorials to holiday gift ideas. In 2016 alone, the page had garnered nearly 45,000 clicks to the Mary Kay website. The company’s award-winning YouTube channel had generated 11.1 million total views since it launched in 2009.

Another way Mary Kay introduces its products to new audiences is through the free Mary Kay Virtual Makeover app, where users can upload a personal photo and try out any combination of the brand’s products. Voted Best App in the #beauty20 Awards, Mary Kay Virtual Makeover has been downloaded more than 7 million times.


Natura to Phase Out Direct Sales in France

Consumer buying habits are prompting Natura Cosméticos to phase out its direct sales model in France.

The Brazilian cosmetics maker planned to wind down direct selling operations in the market by Dec. 31, a measure that would impact about 1,100 consultants. According to a statement from Natura’s Chief Financial and Investor Relations Officer, José Roberto Lettiere, the decision resulted from market analysis indicating that, on the whole, French consumers prefer to interact with beauty brands through other channels.

“Unlike Latin America where sales through relationships account for approximately 30 percent of the CFT [cosmetics, fragrances and toiletries] market, in France its participation is only 2 percent,” said Lettiere. “In Brazil and in Latin America, direct selling is and will continue to be the main channel for Natura.”

The company aims to strengthen its business in France, and in turn support its strategic objective of internationalization, or establishing Natura as an international brand. In developed markets, that strategy is focused on retail stores, e-commerce and “beauty specialists.”


Young Living Holds Employee Service Day for Sole Hope

Shoes might seem outside the purview of an essential oils company, but Young Living Essential Oils recently mobilized employees and members to help assemble more than 2,000 pairs in three days.

The shoes will be distributed to impoverished communities in Uganda through Sole Hope, a nonprofit that helps individuals infected by jiggers, a debilitating parasitic insect, and other common foot-related diseases. Within these communities, a lack of understanding about jiggers often leads to children being ostracized and outcast without necessary treatment, according to Young Living. 

Sole Hope is working toward sustainable change by holding medical clinics and providing education and jobs. One of the organization’s primary initiatives is supplying closed-toe shoes to protect children’s feet. Over a three-day period, Young Living employees and members contributed by hosting a “Worldwide Shoe Cutting Party” with more than 20,000 participants helping to cut denim to make the shoes, including nearly 2,000 corporate employees in Utah.

Young Living provides ongoing support to Sole Hope through service and raising awareness in Uganda. The company also has pledged $350,000 to fund a new Sole Hope Outreach House.

“We are grateful for the overwhelming support from Young Living and its members,” said Dru Collie, Sole Hope Executive Director. “The foundation’s efforts have enabled us to change lives by providing hope and treatment to hundreds of individuals every week.”


AdvoCare Signs Multiyear Renewal with NASCAR’s Roush Fenway

AdvoCare has renewed a key sponsorship with NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing and driver Trevor Bayne.

The nutrition supplement maker will remain primary sponsor of Bayne and his No. 6 Ford Fusion for the next three seasons, extending a relationship that began in 2014. Bayne, who won the 2011 Daytona 500 in just his second career start, is No. 22 in the 2016 standings.

“AdvoCare has been an outstanding partner to work with, and I am really excited to continue this relationship and represent AdvoCare for three more seasons,” Bayne said in a news release. 

AdvoCare, with its “We build champions” motto, has made sports sponsorships a cornerstone of its marketing strategy. Last year, the Texas company signed on through 2019 as Official Sports Nutrition Sponsor of Major League Soccer, in addition to a jersey sponsorship of the league’s FC Dallas club. The company has found another strong partner in Roush Fenway, which has racked up more wins than any other team in NASCAR history.

“AdvoCare is extremely proud to call Roush Fenway Racing and Trevor Bayne partners, and we look forward to continuing our great relationship on and off the track,” said Allison Levy, AdvoCare Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer.


DSA Companies Make Holiday Donations to TODAY Toy Drive

This holiday season several direct selling companies supported the TODAY Show Toy Drive, in a tradition that goes back more than a decade.

The effort is orchestrated by the U.S. Direct Selling Association, which encourages its member companies to give back during the holidays by donating cash or products to the Toy Drive. The DSA reports that the 2016 contributions have reached about $7 million, with donations collected from Amway, Arbonne, Barefoot Books, Damsel in Defense, Good Will Publishers, Jordan Essentials, L’BRI Pure n’ Natural, Mary Kay, New Avon, Origami Owl, Team National, Thirty-One Gifts and USANA Health Sciences.

“This is DSA’s 13th year of involvement with the Toy Drive, and our members have generously contributed more than $160 million over the years,” said Melissa Brunton, DSA’s Senior Vice President, Education & Meeting Services. “We just can’t think of a better way of making a difference in the lives of children and their families in the holiday season.”

As the 23rd annual TODAY Show Toy Drive kicked off on Nov. 28, Brunton appeared on the show to acknowledge the generosity of DSA members and present a selection of donated gifts, such as children’s books from publisher Barefoot Books and bath and body products from Jordan Essentials. All donations are distributed to underprivileged children across the country, and to U.S. military bases abroad. Since its first toy drive in 1994, TODAY has delivered about $434 million in donations to more than 4 million children.


Primerica Sets $200 Million Stock Buyback Program

Primerica Inc. (PRI—NYSE) announced that its board of directors has approved a $200 million share repurchase program, potentially upping the stock’s value for shareholders.

The buyback period extends through June 30, 2018, with the option to pursue open market transactions, block trades or privately negotiated transactions. The board of the financial services firm may discontinue the program at any time. Any potential buybacks would put money back in the pockets of Primerica investors, as the company continues to deliver solid financial results.

In the company’s announcement, CEO Glenn Williams highlighted Primerica’s strong performance in the most recent quarter. “Our life insurance-licensed salesforce and term life insurance policies issued grew double digits, and our earnings per share and return on equity increased significantly year over year,” said Williams. “This new $200 million repurchase authority enables us to deliver value to our stockholders by providing flexibility for incremental repurchases as conditions and available capital allow.”


Direct Selling expansions in the fourth quarter

NEW MARKETS

  • Arbonne, Taiwan
  • Buyezee, Cambodia
  • Gold Canyon, Mexico
  • LifeVantage, Quebec, Canada
  • Mannatech, China
  • Nerium, Australia
  • Total Life Changes, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan
  • XANGO, South Korea
  • Younique, Hong Kong

NEW FACILITIES

  • Mannatech Retail Store, Texas, USA
  • ForeverGreen Worldwide, Taiwan Office
  • USANA, China Manufacturing Facility

January 03, 2017

Exclusive Interviews

As Co-CEO Departs, Guest to Lead USANA as Sole CEO

by Emily Reagan

Click here to order the November 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Kevin Guest and USANA Health Sciences go way back—all the way back, in fact. When USANA got its start 25 years ago, Guest’s media company, FMG Productions, was tapped to produce all marketing materials and events. He contracted with USANA until 2003, when the nutrition company brought him on board as Executive Director of Media and Events. A number of promotions would follow: vice president of marketing, chief marketing officer, president over North America.

According to company founder Myron Wentz, Ph.D., it was Guest’s “sound leadership, integrity and judgment” in each of these roles that made him the right person to lead USANA as chief executive—a position he first held a couple years ago, when then-CEO Dave Wentz took a yearlong sabbatical. Guest served as Interim CEO, and upon Wentz’s return, the company announced that he and Guest would serve as co-CEOs, with Wentz heading global operations and Guest leading field development and sales. That arrangement came to a close at the end of November, when Wentz stepped down to spend more time with family and continue his advocacy work as chairman of the Direct Selling Education Foundation. Guest is now sole CEO of the business, which generated revenue of $918 million in 2015. Ahead of full-year reporting, USANA’s sales are on track to surpass that number in 2016. The company has seen steady growth in recent years, and speaking with DSN, Guest said maintaining and building that momentum is the greatest challenge facing the company.

DSN: This is an exciting time for USANA, on the heels of 13 consecutive years of record sales, with the potential to add another year to that record. What do you see as the primary drivers of that growth and what is your strategy to take it into the future?

KG: Since its beginning, a primary driver of USANA and its continued growth has been the quality of the products, and that we have people who are involved with USANA because they’re consumers of the product who care about health and nutrition. That’s been the focus of the company since it started, and it continues to be. The vision of the company is “the healthiest family on earth.” We continue to see that roll forward, and we haven’t deviated from that vision one bit. 

I also believe our international expansion and growth of sales in Asia Pacific has been another driver, as well as our consistent launches of new product enhancements. For example, this last convention we launched a whole new product offering called InCelligence, including our new core product, CellSentials. We continue to upgrade and innovate through our R&D team. Our founder, Dr. Myron Wentz, is a scientist, and so research and development with our science group has been a priority, which has helped drive growth. Then we truly have a seamless collaboration between our Associates and Preferred Customers and our home office. I think those are all key drivers of growth.

DSN: USANA is doing its biggest business in Asia Pacific. What trends are you seeing in the region, particularly in Greater China, where you’re putting more skin in the game with a new production facility?

KG: We see growth in all our regions, for which we’re extremely grateful. China continues to be a great area of growth, and we invested in this new manufacturing plant and facility in Beijing to match the quality we produce here in the U.S. As we look at Asia Pacific, one of the things we see continually is that our product message seems to resonate well with the emerging marketplaces there. Our product offering and messaging have been very well received, and the direct sales model seems to fit beautifully within their culture. It’s been widely accepted culturally because family is at the center of how they function in many ways, and family is at the center of direct sales. 

DSN: As you mentioned, in recent years USANA has significantly ramped up its investment in scientific research. How will you leverage those resources going forward?

KG: We’ve just rolled out our U.S. patent-pending InCelligence technology in our nutrition line, and we’re going to leverage that technology into other products, using it as a foundation for delivering nutrition. We’re also developing new technologies from an IT and infrastructure perspective that will support our strategy of personalization in our product offerings. Then we’ll continue, as we’ve always done, to develop new products and upgrade existing products. 

We also are constantly forming new scientific partnerships with universities and others, and we’ll use those relationships to leverage scientific research that ultimately will end up in the products we’re delivering to customers. 

DSN: USANA is in the midst of a major upgrade to its IT infrastructure. Can you share what that timeline looks like, and what kind of improvements you’re targeting?

KG: We’re going to be rolling out new technologies in 2017. It’s our 25th anniversary, and we’re going to use that as a platform to roll out some new systems. We have a long-term enterprise architecture upgrade. The issues are stability and scalability, because when you’re growing year after year, keeping up and scalability are a big issue as they relate to IT infrastructure. As for our internal systems, we’ll roll out numerous stages over the next few years that will affect how shopping is done, how enrollments are handled, and how people are able to do business from a creative perspective. 

DSN: USANA was named one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling. What’s one word you’d use to describe the culture at USANA?

KG: Family. 

DSN: Upward of 1,000 professional athletes now use and endorse the products, as part of Team USANA. How have those partnerships shaped the brand as we know it today?

KG: With professional athletes or Olympic athletes, their bodies are their business, so to speak. The credibility that comes with someone who is a peak-performing athlete goes hand-in-hand with our core message and who we are as a company. Another issue in the sports performance world, and it’s part of our strategy, is to show that we provide safe products, and these athletes are continually tested, particularly in the Olympics and other areas. If they know they can take our products and not test negatively for banned substances, that brings strength and credibility. Another part of our strategy of course has been marketing, to familiarize the USANA name with the public for stronger brand awareness.

DSN: When you’re not in the office, where are you most likely to be found?

KG: You’d find me with my family. I’m a proud grandpa of four grandchildren, with one on the way, and I’ve been married 32 years. My family is the most important thing to me.

January 01, 2017

Company Focus

Vemma Settles with FTC


Click here to order the January 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


It’s a new day for Vemma Nutrition Co.

The Federal Trade Commission announced Dec. 15 that it has approved a settlement agreement in its case against the Arizona-based company, bringing an end to a more than year-long, multimillion-dollar legal battle. The agreement offers a clear path forward for CEO B.K. Boreyko to continue operating Vemma as a customer-focused network marketing company, while also establishing specific rules related to distributor compensation and income claims.

The settlement covers Vemma Nutrition Co., Vemma International Holdings Inc. and Boreyko, and a separate settlement covers former Vemma distributor Tom Alkazin and Alkazin’s wife, Bethany, who had been named as a relief defendant in the original federal court action. The settlement outlines specific business practices from which the defendants are prohibited in engaging, including paying compensation to a distributor unless a majority of that individual’s revenue comes from sales to people who are not a part of the business venture, making deceptive income claims and making unsubstantiated health claims. In addition, Vemma has agreed to a $238 million judgment, though the company will not have to pay it as long as the terms of the settlement are met. Boreyko personally has agreed to pay an approximately $470,000 fine and to surrender certain real estate and business assets. The Commission approved the settlement agreement by a vote of 3-0.

In an interview with Direct Selling News, Boreyko says he is confident the company will be able to rebuild after being decimated by the FTC’s initial action against the business. In August 2015, the commission convinced a U.S. District Court judge in an ex parte hearing to grant a temporary restraining order against Vemma and Vemma Holdings, alleging that the company was an illegal pyramid scheme and also made false earnings claims in recruiting new distributors. The TRO placed control of the business in the hands of a temporary receiver, who within hours laid off nearly the entire corporate staff, stopped all sales to both customers and affiliates, and halted commission payments in the U.S. and 47 countries worldwide.


The FTC can do a lot of damage in a short period of time.
BK Boreyko, CEO, Vemma Nutrition Company


Vemma and Boreyko regained some control of the business in mid-September of that year, when they made their case in court and Judge John J. Tuchi put a less-restrictive preliminary injunction in place while the case proceeded, but restarting the operations of a global network marketing firm after such an abrupt shutdown was challenging. Securing a merchant bank to process credit card payments proved difficult; Boreyko says the company was rejected by 34 banks and ultimately saw Vemma’s merchant account rate increase from 2.5 percent to 10 percent with a 10 percent reserve. In addition, most of the independent salesforce had left for other opportunities. Vemma wasn’t able to sell product until Oct. 8, 2015, and operated without a compensation plan until Nov. 12.

In its press release announcing the settlement, the FTC emphasized that Vemma is banned from paying commission for recruiting new participants or tying compensation to personal purchases by distributors. (Though Boreyko emphasizes that the company has always tied bonuses to product sales.) “Unfortunately, extravagant income claims and compensation plans that reward recruiting over sales continue to plague the MLM industry,” Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in the release. “MLM companies must ensure that their promotional materials aren’t misleading, and that their compensation programs focus on selling goods or services to customers who really want them, not on recruiting more distributors.”

Vemma’s Journey

Watching his company be shut down without warning was traumatic and a deeply personal shock, Boreyko says, with the first few weeks following the TRO especially brutal. His personal bank accounts and assets were frozen, and the media coverage was scathing. The temporary receiver had placed a message on the corporate website, vemma.com, about the FTC action, and there was no one to answer the phones when puzzled customers and affiliates called in because the customer service staff had been fired.

Boreyko, a single dad, says he was struggling to see a path forward but tried to hide the strain from his six children, all under the age of 9. What pulled him to a more positive place, he says, was his faith and decision to turn his worry over to God. “If I wasn’t a Christian and had God,” he says, his voice trailing, “I can see how people would kill themselves. But my God is bigger than any of my problems.”


Sometimes life isn’t fair, but those unfair things that happen don’t define you as a leader.
BK Boreyko


From that moment on, Boreyko became laser-focused on restarting the company and once again excelling in the field that he’s loved since watching his parents build a business as network marketers. “The FTC can do a lot of damage in a short period of time,” he says. “They’re so powerful, it’s hard to believe this kind of action can happen in this country. Fifteen FTC agents and 10 Tempe police officers stormed my building, took over my company and froze my bank accounts for three weeks before I even got the opportunity to talk to a judge. What’s amazing is after all that, after all the negative stories about us, the business is still operating and generating approximately $10 million annually in the U.S. market after such damage to the brand and our infrastructure worldwide. The only reason why we’re here is God’s grace and the strength and results of these clinically studied products.”

One of the things that shocked him the most, Boreyko says, is the fact that the FTC conducted its investigation into Vemma in secret over 14 months, never contacting the company with any questions, notifying it of any complaints or raising any concerns about the business. One day, it was a $200 million company with almost 300 employees around the world and 300,000 customers and affiliates, and the next day it was essentially shuttered. “We wish they’d have just called me, and I would have happily answered any questions and changed anything they felt needed changing,” Boreyko says, explaining that shutting down a company he’s invested 11 years of his life building didn’t seem fair. “Sometimes life isn’t fair, but those unfair things that happen don’t define you as a leader. What defines you as a leader is how you respond to those challenges.

Jeff Dahl

“I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. My kids are all healthy. I’m happy, I’m healthier than ever, and I’m closer to God than I’ve ever been. I’m blessed. My parents raised me to look for the positive in every situation, and those are just a few of the things I can praise God for.”

Broader Impact

The Vemma settlement comes on the heels of the FTC’s settlement with another notable direct selling company, Herbalife Ltd., which settled a more than two-year FTC investigation on July 15, 2016. While both agreements are specific only to the named defendants, they are being closely watched by the wider direct selling channel for signals from federal regulators about what is, and is not, an acceptable business practice. Notably, the stipulated judgments do not contain any findings that either company operated as a pyramid scheme.


While both the Vemma and Herbalife settlements are specific only to the named defendants, they are being closely watched by the wider direct selling channel for signals from federal regulators about what is, and is not, an acceptable business practice.


Both settlements require the companies to adhere to specific rules related to their compensation plans, though the details are not the same. Herbalife agreed to ensure that at least two-thirds of commissions are based on verified retail sales, rather than distributors’ personal consumption. At Vemma, more than 50 percent of distributor volume must come from customers outside the compensation plan before commissions can be paid. At Herbalife, distributors cannot participate in an automatic shipment program, while at Vemma they can. At Herbalife, distributors may be paid commission on their personal purchases up to certain thresholds, provided the two-thirds rule is met; at Vemma, distributors cannot qualify for commission on their personal purchases but can earn full commission on the personal purchases of their downline, which includes customers and distributors, as long as the more than 50 percent threshold is met.

In both settlements, the FTC made it clear that the companies must be very cautious when it comes to any marketing messages that imply joining the business is likely to lead to financial success. Vemma is required to have an independent third-party auditor conduct biennial assessments of whether its agents, representatives, employees, independent contractors, affiliates and participants are complying with the terms of the settlement that ban misrepresentation of the income opportunity or products.

“I don’t see the Vemma settlement as containing anything we haven’t already heard or highlighting anything companies shouldn’t already have been addressing,” says Jane Fergason, a Partner in the Dallas office of law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, who works with a number of direct selling company clients but was not involved in the Vemma or Herbalife cases. “It’s less particular and specific than Herbalife’s settlement, and it reinforces and provides clarity on the FTC’s expectations.”

The U.S. Direct Selling Association issued a statement following the announcement of the settlement describing the terms as reinforcing “the importance of the principles and requirements of DSA’s self-regulatory Code of Ethics pertaining to earnings, lifestyle, and product claims.” It went on to say that some aspects of the settlement “effectively affirm the DSA’s continuing actions to ensure that compensation is based on product sales to real users, that earnings claims are reasonable and substantiated, and that product claims by direct sellers are accurate and truthful.” Vemma resigned its DSA membership in fall 2015.


I don’t see the Vemma settlement as containing anything we haven’t already heard.
Jane Fergason, Partner, Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP


In sharing his story with DSN, Boreyko says one of his goals is to help other network marketing company executives and top distributors to understand the power of the FTC and to view the terms of Vemma’s settlement as providing “fencing in” measurements for anyone doing business in the channel. The two pieces he recommends all direct selling companies take note of are: that more than 50 percent of distributor volume must come from customers outside the compensation plan in order for commissions to be paid, and that a distributor’s personal purchases cannot be used to help him or her qualify for commission. “Whether or not the future matters to you as an owner or as a distributor, you have to pay attention,” he says. “You’ve got to have an emphasis on customers or you may get a call like I did early Monday morning back in August 2015. You can’t allow your distributors to make crazy income claims. …These are guidelines that this industry can thrive under if you give them some focus.”

 

January 01, 2017

Company Spotlight

XS Energy: It’s the Experience That Builds the Brand

by Angela E. Soper


Click here to order the January 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


XS Energy

Founded: 2002; acquired by Amway in 2015
Headquarters: Ada, Michigan
Top Executive: David Vanderveen, XS Energy Brand Vice President and General Manager, Amway
Products: Energy drinks, energy snacks, sports nutrition


nameDavid Vanderveen

Most in the world today would probably agree that having enough energy to accomplish everything you need and want to do every day is difficult. Energy and sports nutrition drinks and snacks are proving to be the products of choice for more and more people to help them solve this problem.

