October 02, 2015

World News

ForeverGreen Announces COO Promotion, New President of Europe

ForeverGreen Worldwide Corp. is laying a foundation for future growth in Europe with the appointment of a new regional president, Tomasz Stanislawski. The health firm has promoted former President of Europe, Blake Schroeder, to the position of Chief Operating Officer.

“Blake’s experience and knowledge have been a tremendous factor to the growth in Europe. We are looking forward to his expertise contributing to the organization as a whole after seeing his success in the European region,” company CEO Ron Williams said in a statement.

The trilingual Stanislawski—he speaks English and Russian in addition to his mother tongue, Polish—hails from another direct selling health company, where he headed up operations for 29 markets across Europe. His 21-year direct selling career has focused on the areas of operations, sales, marketing and international expansion.

“I am delighted to join ForeverGreen in the given time, ahead of the November Europe Launch in Munich,” said Stanislawski, referring to the company’s upcoming European convention. “We are ready to bring our vision, products and business opportunity across all countries in Europe.”

Utah-based ForeverGreen markets nutrition supplements, weight management products and, most recently, a line of press-on strips applied directly to the skin to provide pain relief, an energy boost or anti-aging benefits. This week the company also entered its pre-launch phase in Taiwan and received official approval to operate in Thailand.

October 02, 2015

U.S. News

This Week: Choosing Direct Sales, Company Culture, and a New Name in Skincare

Catch up on this week’s industry chatter with these click-worthy links:

  • When retail stores began closing their doors in the wake of the2008 financial crisis, Traci Costa needed a new way to market her nascent kidswear brand, Peekaboo Beans. Canadian Business chronicles the company’s transition to direct selling, which Costa calls the best decision she’s ever made. Since Peekaboo Beans made the switch, revenue from the line of versatile, play-friendly children’s clothing has increased an average of 70 percent every year.
  • How does fashion brand cabi maintain an 85 percent stylist retention rate? According to Founder, President and Chief Culture Officer Kimberly Inskeep, strong products and a strong collaborative culture are key. Inskeep speaks to Biz Women about leveraging the direct selling model to build a $250 million brand.
  • Bloomberg takes a look at a growing cosmetics trend—one that will please women at all points on the skin tone spectrum. In a surprisingly recent development for the beauty industry, more and more leading cosmetics brands are tailoring their shades to multiethnic customers, rather than catering more narrowly to dark or light skin tones. According to research cited in the report, customers are responding enthusiastically. With 3.7 percent growth in the U.S., sales of multicultural beauty products outpaced overall cosmetics and toiletries sales in 2014.
  • A new skincare line launched by Jessica Herrin, Founder of Stella & Dot, continues to garner attention from fashion and beauty editors. Called Ever, the direct selling brand touts clinical grade, botanically derived cleansers, serums, moisturizers and more. This week, Fashionista featured Ever in a roundup of new, “need-to-know” skincare lines.

October 02, 2015

U.S. News

Mannatech to Tap Outside Experts through Scientific Advisory Board

Mannatech Inc. is bolstering its research and development prowess with the creation of a Scientific Advisory Board headed by the company’s Global Wellness Director, Dr. Steve Nugent.

“The Board’s mission is to provide objective, expert leadership to Mannatech and to ensure its technologies meet the highest standards,” said Nugent who has more than 38 years of experience in the health and wellness industry. “Mannatech’s foundation is built on science, and this board will ensure the company receives the most current feedback from scientists and wellness leaders from around the world.”

In a statement, management said the company is in the process of vetting potential candidates for membership. The group of third-party doctors, scientists and wellness experts will support Mannatech by reviewing new and existing products to verify that they meet set standards and incorporate the latest research. Board members will also pitch new product ideas and educate the company’s Associates in their respective areas of expertise.

Mannatech has invested more than $50 million in researching and developing its health, fitness and skincare products. The company’s supplements are based in nutritional glycobiology and contain plant-based, naturally occurring ingredients. Since its founding in 1993, Mannatech has secured 100 patents worldwide—many of them pertaining to its Ambrotose line of supplements.

October 01, 2015

Company Spotlight

Nerium: The Skincare Company That Reached $1 Billion in Cumulative Sales in Just 4 Years

by Courtney Roush

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

The leadership of the direct selling industry has shifted to younger companies, and the proof is in the numbers. Case in point: Nerium International, based in Addison, Texas. A leader in the next wave of growth companies—those in the upper middle market group between $300 million and $1 billion—Nerium has an incredible story worth studying closely.

Founder and CEO Jeff Olson says there are several factors he credits for the 4-year-old company’s $1 billion in cumulative sales. Already the company is No. 12 overall on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list, which ranks the fastest-growing private companies in America, and it is the fastest-growing consumer products company on that list. It bears repeating: This company is 4 years old.

Above All, Culture

When you speak to Olson, it’s clear that if there’s one thing he’s passionate about, it’s promoting and maintaining his company’s “loving, caring, sharing” culture internally, with employees, and externally, among consultants in the field. And by no means is this just lip service. A best-selling author, founder and owner of Live Happy magazine, speaker and self-described “perpetual student of personal development,” Olson started one of the largest personal development training companies in the United States before founding Nerium International, a company charged with a mission he takes very personally: Make people better. “The best ROI comes from investing in people. To build a billion-dollar company this quickly, you’ve got to invest in the right people.”

Once that culture is fostered and travels beyond the confines of the office and into the field, it’s an incredibly powerful asset that can attract and retain others who share your values, he says. In its early days, company leaders devoted time to develop 10 core values that would not only promote happiness, but create the fiber of the company’s existence, and allow people to live their lives to the fullest. Principles like “Be Real,” “Slow Down to Go Fast” and “Pursue Constant Development of Self” are among those daily mantras. Employees within the entire Nerium organization are encouraged to spend a little time each day focusing on these core values, integrating them into all aspects of the company’s culture, communicating them to the field at every opportunity and incorporating them into business plans. With that mindset, the culture leads and defines the company.

Nerium works tirelessly to create a “one family” culture. Chief Field Officer Mark Smith describes how that translates in the field. “There are no ‘barbed wire fences’ around Brand Partners’ teams,” he says. “We’re building a company versus many small groups.”

“The thing I’m most proud of is that the vast majority of our business isn’t distributors; it’s customers. We’re shipping our product to them because they want it.”
—Jeff Olson, Founder and CEO

Customers First—Always

Another way to foster the development of a rock-solid culture is by teaching consultants to keep their focus where it belongs. Recognition and prizes are, of course, an exciting prospect for any independent business owner—and we know they’re powerful motivators. But representatives would be wise not to become distracted and trip over those incentives on a journey that should always be laser-focused on the customer.

If you’re going to build a great direct selling company, Olson says, you have to have a solid, recurring and continually growing customer base, period. Consultants must be incentivized not for buying inventory but rather building a long-term business of loyal customers who purchase their products at full price. “If your compensation plan doesn’t reward customer acquisition, your Brand Partners will chase recruitment. And nobody can sustain that. It’s impossible.” He adds that, over the years, he has witnessed companies start with a recruitment-heavy focus, and then attempt to shift gears or backtrack into their product messaging. According to Olson, this approach fails because it ignores culture, the most important asset of a direct selling company during those critical, formative early years. First and foremost, “the focus needs to be on customer satisfaction and retention. That’s the litmus test for any great company.

“The thing I’m most proud of is that the vast majority of our business isn’t distributors; it’s customers,” he continues. “We’re shipping our product to them because they want it.”

When you speak to Founder and CEO Jeff Olson, it’s clear that if there’s one thing he’s passionate about, it’s promoting and maintaining his company’s “loving, caring, sharing” culture.

To keep that customer pipeline robust, Olson says, your product has to do what you say it will do, and it has to offer a value proposition. Consider the sheer number of anti-aging products on the market, and how confusing it can be for consumers to navigate their supposed skin types and recommended regimens, many of which include multiple steps and, therefore, a significant financial commitment from customers. With that in mind, “we set out to create simplified, multifunctional products,” says Chief Marketing Officer Amber Olson Rourke. “Our goal was to fill an unmet need, to create products that could do it all.”

To help further distinguish its product offerings, Nerium controls the patents, sourcing and intellectual property for every one of its products. “We don’t launch without total control,” Jeff Olson says. “Every one of our products is the first of its kind on the market. There’s legitimate science behind each of them, and nobody can replicate it.”

The company’s return policy, too, is critical to its culture. While most direct selling companies have a 30-day money-back product guarantee, how flexible will a company be on day 31? If it gets back to a consultant that the company hassled her customer over a return, the consultant, who had been one of your biggest brand advocates, “loses her cadence, her energy and her voice,” Olson says. “You’re buying your Brand Partners’ belief in your return policy. Being a customer-friendly company is one of the biggest gifts you can give your Brand Partners. I don’t want anybody to have inventory they don’t need; it’s that simple. And then I want to give them all the value I can give in every single direction.”

For its global operating system, the company invested $20 million and employed 100 programmers who worked around the clock to build 2 million lines of code so that everybody would be operating on one system.

Take a look at Nerium’s call center staff, and it’s easy to see the company’s “one team” culture. This close-knit group is no coincidence. Nerium has fostered that very sort of environment in an effort to sustain a world-class level of service. New agents are vetted through an intensive training program, and once in their roles, they enjoy working in a place where recognition and celebration of employees’ accomplishments are the norm. Daily briefings on “hot topics” precede each shift to prepare staff as thoroughly as possible. At month-end close, when the staff is logging 14-hour days, the company serves breakfast and dinner. The result? The average wait time during a recent month-end close was 43 seconds. Kudos come in to the call center on a regular basis, and Brand Partners know staff by name. In fact, a Brand Partner recently called to inquire about a staff member’s daughter who had been ill.

“We lead people, not processes,” says Rose Swinford, Senior Director of Customer Service and Support. “It’s so important that morale stays high. The company takes great care of our internal family, so that they can take care of our external family, our Brand Partners.”

Nerium’s Executive Leadership Team: (front row, from left) Jeff Olson, Amber Olson Rourke and Jeff Dahl; (back row, from left) Mark Smith, Tammy Smith, Dennis Windsor, Al Richey, Renee Olson, Jeff Branch, and Roy Truett.

Slow Down… It’s Not a Race

Nerium reached the billion-dollar ceiling in just four years, and while that kind of success may trigger the assumption that the company hit the ground running and moved into as many countries as quickly as possible, nothing could be further from the truth. Ninety-five percent of its $1 billion in sales came from the United States. Only in 2014 did Nerium go international, crossing into Mexico and Canada. A lot was happening behind the scenes, however, while the company held home court, including a $20 million investment in a global infrastructure that would serve as the foundation for all international expansion to come. That “slow down to go fast” philosophy may seem counterintuitive within an industry Olson calls “Type A on steroids.”

The company’s strategic approach to expansion means finding and training the best people long before the doors open. Take, for example, Nerium’s launch in Mexico last year. A country manager spent nine months on staff beforehand, and 40 bilingual customer service representatives spent weeks there before the company’s official opening. “It was a legitimate replication and duplication of everything we’ve done in the United States, and that’s why Mexico’s working so well,” Olson says.

“We lead people, not processes. The company takes great care of our internal family, so that they can take care of our external family, our Brand Partners.”
—Rose Swinford, Senior Director of Customer Service and Support

One Global Rhythm

From the very beginning of any direct selling company, Olson says, corporate must assume the driver’s seat and never be tempted to hand the wheel to the field. “If corporate doesn’t lead,” he says, “then tribes begin to form in the field. You have different ways of sharing the product, different ways of training, a new operating system to learn.” Under the principles of the “Nerium Rhythm,” the company maintains one global infrastructure that promotes a seamless experience for its distributors, regardless of where they happen to be. The construction of that operating system was not only an enormous financial commitment; it required company leaders to slam on the brakes, and “it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, to say we’re not going to do all of those ‘growth’ things—we’re going to sit here and build our platform,” Olson says.

South Korean Brand PartnerBrand Partners in South Korea have enjoyed success since their recent launch.

For its global operating system, the company invested $20 million and employed 100 programmers who worked around the clock to build 2 million lines of code so that everybody would be operating on one system. “It was a very deliberate decision,” Olson says. “We didn’t want dozens of one-off operating systems. We weren’t going to race. And it seems to have worked for us.”

Al Richey, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, says, “Now that we have the foundation of a global platform we can build on it and expand. We have a really good vision of what we want to be when we grow up, knowing what we’ll be in the short , medium and long terms. If we don’t invest now, it’ll hurt the field and the company in the future.”

That patience clearly has been rewarded many times over. In summer 2015, Nerium celebrated its launch in South Korea, and in just four weeks generated $30 million in revenue. How was it possible? The Nerium Rhythm. Olson says,“If we’d gone in with a one-off operating system, we wouldn’t have seen those kinds of numbers. The proof’s in the pudding. Think of it this way: You already have a language and culture barrier. Those barriers are hard enough. Now you want to give them a systems barrier?” He adds that today, “you can go to any country in the world, and   everything is done 99 percent the same way. Our distributors share products the same way and they train the same way.”

The success of Nerium’s duplicable system is largely due to its simplicity. From email campaigns to texting to conference calls, Brand Partners are dialed into the same third-party communications. And there’s no communication overload here; Brand Partners receive an average of one email per week from the company.

Canadian Brand PartnerA Canadian Brand Partner shares her excitement for Nerium.

To facilitate training that’s easily replicated across borders, the company uses third-party tools. The idea is for a consultant to serve as the messenger, not the message. A third-party system encourages consistency and helps the company maintain control of what’s being said about the products and the opportunity. And, from a Brand Partner’s perspective, third-party tools eliminate guesswork and help remove the intimidation factor for rookies. “Put yourself in the position of brand-new consultants,” Olson says. “They already have jobs and families. It’s so easy to assume the business is second-nature to your consultants like it is to you. They’ll quit if the tools aren’t high quality, streamlined and easy to follow. Our tools do the work. Our philosophy is for Brand Partners to drive the system; they don’t have to be the system.”

Chief Field Officer Mark Smith says, “Third-party tools prevent ‘the void’ from happening.” In other words, when a company doesn’t provide a need, the field fills it, and they can do that with a myriad of interpretations. “We come to the field with a prepackaged plan,” Smith says. “That’s great for compliance because you can monitor your consultants’ messaging, but it also helps establish training that’s consistent in the field. How you train them is how they’ll train others.”

“[During growth] you don’t want to overspend, but you want to step into the future before your field does. You never want to disappoint the field and lose your momentum.”
—Al Richey, Chief Operating Officer

The company took particular care with the design and presentation of its consultant starter kit. This robust, yet simple-to-digest introduction to the company delivers the “wow” factor that reaffirms a new consultant’s decision to start his or her Nerium business. The rationale for investing significant resources on the kit was simple: When a company places value on its starter kit, so will its new consultants.

And Nerium is investing in a lot of people. The size of its corporate staff and its philosophy about hiring might surprise some. In 2014, the company nearly doubled the size of its staff. “It was a flurry of activity,” Richey says. In essence, the company has front-loaded employees, maintaining a staff of more than 450, a number Olson estimates is approximately 40 percent higher than the company needs to be at this moment, but most certainly supports its growth trajectory. Nerium isn’t a company focused on the present; it’s preparing for the future. “We were willing to take a lower profit margin to build where we want to be,” Olson says. “From day one, we wanted the infrastructure for a billion-dollar company. You’ve got to act like one to be one.”

Mexican Brand PartnerBrand Partners from Mexico celebrate at Nerium’s Get Real National Conference.

“Some organizations wait until the pain is high and the work is starting to slip,” Richey adds. The company’s leadership team examined its current state versus its desired trajectory, then made the necessary investment to bridge the gap. “You don’t want to overspend, but you want to step into the future before your field does. You never want to disappoint the field and lose your momentum. You’ve got to look at the future and make sure you’re prepared.

“It takes a lot of courage to build a company this way,” he continues. “But here, we’ve had the freedom to do the right thing.”

October 01, 2015

Company Focus

Ruby Ribbon: Blurring the Line between Under- and Over-Wear

by Lin Grensing-Pophal

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 2012
Headquarters: Burlingame, California
Top Executive: Anna Zornosa, Founder and CEO
Products: shapewear and apparel

 Anna Zornosa Anna Zornosa

In 2012, Anna Zornosa had the feeling that existing shapewear options just didn’t cut it. Her first experience with shapewear, she says, was an experience that many women have: It was “very unsatisfactory.” Zornosa determined that shapewear is the kind of product with which the consumer can really benefit from a high degree of personal service. Typically, this kind of attention is beyond what is possible in retail outlets, where women find themselves uncomfortably engaging with strangers in very personal conversations.

Despite the fact that she didn’t have a background in either apparel or direct selling, Zornosa surprised her family and friends when she told them that she was starting a company that would sell apparel in women’s living rooms. While she didn’t have experience running an apparel company, she did have a broad background with some large firms such as Yahoo and Knight Ridder. Zornosa served as vice president with Yahoo and was chief marketing officer for the digital division of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain. She also had experience with The Cobalt Group and Topica Inc., and she served as an adviser to Glam.com, Motista and Chloe + Isabel.

Now Founder and CEO of Ruby Ribbon, Zornosa’s passion for apparel and, particularly, for selling apparel through direct sales, was not only driven by the need for a better product and shopping experience but also to a large degree by her memories of her mother who had been an “Avon lady.”

“My first job was when I was 5 years old and thought I was VP of operations for my mother’s Avon business,” she says. “My job was to put makeup in the bag and help make deliveries to the neighbors.”

In 2011, at a crossroads in her career, she began to notice more and more women carrying around smartphones. “I kept thinking about what my mother’s Avon business would have been like if she had owned a smartphone. I really began to think about how to do direct sales in the age of social media and what the right type of product would be to bring to market through this channel.”

Zornosa began to think, What if we could take a product like this to market with a channel that allowed us to serve the customer very, very personally? To find out, she began inviting friends to come into her home to talk about the concept, and her ideas; it wasn’t long before she was convinced that she had an idea with legs.

Something Different

Ruby Ribbon Inc. announced its launch in May 2012. The launch was supported by $3 million in funding received from Trinity Ventures, a Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm; Patricia Nakache, General Partner at Trinity, assumed a role on the company’s board, along with Zornosa. The company’s mission was clear: “Provide women with apparel that fits their lifestyles while making them look great.” In its May 1 news release to announce its launch, the company noted a similarity to the Spanx and lululemon brands.

But Ruby Ribbon offers something different—something based not only on Zornosa’s own experiences, but also on the insights she continues to glean from women, her customers, whenever and wherever possible. She’s a big believer in the importance of research and took a slow-to-market approach with her company. Her desire in crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” was to ensure that the launch as well as the future of the company’s success would be bolstered by good business principles and sound planning.

Ruby Ribbon

Zornosa immediately leveraged the power of direct sales and e-commerce to connect with customers. Products are sold by a nationwide network of independent distributors, called Stylists, who introduce the products one-on-one in their homes. Stylists are further aided by powerful online e-commerce tools.

“In the age of social media, direct sales, which is all about allowing entrepreneurs to sell through their own networks, is a powerful way to bring new products to market,” said Nakache in a news release announcing the launch of the company. “As companies like Stella & Dot have shown, a company with unique products and a strong brand can build audience more quickly through social commerce than has been possible in the past.”

Companies also can make an impact through a strong social mission, says Zornosa; one of her core criteria in launching a company is the ability to make a positive impact. Another is the ability to help female entrepreneurs. “I had been lucky in my own career as a female entrepreneur, and I realized that a lot of my own personal satisfaction came from helping other women start businesses.”

Ruby Ribbon Stylists have the ability to do just that in highly measurable and meaningful ways, as well as in flexible ways. They can focus as much, or as little, as they’d like on running their businesses, from a sideline-hobby type of endeavor to a full-flung business enterprise.

With experience as a serial entrepreneur, Anna Zornosa, Founder and CEO of Ruby Ribbon, also has a broad background with some very large tech firms, the likes of Yahoo and Knight Ridder, as well as fashion brands Glam.com and Chloe + Isabel.

Buoyed by Investors

Ruby Ribbon has been able to attract venture capital to fuel its growth and has been well-capitalized since its inception, Zornosa says. She was able to personally fund the seed stage because of her participation in other successful startup companies—she was Vice President of Sales for PointCast; CEO of Topica Inc.; and Senior Vice President of Women.com. She then welcomed two Silicon Valley venture firms as key investors: Trinity and Mohr Davidow.

Ruby Ribbon runway show.Founder and CEO Anna Zornosa (far left) spends a moment with Stylists at a Ruby Ribbon runway show.

Katherine Barr is one of those investors. Barr is General Partner with Mohr Davidow in Menlo Park, California; she invested in the Series B round for the company, which she had heard about from Patricia Nakache with Trinity. The investment process, and ultimate decision, is not one made lightly, Barr says. “We tend to go very deep in our due diligence,” she says. In her case, that included some personal exploration of the product. Having just come off a maternity leave with her second child, she didn’t know about shapewear but was curious to try it. It was, she says, “by far the most comfortable and less onerous and easiest to wear of anything I had tried on.” Like Zornosa, she also pointed to the very personal nature of this type of purchase and the need for more privacy and personalization than can typically be achieved in a retail setting. “It’s a very uncomfortable kind of situation, so the product itself is perfect for this kind of go-to-market channel.”

In making investment decisions, Barr says she looks at the market potential as well as the entrepreneur. (In this case, Barr says Zornosa “is a super-impressive entrepreneur—not only with an amazing vision, but able to implement, go to market and inspire a group of Stylists and Stylist Leaders.”) Just as compelling is the marketing strategy, and Barr says the direct sales model “is highly efficient.”

“I had been lucky in my own career as a female entrepreneur, and I realized that a lot of my own personal satisfaction came from helping other women start businesses.”
—Anna Zornosa, Founder and CEO

Additionally, Barr adds that the product will not be switched out each season as is common in the fashion industry. The shapewear and shaping basics lines, Barr notes, “are pretty much evergreen lines; we don’t have to worry about the seasonal issue as much as other companies.” Not only does this make it easy for the Stylists to keep up with the product line, but it also has a big impact on expenses.

The company is doing well, though as a young company, Zornosa says, “We don’t yet reveal revenue.” But she adds, “I will say we tripled revenue between 2013 and 2014, and have consistently beaten our operating plan.”

It’s a big market with a lot of potential, as Zornosa points out: apparel ($166 billion), bras ($6 billion) and shapewear ($1 billion). Despite the potential, though, Zornosa has taken a measured approach to growth.

“There is no other company focused, as Ruby Ribbon is, on the juncture between the essentials that every woman has in her closet and shaping.”
—Anna Zornosa

Measured Success

The company entered the market relatively slowly, she says, taking a bit of a “soft launch” approach and learning from customers and Stylists along the way. “In 2013 we started focusing a little bit more on the development of a national organization, but it wasn’t about growing fast,” she says. “It was about making sure that we had the operations and the infrastructure to support nationwide sales.

“From my research, I came to understand that when direct selling companies start growing, they can pick up pace very, very quickly. My goal in 2013 was to make sure that the infrastructure and operations to support that growth were in place.”

The next year, 2014, was about building the executive team, Zornosa says. It was also a year of building up a leadership structure and leadership capabilities among Ruby Ribbon’s Stylists. “Today we have leaders in place in about 50 markets in the U.S.,” she says, adding that the company is still looking for leaders across the country.

This year, the focus has been on national expansion. “With Xanthie on board, we’re trying to return to that vision of really having a company for the social media age,” Zornosa says. “We’re bringing a little bit more technology into play, and we’re really now getting to the point where we’re starting to spread our wings, pick up the pace and really take off.”

Xanthie Drankus is the Senior Director of Marketing for Ruby Ribbon. “Social selling is really, really powerful in this day and age, primarily because everybody is so mobile,” Drankus says. “That’s very exciting because it means you’re not tied to a desk, which, for our Stylists, is very powerful.” It means that Stylists can be going about the business of their day—whether that’s working at another job, taking children to appointments or wherever their days may take them—while still having the ability to engage with their Ruby Ribbon business and customers.

Ruby Ribbon supports Stylists through a “powerful platform of sharable assets” that allow them to have ready access to information that is on brand and available to be shared with new and potential clients. “It just takes seconds to have a beautiful, branded message you can use,” Drankus says.

Earlier this year, Ruby Ribbon was recognized in Inc. magazine’s “7 Startups That Are Radically Altering the Apparel Industry.”

That technology will continue to be developed, Zornosa says. “Our vision for the future is one where every woman can have our curriculum available to her via her mobile phone and broken into pieces, so if she’s sitting outside of a dance studio she can take a three-minute module, and then the next time she has five minutes she can start up where she left off.” A beta program, called Connect, has already been created on a mobile platform that allows Stylists to complete tasks on iPhones. “Our hope, in the next year, is actually to roll that out to the full Stylist base,” Zornosa says. As of the end of July 2015, that base consists of more than 1,000 Stylists, and about 20 corporate employees round out the Ruby Ribbon team.

The company’s success has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, Ruby Ribbon was recognized in Inc. magazine’s “7 Startups That Are Radically Altering the Apparel Industry.” Ruby Ribbon also has been covered in Woman’s Day, Women’s Wear Daily and The Wall Street Journal.

A Stylist demonstrates the functionality of Ruby Ribbon apparel during a trunk show.

An Emphasis on Training

Ruby Ribbon Stylists don’t just sell at pop-up retail events in spas, homes and offices—they also do personal styling appointments and virtual events, says Zornosa. Because of this, she says training is very important. “It just takes a 20-minute session or video to teach our Stylists how to fit our award-winning shapewear, but also they can, if they choose, learn how to do personal styling, how to create a ‘cami challenge,’ or how to work with fundraisers, she says. “Training particular to our product line is very important as is training about the basics of running a successful business: managing time, mentoring women, creating sales.”

In the back office both written and multi-media tools offer training on essential skills. “We offer three to four ‘love workshops’ per month,” says Zornosa who adds that technology has been a big support of all of the training provided.

“Because of our strong financing, we were able to invest up front in best-in-class training materials rather than bootstrap the investment gradually,” notes Zarnosa. “Many of our investors’ other portfolio companies also had experience in creating multi-media training, and they brought us the benefit of that experience.”

Training helps to support Stylists’ success. They earn between 20 and 40 percent of their sales through commissions; those who build a team can earn an additional 3 to 10 percent on the sales of the women they mentor, says Zornosa. While most Stylists come to the company through referrals from other Stylists, Ruby Ribbon also uses digital advertising through Facebook and other sites to attract Stylists.

Innovating to Meet Women’s Unique Needs

Innovation in women’s shapewear has been a core driver of Ruby Ribbon’s success. As she continued to listen to the input of women about their experiences, likes, dislikes and needs when it came to foundation wear, Zornosa came up with an idea that launched an entirely new product category, which included the shapewear within the design of the clothing, not just as a separate piece worn underneath. She says, “There is no other company focused, as Ruby Ribbon is, on the juncture between the essentials that every woman has in her closet and shaping. A very important part of our product line is to bring shaping to tops, skirts, dresses and pants; we are the only company creating a full product line with shaping built into the design.”

One of the company’s flagship products is a camisole that can replace a woman’s bra, providing support while also providing shaping in a garment that can be worn under other garments or alone.

At their recent Runway conference, Zornosa says, “We embraced a big goal—the ‘Million Woman Cami Challenge.’ Our Stylists are now offering a challenge to women across the United States: Try our product for a day, without a bra. Each Stylist is offering all of the women in her circle the chance for trial.” It’s a new campaign, but Zornosa says, “The results have already been astounding.” In some cases, these others are in areas without Stylists, as she had been. Not only does the cami challenge allow them an opportunity to try the product but it’s also a potential opportunity for them to launch their own business or to make a referral to someone else.

“[Zornosa] is a super-impressive entrepreneur, not only with an amazing vision, but able to implement, go to market and inspire a group of Stylists and Stylist Leaders.”
—Katherine Barr, General Partner, Mohn Davidow

Despite the fact that Ruby Ribbon operates in a very competitive industry, Zornosa says she’s not too concerned about competitors. “There are patents associated with our foundation-wear products that will give us a lot of protection from competitors,” she says. “With the shaping essentials products, what we have found is that this is simply not easy to do.”

It’s a model that Zornosa, her investors, Stylists and staff believe is built to last. “Strong financing from the beginning allowed me to build a ‘made to last’ company from the onset,” says Zornosa. “My investors are also board members and trusted advisors.” The introductions and other support she has received has been invaluable. There are, she says, no downsides to these relationships. According to WFDSA’s Global Sales by Product Category 2014 Report, sales of clothing and accessories, including shapewear, via direct selling is on the rise globally, with the most significant growth occurring in Belgium (44 percent), Luxembourg (30 percent), Colombia (27 percent), Bolivia (25 percent) and Peru (22 percent). Ruby Ribbon is poised to meet that global demand with manufacturing plants in the United States, Nicaragua, India and China.

October 01, 2015

Top Desk

Evolving Your Brand for the Future

by Connie Tang

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

We all know that exercising, managing stress and controlling our diet can help us to slow down the aging process, but what do you do about an aging brand?

It’s a question every company that stands the test of time is going to face: How can your brand stay fresh when it’s been around for half a century? We’ve all seen companies manage to keep their brand thriving for that long and longer (think Coke, General Electric and Ford). And we’ve seen others that simply couldn’t pull it off, like Tower Records, Pan Am and Blockbuster.

So what makes brand longevity happen, and what can you do about it? The answer can be summed up in one word: relevance. Brands are meaningful to stakeholders such as consumers (and in our industry, to the independent business owners who fuel our growth) when they are relevant to the lives those stakeholders lead. Your brand has to be worthwhile for them to engage with, or they will simply disengage. And for that to happen, you have to understand your market, day to day; you have to be able to perceive and interpret the shifts and changes that naturally occur, and you have to be able to respond to them.

Longstanding successful brands are good at anticipating consumer trends and needs. They’re also rich in traditions, and traditions can be wonderful things. But they also can be double-edged: It’s a finer line than you might think between a brand that feels secure, reliable and trustworthy and a brand that feels old-fashioned, outdated and irrelevant. In business, as in life, nothing stands still, and if you’re not moving forward, you’re going backward. To remain relevant to their current stakeholders, and attract new ones, mature brands have to update themselves. This is what some companies call “disruptive marketing,” a self-reinvention that matches the company to the here-and-now demands of its market. That can be tricky, because you have to respond to an ever-changing business climate and environment, while minimizing business interruption.

To remain relevant to their current stakeholders, and attract new ones, mature brands have to update themselves.

Change can be hard for people, and making significant changes to a company in the midst of its day-to-day operations can be like changing a tire on a moving car. Even when you know you have to do it, and you know the results will be great, you also know there’s going to be pain—maybe a lot of it. What can you do to minimize that pain?

The answer is really in how you make change happen. It’s about moving forward to a new state of business through evolution, not revolution. That doesn’t necessarily mean taking everything at a very slow pace. You’re not trying to make change so gradual that no one sees it. Change can be exciting and refreshing as easily as it can be shocking and frightening. Changing through evolution is about moving at the right speed for your business. How do you determine that speed? You focus on the things that need to be done. You prioritize. You move forward, making sure your key stakeholders know they are part of the process. You do what you can to minimize the shock and maximize the excitement, and you celebrate your successes along the way.

In other words, successful evolutionary change is rooted in strategy. And good, sound strategy is based on data and analysis; it contains a vision for the future, but it’s about the real world today. Having a clear and well-articulated strategy provides the perfect platform for steady, evolutionary growth. It enables you to focus the business on the future and to be transparent about your goals and objectives. This transparency helps to minimize fear within the organization and helps you to get buy-in from important stakeholders such as your board of directors, employees and IBOs. Plus, having a good strategy in place helps you to see where you’re going in the long term, which can make day-to-day decisions easier, and it enables you to see and fill gaps in your organization. Change is inevitable; with a good strategy you make it happen, rather than letting it happen to you. And a strategy enables you to see something very important: what success looks like.

When I arrived at Princess House in 2012, I found a stable, solid business going on 50 years old. The company had a lot going for it, and a few challenges. The most significant challenge was the brand itself: Although it had strong equity with its stakeholders, in the larger public it was mostly unknown. Those who knew the name associated it with the decorative crystal products that have been absent from the company’s product offerings for more than a decade. Many I spoke to who remembered hearing of Princess House in the past were surprised to learn the company was still around!

So in terms of branding, and bringing the company forward from its roots in the past, we had our work cut out for us. We started by examining what our brand stood for, and what that meant for recruiting and customer acquisition. We discovered that Princess House is about the warmth and comfort of the home, about enjoying life with friends and family. We’re also about diversity because our products are entirely at home in any kind of kitchen or dining room and our independent Consultant Opportunity is designed for anyone, regardless of their education or experience or even the language they speak.

Successful evolutionary change is rooted in strategy. And good, sound strategy is based on data and analysis; it contains a vision for the future, but it’s about the real world today.

Our analysis led to a comprehensive rebranding effort that successfully translates that warmth into a look, feel and tone that are in harmony with our tagline, “Share the Love.” It’s a brand that connects with our field, our customers and our hostesses. It has a contemporary, forward-looking feel while “winking” at our heritage. And it has a new, younger energy, something that we envision in the Princess House Consultant of the future.

Rebranding was the most outwardly visible sign of the evolutionary change Princess House is undergoing, but there’s much more happening behind the scenes. We’ve transitioned to a new leadership team internally, a team with a clear vision to bring new life to our business and the experience and expertise to execute action plans based on our analysis and strategy and built with milestones to measure success.