XS® Energy, launched in 2002 and acquired by Amway in 2015, is capitalizing on a growing demand for energy boosters—and doing so with a fierce determination to give consumers and entrepreneurs not only effective energy drinks but healthier energy options via an opportunity that offers a work + fun environment.

According to Euromonitor International, the global energy drink segment was a $41.7 billion business in 2015 and is expected to be more than $58 billion in 2020—an impressive 40 percent growth. Global research firm Mintel states that in the United States the energy drink market is expected to grow by an estimated 52 percent from 2014 to 2019.

For XS co-founder David Vanderveen, who now serves as Vice President and General Manager for the XS brand, XS Energy is all about giving people an authentic, valuable experience that includes healthier, great-tasting energy products along with a compelling business opportunity.

“I’m a big believer that you have to constantly add value to people’s lives if you want them to come to you,” says Vanderveen, who learned at a young age the benefits of building a direct selling business. He became an Amway Independent Business Owner (IBO) in 1994 because he wanted to be an entrepreneur, and maintained his association with the company even as he later worked in other industries to help turn around companies’ growth and profits.


The global energy drink segment was a $41.7 billion business in 2015 and is expected to be over $58 billion in 2020.


Vanderveen had witnessed firsthand the burgeoning interest in energy drinks when he was charged with promoting a dot-com business at trade shows in the late 1990s. He hit on the idea of giving away a highly popular energy drink to people who visited his booth—individuals dragging from long days and late nights. Later, while working with a nutrition company, he discovered it had created a low glycemic but “boring” energy product. He envisioned creating an entirely new experience when it came to energy drinks—something that would ignite a “Wow!” response when people sampled the product. Plus, he wanted to create a product for people who didn’t want to drink sugar-loaded brands well known for offering a burst of energy, only to be followed by a quick crash.

“Our goal was to get the simple sugars and starches out of people’s diets, give them some complex carbs and other things so they could perform,” explains Vanderveen. “We were trying to change the experience of energy [by] using a mega dose of B-12… we were the first ones to do that. We were the first ones to be sugar-free. We were the first ones to really do any flavor assortment, and, in my opinion, we’re still the only one that tastes good.” Even though competitors have since picked up on certain elements of their formulations, Vanderveen feels XS is still the only one who “puts it all together in one package.”

A Growing Category Segment

The emphasis on offering a sugar-free product touched on a growing demand in the marketplace. According to Transparency Market Research, consumers are consciously cutting down on their consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, and diabetes is on the rise worldwide. The research firm feels that, due to the obesity pandemic, low-calorie energy drink sales are likely to increase.

According to Amway Chief Sales Officer John Parker, the forecasts for the energy category are all very strong and the company feels it will grow globally at a significant rate. This growth also is driven by a growing consumer focus on health and fitness, especially among women consumers, reports Grand View Research. Those at the research firm also believe a growing health consciousness and hectic lifestyle among consumers will drive the energy product category over the next seven years.

While XS initially focused on the under-35 age group and still targets that demographic, Vanderveen quickly discovered during early product sampling that their product had wider appeal; XS was converting 20 percent of the foot traffic to purchase in a grocery store when only 8 percent of consumers were even buying energy drinks. And it was often moms who were buying the product by the case, says Vanderveen—busy individuals who need energy and want healthier products for their families.

Searching for Ideal Disruption

Vanderveen and his partners knew they needed an effective way to market their new product, which took them to Amway. “We were looking for an alternative distribution channel so we could be disruptive,” says Vanderveen. In 2003 Amway became the exclusive distributor for the brand, offering just two SKUs. “Amway was a perfect choice for us… it’s exceeded our expectations and their expectations for how much we could do together,” adds Vanderveen.


No demographic is more positive about entrepreneurship than those younger than 35, which is the precise target group for the XS brand.
Steve Van Andel, Chairman, Amway


To attract a younger segment, Vanderveen knew he had to create an experience that was instantly appealing—both with the quality of the product and the excitement of the opportunity. “Brands need to create total experiences, particularly lifestyle brands… where it gets them to ask you questions that you want to answer,” says Vanderveen. He feels this means giving people a sensory experience that elicits responses like “Wow, this tastes great and I feel great,” which can lead to questions about more products and even the business opportunity, which now extends into Amway as a whole.

“We are selling XS Energy drinks, but more importantly, we’re using the XS brand to create an experience in the Amway business for customers and for IBOs that is different than the experience Amway has created through other product brands,” says Parker.

One caveat about this younger demographic XS has attracted is that although Vanderveen understands the value inherent in the entrepreneurial spirit of millennials, a person’s actual age is irrelevant to him. “We don’t believe in youth as a demographic per se,” he explains. “[XS] is for people who think they’re young. It’s a psychographic. It’s an attitude, a behavior. We’re as young and as old as we want to be… our age is all [in the mind].”


There’s been a really positive halo effect inside of Amway based on how XS operates as a brand and as a business.
John Parker, Chief Sales Officer, Amway


Amway now hopes to infuse the rest of its portfolio with the energy, authenticity and customer experience that has made XS so successful, while maintaining its traditional focus on entrepreneurship. Amway leadership sees its acquisition of XS Energy as a way to strengthen the company’s efforts in the future. “According to our research, no demographic is more positive about entrepreneurship than those younger than 35, which is the precise target group for the XS brand,” says Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel.

Social Media Is Driving the Future of Direct Selling

Acquiring XS also enables Amway, as one of the first and largest direct selling companies in the world, to steer through the roiling waters of an ever-evolving marketplace. The old ways of conducting business, whether as a traditional or direct selling model, are rapidly going by the wayside. Today IBOs are likely to share their stories, business opportunity and product information via a smartphone or tablet while on the go.

Social media platforms play a huge role in this shift. More and more companies realize that to be successful today—in any business—they must be savvy about social media. Social media platforms are ideal for the direct selling channel since it is fueled by people building strong relationships. According to the U.S. Direct Selling Association, two in five Americans learn about new brands and products from social networking sites. Understanding and effectively using social media is something XS Energy manages very well. “We have literally the most successful mobile applications in Amway and we have the most aggressive social media at Amway right now,” says Vanderveen.

“The future of direct selling needs to be driven by social media and mobile applications,” he adds. “That is very hard for a big legacy business to shift toward but it is essential. I think Amway is making great strides across the board at making that shift.” Hand in hand with this philosophy is effectively combining the strength of the brand with the strength of the corporation.


XS is for people who think they’re young. It’s a psychographic. It’s an attitude, a behavior.

“The influence that XS has had on helping us get back to our roots and thinking and acting like a smaller, faster, more entrepreneurial company has been a really positive thing,” says Parker. “There’s been a really positive halo effect inside of Amway based on how XS operates as a brand and as a business.”

Life Freedom Starts with Economic Freedom

Company events also are pivotal to XS Energy’s success. Its launch in Ukraine—shortly after the country’s tense political upheaval in 2014—demonstrated to Vanderveen how important a product and opportunity like XS could be to people who were literally fighting for their freedom. The company’s launch was scheduled shortly after the tensions arose and thousands of distributors came from across the country despite the difficult political situation. Vanderveen firmly believes that if they can’t help people make that first circle of economic freedom work, none of the other freedoms—social, political, religious—matter. A “pirate mentality” is another interesting part of the XS experience. Inspired by Kester Brewin, author of Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates, and How They Can Save Us, who says “Pirates come to us in an act of radical self-determination,” Vanderveen feels pirates are an icon for healthy disruption. He says that they represent “disruption of ownership in an enterprise where common people can essentially mutiny against the system.” Once people adopt this pirate attitude, Vanderveen feels, they can then become alive to the world they choose to create. “And that’s what we’re very interested in… helping people break free from systems that aren’t supporting their progress and their success, and giving them options and hope for a better future where they connect their work and their rewards,” he adds.

Experiencing the Southern California Lifestyle

Another way XS offers its IBOs an authentic, valuable experience is through its Center for Fun in Laguna Beach, California. Here people can enjoy the “total brand experience” and join Vanderveen and his team as they surf, visit local artists, mountain bike, hike, or simply watch the breaking surf from the deck of their hotel—activities designed to help people feel as if they are experiencing the Southern California lifestyle “in every can” of XS energy drinks.

XS Energy sells about 50 products and will be in over 50 countries in 2017.


Today XS Energy sells about 50 products and will be in more than 50 countries in 2017, no doubt boosting Amway’s current global salesforce of 3 million. The financial goal for XS is to double its revenue since Amway’s acquisition in 2015. The products are manufactured in several countries because Vanderveen says they like to make the product in the country where they’re selling it, or as close to the country as possible. Vanderveen travels the world every month sharing the XS Energy experience so people everywhere can jump aboard the XS pirate ship of opportunity and healthy energy. “What I really care about is helping more people understand that they can connect their effort and their reward by owning their own business and it doesn’t take a lot of money. We’re really proud to be a part of, hopefully, helping more people in the world make that shift.”

January 01, 2017

Company Focus

Keep Collective: Charming the Direct Sales Jewelry Market

by Heather Martin


Click here to order the January 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Keep Collective

Founded: 2015
Headquarters: Sausalito, California
Executives: Dana Bloom, Vice President and General Manager
Products: Customized jewelry
2015 Revenue: $50 million (approx.)


nameJessica Herrin
nameDana Bloom

When direct sales jewelry giant Stella & Dot decided to expand to the United Kingdom, there were skeptics.

“Everybody said, ‘It will be a lot harder there. People don’t entertain in their living rooms,’” says Dana Bloom, Vice President and General Manager of KEEP Collective, which together with the flagship accessories brand Stella & Dot and EVER Skincare compose the Stella & Dot Family of Brands. Turns out, everybody was wrong. Stella & Dot is thriving across the pond because “women everywhere want to connect with other women,” Bloom says.

KEEP Collective is thriving in North America for the same reason, say Stella & Dot Founder Jessica Herrin and KEEP Collective Co-Founder Blythe Harris. The customized jewelry line, launched in January 2015, has more than 10,000 sales representatives (Independent Designers) in the United States and Canada, and in its first year it generated revenue of nearly $50 million—a figure executives have said they expect to have doubled in 2016. “It’s been a rocket ship,” Herrin says, because KEEP Collective is fueled by a universal drive of women to express who they are and to share their stories.

Nothing—and Everything—New

During a KEEP Collective design session customers create a twist on the traditional charm bracelet, selecting a wrap band of leather, suede, silicone or metal and personalizing it with sliding charms that reflect their victories, their passions and even their losses. A KEEP Collective piece could have anything from a “26.2” charm celebrating a marathon to a charm engraved with a loved one’s name, to an American flag charm memorializing a fallen soldier.

The ability to style such a personal piece makes a design session about so much more than jewelry, Bloom says. “You end up having these conversations with someone and they end up telling you that they’re battling with infertility or that they overcame cancer. You’re connecting at this deep level very quickly.”

Harris agrees. “The most rewarding part of this is getting to meet so many new people and hear so many stories,” she says. “The sum of all the individual stories that people are telling is incredible.”

This modern take on a type of jewelry that Bloom always thought of as “something my grandma had” is made even more contemporary by KEEP Collective’s online design studio, launched in October. At an in-person design session or in a virtual collaboration with a Designer, customers browse the digital studio and choose from the entire KEEP Collective inventory, which also includes necklaces, key fobs and pet collars.

Customers also can get inspiration for their pieces from looks other KEEP Collective customers have created and shared on social media channels and on the company’s design site. The pieces a customer designs online—by adding and removing items from a shopping bag—are assembled virtually so the customer can see the finished look and are shipped within two or three days from a distribution center in Columbus, Ohio, Bloom says.

This web-based design experience not only gives customers endless options, it supports KEEP Collective’s (and Stella & Dot’s) belief that independent business owners shouldn’t have to invest in inventory. Herrin recently told Forbes magazine that Stella & Dot sellers aren’t allowed to buy inventory—if they do, “they get kicked out.” So for as little as $149, a new KEEP Collective Designer can buy a starter kit of product samples and marketing materials, and then they earn up to 35 percent commission on personal sales as well as commissions on the sales of Designers on their teams.


The customized jewelry line, launched in January 2015, has more than 10,000 sales representatives in the U.S. and Canada, and in its first year it generated revenue of nearly $50 million.


Low Prices, High Earnings

Herrin says she believes this makes KEEP Collective’s business model unique in the direct selling space, and she’s proud of the financial independence KEEP Collective Designers can achieve quickly. She noted that one team leader in Alaska sold $70,000 worth of product herself in her first year—and she’s earning money on the sales of her team of 500 Designers.

“Our field has earned over $30 million in income,” Herrin says. “A Designer I was just coaching was $20,000 in debt last year and was able to pay it off and then some” with her KEEP Collective earnings. “We have a picture of her taking the money to the bank.”

Says Harris, “That’s everything.”


It’s been a rocket ship.
Jessica Herrin, Founder, Stella & Dot


Another differentiating, strategic driver of KEEP Collective’s success is its pricing, Herrin says. Charm prices range from $7 to $34, and the bands, or “keepers,” sell for between $19 and $59. The charms also can be put on different bands, making the product versatile. The lower price point and the personal purpose behind the KEEP Collective looks create a nice contrast with Stella & Dot jewelry, Harris says. “It really taps into a different audience.”

Herrin sums up the two brands this way: “One is meaning driven, and one is fashion driven.”

Bloom says a search for more meaningful work is exactly why she joined Herrin’s Stella & Dot team five years ago, after a few years consulting for such luxury retail brands as Nordstrom and Burberry. “I wanted to be somewhere where I could have a lot of impact,” she says. That’s what she’s been able to do through both Stella & Dot and KEEP Collective—KEEP Collective has just added the personal expression layer, she says. “This has been such an amazing, wild ride. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”

Glowing Market

It does seem like a great time to be in the jewelry business.

In a 2014 report, international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company predicted annual global jewelry sales would grow 5 percent to 6 percent per year to reach $265 billion by 2020. The report also said that branded jewelry will account for 30 percent to 40 percent of the market in the next three years and that online sales will be robust.

So if KEEP Collective can maintain its distinct brand and continue to drive business through the online design portal, it will be right in the industry’s sweet spot. Bloom says that 75 percent of KEEP Collective’s business is done through the virtual design studio, and that number will only increase. KEEP Collective executives say their brand voice is very strong, even though KEEP Collective isn’t the only direct sales jewelry company that has embraced personalization. Companies such as Origami Owl, jBloom, and Nomadés offer charms, monograms and other elements to customize buyers’ pieces.


This has been such an amazing, wild ride. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
Dana Bloom, Vice President and General Manager, KEEP Collective


Harris says KEEP Collective doesn’t pay a lot of attention to competitors, though. “We don’t look externally so much,” she says. “We just have developed this interesting, proprietary system of charms. We are obsessive about every single detail of design.”

Herrin politely cuts in when she thinks her business partner is being too modest about her role overseeing those details. “I can brag about Blythe,” she says. “She has such broad design experience—it’s really transformative.”

Harris, who also is the Chief Creative Officer for Stella & Dot, does have a rich resume in the jewelry space, having worked for LVMH—whose high-end brands include Bvlgari, TAG Heuer and De Beers—and studied metalsmithing in Mexico as well as sculpture and accessories design at the Parson’s School of Design in Paris.

Harris says she simply is inspired by artistic traditions around the world and by the growing group of Designers and customers KEEP Collective has attracted. “The amazing thing about our community is that they’re so supportive of each other, regardless of what team they’re on.”

That connection among KEEP Collective team members is another benefit of the technology tools the company uses. Not only can KEEP Collective Designers and customers easily share design ideas through Facebook or Pinterest, the company has created a 24/7 online university and uses video conferencing to support Designers with one-on-one sales training, design instruction and leadership coaching. Designers also gather annually for training and inspiration at KEEP Collective’s Hoopla event in Las Vegas and can attend regional events led by local leaders.
“People can come in [to KEEP Collective] without being a salesperson,” Herrin says. “We offer really powerful training. It’s not enough to give someone products to sell. You have to give them the motivation and the skills to do it.”


The most rewarding part of this is getting to meet so many new people and hear so many stories.
Blythe Harris, Co-Founder, KEEP Collective


Unlike many entrepreneurial ventures, though, KEEP Collective didn’t have to build its technology or its selling systems from the ground up because it was able to leverage what Stella & Dot had already developed. “We are a startup growing super fast, but we have the platform of a bigger company,” Bloom says. “We have a team that’s worked together before. We had already built out technology. And we had a fulfillment center that’s already able to scale to those big numbers.” With about 500 home office employees, the whole Stella & Dot family of brands leverages Stella & Dot’s technology team, customer service center, distribution center and its leaders’ strategic expertise.

KEEP Collective executives say that the existing technology foundation, in particular, has allowed them to provide Designers with a business opportunity that fits quickly and easily into their busy lifestyles. “All of our business tools are digital and mobile-optimized,” Bloom says, “so a Designer can run her business on the go—from the comfort of her couch to the sidelines of the soccer field.” Once she has created a design in the online studio, she can share it on social media or send a link to her customer, who can buy it with just a few clicks.

As KEEP Collective is building a name for itself as a low-barrier channel to add income—often on top of a primary salary—and to increase flexibility, it also is lending that name to philanthropic efforts, Bloom says. It has raised money for breast cancer awareness and has joined forces with the Kind Campaign, a nonprofit organization committed to ending girl-against-girl bullying. In the past 15 months, KEEP Collective has designed a Kind charm and raised nearly $40,000 for the charity. In November, Bloom flew to Westfield, Indiana, to help honor a KEEP Collective Designer who led a sales incentive to raise awareness of Kind’s anti-bullying message. “It’s a cause really close to my heart,” she says. “We’re making it cool to be kind.”


It’s not enough to give someone products to sell. You have to give them the motivation and the skills to do it.
Jessica Herrin


Eye on Tomorrow

KEEP Collective’s growth has been rapid, but company executives prefer not to be too specific about current or future financials. Herrin and Bloom will say they believe the company should be 10 times its current size. “We can grow explosively next year,” says Herrin, who recently told USA Today that the Stella & Dot family of brands—which to date have paid out more than $385 million in commissions—are merely at the “beginning stages” of their market potential. “Our focus is using our three brands in the six countries that we’re in to capture all the untapped demand that’s out there for the $30 billion accessory market in North America and the multibillion-dollar skincare market where we feel we really have disruptive products that people love.” KEEP Collective has just begun to move beyond North America, having launched in Canada in April (complete with a new, maple leaf charm), and Bloom says Europe and Asia are strong possibilities.

Meantime, there is plenty of work for the design team at home, Bloom continues. In addition to the ideas Harris brings back from her travels abroad, the innovators at KEEP Collective are constantly mining for new gold. Every six months, KEEP Collective convenes a design council—a regularly refreshed group that includes Designers from the field—to discuss fashion trends and determine what tomorrow’s KEEP Collective look will be.

“We’re already on to what we’re doing next year,” Bloom says. “We’re always trying to stay one step ahead because people are always copying us.”


Especially with what’s going on in the world right now, this product and the way we sell it help people understand each other.
Dana Bloom


While KEEP Collective executives are eager for the changes in the company’s size and are excited about new products, “the things that will stay the same are our mission and our community,” Bloom says. “We have this community of people who have this incredible positive energy and are about you being the best version of you.”

Herrin echoes this idea—that the customer and what makes her or him light up are the real gems at KEEP Collective. “KEEP Collective isn’t about the product,” she says. “It’s about you.”

It’s also about connection, Bloom adds. “Especially with what’s going on in the world right now, this product and the way we sell it help people understand each other.”

January 01, 2017

Publisher's Note

A Fresh Look for a Trusted Brand


Click here to order the November 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Lauren Lawley Head

It’s a new year and a new look for Direct Selling News. To celebrate more than 12 years of publishing, we wanted to give you, our valued readers, a fresh experience with our brand. The team has worked tirelessly over many months to bring this project to fruition, and we hope that you’ll find the design to be a modern, sophisticated update to the magazine. Inside, you’ll find inviting photography, bold graphics to help tell the stories of direct selling, enhanced tools for navigating through each edition and a personal touch to our contributions from guest writers.

As part of the project, many of you graciously took the time to supply us with feedback about your experience with the magazine over the years. We were so touched by what you shared. The Direct Selling News readership is a highly engaged audience, reading thoroughly and searching for in-depth research and information that will foster the growth and development of the channel. A whopping 93 percent of readers who participated in our recent survey reported having shared an article with a colleague, and 65 percent use the publication as a resource when looking for a supplier for their business. We know you are busy, high-achieving executives, and it is an honor to support you with insights and analysis that help fuel your businesses.

In addition to unveiling our new look, the Direct Selling News team is kicking off the new year as it has each of the past eight, with the launch of the DSN Global 100. This signature research project has become a benchmark for the direct selling community, culminating in the unveiling of the annual list of the 100 largest direct selling companies in the world. This year’s celebration will take place on April 19 at the InterContinental Dallas, and we would love for you to be a part of the event. Submission information as well as tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available at DSNGlobal100.com. If you have any questions about the research process or program, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

Our goal in 2017 is to continue to deliver on the value you have come to expect—providing more sharable, actionable content in an easy-to-read format as well as continuing to serve as a strong, professional voice for the unique model of entrepreneurship that is direct selling. As you read through this edition and become more familiar with the updated design, we would love to hear from you. Please let us know how we can continue to serve you and your team in the year ahead.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2017,
Lauren

January 01, 2017

Cover Story

7 Trends to Watch: Direct Selling in 2017 & Beyond

by Courtney Roush

Click here to order the January 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


As we begin 2017, we can confidently assert that the state of direct selling remains strong.

Our channel has embraced the upsurge in technology that has dramatically altered the way we do business. We continue to weather ongoing scrutiny and constantly seize the opportunity to educate others about how direct selling offers benefits unlike any other in the entrepreneurial space—most notably a wealth of resources for personal and professional development. We’re broadening our message to communicate with changing demographics. We’re exploring ways to capitalize upon changing consumer preferences. And, while we chart new courses, we remain mindful of our distinct and cherished values. We step into the future while we honor the past. Direct selling is uniquely poised to capitalize on current and emerging trends both in consumer behavior and the workforce. So far, these advantages have outweighed any headwinds from the regulatory environment and from other emerging entrepreneurial opportunities. As we look into 2017 and beyond, here are seven specific trends to watch, a few forecasts for the future, and some insight into how our channel can be prepared.


This is a generation that seeks meaning. Meaning is the new money.
Lori Bush, former CEO, Rodan + Fields


The Millennial Movement

One of the biggest trends shaping the business landscape today is the emerging power of the millennial generation. As the United States’ largest demographic segment, millennials, or those born between 1977 and 2000, represent 25 percent of the U.S. population with approximately 75 million members. And they hold enormous buying potential—if we can acknowledge the risk aversion of a population saddled with student debt, meager job opportunities and high rents. This emerging generation wants stability, having seen their parents struggle in the economy even with a college education. It’s not enough to pick a safe major and find full-time employment; they also want a backup plan. And that’s where direct selling can enter the picture.

In fact, the youngest respondents of the Amway 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Report express the strongest desire to be self-employed. But here’s the kicker: Only 10 percent of the respondents of that study were actually self-employed. What’s stopping them? In a word, fear—not only of personal financial failure, but also that the job market won’t be there to pick them up if they fall.

“This is a generation that seeks meaning,” says Lori Bush, former CEO of Rodan + Fields. “Meaning is the new money. This doesn’t necessarily imply that they don’t care about income and success, but they definitely buy into the idea of social entrepreneurship, which means they’re looking for a positive return to society; and this requires a different approach to rewards and metrics.”

Given these findings, direct selling has an incredible opportunity in its hands. The channel offers a low-risk route to entrepreneurship; most independent representatives begin their direct selling businesses with the support of an established company and a full suite of tools, training and other resources at their disposal. Startup costs and financial risk associated with a direct selling business are significantly lower than striking out on one’s own. Dr. Michael Solomon of Saint Joseph’s University, a marketing professor, consumer behavior expert, advisor and speaker on consumer issues, adds that the political landscape, too, has reinforced the case for direct sales, given the fact that, according to the U.S. Direct Selling Association’s 2016 Growth & Outlook Report, women represent more than 77 percent of independent salesforce members in the United States. “The empowerment of women is timely,” he says. Direct sellers also can help establish trust with millennials by communicating and integrating their philanthropic commitments into their respective brand identities.

How do direct selling companies continue to attract the best and the brightest? By offering the technology that appeals to them, along with culture and community they desire. The expectation for personalized interactions also extends into how companies attract prospective new representatives—and retain them. A typical new salesperson opens up that starter kit and, regardless of how simple it is, there’s no denying that many experience a moment of analysis paralysis.

That’s why the onboarding process has lots of potential, says Dr. Solomon. Current training methods aren’t always in sync with the way they learn. “The incoming generations of salespeople are used to learning in an online format,” adds Dr. Greg Marshall, the Harwood Professor of Marketing and Strategy at Rollins College, who served on the board of directors for the Direct Selling Education Foundation for nine years and is now on DSEF’s academic advisory council. Mobile training in a gamification format, with the opportunity to earn online and sharable badges, is a concept gaining traction among direct selling companies.

“They’re digital natives, and they need a high-touch, high-tech approach,” Dr. Solomon adds. Direct selling companies can strive to deliver targeted communications and training that speak directly to a rookie’s apprehension, and guide them through those early days. While technology has been bemoaned as a harbinger of a less personal society, direct selling companies can use it to engage directly with salespeople, regardless of their backgrounds, circumstances or unique concerns.

An Increasingly Diverse Landscape

In addition to becoming younger, the U.S. also is becoming ever more culturally diverse. So far, direct selling reflects those changes to some extent, but many opportunities remain. According to DSA’s 2016 Growth & Outlook Report, of the Americans involved in direct selling, 19.9 percent identify as Hispanic, while 80.1 percent identify as Non-Hispanic. The U.S. population, meanwhile (according to the U.S. Census Bureau), comprises 17.4 percent Hispanic and 82.6 percent Non-Hispanic. Digging deeper, however, reveals that both Black/African-American (10.8 percent) and Asian (4.9 percent) representation in direct selling are slightly lower than their respective representations within the U.S. population (Black/African-Americans at 13.2 percent and Asians at 5.4 percent). Direct selling offers a level playing field. Every independent representative begins at square one, and the opportunity for advancement is without limit. Direct selling companies need to keep striving to communicate directly and meaningfully with their diverse population, on their terms. A one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work if companies hope to establish loyalty.

It’s also worth noting the other emerging demographic trends, all of which are covered in U.S. Consumer Trends Impacting the Direct Selling Industry, a July 2016 report prepared by GfK Consumer Life and commissioned by the U.S. Direct Selling Association. The analysis acknowledges an aging population—many of them seeking sources of income; a growing urban population, which tends to move faster and appreciate increased convenience and mobility; and the proliferation of one-person, multigenerational, diverse and inclusive households. Again, these trends all present opportunities for engagement as well as product research and development.

Additionally, that buying stimulus is different than it used to be because the demographics have changed. “It’s true for all industries, but you’ve got to keep people culturally close—get them where they live,” says Marshall. “We’ve got a lot of micromarkets, so marketing is harder now—the stimulus is different. Companies need to understand these cultural differences and create opportunities for diversity among their sales representatives in the field—that is, cultural diversity of the salesforce should match cultural diversity in the marketplace.”

Direct selling was built upon a philosophy of coaching, as companies guide new representatives throughout their entire journey, from the time they first sign their agreements to the first sale and first team member, and as they transition from mentee to mentor. The job is never-ending as companies seek to reach potential representatives where they are, and in ways that are relevant and meaningful to them, keeping in mind the great diversity of cultures in the United States and abroad.

Globalization

Savvy direct selling companies will be watching trends not just in domestic diversity but also in the increasing power of international markets. While the United States has long been the world’s largest market for direct selling, the channel’s strength extends beyond the U.S. borders, with U.S.-based companies doing increasing business abroad as well as a growing number of companies headquartered around the world. The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations reports that global direct sales increased 7.7 percent in 2015, reaching $183.7 billion—a new record. And 80 percent of countries around the world experienced growth in both sales and independent salesforce volume. The worldwide direct selling channel also demonstrated year-over-year growth between 2012 and 2015, with an average annual increase of 7.2 percent.


Cultural diversity of the salesforce should match cultural diversity in the marketplace.
Dr. Greg Marshall, Charles Harwood Professor of Marketing and Strategy, Rollins College


The Asia-Pacific region is responsible for 46 percent of global direct sales, followed by the Americas (34 percent), Europe (19 percent) and Africa-Middle East (1 percent). Eighty percent of global sales come from the world’s top 10 direct selling markets: the United States, China, Korea, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, France, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. People living in emerging markets, or developing economies as they’re often called, are increasingly looking to direct selling to provide a means of income for themselves and their families.

“In today’s current business environment, people are eager to pursue job opportunities that offer greater independence and flexibility,” says Jim Ayres, Managing Director of Amway North America. “With 77 percent of respondents in Amway’s Global Entrepreneurship Report having positive attitudes toward entrepreneurship, we are seeing more people—particularly millennials—look for ways to generate additional income. As global trends such as the gig economy amplify this desire, prospective entrepreneurs are engaging in direct selling as a way to start businesses and capitalize on trends that have changed the way people consume products and services.”

The Changing Way We Buy

The millennial surge also has a massive influence on consumer preferences. As a university professor, Dr. Solomon is on the front lines of educating Gen Ys and Gen Zs (those under 18 years of age) about business. While Gen Ys use an average of three screens per day, Gen Zs use five: smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop and iPad, according to an article written in the International Business Times in 2015 (“Marketing to Generation Z: Millennials Move Aside as Brands Shift Focus to Under-18 Customers”). By 2020, Gen Zs are expected to comprise 40 percent of all consumers in the United States, and they have an average attention span of 8.25 seconds. Those numbers are among statistics compiled by Statistic Brain Research Institute—which, by the way, reports that the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds.

Direct selling will continue to compete with noise as companies try to reach young consumers. “There are challenges in talking to them,” Dr. Solomon says. “Teens today are averaging 10 hours a day of screen time.” The key, he adds, is to continue serving up the technology in a personalized manner. With such evolutions as virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and 3-D printing (all of which could dramatically modernize and enhance the selling situation), and RFID chips (which assist with supply chain operations), direct selling companies are only scratching the surface of the potential. Over time, the channel has been moving increasingly toward a model in which consumers are more active participants in the buying experience. Or, as Dr. Solomon describes it, “the customer becomes a co-creator in the creative process. They’re no longer consumers, but prosumers.”


By 2020, Gen Zs are expected to comprise 40 percent of all consumers in the United States, and they have an average attention span of 8.25 seconds.


We hear about the stagnation or even imminent demise of brick-and-mortar retail locations, but that’s not necessarily accurate. Customers continue to shop retail stores, but they’re often online beforehand, or on their phones before or while they browse, to compare prices. Brick-and-mortar retail outlets have become omnichannel, upping their game to offer consumers more interactive shopping experiences and a mix of online, mobile and offline shopping. This omnichannel environment has created more competition from brick-and-mortar retail outlets and e-commerce websites. While that puts pressure on direct selling, U.S. DSA research findings suggest that e-commerce may complement and facilitate offline sales to distributors and customers, and drive new business.

The long-term forecast for direct selling might very well be the continued expansion of selling situations, not just online, but also at pop-up stores, with or without the aid of virtual reality. The customer could be presented with a world of options for engaging with a product. Pop-ups, which some direct sellers have employed throughout the world, could become a more frequent sighting. Their limited-time nature generates buying excitement. While e-commerce offers undeniable convenience, consumers don’t always want to be at home, and a mobile device doesn’t always provide them with the best experience. Again, direct selling blends the best of both worlds, offering any combination of online and in-person shopping, a try-before-you-buy policy and personalized product recommendations and service.

The Changing Way We Work

Ever heard the buzzwords “gig economy” or “shared economy”? They both describe the same phenomenon, in which technology connects buyers and sellers in a mode of commerce that eliminates the middleman, so to speak. Independent contractors may be selling products that either they or someone else produced, or sharing underused items, offering rental space, redistributing items for resale or something else. We’ve chosen to call it the YouEconomy, in large part because it reflects Americans’ growing desire to exercise more self-determination in the workplace.

The YouEconomy frees workers from the confines of a typical office environment and puts them in the driver’s seat of their success. Independent business owners set their own hours, say goodbye to the drudgery of a corporate commute, and work anywhere from their homes and cars to the coffee shop down the street, or anywhere their smartphones happen to be. Because mobile technology is typically their primary link to customers, their businesses can travel wherever they do. Uber, Etsy, Airbnb and Rover are just a few of the brands receiving a great deal of coverage from media covering the YouEconomy.

This coverage doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Direct selling has been an overlooked yet powerful player in this self-directed economy, with several additional advantages that can’t be found elsewhere. New direct sales representatives receive access to a full suite of tools and training, including a back office, videos and online courses; access to a personal website for a nominal fee; personalized business cards; and company-issued promotional emails, product catalogs, social media posts and videos all designed to help independent representatives build their businesses.

In partnership with the U.S. Direct Selling Association, Bloomberg Government conducted a survey of 864 independent contractors—including direct sellers—to gain a better understanding of the ways Americans work independently. The average independent contractor, the survey found, has been working as such for 7.2 years—sometimes in conjunction with another job, sometimes not. Respondents from the direct selling community generally had a longer tenure, with an average 8.5 years, and they were significantly more likely (37 percent) than other types of independent contractors (30 percent or less) to give independent contracting a “10” rating in terms of satisfaction.

Helping to fuel the growth of the YouEconomy is an admiration of entrepreneurship—a veneration that transcends all age groups, but which millennials seem to have, in particular. “Young people think entrepreneurship is pretty cool—they like the idea of having some autonomy and being their own boss,” says Dr. Solomon.

The Amway 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Report (AGER) studied global perceptions of entrepreneurship. The majority of the report’s nearly 50,000 respondents, situated in 45 countries, expressed agreement with statements like “Entrepreneurs like to learn new things,” “Entrepreneurs want to enjoy life,” “Entrepreneurs like to be in charge and tell others what to do,” and “Entrepreneurs look for adventures and like to take risks.” Entrepreneurship, then, holds cachet. That’s a status the direct selling community can capitalize upon, provided companies do a good job of explaining the comparatively lower barriers the channel offers when compared with other independent contractor opportunities.

The results of the 2016 AGER were just compiled, and the forecast for entrepreneurialism remains optimistic. “Positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship are on the rise in the U.S., a trend that will likely continue next year,” says Amway’s Ayres. “The 2016 AGER is indicative of this momentum and reflects the continued optimism among Americans with strong desires for self-employment.”


...now the industry is competing with many more choices. That’s an opportunity and a challenge.
Eric Wagner, Vice President of Content Marketing and Cross Platform Businesses, Bloomberg


Direct selling is no longer an island unto itself. The independent workspace “used to be dominated by direct selling, but now the industry is competing with many more choices. That’s an opportunity and a challenge,” says Eric Wagner, Vice President of Content Marketing and Cross Platform Businesses for Bloomberg. Where direct selling can distinguish itself, he adds, is in the strong sense of community the channel typically forges, between company and salesforce, among the salesforce, and between salesforce and customers.

Given this new reality—and because technology and peer reviews can either enhance or hinder continued efforts—it’s never been more vital that direct selling companies continue to highlight at every opportunity what distinguishes the channel from among the myriad avenues for independent work. The challenge is here, and it’s time to meet it head on.

Wellness Continues to Surge

While many of the trends that will impact the direct selling landscape in 2017 and beyond are universal, companies that operate in the hottest product categories will undoubtedly have an edge. Among all direct selling companies, the health and wellness sector has been capturing the highest volume of product sales, and our forecast is for that trend to continue. It’s the only product category to experience continued strong growth in the U.S. direct sales channel between 2011 and 2015, and indications are that this sector will remain strong both inside and outside direct selling.

The growth in the health and wellness market is driven largely by the obesity epidemic, which extends well beyond U.S. borders. Nearly one-third of the world’s population, or 671 million people, are obese or overweight, according to a study conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (HME) at the University of Washington. In developed countries, an increasingly younger population is becoming overweight or obese. Interestingly, 50 percent of the world’s obese population resides in 10 countries, including several where direct selling is thriving: the United States, China, Germany, Brazil and Mexico. Across the board, a significant percentage of people express the sentiment, whether or not based on fact, that they’re overweight, and even more of them report that they’re actively trying to lose weight.

“Weight loss has been one of the larger contributors to growth in the health and wellness category,” says Jeff Kaufman, Industry Research Committee Chair for the U.S. Direct Selling Association and Director of Customer and Field Insights at Isagenix International. “Isagenix, as well as other companies in the category, recognize the opportunity to provide innovative sports nutrition products to support the consumer’s performance during their workouts or other physical activities. Sports nutrition is a logical opportunity for a consumer after they have experienced weight loss.”


Among all direct selling companies, the health and wellness sector has been capturing the highest volume of product sales. This growth is driven largely by the obesity epidemic, with nearly one-third of the world’s population obese or overweight.


The Amazon Effect

Regardless of product category, direct selling used to enjoy several key points of difference that distinguished the channel from brick-and-mortar retail outlets, including personalized shopping experience through a trusted advisor, a try-before-you-buy policy, anytime ordering through representatives’ websites and convenient delivery.

Then, “Amazonification” began. Amazon put the pressure on traditional retailers to begin offering their products online and with easier shopping through such conveniences as one-click checkout, cutting-edge apps, mobile wallet and product recommendations. The direct selling community is trying to keep up, and while there is innovation within the channel, the differences between direct selling and major retail brands aren’t as sharply defined as they used to be.

The challenge is to continue pushing boundaries and develop the tools and training that help independent salespeople engage existing and potential customers through highly personalized methods.

In a book titled The Best Service Is No Service, authors Bill Price and David Jaffe make the bold claim that customer service is only needed when a company does something wrong. The best way to satisfy customers, they say, is eliminate the need for service altogether. That’s an interesting proposition for direct selling, Bush says. “Although direct sellers can provide more personalized service, sometimes the best service is no service. The challenge for direct sellers is that they often must serve as intermediary between the order and delivery, and the very process of enabling the transactions as well as the time to delivery and challenges with returns are just not up to what customers expect today. There’s been a significant amount of innovation and application of data science in transforming the direct-to-consumer delivery experience, but few examples of direct selling companies keeping pace, so it’s arguable that, as a marketing channel, service levels have fallen behind. There’s a huge opportunity for leadership here.”


The customer becomes a co-creator in the creative process. They’re no longer consumers, but prosumers.


Dr. Michael Solomon, Marketing Professor, Saint Joseph’s University

Bush references the “zero moment of truth,” a term coined by Google, as the consumer engagement moment immediately following the recognition of the need for a product or service. “It used to be that major brands created that moment through mass media advertising,” Bush says. “Now that moment is often more peer- and social media-driven.” Direct selling, she adds, is a marketing channel that arguably is poised better than any other to both create that moment of truth, then be there either online or offline to engage the consumer.

What Does the Future Hold?


“I agree that retail establishments won’t go away, but there will be transformation and, it’s already happening,” Bush adds. “Think ‘phygital’—in other words, the merging of physical and digital experiences. Forward-thinking direct selling companies will similarly be arming their crowd-sourced sales organizations with ‘phygital tools’ to enhance the customer engagement experience.”

Direct selling hit a record for global sales last year—and, incredibly, the channel hasn’t even scratched the surface of its potential. If we can harness the opportunities before us while continuing to communicate the value that direct selling provides to millions of people throughout the globe, imagine how many more lives we can change. This is our time. The future is in our hands.

January 01, 2017

Working Smart

The Future of Direct Selling Is Being an Entrepreneur

by Michael Dermer


Click here to order the January 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


According to the 2016 Growth and Outlook Survey from the Direct Selling Association, more and more Americans see direct selling opportunities as the wave of the future. But while the market for direct selling continues to expand, the direct-to-consumer environment is changing daily as more competition vies for the limited attention of the consumer.

So how do direct selling companies compete in this fast-paced and ever-changing environment? They need to act like entrepreneurs. More specifically, they need to bring new perspectives to their outreach that help them stand out from the crowd. In the past, new and different perspectives were ways that one company rose above others. Today, it is necessary to compete. So what does it mean to bring a different perspective? Here are a few examples:

Perspective No. 1: Find Playgrounds Where No One Else Is Playing

It is really hard to create a unique product or service. Even when you do create something unique, there’s no guarantee you’ll gain meaningful visibility. First you have to position it to cut through the clutter. Advertising and information overload is the norm. When you’re battling to reach consumers inundated with an endless set of choices for virtually each product or service, it is almost impossible to cut through the noise. Cutting through this clutter, even with something head-turning and new, can be difficult.

Instead of taking on the competition, why not look for a market segment in which your competition is not playing? Don’t fight them on their playground—find a playground where they are not playing. Take some of the time, effort and resources normally devoted to your product or service offering and direct them to finding the right “playground”—one where you can maneuver and gain visibility that cuts through the noise. For example, if you offered women’s high-end skincare products to newly hired lawyers, bankers and other professionals in your city, you might be the only game in town versus selling the products in home-based events like others in the direct sales channel.