At the same time, we’re updating our infrastructure and processes and adding systems to support our growth. We’re transitioning to a back-end IT engine that will not only catch us up to where the company should be but also will be scalable for the future. We’ve expanded our logistical capabilities by adding West Coast distribution to serve our most active market region and balance service levels across the country.

Product is another area where we’re innovating. Princess House products have a reputation for quality and beautiful styling, and that’s something we cherish. We have to live up to that reputation and leverage it with each product introduction, especially as we continually evaluate our existing line and develop new products to attract new demographics and geographies.

Evolving a brand and a business is not something that has a fixed end-point: It’s an ongoing process.

We’re focusing as we never have before on public relations and media coverage, to get the Princess House story out to the millions who still don’t know about us. We are a company that is now 53 years old and yet our brand awareness is relatively low. We see this as an opportunity with the potential to have literally millions of consumers fall in love with Princess House products and our opportunity, once they hear about it!

Evolving a brand and a business is not something that has a fixed end-point: It’s an ongoing process. As the process continues, we’re living our brand every day. Part of our rebranding effort included a completely new, updated look to our home office, featuring our brand colors and iconography. As soon as our employees log on to their computers every day, they see our intranet site, PH Connection, which is fully branded and designed to engage everyone with industry news and company happenings, even announcements of birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate. In 2014, we brought the brand to life for our field by bringing back an annual National Convention after a 10-year hiatus, and it’s served to breathe renewed life and vigor into our Consultants and Leaders. And we’re investing in technologies to make it easier for our Field to connect with us seamlessly through their computers, their tablets and their smartphones.

Evolution doesn’t stop, and if it does, so does the business. To be successful, Princess House—or any business—needs to understand the world it exists in and adapt to it. In a changing business landscape, with fast-moving trends and shifting demographics, Princess House is committed to remaining contemporary, agile, diverse and relevant, while staying true to who we are and “Sharing the Love” for generations to come.

Connie TangConnie Tang is President and CEO of Princess House Inc.

October 01, 2015

Stock Watch

Stock Watch, October 2015

October 01, 2015

DSA News

A Busy Fall at DSA

by Joseph N. Mariano

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Last month, the Direct Selling Association (DSA) launched an important new collaboration with our members to share insights on the modifications to our Code of Ethics that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and best practices in key areas of business ethics. The campaign was introduced with an hour-long webinar for direct selling executives featuring DSA staff, the Chairwoman of our Ethics & Self-Regulation Committee and the Code of Ethics Administrator. Over time, this effort will provide resources to member companies for use directly with members of their salesforce, as well as customers.

While continuing to provide resources to members on ethics will always be mission critical, we also have continued to focus on building support for the channel among policymakers. DSA was excited to host an important event here in Washington: U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marc Veasey (D-TX) launched a new Direct Selling Caucus in Congress, with the support of approximately 30 other members from around the country. This bipartisan forum will help the association continue to demonstrate that millions of independent entrepreneurs involved in direct selling matter, by discussing issues and ideas relevant to the channel and its continued success.

Direct selling benefits not only sellers themselves, and their families, but also the economic output of America in every state, congressional district and community. As policymakers, opinion elites and the media continue to scrutinize independent work and what the nature of the changing workplace should mean for workers, the caucus will emphasize the many ways in which direct selling, one of the oldest ways to work independently, continues to demonstrate value.

Now that the final quarter of 2015 is upon us, we’re continuing to build upon our momentum from September. I am excited to share with DSA members and the direct selling community details about this fall’s opportunities and events that, like the Direct Selling Caucus, help show the value of the channel and educate stakeholders on key issues.

On Oct. 14 and 15 in Washington, D.C., our Global Strategies Summit promises DSA members and the broader direct selling community a chance to learn from regulators and industry experts about business opportunities and challenges both at home and abroad. The summit will begin with a special session hosted by the Canadian DSA to discuss the market for direct selling north of the border.

Additionally, attendees will gain the perspectives of Lois Greisman of the Federal Trade Commission and Bobby Hunt of the Internal Revenue Service, who are both scheduled to speak. There will be sessions devoted to international, tax and legal subjects. Each presentation contains valuable insights that can help guide business decisions, such as market entry, expansion, salesforce development and tax policy.

Later this month, hundreds of independent salespeople and executives from DSA member companies will descend upon Washington, D.C., during our third annual Direct Selling Day Capitol Hill event on Oct. 28 and 29. This year’s event is packed with opportunities for direct sellers to engage with policymakers, including a speaking program featuring members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate; a Direct Selling Marketplace, an educational demonstration of products and services; and congressional meetings to explain how the opportunity to work independently adds value and impacts direct sellers’ lives.

DSA is dedicated to supporting our members by providing education on opportunities to engage their salesforce. On Dec. 9-11, DSA’s Sales and Marketing Conference: Focus on the Field will provide executives with resources on salesforce development, communications, marketing, field training and social media. The event includes a critical SmartStart Seminar for new and growing direct selling companies. The seminar brings together industry experts to guide company executives on how to build a corporate team, structure operations, develop a company culture and grow in the ever-changing direct selling industry. The conference provides executives with information on new techniques and best practices for reaching today’s consumers.

DSA is excited for the eventful months ahead. More information about DSA meetings and events is available at www.dsa.org.

Joseph N. MarianoJoseph N. Mariano is President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association.

October 01, 2015

Publisher's Note

Core Companies Offer Look at the Future

by Lauren Lawley Head

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

By some estimates, there are a few thousand companies in the United States that distribute their products or services through direct selling. The very largest of these have built robust organizations with a track record of exceeding $1 billion in annual sales. On the other end of the spectrum rests the vast majority of companies, which are relatively small operations. But somewhere around the upper end of the middle market we’ve found a group of companies doing something extraordinary: shaping the future of the channel.

This group, which includes several companies that likely have recently crossed the $1 billion mark in annual sales, has taken the traditional elements of direct selling and combined them with the latest in technology, customer service and workforce culture. The result is a level of innovation that will reach direct selling companies of all sizes. They embrace e-commerce and social selling but remain committed to personal connection and high-touch customer service. They offer loyalty and reward programs to customers, but they also nurture their distributor force with free or low-cost business tools and streamlined payment systems that work for today’s busy, part-time entrepreneur. Many of them are growing quite fast, but they don’t take momentum for granted.

As part of our package on the future, we asked direct selling leadership expert John Addison to offer his advice for company executives. He honed in on the way companies approach momentum as key. (See story, page 24) “Momentum doesn’t perform like an arrow ascending on a chart,” said Addison, who most recently served as Co-CEO of Primerica Inc. before founding Addison Leadership Group. “Momentum comes in waves, and it can’t be maintained. In other words, you have to build your activity to match the momentum.”

Our research also found that the successful direct selling companies of tomorrow must be laser-focused on selling great products and services to customers and fiercely protective of the brand that results. At the same time, with consumer trends moving as quickly as they do, savvy executives know when it’s time to make a shift in brand strategy. To help navigate that line, we invited Princess House Inc. President and CEO Connie Tang to share her expertise. In her column starting on page 30, Tang doesn’t hold back on how difficult this can be. “Change can be hard for people,” she acknowledges, “and making significant changes to a company in the midst of its day-to-day operations can be like changing a tire on a moving car.”

No discussion of the future of direct selling in the United States would be complete without examining the Federal Trade Commission’s recent action against one of the country’s largest companies utilizing the channel: Arizona-based Vemma Nutrition Co. The Special Report beginning on page 61 will take you inside the FTC’s more-than-year-long investigation into Vemma and how, without warning, the government was able to shut down the global operations of a $200 million company with more than 100 employees. At press time, Vemma’s management team had regained partial control of the company and the case was proceeding through the legal process. While we won’t know the full ramifications of this case until a final ruling is in place, it is already clear that FTC v. Vemma is triggering more self-examination than the channel has seen in many years.

At its best, direct selling offers an outstanding channel through which a company can market consumer products and services as well as flexible paths to entrepreneurship with a low cost of entry for people from all walks of life. At no time does direct selling offer a guarantee of easy money—for the companies that use the model or for the people who pursue its business opportunities. Companies that use this channel must be sharply focused on selling to customers outside their compensation plan, and they must remain dedicated to serving as good stewards of their entrepreneurship opportunities. If self-examination elevates the level of performance, we will have wins on three fronts: a win for customers, a win for distributors and a win for companies.

The team at Direct Selling News is committed to providing executives with research and reporting that supports their quest for sustained success. If there are ways in which we can support you in your work, please let us know. Direct selling has a rich history, and by working together, the community can have an even more vibrant future.

All the best,
Lauren Lawley Head
Publisher and Editor in Chief

October 01, 2015

New Perspectives

The Customer of Tomorrow

by DSN Staff

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Direct selling as a channel of distribution has a rich history, one that some consider to track back thousands of years to the earliest days of human trading. Whether you subscribe to that long view or to a more modern starting point, direct selling has always offered an opportunity for customers to make purchases from individual sales people who provide personal and hospitable services. Selling quality products and providing good customer service have always been the foundation to successful direct selling.

As we now look to define and predict the future of direct selling, we find ourselves wondering how the customer might change along with evolving expectations, habits and preferences. In fact, the very definition of “the customer” within the confines of the direct selling model has evolved over time. Companies have previously emphasized the consultant as their “primary” customer, with the ultimate customer being the responsibility of the consultant. Strictly speaking—and apart from any wrongdoing by bad actors or regulatory scrutiny—this definition worked fairly well, since many companies sold products directly and only to the consultant, who then sold them to their customers, and the price differential represented their profit.

The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) estimates that worldwide approximately 100 million independent direct sellers account for $182.8 billion in revenue. The industry has experienced more and more success and continues to outpace retail sales in its growth rate. Though the exact number may be unknown, some suggest there are well over 1,000 companies using a direct selling model of distribution in the U.S. alone. Of these, it has been estimated that 96 percent of them now utilize a multi-level compensation plan, which is also associated with over 95 percent of all of the sales revenue. Historically, it has been sometimes difficult to distinguish what the general public calls “actual customers” from those individuals who have signed up for a direct selling opportunity in order to take advantage of reduced pricing for themselves. 

Within the industry, it has always been understood that some individuals desire to sign up as a consultant, not with intent to start a business but as a way to acquire products or services at a discount. Outside the industry, however, this practice has become problematic due to the general public’s lack of understanding of how the model works. Discussions about this issue, including the most recent very public ones, have spurred many companies to develop preferred customer programs instead of encouraging sign ups into the compensation plan. In order to ensure compliance with regulatory expectations, many companies are now drawing a greater distinction between business builders—those with intent to start a business—and customers who simply desire a greater discount.

Technology and the Customer

The Internet’s ability to reach the customer on the consultant’s behalf has allowed more and more companies to connect with customers without alienating the consultant. These companies now can throw a wider net to include the “final” customer as an additional part of their strategies, tracking purchase history and other preferences in order to aid the consultant to take a more targeted approach down to the per customer level.

Technology also gives companies an opportunity to understand their customers more than at any time in direct selling history. While the model remains focused on personal interaction between an independent consultant and his or her customer, an increasing number of the transactions are handled digitally. This opens up the door for rich data analysis of customer preferences and behavior, while also maintaining and protecting the independent contractor’s personal connection to their customers.

The customer of tomorrow also is likely to be more familiar with the distribution channel than ever before, as direct selling continues to gain ground in the U.S. The U.S. Direct Selling Association (U.S. DSA) estimates that the number of people involved in direct selling reached 18.2 million in 2014, up from 16.8 million in 2013. Retail sales reached $34.5 billion, a 5.5 percent increase from 2013.

Customer Preferences

While the fundamentals of the business model remain the same, direct selling continues to evolve along with the habits and preferences of the customer base. This shift is evident in the U.S. DSA’s Growth & Outlook Report, which tracks a steady decline in purchases of home and family care products, clothing, and accessories from 2012 to 2014, while purchases of wellness products and services increased.

We also can take clues from those companies in the U.S. that grew over $100 million in 2014. As published in DSN’s June 2015 issue, there were a total of 16 global companies that achieved this milestone. The 11 U.S. companies on the list included the following categories: cosmetics and personal care, energy, health and wellness, telecommunications, and leisure travel.


  • Mary Kay $400 million
  • Ambit Energy $300 million
  • Isagenix $277 million
  • Herbalife $200 million
  • Team Beachbody $190 million
  • Nerium $184 million
  • Jeunesse $162 million
  • WorldVentures $157 million
  • Plexus $150 million
  • Rodan + Fields $134 million
  • ACN $127 million

Globally, the WFDSA states in their 2015 Global Sales by Product Category Report that cosmetics and personal care account for 34 percent of the global $150 billion in sales. Health and wellness account for 29 percent, putting these two categories far out in front of everything else at a combined 63 percent, representing $94.5 billion.

The Future

It remains clear that individuals enjoy purchasing products and services from people they know and trust—people involved in direct selling as independent contractors. According to the 2014 DSN Harris Poll surveying customers, of those who made a purchase in the previous six months 87 percent experienced some level of enjoyment from the buying experience and over 69 percent were very or extremely satisfied with their consultant. The customers surveyed also fell in line with the global percentages of product categories, with the largest two categories being in cosmetics and personal care and health and wellness, which, combined, total 28 percent of purchases.

We see a bright future for direct selling for many reasons. The conversations about the Shared Economy and New Economy, which some predict will see independent contractor status rise to as high as 40 percent, will serve the future of direct selling well. With such opportunity will come, we believe, a need for more transparency relative to objectives and behaviors. Direct selling companies will be expected to demonstrate through behavior and data that their companies are good stewards of a strong industry code of ethics, whether they’re a DSA member company or not.

October 01, 2015

New Perspectives

Building Momentum with John Addison

by John Addison

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Direct selling is a momentum business, primarily because it grows through the enthusiasm and commitment of its volunteer armies. An uptick in growth in the sales organization, a new product or even a shift in focus can often spark excitement throughout the salesforce, creating momentum. So what can help the industry’s C-level executives make creating waves of momentum “priority one”; and what can help them steady on through when reaching a plateau? It can be done with three strong leadership traits and three key strategies.

The Balancing Act Trait

The first leadership trait for building momentum for success is optimistic realism. That sounds like a condition resulting from having a type of multiple personality disorder, but it’s actually a balance that creates exceptional success. A lack of balance would be having great growth for a couple of months, and then projecting that trend for the next three years. It always amazes me when people draw a chart with constant growth. That doesn’t happen. But if you’re not at least leaning strongly toward being optimistic, you really don’t have any business being in this business.

Direct selling’s top leaders have a tendency to expect the best out of their companies, products and people. But they’re also realistic enough to know that to stop downward momentum during crises you need to be able to think fast on your feet and be willing to take a close, hard look at difficult situations, as well as connect with players on every level so that you aren’t just hearing what those closest to you think you want to hear. Being optimistically realistic keeps your company afloat when national media is portraying your company as predatory, your products as dangerous and your field as something less than intelligent, enthusiastic entrepreneurs. So, dream and plan for everything to go great, but cultivate a mindset that can shift quickly so you’re prepared when things aren’t going great.

Out-of-the-Box Trait

Creativity is the second key trait, and it’s often overlooked as being crucial to good leadership. By creativity, I don’t mean you have an eye for design, are able to take great photographs or that you would rather attend the ballet than watch a football game. Creativity is seeing the world differently than most people. Perhaps being just slightly off-center from the norm. Everyone else sees a huge warehouse in the middle of nowhere, but you see that it’s affordable and close to a major airport, and that you can design the interior to suit not only today’s needs, but those during future growth. That’s creative.

If you’re worried that you’re not creative, or not creative enough, simply make sure you have a few people on your executive team who are and that you’re able to recognize their creativity. Choose those who are bold enough to voice their thoughts, and then purposefully seek out their opinions. They’re going to come up with some ideas that won’t work logistically, but so are the executive team members who aren’t creative.

The High-Touch Trait

Direct selling is a people business. There’s simply no way to create sustainable success in this industry without being a “people” person. This doesn’t just apply to the field. You and your leaders, and for that matter anyone who has any connection with your salesforce, should enjoy interacting with people. Because while the world is clearly changing—including the way products evolve, companies function and technology gets ever more technical—people don’t change.

As a leader, you’ve got to understand that you are in charge of building a movement.
—John Addison

Direct sales utilizes the conveniences of high tech, because it’s an efficient method of commerce. But our industry’s successful momentum will always be built on people sharing products and ideas with other people. What’s great about that is that people are consistent. They have common motivators, such as a desire for a better life for their families, as well as more time to spend doing the things they enjoy doing.

As a leader, you’ve got to understand that you are in charge of building a movement. People are attracted to a movement, not the business institution, no matter how inspiring its mission statement. You, as a leader, must be inspirational. You must be able to light a fire within (not under) people. What you say and do has to inspire large numbers of people to go out and talk to others about your business. You’ve got to be a leader who causes people to take action. They will take action when they trust you because you:

  • Create both an aspirational and inspirational environment (personal development is key here), and
  • Prioritize the salesforce members by focusing on earnings per chair over earnings per share.

By balancing optimism and realism, being creative, and building an inspiring movement, your leadership attracts a volume of people to your company, which, in turn, increases the number of the type of leaders you want to attract. These leaders are key to building momentum.

Of course, great leaders have strong strategies to build momentum.

Strategy 1: Hit the Accelerator

When things are going your way and momentum is building, boldly hit the accelerator. That doesn’t mean sling a slew of good ideas on the wall and see what sticks. You need healthy growth, not just growth that is full of sound and fury. So optimize what is working, and don’t radically change what you’re doing. If a hero product is creating the stir, don’t introduce another product line and dilute the momentum. I do have a word of caution here, when preparing to hit the accelerator: Don’t out-think yourself. Overanalyzing, corporately, is exactly what it leads to in the field: paralysis by analysis.

When momentum is in your favor, you need to:

  • Build healthy momentum on that momentum,
  • Make the growth as sustainable as it can be,
  • Dream and plan for everything to go great (but prepare for things to not go great), and
  • As you spend your money, prepare for when momentum doesn’t go your way (don’t let your expenses grow faster than revenue).

Strategy 2: Understand Momentum

There is nothing more magical in this business than momentum. But momentum doesn’t perform like an arrow ascending on a chart. Momentum comes in waves, and it can’t be maintained. In other words, you have to build your activity to match the momentum. This can mean implementing more recognition, or perhaps building on the success of a hero product. To “let it ride” is to actually force momentum to dwindle. You never maintain momentum. When you go into a maintenance mode, the only way you can coast is downhill.

Direct sales is all about momentum. The magic is that it can grow very rapidly. The downside is when momentum turns it can begin to spiral downwards just as rapidly. When you lose a key distributor or you have a product issue the leverage can go alarmingly against you.

For example, your executive team may plan to create momentum with a great idea (a contest, incentive, etc.), but none of it seems to work. You’ll feel frustrated because nothing seems to take hold. So when you experience a lack of momentum:

  • Invest in your business, and
  • Fight like crazy to get momentum.

When an idea does finally click, and you have the trifecta of a good product, good people and a good business plan, momentum will begin to turn in your favor.

Strategy 3: Keep Perspective

One of the lessons I learned while sharing the helm of Primerica is that you never are as bad as you think you are when things aren’t going your way. Conversely, you are never as good as you think you are when everything is going great.

Creating and building momentum can be a very frustrating process. One of the frustrations is the Law of Attribution: It’s hard to tell which thing you did that triggered the momentum. Usually it’s not a single thing, but rather pieces of a bunch of things that you’re doing.

There were times, when sales were up and recruiting was through the roof, that I thought we were the biggest geniuses that ever ran a financial services company. Then there were times, when we lost products and people and momentum was on a downward trend, that I felt like I was the biggest idiot that ever walked the planet. During those times, it seemed like everything I tried failed. I would spend money, invest time and create programs only to have things go down faster; a frenzied, downward momentum spiral.

The Lesson

Finally I had the takeaway. There really isn’t a predictable formula that will work consistently. I have summed it up for my people like this, and now I share it with you: “Our business is an ORGANISM more than an organization. It is a living, breathing entity. Therefore, it’s predictable in some ways but also has lots of unpredictability. You have to live on the tightrope of that dichotomy.”

When you’ve lost momentum, or it has taken a downward spiral, don’t give up. Just keep forging ahead, on a course that has the three key factors of a solid and consistent plan, a good product, and good people. With these factors, the tide will turn and you will begin to build good momentum again.

In direct sales, you’re either growing or you’re shrinking. The one thing you won’t do is stay the same. A large part of the job is constantly managing the ebbs and flows of momentum.

John AddisonJohn Addison, President and CEO of Addison Leadership Group, engages and inspires audiences with his relatable leadership message. Most recently, he served as Co-CEO of Primerica Inc., a company he joined more than 35 years ago.

October 01, 2015

Working Smart

Adapt or Die

by Brent Warrington

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Uber, Airbnb, Lyft. They’re certified unicorns in the tech industry, boasting billion-dollar valuations, ongoing press coverage and constant consumer attention. High-profile poster children of the on-demand economy, these startups have achieved massive success not by inventing new products or service categories but by disrupting accepted business models through innovative applications and improved infrastructure. From transportation to hospitality, food service to retail, ubiquitous communications and enhanced connectivity have empowered a “new” segment of flexible, independent workers. But is this modern workforce really a unique result of the on-demand economy?

On-demand platforms offer individuals the opportunity to forgo traditional employment and pursue a more independent career path, a concept that the direct selling industry pioneered years ago. Like the on-demand economy, direct selling attracts millions of distributors by offering them independence, flexibility and control of career path, all from within the protected ecosystem of a parent company.

And, like on-demand platforms, direct sales companies have been killing it in regard to revenue. According to the U.S. Direct Selling Association, more than 18 million workers generated roughly $34.5 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2014. (For some perspective, Uber will reportedly hit an annual run rate of $10 billion by the end of 2015; Amway, the nation’s largest direct selling organization, reported sales of $10.8 billion worldwide in 2014.)

The freelance worker model is nothing new; for decades, employers have leveraged independent and contract workers to expand their labor forces. So why the sudden spike in interest? And more important, how can direct selling organizations make the most of this renewed attention to independent employment to boost their sales teams? To answer that, we need to take a deeper look at the generation driving this movement.

Millennials and the Evolution of Work

Contractors now make up 34 percent—roughly 53 million people—of the U.S. workforce, according to a 2014 survey by Edelman Berland. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that millennials (workers between the ages of 21 and 33) make up roughly 44 percent of this on-demand workforce (source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers 2015 Internet Trends Report). And unlike previous generations, who were motivated almost entirely by stock options and upward mobility, millennials are increasingly focused on finding gigs that enable them to feel fulfilled not just financially but also on a personal level. The 2015 1099 Economy Workforce Report from Requests for Startups found that 75 percent of survey participants selected “greater schedule flexibility” as the most popular reason for taking on an independent worker role, ahead of the opportunity to pursue higher pay options (46 percent). Following close behind was respondents’ desire to get greater enjoyment from their work (36.1 percent).

Ubiquitous communications and enhanced connectivity have empowered a “new” segment of flexible, independent workers.

Understanding these motivations is crucial for companies that rely on a contract workforce; luckily, adapting to these subtle shifts in self-employment shouldn’t be hard for direct selling organizations. For generations, direct selling companies have provided their workers with the opportunity to control their career path. However, in order to remain successful, the next generation of contractor-driven companies (both in the direct selling industry and burgeoning tech scene) will need to provide more than just access to independence; they’ll need to ensure that their distributors are equipped with the tools necessary to achieve long-term success and financial freedom.

Contractors now make up 34 percent—roughly 53 million people—of the U.S. workforce, according to a 2014 survey by Edelman Berland.

What Earnings Mean in the New Economy

Let’s rewind for a second and think back to the three main motivators driving today’s independent workforce: financial independence, work-life flexibility, and the pursuit of personally and professionally meaningful work. There’s a common thread that ties these three factors together. It’s not a fancy mobile app (although connectivity is becoming increasingly important), nor is it a complex digital marketing strategy to up retention rates. It’s earnings. Earnings are what enables your distributors to achieve financial independence, what ensures that they have the security to live a more balanced life, and what helps them give back to their community.

Want to keep your workers’ interest in your company? Focus on making sure your commission payout chain is executed in a manner that’s not just fast and secure but also clearly enables your workforce to achieve their goals.

After-Sale Support… for Your Worker

The next generation of direct selling companies will do more than simply support their workers’ sales efforts; they’ll help them handle all aspects of running their business, before, during and after the commission checks have been written and cashed. The following are three areas where your organization can step up and improve distributor support right now:

1. Money Management

According to the 2015 1099 Economy Workforce Report, contract workers are struggling to handle the financial and legal complications of running their own enterprises. Common pain points include tracking income and expenses, understanding tax or legal obligations and tracking hours worked. Furthermore, workers are turning to third-party applications in order to find relief. For example, 64.9 percent of those surveyed in the 1099 Economy Workforce Report noted that they use tools to help with income and expense tracking, while another 44.2 percent use apps to assist with time tracking.

Solution: Provide your distributors with a commission payments platform that offers multiple financial services. Give your distributors access to tools that will help them determine future earnings, monitor spending habits and sell smarter.

2. Trackable Commission Data

Earnings access isn’t just important to your distributors, it’s absolutely critical. According to the Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers Internet Trends 2015 report, a lack of predictable income is one of the biggest challenges facing independent workers.

Your distributors, just like all workers, need fast, reliable access to their earnings. In a standard employer/employee payment transaction, employees are paid on a regular schedule. What’s more, most employees are paid by direct deposit, so funds automatically appear in a bank account every two weeks. As an employee, you’re not expected to do anything to ensure your payment is made, in full, on time, every time… other than your job duties, of course.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a corresponding solution for contract workers. Direct selling organizations with global operations are often challenged to provide a similarly seamless commission payment experience across various borders and in multiple currencies. Unfortunately, no such solution exists. As a result, there isn’t always visibility into the earnings transfer path from direct selling organization to direct seller.

Solution: Solve transfer turmoil with trackable cross-border commission payouts. This makes it easy to pinpoint delivery dates for a number of payout methods. This technology also can take into account national and international bank holidays, payment network cutoffs in various countries, and delivery service-level agreements.

The next generation of contractor-driven companies will need to ensure that their distributors are equipped with the tools necessary to achieve long-term success and financial freedom.

3. Dedicated Distributor Support

Distributors trust your company to pay them quickly, efficiently and fairly for their services. Maintaining this trust relationship between your worker and your organization is paramount. The next generation of direct selling organizations will have robust worker support infrastructure in place to ensure fast and knowledgeable support.

Solution: Ease anxieties around payouts with fast-acting, reliable worker-facing support. Look to maintain a support service department and contact center that’s fully staffed with multilingual help desk specialists. This first-line support goes to great lengths to understand your business and provide service quality.

The very nature of work is evolving. By 2040, the job market will consist of contract opportunities, portfolio careers and a wide range of entrepreneurial pursuits. Luckily, direct selling organizations are perfectly poised to take advantage of this workforce shift and provide their distributors with the tools they need to achieve long-term, independent success.

Adapt or die. Start preparing for the future of direct selling today.

Brend Warrington
Brent Warrington is CEO of Hyperwallet Systems Inc., a global worker payments platform that specializes in commissions distribution. Warrington has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.

October 01, 2015

Cover Story

The Future of Direct Selling in the U.S.

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Direct selling in the United States is undergoing a transformation fueled by innovative approaches rooted in classic business practices. The power generators leading the way for direct selling as a channel of distribution can be found in what Direct Selling News has identified as the upper middle market: those companies with annual sales roughly between $300 million and $1 billion.

Because most direct selling companies are privately held and many decline to disclose their financial results, it is difficult to create a definitive list. Our research honed in on a group of more than 30 U.S.-based companies, most of which are experiencing significant growth. Some of them are on the cusp of reaching $300 million, and some likely have recently passed the $1 billion mark. But together they are critical to direct selling’s competitiveness and future. They tend to be among the fastest growing when it comes to revenue, and they account for a large slice of the job creation pie.

An in-depth analysis of this group reveals a high level of consistency when it comes to executing on key common strengths. The ability of these companies to focus in on products, customers, serving their salesforce and creating a culture that reinforces a sense of family put them on track to shape the future of direct selling in the U.S.

Companies emphasize each area in different ways, but in general these leaders:

  • Harness data. The upper middle market knows how to mine the data it has to gain insights that lead to more and better sales. Executives train leaders and consultants to use data to open doors that might otherwise remain closed.
  • Stay true to classic business practices. Technology and social media do not replace person-to-person interactions, they complement them. Upper mid-market firms build relationships with customers that maintain the consultant-client affiliation but also allow the customer to have a connection with the company itself.
  • Use compensation plans that span all levels of engagement. To cultivate trust and long-term relationships, comp plans are created to appeal to new customers, product enthusiasts, fierce advocates and influencers—all the way up to the entrepreneur who is all in. Payments also follow a more modern schedule.
  • Foster an entrepreneurial spirit. Consultants are allowed and encouraged to go far with personal marketing (think YouTube videos) while maintaining brand identity. Companies deliver superior and frequent training and messaging to make this happen.
  • Maintain a laser-focus on selling. The sale of a product, a group experience or an opportunity all lead to more sales, which generate positive results.

No matter the specific approach, one thing all upper middle market companies excel at is delivering a common positive message, says Laurie Girardi, CEO of The Girardi Group consultancy, a firm focusing on strategic development for clients. “They have figured out how to say, ‘We are growing, we are successful and there is plenty of room for you to build your own opportunity with us,’ ” Girardi says.

Builders and Boomers

Among the group of companies in the DSN analysis, more than two-thirds are younger than 30 years old, and several are less than 5 years old. The youngest companies include:

  • Jamberry
  • Le-Vel
  • Nerium
  • Younique

These younger companies tend to be led by executives with years of experience in direct selling who decide to launch a business that lets them put lessons learned into play. That is the case at Le-Vel, founded just three years ago by Jason Camper and Paul Gravette, who are co-owners and co-CEOs.

“Our goal was to be different,” says Camper. “We built the company we wanted to have, and that is a firm that really relates to customers. We are focused on a customer acquisition game plan.”

Others, like Jamberry Nails and Younique, found ways to bring customers together in settings that fit today’s lifestyles and the demands of customers. The three sisters who founded Jamberry wanted a more economical way to keep nails looking fun and pretty, without enduring time-consuming and expensive salon manicures and pedicures.

Jamberry started as an e-commerce company before it transitioned into a social selling company, and those e-commerce roots continue to be a core competency and business focus that contributes to growth, says Jared Richards, Chief Performance Officer. The company also teaches and encourages independent sales representatives to work with traditional in-home party sales and to build their businesses online using e-commerce and social media best practices.

The ability of the upper mid-market companies to focus in on products, customers, serving their salesforce and creating a culture that reinforces a sense of family put them on track to shape the future of direct selling in the U.S.

“Today, social shopping norms and expectations of professional behavior are critically important to building a social media and e-commerce presence,” Richards says. “The relationship-based selling that has been at the backbone of direct selling for decades should be adopted for the online forum. Personal messages and real connections should be encouraged over mere broadcast advertising.”

Younique pioneered social selling on Facebook with its virtual party model. Thanks to CEO Derek Maxfield’s previous experience at his company NetSteps LLC, which built e-commerce business applications for direct sellers, Younique was equipped with advanced knowledge from day one. It grew more than 5,000 percent between 2013 and 2014 and topped $300 million in sales in less than five years. Today, the booming business remains nimble in its ability to respond to how customers interact online. Younique is preparing to launch new ways to leverage virtual parties by harnessing the full power of smartphones and other devices.

“[Middle market] companies have figured out how to say, ‘We are growing, we are successful and there is plenty of room for you to build your own opportunity with us.’ ”
—Laurie Girardi, CEO, The Girardi Group

These companies also recognize the value of investing in the technology that powers their businesses. For example, not wanting to outgrow its platform in the middle of explosive growth, Nerium slowed things down and spent nearly $20 million on technology upgrades. CEO Jeff Olson says it was worth every penny spent to craft a seamless global operation system because Nerium can now operate in any country and with any currency. (Turn to page 38 to read more about Nerium’s growth.)

About a third of the companies in the DSN analysis are tracking to break the $1 billion barrier, or have already.
They include:

  • ACN
  • Team Beachbody
  • doTERRA
  • Isagenix
  • It Works!
  • Jeunesse
  • Stream
  • Shaklee
  • WorldVentures
  • Young Living

At Team Beachbody, varied product offerings that meet customer needs, plus a compensation plan turned on its head, are the keys to the skyrocketing success of this wellness-based business. When current product packages were too much for some customers, the company started offering smaller units and sales followed, says Jeff Hill, Executive Vice President of Global Sales. He previously told Direct Selling News how “challenge packs”—which bundle a fitness and nutrition program—and “challenge groups”—which are a virtual way for customers and coaches to share successes and gain support on social media—combine to serve customers and those who want to join the Team Beachbody business.

For others, building a strong technology backbone is central to supporting growing revenue numbers. Health and wellness company Isagenix, with annual sales of more than $725 million, focused on creating its own in-house technology to manage back-office and front-office operations. It beefed up its IT staff to more than 100 people in preparation for hitting the $1 billion mark. Co-Founder Kathy Coover often says that success for Isagenix is about changing lives for customers and consultants. As people reach weight-loss goals or achieve selling milestones, sales boom.

Culture and Products

As upper mid-market companies mature and grow, they are reshaping the future of direct selling in ways that will forever change the industry. An emphasis on building a strong culture is now an essential piece of any growing direct selling entity.