Don’t fight competitors on their playground—find a playground where they are not playing.


Perspective No. 2: Focus on a Specific Customer Set

The tendency is to chase customers wherever we can find them. We would go to Saturn if that’s what we had to do to close a sale from a paying customer. It would seem that the opportunity to attack broad markets, and to have no limits on what markets to chase, would be a good problem to have. As companies, we chase revenue wherever we can find it, often without fully considering whether we are winning the customer base we really want or whether we are taking time away from the customers we should be chasing. There are several problems with this approach.

First, you have limited resources and your scarcest resource is time. Every minute you spend on one activity is a minute you don’t spend on another.

Second, every new type of customer you chase requires you to learn the market, find those customers, create the right marketing message, hire people with market knowledge and develop credibility in that market. Doing that for one type of customer is hard enough. Trying to do it for multiple customer types is nearly impossible.

Third, it is natural that you will encounter resistance from customers, especially if you are doing something new. It will take time to learn how to overcome objections or to help customers understand the value of your offering. If you are not committed to a path, you are likely to turn to another path when you do encounter the resistance as opposed to creatively working through it and learning what you need to about that market segment and how to tailor your approach to the market. Going after every customer opportunity, or market segment, or responding to the inquiry of the day, seems like the fastest path to revenue, but often can be a real distraction from gaining ground in a market.

Pick a market and go after it. Debate with your executive team and sales leaders what that market should be. But once you decide what it is, learn as much as you can about it and be committed to making a name for yourself in it.

Why? When you focus on a single market or customer type, you gain critical benefits:

  • Market Knowledge: You develop a depth of understanding about a market that can be the difference between gaining traction and getting lost in the shuffle.
  • Reputation: In a cluttered world, staking a claim and being successful in a specific market builds your reputation. Assume you could have five customers. If you have them in five separate markets, it is hard to build a reputation. If you have them in one market, you can show proof within a known segment. Once you do, you gain a reputation, and then it is easier to develop a name for yourself and bring that reputation to other customer segments.
  • Expertise of Resources: You can hire or leverage sales, marketing and product resources that have experience in that market.
  • Efficiency: When you chase multiple markets, you are constantly wasting effort creating and recreating a salesforce and utilizing new marketing messages and tools.
  • Value Propositions: The value your product or service offers a specific market becomes second-nature that everyone in the organization understands.
  • Marketing and Distribution Channels: These channels are likely linked to specific markets. Each new customer demographic you introduce requires you to manage another set of distinct channels. Focusing on one customer identity reduces the number of channels you have to handle.
  • Overcoming Objections: Closer access to customer feedback, objections and purchasing patterns help you align your offering and overcome objections for ongoing success.

Here’s a simple example. Let’s assume that you are selling jewelry and decide that women whose name starts with the letter “B” are your perfect customers. When you do that, you can learn where the “B’s” hang out, where they shop, what they do at night and you can attend the annual “B” association meeting. When you meet someone whose name starts with the letter “C”, and he or she loves your jewelry, you have to resist the temptation.

Even though it will feel good to get positive feedback, or even make a sale, if you start to chase customers whose name starts with “C”, you have now created an inefficiency that is difficult to manage with scarce resources. Soon you are chasing the whole alphabet, aren’t good at any of them, and are not really sure why you chase one versus another.

Perspective No. 3: Create Your Own Rules So You Are the Only Game in Town

If a market competes on product offering, compete on price. If a market competes on price, compete on personal attention. Direct sellers usually don’t do mass marketing ads like larger retail organizations do, but rather through word-of-mouth and their independent salesforce. In order to differentiate yourself further within this channel, you must go a step further, creating your own rules for why someone buys and then be the only solution that fills that void.

For example, we advised one of our clients in DNA testing to not focus on the “process” of their service but rather on the emotional connection of why that purchase matters to the individual. Among our competitors in that arena, we became the only company to engage customers on a personal level.

The ability to think differently and to bring new perspectives to the process is a skill that must be practiced and honed, much like a golfer works on his golf game and a mother works on being a better mom. After all, being a direct selling company is not just a way to sell products or services; it is an identity. Now is the time to develop the skills that create an entrepreneur mindset, so that identity can last a lifetime.


Michael Dermer is the founder and author of The Lonely Entrepreneur, a methodology to help entrepreneurs with the struggle of starting and growing a business. He is now a professional speaker, consultant and coach for startup businesses and entrepreneurs.

January 01, 2017

New Perspectives

Culture, Communication and Calendars

by John Addison


Click here to order the January 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


John Addison spent 35 years in the corporate offices of one of the world’s largest direct selling companies, Primerica Inc., most recently serving as Co-CEO. Since his retirement, he wrote the best-selling book Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose, and he now serves as the Leadership Editor for SUCCESS magazine and President and CEO of Addison Leadership Group. He regularly offers his leadership insights to Direct Selling News readers, and has answered some of your questions below. If you have a question you’d like John to answer in a future issue, email: editor@directsellingnews.com.

We’d like to improve the relationship between our corporate team and our field leadership this year. Any tips or suggestions on where to start?

A lot of things in life start with having the right assumptions. The independent contractors of your salesforce who are out building their own businesses are never going to look at the corporate folks and say, “Oh, they’re just like me.” There is always going to be some tension. That said, having a symbiotic working relationship, where the corporate team and the salesforce are moving in the same direction, is incredibly critical for the health of the business.

The death of having a positive working relationship with the field is if they think you’re saying one thing but doing another. I’ve been around when there was almost war between the corporate people and the salesforce, and the salesforce had a view of “You don’t appreciate me, you don’t understand me, you’re more focused on you and your needs than me and my needs.” The key component to avoiding that is constant communication. You’ve got to meet with them. You’ve got to talk to them. You’ve got to listen to them. When people are upset, you need to hear them. Maybe you can’t fix everything they want fixed, but they need to know that you’ve listened to them. You can disagree without being disagreeable.

The other thing they need to know is that you understand them. Their view is: “You’re getting a salary. You’re getting a bonus based on corporate performance. I’m out here on commission.” They’ve got to know that you understand what they’re doing, that you have a ticket on the clue bus of what they go through every day—all the rejection, all the no’s. They aren’t a cog in the wheel of the business, they are what drives the business. It is your job to build the infrastructure that allows them to have success.

You need to be constantly focused on the care and feeding of the salesforce. This business is at its core distribution, and you’ve got to make sure that you’re focused on that. This means spending time with them and listening to them, but also improving things for them. When we were preparing for a big event, I used to tell our corporate team that we had to get better than we were at the event before. We had to show the salesforce it’s better for them today than it was yesterday because of what we’re doing.

The cornerstone of the whole thing is trust. They’ve got to know that your words and your actions are in alignment and that you’re looking out for the best interest of the organization and the team. If they really trust you, they will forgive you when you screw up. If they lose trust in you, you’re done.

We’re having a tough time finding the right person for a key management role. What can we do to improve our odds of finding the right fit this time?

One of the things that I think is incredibly important is the culture of your organization. You have to understand what makes your organization unique. I’ve seen through my years very smart people who get rejected by a company’s culture; it’s kind of like an organ transplant, where sometimes a body rejects a perfectly healthy organ. You’ve got to find people who love, not like, your business and the business model.

I’ve seen people who come into a direct selling company and say, “I like this about the business but not that.” And the truth is, those people aren’t going to fit. You have to embrace the business model and the business in order to succeed. As a result, I’ve always had a huge bias for developing management from within. I believe the healthiest way to develop a long-term, successful direct sales business is to hire talented junior people who you develop into talented senior people. Probably my bias stems from the fact that that is how I developed. I was a kid who grew up and wound up running the business. But I learned all the aspects of it, and I knew how the company worked. I had a visceral feel for it.

Sometimes you don’t have that luxury and you have to bring in a senior person to fill a role. When that happens, your selection process has to be first and foremost: Can they do the job that you’re hiring them for? But you’ve also got to figure out: Do they embrace and like the model? That doesn’t mean someone has to have direct selling experience, but it does require a certain personality type. Direct sales is a different business. It’s not like manufacturing widgets and selling them online. You can tell whether somebody has the personality type and is going to say, “I really like this and this is fun,” or if the person is going to constantly fight your culture.

John Addison

What are some techniques we can use to sustain the energy surge that comes with the new year?

Each year, when we came into a new year I had a theme for the year that represented my view of how we were going to drive energy and focus. For example, 2007 was “007, License to Build.” Then, we laid out an incentive calendar. There are cycles to the business, and every so often a salesforce needs a shot of adrenalin and anti-rejection medicine. The incentive calendar lets you schedule that. So, you might have your kickoff meeting at the beginning of the year to start things off rocking, and then about April, you come in with another incentive to provide another boost. You have to have a calendar of short- and long-term incentives to create and achieve excitement.

The most important thing in this business is momentum. You’re either building it or losing it every day. It’s like being a football coach in a game. There are games where everything is going great and then the momentum turns against you, and you’ve got to get the momentum back. A football coach has to be focused on the momentum of the game and making sure you and your team have the momentum. It’s the same thing with a year in direct selling. You have to lay out a plan, and you need to have enough of a feel for the business so that you know when the plan needs to change. Sometimes you might start something and realize it isn’t working. Well, you’d better come up with something that works.

You have an opportunity to visit with many different companies. What do you see the most successful doing that others miss?

Companies that are very successful have a strong culture, as well as a consistency to what they’re doing. Some companies are constantly changing products, changing comp plans, changing, changing. Even positive change is disruptive. Success comes when the leaders of the organization have strong integrity and character, which fuels credibility and strengthens the culture.

Let’s be honest, most of our events are pretty similar. But the companies that do incredibly well also have great recognition. I think the ones that I see that are the most successful are very field-driven and very recognition-driven about the successes that people are having.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for direct selling companies in 2017?

I think there are tremendous opportunities in this business. I think people today want to control the means to their income instead of having the means to their income control them. People today are less job-focused and more lifestyle-focused, and that creates a tremendous opportunity for people who have the right platform.

Everybody’s not going to make money; that’s never going to be the case. But when you have enough people who put the work in and succeed, and you’re offering a real business opportunity for people, people are looking for that. The fact is, young people today aren’t looking for a job for the rest of their life. They want what they do for their money to fit with how they want to live. And a good direct sales opportunity offers that.

January 01, 2017

Top Desk

Party Like It’s 2017

by Traci Lynn Burton


Click here to order the January 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


After eight years of a cash-and-carry business model, in February 2016, we made a monumental shift in our corporate strategy and went all-in as a party plan company. It was so scary, for my office, of course, and also for my field. But I have to admit I was excited about it because it was a challenge, and it was the right thing to do. As traditional as party plan may seem, I see it as the future.

Today’s party plan companies are a real business partnership, where consultants leverage a company’s product and technology expertise and then go out and make the sale, without having to make a significant investment in inventory. It’s a model that dates back more than 100 years, but when we position it well, it is exceptionally modern. Just as in the days of the first Avon Ladies, people today love great quality products and many of them are attracted to opportunities to earn supplemental income or even grow their own business.

Technology has opened up a host of new ways to go into business for yourself, but direct selling offers an exceptional experience. You can sell jewelry on your own with an online store, for example, but with Traci Lynn Jewelry, you can leverage my style. You’ll have a team to support you as you get started, and we’re going to give you personal development to help you grow as an individual and as an entrepreneur. And, if you start to build a team of your own, we’ll compensate you for that as well.

Even in today’s increasingly competitive YouEconomy, with more and more people participating in entrepreneurial ventures through companies such as Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit, party plan companies have the social advantage. Our business model taps into that innate human desire to connect with others, to socialize, to share new ideas and to support our friends and neighbors. But in order to ensure our long-term success, we have to stay on top of the other details. People are still looking for human interaction, but there’s no question that today’s party structure is evolving. In today’s world, the key is to be able to get it and go. We want to have a reason to get together, enjoy some snacks and talk over a few items. But when someone is ready to buy, they want the consultant to be able to pull out a phone, place the order in a couple of taps and then be free to leave. My field has become very creative in finding ways to make a party fit the modern consumer. One of our consultants, for example, is having so much success with a “Wine-down Wednesdays” theme that she has a waiting list of people who want her to come to their home. The whole party takes less than two hours, with the consultant bringing a few items, her phone and some wine to share, and everyone loves it.


As traditional as party plan may seem, I see it as the future.


Technology Your Way

One Sunday, not too long ago, I saw a U.S. Postal Service truck out making deliveries, and I thought, “When did the Postal Service start delivering on Sunday?” So I peeked in the truck and guess what? It was filled with Amazon boxes. Amazon has a contract with USPS to deliver for them on Sundays. They’ve changed the game. And that’s what today’s party plan companies are going to do; we’re going to continue to evolve to that level.

Technology, when implemented well, allows today’s consultants to conduct their parties on the go. So while the catalog remains an important tool in the party plan businesses of today, there are other important tools. An app or other technology that provides mobile connectivity directly to a consultant’s back office is important. With that comes a need for a solution that allows consultants to accept credit card payments seamlessly, without the risks associated with storing credit card or other confidential information. Being able to accept payment through PayPal is a real plus today, as are tools that help consultants more easily suggest related products for purchase.

As a Gen X business owner, I’ve had to work to stay on top of technology trends. I’ve had to get my Instagram game on, learn to use Facebook Live and have some fun with Snapchat to appeal to our millennial customers and consultants. They want to know that you’re progressive and that the tools and means of communication they prefer are a part of your business. They want to know that your tools work for their lifestyle.

Technology isn’t just transforming the way we handle the party aspect of the business; it’s reshaping the logistics as well. Comparison shopping in the age of Amazon puts a lot of pressure on direct selling companies to deliver on shipping costs and delivery times. People want shorter ship times, and they want their products shipped for free. If you want to be able to compete with what people are growing accustomed to, you have to know the details.

For our business, I had to get in there and roll up my sleeves and figure it out. I really went on a hunt to understand packaging and shipping; I learned about “dim weights” and how to make our shipments more efficient. We’ve learned how to get it out fast, in two days to the customer, and when we opened in Canada a few months ago, I learned how you can ship something to Canada in three days. Just by paying attention to the details associated with logistics, we’ve been able to cut our shipping costs from more than $2 million down to a little less than $1 million.


Today’s women like authenticity, and they’ll see right through it if you try to hide anything or push something on them.


Authenticity Better Serves

As I think about the future of the party plan model, I also think about how we as executives can ensure that the business opportunity itself speaks to today’s consumers. Today’s women are smart. We’ve been to the circus with our kids and we can see the clowns; we know if you’re just using a clown act in front to distract from a scenery change in the back. Today’s women like authenticity, and they’ll see right through it if you try to hide anything or push something on them. So presenting the business opportunity in today’s party plan company is really all about letting people see it in action. You don’t have to do a business opportunity presentation; keep the party the party, and the guests will see the potential and ask questions about the business.

That doesn’t mean a consultant doesn’t go into a party with a goal in mind. For example, she may walk in knowing that she wants to book two parties and identify two people who might be interested in the opportunity. But the approach is not heavy-handed. Instead, she will watch for people who express an interest in the business. You can see it because they ask a lot of questions: How long have you been doing this? You only bring in six or seven pieces? How does that work? We do a lot to train our field on how to take advantage of those opportunities.

That kind of authenticity, I believe, will serve all of us who love party plans well. I love the model, and I love the direction we’re going. We have a strong history of success from which to draw, and we have bright, enthusiastic innovators ready to carry us into the future. The “how” may not always be clear, but I know what we will still be doing: the party. We may have different ways of getting it done, but we must always remember that we are still social. The horizon is vast and exciting, and I encourage you to move toward it but stay true to what’s inside and who we really are.

January 01, 2017

DSA News

Filling the Data Void

by Ben Gamse



Click here to order the January 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Obtain New Industry Insights by Participating in DSA’s 2017 Growth & Outlook Survey

A common observation among executives new to direct selling is that there is surprisingly little syndicated data available about the direct selling channel, as compared to other industries. Direct selling companies are increasingly hungry for market intelligence to better understand industry dynamics and to make more-informed operating decisions. And, without sufficient data, the direct selling industry can seem mysterious and be misunderstood. Frankly, there is opportunity to elucidate the direct selling industry more with data for the benefit of all involved.

The U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) uses industry research to clarify what direct selling is and report on its impact in the United States. DSA engages Nathan Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based economic consulting firm, to confidentially collect, vet and aggregate survey data. With oversight from DSA’s Industry Research Committee, comprised of direct selling-executive research experts, and in conjunction with Artemis Strategy Group, DSA reports industry-wide data, insights and recommendations that can help companies better understand the sales channel, benchmark against their peers and make more-informed operational decisions.

DSA’s flagship annual market-sizing study, Growth & Outlook, will be fielded beginning on Jan. 9. The 2017 Growth & Outlook Survey reports on the size and scope of the entire U.S. direct selling market, year-to-year growth rates, salesforce demographics, current trends, forecasting, productivity metrics, and operating benchmarks to measure marketplace efficiency. The survey also places U.S. direct selling performance within the context of broader economic trends/indicators (e.g. unemployment, GDP, overall retail). Additionally, results from this survey contribute to the Annual Statistical Survey conducted by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA), utilized to meet global research needs.

Last year’s Growth & Outlook Survey found continued record growth in direct selling in the United States in terms of sales ($36.12 billion) and people involved (20.2 million). The results are used in numerous ways, from educating key audiences such as regulators and legislators to providing benchmarking data and insights to direct selling company survey participants.

“We participate in DSA’s Growth & Outlook Survey to be represented in one of the most important tracking tools for the direct selling industry and, of course, to receive the full reports when released,” says Jeff Kaufman, Director of Customer and Field Insights at Isagenix International and Chair of DSA’s Industry Research Committee. “We use the results as a benchmark versus company performance—both industry-wide and within health and wellness. Also, we use results on enrollment trends for forecasting.”

Growth & Outlook’s value is proportional to the level of participation in the survey. DSA encourages all direct selling companies with operations in the United States, whether a DSA member or not, to participate. Companies that participate will receive the full results report at no cost later this year. To gain access to the results report full of industry data and insights, ensure that someone from your company completes DSA’s 2016 Growth & Outlook Survey by Friday, March 10, by visiting www.dsa.org/GO2017. For questions, please contact Ben Gamse at bgamse@dsa.org or 202-452-8866.


Ben GamseBen Gamse is Market Research Manager at the U.S. Direct Selling Association.

December 22, 2016

U.S. News

ViSalus CEO to Step Down, Succeeded by Co-Founder

Photo: ViSalus co-founders (left to right) Blake Mallen, Ryan Blair and Nick Sarnicola.


ViSalus will enter the new year with a new CEO, the health firm announced Thursday.

Longtime chief executive Ryan Blair is set to step down Jan. 1, after leading the company from its inception in 2005. Succeeding him is Nick Sarnicola, who co-founded ViSalus with Blair and company President Blake Mallen. Blair will remain active in the business as a board member and investor in addition to advising Sarnicola through the transition.

For the past two years, the leadership team has focused on cutting costs, restructuring debts and working to stabilize sales at ViSalus, after buying back a majority stake from Blyth Inc. Connecticut-based Blyth acquired ViSalus in 2012 for $792.4 million, but in 2014 the founders led a $148 million management buyout and subsequently took the company private.

“I spent the past 12 years pouring my blood, sweat and tears into ViSalus and am pleased with the current health of the business,” Blair said in a news release. “I leave the company in my fellow co-founder’s very capable hands.”

Blair’s ongoing work with ViSalus will focus on new technologies and business development strategies. In the near future, the serial entrepreneur also will be promoting his second book, Rock Bottom to Rock Star. The book offers business insights from Blair, who went from being an at-risk youth to a self-made millionaire by his early twenties.

As he resigns the top job at ViSalus, Blair is selling controlling interest in the company to an investor group led by Sarnicola. The heir apparent to the CEO position is the company’s top Promoter, or independent seller, with a business that has helped generate more than $1 billion in cumulative sales. Alongside his wife, Ashley, Sarnicola also has traveled the world as a Global Ambassador for ViSalus.

“I’m excited in this new role to combine my deep knowledge of the direct selling industry and my love of our Promoter force to build on the foundation we have created to take ViSalus to new heights,” said Sarnicola.

The company also announced that its vice president and general manager for Europe, Aldo Moreno, who also serves as chief information officer, is transitioning to the role of chief operating officer. In recent months, Moreno has managed the company’s launch in several European countries from a regional office in Amsterdam.

December 22, 2016

U.S. News

Plexus Ushers in 2017 with ‘Super Saturday’ Events in 26 Cities

Plexus Worldwide is jumpstarting 2017 with a coast-to-coast training event known as Super Saturday.