Unity in vision and leadership, says WorldVentures President Eddie Head, is their key to a strong culture. “We have the unique ability to change how people view the potential of their lives. Our members and Representatives alike see our mission as helping people Experience Joy as a personal responsibility. When you have that kind of unified alignment between the corporate staff and the sales field, anything is within reach.”

Direct Selling’s TrendSetters

Companies with annual sales roughly between $300 million and $1 billion are shaping the future of the U.S. channel. DSN research has identified more than 30 companies believed to be approaching, within or recently exceeding that range.

4Life Research



Plexus Worldwide


Rodan + Fields






Stella & Dot

It Works!


JAFRA Cosmetics

Team Beachbody


Team National


Thirty-One Gifts

Juice Plus

USANA Health Sciences


Viridian Energy

Market America

World Financial Group

Nature’s Sunshine




The Pampered Chef

Young Living

Today’s growing companies are tightly focused on hero products or ingredients. Firms with compelling product and service lines that are mission-driven do well because they are meeting consumer needs while also connecting with people on a deeper level. That emotional benefit could help people reach their weight-loss or other lifestyle goals, or allow customers to help others by supporting a direct seller’s philanthropic efforts in the community.

“We’ve taken a customer-focused approach,” Le-Vel’s Camper says. “We lead with the product and find ways to relate to the customers. We knew if we had happy customers the business side would follow, and we really struck a chord among our salesforce with that.”

Social Selling

Today’s upper mid-market companies are telling a fresh story about the business opportunity of direct selling, which relies heavily on selling through powerful social tools including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Social media allows direct sellers and their independent consultants to broaden their audiences rather than narrow them. Companies that find the sweet spot with social media—where technology does not come at the expense of more meaningful face-to-face connections—are winning.

Mark Rawlins, Founder and CEO of InfoTrax, a software solutions company, says, “Social media is absolutely a key growth driver for many distributors because it can be used as a platform on which to build a business that preserves the in-person interactions.”

One way that social media allows consultants to be more entrepreneurial is through the use of videos that show how to use a product or display successful results. Such videos let consultants have fun and show their personality through the softer side of selling.

Companies that embrace this multimedia approach work hard to deliver training and messaging that empower consultants to be smart social sellers while maintaining brand integrity. “That is the secret sauce,” consultant Girardi says. “With social media we can pique someone’s curiosity and give them glimpses of products or outcomes.”

Videos and other social tools allow key influencers to change perceptions of a product or service and uncover needs people may not know they have. Companies today are using social media to share testimonials, celebrations and snippets of education and science.

The next big leap will be in finding new and interesting ways of combining social media and technology tools while making relationship-based commerce easier. Though software vendors have been slow to respond to this growing need, Rawlins says Infotrax and other firms are feverishly working to develop ways to tie business functions and support tools into social media platforms.

Innovation of All Kinds

Direct selling companies in this analysis appear to possess an unrelenting commitment to innovation by harnessing technology, developing new products or using new sales methods.

At Le-Vel, a virtual, cloud-based infrastructure enabled the firm to more easily manage the past three years of hyper growth, says Camper. Not many companies can boom from $9 million to $400 million in annual revenue without hitting some operational speed bumps. But for Le-Vel, which allows its executive team to work virtually, the cloud was key.

Having control of one’s own technology backbone is critical for middle market companies making a play for the billion dollar club. According to Head, WorldVentures is currently developing an “ecosystem and social platform” that will “attract vacationers and digital socialites alike to our brand, experiences and community. This platform will be engagement-driven, requires no purchase and leverages great content for sharing stories rather than selling.”

As upper mid-market companies mature and grow, they are reshaping the future of direct selling in ways that will forever change the industry.

Jeunesse also purposely uses technology to its advantage. As Direct Selling News reported in its September 2015 issue, Jeunesse executives studied the middle market to better understand what caused companies to hit a plateau. The goal was to find ways to prevent a slowdown and just keep growing. For Jeunesse, the solution was to go global early as a way to push progress forward. Cloud technology integrates the salesforce and corporate systems across all markets. One example: the innovative mobile marketing software platform that provides videos and tools to give distributors education opportunities on-the-go.

Commonly, top-notch companies in the upper mid-market use various tech applications to supplement in-person trainings and recognitions. For example, live streaming can bring together people who are located on different parts of the planet to share moments or offer bite-sized trainings that fit adult learners. All of this is designed to help distributors learn and grow.

Loyal Customers

The companies at the core of the DSN analysis remain focused on developing loyal customers outside the distributor force. In other words, these are customers who only buy product and do not participate in compensation plan rewards. Whether it is electric power service for their home, a monthly supply of nutritional supplements or a subscription service for other products, millions of customers are utilizing the convenience of an autoship program with a direct selling company each month.

About a third of direct selling mid-market firms are tracking to break the $1 billion barrier, or have already.

Loyalty and rewards programs are often the gateway for converting customers into distributors, and they offer passive, sustainable sales for the business while allowing a company to build and maintain an ongoing relationship with buyers. These customer-facing programs also demonstrate the company’s customer service abilities, which often increase the company’s appeal as customers may consider joining the business as sellers.

Le-Vel knows this very well. It developed a free affiliate network and provides free tools to those who want to build a business. Customers also can get free products when they refer two friends who sign up for the customer autoship. “That has nothing to do with the opportunity,” Camper says. “It’s about relating to customers.”

Reorders can help sustain a healthy business. The higher the repeat orders, the larger the number of happy customers, Camper says. Le-Vel now counts over 1.7 million customer accounts and 370,000 promoter accounts.

While some autoship customers do convert to promoters over time, “we see migration all over the board,” Camper says. “We try to keep it a very friendly, one-size-fits-all mentality and let customers choose what they want to do.”

Jamberry offers a monthly subscription program called StyleBox. Each month, customers choose one of three fashion styles and receive exclusive products reflecting that style. The items cannot be purchased anywhere else, which helps build rapport between the customer and the company. The boxes include a link to a video guide that demonstrates to customers how they can use the contents of their box to achieve a certain head-to-toe look.

“StyleBox ends up being more than just a product purchase,” Richards says. “It creates a customer experience.”

“We’ve taken a customer-focused approach. … We knew if we had happy customers the business side would follow, and we really struck a chord among our salesforce with that.”
—Jason Camper, Co-Owner and Co-CEO, Le-Vel

Loyalty programs often give customers points they can use on the products they normally buy. Autoship also can encourage customers to try more items or branch out into using an entire suite of products and services, says InfoTrax’s Rawlins.

“So many of the programs now reward customers and members for continued loyalty rather than requiring it to get compensation, and I think that is a beneficial change,” Rawlins says.

For companies like WorldVentures that provide a membership instead of a tangible product, brand loyalty can be even more difficult to generate. Head says, “We live in a highly ‘tuned in’ digitally aware world where everyone expects to be wowed. We have to maintain superiority in our value and in the quality of the curation of our experiences just to start the process of creating brand loyalty.”

How to Hit the $1 Billion Mark

So what does it take for an upper middle market firm to make the leap and become an established billion-dollar brand? Mining the data at hand and working with vendors who are partners is essential.

Consistently growing mid-market firms routinely develop powerful back-end technology that gathers all kinds of useful data. Very often all of the data is there, but companies are missing the intuitive piece. The businesses that jump ahead are the ones who know how to use the information to their advantage.

“So many of the programs now reward customers and members for continued loyalty rather than requiring it to get compensation, and I think that is a beneficial change.”
—Mark Rawlins, Founder and CEO, InfoTrax

“They are not making decisions based on what they feel, they are basing it on what they know,” Girardi says. “Data empowers down-to-the-minute, metric-driven decision making.”

Distributors out in the field also must be skilled at leveraging data. They can analyze team metrics and figure out how to better lead and manage. Companies that want to keep growing must fill the data and technology gap among all consultants.

Working with vendor partners definitely can help a company reach toward the $1 billion mark, especially when building an internal team to handle every aspect of a business can sometimes be inefficient and more costly than necessary. Vendor partners can bring expertise and cost savings to the table as long as companies complete due diligence and check references. The vendor-client relationship should be a two-way street.

Entering the Upper Middle Market

For direct selling companies close to the $300 million benchmark, the future is limitless. Upper middle market CEOs and executives offer this advice to those aspiring to join the pack: Focus on customers and value, and build your company to be scalable.

Leading firms are smart. And they maintain a focus on in-person human interaction, even while embracing all the benefits of digital technology. Additionally, strong growth companies possess a genuine culture and continuously reinforce it. More advice includes:

  • Have the management talent to support your growth.
  • Make sure your product development and supply chain can keep pace with you.

One big challenge that up-and-coming direct selling companies face is maintaining a pool of executive and management talent to lead and run the business as they grow. Companies that are looking down the line for the next group of management and sales leaders are often able to avoid plateaus and keep growing.

“Those who push through into that $300 million mark and then the $500 million mark are the people who are diving into their data and looking at who out of their second-tier sales leaders can be moved up a tier,” Rawlins says.

Once those distributors are identified, leading companies provide training, encouragement and lots of tools and support to transform consultants into top sales leaders, which in turn starts carving out the pathway for the company to eventually become a billion dollar brand.

The path to upper mid-market success and beyond has been well-traveled by these companies and more. Their common experiences in focusing on high-quality products, developing a loyal customer base and providing excellent customer service, as well as creating strong cultures, are instructive for those seeking to break into this group. With nearly a third of these companies ready to charge the $1 billion threshold, or already there, the outlook is surely positive.

October 01, 2015

News in Brief

News in Brief, October 2015

Caught in the Cross Hairs

On Dec. 4, 2014, Matthew Thacker logged onto a computer in Dallas and signed up as an Affiliate for Arizona-based Vemma Nutrition Co. Seven days later, three boxes arrived containing his starter kit, which consisted of a variety of products and materials for launching his business. Over the course of the next few months, he spoke with his up-line enroller for guidance on establishing his business, attended two training events, received regular product shipments and spent considerable time studying online Vemma training materials.

But Thacker was far from being a new, engaged company recruit.

As Vemma learned in late August, Thacker is an investigator with the Federal Trade Commission. He signed up for Vemma using an undercover name, contact information and credit card account, documenting each step along the way with screen recording software, and he continued to use his undercover identity as he participated in telephone calls and events, which he also recorded. His experience with Vemma generated hundreds of pages of exhibits the FTC used to make its case to the court, accusing the company of being a pyramid scheme, making false and misleading income claims, and failing to provide appropriate income disclosures.

The case is the FTC’s first significant action against a direct selling company since the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 2014 ruling that BurnLounge Inc. was an illegal pyramid scheme, and executives across the industry are monitoring the case closely. Final judicial resolution on the case, and the legal precedence it will provide, could be years away, but already there is much to learn.

In the few weeks since the case was filed, the public has been given a window into how the FTC approached its investigation and the vast power the FTC and the federal courts have to take action against a company. To gain a better understanding of that process, Direct Selling News reviewed case documents filed with the court, attended the Sept. 15 hearing on the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction and spoke with several lawyers familiar with direct selling case law.


The FTC has acknowledged that its active investigation was in place for more than a year prior to filing its suit. Using his undercover identity, Thacker recorded and downloaded dozens of videos and other documents, including much of the material available on the Vemma back office, and the FTC made heavy use of selected transcripts and other excerpts from these materials in formulating its case. The FTC also issued civil investigative demands to Wells Fargo Bank, American Express and the Arizona Department of Economic Security, which gave it access to certain company financial records.

The Vemma case is the FTC’s first significant action against a direct selling company since the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 2014 ruling that BurnLounge Inc. was an illegal pyramid scheme.

Another prominent piece in the FTC’s case is the analysis of the Vemma compensation plan conducted by Stacie Bosley, an assistant professor of economics at Hamline University who has conducted research on multilevel marketing, direct selling and pyramid schemes. In her declaration to the court, Bosley said it was her judgment that the company’s marketing program and business model meet the test for being a pyramid scheme. “All forms of compensation are driven by recruitment or purchase volume, and there is no direct connection between this compensation and retail sales or market demand,” she wrote. “This structure incentivizes participants to purchase product for the purposes of maintaining eligibility for recruitment rewards (inventory loading) and to encourage their ‘downlines’ to do the same.”

What the FTC didn’t do during the investigation was contact Vemma management, seek to interview executives or employees, or request sales information or income statements from the company. On cross examination during the preliminary injunction hearing, both Thacker and Bosley acknowledged that they did not have nor seek to obtain access to the company’s actual sales data. Other aspects of the investigation may come to light as the case proceeds through court. In a press release, the FTC thanked the offices of the attorneys general of Arizona, South Carolina and Michigan, the Tempe, Arizona police department, and the nonprofit organization Truth in Advertising in assisting in bringing the case.


Once the investigation was complete, the FTC pulled all of the documentation together and filed a complaint for permanent injunction under seal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on Aug. 17. On Aug. 21, Judge John J. Tuchi granted an ex parte temporary restraining order with asset freeze and the appointment of a receiver. What happened next was swift and, experts say, very difficult for any company to recover from.

On Monday, Aug. 24, the FTC served Vemma with the temporary restraining order, or TRO, which meant the operations of a 10-year-old, $200 million company came to a halt without warning. The court’s designated receiver—Robb Evans & Associates LLC, a company specializing in serving as appointed corporate fiduciaries that also served as the receiver in the FTC’s case against Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing—stepped in right away to take control of the business. The receiver’s actions over the next week are documented in a report to the court and in the testimony of Executive Vice President Kenton Johnson during the preliminary injunction hearing. According to these sources, the receiver called an employee meeting at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 24, at which time he stopped all sales and sent most employees home. Customer service representatives stayed on to answer phones, but they were not permitted to fill orders or to access the computer system, and some IT and other personnel also remained to assist in gathering documents. At the time of the initial government action, Vemma had approximately $6 million worth of inventory on hand, about half of which was fully packaged and ready for sale. Some of that inventory was set to expire within the month.

The receiver asked management to provide information on 2015 sales to Affiliates and non-Affiliate customers in the U.S. and Canada, the company’s consolidated income statements, and a brief description of inventory and the quality of accounts receivable. Based largely on the fact that Vemma’s data showed that about 22 percent of sales in 2015 were to non-Affiliate customers and that the company had been operating at a loss, the receiver determined that he could not continue any aspect of Vemma’s operations under the terms of the TRO. The receiver put a notice on the company’s website and phone system and also sent an email blast to the Affiliate network saying that the operations of the company had been temporarily suspended. In total, Johnson testified, the receiver spent approximately 90 minutes with company management over a series of meetings spanning less than two days before reaching that conclusion. The inventory would sit, unsold even in Vemma’s existing retail outlets.

With the TRO in place, the FTC requested a preliminary injunction that would have essentially continued the asset freeze and receivership through the duration of the case. With their assets frozen and the company essentially shut down, Vemma and the other named defendants—CEO B.K. Boreyko and top distributors Tom and Bethany Alkazin—had little time to respond.


During the preliminary injunction hearing, Vemma’s lawyers made compelling arguments that the government agency had failed to prove that the defendants were likely to hide assets, destroy documents or otherwise not comply with an ongoing investigation. At press time, the judge had lifted the asset freeze and downgraded the temporary receiver to a position as a court-appointed monitor. The judge granted part of the FTC’s request, however, placing deep restrictions on how management could operate the business.

It will take a final court ruling on the FTC’s allegations before the full impact of the case becomes clear. There are a number of key issues before the judge that, depending on his ruling, could have widespread implications for the direct selling channel, including how the court views compensation for personal consumption and what constitutes appropriate income disclosure.

What also remains to be seen is what, if any, changes the FTC will make in how it conducts its investigations and brings them to court. Observers say the fact that there was any relief from the terms of the TRO was significant, putting Vemma on better footing than other multi-level marketing companies in similar circumstances. “It’s a very clear signal that the FTC’s draconian methods of attacking the industry are overstepping the bounds,” said Spencer Reese, a partner in the law firm Reese, Poyfair, Richards PLLC, who specializes in direct selling law. But will that signal be enough to change the FTC’s tactics? Only time will tell.

After 20 Years, Reliv Kalogris Foundation Supplies Nutrition to 40,000 Daily

During Reliv International’s annual salesforce conference in August, the nutrition company celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Reliv Kalogris Foundation, which currently provides free, daily nutritional supplements to 40,000 malnourished people in nine countries. In the past two decades, the charity has donated more than $42 million in product and established upwards of 250 feeding programs across the nine countries where it operates. The Reliv Kalogris Foundation—named for the creator of Reliv’s first product, the late Dr. Theodore Kalogris—has also supported relief efforts in the wake of natural disasters, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013.

Direct Selling Expansions in the Third Quarter

October 01, 2015

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, October 2015

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Nu Skin Brings New Leadership to Global Sales Organization

Ryan NapierskiRyan Napierski

Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. has named veteran talent Ryan Napierski as President of Global Sales and Operations, following the departure of Dan Chard.

In more than 20 years at Nu Skin, Napierski has held a number of roles across the company’s global operations. He spent the past eight years in Asia, where he most recently served as President of both Nu Skin Japan and Nu Skin North Asia. In 2014, North Asia accounted for 30 percent, or $783.0 million, of Nu Skin’s $2.57 billion revenue.

Napierski’s earlier roles within the company included Vice President of Global Business Development, overseeing Nu Skin’s global compensation plan; General Manager for the United Kingdom; and Vice President of European Business Development.

“With every promotion or new assignment over the years, Ryan has proven himself an able leader and has met each new challenge with excellence,” Truman Hunt, President and CEO, said in a statement. “I have every confidence that Ryan has the right experience and expertise to lead Nu Skin’s global sales organization.”

“While we are pleased to welcome Ryan back to our U.S. headquarters, I want to acknowledge Dan’s significant contributions to our company,” Hunt added. “On behalf of everyone at Nu Skin, we thank Dan for his years of service and wish him all the best for the future.”

Mannatech Executive Promotions to Fuel Company Momentum

Russ WoodRuss Wood
Joel BikmanJoel Bikman

Under the leadership of new CEO and President, Al Bala, nutritional and wellness company Mannatech Inc. announced a series of executive promotions.
Russ Wood, Vice President of Hong Kong Sales and Marketing, has been promoted to Regional President of Greater China where he will lead the company’s continued growth in Hong Kong and bring the Mannatech opportunity to new territories within China.

Joel Bikman has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Landen Fredrick moves to Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and IT. Chris Simons, Regional President, will add North America to his areas of responsibility.

“We are committed to supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of our sales Associates, and to do so we need to move quickly and on an international scale,” said Bala. “These outstanding leaders will ensure we create a culture where our sales Associates can build the best, most stable, long-term businesses possible.”

According to Bala, Wood has been key to Mannatech’s growth in Hong Kong, having established operations there in 2013. He successfully introduced new products, designed sales incentives and worked heavily with Associate leaders while designing future plans for Mannatech’s Chinese expansion. Wood will report directly to Patrick Park, Mannatech’s Regional President of Asia.

Landen FredrickLanden Fredrick
Chris SimonsChris Simons

As part of Bikman’s promotion, the company’s corporate research and development and customer service teams will be integrated with the sales and marketing department and report to him. Bikman has been with Mannatech since 2014.

Fredrick, who has been with Mannatech since 2006, will lead efforts to synergize internal operations, including Mannatech’s IT group, with the company’s supply chain and regulatory affairs organizations for greater agility and efficiency.

Mannatech Regional President Chris Simons will add North America to his list of oversight responsibilities, which currently includes Europe, South Africa and Australasia. Simons, who has been with Mannatech since 2008, has provided pivotal leadership in these markets and in supporting the implementation of the company’s system to help sales Associates advance their business and personal development.

LifeVantage Continues Executive Overhaul with New CFO

LifeVantageLifeVantage’s Sandy, Utah, headquarters.

LifeVantage has announced another appointment to its executive team, under the leadership of CEO Darren Jensen, who joined the company in April. After bringing on a new Chief Sales Officer in July, the wellness and anti-aging brand has introduced a new Chief Financial Officer, Mark Jaggi.

Since beginning his finance career at the Ford Motor Co., Jaggi has served as Chief Financial Officer at a succession of companies, including furniture maker O’Sullivan Industries; pharmaceutical, household and pet products company Summit Industries, where he also served as CEO; and health and wellness group TwinLab Consolidated Holdings. At TwinLab, Jaggi’s financial and operational leadership included heading up the company’s debt and equity financing.

“Mark Jaggi brings the perfect mix of business acumen and financial expertise to the company,” Jensen said in a statement. “His years of experience in the nutritional supplement industry as a finance and operations executive, and within growing, publicly traded companies gives Mark a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished to successfully and responsibly position LifeVantage for long-term sustainable growth.”

Plexus Welcomes Christopher Reid as Vice President of Compliance and Corporate Affairs

Christopher ReidChristopher Reid

Christopher Reid has joined Plexus Worldwide, a direct seller of weight-loss and health supplements, as Vice President of Compliance and Corporate Affairs. He will report directly to CEO Tarl Robinson.

“We’re very excited to add Chris’ extensive legal and compliance expertise within the network marketing industry to the Plexus team,” Robinson said. “As Plexus continues its phenomenal growth, Chris will play a significant role within the organization as we expand.”

Reid has practiced law for 33 years. His first 10 years were in the banking industry and the past 23 years has been spent as general counsel and head of compliance in the direct sales industry. Reid’s focus has been on enterprise compliance, FDA, advertising, intellectual property and transactional law.

Momentis Makes New Hires with Relaunch as Anti-Aging Company

Muzafer NajfiMuzafer Najfi
Dwain Morris-IrvinDwain Morris-Irvin

As part of its relaunch into the anti-aging industry, Momentis International has hired Dwain Morris-Irvin, Ph.D., MPH, as its Chief Science Officer and Muzafer Najfi as its Executive Vice President of Sales and Field Development.

In 2014, Momentis International acquired the science, patents and intellectual property behind M-Rejuvenate, its anti-aging product, and now has brought in Morris-Irvin, a neuroscientist and stem cell biologist, to lead all science and clinical research projects.

Morris-Irvin received his Ph.D. in pharmacology and developmental neuroscience from UCLA School of Medicine, and MPH from UCLA School of Public Health. He trained at The Wallenberg Neuroscience Center at Lund University in Lund, Sweden, and also was a professor and faculty member at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Department of Neurosurgery, in Los Angeles. His research focus has been on neural stem cells and the potential role of cell replacement therapy for patients with Parkinson’s disease as well as immunotherapy for brain tumor patients.

Najfi has been a professional business networker with more than 19 years of experience in coaching, training and helping people with personal development as well as in building network marketing businesses. He has been a top independent distributor and corporate executive, consulting for several companies on their compensation plans and marketing strategies as well as trained multiple organizations. Najfi is also the co-author of Wealth Matters (The Makeover Edition).

Momentis International was founded in 2010, and mostly concentrated on the energy and home services sector. The company’s move into the anti-aging industry is a refocus it calls Momentis 2.0.

ASEA Announces Duvan Botero as General Manager of Mexico

Duvan BoteroDuvan Botero

After one year of operation in Mexico, ASEA, an emerging global company in cellular health, will be opening an office in Guadalajara, Mexico, and has appointed Duvan Botero as General Manager of Mexico.

Previously, Botero served as the Regional Sales Director of Mexico and U.S. Hispanic markets. As the General Manager of Mexico, Botero will now focus his efforts on developing and implementing sales, promotions and event strategies to support the continued expansion of ASEA.

“I’m looking forward to this exciting new opportunity to sustain and increase continued growth in this important market,” said Botero. “This in-market office will be instrumental for ASEA’s future expansion into all regions of Mexico.”

Eris Ching Has Joined NuCerity in Greater China Region

Eris ChingEris Ching

Skincare company NuCerity has appointed Eris Ching as the Sales and Marketing Associate Director for Greater China.

Under the direction of Shawn Larsen, Vice President of Asia, Ching will oversee the markets of Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Macau and will manage all business strategy, sales, and marketing functions in these regions.

Throughout his 10 years in the network marketing industry, Ching has served in a variety of capacities, including customer service, operations, sales, and marketing. He also spearheaded the launch of new markets with other U.S.-based network marketing companies.

“I am very excited and look forward to working with the quality distributors, leaders, and talented staffs toward the purpose of Creating Beautiful Lives,” Ching said.

September 30, 2015

U.S. News

Legacy Republic Launches New Platform for Sharing Family Memories

Legacy Republic wants to rescue family memories from VHS tapes and photo albums stuffed in closets across the country. The tech startup on Wednesday launched a new platform that enables users to easily upload, edit and share outdated media content on social media, with the help of the brand’s trained salespeople.

A year after launching through parent company YesVideo, Legacy Republic is rolling out its own Family Legacy platform. The brand’s independent contractors, called Legacy Makers, help clients through the process of uploading and editing moments captured pre-smartphone era. Each client can then access a personal Family Legacy site to create custom DVDs and share photos or videos online. The system also runs an algorithm to identify the best clips in a video and pair them with music to create a personalized trailer.

“We’re at a critical point in time where scrapbooks and photo albums, VHS tapes and film reels are at risk of being lost, damaged or degraded,” Brian Knapp, head of Legacy Republic, told DSN. “With Family Legacy, we’re offering generations of families a chance to relive their priceless memories in a modern and social way.”

YesVideo, a service that digitizes videos and makes the content available online or on DVD, launched Legacy Republic in October 2014. The company has signed on Legacy Makers to market the service through home shows, where they assist clients in converting both photos and videos to digital format. In August, the brand began expanding its footprint with the acquisition of competitor Yarly, a photo management service founded in 2012.

September 29, 2015

U.S. News

New Congressional Caucus Forms to Support US Direct Sellers

Direct selling companies received a vote of confidence from legislators during a Direct Selling Association (DSA) event held Tuesday on Capitol Hill. The event marked the creation of the Direct Selling Caucus, a bipartisan congressional caucus formed to build support for entrepreneurs engaged in direct selling.

U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marc Veasey (D-TX) will co-chair the caucus, which currently comprises more than 30 members.

“I’ll never forget the business and interpersonal skills direct selling taught me when I began my career, and I’m excited to continue to build support for the opportunity among my colleagues on Capitol Hill,” said Rep. Blackburn, an alumnus of the Southwestern Advantage Sales & Leadership Program.

Building relationships with representatives is a key objective of the DSA’s efforts to inform policymakers and the public about the role of direct selling in the U.S., the world’s largest direct selling market. Currently, more than 18 million Americans participate in direct selling, generating $34.5 billion in annual revenue.

“Being a direct seller allows many families I represent in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to have more economic security to put food on the table, pay rent, and have more flexibility for childcare,” said Rep. Veasey. “That is why I am proud to join as a co-chair of the Direct Selling Caucus that provides Texans an opportunity to build their business while spurring our local economy.”

See if your representative has joined the Direct Selling Caucus.

September 29, 2015

U.S. News

Zija Founder Kenneth Brailsford Receives Outstanding Alumni Award

Utah Valley University, Utah’s largest public university, is recognizing direct selling veteran Kenneth Brailsford, Founder and Board Chairman of Zija International, with its 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award.

The award recognizes Brailsford’s many accomplishments, including his work as a student, commissioned Army officer and entrepreneur. After earning a degree in economics from Brigham Young University and marrying his college sweetheart, Brailsford served stateside in the Army as the Vietnam War was coming to an end. He then returned to Utah and decided to further his education by attending UVU (then Utah Valley Community College) under the GI Bill.

To provide for his growing family, Brailsford co-founded Nature’s Sunshine Products, now the No. 44 direct selling company in the world, with annual revenue of $366 million. Under his leadership as President, Nature’s Sunshine was said to be the first nutritional company to encapsulate herbs—an innovation that earned Brailsford the title “Father of Encapsulation.” He left Nature’s Sunshine in 1979, but returned six years later to the direct selling model when he, his wife, Linda, and David Lisonbee, now Founder and Chairman of 4Life Research, founded Nature’s Labs Inc., later renamed Enrich International.

Although Brailsford retired in 1997, his direct selling journey would not end there. When his interest in pharmacology led him to the moringa oleifera plant—a superfood prized for its high levels of vitamins, minerals, vital proteins, antioxidants and omega oils—Brailsford decided to consult with scientists and researchers to find a way to bring the benefits of moringa to market. In 2005, he founded Zija International to do just that. In 2012—its best year yet—the nutrition and skincare company topped $100 million in revenue.

According to Brailsford, “lead, follow, or get out of the way” is the motto that has guided him throughout his life and career. “I don’t mind following, and I don’t mind leading,” he told UVU Magazine. “I can do either—I just want to be moving forward.”

September 28, 2015

U.S. News

Take Shape For Life Volunteers with Rebuilding Together Baltimore

(RebuildingTogether/Laura and Mark Wasserman)

Employees of Take Shape For Life and parent company Medifast traded in their spreadsheets for sheetrock this weekend to provide critical home repairs through local partner Rebuilding Together Baltimore.

Rebuilding Together musters volunteers, skilled tradespeople and corporate partners to provide home upgrades and repairs in communities across the country. In addition to serving low-income homeowners, the organization renovates community centers, builds playgrounds, and partners with other organizations working to improve communities. Rebuild Together’s Baltimore affiliate has repaired more than 1,300 homes across the city and county.

On Sept. 25, Take Shape For Life volunteers helped to renovate a property in Baltimore’s Woodburn-McCabe neighborhood, where the retired homeowner settled 20 years ago. They also assisted in beautifying a nearby park and alley. City officials recently selected the neighborhood for targeted revitalization efforts through investment in vacant properties.

“We are honored to support Rebuilding Together’s work to revitalize the Baltimore community and help provide a safer and more comfortable space for a local homeowner,” Medifast Chairman and CEO Michael MacDonald said in a statement. “Our employees are deeply committed to making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work.”

September 28, 2015

U.S. News

Herbalife Teams with Cristiano Ronaldo to Create High-Powered Sports Drink

Herbalife Ltd. is making it possible for athletes everywhere to benefit from its partnership with global soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. As Ronaldo’s Official Nutrition Sponsor, Herbalife has collaborated with the Real Madrid player to create CR7 Drive, a sports drink launched Monday.

The Los Angeles-based nutrition company signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Ronaldo in June 2013.  Since then, Herbalife nutrition experts have worked with Ronaldo to enhance performance through a tailored nutrition plan. CR7 Drive, part of the Herbalife24 performance nutrition line, is one result of those efforts. Formulated without artificial flavors or sweeteners, the sports drink aims to help athletes refuel and rehydrate before and during exercise.

“Herbalife understands how critical nutrition is for my performance,” Ronaldo, a three-time World Player of the Year, said in a statement. “Working with dedicated Herbalife sports science staff to develop CR7 Drive has been incredibly rewarding and demonstrates what a true partnership should be like. I look forward to helping athletes around the world understand how nutritious products can help them perform.”

Herbalife actively courts professional athletes and their fans through both individual and team sponsorships, as well as sponsorships of numerous sporting events. The company has raised its profile among soccer enthusiasts as jersey sponsor of five-time Major League Soccer champions the LA Galaxy, as well as its partnership with Ronaldo. All told, Herbalife backs more than 250 athletes, teams and events worldwide.

September 25, 2015

World News

This Week: Uncertainty in Brazil, Selfie-Ready Makeup and the Online Styling Experience

Catch up on this week’s industry chatter with these click-worthy links:

  • The term “selfie” has been in use for little more than a decade, but the ubiquitous self-portrait already is revolutionizing more than just social media feeds. When it comes to formulating products, cosmetics companies such as CoverGirl and Avon are taking a look through the lens, according to a report by The New York Times. Increasingly, brands are creating camera-ready foundations, mascaras, and lipsticks in an effort to harness the potential sales and marketing power of social media.
  • Brazil’s deteriorating economy and political uncertainty have multinational companies rethinking their investments in the once-fertile market, The Wall Street Journal reports. In addition to paring down corporate tax incentives, officials have reintroduced a controversial financial-transaction tax into the country’s 2016 budget, released earlier this month and awaiting congressional approval. A spokeswoman for Avon, which counts Brazil as its largest market, said the beauty company is committed to doing business in the country for the long term.
  • A new crop of online shopping services has made it simpler to find the right fit, but which service is the right fit for today’s working women? To find out, Fortune’s Valentina Zarya is trying out five of the most popular online styling services. The second installment recounts her experience shopping for work clothes through Keaton Row, a free service that teams each client with one of its freelance personal stylists.
  • In a letter to the editor published by The New York Times, Direct Selling Association President Joseph Mariano responded to a recent op-ed by columnist Joe Nocera. Mariano addresses what Nocera, in his headline, calls “The Pyramid Scheme Problem”—what he perceives as a lack of concrete legal guidance concerning what constitutes a pyramid scheme. Mariano points readers to standards beyond those mentioned by Nocera, such as the model legislation that has been enacted by 18 states under the guidance of the Council of State Governments.

September 25, 2015

U.S. News

Jeunesse Names Meredith Berkich President of North America

Jeunesse Global, a fast-growing marketer of nutrition and personal-care products, has appointed industry veteran Meredith Berkich as President of its North American business.

Berkich began her 25-year direct selling career as a field sales leader, before taking on leadership roles at a succession of companies. In a statement, Jeunesse describes Berkich as “equal parts strategist and enthusiastic coach,” a testament to her focus on strategic planning and salesforce development.

“We are pleased and excited to welcome Meredith to the Jeunesse family. Her knowledge and expertise will be of great value as we continue to develop our presence in the region,” Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis said in a statement.

Founded in 2009, Florida-based Jeunesse operates in 100 markets worldwide. The company reported annual revenue of $419 million, earning it the No. 38 rank on the DSN Global 100.  In March, Jeunesse announced the acquisition of MonaVie, another prominent health business in the direct selling space. Looking to consolidate the two businesses and accommodate rapid growth, Juenesse has purchased a 130,000-square-foot building near its existing Orlando-area headquarters.

“This company’s compelling vision, high level of integrity, and appreciation for the salesforce fully align with my core values,” said Berkich. “I am eager to contribute to the growth of this incredible community and add value to countless lives across the globe.”

September 25, 2015

World News

Swedish Brand Zinzino Expands into Canada

After crossing the pond to enter the U.S. in 2014, Swedish health firm Zinzino AB is opening for business in Canada.

In North America, the company markets omega-3 nutrition products, including a best-selling Balance Test that measures the body’s fatty acid profile. In markets across northern Europe, Zinzino also offers ethically produced coffee, along with coffee makers and accessories. The company has established operations in 13 markets since its founding in 2005.

“We have a high geographical expansion rate, which is in line with our expansion strategy,” Zinzino CEO Dag Bergheim Pettersen said in a statement. “We have developed a model that allows us to quickly get started in the markets that we decide to enter.”

Last year the company streamlined its operations with the acquisition of Zinzino Pharma AS and BioActive Foods AS. The transactions brought the entire chain of production under the Zinzino umbrella. The company then closed out the year with the announcement of its listing on the Nasdaq First North exchange.


September 24, 2015

World News

Fine Food Awards Keep Coming for Your Inspiration at Home

Your Inspiration at Home continues to delight the culinary world with its gourmet food products. Most recently, the CVSL-owned company picked up three additional Champion or Reserve Champion Awards—for a grand total of 10—at Australia’s prestigious Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards.

Founded in Australia in 2011, Your Inspiration at Home draws from ethnic cuisines to create its selection of spice blends, olive oils and vinegars, teas and more. To date, the company has collected 370 fine food awards, including overall Herb & Spice Category Champion for its Pumpkin Fiesta Dip Mix at the Royal Melbourne competition.

“I am astounded and humbled year after year to see these results of our work,” company Founder and Global Spice Curator Colleen Walters said in a statement. “It was especially amazing to have Mr. Robert Wallace from the Royal Hobart Fine Food Awards attend our Annual Gala Awards event and share these successes with our convention attendees.”

The recognition comes as Your Inspiration at Home is reaching out to customers with a new auto-ship program. The monthly delivery, called The Flavour Stack, aims to simplify meal prep and provide a wide sampling of the company’s products. Each Flavour Stack includes a recipe and the requisite spices to prepare a meal for four people, along with a grocery list of the remaining ingredients.

September 24, 2015

U.S. News

Avon Named One of the Best Companies for Working Mothers​

When it comes to supporting working moms, Avon Products Inc. is one of the top employers in the country, according to the newly published 100 Best Companies list from Working Mother magazine.

For 30 years, Working Mother has conducted an annual survey to see which companies set the standard for family-friendly workplaces. The question affects the majority of today’s moms with minor children, 70 percent of whom are employed. To participate, companies must complete a comprehensive survey addressing maternity leave, child care, flex offerings, advancement of women, and other priorities of working moms. The survey evaluates not only the availability of programs, but also the accountability of those tasked with overseeing them.

Avon, which calls itself the company for women, has had a female chief executive since 1999. The current CEO, Sheri McCoy, joined the beauty company in 2012 from fellow Best Company honoree Johnson & Johnson. According to the 2013 Avon Corporate Responsibility Report, women also hold 36 percent of vice president and above positions, and make up 60 percent of Avon’s total workforce. At the 100 Best Companies, women account for 46 percent of the total workforce, on average.

“Avon has 6 million representatives around the world. Many of them are working moms who aim to build better lives for themselves and their families,” McCoy said in an essay that accompanied the list. “As independent contractors, they often join Avon to work around their personal schedules, making their families their first priority (while still earning an income).

“We hear stories every day from representatives who let us know that Avon has literally changed their lives—and we believe this commitment to work-life effectiveness helps set us apart as a 21st century employer-of-choice,” McCoy wrote.

At this year’s Best Companies, new moms get an average of eight weeks—three for dads—of fully paid parental leave, three-quarters of employees use flextime, and almost half of all 2014 hires were women. Spanning 15 industries, the list ranges from educational institutions such as Yale University to financial services firms such as PwC and KPMG.​

September 22, 2015

U.S. News

TYRA Beauty to Expand Direct Selling Business

Tyra Banks is looking to build America’s next top beauty brand with help from a salesforce of “Beautytainers.” Following a beta test of direct selling through her TYRA Beauty brand, the model, talk show host and entrepreneur is opening enrollment for more independent sellers to join the business.

“I’m charged with shaking up the world of direct selling and want future entrepreneurs like you with that same passion to revolutionize the beauty industry,” Banks states in her open call to potential sellers on her website. “We wanna transform how people see, use, buy and SELL makeup.”

Banks launched the fully self-funded cosmetics venture in October 2014. TYRA Beauty markets face, eye and lip products priced from $18 to $63.50 and offers TYovers, Banks’s version of a makeover. After initially selling the products online, the edgy brand also began signing on independent sales reps, called Beautytainers, in March of this year. During the pre-launch phase, the inaugural group of 200 sellers multiplied to more than 1,000.

This week TYRA Beauty is opening its doors to entrepreneurs across the U.S., Women’s Wear Daily reports. Participants can enroll for $59 and receive online training through a program called TYRA-U. They also have multiple options for growing their businesses, whether through the brand’s version of home parties, called TYover Shows, or social media platforms.

Anita Krpata, former Global Vice President Field Development for Stella & Dot, is heading up the direct selling operation as TYRA Beauty General Manager, while Evacheska DeAngelis Barton, who also hails from Stella & Dot, is charged with training and development as Senior Director Field Development.

September 21, 2015

World News

Infinitus Partners with Cambridge to Establish Research Centre

Infinitus (China) Company Ltd., a health firm focused on traditional Chinese medicine, has signed a $6 million agreement with the University of Cambridge in England to establish the Cambridge Infinitus Research Centre (CIRCE).

Slated to open this fall, CIRCE will use state-of-the-art technology to explore the effects of plant-derived compounds, such as Infinitus’ herbal supplements, on cells and molecules. Cambridge’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology building will house the new center.

The agreement also initiates a five-year academic partnership, intended to combine Infinitus’ research in Chinese herbal medicines with the university’s expertise in molecular cell biology. Cambridge academics will collaborate with the company’s research partners in China to integrate their findings into new health products.

“These kinds of partnerships are invaluable in helping our academics continue and expand their cutting-edge research,” Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said in a statement. “We are delighted that Infinitus has chosen to take their first step in international expansion at Cambridge.”

Infinitus, part of LKK Health Products Group (LKKHPG), has partnered with several top research organizations around the world to develop its nutrition, household and personal-care products. In 2014, the company generated annual revenue of $2.64 billion, placing it at No. 7 on the DSN Global 100 ranking of the industry’s top revenue-generating companies.

Infinitus’ latest partnership marks a new chapter in science and technology development for the company, according to LKKHPG Senior Vice President Tim Chun. “To work with the university and to benefit from the profound research strength in Cambridge provides Infinitus with great encouragement for the future,” he told the crowd at a signing ceremony held Sept. 2 at Cambridge.

September 18, 2015

U.S. News

Vemma Regains Partial Control of Business; Judge Appoints Federal Monitor

A federal judge has returned partial control of Arizona-based Vemma Nutrition Co. back to the company’s management team, by granting only part of the preliminary injunction sought by the Federal Trade Commission.

The 10-year-old company essentially had been shut down since Aug. 24, when the FTC served Vemma with a temporary restraining order that it obtained on an ex parte basis. That TRO had come with the appointment of a temporary receiver to run the business and a freeze on the assets of the company as well as the other named defendants: CEO B.K. Boreyko and top distributors Tom and Bethany Alkazin. U.S. District Court Judge John J. Tuchi heard arguments related to the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction on Sept. 15. He issued his ruling approximately one hour before the temporary restraining order was set to expire on Sept. 18.

Under the preliminary injunction, the judge is permitting Vemma to resume some operations within a set of restrictions. For example, the defendants are prohibited from engaging in a marketing program that pays compensation for recruiting new members; encourages or incentivizes members to make purchases to maintain eligibility for bonuses, rewards or commissions; pays any compensation related to the purchase or sale of goods or services unless the majority of such compensation is derived from sales to or purchases by persons who are not members of the marketing program; or constitutes a pyramid scheme.

They also are prohibited from making any material misrepresentations, including those related to income opportunities. In any instance in which the company makes an income, profit or sales volume claim, it must clearly and conspicuously disclose: the number and percentage of members who have made a profit through their participation; the beginning and ending dates of when the represented earnings, profits or sales were achieved; and the average and median amount of profit made by each marketing program member.

As for its marketing materials, the defendants are prohibited from furnishing any materials that contain false or misleading representations and must give the FTC five days to review any new marketing or sales materials before it is distributed. If the FTC objects to any of the materials, the defendants can’t use them without court approval. The preliminary injunction specifically prevents Vemma from selling affiliate packs and from linking bonuses or bonus qualifying points to an Affiliate’s product purchases, such as through auto-delivery or the Vemma Two & Go program.

The judge lifted the freeze on the defendant’s assets but included restrictions designed to preserve the assets of the defendants. The judge also is replacing the temporary receiver with a monitor, who will observe Vemma’s business practices to ensure they are complying with the terms of the preliminary injunction and monitor how the defendants use assets. He is recommending that the same company that served as the temporary receiver—Robb Evans & Associates LLC, a company specializing in serving as appointed corporate fiduciary that also served as the receiver in the FTC’s case against Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing—remain in the monitor capacity.

The case is the first significant FTC action in the direct selling space since the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 2014 ruling that BurnLounge Inc. was an illegal pyramid scheme. Executives across the industry are monitoring the case closely to understand the outcomes as the case proceeds.

September 18, 2015

World News

Nu Skin Announces Plans to Launch in Chile

Photo: Santiago, Chile.

Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. has announced plans to strengthen its presence in Latin America with the upcoming launch of operations in Chile.

The market officially will open on Nov. 2 with a kickoff event in Santiago, Chile. The Utah-based company plans to introduce some of its leading personal-care products, followed by a selection of its Pharmanex nutritional offerings in 2016.

“Chile has become a strong direct selling market in Latin America, and we are optimistic it will be part of our continued growth in this region,” Truman Hunt, Nu Skin President and CEO, said in a statement. “We have built a healthy business in Latin America, and we look forward to introducing our scientifically advanced personal-care products to consumers in this market.”

Latin America holds considerable potential for today’s direct selling companies. Five markets in the region—Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Argentina—are among the industry’s billion-dollar markets, and Brazil is one of the top five direct selling markets worldwide. Nu Skin currently operates in nine markets across Latin America.

September 18, 2015

U.S. News

Ambit to Expand Energy Services to Ohio This Fall

Ambit Energy will continue its march across the country with the planned rollout of services in Ohio this fall.

In a statement, the Dallas-based company said it will extend its electricity and natural gas offerings to 1.5 million customers in the AEP Ohio area, with services to commence on Oct. 30. Ambit currently operates in 14 states—most recently Virginia and New Hampshire—as well as Washington, D.C.

The company has built a salesforce of about 350,000 and enrolled more than 1.3 million customers across the U.S. Last year, revenue totaled $1.5 billion, earning Ambit the No. 12 rank on the DSN Global 100. The energy seller also appeared at No. 2814 on the this year’s Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

September 17, 2015

World News

Immunotec Reports Continued Growth in U.S. Sales

Growing U.S. sales sustained third-quarter momentum at Immunotec (IMM—TSX), the nutrition company said in an earnings report released Thursday.

Quebec-based Immunotec posted a 31 percent increase in U.S. sales for the quarter ended July 31, primarily due to a 37 percent jump in new U.S. consultants and customers. By contrast, sponsoring activities in Mexico fell 20.6 percent from a year ago, as the market continues to adjust to a 16 percent value-added tax introduced by Immunotec in October 2014.

Quarterly revenue totaled $16.8 million, comparable to $16.9 million a year ago. In the first three quarters of the year, cumulative revenue increased 4.3 percent versus the same period in 2014.

Adjusted EBITDA also remained flat at $1.1 million, the publicly traded company reported. Net profit was $910,505, compared to a loss of $3.3 million a year ago.

September 17, 2015

World News

UN Recognizes Natura with Top Environmental Award

Natura is not only one of the industry’s top companies, but also a global leader in sustainability. For its eco-friendly business strategy, the Brazilian cosmetics company has been named a 2015 Champion of the Earth, the highest environmental honor bestowed by the United Nations.

The award recognizes Natura—as well as other laureates across the categories of policy, science, business and civil society—for implementing the type of sustainable practices outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan of action put forth by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Natura’s business model is a shining example of how sustainability and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement. “The company’s work to green their supply chains, reduce their carbon footprint and support local communities demonstrates not only an admirable commitment to the environment, but is also an affirmation of the potential of an inclusive green economy.”

Natura, which operates in five Latin American countries as well as France, received a carbon-neutral certification in 2007. In 2011, the company launched an Amazon Program that incentivizes local communities to preserve Amazonian forests by utilizing ingredients sourced from the region. Natura reached another milestone in 2014, when it became the first publicly traded company to attain B Corps certification, a testament to the company’s environmental and social stewardship.

Thus far, Natura’s fellow 2015 Champions of the Earth include The National Geographic Society and South Africa’s Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit. After announcing the remaining winners throughout this month, UNEP will recognize this year’s laureates at the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit, on Sept. 27.

September 16, 2015

U.S. News

Vemma Battles FTC to Restart Operations

Arizona-based Vemma Nutrition Co. had its day in court Sept. 15, making its case and asking Judge John J. Tuchi to lift or modify the terms of the court order that has put a halt to the company’s business.

In August, the Federal Trade Commission sued Vemma, accusing the company of being a pyramid scheme, making false and misleading income claims, and failing to provide appropriate income disclosures. The FTC requested and received an ex parte temporary restraining order with asset freeze and the appointment of a receiver, which meant Vemma executives did not have an opportunity to offer a defense prior to the order being issued. The FTC has asked the judge to extend the government’s control of the company with a preliminary injunction. It is the first significant FTC action in the direct selling space since the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 2014 ruling that BurnLounge Inc. was an illegal pyramid scheme. The court’s final decision will join existing case law in shaping the legal standards that govern direct selling in the United States and may provide new insight into how federal regulators view the distribution channel.

The more immediate issue for Vemma, however, is that the temporary receiver appointed in the case has shut down all company operations, including its international business units and retail sales. “There is no doubt that if this injunction is left in place we are never going back,” Vemma’s counsel said in his closing summary before the judge. The temporary restraining order expires at 2 p.m. local time on Friday, Sept. 18, and Judge Tuchi said he will issue his ruling before that deadline.

The courtroom was packed for the all-day hearing, which included cross examination of witnesses on both sides of the case: FTC investigator Matthew Thacker; professor Stacie Bosley, who provided an analysis of Vemma’s compensation plan for the FTC; Truth in Advertising Executive Director Bonnie Patten; Kenton Johnson, Executive Vice President of Robb Evans & Associates, the temporary receiver currently running the company; professor Emre Carr, Vemma’s compensation analysis expert; Allison Tengan, Vemma’s Vice President of Legal Affairs; and Vemma COO Brad Wayment.

During the hearing, the FTC continued to shape a sweeping case that Vemma’s compensation plan improperly paid Affiliates for recruiting and not for product sales to end users, its marketing materials made inaccurate income claims, and its compliance efforts were ineffective. The defense offered testimony to refute those assertions, arguing that the government built its case without using actual purchasing data from the company and by cherry-picking often out-of-date marketing materials. The defense also focused much of its time before the judge on building a case for why the TRO should be lifted or modified, including establishing that the receiver spent a combined 90 minutes with company management before deciding that he could not continue any aspect of Vemma’s operations under the terms of the TRO.


September 15, 2015

U.S. News

Scentsy Rock-a-Thon Raises $252K for March of Dimes

Scentsy Inc. invited members of the community to donate time, money or diapers during a Rock-a-Thon held at the company’s Meridian, Idaho, headquarters this weekend. The annual event raised more than $252,000 for the Idaho March of Dimes, an organization focused on pregnancy and baby health.

The wickless candle seller lined the sidewalk outside its headquarters with 70 rocking chairs and committed to donating $275 per chair, per hour—a total of $211,750. Scentsy also opened the event to the community, aiming to raise an additional $25 hourly per chair and bring the total to $231,000. The response surpassed expectations, with participants donating 12,000 diapers and infant sleep sacks in addition to topping $252,000 in donations.

“The Idaho March of Dimes is the perfect fit for our Scentsy Rock-a-Thon, considering the incredible work they do to improve the health of babies and support local families,” Scentsy President Heidi Thompson said in a statement. “We have heard so many stories about how the March of Dimes has impacted families throughout Idaho, and we wanted to do our part.”

The fundraiser was an all-day affair, beginning with a crepe breakfast dished up by consultants for Velata, Scentsy’s line of kitchen products. Following the 11-hour Rock-a-Thon, the company hosted a fireworks show for the community, with all parking proceeds benefitting the Idaho March of Dimes.

September 15, 2015

U.S. News

Viridian Teams with Sungevity on Co-Branded Solar Offering

Retail electricity seller Viridian Energy has found a new partner to help build its solar energy business. The renewable energy company is rolling out a co-branded offering with Sungevity Inc., a solar energy provider with operations in the U.S. and Europe.

The partnership combines Sungevity’s technology platform with the marketing power of Viridian’s independent salesforce, which generated revenue of $328 million in 2014. Through its technology platform, Sungevity can remotely assess a site and deliver a quote to a prospective customer. The California-based company also provides online tools that enable customers to monitor their system’s performance.

“In Sungevity, we’ve found the right strategic partner to take our solar business to the next level,” Viridian Energy Founder and CEO Michael Fallquist said in a statement. “Sungevity’s innovative technology platform, exceptional customer experience, and extensive installation network promise to further differentiate our solar offering, expand our total volume of solar capacity sold, and deliver more favorable economics for our stakeholders.”

Connecticut-based Viridian, part of Crius Energy, currently has about 250,000 customers across 14 states and Washington, D.C. The company rolled out its first solar offering in late 2013 through a partnership with SolarCity. In markets where Sungevity is not yet active, Viridian will continue to market solar energy through its reseller agreement with SolarCity.

After launching the new offering in the first quarter of 2016, Crius and Sungevity are looking to expand aggressively across the deregulated energy space. Viridian’s partnership with Sungevity, unlike the deal with SolarCity, will ensure co-branding for the duration of the solar contract, which runs about 20 years.

September 11, 2015

U.S. News

This Week: Avon Talks to Private Investors, Fortune Covers Herbalife Saga

Catch up on this week’s industry chatter with these click-worthy links:

  • The Wall Street Journal reported Avon is in talks with private equity firms (paywall) about selling a stake in the business. A stake sale is one of many options the cosmetics seller is currently exploring, according to the report. Though the move could provide an inflow of money to improve Avon’s declining business, investors responded negatively to the news, driving shares down 9.5 percent to $4.10 on Thursday. The stock fell another 15 percent on Friday, closing the day at $3.48.
  • On Bloomberg View, Columnist Justin Fox chimed into the conversation with a follow-up to Fortune’s article on Herbalife. Fox addresses some common objections to the company, arguing that despite potential risks inherent to the business model, Herbalife doesn’t deserve to be shut down by regulators.
  • CosmeticsDesign.com spoke to Axel Moricz de Tesco, Natura’s head of operations in Colombia, currently the Brazilian beauty company’s biggest market for direct sales—40 percent of total sales, in contrast to 20 percent of sales in Brazil. Moricz de Tesco discussed the brand’s approach to sustainability in the country, as well as Natura’s strategy to build market share.

September 11, 2015

U.S. News

USANA Assembles 150,000 Meals for Charity during Annual Convention

Photo: World champion boxers Timothy Bradley and Austin Trout join USANA Founder Dr. Myron Wentz and Co-CEO Dave Wentz at the Children’s Hunger Fund Food Pak event. (PRNewsFoto/USANA Health Sciences)

At USANA’s recent International Convention, company associates, athletes and celebrity partners came together to assemble 150,000 meals and raise $160,000 for charity—all in a span of four days.

The nutrition company incorporated several humanitarian projects into its annual event, held in USANA’s hometown of Salt Lake City. The schedule included a large-scale Food Pak event benefitting the Children’s Hunger Fund, a charitable partner dedicated to feeding malnourished children around the world. USANA had support from NFL Network correspondent and former American Ninja Warrior host Jenn Brown, as well as world-champion boxers Timothy Bradley, Austin Trout and Juan Diaz, who helped associates and employees pack more than 150,000 meals.

During another segment of the convention, the annual USANA Champions for Change 5K, participants ran the streets of downtown Salt Lake City dressed as superheroes. Heart surgeon and Daytime Emmy Award-winning host Dr. Mehmet Oz hosted the event alongside Amy Purdy, an actress, snowboarder and Paralympic bronze medalist who shared her story in the popular TED talk Living Beyond Limits. Oz and Purdy are also among the high-profile celebrities and athletes who donated their photos for the USANA 2016 Influencer Calendar, with all proceeds going to the USANA True Health Foundation.

By the close of the convention, participants had raised more than $160,000 in support of the foundation. The funds will provide critical necessities to those suffering or in need—the mission of the USANA True Health Foundation.

“We want USANA to be the healthiest family on earth, and that means strengthening our bodies and stretching our hearts,” USANA Co-CEO Dave Wentz said in a statement. “We want to reach out to the world and share the goodness that is within all of us. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to those who selflessly lift the loads of others.”

September 10, 2015

World News

Youngevity Targets Asia with Opening of Singapore Headquarters

Photo: Singapore’s Marina Bay.

Youngevity International is looking to build its business in Asia with the opening of a regional headquarters in the Republic of Singapore, the nutrition and lifestyle products maker said Thursday.

“We are proud to announce the opening of our office in the heart of Asia,” Youngevity CEO Steve Wallach said in a statement. “We chose Singapore because of its advanced, successful free-market economy, featuring an open and corruption-free environment.”

Additionally, Singapore’s central location and strong Asia Pacific manufacturing network provide a strategic “launch pad” into Southeast Asia, China and India, Wallach noted. The California-based company is planning a soft launch in November, followed by the official opening of the Singapore market in the first quarter of 2016. Youngevity’s Vice President of Asia, Ben Ho, will head up the new market.

Outside of operations in Russia, supported by a Moscow office, Singapore represents Youngevity’s first foray into Asia. After more than doubling revenue last year, the company is focusing on building international markets, which accounted for just 8 percent of 2014 sales.

September 10, 2015

World News

Nu Skin’s Ryan Napierski Named President of Global Sales and Operations

Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. has named veteran talent Ryan Napierski as President of Global Sales and Operations, following the departure of Dan Chard.

In more than 20 years at Nu Skin, Napierski has held a number of roles across the company’s global operations. He spent the past eight years in Asia, where he most recently served as President of both Nu Skin Japan and Nu Skin North Asia. In 2014, North Asia accounted for 30 percent, or $783.0 million, of Nu Skin’s $2.57 billion revenue.

Napierski’s earlier roles within the company included Vice President of Global Business Development, overseeing Nu Skin’s global compensation plan; General Manager for the United Kingdom; and Vice President of European Business Development.

“With every promotion or new assignment over the years, Ryan has proven himself an able leader and has met each new challenge with excellence,” Truman Hunt, President and CEO, said in a statement. “I have every confidence that Ryan has the right experience and expertise to lead Nu Skin’s global sales organization.”

“While we are pleased to welcome Ryan back to our U.S. headquarters, I want to acknowledge Dan’s significant contributions to our company,” Hunt added. “On behalf of everyone at Nu Skin, we thank Dan for his years of service and wish him all the best for the future.”

September 08, 2015

U.S. News

Medifast ‘Happy Afters’ Contest Spotlights User Success Stories

Photo: Medifast’s 2015 Happy Afters winners pose during a photo shoot at Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Wickliffe House.

Weight-loss company Medifast Inc. is celebrating customer success stories with its 5th annual Happy Afters contest. Customers nationwide shared the personal transformations behind their before-and-after photos for the chance to win a free makeover trip.

Last week the company flew seven winners, including a Fan Favorite selected by Medifast’s online audience, to Charleston, South Carolina. Each participant received a professional makeover, complete with a new wardrobe curated by a personal stylist. They were also the stars of a photo shoot held at downtown Charleston’s historic Wickliffe House.

“Our Happy Afters contest is always one of the year’s biggest highlights,” Medifast’s Executive Vice President and CMO, Brian Kagen, said in a statement. “Medifast is always looking for unique ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle and celebrate life-changing stories.”

This year’s contest winners, ranging in age from 25 to 57, will also have a chance to appear in the brand’s 2016 national ad campaigns.

Medifast markets its meal replacement programs and other weight-loss products through a variety of channels, including the Take Shape For Life direct sales division. In the second quarter, ended June 30, Take Shape For Life accounted for more than 70 percent of the company’s total revenue.

September 04, 2015

World News

This Week: Thirty-One, Viridian Energy and the Avon Lady 2.0

Catch up on this week’s industry chatter with these click-worthy links:

  • As part of a larger feature for Columbus CEO magazine, the Columbus Dispatch posted a Q&A with Thirty-One Founder and CEO Cindy Monroe, who spoke about her experiences launching the personalized accessories brand, as well as what she might have done differently along the way.
  • The Christian Science Monitor explored the appeal of direct selling for the “Avon lady 2.0”—a new generation of sellers primarily using social media to market their wares.
  • Connecticut regulators ruled Viridian Energy made “good faith efforts” to alert its account holders of rate changes, after some users claimed the renewable energy company charged them unfair early termination fees. Consumers took issue when their low introductory rates increased sharply after a six-month period. In August, CEO Michael Fallquist told investors the company was already scaling back its use of introductory rates, which lead to high customer attrition.
  • Yahoo! Finance took a look at the trend toward emerging markets among major players in the beauty industry, as well as the tension between tailoring product offerings to a new market and controlling costs.
  • South Korea is seeing an uptick in multi-level marketing businesses, according to the Korea Fair Trade Commission. In the second quarter of 2015, the country netted seven additional companies in the category, bringing the total to 132.

September 04, 2015

World News

LR Health & Beauty Nominated for German Design Award

German cosmetics firm LR Health & Beauty has garnered the attention of the design community with one of its newest offerings.

The company’s ZEITGARD Cleansing Brush, an innovative skin cleansing device, has been nominated for a German Design Award, the top international prize of the German Design Council. The award aims to present and honor unique design trends across all categories, from building and energy to corporate and brand design. The council will unveil the 2016 recipients in February at the Ambiente consumer goods trade fair in Frankfurt.

“We are very proud that the nomination mentioned us in one breath with Germany’s leading design-oriented brands,” LR General Manager Tilo Plöger said in a statement. “The nomination is a huge success for us, and we are looking forward to the upcoming award ceremony in February.”

The ergonomic ZEITGARD Cleansing Brush, introduced in June, features an oscillating brush head that, according to studies by research institute Dermatest GmbH, cleanses the skin up to 10 times more efficiently than manual cleansing. The brush filaments, developed exclusively for LR and treated with antibacterial microsilver, have rounded ends that cleanse more gently than conventional brushes.

September 04, 2015

U.S. News

Mannatech Announces Further Executive Promotions

The appointment of Al Bala as Mannatech’s CEO, in addition to his role as President, has ushered in further promotions and restructuring within the company.

Dallas-based Mannatech is bringing its R&D and Customer Service teams under the leadership of Joel Bikman, now Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Landen Fredrick, who has been with the nutrition company for nearly a decade, is taking on the role of Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and IT. Fredrick will work closely with the Supply Chain and Regulatory Affairs teams to improve agility and efficiency worldwide.

Regional President Chris Simons is now heading up operations in North America, in addition to the Europe, South Africa and Australasia regions. Since joining the company in 2008, Simons has been instrumental in implementing Mannatech’s 3-Point Plan, a system designed to develop sales leaders, in the markets under his leadership.

“These outstanding leaders will ensure we create a culture where our sales Associates can build the best, most stable, long-term businesses possible,” Bala said in a statement. “By providing our sales Associates with results-driven leadership, we’ll be able to elevate our sales Associates and continue to experience the revenue and profit growth we’ve seen during the last few years.”

September 03, 2015

World News

Gourmet Coffee Seller Organo to Launch in Romania

Photo: The Romanian capital of Bucharest.

Canadian gourmet coffee company Organo has announced plans to launch next week in Romania, expanding its reach into one of the EU’s largest countries.

The brand markets beverages, supplements and personal-care products that feature Ganoderma powder, sourced from a mushroom used in traditional Asian medicines for its health benefits. With the official opening of Romania on Sept. 7, Organo’s operations will extend to 45 countries, most recently Turkey, Scandinavia and Slovakia.

“Coffee, Organo’s best-selling product, is still seen as a luxury—a hard perception to shift since the days of communism when coffee was rationed,” Holton Buggs, Organo Executive Vice President of International Sales and Marketing, said in a statement. “Yet today, Romanians are continuing to rediscover this simple pleasure, along with additional beneficial products that had been limited or missing during the Cold War era.”

Founder and CEO Bernardo Chua said Romania is key to supporting Organo’s business across both Europe and CIS. The company’s Regional Manager for Eastern Europe, Monica Nagy, will head up operations in Romania.

September 02, 2015

U.S. News

LifeVantage Reports Full-Year Earnings Dip, Proposes Reverse Stock Split

LifeVantage Corp. (LFVN—NASDAQ) closed out its fiscal year with revenue down 10 percent to $190.3 million, the health and wellness company said Tuesday.

In the fourth quarter, ended June 30, revenue dropped 20 percent from a year ago to $45.3 million, beating analysts’ estimates of $45.1 million. Adjusted earnings were $3.1 million, down 50 percent year-over-year, but comparable to the company’s third quarter results.

“Our fourth quarter results reflected stability in our revenue and operating results,” President and CEO Darren Jensen, who joined LifeVantage in April, said in a statement. “We strategically implemented $4 million of annualized cost savings in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 to better align our cost structure with current sales trends, and position us for stronger EBITDA and net income in fiscal 2016.”

For the full year, LifeVantage generated adjusted earnings of $17.4 million, down 30 percent from 2014. On the back of a 28.2 percent revenue decrease in the Asia/Pacific region, net income fell 40 percent to $7.0 million.

The company also reported that its board of directors has unanimously put forth a reverse stock split proposal. If approved by shareholders, the reverse split would aim at driving up the stock’s minimum price and securing LifeVantage’s Nasdaq listing. The company’s 98 million outstanding shares are currently trading below the $1 minimum required by Nasdaq.

September 01, 2015

Stock Watch, September 2015

September 01, 2015

Publisher's Note

Industry Growing at Home and Abroad

by Lauren Lawley Head

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

As I write this, we just received outstanding news: Nine direct selling companies are ranked among the 2015 Inc. 500|5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. 

Nerium International led the direct selling pack, coming in at No. 12 with 16,617 percent growth, reaching $403 million in revenue in 2014. Nerium was joined by No. 132 Plexus Worldwide, No. 442 It Works!, No. 564 Jeunesse, No. 915 WorldVentures, No. 2,210 Isagenix, No. 2,814 Ambit Energy, No. 2,864 Beachbody and No. 4,822 Stemtech. Eight of the nine companies are members of the 2015 Direct Selling News Global 100 and North America 50 lists, and the entire DSN team is delighted to see all of them receive this outstanding national recognition. This achievement speaks to the power inherent in direct selling as a distribution channel as well as to the ability of high-performing direct sales companies to compete with the nation’s top corporations.

While the Inc. 500|5000 list celebrates growth among U.S.-based companies, the story of direct selling’s expansion is truly global. In our cover story this month, writer Andrea Tortora explores the most recent research from the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA), which identifies 23 countries that each represented more than $1 billion in direct selling retail sales last year. Overall, the global data shows an increase in total sales to $182.8 billion in 2014, a 6.4 percent increase from $171.8 billion in 2013, and an increase in the number of independent business owners to 99.7 million, a 3.4 percent increase from 96.5 million in 2013. All regions of the world and three-quarters of all countries posted increased sales. As WFDSA Chairman Doug DeVos said, “It’s exciting to see more people, both customers and distributors, enjoying the benefits of direct selling.”

International growth played a significant role for one of the Inc. 500|5000 honorees profiled in this edition of Direct Selling News. Jeunesse, featured in the Company Spotlight story on page 34, is a skincare and nutritional products company based in Florida. Since its launch in 2009, the company has expanded into 120 countries, with 32 offices, 40 distribution centers and a salesforce of 550,000. Fifteen of those markets are now generating $1 million in sales each month. “We didn’t want to be at the mercy of any one country,” Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Wendy Lewis told writer Courtney Roush. “The economy may be going great in one market, but taking a temporary downturn in another. Tax rates are different among the markets. Spreading out to as many countries as possible, economic conditions begin to balance each other out.”

Also this month, you will meet FuXion, an $80 million Peruvian company poised to make its U.S. market entry later this year, and Trades of Hope, a young party-plan company dedicated to the belief that sustainable businesses offer a long-term solution to poverty. We hope you find this edition packed with growth, optimism and new ideas for taking your business to the next level.




3-year growth

2014 revenue


Nerium International




Plexus Worldwide




 It Works!
















Ambit Energy












All the best,

Lauren Lawley Head

Publisher and Editor in Chief

September 01, 2015

News in Brief

News in Brief, September 2015

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Mary Kay Keeps Focus on Philanthropy at Annual Seminar

Mary KayMore than 27,000 Independent Beauty Consultants gathered in Dallas this summer for the 2015 Mary Kay Seminar.