On Jan. 7, the health and wellness company will hold simultaneous live training forums in 26 cities across the U.S. and Canada, from Honolulu to Toronto. Management reports that more than 21,000 have registered for Super Saturday, making it the company’s largest single event of the year.

The educational sessions are open to anyone currently running or interested in running a Plexus business. Last year, more than 15,000 were in attendance.

“Super Saturday continues to grow each year, as more people are eager to learn about the possibly life-changing opportunity of Plexus Worldwide, or even just recharging and refining their current business as an Ambassador,” said Alec Clark, Plexus Worldwide President.

The four-hour sessions will be led by local Ambassadors and top-ranking sales leaders, who will share the company’s entrepreneurial opportunity and insights on operating a successful business.

On the Friday evening preceding Super Saturday, Jan. 6, Plexus will hold an “Opportunity of a Lifetime” event at each venue, as a kind of introduction to the company. This abbreviated meeting will provide information on Plexus products and what it means to be an Ambassador.

December 22, 2016

World News

doTERRA Humanitarian Aid Amounts to $3 Million in 2016

Photo: doTERRA Wellness Advocates take part in a Healing Hands Foundation project.


In the past year, the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation has donated nearly $3 million to strengthen impoverished communities around the world.

More than 30 projects were completed this year under the umbrella of the Healing Hands Foundation, the charitable arm of essential oils seller doTERRA. Another 15 projects are underway, the company said in a look back at 2016. These initiatives are carried out through corporate partners, doTERRA Wellness Advocates and employees, volunteers, and the company’s Co-Impact Sourcing Initiative, which supports small-scale growers and their communities.

“The span of what the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation has accomplished this year is breathtaking,” said David Stirling, Founder and CEO of doTERRA. “The foundation has made a significant impact in the lives of millions. We recognize and are grateful to all who have helped make this possible.”

Several initiatives were unveiled during the company’s annual convention in October, including a partnership with Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), a nonprofit that works with local law enforcement to rescue children from sex trafficking. This year, doTERRA donated $500,000 to the organization and, in collaboration with O.U.R., introduced a special Hope oil blend. The product’s peel-back label contains contact information for trafficking victims seeking aid. From the convention stage, doTERRA also announced donations of $250,000 to Days for Girls and Mentors International.

In other instances, the Healing Hands Foundation has supported programs launched by doTERRA Wellness Advocates, such as Darrin Clark, who seven years ago created the Mercy Mandate Foundation to bring humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe. This year, in partnership with Mercy Mandate, doTERRA helped fund the construction of a transition home for orphans and installed a fish farm on the property, as a means of supplementing the children’s diet.

The company’s Co-Impact Sourcing Initiative has given rise to further charitable work, in the underdeveloped areas where doTERRA is forging partnerships with local growers and distillers. For example, in Nepal, the source of doTERRA’s wintergreen essential oil, the company teamed with CHOICE Humanitarian to build the first two earthquake-resilient schools in the country, after a 7.8-magnitude quake devastated the region in 2015.

“We look forward to more meaningful partnerships and inspiring projects in the years to come,” said Stirling. “Our combined efforts are making a real, significant difference for people around the world.”

December 21, 2016

World News

Avon Taps Chris Wermann for Chief Communications Officer

Beauty giant Avon Products Inc. has appointed Chris Wermann to the role of Chief Communications Officer.

Effective Jan. 3, Wermann will take on oversight of communications and corporate social responsibility at Avon, as well as operations at the Avon Foundation for Women. He has been tapped to replace outgoing Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations, Cheryl Heinonen, who advised consumer brands on communications, branding and public affairs at Burson-Marsteller before joining Avon in 2012.

Wermann hails from United Kingdom-based retailer Home Retail Group, where he led communications as Group Director of Corporate Affairs. Previously, Wermann served as European Director of Corporate Affairs for Kellogg, and in that role led a total realignment of the company’s CSR programs in Europe. Other past roles have included Director of Corporate Affairs for Avis Europe and Deputy Director, Group Communications, for the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

Wermann’s appointment comes at a time when, according to CEO Sheri McCoy, effective communication is “more important than ever” for Avon. The second-largest direct sales company in the world is currently executing a three-year turnaround plan and transitioning its headquarters to the U.K. “With his strong leadership and impressive strategic communications experience, Chris will be an invaluable addition to our management team,” said McCoy.

December 21, 2016

U.S. News

Herbalife Recognized by Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility

Herbalife’s efforts to promote diversity recently earned a nod from the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR).

The advocacy-oriented HACR represents 14 national Hispanic organizations in the U.S. In partnership with the HACR Research Institute, the association invited Herbalife to participate in its annual Corporate Inclusion Index, which gauges the inclusion of Hispanics in corporate America, where they account for about 15 percent of the reported employee base.

This marks the third year Herbalife has taken part in the initiative, and the California-based company was commended for its diverse workforce and support of the Latino community. “By adopting Hispanic inclusiveness, companies such as Herbalife are cultivating a corporate culture that promotes forward thinking, which sustains their competitive edge to outpace competitors,” said Dr. Lisette Garcia, HACR’s Senior Vice President and COO.

The HACR Corporate Inclusion Index is based on a survey that explores employment, procurement, philanthropy and governance on a company-by-company basis.

December 20, 2016

U.S. News

ForeverGreen Promotes Two to General Counsel and CIO

ForeverGreen Worldwide Corp. is appointing two of its own to the roles of general counsel and chief information officer.

The health-products maker has tapped Shane Manwaring, formerly Vice President of Legal, to serve as General Counsel. Manwaring has spent nearly a decade in the legal field, both in domestic and international postings. The majority of that experience was gained in the direct sales channel.

“The opportunities and challenges that come from the global business model are what make this an exciting company to be involved in,” Manwaring said in a news release.

The position of CIO has been filled by Dan Eastman, whose background in information technology and project management has included multiple direct sales organizations. Most recently, he served as Vice President of Information Technology at ForeverGreen, helping to meet emerging IT demands and improve existing Member platforms.

“In the years that he has been with ForeverGreen we have seen our IT development stabilize while successfully capturing business communities around the world,” ForeverGreen’s Founder and CEO, Ron Williams, said of the incoming CIO.

December 20, 2016

U.S. News

Morinda Sees Fourfold Increase in Sales on Cyber Monday

The online retail event known as Cyber Monday has gained momentum in recent years, but does it live up to the hype in terms of revenue?

For Morinda, a Utah-based marketer of wellness products, the answer is yes. The company first introduced Cyber Monday promotions in 2015, and was rewarded with a 300 percent increase in sales over its second-best business day of the year.

“Cyber Monday is the Black Friday of the Internet,” said Shon Whitney, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Morinda. “It was a huge opportunity for our Independent Product Consultants last year, and we wanted to make that opportunity even more accessible this year.”

To up the ante this Cyber Monday, Morinda gave customers the chance to buy products in bulk, effectively discounting unit prices while commissions paid out to distributors, calculated by volume, remained the same. “To our knowledge, this is the first time any company in our industry has made an offer like this,” said Whitney. Morinda also leveraged new product releases, gift bundles and free shipping.

With these incentives in place, the response from shoppers was enthusiastic. Management reports that sales on Cyber Monday, Nov. 28, were four times higher than the company’s average sales day.

According to data published by Adobe Digital Insights, online sales this Cyber Monday hit a record $3.45 billion, up 12 percent from a year ago. Mobile generated $1.07 billion of that revenue—34 percent more than last year—and accounted for 47 percent of visits to retail websites. Of those visits, 38 percent were via smartphone and 9 percent via tablet.

December 16, 2016

U.S. News

Amway Puts eSpring to the Test in New Demo Video

Amway took a cue from customers on a new video showcasing the company’s eSpring product.

The eSpring line of water treatment systems is one of Amway’s top sellers, and the subject of a popular online video demonstrating its purification prowess. The short clip shows the eSpring system filtering sticky-sweet cola into what appears to be crystal-clear water.

The popularity of this simple experiment prompted the company to conduct its own, in a video featuring Rob Missman, Product Engineer at Amway. “While we do not recommend you try this at home, it is an impressive demonstration we are happy to conduct to show the eSpring system’s performance when filtering contaminants,” said Missman.

Customers are not the only ones taking note of eSpring. The system’s quality and performance have been recognized by a number of third parties, such as product testing and certification firm NSF International and the Water Quality Association. In October, market researcher Frost & Sullivan named Amway “Asia Pacific Water Treatment Company of the Year” for the seventh consecutive year.

These hard-earned accolades can help a company promote its products, but sometimes the best validation—and marketing ideas—come from the customers themselves. Just ask Amway.

 

December 16, 2016

U.S. News

USANA Promotes Three to VP Roles

Three have advanced to vice president roles at USANA Health Sciences Inc., the nutrition company announced Thursday.

The past month has ushered in several leadership changes at USANA, beginning with the appointment of Kevin Guest as sole CEO. Guest formerly shared the role with Co-CEO Dave Wentz, who stepped down at the end of November. The company then named Jim Brown as President, in addition to his role as Chief Operations Officer, and hired on Walter Noot as Chief Information Officer.

Now, three executive directors have been promoted to vice presidents over their respective areas. Ashley Collins will serve as Vice President of Marketing and PR, Amy Haran as Vice President of Communications, and Howard Gurney as Vice President of Product Development Process.

“I have had the pleasure of working with these proven leaders for many years now and know firsthand their dedication and commitment to our employees, stakeholders, distributors and customers,” said Guest. “These talented and ambitious individuals have been essential in hitting key benchmarks within the company and will continue taking us to the next level of excellence.”

Collins, who has led USANA’s public relations and social media efforts, will now oversee the marketing and digital marketing teams as well. In 16 years with the company, she has contributed to major campaigns and helped to develop key relationships with athletes and celebrities, as well as USANA’s sponsorship of The Dr. Oz Show.

Heading up communications, Haran will draw upon 13 years of experience with the company. Her new responsibilities include leading digital communications for USANA’s 1,300 employees and 400,000 distributors, and providing guidance to the customer service, translation and content creation teams.

Gurney formerly served as executive director of quality systems and regulatory affairs, managing the company’s regulatory team. As vice president, he will continue to oversee these areas while orchestrating a wider effort to streamline the product development process.

December 15, 2016

World News

Mannatech Launches E-Commerce Business in China

Mannatech is using a cross-border e-commerce model to introduce its products to Chinese consumers.

The Texas-based company now operates in 25 countries, but Mainland China is the only market where products are retailed online directly to consumers. This strategy allowed Mannatech to expedite its expansion into the market, said Mike Crouch, Director of Communications at Mannatech. “The cross-border e-commerce model is in compliance with all governmental regulations and local business customs,” he added in an email to DSN.

The company launched its new website and its business in China under the MeiTai name, a combination of terms and characters associated with beauty and prosperity on one hand, and health, wellness and peace on the other.

“We are thrilled to launch this e-commerce site in the largest nation in the world,” Alfredo Bala, Mannatech CEO and President, said in a news release. “It is our privilege to deliver Mannatech’s health and wellness products to a region that is constantly seeking better wellness solutions.”

Initially, 15 of the company’s top products are available in China. These include the new TruHealth Fat-Loss System and the Ambrotose product line, which has been found in clinical studies to improve focus, attention and memory. Customers purchasing through the new e-commerce platform also can earn rewards for referring friends and family to shop.

December 14, 2016

U.S. News

Scentsy Opens Doors to Community for Holiday Festivities

Photo: Scentsy Commons in Meridian, Idaho, lit up for a past holiday season.


Scentsy Inc. opened its doors to the public Tuesday for a holiday celebration that drew about 3,000.

The home fragrance company threw a different kind of holiday party this year, inviting the community out to its Meridian, Idaho, headquarters for a first-ever Thousand Points of Light event. The evening featured a Christmas concert with choirs from local high schools and nearby Boise State University, complimentary refreshments, and the chance to snap a photo with Santa.

Guests also took in a display of some 450,000 lights decorating the Scentsy campus. Since late November, the company has lit up the night with more than 26 miles of lights, hand-wrapped on trees throughout its 73-acre campus.

“Everyone at Scentsy is part of the family,” said Lonni Leavitt-Barker, Senior Manager of Public Relations and Media at Scentsy. “We wanted to invite the community to be a part of that, enjoy a hot drink, partake of the Christmas spirit and see what we’re all about.”

The response from the community exceeded expectations, said Leavitt-Barker, with as many as 3,500 turning out for Thousand Points of Light. The company is already planning to expand the event next year and bring in additional elements, such as a live nativity on the grounds.

In the meantime, guests can continue to enjoy Scentsy hospitality at the Scentsy Commons Kitchen, an on-site café where breakfast and lunch is served up Monday through Friday for employees and the general public.

December 13, 2016

U.S. News

LifeVantage Reports Positive Sales Comparisons in Past Two Quarters

Photo: LifeVantage’s Sandy, Utah, headquarters.


LifeVantage Corp. (LFVN—NASDAQ) has reported financial results for its fiscal year 2016 and the first quarter of fiscal 2017, delayed by an audit of parts of its international business.

In the 12 months ended June 30, 2016, the health and wellness company generated revenue of $206.5 million, up 9 percent from the prior year. Results were driven by higher sales in the Americas, where revenue increased 15 percent, while the Asia-Pacific and Europe segment dropped 8 percent from a year earlier.

The bottom line contracted 14 percent to $6.0 million, or 41 cents per share, compared with $7.0 million, or 49 cents per share, in fiscal 2015. Adjusted earnings increased 32 percent to 62 cents per share.

The company also saw positive trends in the first quarter of fiscal 2017, ended Sept. 30, 2016. Revenue climbed 21 percent to $54.9 million, versus $45.4 million a year earlier. Notably, Asia-Pacific and Europe saw a 39 percent increase in sales from the same period in 2016.

These new filings bring the company up-to-date with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and on track to regain compliance with Nasdaq listing rules, which determine whether LifeVantage stock will continue to trade on the Nasdaq Capital Market.

“This unanticipated delay in our financial reporting was necessary as we look to ensure that we have the appropriate internal policies and procedures in place to support our international growth,” Darren Jensen, LifeVantage President and CEO, said in the company’s release.

In an earnings call with investors, management said the company had initiated an independent audit after employees raised concerns about certain international sales policies and associated taxes and tariffs. The review then expanded to include all international markets, and identified gaps in certain policies and procedures. The company is now outsourcing international tax and tariff responsibilities to correct these issues.

For the current fiscal year, management provided revenue guidance of $207 million to $212 million, with adjusted earnings in the range of 40 cents to 47 cents per share.

December 13, 2016

World News

Wellness Firm XANGO Expands into South Korea

Photo: Seoul, South Korea.


XANGO is opening in South Korea as the company sets its sights on fast-growing Asian markets.

When it comes to direct sales, South Korea is in the top five markets globally, according to data from the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. In 2015, retail sales in the channel amounted to $17 billion, up 13 percent from the prior year.

“We have been planning for some time now to enter South Korea, given the growth we are experiencing in markets across Asia,” Joe Morton, XANGO Founder, said in a news release. “With official Korean government approval to do business, our in-country staff is working with distributor teams and establishing our market presence.”

The company known for its mangosteen-based health products has tapped James Noh, a veteran of direct selling operations in the market, to head up its in-country staff. Noh will be based out of XANGO’s new Seoul office, which opened earlier this month with a call center, will-call services and meeting spaces.

“South Korea has always been one of the strongest direct sales markets in the world, and we believe XANGO Korea will quickly gain the attention of our nation’s best networkers,” said Noh.

Initially, the company is making its Reserve, Eleviv and Aeris 2 Minute Miracle Gel available, with additional products to follow as they are approved for sale in South Korea. A market grand opening event is slated for early 2017.

December 12, 2016

U.S. News

Scentsy Raises $244K to Date for Shriners Hospitals

Scentsy Inc. is about halfway to a $500,000 fundraising goal in support of Shriners Hospitals for Children.

In September, the home fragrance company introduced the Love Heals Warmer, a seasonal cause product benefiting Shriners Hospitals. The nonprofit has 22 locations across North America where children can receive expert specialty care, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

Scentsy is supporting the work of Shriners Hospitals with $8 from the sale of each Love Heals product, in a promotion that will run through February. Three months in, and with the holiday giving season in full swing, Scentsy reports that customers have helped to donate $244,000 to date.

The company has earmarked proceeds from its charity products for a variety of causes, including autism awareness and breast cancer research. The Scentsy Family Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, also provides academic scholarships and direct donations to organizations that support families.

December 12, 2016

World News

Amway Rolls Out Global Volunteer Initiative

Photo: Amway Business Owners (above and below) participate in local volunteer projects.


The world’s largest direct selling company wants to build the world’s largest volunteer force.

Amway Corp. is kicking off a global initiative known as #AmwayVolunteers to highlight the volunteer efforts of its employees and Amway Business Owners, or ABOs, who number more than 3 million worldwide. With that kind of volunteer base, Amway can afford to set some ambitious goals, and it has. The No. 1-ranked direct selling company is gunning to build the world’s largest volunteer force by 2019, when Amway will celebrate 60 years in business.

The concept is simple: ABOs sign up to participate by taking an online pledge to “be the change” in their communities and help people live better lives, specifying what that might look like for them. The next step is to take action and volunteer through the organization or cause of their choice. Finally, the company encourages individuals to share their experiences on social media using #AmwayVolunteers.

“We value the passion and volunteer efforts of Amway Business Owners and Amway employees that are making a dramatic impact in their local communities,” said Jeff Terry, Global Head, Amway Corporate Social Responsibility. “#AmwayVolunteers showcases their individual works, on a global scale, in an effort to create the world’s largest volunteer community by 2019.”

This new undertaking broadens the scope of Amway’s grassroots volunteer efforts, and joins the Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign—fighting childhood malnutrition—as the company’s primary CSR focus.

 

 

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December 09, 2016

U.S. News

Mannatech Board Gains Company Associate Kevin Robbins

A new addition to Mannatech’s board of directors brings the perspective of a longtime independent sales Associate.

The wellness company has appointed Kevin Robbins to fill the board seat vacated by his father, and co-founder of Mannatech, Ray Robbins. The elder Robbins retired from the board last month after 15 years as a director.

“We are proud to continue the legacy of having field representation on the board,” said Chairman J. Stanley Fredrick. “Kevin’s unique knowledge about how we work with our Associates and customers helps make him a valued asset and member of Mannatech’s Board of Directors.”

Robbins began his career with Mannatech in 1994, and by 2000 was elected to the North American Advisory Council, which represents the interests and concerns of Associates to corporate leadership. After initially serving for five years, Robbins later was re-elected for a three-year term. He served as chairman for five of his years on the council, working with the company on initiatives such as new compensation plans, incentive trips and training programs.

December 09, 2016

U.S. News

More Appointments Made to USANA Executive Team

Following the departure of Dave Wentz as Co-CEO, USANA has announced two further changes to its executive team.

Jim Brown, Chief Operations Officer since 2006, is adding company president to his job description, a role held by Kevin Guest before he was appointed Co-CEO in August 2015. Brown’s background includes 25-plus years in operations management, both inside and outside the direct sales channel.

According to Guest, named sole CEO upon Wentz’s exit, Brown has been key to USANA’s growth and innovation over the past decade. “He also has earned the trust of our board of directors, management team, employees and key business partners,” said Guest. “And with his extensive experience in global operations oversight and administration, I believe he is the right leader to ensure our company’s long-term success.”

Salt Lake City-based USANA also has hired on Walter Noot as Chief Information Officer. Most recently, Noot held the same title, and that of senior vice president of operations, at another leading direct seller. His appointment comes as USANA is pursuing a long-term upgrade to its global IT infrastructure and planning the launch of various new technologies in 2017, when the company will mark 25 years in business.

December 08, 2016

U.S. News

Nu Skin President and CEO Truman Hunt to Exit in 2017

Photo: Truman Hunt, recipient of the DSN Bravo Leadership Award, addresses the crowd at the 2014 DSN Global 100 Celebration.


The man who has led Nu Skin Enterprises for nearly 14 years will step down in mid-2017, the beauty and wellness firm said Wednesday.

President and Chief Executive Officer Truman Hunt will depart Nu Skin next year to take on a three-year leadership assignment with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At that time, Chief Financial Officer Ritch Wood will transition to CEO and Ryan Napierski, currently President of Global Sales and Operations, will take on the role of president.

“My association with our remarkable sales leaders and fellow employees has been the highlight of my career,” Hunt said in the company’s announcement. “Together, we have been able to carry out the Nu Skin mission of being a force for good in the world.”

Hunt’s career with Nu Skin began in 1994, when as a young lawyer he was appointed counsel to the president. Later roles would include general counsel from 1996 to 2003 and executive vice president from 2001 to 2003. During his tenure as president and CEO, the Provo, Utah-based company has seen sales grow from $986.5 million in 2003 to a projected $2.2 billion in 2016.