Mary Kay calls its anti-domestic violence initiative Don’t Look Away, and the company took its own advice by keeping the cause front and center during its 2015 Mary Kay Seminar. The annual event, held in five waves from July 15–Aug. 1, was all about empowering women—including survivors of domestic violence.

As 27,000 Independent Beauty Consultants gathered in Dallas, they had the opportunity to prepare care kits for survivors, donate professional clothing to local women’s shelters, and see Mary Kay’s new, award-winning series of public service announcement videos, One in Four. Mary Kay also recently announced $1.25 million in continued funding for loveisrespect, a text-for-help service launched as a tool for young people to help prevent dating abuse.

Seminar attendees, including more than 2,000 husbands who accompanied their wives, took part in assembling care kits filled with basic Mary Kay skincare products. Consultants distributed the 2,000 kits to 20 women’s shelters across the country. One of those shelters was The Family Place in Dallas, where a Mary Kay pink Cadillac made a local delivery during the Seminar.

The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that the Mary Kay Seminar pumped $30.4 million into the local economy. The event has taken place at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas since 1974 and is one of the city’s top 10 in terms of economic impact.

Stream Awards First Batch of Teslas to Top Associates

TeslaTesla Model S

Stream is taking its car bonus program to the next level with the creation of a new National Director position for top-performing Associates. The home services provider recently presented an electric-powered Tesla Model S to each of its qualifying National Directors. Dallas-based Stream is the first direct selling company to tap Silicon Valley automaker Tesla Motors—a fitting choice for a brand built on an innovative approach to marketing energy.

The seven-seat Model S sedan is the only model currently marketed by Tesla, but a Model X crossover will be available this fall. Following its introduction in June 2012, the Model S earned a slew of awards, such as Time’s Best Inventions of the Year 2012 and the top score ever from Consumer Reports magazine.

Tupperware Tops Quarterly Estimates with $62M Profit

Tupperware Brands Corp. (TUP—NYSE) recently announced that second-quarter profit exceeded expectations, despite revenue figures that dipped below Wall Street estimates.

Net income for the quarter was $62 million, up 30 percent from a year ago. On a per-share basis, the Orlando, Florida-based company reported a profit of $1.23, versus 93 cents in the prior year. On average, analysts had forecasted earnings of $1.17 per share. Adjusted earnings were $1.21, down 18 percent in dollars but up 13 percent in local currency.

Quarterly revenue totaled $588.9 million, coming in just under the $589.8 million estimated by analysts. Emerging markets accounted for 67 percent of sales, with strong performances from Brazil, China, the Middle East and North Africa.

The kitchenware and cosmetics seller said its salesforce increased 3 percent versus a year ago to 3 million. In the U.S. and Canada, Tupperware recorded a 14 percent increase in new consultants.

For the current quarter, the company forecasts earnings of 69 cents to 74 cents per share. Full-year earnings expectations are in the range of $4.42 to $4.52 per share.

Usborne Books Sustains 2-Year Turnaround

Educational Development Corp. (EDUC—NASDAQ), parent of bookseller Usborne Books & More, is marking 24 consecutive months of growth following a nine-year decline, according to the company’s quarterly earnings report.

Oklahoma-based Educational Development Corp. (EDC) operates EDC Publishing as well as the larger Usborne direct selling division. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, the combined businesses recorded net revenue of $9.6 million, up 34 percent from a year ago. Net income for the quarter ended May 31 rose 35 percent to $324,600.

At Usborne Books & More, a 108 percent increase in new sales associates spurred 59 percent revenue growth in the first quarter. The marketer of educational children’s books, twice recognized by Forbes magazine as one of “The 200 Best Small Companies in America,” is in the midst of a turnaround that began in 2012. In a recent interview with DSN, CEO Randall White attributed Usborne’s growth to a number of factors, including the decision to cancel an account with one of the brand’s primary wholesalers, thereby boxing out competition from Amazon.

Avon North America Sees Rare Profit in Second Quarter


Sales at Avon Products Inc. (AVP—NYSE) continued to decline in the second quarter, but the beauty company’s lagging North America division posted its first quarterly profit in several years.

Second quarter revenue fell 17 percent to $1.8 billion, weighed down by currency pressures in several foreign markets. On a constant-dollar basis, overall sales remained flat, with growth in Russia and the Philippines offset by declines in Brazil, China and the U.S.

The New York-based company reported adjusted earnings of 11 cents a share, surpassing the 7 cents predicted by analysts but dropping 20 cents from a year ago.

Heavy cost-cutting initiatives are paying off for the company in North America, where it saw a modest profit for the first time since the first quarter of 2012. Despite an improving bottom line, the number of Avon sellers in North America fell 16 percent from the second quarter of 2014. Overall, the brand’s salesforce shrunk by 2 percent from a year ago.

Avon said its expectations for the full year remain the same. The company forecasted modest constant-dollar revenue growth, with continued negative effects from currency exchange rates.

After 30 Years, Longaberger Convention Returns to Small-Town Roots

LongabergerThe Longaberger Homestead in Dresden, Ohio.

Annual salesforce conventions are a common practice among direct selling companies, but the gatherings themselves are as diverse as the companies they represent. For Ohio-based basket maker The Longaberger Co., this year’s event was a literal return to the company’s roots and a celebration of its four-decade history.

Now a part of the CVSL family of brands, Longaberger got its start in the village of Dresden, home to the company’s manufacturing plant and a shopping, dining and entertainment destination known as the Longaberger Homestead. Dresden also hosted this year’s Longaberger convention, held July 23–25. Known as The Bee—think quilting or spelling—the meeting has taken place in Columbus for the past 30 years.

“Probably the most important factor was that we were really trying to get back to our roots and tell the story of the craft, as well as the small town in Ohio where all this was born,” Longaberger’s Director of Communications, Brenton Baker, told DSN. “We realized we were at odds with ourselves, talking about the charm of the Homestead and village but asking people to come to a cold convention hall in Columbus.”

In addition to visiting the Homestead and meeting the craftspeople behind Longaberger’s handmade baskets and home goods, the crowd of approximately 1,000 heard from Longaberger’s new CEO, CVSL Vice Chairman John Rochon Jr. Rochon stepped in following Tami Longaberger’s exit in May.

Herbalife Members Give Blood, Give Back with Red Cross Partnership

HerbalifeHerbalife kicked off its Red Cross partnership with a blood drive during its convention in St. Louis.

The 25,000 members who recently attended Herbalife’s North America Extravaganza in St. Louis helped the nutrition company kick off a new partnership with the American Red Cross. Herbalife held a two-day blood drive during the annual meeting, which had an estimated $18 million impact on the local economy.

In addition to sponsoring a blood drive, the company announced it is donating 280,000 Herbalife protein bars, which will be available at select blood drives and blood donation centers by the end of this month. This fall, the Los Angeles-based brand will launch a grassroots social media campaign to raise funds for the American Red Cross.

ARIIX Announces Merger with Nutrition Brand Voluxa

ARIIX, a wellness and personal-care products company, recently announced a merger with Voluxa, a marketer of antioxidant-rich nutrition products that was founded just last year. As a result, the two companies have combined their product portfolios and sales networks.

After three years in business, ARIIX joined the top direct selling companies in the world on the 2015 DSN Global 100. The Utah-based brand ranked No. 95, based on 2014 revenue of $73 million. Prior to the merger with Maine-based Voluxa, ARIIX’s representative count had topped 35,000. ARIIX has previously expanded its business through a series of mergers with smaller health-focused brands, including Trivani Intl., ZENVEI, HAVVN and RevvNRG.

$50K Primerica Grant Will Equip At-Risk Teens for the Future

The Orange Duffel Bag InitiativePrimerica CEO Glenn Williams presents a grant award to The Orange Duffel Bag Initiative.

During its 2015 Convention in July, Primerica brought home the event’s theme—“Freedom Redefined”—with the announcement of a $50,000 grant that will equip at-risk teens for future success.

CEO Glenn Williams presented the grant award to Sam Bracken, Co-Founder of The Orange Duffel Bag Initiative (ODBI), an organization Primerica has supported since 2013. ODBI helps Georgia teens who are homeless or aging out of the foster care system, often without the means or skills necessary to support themselves. ODBI’s team of certified life and executive coaches provides coaching, training and ongoing advocacy to these youth.

The Orange Duffel Bag Initiative grew largely from Bracken’s own experiences. Though he would later become a star football player for Georgia Tech and an executive with FranklinCovey, Bracken was once a homeless teen who could carry everything he owned in an orange duffel bag. He has shared his experiences in My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change, a book he co-authored.


Herbalife VP Talks Member Meetings with Congress

Eric RosenEric Rosen

Amid ongoing scrutiny from regulators and the press regarding its business practices, Herbalife is taking every opportunity to tell its own story to the public and policymakers.

In July, a dozen Herbalife members traveled from five states to Washington, D.C. Their mission: to meet with representatives in Congress and personally communicate their experiences with the nutrition company—the kind of legislative relationship building promoted by the Direct Selling Assocation. To learn more about Herbalife’s meetings with Congress, DSN reached out to Eric Rosen, Vice President of U.S. Government Relations at Herbalife.

DSN: What was the main takeaway these members hoped to communicate to their representatives?

ER: Our members visited their elected officials to talk about the real way Herbalife is helping them live healthier, more active lifestyles and supporting them to own their own business.

Each Herbalife member around the country works hard to have a healthier lifestyle, and in some cases, have their own businesses. Being in Washington, D.C., gives our members the opportunity to share their stories with elected officials and educate those in Washington about the important role Herbalife plays in their lives.

DSN: What was a highlight of the day?

ER: There were a lot of beautiful moments from our fly-in, but the conversation between Andres Gaspar, an Herbalife member from Alabama, and staff in the Office of Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL) was particularly memorable. Andres was very emotional when he talked about his previous work doing manual labor to support his family, including seven children. It was hard work and never enough, but through Herbalife, dedication and discipline, he now has the means to provide a good home and education for his family while promoting a product that is helping his community live a healthier life. He went on to say that for an immigrant like himself, this was more than he could ever dream. It was clear that the congressional staffer understood the deep impact Herbalife has had on the entire Gaspar family and the high regard they have for the quality of the product.

DSN: Does Herbalife plan to coordinate these meetings on a regular basis?

ER: Our fly-in program has allowed people from around the country to come to Washington, D.C., and represent their fellow 550,000 Herbalife members in meetings with elected officials. Through our fly-ins, we have empowered our members by helping them speak directly to their congressional representatives. We plan on continuing this program going forth.

DSN: What else is Herbalife doing right now to educate lawmakers about its business model?

ER: Herbalife’s efforts to explain its role as a global nutrition leader to policymakers in Washington and around the world are ongoing. We visit with elected officials in their districts, in the halls of Congress, and at events around the country to make them aware of the opportunities Herbalife products offer people who are interested in living healthier lives and working towards personal financial goals. We will continue to seek creative ways to give lawmakers a chance to interact with our products and learn more about Herbalife.

September 01, 2015

Cover Story

Direct Selling’s Strength in the World’s Billion Dollar Markets

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Direct selling continues to gain ground worldwide, with global retail sales and the total salesforce both reaching record highs in 2014.

The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) estimates that retail sales rose 6.4 percent to $182.8 billion in 2014, up from $171.8 billion in 2013, with all regions and three-quarters of direct selling countries posting gains. The total salesforce grew by 3.4 percent in 2014 to 99.7 million people, up from 96.5 million in 2013. All of which lights the stage for coming geographic shifts in market dominance.

“The most recent figures highlight the increasing opportunities that direct selling offers,” says WFDSA Chairman Doug DeVos. “Customers seek personalized service and quality products, and direct sellers are able to meet those needs in a way that is convenient and enjoyable. At the same time, people who aspire to earn a little extra or launch a full-time business venture are drawn to direct selling due to its flexibility and pay-for-performance structure.  It’s exciting to see more people, both customers and distributors, enjoying the benefits of direct selling.”

As part of WFDSA’s annual global statistics gathering, data is collected in local currency figures, which are then converted to U.S. dollars using 2014 exchange rates for all years. When comparisons are made to determine year-over-year change, this practice eliminates the impact of currency fluctuation, explains Judy Jones, Market Research Insights Leader at Amway and Chair of the WFDSA Global Research Committee. The 2015 report comes with an expiration date of May 2016, when the next year’s data will be published. For some markets, sales are estimated until the respective country reports its official figures to the WFDSA. At that time, actual data is restated and accounted for the next year.

These most recent figures confirm direct selling’s strength and its ability to keep reaching more people—as sellers and consumers—in all corners of the globe. The industry’s 6.5 percent three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2011 to 2014 is evidence of that power.

The Top 5 countries account for 61 percent of all global sales. All but one report a positive CAGR (2011-2014):

  1. United States, 4.9 percent
  2. China, 18.7 percent
  3. Japan, -2.3 percent
  4. Korea, 8.1 percent
  5. Brazil, 6.7 percent

In all, 23 countries posted retail sales from direct selling of $1 billion or more in 2014. That group accounts for 93 percent of global sales from direct selling.

Leading the pack of the Top 5 countries once again is the United States, where the 2014 sales of $34.5 billion set a record and grew by 5.5 percent from the prior year. The U.S. CAGR for 2011 to 2014 is 4.9 percent. There are 18.2 million people who distribute products, up 8.3 percent from 2013. Nearly 75 percent are women, which means 14 million females are building their own businesses.

Overall estimated retail sales rose 6.4 percent to $182.8 billion in 2014, up from $171.8 billion in 2013.

Companies that are members of the U.S. Direct Selling Association (U.S. DSA) employ 55,300 people who are highly trained experts in their field. For example: 3,000 employees are science professionals, including chemists, biologists and engineers.

“Robust salesforce and revenue figures only tell part of the story behind direct selling’s success in the United States and around the world,” says Joseph N. Mariano, President of the U.S. DSA. “Our channel also provides tremendous professional opportunities to thousands of individuals committed to sound science, product integrity, ethics and a superior customer experience. As the direct selling channel continues to grow, so too will new prospects with companies across a wide variety of industries.”

The China Factor

Despite the growth in the U.S., all eyes are on China. With 2014 sales of $30.2 billion, it is growing ever closer to claiming the No. 1 spot among the world’s billion-dollar direct selling markets. China’s phenomenal year-over-year growth rate of 18.6 percent puts it on pace to bump the United States to the No. 2 spot in 2015, as long as current growth trends continue, predicts DIR Group Management Co. Ltd., a Wuhan City-based firm that provides industry research and consulting to direct selling companies in China.

DIR Group Management subsidiary and consultancy Syncplex predicts China will continue to grow in retail direct selling revenue for 2015. According to Syncplex CEO and Founder Lau Chong Guan, “The number of licensed companies is on the rise and should reach 70 by the end of 2015. The Chinese government granted 15 new licenses as of July 2015, and there is rapid growth among new companies.”

China’s $30.2 billion in 2014 sales, as recorded by the WFDSA, only includes licensed companies. Syncplex believes there is another 20 percent in sales recorded by companies without licenses, which would bring the China market close to $36 billion in 2014.

Clearly, China is a country primed for direct selling. Its growing middle class has money to spend and is eager to experience a wide range of consumer goods, including health and wellness products that focus on prevention. At the same time, transportation issues that once made it difficult to get products to consumers in rural China are less of an issue today.

For the bulk of direct selling companies, China will remain an intriguing market to observe. Only the very largest direct sellers based outside the country—such as Amway, Avon, Herbalife, Mary Kay, Nu Skin and Oriflame—have achieved success in China. As well, several Chinese and Asian players have been successful, for instance, Perfect, Infinitus, Joymain and Tiens. Still, growth in the market is likely to be concentrated among a few players. Here’s why:

China’s relationship with direct selling began in the 1990s, when Avon entered the country. Scandals among other companies caused the Chinese government to ban direct selling in 1998. When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, it agreed to reopen its doors to direct selling, which it did in 2005. Today there are about 50 licensed direct selling firms operating in China. The official number of independent consultants is unknown.

During the ban, companies that first entered China, including Avon and Amway, evolved their business models to comply with Chinese law. This meant opening standalone retail stores (called specialty shops) that allowed for continued sales and a brand presence. Despite the ban, direct sellers that operated retail outlets maintained growth rates and grew their market share in cosmetics and toiletries from 2000 to 2005. Stores expanded at rates between 2 percent and 5 percent, and direct sales grew between 4 percent and 9 percent.

The industry’s 6.5 percent three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2011 to 2014 is evidence of direct selling’s strength and its ability to keep reaching more people in all corners of the globe.

To avoid a repeat of earlier scandals, in 2005 the Chinese Ministry of Commerce put strict rules in place to obtain a direct selling license. The process is complicated and lengthy. However the government did loosen up rules for online sales. It wants online shopping to account for more than 5 percent of China’s total retail sales by the end of 2015. To achieve that goal, Chinese officials are encouraging multi-channel sellers that operate traditional stores to offer online shopping.

Today, direct selling fits nicely into China’s current economy and cultural outlook. The person-to-person interactions dovetail with the cultural aspect of guanxi or “doing business with people you know. “

“More people want to be entrepreneurs, and so direct selling, in fact, provides them with the opportunity to invest small to start their own business,” Brian Liu, a senior manager at DIR Group Management, says via email.

China’s phenomenal year-over-year growth rate of 18.6 percent puts it on pace to bump the United States to the No. 2 spot as soon as next year, some industry experts believe.

Claiming a Spot on the World Stage

From the Chinese perspective, there are two major direct selling markets in the world: one is the global market minus China, and the other one is the China market. The ability to use Internet sales and smartphones in direct selling embraces China’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Social media channels such as WeChat let consultants create online “micro-shops” to promote and sell their products, and many of these online stores use a simple multi-level payout structure, says DIR Group Management President Brian Cai.

\Native and international companies are keen to tap the China market, especially pharmaceutical firms. Two new healthcare and beauty product firms began direct selling operations in 2014—Taiwan-based Orient Pharmaceutical and Shandong Province-based Sanzhu Fuer Pharmaceutical. Both make medical and health products. Other established native Chinese direct sellers are eager to show off their success while rewarding their salespeople with tours around the world.

In May 2014, Perfect China (a seller of health food, household, beauty and skincare products) sent 7,000 distributors on a tour of California. The group logged 12,000 hotel room nights at 30 hotels. It was the largest single group meeting from China to ever visit the U.S., says the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau. The event generated $85 million in revenue for the region’s economy.

This May, the Tiens Group, which offers healthcare products, booked more than 4,700 rooms in 79 hotels in France to take 6,000 consultants on a four-day excursion to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. The trip generated $20 million in revenue.

In the same month, Infinitus, a direct seller of modern Chinese herbal products, sent 12,700 consultants, sellers and customers on six-day trips to Thailand. The company sent people in groups of 2,000 to 3,000 to visit Bangkok and the beach town of Pattaya. Thailand’s tourism officials reported an economic impact of $18 million, according to published reports.

Today, direct selling fits nicely into China’s current economy and cultural outlook. The person-to-person interactions dovetail with the cultural aspect of guanxi or “doing business with people you know.”

Surrounded by Growth

Direct retail sales and direct sellers are on the rise across the globe, as WFDSA data illustrates.

Asia is by far the largest region for direct sales in 2014, claiming 45 percent of global retail sales. China, Japan and Malaysia make up 64 percent of that. The three-year CAGR for the region is up 8.4 percent to $81.5 billion.

Ten of the 23 billion-dollar markets are from the Asia/Pacific region:

2: China

15: Thailand

3: Japan

19: Australia

4: Korea

20: Philippines

9: Malaysia

22: India

12: Taiwan

23: Indonesia

The Americas account for 37 percent of 2014 retail sales. South and Central America generate 17 percent, and the United States and Canada combine for 20 percent. The three-year compound sales growth rate for this geographic sector is up 5.9 percent to $67.4 billion. The region claims seven of the 23 spots:

1: United States

16: Peru

5: Brazil

17: Canada

7: Mexico

18: Argentina

14: Colombia


Europe is the world’s third largest region for direct sales. As a whole, it delivers 17 percent of retail revenue. Of that 17 percent, 75 percent is from Western Europe and 25 percent takes place in Central and Eastern Europe. The region’s three-year CAGR is 3.4 percent to $32.6 billion. Six of the top markets are European:

6: Germany

11: Russia

8: France

13: Italy

10: United Kingdom

21: Poland

Africa and the Middle East, together, account for roughly 1 percent of global direct retail sales.

As one might expect, Asia is home to the most people participating in direct selling as independent consultants. Its salesforce grew 1.6 percent in 2014 to 51.1 million people, according to the WFDSA. The Americas jumped 5.7 percent to 33.1 million sellers. Europe climbed 4.4 percent to 14 million distributors.

Emerging Markets

China and other Asian countries, plus emerging markets in Latin America, are fueling much of the industry’s growth. Emerging markets as a whole produced 45 percent of all 2014 direct retail sales, an increase of 7 percentage points from 2010 to 2014.

In 2014, Argentina had the highest year-over-year growth among the billion-dollar markets with 37.7 percent, as well as the highest three-year cumulative growth rate with 28.8 percent.

It can be interesting to look at what’s driving growth in individual countries. The national economy, government regulations, technology and social media, and a rising consumer class all play a role. Emerging markets as a group have experienced a three-year CAGR of 10.7 percent. Advanced or more developed markets posted compound annual sales growth of just 3.5 percent for the same period.

In 2014, markets with the highest year-over-year growth are:

  • Argentina, 37.7 percent
  • China, 18.6 percent
  • United Kingdom, 10.9 percent
  • Colombia, 10.4 percent

Countries with the highest three-year cumulative growth rate are:

  • Argentina, 28.8 percent
  • China, 18.7 percent
  • Philippines, 17.6 percent
  • India, 12.3 percent
  • Indonesia, 11.3 percent

Latin America offers huge potential for direct selling, says Roberta Kuruzu, Executive Director of the ABEVD, the Brazilian Association of Direct Selling Companies. Many residents are seeking new earning opportunities to supplement their household income, and governments are launching programs to encourage national economic development and foreign investment.

Direct selling companies “need to address their efforts to understanding the tax and legal aspects of the model,” Kuruzu says. Other important aspects include working to understand the logistic processes of navigating a large country like Brazil or other less developed markets.

In Colombia, a government plan called Pipe 2.0 was designed to generate investment in education, infrastructure, housing, industrial production, mining and tourism. The plan is expected to create 322,000 jobs and juice the economy by up to 3.5 percent, says Netherlands-based business operator TMF Group.

Amway’s adaption strategy in China of employing the Chinese people and featuring Chinese models in advertising could pay off in other emerging markets, Chairman Steve Van Andel told Fortune magazine in 2014.

But in Colombia, like in many other countries, starting a direct selling business that succeeds depends on being able to navigate the local culture, in-country regulations, and laws and licensing processes.

Amway’s strategy in China could pay off in other emerging markets, Chairman Steve Van Andel told Fortune magazine in 2014. He noted that in China, Amway employees are Chinese and advertising features Chinese models. “We always took the approach from the beginning that we need to make sure that when people look at our business, even though they know it’s a U.S. business, they know it’s been adapted to China,” he says.

Van Andel says Amway was not as grounded as it could be in Latin America, and would be working to change that.

In China, companies that incorporate the preferences, history and beliefs of consumers are finding huge success. Nu Skin recently built a new regional headquarters and is capitalizing on its anti-aging treatments. Amway constructed a Nutrilite plant research center in the country, the first facility for its brand of vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements.

Amway also launched a dedicated social media channel in China called Amway Plus, as well as cloud service through WeChat. These offerings let members interact directly with Amway, access member privileges and accumulate points through purchases.

“Brazilian consumers like to receive recommendations from each other. Brazilians are very relational people who enjoy being together and exchanging experiences.”

—Roberta Kuruzu, Executive Director, ABEVD (Brazilian Association of Direct Selling Companies)

Wellness, Cosmetics and Personal Care

Direct sellers provide customers with a wide variety of products and services, from cosmetics to utility services. Many consultants were product users before becoming company representatives, and some choose to use the products themselves and not sell them at all.

This works perfectly with the social selling aspect of direct selling, which was discussed at length at the WFDSA World Congress in 2014 as the original social network. For more than 100 years, the industry has used personal recommendations in an organized way of doing business, Kuruzu says.

“Social media tools are a powerful way to leverage the relationship skills that direct selling has always had,” she says. “Nevertheless, we believe that social media or digital life will never replace the personal contact.”

But for those who do, product categories in beauty, personal care and wellness are the most popular. This holds true globally and regionally.

2014 global sales by product category:

  • Cosmetics & Personal Care: 34 percent
  • Wellness: 29 percent
  • Household Goods & Durables: 13 percent
  • Clothing & Accessories: 7 percent
  • Utilities: 3 percent
  • Financial Services: 3 percent
  • Books, Toys, Stationery: 3 percent
  • Home Care: 2 percent
  • Home Improvement: 2 percent
  • Foodstuff & Beverages: 1 percent
  • Other: 3 percent

Cosmetics and personal care along with wellness items are the top two product categories in each region for which data is available. Household goods, home improvement, and clothing and accessories round out the third slot in the various regions (see below).
2014 regional sales by Top 3 product categories:


  • Cosmetics & Personal Care: 25 percent
  • Wellness: 39 percent
  • Household Goods & Durables: 17 percent

North America

  • Wellness: 30 percent
  • Cosmetics & Personal Care: 18 percent
  • Household Goods & Durables: 15 percent

South & Central America

  • Cosmetics & Personal Care: 66 percent
  • Wellness: 18 percent
  • Clothing & Accessories: 8 percent

Western Europe

  • Cosmetics & Personal Care: 24 percent
  • Wellness: 26 percent
  • Home Improvement: 13 percent

Central & Eastern Europe

  • Cosmetics & Personal Care: 61 percent
  • Wellness: 16 percent
  • Clothing & Accessories: 7 percent (tie)
  • Household Goods: 7 percent (tie)

Data is not available for Africa and the Middle East as a region. But in South Africa, cosmetics and personal-care items claim 40 percent of direct retail sales, followed by household goods (26 percent) and wellness products (17 percent).

Regional Spotlights

In Brazil, which is the No. 5 market with 2014 sales of $13.0 billion and a CAGR of 6.7 percent, the country’s economy is struggling, says Kuruzu, of the ABEVD. “Despite that, direct selling is a very good opportunity for people who are unemployed and looking for extra or a main source of income,” Kuruzu says. The country’s cultural aspects are the perfect environment for direct selling, says Kuruzu. “Brazilian consumers like to receive recommendations from each other,” she says. “Brazilians are very relational people who enjoy being together and exchanging experiences.”

Russia is the 11th largest market for direct selling. Its $3.6 billion in 2014 sales set a record for the country. Growth is a bit slower here than in other nations, but sales remain strong. Russia’s CAGR is 1.6 percent from 2011-2014. Look for that number to grow as more residents sign on to be independent consultants. The field grew by 7.6 percent to 5.4 million people, and 88 percent are women. Such growth is a good indicator of coming sales increases.

There are 19 member companies in Russia’s DSA. The group employs 6,743 people. One-third of the businesses make their products in Russia while 40 percent outsource to Russian suppliers. Some firms do both. And 70 percent of Russia’s direct selling entities operate national head offices within the country.

Argentina posted 2014 direct retail sales of $1.8 billion, making it the 18th largest market on the globe. Those sales are a record for the nation and calculate to a year-over-year increase of 37.7 percent. Fast growth is likely to continue, as evidenced by a CAGR of 28.8 percent and an expanding salesforce.

Turkey is about to break into the billion dollar club. With 2014 sales of $877 million and a year-over-year growth rate of 10.5 percent, the market is backed by a strong growth curve.

There were 715,000 distributors in Argentina, up 2.1 percent from 2013. Of those, 95 percent are women who own their own businesses. Argentina’s 11 DSA member firms employ 3,621 people and are heavily invested in manufacturing their products within the country’s borders. Thirty-six percent of direct selling member companies make their products in-house and 73 percent outsource to other Argentine companies.

Australia is No. 19 among billion-dollar direct selling markets with $1.4 billion in sales in 2014. That’s up 5.4 percent since 2013. The country, which is home to popular spice maker Your Inspiration at Home, counts a field of 557,000 distributors. Seventy-eight percent of sellers are women. The salesforce grew by 10.2 percent last year. Combined with cumulative three-year growth of 3.9 percent, the country should continue to post strong sales figures.

Poland is now the 21st largest direct selling market in the world. Its 2014 sales were $1.2 billion, marking a record year for the European country. Poland’s compound growth rate from 2011 to 2014 is 5.2 percent.

Women dominate the Polish direct selling salesforce, making up 87 percent of the 970,933 independent consultants. The number of distributors grew by 7.9 percent in 2014. In addition, Poland DSA’s 22 member direct selling companies employ more than 1,500 people.

Indonesia is the world’s 23rd largest direct selling market with 2014 sales of $1.1 billion, up 8 percent from 2013. The nation’s double-digit CAGR of 11.3 percent bodes well for continued growth. The salesforce of 11.7 million people grew by 14.5 percent last year. DSA member companies employ 3,472 people.

Direct selling firms in Indonesia have developed a robust supply chain. Among member companies, 1 in 5 operates manufacturing centers in Indonesia and 2 in 5 outsource to other Indonesian suppliers.

Turkey is about to break into the billion dollar club. With 2014 sales of $877 million and a year-over-year growth rate of 10.5 percent, the market is backed by a strong growth curve. The country’s CAGR is 5.4 percent from 2011 to 2014. Turkey is also growing its salesforce, up 2.1 percent in 2014 to 1.1 million sellers. Women make up 84 percent of that group.

The Turkish DSA includes 10 member companies that employ 702 people. Only two of the member companies are based in Turkey. The others support their in-country operations from regional infrastructure centers outside of Turkey. The WFDSA says this “provides a strong example of the interdependence of nations and how direct selling helps attract direct foreign investment to a market.”

September 01, 2015

Company Spotlight

Jeunesse: One of the Industry’s Youngest Companies Takes the World by Storm

by Courtney Roush

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 2009
Headquarters: Altamonte Springs, Florida
Executives: Randy Ray, CEO; Wendy Lewis, COO
Products: anti-aging
2014 Net Sales: $419 million

The typical growth strategy of a direct selling company is to establish roots in one’s home market, develop a brand, generate buzz, and then look to expand overseas. Jeunesse, a direct seller devoted to healthy and youthful living through a suite of skincare and nutritional products, took that approach and flipped it on its head.

“We were looking at U.S. companies who had great momentum initially, but who then would reach a saturation point around $700 million to $900 million. They couldn’t break the $1 billion mark,” explains Scott Lewis, Chief Visionary Officer and son of Co-Founder and COO Wendy Lewis. So, while a lot of new companies might spend their first year stateside and focus their resources on the creation of a marketing brand, Jeunesse quickly turned its attention to global infrastructure in the Asia Pacific region. Taiwan was the company’s first international market, followed by Hong Kong and Indonesia.

The result? In a matter of six years, Jeunesse has grown to have a presence in more than 120 countries, including 32 offices and 40 distribution centers, and a worldwide independent salesforce of 550,000. The company closed out 2014 with $419 million in global sales. Eighteen of its markets post sales of more than $1 million per month. “Our strategy of diversification has set us up for success and sustainability,” Scott says. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this growth, he adds, is that “none of our markets are anywhere close to saturation. In fact, as of last month, the company is already on a growth rate of over 190 percent compared to last year’s numbers.”

“Our strategy of diversification has set us up for success and sustainability. …None of our markets are anywhere close to saturation.”

—Scott Lewis, Chief Visionary Officer

Focused on Longevity

Jeunesse—which fittingly means “youth” in French—launched at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Sept. 9, 2009. That’s 9 on 9/9/09, by the way, and it’s no coincidence; the number 9 signifies longevity in Chinese.

The company follows an “A to Z” checklist for market openings, though the details vary based on region-specific factors. “We adapt to the local market as much as possible, and the right leaders are absolutely essential,” Scott continues. “Probably the most challenging aspect is working with the local DSA and regulatory ministries, presenting our business structure and compensation plan, getting approval, determining such details as whether we’ll need a pay-in [cash] or pay-out system [interfacing with local banks and uploading commissions into direct deposit].”

He continues, “Rather than investing mostly in marketing and branding, we chose to invest our resources in establishing international infrastructure. It’s been a full-time, behind-the-scenes effort, but by the time we refocused on the U.S. late last year, we’d already worked through most of the challenges that come with international expansion. We wanted to get all of that out of the way our first few years so we could meet the expectations of our distributors in the U.S.” 

Last year, during the company’s annual conference (called EXPO, and held in different locations every year), executives proposed an ambitious goal of a $50 million month—and, thanks to an army of distributors, they did just that last October. Jeunesse announced a record for monthly sales revenue in June 2015, with a grand total of $120 million in global sales. More than 116,000 new distributors started a Jeunesse business that same month. “In 2015, we are focused on hitting $1 billion—we’re already more than halfway there,” says Wendy, who was named one of DSN’s Most Influential Women in Direct Selling in 2012 and 2014. She leads the company with her husband Randy Ray, who is Co-Founder and CEO.

“[We chose rapid international expansion because] we didn’t want to be at the mercy of any one country. …Spreading out to as many countries as possible, economic conditions begin to balance each other out.”

—Wendy Lewis, COO

Jeunesse ranked No. 258 on the 2014 Inc. 5000/500 list, with a three-year growth of 1,788 percent (revenue in 2010 was $11.9 million; revenue in 2013 was $224 million). This list measures the three-year revenue growth of 5,000 companies in the country, the first 500 being in the top 10 percent of private companies in America. To accommodate this rapid surge in growth, Jeunesse just acquired a new 130,000-square-foot headquarters in Heathrow, Florida, and on Sept. 1 opened Jeunesse West, a 40,000-square-foot facility in Draper, Utah, with 150 staff.

One significant milestone that could push Jeunesse closer to that $1 billion goal is its March acquisition of nutritional products direct seller MonaVie and its health and fitness brand, myntTM. Although the integration process has been gradual, leadership of both companies hope the acquisition creates the perfect product experience for consumers while maximizing distributors’ potential for sales.

Jeunesse isn’t alone in its pursuit of the magic formula that can hit the pause button on the aging process, facilitate weight loss or otherwise promote improved quality of life. According to the U.S.-based market research firm Transparency Market Research, the global anti-aging industry is expected to exceed $191 billion by 2019, while the global weight-management industry is said to exceed $650 billion by the end of 2015, with the United States representing the largest share.

Wendy adds that Jeunesse’s rapid international expansion gave them a competitive edge in these arenas and stemmed from the decision that “we didn’t want to be at the mercy of any one country. The economy may be doing great in one market, but taking a temporary downturn in another. Tax rates are different among the markets. Spreading out to as many countries as possible, economic conditions begin to balance each other out.” Jeunesse now has a presence in Africa (Nigeria and South Africa) and the Americas (Mexico, Latin America, the United States and Canada), plus an extensive presence in Europe (Israel is included in this category, along with 19 other countries) and an expanded Asia Pacific region that includes Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia as well as others.

Jeunesse has grown to have a presence in more than 120 countries, including 32 offices and 40 distribution centers, and a worldwide independent salesforce of 550,000. The company closed out 2014 with $419 million in global sales.

Recruiting the best regional management experts they can find, Randy, Wendy and Scott have taken great care to learn local business laws, establish entities, register formulas and products, and obtain licenses and proper labeling in each new overseas market. It’s not an easy process by any means, but standard operating procedures and, above all, listening skills, have helped clear the pathways. “Some companies come into foreign markets and want do things the ‘American way,’ but to be successful, you need to adapt to local cultures and customs,” Scott says. It helps, too, that Randy and Wendy’s background includes founding and later selling nationally ranked medical software and computer hardware companies, as well as providing back office solutions for startups, so they were familiar with some of the challenges inherent with any new business launch.

Needed Treatment Opens the Door

The concept for Jeunesse was born when Randy Ray, suffering from eroded cartilage in both knees, was seeking stem cell treatments. Randy had heard about Dr. Nathan Newman, a Beverly Hills, California, cosmetic surgeon renowned for his work with stem cells. Newman’s injectable procedure was designed to regrow cartilage using a patient’s own stem cells from fatty tissue.

Jeunesse's Emerald ExperienceSales leaders take a boat excursion during Jeunesse’s Emerald Experience in Hawaii.

While receiving treatment from Newman, Randy found out that eliminating knee pain wasn’t the only thing these stem cells could do. Newman also had the world’s only stem cell skincare facial serum that could minimize premature aging without scalpels or lasers. Randy and Wendy tried the serum, and the proverbial light went on. The couple had years of experience in the direct selling industry, first as distributors and later as company owners. Collectively, they’d taken several companies public and had no illusions about the hard work ahead of them, but they felt direct selling would be a great vehicle to get a youth enhancement system into the hands of global consumers and improve the quality of their lives.

The result was Jeunesse’s flagship product, Luminesce, a cellular rejuvenation skincare serum that represented an enhancement to Newman’s formula. While the company set its foundation on stem cell technology’s ability to utilize growth factors to support the body’s natural power to renew, restore and rejuvenate the skin, “we didn’t want to just be a skin care or nutrition company,” Scott says. Instead, the company set out to create a niche with its Youth Enhancement System (YES). Following the international launch of Luminesce, Jeunesse next ventured into the nutritional arena with Reserve, a gel-based antioxidant supplement. In 2013, the company’s product scope expanded with the launch of Finiti, a supplement designed to slow down the aging process by adding length to critically short or damaged telomeres, which are attached to chromosomes and are linked to aging.

Co-foundersCo-founders Wendy Lewis and Randy Ray pose last year with two of the six Stevie Awards Jeunesse won for marketing, philanthropy and innovation.

Even while the company, based in Altamonte Springs, Florida, was working feverishly to develop its international infrastructure, the U.S. market has been thriving in its own right. Last year, though, is when explosive growth happened on home soil. During its Jeunesse University event in Orlando, Florida, attendees were treated to an on-stage demo of Instantly Ageless, an anti-wrinkle microcream that provides “over the top, dramatic results,” Scott says. Once the product was in the hands of representatives and their customers, they began posting demonstration videos online, which went viral—so much, in fact, that “Inside Edition” and the “Rachael Ray Show” reported on the product because it was creating a stir on the Internet.

At the same time, Jeunesse launched in the United States Zen Bodi, a trio of weight-management products designed to cut cravings, burn fat and build muscle through a holistic approach that supports the youth enhancement concept. A supporting “Zen Effect” contest encourages consumers to share their before-and-after photos and transformation stories for the opportunity to win prizes ranging from a vacation to a shopping spree to cash. Collectively, Instantly Ageless and Zen Bodi have proven to be a revenue-generating powerhouse for the company and its domestic distributors. Prior to the products’ launch in November, Jeunesse’s U.S. market was averaging about $2.5 million in revenue per month. In 120 days, revenue would increase to $15 million per month in the United States. This explosive growth could be a sign of things to come; the Instantly AgelessTM and Zen Bodi lines have begun rolling out to eager audiences in Jeunesse’s Asia Pacific markets.

Perhaps due to the founders’ expertise in the technology sector, distributors have access to tailor-made technology, including the “J-World” marketing system, comprised of back office, social and mobile components.

Given the company’s geographic reach, its distributor demographics are extremely diverse, though, like much of the industry, skewed toward the female population. Perhaps due in part to Wendy and Randy’s expertise in the technology sector, distributors have access to technology that was tailor-made for them, including the “J-World” marketing system, comprised of back office, social and mobile components. J-Social, part of this marketing platform, is more than a connection to Facebook and Twitter. This system allows Jeunesse to build a shopping cart and video widget within any social media environment around the world. For a global company, this can be invaluable when dealing with so many individual markets. Distributors can create promotional video campaigns, sync them to the contacts in their mobile phones, and send them via MMS. The videos contain tabs that allow the recipients to call or text their Jeunesse distributors with a single click. For training purposes, distributors also are given a “J-Drive,” a bracelet synced to the J-Cloud and preloaded with presentation videos and tools, making their education completely portable. Scott credits this emphasis on technological innovation, along with the company’s commitment to scientifically backed products and a family-oriented culture, for a recent uptick in Gen Y distributors in North America. “We’re a truly multigenerational company now,” he says. “We’ve broadened our reach, and now we’re able to tap into ages 25 to 60-plus.”

“As long as Wendy and I are in this industry, we’ll be focused on others—helping them improve their lot in life.”

—Randy Ray, CEO

Trips are among the primary means of recognition distributors enjoy. Having just arrived home from Cancún the night before, Wendy rattles off a few of the other destinations she’s visited with the salesforce over the years—an African safari, the Greek Isles, Tahiti, Dubai, Southeast Asia—“all of the things on my bucket list,” she says laughing. Randy adds, “We’re taking people places they’ve always wanted to go, but where they’d never treat themselves to a vacation.”

Through its charitable organization, Jeunesse Kids, Jeunesse has established a new collaboration with international nonprofit Free the Children.

Joining Forces to Help Children

“As long as Wendy and I are in this industry, we’ll be focused on others—helping them improve their lot in life,” Randy says. That compassion and spirit of family reaches well beyond the relationships between employees and distributors. Leveraging its worldwide network, the company’s own charitable organization, Jeunesse Kids, has a history of partnering with like-minded charities to deliver food and life-saving resources where they’re critically needed.

In September 2014, during the aforementioned EXPO in Macau, Jeunesse announced a new collaboration between Jeunesse Kids and international nonprofit Free The Children. Through this partnership, Jeunesse Kids is working to build infrastructure in some of the world’s most challenged regions, and relieve the burdens of poverty, exploitation and lack of access to education. Employees and distributors have contributed through monetary and in-kind donations to the Adopt a Village Program, which supports community development in eight countries. This support has led to the construction of more than 650 classrooms and provided clean water, health care and sanitation to approximately 1 million citizens worldwide. Construction was just completed on a school in rural China, and another project in Kenya is in the works. Distributors currently have the opportunity to earn an incentive trip to see the completed village in China, an exciting opportunity to witness and contribute to the company’s greater mission to serve children in need.

What’s the long-term plan for Jeunesse? The company’s goal is to continue nurturing its expansive roster of global markets, enabling Jeunesse to become more deeply entrenched in the regions in which it has spent the last six years working to make a name for itself. “We’ve established a good footprint around the world, and we’ll keep working to ensure the smooth delivery of products and a vast opportunity for those markets,” Randy says.

“We’re very much a company with a long-term vision,” Scott adds. “We’ve diversified in such a manner that we have a strong global platform, a world-class brand, a sustainable infrastructure. Jeunesse has a family culture with a lot of heart and passion. We’ve established our culture of Generation Young, which is defined by looking young, feeling great and living life to the fullest. We have room to grow 100 percent next year due to our diversification. I believe whole-heartedly that Jeunesse is going to be one of the great legacy companies in network marketing.”

September 01, 2015

Company Focus

FuXion Biotech: Bringing the Abundance of the Ancient Amazon to America

by Lin Grensing-Pophal

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 2006
Headquarters: Lima, Peru
Founder: Álvaro Zúñiga Benavides, Chairman and CEO
Products: nutritional beverages made from Andean, Amazonian and Oriental fruit and vegetable extracts
2014 Net Sales: $80 million

Álvaro Zúñiga BenavidesÁlvaro Zúñiga Benavides
Rafael Zúñiga BenavidesRafael Zúñiga Benavides

FuXion Biotech is a small-to-mid-size company with origins in Peru that is poised to make a market push into the United States. Its products have gained traction in its current markets, and its tagline, “We Improve Your Life,” has resonated across Latin America. Will the company be able to leverage past experience and sell its commitment to “True Health” in a competitive North American consumer climate?

The Science and Passion behind FuXion

In 2006, driven by his passion for a healthy lifestyle, Álvaro Zúñiga Benavides founded FuXion. The company sells beverages, teas and shakes made from Andean, Amazonian and Oriental fruit and vegetable extracts, products that draw from his 10 years of experience in the functional foods industry, which is rooted in the conviction that certain foods can have an impact on health that goes beyond simple nutrition.

Álvaro has long been passionate about the potential that certain foods contain. That passion has led him to his current position as Chairman and CEO in the company he founded, a large and growing direct sales organization, which also manufactures its products. The initial funding of the company came from friends and family, most notably from Derek and Frank Mitchell, two of Álvaro’s childhood friends who grew into successful entrepreneurs, and from his brother, Rafael Zúñiga Benavides, who was an investment banker in Europe at the time, now serving as an Executive Board member.

Álvaro’s interest in nature, invention and innovation began at a young age. As Rafael explains, “His curiosity never ended. He was always trying to understand how to improve nature’s healing effects through homemade food recipes.” That passion evolved into FuXion’s business mission to help people improve their lives in a journey for True Health and the transformation such a focus could make. For FuXion, True Health involves three aspects of health: physical, emotional and financial.

FuXion concentrates on “True Health” and the transformation such a focus could make by leveraging three aspects of health to help people lead more fulfilling lives: physical, emotional and financial.

FuXion was founded on the strong belief that ancient knowledge of millenary cultures could be leveraged using modern biotechnology. The company’s products are made by merging more than 1,500 active ingredients extracted from natural foods and combining them in unique formulations with modern technology to multiply the benefits of each. Álvaro calls this process “nutraceutical fusion,” and it is based on his years of study in obtaining the active ingredients from specific foods and blending them with other food ingredients, enhancing them with micronutrients.

But, while ancient knowledge and modern biotechnology fuel the creation of FuXion’s products, it is the passion behind the personal transformation processes that really distinguishes the firm, Rafael stresses. The company’s corporate staff, their distributors and customers are part of a big family, he says. They embody “Latin passion,” a combination of passion, joy and above all love for family, which he notes is not a passion that resides only within Latin America, but that can be embodied in people from any nation and any culture.

A Commitment to Direct Sales

FuXion executives found direct sales to be the natural choice for reaching out, engaging and educating customers about the significant benefits of its products. Traditional advertising and sales simply didn’t offer the means to convey all of the information about the products without significant cost.

“It was logical that we should use word-of-mouth and grassroots person-to-person sales to really get the message out about our products,” says Beatriz Z. De Los Heros, Chief Marketing Officer. In addition, she notes, the traditional sales channel couldn’t address the emotional and financial health components necessary for True Health.

“We take our time to properly enroll people, to let them fall in love with our True Health promise and make sure they are ready to give the same vision to the people they bring into the business.”

—Renato Pastor, Chief Operations Officer

FuXion’s almost 50,000 active distributors, supported by a team of 600 FuXion staff members, share the company’s passion. “We have strong teams with dynamic leaders who recruit fast, but not so fast that they lose people along the way,” says Renato Pastor, Chief Operations Officer. “We take our time to properly enroll people, to let them fall in love with our True Health promise and make sure they are ready to give the same vision to the people they bring into the business.”

Training is a key area of focus for the company, including online training classes. But business basics are only a part of what’s covered in FuXion’s personal transformation program. In order to deliver on the company’s tagline “we improve your life,” Renato says the company’s training program—called SerFuXion (translated to BeingFuXion in English)—provides workshops, courses and life experiences that support the company’s vision. That vision is embodied, he says, “not only in our products, training and compensation plan, but also in our distributors and customers’ pursuit of an abundant and balanced lifestyle.”

Today, the company has sales of more than $100 million a year; Peru is the largest market, followed by Ecuador and Colombia.

Other business building enhancements include an in-process conversion of back office services that will allow distributors to better utilize the company’s online presence and will provide more powerful and flexible metrics to help them to better understand their businesses.

Each year distributors and other guests gather at an annual convention, which serves as a forum for celebration and learning. The most recent—Alumbra 2015—was held in Lima and was a “smashing success,” says Renato. “We had 10,000 distributors and guests from several countries,” he says. Numbers were almost double from the previous year and so high that FuXion had to erect a temporary building because no other venues, except sports stadiums, were large enough to host such a crowd.

Lina OrellanaLina Orellana

FuXion’s annual awards dinner—Cena de Gala—will be held in Hawaii in early 2016 and Alumbra 2016, the company’s annual convention, will be in Medellin, Colombia.

Renato’s passion is evident and clearly shared by his colleague Lina Orellana Zimbrón, the head of FuXion’s North American operations, who came to the company with experience gleaned from other large direct sales companies. Despite her experience with other successful firms, Lina says of FuXion: “It is incredible—this is a phenomenon for me.” She says she has never before seen the level of interest in, and excitement about, a company and its culture before, even while working with much larger direct sales organizations. Specifically, she points to attendance at FuXion’s recent Alumbra event in Peru. “It grows year by year,” she says.

More than 80 sales leaders and guests enjoy the rich culture and luxurious experience of Dubai as they recognize personal goals reached as well as company growth.

A Careful Yet Passionate Approach to Growth

Today, the company has sales of more than $100 million a year; Peru is the largest market, followed by Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica. Still, growth has been modulated and planned. The same approach will be used as FuXion expands into the U.S.—a move that bodes well for the company as executives expect a burgeoning interest in health and wellness, spurred to a large degree by an aging baby boomer population not as complacent about moving into their “golden years” as former generations. 

“We are really trying to get close to people. We are always trying to understand their needs to assess in which areas of life we can add value and help them improve.”

—Lina Orellana Zimbrón, Head of North American Operations

“We believed that we needed to develop our systems and our supply chain appropriately before really pushing into the U.S. market,” says Rafael. “And now we are poised to do just that.” The U.S. market is the most developed market in the world for direct sales, and he adds: “We believe the U.S. is primed and ready to create True Health.” FuXion established an office in Dallas at the end of July and will formally announce its entry into the U.S. market during the fourth quarter. “The entry into the U.S. is a major milestone for our firm as we expect our U.S. operations to grow within two to three years into our largest operation internationally,” says Rafael.

The company has taken its time to plan and prepare for this move, assembling and preparing teams and investing in human resources and IT platforms to support its growth.

“Since we had our team in place last year, we have invested significant time, effort and resources to renew our IT platform and computer systems, leveraging our original platform with the support of leading players in the software industry,” says Rafael. In July the company launched a new IT platform, which will allow real-time, online interactions with distributors and their customers. Improved back office systems and robust data, information and reports will make “running the business that much easier and fun,” Renato adds. “We are now in a position to help our distributors target the key positions within their organizations that need work, assess whether previous initiatives have borne fruit and define where their efforts will have the maximum payoff.”

“FuXion is merging the knowledge of ancient Andean, Amazonian, Mesoamerican and Asian cultures with the latest scientific advances in cell biology and human nutrition to provide products that achieve unique results.”

—Álvaro Zúñiga Benavides, Chairman and CEO

Lina agrees that patience is one of the drivers of FuXion’s success. “Obviously we want to grow—we want to grow as big as possible. But we are not in a rush.” At FuXion, she says, it’s not just about attracting distributors and customers to the company, but retaining them. “When we enroll new people we want to have time to talk to them and put them in the same state of mind that we are. We want to give them time to fall in love with the company, to adhere to our mission.” The goal, she says, is “not only to bring people into our movement, but to convert them into raving fans.”

Toward that end, the company trains distributors to work personally with their customers to assess where they are in terms of all three elements of True Health: physical, financial and emotional. “We are really trying to get close to people. We are always trying to understand their needs to assess in which areas of life we can add value and help them improve,” she says. That patient approach capitalizes on people and their ability to connect with and engage others, a philosophy that drew company leadership to the direct sales model in the first place.

The Future for FuXion

The company’s growth has been fueled by passion: the passion of Álvaro’s early interests in invention and innovation, the passion of those who helped to fund the company’s launch, the passion of distributors and staff and, perhaps most importantly, the passion of the growing number of customers who have embraced the health potential of FuXion’s uniquely crafted products. The success of the company’s recent annual event is evidence of this passion. To ensure ample space and a health and wellness-focused venue for future events, as FuXion expands exponentially, the company has purchased 75 acres of land in the Amazon, near Iquitos, with plans to build an “experience center” called FuXionLand. The project includes building a convention center that will serve as a gathering point for distributors and their customers from around the world, says Álvaro. FuXionLand will be comprised of four components:

  • A convention center where training will take place,
  • A lodge and spa where guests can focus on their emotional wellbeing, relaxation, meditation and massage;
  • A separate area devoted to fun and exercise, which will include activities as part of the Amazon adventure; and
  • A biotech lab that will be the focus of research and product development.

FuXion plans to grow its Research & Development organization significantly, says Rafael. “We have made a strategic alliance with the Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana (UNAP) to work together in a number of research initiatives, and we are also starting new relationships with universities in the U.S. and Spain to continue exploring new product initiatives to strengthen our portfolio for the whole family,” he says.

The company’s manufacturing and food-processing technology division also is expanding, with three major initiatives planned over the next three years:

  • A new automated manufacturing plant in the south of Lima (Lurín) that will allow increased capacity of 10 times in modular investments,
  • The expansion of production activities into Ecuador and Venezuela, and
  • Extraction capabilities with modern technologies in the Amazon.

In 2016, says Álvaro, “We will continue to grow following our customer base, and we plan to open Argentina and Brazil in South America and we will start our first inroads into Europe through Spain while starting to explore the Asian markets.”

Having reached a goal of $100 million in sales currently, the company’s next goal is $500 million in the next three years. If attained, Álvaro says, “We’re going to take our 100 top Leaders to a great place in Asia for an amazing adventure.”

September 01, 2015

Industry with Heart

Trades of Hope: A Sisterhood of Compassionate Entrepreneurs

by Jeremy Gregg

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Photo: Trades of Hope co-founders and home office staff gather for fun and fellowship.

Company Profile

Founded: June 2010
Headquarters: Bunnell, Florida
Founders: Chelsie Antos, Elisabeth Huijskens, Gretchen Huijskens, Holly Wehde
Products: Ethically produced fashion accessories and home décor

Five years ago, two moms had an idea: What if we could work with our daughters to create a business that changed the lives of women around the world?

Both women were at a crossroads in their own lives. Holly Wehde was a pastor’s wife who had just survived a heart attack at the age of 40, and Gretchen Huijskens was struggling over the limited impact that she felt she was making through a nonprofit that she co-founded in Haiti. The two met in a home school co-op meeting and instantly bonded over their common faith and their shared commitment to service.

Soon thereafter, Wehde went to a home party sponsored by one of her friends. As she looked around at all of the people who were having fun eating and looking at jewelry, her thoughts turned to the women that Huijskens had described to her. Instantly, she had a vision for how she could build a home party business that could make a sustainable impact on Haitian women’s lives. She soon shared that vision with Huijskens, and they agreed to invite Wehde’s daughter Chelsie and Huijskens’s daughter Elisabeth to join them.

Trades of Hope launched in June 2010 with the mission to “empower women out of poverty through sustainable business.” The company utilizes home parties to sell handmade fashion accessories and home décor that are created by women artisans from around the globe. The company now has almost 2,000 distributors—called “Compassionate Entrepreneurs”—in 49 states throughout the country.

A Sisterhood Built on Social Media

The founders initially focused on their local market by hosting home parties in Palm Coast, Florida. The enthusiastic reception for the products, and the way that customers embraced the stories of the artisans, confirmed that the company was on the right path.

A simple step then allowed them to transform the future of their business: creating a Facebook page to promote Trades of Hope as a missional opportunity.

“The four founders were out shopping at a fair trade store to brainstorm ideas and discuss next steps. And suddenly, my husband starts texting me to say that his phone is blowing up because he is getting Facebook messages from people all over the country who found our page within two days of going online,” says Wehde. “And we looked at each other and just said, ‘Wow, we have a real business!’ ”

“The diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and ages are something that we really enjoy about our sisterhood. More than a certain age or demographic, we want people who have a heart for helping others.”

—Gretchen Huijskens, Co-Founder

Today, more than 11,000 people are following Trades of Hope on Facebook. The company typically posts several times per day, not only with updates on its products but also with stories about its artisans, links to articles related to the mission of lifting people out of poverty, and inspiring posts that carry messages about the founders’ faith. In fact, other than Facebook, the company’s only source of marketing has been word of mouth.

“We have a wide range of women who want to be a part of Trades of Hope,” says Huijskens. “The diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and ages are something that we really enjoy about our sisterhood. More than a certain age or demographic, we want people who have a heart for helping others.”

Erin, a top CE was provided the opportunity to meet with artisans in Haiti, including Gina and her baby, Christnelle (pictured).

A Global Vision for Women

The leaders of Trades of Hope are unabashed about the higher calling that drives them to grow their company.

“We believe that God called us to start this business,” says Huijskens. “There are hurting people around the world because they lack the same opportunities that we do simply because of where they were born. Charity is a bandage that sometimes makes situations worse for people in developing countries. We don’t want to be a bandage: We want to be a solution for struggling women and their children.”

Huijskens first traveled to Haiti about 13 years ago. Taken aback by the intense poverty she encountered, she decided to co-found a nonprofit that included an orphanage, school, and medical clinic. She ran the organization for eight years as its president but decided that she needed to do something else after the earthquake in 2010, when she realized that the depths of poverty in Haiti could not be addressed through charity alone.

Faces of Hope

Ya, a Cambodian artisan, shows the detail of her work.

Trades of Hope’s social media channels are filled with moving images and gripping videos about their artisans. In one video, Co-Founder Gretchen Huijskens interviews women in Cambodia who have survived acid attacks. As a result of the permanent disfiguration of their faces and bodies, these women are ostracized by society and even put out on the street by their own families.

“The women who are now Trades of Hope artisans have a way to earn money for themselves and their children where they are valued and treated with respect. They are regaining their self-confidence and feel purposeful about helping other survivors find hope for the future,” says Huijskens.

In Bangladesh, many of the artisans came to Trades of Hope after escaping the sex trade. The company engages them in making soap, which symbolizes a clean break from their old way of life. They imprint each bar with their thumbprint in wax to create a very clear symbol to the buyer of the connection between the purchase of the soap and the “hand up” that they have given to these women.

Artisans typically make far more selling through Trades of Hope than they would selling in their local market. Being able to make a fair wage allows them to take care of their families, send their children to school, and have real hope in a better future.

She explains, “I believed that sustainable business was the long-term solution to poverty. Through Trades of Hope, we offer sustainable incomes that have changed lives over the past 4.5 years. We very often hear stories of women who were able to own a bed for the first time. Women who are sending their children to school. Women who are building their own houses. These women motivate us every day.”

Trades of Hope offers women in developing countries a way to provide for their families by selling their handcrafted products through an army of direct selling consultants. The products are marketed as “ethically produced” using fair trade principles as outlined by the Fair Trade Federation and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). The WFTO sets standards for organizations and also monitors and audits them to ensure compliance.

Currently, Trades of Hope works with groups of artisans in countries such as Guatemala, India, Uganda, Haiti, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Peru, the Philippines, and Nepal. They also work with a group of artisans in the U.S. who are part of a nonprofit that supports women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction. Working in partnership with local artisan co-ops and nonprofits, Trades of Hope provides the artisans with a chance to earn a living wage that is estimated at six times the amount that they would otherwise make. For example, in Haiti more than 50 percent of the country earns less than $1 per day. The minimum wage is about $5 per day. The artisans in Haiti are able to earn around $15 per day—enough to provide adequate shelter and food, and put 2.5 children in school. Through Trades of Hope’s partner organizations, the artisans also have access to additional community outreach programs such as water purification systems, medical clinics, and assistance with educational expenses.

The company’s products are marketed as “ethically produced” using fair trade principles as outlined by the Fair Trade Federation and the World Fair Trade Organization.

The artisans are not employees of Trades of Hope, but they are independent artisans who are paid by the co-ops and nonprofits from whom Trades of Hope purchases the products. To work with a group, Trades of Hope requires that they have someone on the ground, preferably an English-speaking resident of the U.S., to organize the artisans and to facilitate product ordering and sales. The groups also are required to sign a Fair Trade Principles Agreement that guides all areas of their production and business practices, from how they treat artisans to how they protect the environment. Several of the groups also are able to provide health care to their artisans. All local operations are managed by the local contact with whom Trades of Hope maintains weekly communication to ensure that everything is running properly.

“Charity work, ministry and an entrepreneurial spirit, mixed with a strong desire to make a positive impact on others, lead to Trades of Hope,” says Huijskens.

A Solid Financial Opportunity

A Generational Impact

One of the most popular stories shared by distributors in Trades of Hope is the story of Gina, an artisan from Haiti.

Gina was originally found going door-to-door looking for an orphanage to take her baby girl, Christnelle. Gina loved her baby but simply could not afford to feed her. She eventually met a member of Trades of Hope’s local team, who gave her the opportunity to try making beads to earn an income.

Gina immediately accepted, and today both she and her baby are thriving. Gina now has a consistent, fair income and Christnelle spends her days in the safe environment of the organization’s day care. And each night, the two are able to go home together.

“They are the perfect example of the purpose of Trades of Hope and the successes of orphan prevention through job creation,” says Huijskens.

Last May, a team of Compassionate Entrepreneurs went on a Vision Trip to visit the artisans in Haiti. They were able to meet Gina and visit baby Christnelle in the nursery. The experience, Huijskens explains, allowed them to see first-hand the direct impact that they are facilitating by selling Trades of Hope products.

Along with its focus on lifting its artisans out of poverty, Trades of Hope offers its consultants a compensation plan that is competitive within the direct selling industry. These Compassionate Entrepreneurs (CEs) can earn up to 37 percent on their own personal retail sales in addition to what they can earn by building a team. Huijskens reports that the company already has identified women who have replaced their full-time salaries through Trades of Hope.

“Through the party plan model, Trades of Hope creates a dignified partnership between women in the United States and women in 15 developing countries around the world,” she says.

CEs purchase kits between $99 and $399, which provide them with an array of samples to market at home parties. The company does not require an auto-ship, as the items are intended to serve as display items so that CEs can take orders.

“Because of direct selling, our Compassionate Entrepreneurs are creating an end-to-end economically sustainable business and changing the world for thousands of families,” says Huijskens. Although the company does sell products directly to customers through its website, the vast majority of its sales are through the distributors themselves.

Trades of Hope has been growing at an average rate of 300 percent per year for each of the past three years. The company anticipates gross revenue of $8 million by year end.

One of the key incentives offered by Trades of Hope is called a Vision Trip. Several times a year, the leadership team takes groups of 12 to 16 CEs to Haiti, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. The trips provide them with opportunities to meet and spend time with some of the artisans who craft the products that the CEs sell in the U.S. This offers them a chance to hear directly from the artisans about how the partnership with Trades of Hope has positively changed their lives. These experiences frequently become life-changing moments that further fuel the CEs’ determination to build direct selling teams through purposeful recruiting.

Putting a Face to a Mission

To engage customers in supporting its broader mission of alleviating poverty, Trades of Hope produces videos that introduce the world to the artisans who create the company’s products. Several feature the company’s founders or their local partners in countries like Uganda or Haiti, but most are centered on the women who are at the heart of their mission: artisans like Florence.

Trades of Hope utilizes home parties to sell handmade fashion accessories and home décor that are created by women artisans from around the globe.

Sitting outside of a plain brown building, Florence is brightly dressed in a red-and-gold scarf while holding bracelets that she is crafting for Trades of Hope. As the video begins, one of her daughters cheerfully bounces in and out of the frame while wearing a huge smile. Florence, a 45-year-old Ugandan artisan who is also a former Sudanese refugee and a war survivor, beams with pride as she shares her story:

“I feel so happy about my business. I want to be really financially independent, for the welfare of my children and the orphans I take care of. It’s something which makes me become… so free. It’s my own money. I’m also one of the local leaders of the government. When I see the beauty of women putting on these things that I make, the jewelry and the bags, I feel so proud. I see the real beauty of the ladies out of the work of my hand. And when I see it all over, I really feel I am also a great woman in this nation.”

She shares how, thanks to Trades of Hope, she is able to put her children through school. Her only son is now attending college, and she also is able to take care of many of the orphans who are unfortunately prominent in her part of Uganda.

“I don’t want to be a beggar. I want to get money out of the work that I do and help other women in the community to have a job. …If they are earning money, there is peace in their home.”

—Florence, Ugandan artisan

“I don’t want to be a beggar,” she says. “I want to get money out of the work that I do and help other women in the community to have a job. I can now train them free of charge. If they are earning money, there is peace in their home. They are happy. Their husbands are also happy. And if there is peace in their family, there is peace in the community; and if there is peace in the community, that means that economically we are supporting our nation, Uganda.”

Through Trades of Hope, women like Florence are rewriting their stories. They are no longer victims or survivors: They are international designers and business women.

Planning for Growth

Trades of Hope has been growing at an average rate of 300 percent per year for each of the past three years, with 100 percent of its sales in the U.S. The company anticipates gross revenue of $8 million by year end.

“Charity is a bandage that sometimes makes situations worse for people in developing countries. We don’t want to be a bandage: We want to be a solution for struggling women and their children.”

—Gretchen Huijskens

Currently, the company’s four leaders share the same title of co-founder. Wehde and Huijskens serve in more of an executive capacity, allowing their daughters to focus on their own areas of expertise: Antos oversees operations, and Elisabeth Huijskens handles the graphic design and branding initiatives.

“We see that soon we will need more clear lines so we can be more effective. We are growing rapidly this year, and we completely expect this path of exponential growth to allow us to be a wave of change in villages around the globe,” says Huijskens. “We have a team of Compassionate Entrepreneurs who are passionate about empowering women around the world.”

September 01, 2015

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, September 2015

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Top USANA Executives to Share CEO Role

Dave WentzDave Wentz
Kevin GuestKevin Guest

USANA Health Sciences Inc. announced that the board of directors has appointed Dave Wentz and Kevin Guest as Co-CEOs of the company. Wentz, the son of USANA’s Founder and Chairman Dr. Myron Wentz, will oversee USANA’s global operations, while Guest will lead USANA’s worldwide field development and sales efforts.

“As USANA approaches the $1 billion revenue milestone, the board is preparing for the next chapter of growth,” said Dr. Myron Wentz. “With USANA’s expanding global presence, and the demands on the chief executive position, the board determined that a division of responsibilities within the CEO role would maximize USANA’s potential.”

Wentz and Guest have both been with USANA for many years—Wentz since 1992 and Guest since 2003—where they have served in various executive roles.

Wentz, USANA’s current CEO, is fresh off a one-year leave from the company, which he took to recharge and spend time with his family. He continues to direct the vision of USANA and works closely with the company’s executive team and board of directors.

Guest most recently served as President of USANA, overseeing all of the operations, marketing, and recognition for the company worldwide.

USANA also reported that Paul Jones, Chief Financial Officer, has been appointed Chief Leadership Development Officer, where he will be responsible for the key role of overseeing USANA’s global executive development and succession planning program. Jones will continue his CFO responsibilities while the company initiates a search for a new Chief Financial Officer.

Richard T. Riley Joins Tupperware Brands Board of Directors


Tupperware Brands Corp. announced that Richard T. Riley has been elected to the company’s board of directors, joining 11 other board members.