In 2014, DSN recognized Hunt’s leadership and advocacy of Nu Skin, and of the direct sales channel as a whole, with its annual Bravo Leadership Award.

“Truman has established a tremendous legacy at Nu Skin that we will continue to build upon going forward,” said Steven J. Lund, Chairman of the Board. “Through his leadership and vision, Nu Skin has achieved extraordinary success and is extremely well positioned for the future.”

Lund also noted that Hunt’s successors have been integral to shaping the strategy that will guide Nu Skin into the future. “We are pleased to enjoy significant experience in our management team and are confident that Ritch and Ryan are well prepared to lead our next wave of growth,” said Lund.

The pair have more than four decades of combined experience with the company. Wood was promoted to finance chief in 2002, and in 2010 was recognized as CFO of the Year by Utah Business magazine. Napierski was named President of Global Sales and Operations in 2015, having spent the prior eight years leading key international markets for Nu Skin.

December 07, 2016

U.S. News

Mary Kay Names Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary

Mary Kay Inc. has tapped one of its own, Julia A. Simon, to serve as Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary.

In her new role, Simon succeeds Nathan Moore, who last month was named President of Mary Kay North America. Her 25-plus years of legal experience have included private law practice as well as in-house positions, most recently Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Assistant Secretary for Mary Kay.

Simon joined the beauty company in 1995 as an employment lawyer, but soon returned to private law firm Locke Purnell Rain Harrell, looking to build additional skills that would help her become a well-rounded corporate lawyer, as Simon told D Magazine for its 2015 feature on The Top Corporate Lawyers in Dallas-Fort Worth. Elected partner in 1998, Simon remained with the firm two more years before returning to Mary Kay.

“In addition to her solid legal experience, Julia has developed a keen understanding of what our business is all about,” said David Holl, President and CEO of Mary Kay. “This will allow her to make an immediate impact in her new role. Julia is a proven leader within Mary Kay and the greater DFW community.”

In addition to her work with Mary Kay, Simon is a member of the Women in the Profession Committee for the State Bar of Texas and the General Counsel Working Group at the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas. She also is active in several charitable organizations, and has served on the board of directors for the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Family Gateway, Friends of the Dallas Public Library and the Dallas Zoological Society.

December 06, 2016

U.S. News

DSA Companies Make Holiday Donations to TODAY Toy Drive

This holiday season several direct selling companies are supporting the TODAY Show Toy Drive, in a tradition that goes back more than a decade.

The effort is orchestrated by the U.S. Direct Selling Association, which encourages its member companies to give back during the holidays by donating cash or products to the Toy Drive. The DSA reports that this year’s contributions have reached about $7 million, with donations collected from Amway, Arbonne, Barefoot Books, Damsel in Defense, Good Will Publishers, Jordan Essentials, L’BRI Pure n’ Natural, Mary Kay, New Avon, Origami Owl, Team National, Thirty-One Gifts and USANA Health Sciences.

“This is DSA’s 13th year of involvement with the Toy Drive, and our members have generously contributed more than $160 million over the years,” said Melissa Brunton, DSA’s Senior Vice President, Education & Meeting Services. “We just can’t think of a better way of making a difference in the lives of children and their families in the holiday season.”

As the 23rd annual TODAY Show Toy Drive kicked off on Nov. 28, Brunton appeared on the show to acknowledge the generosity of DSA members and present a selection of donated gifts, such as children’s books from publisher Barefoot Books and bath and body products from Jordan Essentials. All donations are distributed to underprivileged children across the country, and to U.S. military bases abroad. Since its first toy drive in 1994, TODAY has delivered about $434 million in donations to more than 4 million children.

December 06, 2016

U.S. News

Avon Foundation Helps Colleges Take Action on Sexual Assault

The Avon Foundation for Women is funding a first-of-its-kind national leadership program to address gender-based violence on college campuses.

The charitable arm of cosmetics maker Avon is behind a new collaborative of 20 colleges and universities that recently came together for The National Leadership Institute: Changing the Narrative on Campus Gender-Based Violence. The program equips schools with action plans for preventing and responding to sexual violence. Avon tapped the health and social justice nonprofit Futures Without Violence to develop the National Leadership Institute curriculum, which advocates trauma-informed care in cases of assault.

To research, design and implement the curriculum, Futures Without Violence partnered with Harvard Law School’s Gender Violence Program and the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. The resulting material was presented at the first two National Leadership Institute events, held this fall in Boston and Atlanta. According to Lonna Davis, Director of Children & Youth Program for Futures Without Violence, “The Institute is part of a long-term investment to shift the narrative and introduce a primary prevention and trauma-focused approach that engages the entire school community.”

The Institute is the brainchild of the Avon Foundation for Women, which also underwrote the project with a $200,000 grant. The foundation has long supported domestic violence awareness and prevention through its Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program, launched in 2004. For more than five years now, that program has included campaigns and bystander initiatives on college campuses, but with its latest initiative Avon is empowering students and schools to take the lead in addressing assault and sexual violence.

More than 70 schools applied to participate in the program, but just 20 were selected to attend the two-day event, among them Brandeis University, Morehouse College and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. With ongoing support, these schools will create a campus action plan that engages students, college administration, campus police and leading consultants. “We’ve just spent two days looking at best practices and solutions to shift campus culture away from victim blaming to a more trauma-based perspective,” said Christine Jaworsky, Avon Foundation Program Director. “Now the real work begins.”

December 05, 2016

U.S. News

Medifast’s Michael MacDonald Named Board Leadership Fellow

Medifast’s Michael MacDonald, Executive Chairman of the Board, has been named a Board Leadership Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors.

The fellowship is an avenue of professional development for board members such as MacDonald, who became a Medifast director in 1998 and was named executive chairman in 2011. He also led the wellness firm as CEO from February 2012 to October 2016, when direct sales veteran Dan Chard stepped into the role. Medifast does about three-quarters of its business—$273 million in 2015—through direct sales division Take Shape For Life, soon to be Optavia.

“I am honored to join the distinguished and diverse group of individuals who make up the NACD Fellow community and who are committed to advancing the highest standards of boardroom excellence,” MacDonald said in a news release. “The resources, insights, and connections offered through NACD Fellowship will be key assets to Medifast.”

In addition to his board seat at Medifast, MacDonald currently serves as Treasurer of the Direct Selling Association and sits on the board of The V Foundation for Cancer Research. His past board appointments have included PAETEC Communications Inc., where he was lead director, Rutgers University and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As a credentialed NACD Fellow—whose numbers include directors at Citigroup Inc., DuPont, Microsoft Corp. and others—MacDonald will take part in an ongoing program of study that provides boardroom insights and best practices. Fellows also gain access to a library of proprietary research, professional tools and online resources.

December 02, 2016

U.S. News

RBC Life Sciences Promotes Carolyn Rachaner to Marketing Chief

As it marks 25 years in business, RBC Life Sciences Inc. is appointing a new vice president to carry the company’s marketing efforts into the future.

The health supplement maker has promoted Carolyn M. Rachaner, N.D., to Vice President, Marketing and Product Development. As the daughter of company founder Clinton Howard, she brings unique insight into the mission and culture of RBC Life.

The promotion formalizes a role Rachaner has filled for several months, according to CEO Steve Brown. “She has dedicated her full-time effort and then some over the past year as we have developed new sales and marketing strategies for RBC Life. As part of this new strategy, she has been responsible for the development and launch of new products, new product packaging, new sales programs and new sales tools.”

Rachaner has been on staff more than 15 years, developing a number of the company’s health products and coaching customers on proper nutrition and supplementation, while also running her own nutritional consulting practice. Outside the company, Rachaner, who holds a doctorate in naturopathy, has completed more than 150 study hours in applied clinical nutrition through Parker College of Chiropractic.

As vice president, Rachaner will play a key role in company-wide initiatives planned for 2017, including the launch of a new website, fresh product packaging, an expanded social media strategy and enhanced salesforce training.

December 02, 2016

U.S. News

Zija Launches Innovative Moringa-Based Protein Shake

Moringa oleifera, the “miracle tree” beloved by superfood fans everywhere, is coming to consumers in a brand-new form from Zija International.

The health-products maker has rolled out a new protein shake mix, Core Moringa Plant Protein, which contains a complete protein extracted from the leaves of moringa oleifera. The process of extracting this protein was developed by Zija’s Chief Operating Officer, Joshua Plant, Ph.D. Though no stranger to the superfood—Zija has a variety of moringa-based products in its portfolio—Plant set out to discover new ways to tap into the health benefits of the tree, which delivers more than 90 vitamins, minerals, vital proteins, antioxidants and omega oils.

“Although Moringa has been revered by different cultures around the world for thousands of years because of its diverse benefits and uses—and is continually studied and cited by the health, science and academic communities—it’s personally exciting to find new ways to make it accessible to everyday people as a way to naturally nourish the body,” Plant said in a news release.

Taken gram for gram, Moringa leaves outshine many conventional health foods in terms of nutrient density. They contain four times the calcium of milk, three times the potassium of bananas and seven times the vitamin C of oranges, to name a few. Zija has brought these benefits to market in a vegan protein powder also free of gluten and soy. Each serving of Core Moringa Plant Protein packs 20 grams of moringa, pea and rice proteins. The product is now available in Dutch Chocolate and Vanilla Bean flavors.

December 01, 2016

U.S. News

SimplyFun Product Donation Brings Christmas Cheer to Children

This holiday season, SimplyFun LLC is extending its support of two organizations making Christmas merrier for children in need.

The maker of educational board games said it will donate $100,000 in product to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, a longstanding initiative of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Along with other brand-new toys, the games supplied by SimplyFun will be delivered to at-risk children across the country. The company has participated in Toys for Tots for the past three years, contributing about $550,000 in product.

For children separated from family as Christmas approaches, Seattle-based SimplyFun also is continuing its partnership with My Stuff Bags Foundation, which provides necessities and toys to kids rescued from abuse and neglect. The company is donating $25,000 in games, which will help to fill duffel bags of new belongings for children entering crisis shelters and foster care.

“We are so fortunate to have a partnership with SimplyFun,” said Janeen Holmes, President and CEO of My Stuff Bags. “For many years, this wonderful company has been providing thousands of unique, creative puzzles and games, which have brightened the lives of the abused and neglected children we serve all across this country.”

SimplyFun has helped to fill My Stuff Bags—often the only possession a child has upon entering foster care—on an ongoing basis since 2008. Through its Simply Caring program, the company has donated about $250,000 in cash and product.

“Every child deserves to play regardless of their circumstances,” said Patty Pearcy, President and CEO of SimplyFun. “SimplyFun is proud to be able to share our games through Toys for Tots and My Stuff Bags to bring joy and create a love of learning in children in need.”

December 01, 2016

World News

Avon Drafts Former SABMiller Executive as CFO

Avon Products Inc. is getting its third finance chief in the past three years with the appointment of Jamie Wilson, a former executive at brewing giant SABMiller.

The beauty company has named Wilson as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective Jan. 1. Avon’s current CFO and Chief Operating Officer, James Scully, will remain on board as COO through 2017, overseeing supply chain and IT. Scully joined the company from apparel chain J.Crew, where he most recently had led international expansion efforts as COO. He came on board at Avon in January 2015, following the resignation of Kimberly Ross.

In the coming year, Scully also will continue to guide Avon’s turnaround efforts, a three-year plan that includes reducing costs and transitioning its corporate headquarters to the United Kingdom. “I look forward to continuing to drive forward our transformation plan and working with the entire Avon team as we position the company to deliver sustainable, long-term profitable growth,” Scully said in a news release.

Avon’s incoming CFO held the top finance job at SABMiller from 2011 to 2015, when he resigned citing personal reasons. He joined the brewer in 2005, and went on to fill a number of roles, including Managing Director in Russia and in Central Europe. Wilson was key to the global integration of the business, as well as its $11.5 billion acquisition of Foster’s Group, now Carlton & United Brewers.

“Jamie has a proven track record of strong financial leadership over an impressive and diverse career,” said Avon CEO Sheri McCoy. “That, along with his breadth of consumer expertise in international markets, will be immensely valuable as we continue to deliver on the company’s transformation plan.”

In its most recent financial disclosure, the cosmetics maker reported that efforts to trim costs are ahead of the schedule laid out by management, following the sale of Avon’s North America business in March. Additionally, top leaders have begun making the move to Avon’s existing facility in the U.K., where it expects its headquarters to be fully operational by January 2017.

December 01, 2016

Stock Watch

Stock Watch, December 2016


December 01, 2016

Cover Story

The Rhythm of Events

by J.M. Emmert


Click here to order the December 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Events are a crucial ingredient to direct selling. From small, local meetings to massive, national or global conventions, each company has its own event rhythm that drives productivity throughout the calendar year. When done right, this pattern of events helps to educate prospects, systemize a company’s vision and branding, and build anticipation that will strike an emotional chord with those prospective business owners whom companies wish to attract.

Many of the most successful companies in direct selling make the cycle of events a key component for business development. New direct sellers who attend an event receive training and personal development that empowers them to go out and execute the company’s carefully designed sales system. Attending events is, of course, optional, so companies must work to ensure that each event brings value to those who participate, arming them with tools to successfully build their businesses, instilling a sense of belief in themselves as entrepreneurs and setting realistic business-development goals to build toward the next event, where the process begins anew.

“At every single ACN event, you will see the top people sitting in the first few rows, but they didn’t start there,” says Greg Provenzano, Co-Founder and President of the North Carolina-based services company ACN Inc. “Each and every one of them started in the back of the room and worked their way to the front, one seat, and one event, at a time. Of course we know, as is the case with any business, not everyone becomes a success story. But by attending our events, you dramatically increase your odds of becoming one.”

ACN hosts four large-scale events a year, once each quarter, with the cycle beginning with an Annual Convention at the start of the calendar year. The events are the flagship of the company’s training and support system, providing Independent Business Owners with everything they need to build a successful business in as short a timeframe as possible, Provenzano says. “These events take an incredible amount of planning. As soon as one ends, we are immediately working on the next, and we wouldn’t spend the time, energy and resources on these events if they weren’t absolutely critical to the journey.”


“At every single ACN event, you will see the top people sitting in the first few rows, but they didn’t start there. Each and every one of them started in the back of the room and worked their way to the front, one seat, and one event, at a time.”
—Greg Provenzano, Co-Founder and President, ACN Inc.


Building Your Event Rhythm

The structure and scheduling of company events are, like music, orderly alternations of contrasting elements, from annual conventions and regional training meetings to boot camps and incentivized trips. They’re also usually collaborations between corporate and field leaders, who look at business metrics to determine needs most crucial to the company’s success and to drive productivity and keep the organization moving forward—development of the field, training for new product launches, selling and recruiting efforts or incentivized programs.

Nu Skin, for example, runs its business on a global cadence known internally as the Success Roadmap. While the company’s 54 business markets build their own events, everyone is working off the same strategic framework. “It generally runs on an annual basis,” says Ryan Napierski, President, Global Sales and Operations. “We view in our business that there are three primary motivators for sales leader performance. One is compensation, two is recognition, and three is qualified events. We look to the Success Roadmap as a primary business driver for enabling performance as well as consistent messaging and culture.”

On a global level, the Provo, Utah-based company has an annual national forum or convention that differs in timing according to the market. For example, in Korea the convention might be held in April, and in Singapore it might be in June. These conventions are open to any distributor regardless of performance. In addition, the company has qualified events that are performance-driven and more intended to focus on rewarding and recognizing performance in field leaders. “Those are what we call Success Trips, and those happen twice per year in each of our markets,” says Napierski.

At the local level, Nu Skin has various models that work differently, according to how the market has performed in the past. “The predominant model that we leverage in many of our Asia markets is what we call an Expo model,” Napierski says. “The Expo model occurs once a quarter, and its intention is really to reach new people, so it is primarily a recruiting event or opportunity for existing salespeople to bring new people.” The Expo model is generally used in highly concentrated urban markets throughout Asia, such as Hong Kong or Taiwan. In the Americas and in Europe, where the business is more spread out, the company does not use the same structure. Rather, it supports leader meetings that are intended to accomplish a similar outcome, working closely with leaders in the field to ensure there is a maximum synergistic effect between their events.


“We look to the Success Roadmap (the company’s global strategic framework for events) as a primary business driver for enabling performance as well as consistent messaging and culture.”
—Ryan Napierski, President, Global Sales and Operations, Nu Skin


Nu Skin also has a third layer of events that serves to ensure the company brand is presented consistently around the world. “Every two years we do a global convention that really sets the framework for the next two years for messaging and for company focus and direction,” says Napierski. “So, this corporate event is very much a key part of our messaging and certainly the way we manage our brand and manage the customer experience. It’s highly integrated into these events.”

Having a strategically designed event rhythm is no less important for companies operating in a single market. Like global enterprises, they must create event calendars that can maximize sales and recruiting efforts. That means evaluating the specific needs of various regions—whether it be product training, leadership development or incentive programs—and leveraging holiday seasons or post-convention timeframes to motivate and inspire the field.

Taunton, Massachusetts-based Princess House uses the excitement of the new year to kick off the annual event cycle, reconnecting with the field after the Christmas season and re-energizing its leaders. Princess House, which sells cookware and other products in the U.S. only, has company-sponsored “Back-to-Work” leader meetings in January that are open to the Top 50 leaders based on status, and are intended to advise field leadership on company goals and strategies for the upcoming year as well as to encourage them to get their teams active, engaged and ready to take on the new year. A similar strategy is applied to the Call to Action leader meeting immediately after the close of the National Convention in July. In the September/October timeframe, Princess House holds events in six to seven major markets across the country to support the holiday selling/recruiting season. These events range in attendance from 200 to 600 people, and serve as daytime training sessions for local leaders as well as evening Opportunity Events to “re-recruit” current consultants and introduce potential prospects to the Princess House opportunity.

“We don’t look at events as a short-term booster to business,” says Tom Cooper, Director of Sales Strategies and Incentives. “Our events are designed to reinforce the big picture of Princess House, remind Consultants why they joined and why they have stayed while amplifying their sense of affiliation with the company and the brand. ...The timing of events is purposeful—often to serve as a springboard for upcoming launches, initiatives and stimulus to achieve longer-term objectives.”

Throughout the event cycle, Princess House also puts a major focus on recruiting at events. From there, the company tailors the content of local events to fit the strategy for that particular market. Product training or leader development might be a focus in an established city, while business opportunity events will happen more often in underdeveloped markets. National events are the preferred platform for the launch of major initiatives, such as new product categories and new incentive or development programs. “We try to follow a formula that every event should have three elements that help us move the business: motivation (incentive), inspiration (recognition) and education (training),” says Cooper. “...In our experience, sales people who feel they belong to something bigger than just their own business are more likely to stay engaged and are more likely to engage others. We measure the success of our events over a longer time frame. We measure how many Sales Consultants have we added since the last event, how many Sales Consultants moved up the career plan, and how engaged are they.”

Cooper adds that a key aspect of Princess House’s rhythm is knowing when an event is a benefit and when it is a distraction. “Balance of distraction, loss of focus and time away from the business with the excitement, motivation and ‘feel good’ of a major event are critical,” he says. “Otherwise, you risk investing a significant amount of resources on an amazing event ‘production,’ which is cancelled out by business interruption or distraction that takes time to get the salesforce back into the productive ‘groove.’ ”

Partnering with the Field

For an events strategy to be truly successful, there must exist a strong partnership between corporate and field leaders. While the scheduling and facilitation of national, global and leadership events are the domain of corporate executives, it is the field leaders who typically run local and regional events geared to increasing recruiting efforts and enhancing the sales performance of consultants or distributors. The interaction between corporate and the field is instrumental in determining where events should be held and what the specific focus should be for the meeting.

Such is the case for Plano, Texas-based travel club WorldVentures. The company’s major event cycle begins in January with an event called “Get Your Business into Momentum.” Typically held within the first two weeks of the month, it takes place throughout the company’s 29 markets, drawing 15,000 to 20,000 people in the U.S. and additional large crowds in Asia, South Africa, Australia and Europe. In April, WorldVentures holds its international convention in which executives report on what the company has accomplished and where it is headed. The latter half of the year includes a June/July event called Boot Camp, which is for top leaders, and a September/October event called the “View from the Edge,” the company’s most popular event that features inspirational and motivational skits.