“We’re delighted to add Richard to our board,” said Rick Goings, Chairman and CEO. “His breadth of knowledge in global and emerging markets will contribute valuable expertise to our leadership team. This addition reflects our continuing goal to tap into emerging markets and we look forward to his contributions.”

Riley is a CEO with almost four decades of hands-on experience leading successful public and privately held businesses in a wide variety of industries.

He is currently the independent chairman of the board of Cimpress, N.V., an international market leader in personalized products and services for small businesses. He has served in senior executive positions with Lojack Corp., New England Business Service Inc. and Rapidforms Inc., after beginning his career at Arthur Andersen & Co.

4Life Makes Additions to C-Suite

David VollmerDavid Vollmer
Andrew WeeksAndrew Weeks

4Life has enhanced its leadership team with the appointments of David Vollmer, Ph.D., as the company’s Chief Scientific Officer and Andy Weeks as Chief Information Officer.

Vollmer joined 4Life in 2013 with more than 15 years of experience in quality control and analytical laboratory management, primarily in the pharmaceutical industry. Previously, Vollmer served as the company’s Vice President of Quality and Analytical Services. Since joining 4Life, Vollmer has been responsible for numerous quality processes, as well as the implementation of 4Life’s analytical laboratory, which validates the potency, purity, and quality of all 4Life products. 

Weeks has been with 4Life for 15 years and served in the areas of technical support, programming, and systems development. Most recently, he held the title of Vice President of Software Development. He holds a degree in Business Information Systems from Utah Valley University.

New Chief Sales Officer Joins LifeVantage Team

Justin RoseJustin Rose

Following the April appointment of Darren Jensen as CEO, wellness and anti-aging brand LifeVantage is making another change to its executive team. The Salt Lake City-based company recently introduced Justin Rose as its new Chief Sales Officer.

“Justin will play an integral role as a member of the new leadership team being assembled to stimulate the future growth of LifeVantage,” Jensen said of the brand’s new CSO.

Rose is no stranger to the industry, having spent the past two decades in sales and marketing roles at a series of direct selling companies. In his most recent position, Rose headed up regional sales development, sales incentives, distributor events and recognition, call center operations, and field training and support for North America.

“I look forward to enhancing the partnership between the Distributors in the field and the corporate office by implementing programs and incentives that better align field performance with corporate objectives, and stimulate the company’s long-term growth,” Rose said.

Mannatech’s Al Bala Takes on New Role as CEO

Al BalaAl Bala

Nutritional and wellness company Mannatech has promoted its President, Al Bala, to CEO.

Bala gives his passionate support to the company’s sales Associates and has been a key contributor to bringing Mannatech back to profitability. He has 35 years of experience working in the direct sales industry, with 28 of those spent as a field sales leader. He joined Mannatech in 2007 and rapidly increased his responsibilities at the company, ascending to the position of President in June of 2014. Bala also played a crucial role in Mannatech’s expansion into 15 countries since 2007, including South Africa, Mexico, Scandinavia and soon, Colombia.

“In Al Bala, Mannatech has a leader with a deep understanding of the daily effort it takes to succeed in the direct sales industry, as well as someone who knows how to build internationally,” said Stan Fredrick, Chairman of Mannatech’s Board of Directors. “We’re fortunate to have that person serving Mannatech as its President, and delighted to also have him now serve as CEO.”

In 1992, Bala left a position as manufacturing plant manager for Bose Corp. to launch a full-time direct selling career. Before joining Mannatech corporate, he was a field sales leader at a leading direct selling company, where his team launched operations in more than 65 countries.

iNovaLife Appoints Carlos Rey as Vice President Of Sales

Carlos ReyCarlos Rey

Carlos Rey has been hired as Vice President of Sales at iNovaLife, a Canada-based membership savings company. According to Founder and COO Martin LeBlanc, he will be integral in the consolidation of the company’s Canadian presence and execution of its international expansion.

“Connecting with Carlos Rey was very refreshing, and bringing someone in who understands and had success in the service industry was part of our growth strategy in Canada,” said LeBlanc.

Rey has created more than one large direct selling organization, having reached high levels in two of the industry’s largest companies.

An immigrant from Cuba, Rey learned to love entrepreneurship from his father who owned his own business. After Hurricane Andrew destroyed the family business, Rey found direct selling.

“Since then, we have helped thousands of people around the world to become financially independent and have found my real purpose in life, helping others succeed.”

iNovaLife, founded in 2014, has a mission to improve people’s quality of life through offering the consumers the opportunity to realize significant savings on a range of services, including insurances, mortgages, credit cards and home renovations.

LR Group Strengthens Management Team

Thomas StoffmehlThomas Stoffmehl

As part of its ongoing international growth strategy, LR Group decided to further reinforce the management team by appointing Thomas Stoffmehl as CEO. Through his leadership, LR will support its promise of “More quality for your life,” which focuses on brand development, innovation leadership, increased standardization of the business model, and digitalization as well as strengthening the company’s global presence.

As former CEO of bofrost*, a German distributor of high-quality frozen foods, Stoffmehl contributes his long-standing experience in direct sales as well as knowledge in managing an international company with gross revenue of more than 1 billion Euros.

Annique CEO Appointed South Africa DSA Chairman

Ernest du Toit, CEO of South African direct selling company, Annique Health and Beauty, was appointed Chairman of the Direct Selling Association of South Africa at a recent directors meeting in Johannesburg.  He will replace out-going chairman, Richard Clarke.

Du Toit’s career has seen him develop his skills in marketing, sales, strategy development and general management, over more than 20 years. In 2007 du Toit assumed management of and ultimately acquired Annique Health and Beauty, a company founded in 1971 that exports its products to 18 countries worldwide and has over 15,000 active Consultants.

He became a Director of the DSA in 2002 and has served as its vice chairman for the past five years. He was furthermore appointed as a board member of the World Federation of Direct Selling Association (WFDSA) in 2013.

September 01, 2015

Working Smart

A Board of Directors Brings a Fresh Perspective to Private and Public Companies Alike

by Nicholas Sakelaris

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Even the most savvy entrepreneurs have their limitations.

They start out in familiar territory, doing what they do best, until the initial wave of success carries the company and its leadership team to uncharted waters. The great unknown can be a daunting challenge. Should they go public? Should they expand to new lines of business? Should they acquire a competitor? The array of potentially life-and-death decisions can seem endless.

“Many things are new even to management with great backgrounds,” says Don Kendall, Founder of Kenmont Capital, a Houston-based investment firm. “No management team knows everything.”

To fill that gap, some privately held direct selling companies lean heavily on boards of directors, including Dallas-based Stream, where Kendall is a board member. Unlike their publicly held counterparts, private companies voluntarily choose to have a board of outsiders help with everything from hiring C-level executives to the overall strategy of the company. These boards aren’t federally regulated; as a result, they can appear enigmatic to the business community at large. To gain more insight into this powerful tool for assisting private companies with corporate governance, Direct Selling News reached out to company executives, board members and other experts. Their input revealed the high value of having a strong, diverse sounding board of outsiders that regularly engages and challenges company management.

Boards in Action

Stream has had a board of directors since inception 10 years ago. CEO and President Mark “Bouncer” Schiro and CFO Renee Hornbaker are the two company representatives on the board. They sit alongside Kendall; Steve Glasgow, a partner at Austin-based RAM Investment; and Rob Snyder, Managing Director of Dallas-based SnyderCapital Corp. and the original founder of Stream. The company posted net sales of $918 million in 2014, up nearly 6 percent from the previous year, ranking it the 9th largest direct selling company in North America, according to Direct Selling News research.

Stream’s board played an important role in directing a new component of its growth strategy: venturing into the hyper-competitive wireless industry, selling phones and wireless plans. Unlike retail electricity sales, which are restricted to deregulated markets, wireless services can be sold practically anywhere, opening up new opportunities for the company and its independent contractors. But this also was a calculated risk with a million different possibilities. Should the company outsource aspects of the new business with which its team is less familiar or develop the expertise in-house? How many people should Stream hire? Is now the best time to do this? The board provided key counsel throughout the process.

“Any new business you go into takes a capital cost and a people cost, and obviously what you want to do is make sure it makes sense and vet it at the board level,” says Kendall, who was already an investor in Stream as an individual and through his own company when he joined the board five years ago. He brought years of experience from running a billion-dollar power generating company in addition to his investment experience. “Where could it go wrong? Anticipate things that could be more difficult.”

“Many things are new even to management with great backgrounds. No management team knows everything.”

—Don Kendall, Founder, Kenmont Capital

Stream’s board also was involved when the company hired Hornbaker in 2011. Corporate governance is a point of passion for Hornbaker, who currently serves as President of the Dallas chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors.

“In many ways, we try to act like more of a public company board,” she says. “If the company should ever desire to go public at some point in the future we would already have the process in place and it would be a more seamless transition.”

All in the Family?

Many private companies in the direct selling industry are run by a small group of people, even family members. That’s where companies can run into trouble.

“You begin to be guilty of intellectual incest,” said Stan Fredrick, who has owned several direct-selling companies and is a past chairman of the U.S. Direct Selling Association. “You’re only thinking and rethinking the same thoughts. You need people who have a better perspective.”

Fredrick has extensive experience in the boardroom. In addition to having outside board members work with some of his privately held direct selling companies, he also currently serves as Chairman of the Board at publicly traded Mannatech Inc., a nutrition product company in which he is a significant shareholder. Outside direct selling, Fredrick also was a founding board member of the Professional Bank in Dallas, a boutique bank, and Co-Founder of the Texas-based commercial holding company Irving National Bank Shares.

Experts in finance, legal issues, information technology and compliance, not to mention ethics and public image, are needed for success in the marketplace today. Outside boards of directors can provide an additional level of corporate governance by looking at financial results, approving the budget and evaluating performance of the company on behalf of investors. For less-established companies, they also can provide new contacts and references that the management team couldn’t otherwise access. For more established businesses, a board of directors may assist management in positioning a company for an initial public stock offering, as an attractive merger partner or simply to help guide the team through a period of explosive growth.

“I think the private companies, they don’t have anybody looking over their shoulder. …If they have some outside board members who can give them straight advice, they’ll be better off,” Fredrick says.

Building a Board

No one tracks data on the boards of privately held direct selling companies, but a look at the boards of directors for publicly traded direct selling companies provides some insight into the diverse approaches available when creating a board. Equilar Inc., an executive compensation and corporate governance data firm, analyzed the most recent proxy statements for 19 direct selling companies. Among the companies included in the research, board size ranged from two directors at Youngevity International and Natural Health Trends to 15 directors at Herbalife. Total board compensation also spanned a wide range, from zero at ForeverGreen Worldwide to $7.7 million at Herbalife, with many board members receiving compensation through a mix of cash fees, stock and option awards, and other pay.

“If the company should ever desire to go public at some point in the future we would already have the process in place and it would be a more seamless transition.”

—Renee Hornbaker, CFO, Stream

Just like their publicly traded brethren, private companies need objective viewpoints, people who will really challenge management based on their business acumen, not whether it helps or hurts their investment. They make decisions that they believe are best for the company as a whole.

“You want a variance of opinion,” says Equilar Director of Content Dan Marcec. “You don’t want people all from the same background, all from the same line of thinking. I think that objective viewpoint is very important to help management look at their decisions from an external point of view.”

These board members can help private companies make the leap for an IPO or acquisition or even a possible takeover, Marcec says.

Though independent board members should be compensated for their work and have their travel expenses covered, establishing and maintaining a good board doesn’t have to be overly expensive. Quality business experts can cost as little as $1,000 a meeting, Fredrick says. Wineshop at Home, a private direct-sale company owned by Fredrick and his family, has one outside board member. That board member is an expert in compliance, a top issue facing direct selling companies today. But a formal board of directors isn’t the only option. Outside advisers also can be brought in with specific expertise and no ties to the company. In addition to its board of directors, Wineshop at Home uses an advisory board to provide guidance on legal and finance matters.

Thirty-One Gifts, a Columbus, Ohio-based women’s apparel and accessory company, utilizes a seven-member board of outside advisors. The privately held direct selling company was founded in 2003 and has grown increasingly complex in recent years, today boasting more than 100,000 sales consultants. In 2012, the company reached a fork in the road as it weighed a possible international expansion. That’s when management decided to add an advisory board that included expertise from a wide range of disciplines. 

“We felt like it was the right time in our life cycle that we wanted to have seasoned executives to help us,” CFO Jon Snyder said. The advisory board has provided guidance for the company’s expansion into Canada and helped Thirty-One Gifts make its first acquisition. Unlike a traditional board, these advisors don’t have voting rights and can’t make decisions for the company. They are compensated for their time and have their travel costs reimbursed.

“We leverage our advisors quite a bit for strategic planning and business planning,” Snyder says. “They are really a sounding board for the CEO.”

“Today, when there are so many challenges to our form of business model you want to make sure that your structure and the actual implementation of issues passes an outsider’s evaluation.”

—Stan Fredrick, Chairman of the Board, Mannatech Inc.

Value Proposition

Boards of directors play an invaluable role as outside observers working on behalf of investors or the company itself. Veterans of the direct selling industry have shown the benefits of enlisting the help of objective, independent voices for your company’s most important decisions. Outsiders aren’t there to make friends. They bring fresh perspective that stimulates new thought, challenges the status quo and takes on bad corporate governance. The return on investment could come from higher profits, avoiding devastating mistakes or growing the company in ways you never dreamed possible.

“Today, when there are so many challenges to our form of business model you want to make sure that your structure and the actual implementation of issues passes an outsider’s evaluation,” Fredrick says.

September 01, 2015

Top Desk

Equal Access to Equal Justice

by Jeff Bell

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

As I approach my first full year as Chief Executive Officer of LegalShield, I am awed by how quickly time has passed and how humbled I am to serve this great company and cause. While I am proud of the things I’ve done previously at Ford, Chrysler and Microsoft, I am truly inspired by our mission at LegalShield. We want to improve people’s lives—both our members and independent sale associates. 

We believe that to participate fully as U.S. and Canadian citizens, people must live freely under the law. We seek to help our members take control over their lives and to exercise their full rights. We want them to understand the laws under which they live and to seek the advice and counsel of a law firm whenever they need it so that they live in confidence and with peace of mind. We have a profound belief in free enterprise and entrepreneurship, and we desire more Canadians and U.S. citizens to start their own home-based businesses. In short, we believe in equal access to equal justice and in the North American promise of opportunity and liberty.

We are so committed to direct selling that we proudly strive to be the best direct selling company in North America. But given our mission, we also profoundly believe that we can do well while we do “good” for others. We believe it is what sets us apart. Because, while every age faces “the best of times and the worst of times,” the challenges we face as a society, especially in the United States, demand our service.

The LegalShield leadership team and the leaders of our network marketing and direct selling organization acknowledge that in the aftermath of several recent events that have involved violence and community unrest, some members of our society feel that they are not equally protected or represented under the law. Regardless of the reason that people feel disenfranchised, we embrace every citizen’s right to free speech and assembly, albeit peaceful. By the very definition of our existence as a company, we champion the rule of law.

We believe that to participate fully as U.S. and Canadian citizens, people must live freely under the law.

We accept that our judicial system is not perfect, but it is designed to constantly improve. Moreover, we advocate education and civic engagement. We promote conversation and dialog for progress and inclusion. The manner by which the Canadian and U.S. judicial systems were created necessitates that laws must change. A major force is the consistent pressure for the rule of the law to evolve towards greater transparency and accountability, and at all times the access to our judicial system must be open to everyone.

Faith in our justice system—that everyone is entitled to have their day in court—is so basic to our country that sometimes it seems like we litigate everything. The right to have our disputes, whether criminal or civil in nature, settled by an impartial judge or jury is more than important; it is at the very heart of the U.S. and Canadian constitutions and our national identities. If anything could be more fundamentally North American than the right to vote, this would be it: Every citizen, regardless of age, can become involved in a court decision, and no one has to register to be a juror, plaintiff, defendant, witness or victim.

Central to our concept of justice is impartiality. The figure of Justice is traditionally depicted as wearing a blindfold precisely because she cannot do her work if she favors (or fears) one party or another because of their appearance, their position in society, or any factor other than the specific facts of the case. No one wants to be prejudged as inherently dangerous, criminal, violent, dishonest, etc., solely based on their skin color, gender, the way they are dressed or their profession. We all want the opportunity to explain our actions. Only an impartial court of law affords us that opportunity.

At the same time, only competent counsel for all parties can enable a just outcome. Our system of justice is built around an adversarial process, where advocates represent their parties’ positions before an impartial judge or jury, who attempt to determine the truth of the case. In such a system, parties who lack access to an advocate cannot hope to obtain justice. This is true whether one is charged with a heinous crime or a misdemeanor, whether the legal action is criminal or civil. If access to counsel is a privilege of wealth, rather than a right for all, we will have injustice and a loss of faith in the system.

We must demand as citizens that the judicial system be held fully accountable to constantly improve its performance.

Perhaps, like many people, you sometimes watch news coverage of court decisions and ask yourself, “What was the jury thinking? I could have made a better decision!” But again, if you’re like many people, when that jury duty summons arrives, you get creative trying to find ways to get out of serving. Instead, view this as your chance to participate in the justice system, making it more perfect by your own actions. An active and informed citizenry is a benefit for all of us.

Our founding fathers understood well that as human beings in an imperfect world we might at times have to settle for justice that falls short of perfection, but it is justice nonetheless. As James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” The genius of our system is not that it’s perfect, but that we expect and strive for continuous improvement. Sometimes, that improvement comes through far-sighted reform, and sometimes it comes through painful experience.

Rather than separate groups circling their various wagons, let’s use this as an opportunity for engagement, education and transparency. For example, while they may feel criticized or embattled, police departments could take this opportunity to proactively engage with the communities they serve, helping them understand their policies and procedures.

More than anything else, we must demand as citizens that the judicial system be held fully accountable to constantly improve its performance. In a healthy republic, authority cannot be separated from accountability. As citizens, we need to know more about how our system should function, and how it actually functions. Get educated, especially in the area of civics, and serve your communities and nation to improve our system of government, including the judicial system.

Jeff BellJeff Bell is CEO of LegalShield.

September 01, 2015

DSA News

Building Our Brand With Policymakers

by Paul Skowronek

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Smart companies that recognize the advantages of the direct selling channel in growing their businesses understand that building their brands around robust corporate social responsibility programs helps them establish legitimacy and trust with consumers, whose expectations continue to rise. 

To succeed at building the direct selling channel’s brand with a policymaker audience over time, however, DSA—in partnership with our members—must credibly demonstrate the value of the channel by injecting it into policy conversations of the day.

This is precisely what we did in late July when DSA played a key role in helping American Action Forum (AAF), a prestigious Washington, D.C., policy think tank, orchestrate an event about the rise of the independent worker and the proliferation of technology. This was to help policymakers better appreciate the value of direct selling, which, of course, is among the most established entrepreneurial opportunities.

Rodan + Fields President and CEO as well as DSA Vice Chair Lori Bush stated that the direct selling channel allowed her company and consultants to succeed by breaking out of the glass counter, allowing consultants to set their own hours, create their own business plan and determine how to best serve their customers. Rodan + Fields consultants found the business to be an attractive alternative to otherwise successful careers that did not afford the work-lifestyle balance they sought. 

Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen of the Federal Trade Commission also delivered an important message: The still-nascent market for working independently in the 21st century needs to continue to develop before officials consider how to strike the right balance between encouraging entrepreneurial business opportunities and protecting customers.

So long as news stories about Uber, technology and the sharing economy continue to proliferate—raising questions around workplace fairness, the status of independent contractors and related issues—there will be a need for policymakers to better understand that direct selling is one example of working independently done right. 

Rodan + FieldsRodan + Fields President and CEO Lori Bush shares with policymakers how direct selling helped her company in ways retail could not.

DSA will continue to seek out opportunities for direct selling to be part of enlightened conversation in this and other areas. While we will always need to fight often difficult legislative battles in the states and here in Washington, D.C., that could diminish direct selling if lost, we also can bolster the image of the channel over time. We can accomplish this if we become more astute at explaining our value proactively, and most importantly, in a manner that isn’t overtly self-serving and that resonates with a policymaker audience.

To learn more about the July 30 AAF event, please visit: http://goo.gl/5sn4YX.

Paul SkowronekPaul Skowronek is the Senior Vice President, Public Affairs of the U.S. DSA.

September 01, 2015

New Perspectives

The Impact of Integrating the Code of Ethics into Your Company Message

by John Fleming

Click here to order the September 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

The U.S. DSA Code of Ethics, which first went into effect in 1970, is the backbone of the self-regulation that our industry imposes upon itself. The Code lays out the rules of the game for how companies and their independent contractors should conduct business. Some people, both within and outside of the industry, dispute the effectiveness of the Code. The most notable action was the withdrawal from DSA membership of a major company in September 2014, which used as part of its rationale a stance that the Code was weak and out of date. Others, however, view the Code as the correct tool to guide and regulate our industry.

The Code has been working for this industry for more than 50 years, and it has undergone changes and updates in order to stay relevant. Indeed, over the past year, the Ethics & Self-Regulation Committee of the DSA has placed a major priority on updating and strengthening this Code to stay in tune with current needs. It was reported that more than 60 companies participated in contributing thoughts. This process has raised a new question for us: What will it take to integrate a strong Code of Ethics into the reality of every direct selling company?

We know that a Code of Ethics is essential for every legitimate industry; however, we also know that reality is never truly about what is contained in the printed word. Reality and marketplace perception are determined by actual business practice and the interpretation of that practice by the public.

The answer to our question above also is complicated by the fact that bad news still travels faster than good news. This means that a few bad experiences can outweigh a greater number of positive experiences. It is a simple truth that remains a huge challenge to the entire direct selling industry.

So, what are we to do? As we are now headed toward the end of 2015, we are closing in on the effective date of the Code changes: Jan. 1, 2016. The DSA certainly will have new printed words that will explain the Code, but will those words actually change behavior or perception in the marketplace? From this viewpoint, the printed word is simply the guideline published for the benefit of an entire industry that uses the direct selling channel of distribution. Of course, DSA member companies are bound by the Code of Ethics; however, independent contractors are bound only to their individual company.

Because the direct selling channel is composed of many independent contractors who come from all walks of life, one easily can realize that the printed word will be only as impactful as the effectiveness of each direct selling company in integrating its own value system into all promotional efforts relative to the opportunity as well as the products and services that are sold. The DSA Code is a guide for all companies, but the effectiveness of any code of ethics lies in how each and every company promotes adherence among its independent contractors. Think about this: If all that your independent contractors know about your company’s adherence to a Code of Ethics is that you post the DSA logo on your website, what do they really know and understand about your commitment to that Code?

I believe that in order to impact the behaviors of independent contractors, the messaging and vernacular of a value system mirroring the DSA Code of Ethics will have to be integrated and woven into the marketing and promotional messages of every direct selling company.

Language and word choice are always important when crafting marketing messages, and we certainly realize that independent contractors may not respond with enthusiasm to a “code of ethics” and its detailed verbiage. Independent contractors do, however, respond to principles and values, the vision of the company they have chosen, and the opportunity to represent something of which they can be proud. Perhaps a more positive positioning that resonates with the language independent contractors respond to might get their attention and their buy-in more effectively. 

Consider embracing language such as “Our Way of Conducting Business” or “Making Lives Better,” and developing an active campaign to bring all independent contractors on board with the DSA’s more stringent ethical guidelines. Such a campaign might simply include the following tenants:

  1. We are committed to making the lives of our customers and independent contractors better as a result of their experience with us in any form or fashion.
  2. We do not tolerate misrepresentation of our products, services or opportunity.
  3. Violation of the above principles is a serious offense at our company.

The above three points of suggested positioning keep it simple and focused on the most relevant aspects of any code of ethics: treating others as you would wish to be treated. What if our industry—with more than 16 million independent contractors in the U.S. alone and close to 100 million worldwide—truly focused on what matters most?

DSAs throughout the world have always stressed a strong Code of Ethics by which their member companies must abide. We believe that by extending a very strong ethical code out through the independent contractor network, marketplace perception can and will shift to an emphasis on the very positive aspect of the direct selling method of selling and servicing consumers. We believe that if and when every direct selling company integrates this kind of campaign into their marketing and promotional messaging, we could become recognized as adhering to the highest level of ethics of any consumer-focused industry.

John FlemingFormerly Publisher and Editor in Chief, John Fleming currently serves as Ambassador for Direct Selling News magazine. His distinguished direct selling career includes selection as the DSEF Circle of Honor recipient in 1997.

August 31, 2015

U.S. News

The Carlyle Group to Acquire PartyLite Parent Blyth

Photo: PartyLite Market Fresh™ Scented Jar Candles on display.

The Carlyle Group has entered a $98 million deal to acquire PartyLite parent Blyth Inc., the New York-based private equity firm said Monday.

Carlyle, which manages $193 billion in assets globally, said it will pay $6 per share of Blyth, more than doubling the stock’s closing price of $2.92 on Friday. The offer has the backing of Blyth’s Chairman, Robert Georgen, and President and CEO, Robert Georgen Jr., who own a combined 38 percent of the company’s stock.

Candle and home décor brand PartyLite generated revenue of $347 million last year, placing it among the industry’s top 50 companies worldwide. Connecticut-based Blyth also markets consumer gifts and household products through Silver Star Brands, sold via catalogs and online.

“This is an important day in Blyth’s 40-year history,” Georgen Jr. said in a statement. “Carlyle understands what our team has accomplished and supports our vision for the future. Building on our strong consumer relationships, Carlyle, with its proven track record of growing companies, is the right partner to take PartyLite and Silver Star Brands to the next level of creativity and global growth.”

Carlyle Managing Director David Stonehill said the firm will focus on product innovation and global growth at Blyth. “We are particularly impressed with PartyLite’s network of 40,000 independent consultants who have remarkable passion for the company’s products. We are excited to support their efforts as we grow the company together.”

August 28, 2015

World News

After 20 Years, Reliv Kalogris Foundation Supplies Nutrition to 40,000 Daily

Photo: Children participating in a feeding program and school held at the RKF House in Cavite, Philippines.

During Reliv International’s annual salesforce conference in August, the nutrition company celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Reliv Kalogris Foundation (RKF), which currently provides free, daily nutritional supplements to 40,000 malnourished people in nine countries.

“I can best express my feeling about the last 20 years of the Reliv Kalogris Foundation in just two words: thank you,” RKF Chairman R. Scott Montgomery told the crowd gathered at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis. “The RKF’s 20th Anniversary is a celebration of the life-changing work made possible by the generosity of Reliv Distributors from around the world.”

In the past two decades, the charity has donated more than $42 million in product and established upwards of 250 feeding programs across the nine countries where it operates. The Reliv Kalogris Foundation—named for the creator of Reliv’s first product, the late Dr. Theodore Kalogris—has also supported relief efforts in the wake of natural disasters, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013.

August 28, 2015

U.S. News

FTC Shuts Down Vemma Pending Pyramid Scheme Decision

A federal court has temporarily halted operations at Vemma Nutrition Co., according to a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The decision was handed down after the FTC filed a complaint alleging the Arizona-based company is an unlawful pyramid scheme.

The complaint states that Vemma depends on recruitment of members or “affiliates” rather than retail sales of its products to generate income. Consumer losses are inevitable, the FTC alleges, because the company rewards affiliates for recruiting participants rather than providing meaningful sales training and incentives to sell products.

“Rather than focusing on selling products, Vemma uses false promises of high income potential to convince consumers to pay money to join their organization,” Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “We are also alleging that Vemma is an illegal pyramid scheme.”

According to the complaint, which names Vemma and its holding company, as well as Founder and CEO BK Boreyko and top affiliate Tom Alkazin, Vemma has targeted young adults with marketing that depicts young people with luxury cars, jets, and yachts, alongside claims that affiliates can earn as much as $50,000 per week. The FTC also points to Vemma’s alleged claims that an affiliate’s earning potential is limited only by his or her effort, and that the business provides an opportunity for young adults to bypass college expenses.

On top of the pyramid scheme allegations, the FTC charged Vemma with making false earnings claims, failing to disclose that most affiliates will not earn substantial income through its business structure, and supplying false and misleading materials aimed at recruiting additional affiliates.

The FTC carried out its investigation with the cooperation of the Attorney General Offices of Arizona, South Carolina, and Michigan, the Tempe Police Department, and the nonprofit organization Truth in Advertising. FTC commissioners authorized the complaint for permanent injunction against Vemma in a 5-0 vote.

The Direct Selling Association, which counts Vemma as a member, on Wednesday issued a statement by DSA President Joseph Mariano addressing the allegations.

“Every member of our Association, including Vemma, is required to abide by our Code as a condition of membership. All companies which use the direct selling model must uphold the highest ethical business standards, including polices that protect consumers and members of the salesforce against unrealistic earnings, lifestyle and product claims,” said Mariano.

The independent administrator of the DSA’s Code of Ethics is launching its own review of Vemma and the FTC’s complaint against the company.

“The allegations against Vemma have yet to be proven, and the company is entitled to due process of law,” Mariano concluded. “Any consumers or salespeople who have concerns regarding any DSA member, including Vemma, should contact the Code Administrator.”

August 27, 2015

U.S. News

CVSL Rings Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange

Photo: Your Inspiration at Home Founder and CEO Colleen Walters (center) leads the bell-ringing ceremony.

CVSL (CVSL—NYSE) made company history Wednesday at the New York Stock Exchange, where executives and salespeople participated in the ceremonial ringing of the bell to signal the end of trading.

The Dallas-based direct selling conglomerate has built a portfolio of eight independent businesses—including The Longaberger Co., Tomboy Tools, Agel Enterprises, Paperly, and others—which benefit from combined back office expertise as well as centralized business operations and services. Shares in CVSL previously traded over the counter on the OTCQX, but the company uplisted to the NYSE MKT in December 2014.

“We’re proud to be listed on the NYSE and we want everyone who is part of every CVSL company, including our independent sales force, our employees and our shareholders, to feel part of this special moment,” CVSL Vice Chairman and CFO, John Rochon Jr., said in a statement.

Colleen Walters, Founder and CEO of CVSL-owned Your Inspiration at Home, an award-winning maker of gourmet spice blends, did the honor of ringing the bell at the close of trading. Top-performing salespeople from other CVSL brands qualified for a trip to New York City and joined Walters at the famed podium.

August 26, 2015

U.S. News

LifeVantage Continues Executive Overhaul with New CFO

Photo: LifeVantage’s Sandy, Utah, headquarters.

LifeVantage has announced another appointment to its executive team, under the leadership of CEO Darren Jensen, who joined the company in April. After bringing on a new Chief Sales Officer in July, the wellness and anti-aging brand this week introduced a new Chief Financial Officer, Mark Jaggi.

Since beginning his finance career at the Ford Motor Co., Jaggi has served as Chief Financial Officer at a succession of companies, including furniture maker O’Sullivan Industries; pharmaceutical, household and pet products company Summit Industries, where he also served as CEO; and health and wellness group TwinLab Consolidated Holdings. At TwinLab, Jaggi’s financial and operational leadership included heading up the company’s debt and equity financing.

“Mark Jaggi brings the perfect mix of business acumen and financial expertise to the company,” Jensen said in a statement. “His years of experience in the nutritional supplement industry as a finance and operations executive, and within growing, publicly traded companies gives Mark a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished to successfully and responsibly position LifeVantage for long-term sustainable growth.”

August 26, 2015

U.S. News

Nerium Achieves Sales of $1B in Less Than Four Years

Nerium International today announced it has surpassed $1 billion in cumulative revenue in under four years of business. According to Direct Selling News research, the anti-aging company is one of the industry’s fastest ever to reach the billion-dollar milestone.

The announcement comes on the heels of Nerium’s ranking as the No. 1 consumer products and services company and the No. 12 company overall on this year’s Inc. 500, a list of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

“When we started this company almost four years ago, we knew we had something very special,” Jeff Olson, Nerium Founder and CEO, said in a statement. “That we’ve sold over $1 billion of product in four short years is a testament to the incredible products and opportunities Nerium has to offer. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished—we’ve changed thousands of lives for the better.”

Dallas-based Nerium launched in August 2011 with just one product in its portfolio. After topping sales of $100 million in its first year, the company began expanding its line of anti-aging products and opening international markets. Nerium now operates in Canada, Mexico and South Korea; however, 95 percent of total sales have come from the U.S.

“Nerium has been on the fast-track for growth since its launch,” said Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Lauren Lawley Head. “The company is one of the youngest ever to break into the Top 40 of the DSN Global 100 list of the world’s largest direct selling companies, was among the fastest-growing of the Global 100 companies last year, with a net sales increase of 84 percent, and was one of only 16 companies to grow by $100 million or more.”

View the full release from Nerium.

August 25, 2015

World News

Spice Maker Aims to Simplify Meal Prep with Monthly Deliveries

Your Inspiration at Home is putting its own spin on the popular auto-ship program with The Flavour Stack, a new culinary offering slated to launch in September. The monthly delivery makes it easy for customers to sample the brand’s handcrafted spice blends, oils, vinegars and beverages.

CEO Colleen Walters introduced The Flavour Stack during Your Inspiration at Home’s August convention in Australia, where the CVSL-owned company got its start. Each shipment will include recipes and the requisite spices, measured and organized in plastic pods.

“This program is a fun and convenient way to sample a wide range of our newest and most popular flavours,” Walters said in a statement. “When customers are ready to order larger quantities of their favorite products, they’ll already know exactly how to use them.” 