“Some of my top leaders throughout the globe help pick locations where there is growth. ...They are teaching what to do, where to go, how to do travel parties, how to do one-on-ones and two-on-ones as well as getting people to book their first DreamTrip.”
—Dan Stammen, CEO, WorldVentures


However, a large part of the WorldVentures event calendar is filled with regional events, and the structure and scheduling of events are collaborations between corporate executives and field leaders, says CEO Dan Stammen. “Some of my top leaders throughout the globe help pick locations where there is growth,” Stammen says. “We corroborate that internally with numbers and data. We then create a calendar to move trainers around the world so we do not have the same trainers training in the same market time and time again.”

These regional meetings are held in February, March, May and August. They range in size from 300 to 2,000 attendees and focus on how to build the business. “They are teaching what to do, where to go, how to do travel parties, how to do one-on-ones and two-on-ones as well as getting people to book their first DreamTrip,” says Stammen. Approximately 25 to 30 regional meetings can take place within the U.S. market on a given day. “The idea is that we can hold a regional training event simultaneously, on a Saturday in February, within 5–7 hours maximum driving distance for everybody in the country,” Stammen says.

While Super Saturday events are led by field leaders, corporate will partner with them to ensure successful meetings. The only prerequisite for obtaining corporate sponsorship is that the event must have at least 300 people attend. Once that goal is met, corporate will help the field leaders find trainers, assist with the production of the event and provide sales tools. “We’ll have sales aids flown in that can be sold on site,” says Stammen, adding that these aids include DVDs, brochures and custom Voyager magazines that explain the business opportunity. “We want people walking out with the best tools we have available,” he says.


“By connecting with our leaders and teams at various points throughout the year, we get to re-energize their passion through product training, coaching and launches, taking their business to a ‘Whole ’Notha Level.’ ”
—Mark Pentecost, Founder and CEO, It Works!


At Princess House, where field leaders typically manage their own events, corporate provides tool kits that include elements such as customizable video and PowerPoint presentations, pins and buttons for recognition, and corporate print pieces. However, the company invests in innovative ways to facilitate communication throughout all levels of the organization. Princess House has a unique situation in that its salesforce is predominantly within the Hispanic market. To ensure that communication cascades down to the field, the company creates tools in both English and Spanish. “We refer to it here as trans-creating instead of translating,” says Norbert Brown, Director of Communications. “We have Spanish-speaking writers on staff who will take the English and really do a complete rewrite on it to make it culturally appropriate to speak to the audience.”

In addition to using sales tools to reach the field, direct sellers leverage the power of technology to communicate with them. Nu Skin, for example, has been utilizing mobile apps to reach the field and occasionally uses simulcasts to broadcast events. Currently executives are exploring a new type of event that has never been done before in the channel. “We’re using television production capabilities to primarily conduct events in a virtual manner,” says Napierski. “We have already been testing the concept in Southeast Asia and plan to build upon it in the future.”

Whereas a typical live event may attract 8,000 people, Napierski believes the new platform will allow 20,000 people to watch online. However, such technology does present its pros and cons. While this type of broadcast would increase Nu Skin’s reach, it would also decrease the emotional connection created by a live event. Napierski, however, feels confident that using the new capabilities, already slated for the company’s next global event, will provide that combination of both reach and immersion.

Using Events to Strengthen Connections


A rhythm of strategically scheduled and designed events fosters tight relationships within the salesforce as well as between field leaders and the corporate office. Events, especially national conventions, are meant to strike an emotional chord with attendees. They are jammed-packed, fun and exciting times that foster friendship, comradery and renewed motivation for the business opportunity. Even smaller events help build belief and strengthen the emotional connection between the salesforce and the company. Events unite the entire salesforce into a shared collective identity, where people from all corners of the globe can proudly proclaim membership.

“We strategically decide when to host training events based on the rhythm of our business,” says Mark Pentecost, Founder and CEO of It Works!. “By connecting with our leaders and teams at various points throughout the year, we get to re-energize their passion through product training, coaching and launches, taking their business to a ‘Whole ’Notha Level.’ ” For It Works!, company events around the world are unified to reinforce consistent messaging and branding across all platforms. “This means whether you are in Australia, Austria, or Austin, you experience It Works! the same way,” says Pentecost. “The It Works! way is celebrated throughout events recognition, training and wrap parties. We spend time creating and investing in our friendships, having a lot of fun, and earning freedom—whether it is freedom of time or becoming debt-free.”


“A very strong piece of our culture is the appreciation of our people internally and in the field. We work very hard to make sure everyone who is supposed to be there is included as timely as possible and as accurately as possible. That’s a critical piece.”
—Norbert Brown, Director of Communications, Princess House


At Princess House, events are a mix of motivation, inspiration and education that support the personal development of the field and the Princess House culture and brand. “Nothing builds culture like bringing people together,” Brown says. “A very strong piece of our culture is the appreciation of our people internally and in the field. We work very hard to make sure everyone who is supposed to be there is included as timely as possible and as accurately as possible. That’s a critical piece. Our people do a lot to build up their own sense of team and sense of shared culture—like whole teams that show up wearing the same color or the same clothes. There is a very strong connection between them, and it connects between them through the company.”

Moving Business Forward

A rhythm of events is, ultimately, a structured composition of mission, values, culture and passion for the company all tightly woven together to create emotional experiences that re-energize the salesforce and attract new recruits. It is as critical to a direct selling company’s ongoing success as any of the drivers that help to define direct selling as a distinct channel of distribution.


“We try to follow a formula that every event should have three elements that help us move the business: motivation (incentive), inspiration (recognition) and education (training).”
—Tom Cooper, Director of Sales Strategies and Incentives, Princess House


“One of the things our founders have believed in from day one of the business is the importance of establishing culture and values, and the belief that that happens best person to person and in an immersive environment where people can truly experience the life-changing impact that these events can have,” says Nu Skin’s Napierski. “Like weddings and anniversary celebrations, these conventions provide that sort of emotionally binding experience that truly bonds our salesforce to the company and creates lifers or true evangelists of the brand. We’re very committed to these events.”

Companies with similar commitments can keep their businesses moving forward by using events to drive productivity in the salesforce, retain valued leaders and recruit new evangelists. And that all adds up to increased profit to the bottom line, which is music to any executive’s ear.

December 01, 2016

Company Spotlight

It Works!: Friendships, Fun, Freedom: A Culture That Works

by Courtney Roush

Photo: It Works! headquarters in Palmetto, Florida.



Click here to order the December 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Company Profile

Founded: 2001
Headquarters: Palmetto, Florida
Top Executive: Founder and CEO Mark Pentecost
2015 Revenue: $748 million
Products: Body care, skin care, nutrition and lifestyle


A visit to the Palmetto, Florida, headquarters of It Works! proves this isn’t a typical direct selling company. As you walk the halls, you’ll be struck by the palpable energy. At exactly 3:05 p.m. each day, employees stop whatever they happen to be doing and high-five the nearest team member. There’s a putting green on the top floor and a slide between the second and third floors. The building is situated on the waterfront and within a short distance of several beaches. Employees can squeeze in a few holes from time to time at It Works!’ sister company, Stoneybrook Golf Club of Bradenton, or relax at the nearby Pentecost cattle ranch.

The piece de resistance is Little Bokeelia Island, once home to the great battery inventor Charles Burgess (whose company ultimately became part of Duracell), and where Thomas Edison would frequently visit for brainstorming sessions with Burgess. It Works! Founder and CEO Mark Pentecost purchased the 100-acre private island in 2012 for $14.5 million to provide his family a place to spend time together and as an incentive trip destination to be earned by his company’s independent salesforce of more than 140,000.

Within this fun, enthusiastic and laid-back coastal setting thrives a culture often described as “team-focused,” but that term doesn’t tell the whole story. This compound was inspired largely by Mark Pentecost’s own remarkable rise from time-pressed high school teacher and basketball coach to direct sales leader to CEO and founder of a sustainable company built around friendships, fun and freedom. The message to the salesforce isn’t that they should strive to afford their own private island—although one has to admit that Little Bokeelia sounds mighty nice—but rather that barriers to their achievement no longer exist.


The message to the salesforce isn’t that they should strive to afford their own private island—although one has to admit that Founder and CEO Mark Pentecost’s Little Bokeelia Island sounds mighty nice—but rather that barriers to their achievement no longer exist.


Pentecost could only dream about this kind of life back in the mid-1990s, when he was a high school teacher, basketball coach and father of three in the small town of Allegan, Michigan. His wife, Cindy, was a stay-at-home mom. And they were struggling to pay their bills. Mark decided to give direct selling a shot, and Cindy joined him. They were surprised at what they found. “I’ve always been a dreamer, and I was always trying to get ahead,” he says. “When we got in [to the direct selling channel], I found that it was everything people said the American Dream was all about. The most impactful thing to me was that there were no ceilings. Hard work was rewarded. You could enjoy the freedom of time. As a teacher, I’d been answering to a bell all of those years. When I first got started in this industry, I saw the big houses, the cars, but then I learned that what people really want most is time.”

It took dogged perseverance for the couple to hit their stride, but once they did, their business soared. After a few years, the couple became top-10 earners in the company. Their financial challenges were behind them. And, as he began to think of the industry’s potential to transform lives, Mark began to tell friends that he wanted to start his own direct selling company.


“When we got in [to the direct selling channel], I found that it was everything people said the American Dream was all about. The most impactful thing to me was that there were no ceilings.”
—Mark Pentecost, Founder and CEO


In 2001, his friend, Pam Sowder (who’s now It Works! Chief Networking Officer) called Mark to tell him about what ultimately would become the first product offered by It Works!: the Ultimate Body Applicator. This unconventional product was creating buzz in celebrity circles for its ability to contour specific areas of the body, and without drastic measures like cosmetic surgery. Intrigued, the Pentecosts arranged a meeting with Luis Mijares, creator of the Ultimate Body Applicator, and when Cindy tried the product, she couldn’t believe the results. Mijares, an expert in the skin care, nutritional, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, is the former CEO of a pharmaceutical company, an herbalist and university professor of phytotherapy, or the use of plants for medicinal purposes. He ultimately would become It Works! Product Development Specialist. Pentecost negotiated the rights to sell the product, making the deal with Mijares official with a simple handshake. It Works! was born—though the company name didn’t come until later, when, during consumer product tests with the Ultimate Body Applicator, the most frequently asked question was, “Does it work?” which was almost invariably followed by a declaration of “It works!”

With their home base in Michigan, they lived in the backyard of industry giant Amway, but the Pentecosts knew they were onto something with their new business. There were no other players in the body-wrap space. “We didn’t want a ‘me-too’ product,” Mark says. Despite his earlier experience running his own direct selling business, starting a company presented an entirely new set of challenges. Growth was slow, deliberate and, to some extent, self-funded. At first, “I was probably a little naïve,” he says. “We bootstrapped it, and it cost us time those first five years. But we didn’t want what we refer to in the cattle ranch as ‘big hat, no cattle’ syndrome.” At one point, Mark’s chief financial officer urged him to quit funding his company, or it would bury him. Mark refused. “I told him, ‘We’re getting closer—just keep believing.’ ”


The It Works! corporate staff at its Palmetto, Florida headquarters.

Where Dreams Take Flight

His faith proved to be well founded, as it quickly grew into so much more. It Works! started to pick up steam, and, as news of that “crazy wrap thing” went viral, the company added more products to its portfolio: skin care, a premium supplements line and lifestyle products. In 2011, the Pentecosts decided to move their headquarters from Michigan to Florida, for the simple reason that the state’s friendlier climate would attract more employees and, during events, more independent representatives, whom they dub “Wrapreneurs.” While the move was a big change, it wasn’t a tough sell for employees; 25 families packed up their lives and accompanied the Pentecosts to the Sunshine State.


“We convey to the public that anyone—no matter who they are or where they are from—can be a part of our family.”
—Pam Sowder, Chief Networking Officer


Today, It Works! Global headquarters sits in what was once a 34,000-square-foot waterfront retail space. The Pentecosts gutted the building and added a fifth floor and an additional 17,000 square feet. The company’s grand vision was to create a place where everyone could find their place. Pam Sowder says, “We convey to the public that anyone—no matter who they are or where they are from—can be a part of our family.”

The company opened the doors to its new Florida base with a “Green Carpet” event (The official colors and brand identity of It Works! are based on “black, green and bling”), starting with 30 Wrapreneurs at the company’s Stoneybrook Golf Course. Within a year, the golf course wasn’t big enough, so they moved to the local convention center. Eventually, Wrapreneurs were selling out the convention center in less than 48 hours, so the company expanded the event into a weeklong celebration to accommodate its growing salesforce. The “It Works! Week” of celebration, recognition and training can include anything from a kickball tournament, concert or cattle ranch hoedown to a swamp buggy ride, ’80s party, hanging out at the beach, relaxing by the fire pit at the golf course or taking a trip to Little Bokeelia Island. The vibe is one that Mark describes as “more Jimmy Buffett than Warren Buffett.” Everything is a family affair; kids and spouses are invited to take part. Everybody joins the party. “This is how we live and what we do, and that kind of energy attracts others,” Mark says. “If you’re around us very much, it’s contagious.”


Top-level distributors, Black Diamonds, celebrate life-changing announcements at the It Works! ONE Conference.

Living ‘On the Offense’

Always the coach, Mark (or “Coach Mark,” as he’s often called) hopes to teach Wrapreneurs about the critical importance of what he refers to as “living on the offense”—or, simply, taking success into your own hands.

“Most people live defensively, waiting for things to happen to them, but we aren’t most people,” he explains. “We tell our team to ‘Always move forward. Own your own life.’ If you’re living on the offense, you set goals like paying off your credit card, paying off a student loan, paying off your house. We all have ‘stuff,’ but we need to attack instead of seeing what life deals us. When you’re on the offense, you score and get to celebrate. If you’re living on the defensive, you’re just trying to prevent others from scoring.”


“People are dreaming like they never thought they could—whether it’s the big dream of buying the house or staying home with the kids full-time, or smaller dreams like paying cash for Christmas this year.”
—Mike Potillo, Chief Sales Officer


This kind of high-energy leadership, along with a fun and spirited culture, particularly appeals to a younger demographic—millennials who came of age during the financial crisis and know all too well the pain of student debt.

Dreaming is key to living on the offense, and Wrapreneurs are introduced to that concept from day one. The It Works! starter kit includes a dream board, which Wrapreneurs are encouraged to design with their families and share with their friends. The company’s young independent salesforce—who are generally internet-savvy and comfortable using social media to promote It Works! products and the business opportunity—post, share, and tweet their respective dream boards and talk about how they’re making their dreams come true with It Works!.

“We’re seeing people pay off credit card debt, pay off their student loans. Young families who thought it would take years to be able to afford their own homes are buying their dream homes—with cash,” says It Works! Chief Sales Officer Mike Potillo. “People are dreaming like they never thought they could—whether it’s the big dream of buying the house or staying home with the kids full-time, or smaller dreams like paying cash for Christmas this year.” 

‘Debt-Free Is the New Sexy’

The freedom of living debt-free is another of the company’s core philosophies. Under the banner of the slogan “Debt Free Is the New Sexy,” It Works! has shared philosophies of financial experts such as Dave Ramsey to help teach Wrapreneurs about making short-term sacrifices for long-term goals.

It’s a practice that starts at the top. The company first became debt-free in 2009, during the economic recession; in fact, sales began to skyrocket that year and grew 690 percent by 2012. It Works! continues heavy investment in international markets, with an eye on reaching a $1 billion revenue milestone; its 2015 global revenue was $748 million. “Being debt-free, we didn’t have pressure on us, so we could continue to stay on the offense,” Mark adds.


“Most people live defensively, waiting for things to happen to them, but we aren’t most people. We tell our team to ‘Always move forward. Own your own life.’ ”
—Mark Pentecost


And its debt-free status enables the company to live out another core philosophy: giving back. The company maintains a strong commitment to several philanthropic causes through the It Works! Give Back Foundation, established in 2014. The foundation partners with like-minded organizations who represent causes including homeless outreach, humanitarian aid, pediatric cancer research, international crisis response, anti-human trafficking and community support. The It Works! Annual Gives Back Week challenges teams around the globe to lend their support within their communities, and is intended to give an added push to the company’s continued philanthropic participation. “Giving Back is a family tradition. It’s our responsibility to make a difference,” says Cindy Pentecost, President of the It Works! Gives Back Foundation.

Members of the It Works! corporate and field show off their “black, green, and bling” apparel on a recent cruise. Pictured (from left) are Pamela Mercado, VP of Marketing; Pam Sowder, Chief Networking Officer; Kami Dempsey, Top Income Earner; and Kindsey Pentecost, VP of Business Development and Brand Strategy.

That family tradition runs deep. Daughter Kindsey Pentecost formerly presided over the Gives Back Foundation with Cindy, but now serves as It Works! Vice President of Business Development and Brand Strategy. The Pentecosts’ other two children, Kami and Kyler, are top income earners and leaders in the field. 

The Long-Term Vision: No Limits

The magic of direct selling lies in the stories of transformation. Mark and Cindy Pentecost are the representation of the dream. Who would have imagined that a teacher and stay-at-home mom of three would one day own and run a global company in which they could inspire and motivate others through their own example? Indeed, as their own story proves, anything is possible with hope, persistence… and fun. One item remains central on this couple’s dream board, Mark says: “We want to change as many lives as possible.”

December 01, 2016

Company Focus

Plunder Design: Finding Opportunity in Adversity

by Courtney Roush


Click here to order the December 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Company Profile

Founded: 2014
Headquarters: Payson, Utah
Top Executive: Founder and CEO Hillary Adams
2016 Revenue more than $25 million
Products: shabby chic vintage-inspired jewelry and accessories


As they say, necessity is the mother of all invention. While the 2008 recession brought the U.S. economy to its knees, it also inspired millions of Americans to create their own safety nets. Hillary Adams and her husband, Abe, were typical of a lot of families trying to figure out how to survive in the wake of this economic downturn. A graduate of beauty school, Hillary ran a hair salon for several years with one goal in mind: to save up enough money to raise her children at home full time. In a page straight out of Murphy’s Law, they’d just moved into a new home and Hillary had just retired from her business when Abe was downsized from his corporate job. The couple had several investments that fell victim to the economy. The family ultimately declared bankruptcy. The cost of food was proving to be prohibitive, so they began grocery shopping at Hillary’s parents’ house. In short, they were desperate.

“When you’re facing the loss of everything that you’ve worked so hard to obtain, a certain humility takes hold,” Hillary says. “It was really scary, but when I looked around, I had the things that mattered most. Abe and I were able to find comfort in each other and together focus on our children.” With that perspective in mind, Hillary was determined to stay home to raise their three children—even if it meant budgeting to the nth degree. Abe agreed, but Hillary would soon discover that staying within a tight budget was much more difficult than she anticipated. “I realized that the answer to this problem was going to have to come from above,” she says. It was time to think creatively—and being creative was second-nature for Hillary.

Taking Care of Family

A longtime admirer of vintage jewelry, Hillary had been creating her own pieces for years, often working into the late hours after her children were asleep. Her shabby-chic style pieces were attracting attention from friends, family, even local boutiques. A friend who owned a boutique offered to sell 300 of Hillary’s soldered pendants in December. When all of them sold, Hillary took $1,500 in earnings and decided to reinvest it into her business, making chains and necklaces to accompany those pendants. She would continue to roll her profits back into her business, and it proved to be a smart strategy.

TEXTAbe and Hillary Adams with their four children.

Meanwhile, Abe had found gainful employment, and things were starting to look up again. Hillary began seeking instruction to expand her design and handcrafting abilities and would soon recruit friends from her community and church who also were seeking a means to supplement income to support their families.

“I live in a small town where everybody is well connected, and our economy was failing so many,” Hillary says. “These women weren’t going hungry, but it’s the extra things, like choir tours and cheer costumes, that are sacrificed when there just isn’t quite enough. By producing and selling this jewelry, we were able to provide the opportunity for several women to be home with their families and contribute financially. At any given time, we employed about 10 women who were working in their spare time to bring our products to the open market.”

Hillary set up a booth at one of Utah’s biggest outdoor events, Swiss Days. Her business was $30,000 in the red. In short order, a crowd lined up at the booth and quickly cleared out Hillary’s inventory. By the end of Swiss Days, she had sold an astounding $94,000 worth of jewelry. And then, six months pregnant with her fourth child, Hillary suffered a devastating miscarriage. While grieving, “I had this thought,” she says. “I said to myself, ‘If I can’t have this baby, then I’m going to have one hell of a business.’ ” 


A longtime admirer of vintage jewelry, Hillary Adams had been creating her own pieces for years, often working into the late hours after her children were asleep.


For the next three years, Hillary sold her jewelry at boutiques and trade shows. She approached a couple of large department stores, but to no avail. This business was hard work, and by the time she reached one such event in Tacoma, Washington, she knew she was spread too thin. At this point, “I wasn’t looking at jewelry as something more.” In her mind, this journey had an end; she’d one day retire from it, just as she’d done with hairstyling, and stay home with her kids.

Clarity of Conviction

Fate had other plans. During that trade show in Tacoma, she met an independent consultant for a direct selling company of jewelry and accessories. As the two women spoke, Hillary realized she was sitting on something that could be much more than just a job. This encounter, she says, was akin to being hit with a sledgehammer—in a good way. The two women stayed in touch, and not long after their first meeting in Tacoma, the consultant was diagnosed with bone cancer. Even while undergoing chemotherapy and recovering at home, however, the consultant continued to grow her direct sales business. “My focus shifted to, How big can I make this? I needed a business plan I could get better distribution from,” Hillary says. “It dawned on me that I was doing it all, and yet the consultant I’d met was making more than me. Something had to change.” And direct selling was the vehicle to make that happen. “I wish all of our decisions had this much clarity,” she adds.

TEXT

With no prior direct sales experience, all Hillary had to go on were her preconceived notions about the channel. Initially, “my perception was that there were a million party plan companies. I’m not a high-pressure person, and I didn’t want people to feel pressured to buy.” 

She began to do her research, however, talking to industry veterans like Younique founder Derek Maxfield, Brett Reed of Squire Financial and Bob Hipple, formerly of another party plan company and the current president and owner of consultancy Direct Selling Today. Soon, those preconceived notions melted away. “In direct selling, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Hillary says. “Although we do some things differently than other companies, there are already systems in place and more than enough people willing to help you.”


“I’ve always believed there was a larger plan for Hillary. There’s something about her that draws everyone in. I call it the ‘sauce.’ ...She has that bigger-than-life personality and has a way to make everyone feel important.”
—Abe Adams, President


Abe was among Hillary’s biggest supporters. “I’ve always believed there was a larger plan for Hillary. There’s something about her that draws everyone in,” he says. “I call it the ‘sauce.’ She has the sauce, and other people want to be around her. She has that bigger-than-life personality and has a way to make everyone feel important. There’s a quote in her office, and I’m not sure who it’s from, but it states ‘Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.’ That describes Hillary to perfection. For years, I’ve told her that she would do something really big, but neither of us had any idea what it was or how big it would be or that we would be able to reach out to help and serve so many.”

Plunder Design officially launched in 2014 with $50,000 of Hillary’s own funds and a $130,000 loan from her father. What’s the story behind the name? “Plunder means to take by force. In life, if we stand around and take everyone’s leftovers, we won’t get anywhere; we need to prepare to fight for our dreams,” Hillary explains.

In the beginning, Plunder Design was a team of three: Hillary, Marianne Brown (her best friend) and an office manager, along with approximately 30 consultants who worked the field. They traveled throughout the South, to states like Georgia and Tennessee, holding parties and opportunity meetings. One such party in Tennessee had a single attendee—and she didn’t even wear jewelry. “I got on the plane after that trip feeling defeated,” Hillary recalls. “But, by January of the following year, Tennessee was our biggest state, with around 4,000 consultants. This had something to do with fate.”


“In direct selling, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Although we do some things differently than other companies, there are already systems in place and more than enough people willing to help you.”
—Hillary Adams, Founder and CEO


Hillary’s vision for her consultants is for them “to build a business of residual income,” she says. “This business will take care of you as long as you take care of it. I tell stylists they don’t need to carry inventory. Less is more. I want them to get back to an old-school style. Where they should spend their money is on their supplies and tools. I tell them not to invest more than they profit—that’s not a sound financial decision.”

Personal Connections

Plunder Design jewelry, while mass-produced, has a vintage look. Hillary’s inspiration comes both from her grandmother’s old brooches and trinkets, but also a revelation she had at an estate sale in Alabama years ago. In a dresser, she found drawers full of antique gems, which the owner dismissed as just her mother’s “old junk.” “As I opened them and carefully extracted what was inside, I discovered beautiful brooches and necklaces carefully wrapped in tissue paper and placed inside these old canisters to be protected,” she recalls. “These gently wrapped gems were a vestige of a woman’s life 70 years prior. I realized the mentality of a generation much older than ours. Gems and jewels, be they simple costume jewelry or extravagant diamonds, were cherished pieces. They were prized by women who had much less. In our modern times, we seem to have turned into a generation of ‘disposables.’ If we don’t like something, we throw it out and run to the store for something else. At Plunder, we’re striving to bring back to life the age-old mentality of treasured jewels, prized belongings and a grateful heart.”

The company’s top-selling pieces are the Gabbie necklace, Mason earrings and the Atlas line of necklaces and keychains, which may be personalized with the image of the customer’s choice (provided she has the rights to the image). New independent Plunder Design representatives, or Stylists, as they’re called, purchase a $99 starter kit including select full-size Plunder pieces, business cards, order forms and catalogs. Plunder Design’s Facebook page, with nearly 20,000 followers, is a popular online hangout for Stylists to share ideas and communicate with one another.


“In our modern times, we seem to have turned into a generation of ‘disposables.’ ... At Plunder, we’re striving to bring back to life the age-old mentality of treasured jewels, prized belongings and a grateful heart.”
—Hillary Adams



Today, Plunder Design has nearly 7,000 consultants in the United States. In 2016, the company held its first annual conference, called “Mother Palooza,” plus five “Mini Palooza” events. “The smaller salesforce that we have to date feels very much like a sisterhood,” Hillary says. “Because we only have about 7,000, we all have a pretty great friendship. The women have been amazing at encouraging and helping one another.

“I think the best way to motivate is to lead by example,” she continues. “I refuse to ask my Stylists to do things that I wouldn’t do myself.” Just two years after its inception, Plunder Design employs a staff of 85 at its facility in Payson, Utah, and continues to grow at a rate of approximately 80 percent each month, generating $2 million a month in revenue. The company is 100 percent debt-free. Plunder Design launched a new website and back office for its Stylists in October in an effort to better serve their growing needs, particularly in the social media arena as they promote parties. In 2015, the company was recognized for its exceptional growth with the Direct Selling Management Association of Utah’s Rising Star Award. Executives at Plunder Design expect to hit at least $25 million in revenue by the end of the year, but, according to Hillary, that could be a conservative estimate given the upcoming holiday season.

Coming Full Circle

Abe ultimately gave up his full-time job to join his wife in her business, becoming President of the company. While he was leaving the safety net his job had provided for their family, Abe says sales from Plunder Design continued to increase, providing the couple with the confirmation that they had made the right decision. In addition to their “angel,” who helped inspire Hillary’s decision to grow her business, today, Hillary and Abe are the parents of four children: Zach, 16; Olivia, 13; Amelia, 12; and Hallie, 3. “I hope that my children will learn to work hard, sacrifice for the better good, and lay it all on the line for a worthwhile dream,” Hillary says. “It sounds so cliché, but I truly believe that we define where we will ultimately be, by allowing ourselves to feel worthy and capable of our dreams.


Just two years after its inception, Plunder Design employs a staff of 85 at its facility in Payson, Utah, and continues to grow at a rate of approximately 80 percent each month, generating $2 million a month in revenue. 


“If they want something, I hope that they feel motivated to fight for it,” she says. “They need to accept accountability for their lives and refuse to settle for other people’s leftovers. There’s a price to be paid for everything we achieve. You don’t get something for nothing, and if you have big dreams, you might as well start working and budgeting for that outcome now.”

That fateful introduction to direct selling back in Tacoma, she says, was meant to be, resulting in a business that changed not only her own family’s life, but the lives of so many other families, as well.

“I spend a lot of time pondering ways to become a better company for our Stylists,” Hillary continues, “but I’m as certain today as I was two and a half years ago that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m meant to do. I feel like I won the lottery. The benefits of direct selling surprise me every day.”

December 01, 2016

Industry with Heart

Sweet 16: A Snapshot of Giving Back

by DSN Staff


Click here to order the December 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Direct selling is a personal business, and for many of the individuals and companies involved, the personal commitment goes far beyond dollars and cents. For those so inclined, the direct selling channel offers an opportunity to practice corporate philanthropy at a grand scale, engaging not just the corporate offices but also rallying the strength of an independent salesforce to go out and make a difference in the world.

The beneficiaries of direct selling’s charity work are as diverse as the companies themselves, touching virtually every cause you can think of in every corner of the globe. At Direct Selling News, we think of it as an Industry With Heart. To share the story of this work, the team at DSN selected the following 16 examples from throughout the past year to illustrate the abundance of philanthropic work undertaken by the direct selling community. This is by no means a complete list of companies that have demonstrated a giving spirit nor a full sampling of the generosity expressed by companies listed, so please refer to our website for more great stories about our charitable industry.

Young Living

TextYoung Living Founder Gary Young helps the people of Nepal rebuild after a devastating earthquake.

Young Living Founder Gary Young started 2016 by visiting Nepal, where he witnessed first-hand how much rebuilding work remained from the earthquakes that hit the region in 2015. At that time, an estimated 1.2 million people were living in tents and other make-shift shelters. After passing out blankets in a village, Young met with the Vice President of Nepal to find out how to start building houses. The plan was simple enough: Hire a local engineer and architect and get started.

Since then, the Young Living Foundation has ordered and delivered a brick-making machine the organization had used successfully in its work in Ecuador, and hired a Nepalese engineer, architect and project manager to be trained on the equipment. As a result, Young Living has been able to establish a plan to rebuild 112 homes and two schools. The foundation is involved in a variety of projects around the globe, with Member donations now measuring in the millions of dollars annually. 

Nerium International

TextNerium executives present a $1.3 million contribution to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Since the company began five years ago, Texas-based Nerium International has demonstrated a commitment to giving back that is as strong as its commitment to corporate growth. Through its charitable arm, the Nerium Ripple Foundation, the skincare company has two philanthropic partners: Big Brothers Big Sisters and World Vision, an international humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organization. Nerium’s cumulative total amount donated to nonprofits is more than $3 million, and the company has an overall goal for 2016 to contribute $1.8 million. BBBS has honored Nerium’s ongoing contributions with its 2013 Community Spirit Award and 2015 President’s Award, as well as this year’s Honorary Corporate Partner Award, for being the organization’s largest corporate donor partner in America.

WorldVentures

TextWorldVentures and Nancy Lieberman bring a DreamCourt to S. Carolina.

The WorldVentures Foundation’s mission is to serve disadvantaged children globally by providing sustainable solutions to local needs. The foundation has logged more than 180 VolunTours globally since 2010, volunteer vacations designed with the specific goal of serving children and their communities around the world. In 2016, WorldVentures, along with Hug It Forward, has completed 100 Eco Bottle Schools in Guatemala. Additionally, the foundation has worked to build more than 30 DreamCourts, outdoor basketball courts and play spaces for children in low-income communities designed in collaboration with Nancy Lieberman Charities.

Southwestern Advantage

TextTrey Campbell provide students in the Dominican Republic with desks and school supplies.

Within the direct selling community, service travel isn’t limited to travel-oriented companies. One of the oldest direct selling companies in the world, educational bookseller Southwestern Advantage, has long included giving as a component of the principles it teaches to the college students that comprise its salesforce. Many members of the salesforce, known as Dealers, donate to the company’s Share the Advantage program, and sellers who reach certain goals are eligible to participate in a five-day incentive trip, one day of which is devoted to a service project.

As this edition went to press, the Southwestern Advantage team was heading to the Dominican Republic, where the students will be serving two schools: Centro Educativo Shalom and Centro Educativo Nazaret. At Centro Educativo Shalom, the team will be adding two classrooms and replacing all of the desks, which had warped in the moist tropical air. At both schools, they will be purchasing necessary school supplies and equipment.

Avon

TextMore than 220,000 people have participated in Avon 39 since 2003.

Publicly traded Avon Products Inc. and privately held New Avon LLC come together to support the Avon Foundation for Women, one of the oldest foundations in the direct selling community. The foundation’s first grant, in 1955, was a single, $400 scholarship. In 2016, Avon and the Avon Foundation surpassed $1 billion in cumulative donations.

The foundation is focused on two causes: the eradication of breast cancer and ending domestic and gender violence worldwide. In 2016, some of its achievements included: the release of a first-of-its-kind study exploring the prevalence and mortality rates of breast cancer among the U.S. Hispanic population; providing $500,000 in funding to the Vital Voices Global Partnership to start five Justice Institutes on Gender-Based Violence in Colombia, India, Philippines, South Africa and Turkey; and the 14th annual series of Avon 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer fundraisers.

Mary Kay

TextThe Mary Kay Foundation awards a grant to The Spring of Tampa Bay women’s shelter.

In March, Mary Kay celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Mary Kay Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to two causes: research of cancers affecting women and preventing domestic abuse. The company and foundation are active in supporting both causes throughout the year, with significant events including: the May 12 Global Day of Beauty; a $250,000 gift to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to establish a Distinguished Professorship in Women’s Cancer Research to honor Dr. Jerry Shay, a renowned cancer researcher at UTSW who chairs the foundation’s Research Review Committee; and $100,000 in cancer research grants to medical schools and research facilities across the U.S. In October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the foundation announced it was providing $20,000 grants to 150 domestic violence shelters across the United States.

ACN

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In 2008, ACN selected Ronald McDonald House Charities as its global charity partner. Since then, the North Carolina-based telecommunications, energy and essential services company has raised money for the organization at each of its global events, matching donations from employees and Independent Business Owners dollar for dollar. In 2016, its largest annual event—the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte Celebrity Golf Tournament—raised a record $261,500. “We are so fortunate to have the support of ACN,” said Mona Johnson-Gibson, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. “We always have a blast at the events they host for us throughout the year, but the best thing about them is that they are focused on the families we serve.”

TextBrownie Wise

Tupperware

Sometimes, giving offers an opportunity to recognize the past while establishing something positive for the future. In July, Tupperware donated $200,000 to help develop a park in Osceola County, Florida, about four miles south of the company’s headquarters. The park will be named Brownie Wise Park in honor of Tupperware’s pioneering saleswoman, and the surrounding area will be known as Tupperware Island Conservation Area. The park will include an information kiosk that will provide history and background about the company and Wise, who ran Tupperware’s Home Party Division from 1951 to 1958.

Thirty-One Gifts

TextGirls on the Run seeks to help empower girls by integrating running and positive youth development, helping them to build confidence, character and connection.

The company’s efforts in 2016 included: serving as the official sponsor of the 20th birthday campaign for Girls on the Run International, an organization that uses running to empower girls; providing funding for Girls Take Flight, an initiative at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to support girls facing mental and behavioral health illnesses; and an annual Cindy Monroe Values & Vision Scholarship for a high school junior or senior from Hamilton County, Tennessee, who embodies the core values of company founder Cindy Monroe.

AdvoCare

TextAdvoCare and the Ragus family launch the AdvoCare Foundation.

Philanthropy has been an important part of the culture at Texas-based AdvoCare throughout the company’s 23-year history, but in 2016 it established a more formal framework for giving by starting the AdvoCare Foundation. The foundation received a $1.5 million initial gift from the company and the family of AdvoCare’s late founder, Charlie Ragus. Its first round of grants totaled $150,000, which went to eight organizations focused on child health and safety.

Le-Vel

TextDick Hoyt (center) with Le-Vel co-founders and co-CEOs Jason Camper and Paul Gravette at Le-Vel’s annual convention.

A number of direct selling companies earmark proceeds from specific products for charitable efforts. One of the fastest-growing young companies in the channel, Le-Vel Brands LLC, used the strategy to raise $240,000 for the Hoyt Foundation, which works to assist disabled young people. In June, Le-Vel offered a limited-edition version of its Derma Fusion Technology (DFT) patch, with $5 from each Hoyt-edition DFT going to the foundation.

The foundation was formed in 1989 by Dick Hoyt, a retired lieutenant colonel, and his son, Rick, who was born with cerebral palsy and is unable to speak or use his hands and legs. Despite these challenges, the father-son team has gained recognition for competing in more than 1,100 athletic events in the last 37 years, including 32 Boston Marathons and six Ironman competitions, with Dick pushing his son in a custom-made wheelchair as they run. The contribution is part of an ongoing partnership between Le-Vel and Team Hoyt. Le-Vel previously donated $50,000 to the Hoyt Foundation, and the senior Hoyt was a surprise headline speaker at the company’s annual salesforce convention in April.

Amway

TextNutrilite Power of 5 Campaign supports children around the world, including the ones pictured here, from Zambia.

The world’s largest direct selling company amped up its commitment to childhood nutrition by making a pledge on Oct. 16, World Food Day, to feed 500,000 children around the world by the end of 2019 through its Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign. Amway worked with the World Health Organization to develop the Nutrilite Little Bits supplement, which can fortify a child’s food with 15 essential nutrients. Amway has distributed Little Bits to more than 30,000 malnourished children since 2014.

Nu Skin

TextIn Malawi, Nu Skin President and CEO Truman Hunt congratulates a graduate of the Force for Good Foundation’s School of Agriculture for Family Independence.

Nu Skin Enterprises has used its expertise in the wellness field to fuel an initiative to combat malnutrition since 2002. Nu Skin scientists developed VitaMeal, a nutrient-dense rice and lentil meal, and through purchases by the company’s distributors, customers and employees the product is donated to feed people around the world. This Nourish the Children initiative reached a milestone in 2016, when it donated its 500 millionth meal.

“I’ve seen firsthand the difference that VitaMeal has made in my country,” Malawi’s former first lady, Madam Callista Mutharika, said in the company’s announcement of the achievement. “Its impact has been life-changing for thousands of kids. Children who were once hungry are now healthy, strong and able to go to school. Mothers who had no food can now provide their loved ones with a warm and nutritious meal.”

The company also celebrates 20 years of giving through its Nu Skin Force For Good Foundation, which focuses broadly on health, education, economic opportunity and disaster relief. Nu Skin aims to help children in these areas through projects such as the School of Agriculture for Family Independence, where the people of Malawi can learn better agricultural techniques to provide for themselves.

USANA

TextUSANA Founder Dr. Myron Wentz (left) with CHF Founder David Phillips.

Another direct selling company active in supporting efforts to relieve malnutrition is USANA Health Sciences. In September, USANA founder Dr. Myron Wentz received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF) in recognition for his support of the charity, which distributes food to children and families in need. At distribution centers in Dallas, Chicago, San Antonio, and Los Angeles, CHF volunteers pack bulk food into 20-pound boxes known as Food Paks, which are then distributed around the world.

Wentz has funded a number of projects, including Cargo of Hope, a feeding program that has supplied 11.7 million meals; Beds for Ukraine Orphans, which built and outfitted 2,400 beds; and Wentz Medical Centers in Uganda, Cambodia and Malawi. Two more centers are in development. In addition to personal contributions made by Wentz, the USANA True Health Foundation has donated more than $21.3 million in cash and nutritional supplements to CHF.

Youngevity

TextThe Caterina’s Club food delivery truck featuring Chef Bruno Serato.

Youngevity International’s Be The Change Foundation supports a roster of hand-picked charities, among them American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project. Earlier this year, Youngevity partnered with Caterina’s Club, a nonprofit founded by Italian chef Bruno Serato. Each week, Caterina’s Club serves a nutritious meal of freshly made pasta and vegetables to more than 1,800 children as well as helps those in need find shelter.

In September, Youngevity celebrated its annual Be The Change Day, with distributors and employees participating in a service project. This year’s project supported My Story Matters, an organization that helps families facing difficult circumstances create customized storybooks. In the morning, Youngevity volunteers visited a high school in the Salt Lake City area and interviewed children who are refugees from more than 70 countries. In the afternoon, the volunteers worked with children at a local homeless shelter.

Scentsy

TextScentsy consultants, employees and community members rock for 12 hours straight raising funds for local charities.

Company Founders Heidi and Orville Thompson have worked to foster an environment for every member of the Scentsy family (consultants, employees and customers) to get involved and give back. The Thompsons created the Scentsy Family Foundation in 2009 and, since then, the organization has donated more than $5.6 million to causes that support families. Each season, Scentsy introduces a new Charitable Cause product, supporting causes ranging from autism awareness and heart disease, to breast cancer research. Most recently, from September until the end of February, Scentsy pledged to donate $8 from the sale of every Love Heals Warmer to Shriners Hospitals for Children®, a nonprofit that provides expert pediatric specialty care for children, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

Through the Scentsy Family Foundation, the company also provides academic scholarships and direct donations. One such example is its Scentsy Rock-a-Thon. This year marked the third occurrence for the company event, with more than 1,100 people spending 30 minutes or more rocking in chairs for 12 hours. Scentsy chose 12 hours to mark how many years the company has been in business. Rock-a-Thon raised $251,441 for Family Advocates. The local organization offers voluntary parent and child services to help more than 200 families per week build skills that prevent child abuse and neglect. Participants also donated 6,000 baby items.