Each recipe card includes a grocery list of items needed to supplement the brand’s award-winning spices. Your Inspiration at Home is crowdsourcing the recipes by tapping its Independent Sales Consultants for easy-to-make meal ideas. The company said it will also offer stacks for freezer meal parties, where customers can prepare meals to take home and eat later.

August 24, 2015

U.S. News

J.D. Power Survey Finds Ambit, Viridian Lead in Customer Satisfaction

Dallas-based Ambit Energy and Connecticut-based Viridian Energy are among the country’s top retail electric providers when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to a new survey by market research firm J.D. Power.

The J.D. Power 2015 Retail Electric Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Study evaluates the performance of electric providers in nine states, where regulatory changes have given rise to competitive markets. The key factors measured are price, communications, corporate citizenship, enrollment/renewal and customer service.

Connecticut customers ranked Ambit Energy the leader in customer satisfaction, with a score of 689 on a 1,000-point scale. The company’s top ratings were in the price and enrollment/renewal factors. Ambit also ranked second overall in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In Massachusetts, renewable energy provider Viridian Energy ranked highest with a score of 682. Viridian performed best in the customer service factor.

The customer satisfaction study, now in its third year, is based on a survey of 21,744 residential customers of the 86 ranked retail electric providers. Key findings include a declining number of customers shopping for electricity, and the resultant need for providers to ensure an outstanding customer experience to attract and retain customers in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

August 21, 2015

World News

This Week: Avon Settlement, Building Strong Teams, Growth at It Works!

Catch up on this week’s industry chatter with these click-worthy links:

  • Writing for Fortune, Beautycounter Founder and CEO Gregg Renfrew shared her approach to building a strong team of employees. The top qualities she advocates are transparency and authenticity, whether in evaluating potential employees or setting expectations for current ones.
  • In the past three years, It Works! revenue soared 1,060 percent to $538 million, earning the company the No. 442 spot on this year’s Inc. 500. Tech Insider visited the brand’s new 50,000-square-foot headquarters in Palmetto, Florida, to learn what’s behind the company’s explosive growth.
  • Avon filed a proposed settlement in a U.S. lawsuit claiming former company executives covered up bribery of Chinese officials to build its business in the country. The New York-based company, which denies the charges, is offering a $62 million settlement to the party of shareholders led by two German investment funds.
  • At Entrepreneur, small-business expert Susan Solovic took a look at 10 largely recession-proof industries, in light of continued economic uncertainty. Solovic—whose titles include award-winning entrepreneur, New York Times bestseller, keynote speaker, media personality and attorney—points to the cosmetics industry, including direct selling opportunities, as a consistent source of income regardless of economic downturns.

August 21, 2015

Exclusive Interviews

Executive Connection with Charlie Orr, CEO, Immunotec

Charlie OrrCharlie Orr

In this month’s Executive Connection, Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief Lauren Lawley Head speaks with Charlie Orr, CEO of Canada-based Immunotec, about servant leadership, authenticity and being a lifelong learner. 

DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being Immunotec’s CEO?

CO: Being with field consultants and our employee colleagues in all our markets.

DSN: What are the characteristics that make an Immunotec Consultant successful?

CO: While there is no single way to do the business, our top leaders tend to do certain things that lead to success. First, they tell their own unique, inspiring story regularly. Then, they focus on others daily—they’re servant leaders. Related to that, they build a team in order to help others, and they work the business system as a team. They keep it fun and simple so that it’s duplicable and shared every day. They’re genuine. They stay true to who they are. And finally, they’re lifelong learners who are committed to personal and organizational development.

DSN: What do you tell Immunotec Consultants to lead and inspire them?

CO: It starts with the home office team being present with them. There is no substitute for being in the marketplace. When you are in-market, fully engaged and being yourself, listening, having fun with your colleagues, these are the most important things you can do. I’m sure they remember what we say, but our physical and emotional support makes the most impact. There’s no such thing as spending too much time with the field.

DSN: What insight did you bring from your experience as the Executive Director of Direct Selling Education Foundation that has been most useful to you at Immunotec?

CO: I had so many wonderful experiences that it’s impossible to choose just one. When I was in the DSEF I had the privilege of meeting great executives and volunteers from many DSA member companies. Every day I encountered new ideas and insights, from coast to coast and around the world. I saw so many companies and people building their businesses really well, as well as companies working through a rough patch. It was like earning an additional master's degree in terms of understanding our business model and how dynamic and rapidly changing the environment can be when you’re inside a company.

DSN: What do you value most about the direct selling model?

CO: The fact that it’s people centric.

DSN: What is your vision for Immunotec?

CO: For Immunocal® to be the nutritional choice on a worldwide basis.

DSN: Is there one basic principle that governs your leadership at Immunotec?

CO: Everybody is treated fairly, with respect, with love.

DSN: What project or accomplishment do you consider to be the most significant in your career?

CO: I don’t think about what I have done; I think about what we do. When a company gets the partnership and collaboration really working well between home office and field, there’s nothing better that can happen to you in this business model. I see that as a collective accomplishment.

DSN: When you’re not at work, where are you most likely to be found?

CO: With my family.

August 21, 2015

U.S. News

Isagenix Raises $3M in 3 Years for Make-A-Wish

Photo: San Diego Make-A-Wish child Tanika Hahn and her family celebrate her wish reveal at Isagenix’s Celebration 2015.

During its Celebration 2015 salesforce convention this week, Isagenix International continued its annual tradition of raising funds for charitable partner Make-A-Wish. Associates and employees attending the San Diego event pledged more than $565,000 to grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Arizona-based Isagenix has been supporting children’s charities for the past 11 years, to the tune of $6.2 million. Since partnering with Make-A-Wish in 2012, the health and wellness company has donated more than $3 million to the charity, helping to grant more than 425 wishes. In 2013, Isagenix received Make-A-Wish America’s prestigious Cause Champion Award for its outstanding contributions.

At this year’s Celebration, the crowd of 15,000 witnessed firsthand a wish come true for Tanika Hahn, a 10-year-old battling leukemia. Isagenix and Make-A-Wish staged a wish reveal for the young girl, who requested a backyard makeover complete with a zipline, stage, foam pit, and other play areas to help her stay active while undergoing treatments.

August 20, 2015

U.S. News

4Life Promotes New Faces to C-Suite

Wellness company 4Life has promoted two of its vice presidents to top executive roles. Andy Weeks is taking on the role of Chief Information Officer, and David Vollmer, Ph. D., is now Chief Scientific Officer of the Salt Lake City-based company.

Weeks is a 15-year 4Life veteran whose responsibilities have included technical support, programming, and systems development. He most recently served as Vice President of Software Development.

Vollmer’s former role as Vice President of Quality and Analytical Services included implementation of the 4Life analytical laboratory, an in-house quality control facility. He also helped oversee CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) compliance, stability testing, product specifications, and a range of other quality processes.

The 4Life science team is currently anticipating the completion of a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, slated to open this fall. The plant will allow 4Life to control every step of the manufacturing process—including the batching, blending, encapsulating and packaging of the company’s primary 4Life Transfer Factor products.

August 19, 2015

U.S. News

Corporate Compassion Award Honors Stella & Dot’s Autism Awareness Work

Photo: Actress Holly Robinson Peete and Stella & Dot CEO and Founder Jessica Herrin attend the HollyRod Foundation’s 17th annual DesignCare Gala. (Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for HollyRod Foundation)

Stella & Dot recently earned the 2015 HollyRod Corporate Compassion Award for its contributions to autism awareness. Since 2013, the fashion accessories brand has raised more than $270,000 in support of the HollyRod Foundation, which is dedicated to providing care for people living with autism and Parkinson’s disease.

Jessica Herrin, Founder and CEO of Stella & Dot, accepted the award on behalf of the brand’s Stylists and customers during the foundation’s 17th annual DesignCare Gala, a fashion benefit held Aug. 8 in Los Angeles.

Actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, established the HollyRod Foundation in 1997 in honor of Holly’s father, who battled Parkinson’s disease. The foundation’s mission expanded when the couple’s eldest son, RJ, received an autism diagnosis.

Stella & Dot has supported the cause—one of a handful advocated by The Stella & Dot Foundation—by launching a capsule collection during Autism Awareness month each April. All net proceeds from the accessories collection benefit the HollyRod Foundation.

The San Francisco-based brand has provided tablets to help non-verbal children with autism communicate, funded various summer camps and programs, and helped to open seven RJ’s Places across the U.S. and Canada. HollyRod installs RJ’s Place and technology rooms in hospitals and autism centers as a comfortable space for children accompanying a sibling to treatment.

August 18, 2015

World News

Amway eSpring Leads Global Home Water Treatment Category

Amway eSpring still holds sway as the world’s top-selling brand of home water treatment systems, according to a report on 2014 sales from market research firm Verify Markets. The research looked at water treatment systems sold across retail and direct selling channels.

Since Amway entered the water treatment business more than 30 years ago, the company’s independent salespeople, called Amway Business Owners, have sold more than 7.2 million units worldwide. The popular eSpring brand, introduced 15 years ago, features patented technology independently verified and certified by the NSF.

Water treatment is not the only category where Amway is leading on a global scale. According to research by Euromonitor International, Amway Nutrilite is the world’s No. 1 selling vitamins and dietary supplements brand, as well as the only global vitamin and mineral brand to grow, harvest, and process plants on its own certified organic farms. Artistry, the company’s beauty line, is among the world’s top five largest-selling, premium skincare brands.

In a Monday post on the Amway Insider blog, the company said fresh innovations on the eSpring system are in the works, but offered no further details.

August 18, 2015

World News

Q&A: Younique Opens for Business in Germany

Younique, the fast-growing beauty brand known for its virtual parties, is opening this month in Germany, its second European market. Outside the U.S., the company also operates in the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Founded in September 2012, Younique identifies as a mission-first beauty company dedicated to uplifting, empowering and validating women through its products and business opportunity. The Utah-based brand currently has more than 265,000 Presenters marketing its wares via social media. Younique’s Director of International Market Development, Jordan Meyer, spoke to DSN about bringing the virtual business to a new market.

DSN: What does launching a new market on social media look like? How do you get the momentum going?

JM: We have an army of women who are on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. When we launch a new market, they’ve all got their various strategies, and they don’t let the barrier of a new country stop them from their business activities. Social media platforms are really conducive to cross-border growth.

DSN: What makes Germany a good fit for Younique?

JM: When we select markets, we choose places where our Presenters can be successful, where consumers in those markets use the same social media platforms our current Presenters use. We look at a variety of metrics, such as social media footprint, makeup market size, direct selling makeup market size, and especially how much e-commerce happens in the country. We also look for markets where our current presenters have relationships and business ties.

DSN: When it comes to international expansions, what is the most significant challenge you’ve encountered so far?

JM: International expansion is just hard. It’s hard when you’re talking about new languages, and as a company this year we’re entering Mexico and Germany. The whole organization has to adapt when we’re using a new language, and because we don’t know the language we feel like we lose some control. To sum it up in one word, localization is a big challenge.

DSN: Younique is in a pre-launch phase in Mexico, where you’ll officially open in October. Are there any other expansions on the horizon?

JM: Yes! At our recent convention, we announced that we will be opening in France next year. We’re looking at the first half of 2016.

August 14, 2015

World News

Avon, Mary Kay among Top Beauty Brands for Social Media Buzz

A newly released research report by social analytics firm NetBase captured social media conversations—more than 2 million of them—to see which brands consumers are talking about when they share their thoughts on beauty and skincare. Both Avon and Mary Kay were among the top 30 brand names, likely and unlikely, that surfaced in conversations about beauty.

To compile its Brand Passion Report: Beauty & Skincare, NetBase used a patented technology that sifts consumer emotions, behavior and usage towards the industry and select brands. The study looks at conversations that took place during the past two years in more than 100 countries. In addition to social networks, NetBase combed review sites, blogs, forums and news sites.

The 91-page report includes a list of the top recurring brands identified in the study. New York-based Avon ranked No. 13, down from No. 11 in the first-year period. Avon is also one of seven global beauty brands the report analyzes in greater depth. Over the two-year period, Dallas-based Mary Kay maintained its rank at No. 28. Non-traditional cosmetic retailers such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon ranked first, third and seventh place respectively.

In addition to looking at individual brands, NetBase gathered data on the wider beauty conversation, such as attributes that consumers associate with the brands they use. Five prominent mentions were great scent, natural looking, great moisturizer, value and anti-aging.

“Establishing a strong emotional connection with consumers is vital in today’s fast-paced, social-driven market,” NetBase Chief Marketing Officer, Pernille Bruun-Jensen, said in a statement. “It requires a deep understanding of how consumers interact with a product or brand, and social data offers a wealth of insight that helps brands understand their target consumer and what drives and influences them.”

August 14, 2015

World News

ASEA Opens First Office in Mexico, Appoints General Manager

A year after launching in Mexico, biotech company ASEA is opening its first office in the country and appointing a general manager to oversee the market’s rapid growth.

Salt Lake City-based ASEA opened Mexico in September 2014 with a three-city tour through Mexicali, Colima and La Paz. In just under a year, the market has become ASEA’s second largest behind the U.S. The company said it has signed on about 13,000 associates to date, and monthly sales of its liquid supplement and skincare gel are nearing $1 million.

To support its associates in the region, ASEA is opening an office in Guadalajara, Mexico. Duvan Botero, former Regional Sales Director of Mexico and U.S. Hispanic markets for ASEA, will head up operations as the newly appointed General Manager of Mexico.

“I’m looking forward to this exciting new opportunity to sustain and increase continued growth in this important market,” Botero said in a statement. “This in-market office will be instrumental for ASEA’s future expansion into all regions of Mexico.”

August 13, 2015

U.S. News

Mannatech President Al Bala Takes on CEO Role

Photo: Mannatech President & CEO Al Bala.

Mannatech Inc. announced Wednesday the promotion of company President Alfredo Bala, who will now serve as president and CEO of the nutrition company. According to Mannatech Chairman J. Stanley Fredrick, Bala’s appointment is part of an intentional shift of focus to the brand’s independent sales Associates and international growth.

“In Al Bala, Mannatech has a leader with a deep understanding of the daily effort it takes to succeed in the direct sales industry, as well as someone who knows how to build internationally,” Fredrick said in a statement. “We’re fortunate to have that person serving Mannatech as its President, and delighted to also have him now serve as CEO.”

In 1992, Bala left a position as manufacturing plant manager for Bose Corp. to launch a full-time direct selling career. Before joining Mannatech corporate in 2007, he was a field sales leader at a leading direct selling company, where his team launched operations in more than 65 countries. Bala’s expertise in building international markets has helped Mannatech expand into 15 countries in the past eight years.

“I am wholly focused on the success and care of our outstanding sales Associates around the globe,” Bala said of his new role, effective immediately. “Mannatech is already renowned for having some of the best technologies in the world in our nutritional supplements and skincare products, and it is my vision for Mannatech to also be known for having the best rewards, recognition, support, tools and training in the direct sales industry.”

August 12, 2015

U.S. News

Nerium Soars to No. 12 on Inc. 500|5000 List

Today, Inc. magazine announced its 34th annual Inc. 500|5000 List, and the exclusive ranking once again features several direct selling brands. The Inc. 5000 is a list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, with the Inc. 500 representing a special ranking of companies in the top 10 percent.

Nine direct selling companies are included in this year’s list, and they represent a wide variety of categories: consumer products, health, travel & hospitality and energy. The growth increase spans an even greater range, from a very respectable 125 percent (Beachbody) to a whopping 16,617 percent (Nerium). Nerium has only been in business since August 2011, making this percentage growth number even more impressive.

Limited to U.S.-based, privately held companies, the Inc. 5000 measures revenue growth from 2011–2014.

The top 500 companies on the list will be featured in the September issue of Inc.

To view the entire list, please visit www.inc.com/inc5000


Nerium International



Consumer Products & Services


Plexus Worldwide





 It Works!



Consumer Products & Services





Consumer Products & Services





Travel & Hospitality







Ambit Energy










Stemtech International




August 07, 2015

U.S. News

Primerica Reports Increases in Sales and Membership

In reporting second quarter sales and earnings for 2015, Primerica Inc. (PRI—NYSE) highlighted a 14 percent growth in life insurance policies issued and 5 percent growth in life insurance licensed representatives to reach a total of 101,008. The company stated that second quarter operating revenue increased by 6 percent to $350.3 million compared with $330.3 million in the prior year period.

Glenn Williams, CEO, credited the company’s growth to a “solid core performance across business segments” and “ongoing efforts to drive organic growth.” With increases in both life-licensed sales members (5 percent growth) and recruitment of new members (20 percent growth), the company credits excitement generated by new incentives, technology, and product enhancements offered to the sales representatives and to customers.

To listen to a replay of the investor call held on Aug. 6, click here.

August 07, 2015

U.S. News

Herbalife’s Positive Trends Continue

Michael Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Herbalife (HLF—NYSE), says that the positive trends reported at the beginning of the year have continued on into the second quarter of 2015, again exceeding expectations. During the earnings call for investors on Aug. 5, Johnson commended the leadership of the company’s senior sales leaders, as well as the “resilience of all of our members and employees and their passion and determination” in support of the continuing positive trends.

Johnson went on to say that the company’s optimism is based upon the engagement and excitement of members and the recent changes to the marketing plan designed to “create a more consumer-focused and sustainable business.”

The company reported net sales of $1.2 billion. Though this represents an 11 percent decline from the prior-year period, it shows a net sales growth of 1 percent on a local currency basis. Second-quarter adjusted EPS was $1.24 per diluted share, which exceeded the hight end of the guidance of $1.15.

In July, the company had its largest attendance for a North American event in its history—22,000 members gathering in St. Louis. Other regions of the world also had record attendance.

To listen to the entire investor’s call or read the transcript, click here.

August 07, 2015

U.S. News

Blyth Reports Decline

Blyth Inc. (BTH—NYSE), a designer and marketer of candles and accessories as well as health, wellness and beauty products, today reported sales and earnings for the second quarter of 2015.

Net sales for the three months ended June 30, 2015, decreased approximately 16 percent to $88.0 million from $104.2 million for the comparable prior year period.

Commenting on the performance of PartyLite Worldwide, Robert B. Goergen Jr., CEO of Blyth and President, PartyLite Worldwide said, “In Europe, sales declined 15% in local currency while the Consultant base declined 6%, reflecting underperformance in many of our European markets. However, while total year-over-year Consultant count declined in our mature markets, the decline was at a lesser rate in every market when compared to 2014’s second quarter. This is the second consecutive quarter we’ve seen this positive trend.

“In addition, eCommerce sales experienced growth in the quarter. While European profits declined versus last year, the profits include one-time costs to close the Cumbria U.K. candle manufacturing plant and move all candle production to our Batavia, Illinois, Global Center of Manufacturing Excellence. Going forward we expect to show a reduction in costs and to build a platform for improving profitability worldwide.”

Read more about Blyth’s second quarter results here.

August 06, 2015

U.S. News

USANA Revises Outlook Upward on Record Sales

With the release of its second quarter results on Tuesday, USANA’s net sales increased to $233.2 million—up 23.9 percent compared to $188.3 million in the prior-year period. As a result, USANA has revised its outlook to include consolidated net sales between $900 million and $920 million, versus the previous outlook of between $870 million and $890 million. Earnings per share have been revised to between $6.90 and $7.20, versus the previous outlook of between $6.45 and $6.47.

The upswing in sales is attributed to a 40.3 percent growth in the number of active associates (to 397,000) and a 15.2 percent growth in the number of preferred customers. Additionally, $5 million in revenue that was deferred during the previous quarter was included in the Q2 amount.

Strong momentum in Greater China led the company’s increases. According to USANA’s Co-CEO Dave Wentz, in the Asia Pacific region, where USANA generated 72 percent of its sales last year, the Philippines and China are currently the nutrition company’s two hottest markets.

The company ended the quarter with a strong cash position—$150.9 million in cash and cash equivalents, along with zero debt and $132 million in net working capital. Notably, gross margins were reported to have improved 130 basis points year-over-year, due to changes in the marketing mix, price increases and higher net sales.

The webcast of the Q2 2015 Earnings Conference Call, which was held today at 11 a.m. EST, can be found here.

August 04, 2015

U.S. News

Tech Startup Legacy Republic Expands with Yarly Acquisition

Less than a year after signing on its first consultants, media digitization company Legacy Republic is expanding its footprint with the acquisition of Yarly, a startup photo management service.

Legacy Republic launched in October 2014 as a division of YesVideo, a service used by more than 8 million to digitize and share home videos. YesVideo offers its services through major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco and CVS, as well as online.

Utilizing a social selling model, Legacy Republic helps users preserve family memories by transferring videotapes, photos and even film reels to an online account, where they can easily organize and share their archive. The company has signed on hundreds of trained consultants, called Legacy Makers, across 40 states. Legacy Makers communicate the importance of digitizing old media and help clients through the process.

Competitor Yarly built its business on a similar model. CEO Allison Strouse, who will remain on board as Executive Advisor, founded the company in 2012 to combine high-tech photo storage technology with the skills of local, certified experts. The cross-platform service offers an outlet for creative entrepreneurs, who can sign on as Yarly Partners and assist clients in photo scanning, organization, editing and printing.

Yarly is the first acquisition for Legacy Republic, but company head Brian Knapp tells TechCrunch it won’t be the last. In a statement, Legacy Republic pointed to a survey by Frost and Sullivan, showing that 90 million households are storing videos and photos on old, less secure formats. The company is looking to grow its consultant base and capitalize on that $50 billion market opportunity with additional acquisitions in the future.

August 03, 2015

World News

USANA CEO Talks Fast-Growing Philippine Market

In the Asia Pacific region, where USANA generated 72 percent of its sales last year, the Philippines and China are currently the nutrition company’s two hottest markets.

Wrapping up an Asian tour in Manila this weekend, USANA CEO Dave Wentz told The Manila Times that the Philippines, where the company launched in January 2009, is outpacing all other markets in the region. In the first quarter of 2015, Southeast Asia Pacific revenue rose 10 percent to $45.3 million—a fifth of USANA’s quarterly revenue. Wentz was in the country to meet with up-and-coming leaders and share the company’s vision with a gathering of 13,000 Filipino distributors.

He was particularly excited to connect with the young entrepreneurs in attendance. As the son of USANA Founder Myron Wentz, the younger Wentz began working for the company in 1992. Before taking on the role of CEO in 2008, he held a series of executive positions within the company. That experience taught him lessons—including the importance of personal growth—that he hopes to pass on to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The young CEO is fresh off a one-year leave from USANA, which he took to recharge and spend time with his family, including a South African safari trip.

“With 19 countries and traveling all the time, I do miss my children growing up,” Wentz told the Times. “And now the management team is so good, and I trust them completely, so Aug. 2 last year I took a leave and told management we’ve got great, capable people to run the business.”

August 03, 2015

Exclusive Interviews

Executive Connection with Kevin Adams, CEO, Isagenix International

In this month’s Executive Connection, Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief Lauren Lawley Head speaks with Kevin Adams, CEO of Isagenix International, about leadership, alignment, and transparency.

Kevin AdamsKevin Adams

DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being Isagenix’ CEO?

KA: I really enjoy building a winning team. Through alignment, accountability, and communication, we can make everyone around us better.

DSN: How would you describe the ideal Isagenix Independent Associate?

KA: We have a great deal of diversity across our Associate base, but the common element is collaboration and a culture of family.

DSN: What do you tell Isagenix Independent Associates to lead and inspire them?

KA: We lead by demonstrating our core values every day. We are very transparent with our Associates and foster inclusion in our vision and mission.

DSN: You joined Isagenix from outside the direct selling industry. What surprised you most about the industry?

KA: I was impressed with the professionalism and drive of the leaders in the industry. Our top leaders not only have the expertise and skills to build successful businesses, but they also have a tremendous level of dedication and drive. I was amazed to see how much passion and integrity they demonstrate each and every day. That’s truly what makes Isagenix a direct selling leader.

DSN: Now that you’ve been in direct selling for about eight years, what have you come to value most about the direct selling model?

KA: I value the efficiency of the model. Prospective customers get to talk directly to satisfied customers and actually see the results of our products in person. We build loyalty through product experience, relationships and our culture.

DSN: What is your vision for Isagenix?

KA: Our mission is to become the largest health and wellness company in the world by helping people transform physically and financially. I personally see our company changing the world—making it a better place. We already are well on our way. Commitment to health is fundamental to who we are, and we have found a remarkable way to share our passion—through direct selling. My vision is to let our dedicated field do what they do best: share our high-quality products one person at a time, community to community, country to country, until we have fully realized our mission.

DSN: Is there one basic principle that governs your leadership at Isagenix?

KA: Alignment; if we can get everyone aligned to a common goal, I know we can achieve almost anything.

DSN: What project or accomplishment do you consider to be the most significant in your career?

KA: My most significant accomplishment is from a former employer, but most importantly that achievement guides my leadership as CEO here at Isagenix every day—I draw from it. It was an achievement from when I was Executive Vice President at ConAgra Foods prior to coming to Isagenix. I learned a lot about people, processes, and systems. I led a project that involved consolidating numerous independent companies into an operating company to leverage its size and scale.

DSN: What’s one piece of advice that you’ve found especially useful?

KA: I was always in athletics growing up, so when I started my business career I was very competitive. One of my mentors told me to turn my competitiveness into an advantage by competing against myself. It really changed my life.

DSN: When you’re not at work, where are you most likely to be found?

KA: I have two active boys ages 17 and 13, so I am either coaching their sports teams or being their No. 1 fan in every aspect of their lives.

August 01, 2015

Publisher's Note

Valuing Yourself and Your Team

by Lauren Lawley Head

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

People are everything in direct selling. Their enthusiasm for sharing products and business opportunities fuels company growth, builds brands and creates lasting legacies. The importance of people in this business simply can’t be overstated.

How valuable, then, is investing in people’s personal development? Writer Courtney Roush takes a deep look at that question in this issue’s cover story, “How to Tap the Power of Personal Growth,” which begins on page 18. Top executives at Initials Inc., All’asta, It Works! and Traci Lynn Jewelry all weigh in on the transformative nature of personal development and explain how the concept has become central to their companies, and their own lives. Each one makes a tremendous commitment to providing personal development resources to their independent salesforces, and reaps the rewards. As ACN President and Co-Founder Greg Provenzano so beautifully put it in his Top Desk column on page 82, “The wrong kind of people can’t stand the right environment for too long. Your outer world will always catch up with your inner world.”

Of course, having a great relationship with your field is only one piece of the people puzzle. Fostering deep engagement among company employees is equally important; when a workplace is awesome, workers tend to deliver awesome performances. In recognition of that fact, we invite you to join us in a new project: Best Places to Work in Direct Selling. Direct Selling News has partnered with Quantum Workplace, an HR technology company that has been collecting Best Places to Work data for more than a decade and currently supports 40 programs across the U.S. Together, we will celebrate the important role direct selling companies play as employers in the marketplace and identify the best of the best when it comes to creating engaging work environments.

Here’s how it works:

Starting Aug. 17 and running through Oct. 23, human resource directors or other top executives within a company can complete the nomination for participation. The contest is open to direct selling companies with at least 50 employees based in North America. Simply head to directsellingnews.com/bestplacestowork and provide some basic information.

Once the nomination period closes, Quantum Workplace will ask the employees of these companies to complete an online survey designed to measure workplace engagement. The survey was developed by a panel of thought leaders in the field of employee experience and is validated annually against more than 1.5 million responses across 5,000 companies to continuously recognize trends in the evolution of engagement. It is available in English and Spanish.

Once the survey period is complete, Quantum Workplace will compile and evaluate the responses, assigning each company a composite score. Top achievers will be recognized in a special Direct Selling News publication.

There is no cost to participate. In addition, all companies that take part in the survey will receive a free, one-page overview report of their results and a more detailed report will be available for purchase. Companies also may work with Quantum Workplace to design additional, custom employee survey work.

With your participation, the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling program will celebrate the important role companies play as employers in the marketplace and highlight those companies that are setting the bar for establishing and nurturing work experiences and environments that bring out the very best in people. This will allow us to spotlight the direct selling channel as a positive job-creating engine, share best practices with the wider direct selling community, and provide valuable feedback and data that can assist you in measuring levels of employee satisfaction and engagement.

In addition to Best Places to Work in Direct Selling, I encourage you to take a look at another upcoming opportunity: the European Direct Selling Conference and Seldia Astra Awards Dinner, scheduled for Oct. 6 and 7 in Brussels. Our friends at Seldia report that several VIPs of the industry already have registered to the event, including Doug DeVos, Chairman of WFDSA and President of Amway. The conference will feature a panel discussion with Seldia Chairman Magnus Brännström (Oriflame), Samir Behl (Amway), Patrick Sostmann (LR Health & Beauty Systems) and Kathleen Mitchell (Stella & Dot) as well as several interactive workshops on various topics. How digital technologies affect direct selling businesses’ growth will be at the heart of the debates. More information can be found on the conference website at www.directsellingconference.eu or by sending an email to seldia@seldia.eu.

All the best,
Lauren Lawley Head
Publisher and Editor in Chief

August 01, 2015

News in Brief

News in Brief, August 2015

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Annual Report Shows Oriflame’s Comprehensive Approach to Sustainability


Throughout 2014, Luxembourg-based Oriflame made major strides toward sustainability in its core business operations. The beauty brand recently provided a window into its progress with the release of its annual Sustainability Report.

Environmental sustainability and corporate citizenship have been an integral part of Oriflame’s nearly 50-year history. The brand has laid out its current strategy in a five-year plan that specifies 14 goals and 36 commitments—all aimed at developing successful people, great products and a thriving planet.

In 2014, 67 percent of electricity used at Oriflame’s manufacturing sites came from renewable sources. Total CO2 emissions decreased by 5 percent, and the company obtained GreenPalm certificates covering 100 percent of its palm oil consumption. Product packaging was 93 percent certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and 93 percent of all catalogue paper was also credibly certified.

As the No. 11 direct selling company in the world, according to the DSN Global 100, with annual revenue of $1.68 billion, Oriflame has drawn global recognition for its efforts. Last year, the company received the “Sustainable Standard Setter” award from the Rainforest Alliance, as well as a spot on the “A List” in the CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index 2014.

Oriflame’s products have also earned kudos, such as the 2014 Eco Beauty Award from the CEW Beauty Awards (Cosmetic Executive Women) for its pioneering Ecobeauty products. The cross-category range is the first of its kind in the industry focusing on sustainability in each step of the production process.

dōTERRA Completes Second Phase of Utah Headquarters

dōTERRA headquarters in Pleasant Grove, UtahdōTERRA headquarters in Pleasant Grove, Utah

Essential oil seller dōTERRA International has nearly doubled the size of its corporate headquarters with a newly completed Product Center. With the additional warehouse and office space, dōTERRA’s headquarters now covers 383,000 square feet and houses 1,400 employees.

The Utah campus, created with architectural firm VCBO and Jacobsen Construction, has already earned awards for both partners. Utah Construction and Design magazine recognized VCBO for Most Outstanding Project in the Commercial/Office category, and The Associated General Contractors awarded Jacobsen the Best Corporate Project prize for the State of Utah.

The completion of the facility brings all of dōTERRA’s departments together at one location. “This allows us to collaborate, work together, and increase productivity across multiple departments, and also allows us to continually build great relationships between departments,” said Director of Human Resources, Mark Ringger, who oversaw the project.

The innovative design and construction has increased efficiency for the company, with the Product Center currently processing more than 30,000 essential oil will call orders every month.

Department of Defense Recognizes Melaleuca as a Patriotic Employer

Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot accepts the Patriotic Employer Award.Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot accepts the Patriotic Employer Award.

The U.S. Department of Defense recently presented the Patriotic Employer Award to Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot in appreciation of the company’s extraordinary support of American soldiers.

The Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) selected Melaleuca for the award after learning how the company supported Army Specialist Nathan Johnson while he served on active-duty orders for two years. Specialist Johnson, a nine-year Melaleuca employee who works as a senior web analyst, is returning to active-duty service again in August.

At the presentation of the award, Johnson praised Melaleuca’s military-friendly culture and patriotic values. He emphasized the connection he felt while he was away, the support he and his wife received, and the free Melaleuca products that came every month. Melaleuca also ensured that he experienced a smooth transition back to the company following his tour of duty.

“I didn’t have to worry about loads of paperwork or fight for hours to get things done,” said Johnson. “All those potential sources of stress were avoided, because Melaleuca took care of it for me.”

Nerium Hits the Ground in South Korea with New Brand Center

NeriumLeft to right: Nerium Chief Field Officer, Mark Smith; General Manager of Korea, BJ Choi; President of International, Roy Truett; and Chief Networking Officer, Dennis Windsor.

Nerium International has a new home in South Korea, where the anti-aging company opened its first Asian market in June. To support the region’s nascent salesforce, the company has established its newest Brand Center in the South Korean capital of Seoul. The Brand Center will showcase Nerium’s Optimera skincare line, which includes an Age-Defying Night Cream and Day Cream. In addition to serving consumers, the 8,500-square-foot space will offer training, tools and other resources for brand partners.

“Asia-Pacific is one of the most important regions for relationship marketing,” Nerium President of International, Roy Truett, said in a statement. “We have a large Korean base of Brand Partners in the U.S., and we are thrilled to bring our winning combination of opportunity and cutting-edge, proprietary products into a country that we feel is a leader in the skincare industry.”

Belcorp CEO Honored for Social Sustainability Work

Eduardo BelmontEduardo Belmont

During this year’s Latin Trade Symposium, Belcorp CEO Eduardo Belmont will be one of six corporate leaders to receive a 2015 BRAVO Business Award honoring excellence and leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Latin Trade Group, the organization behind the symposium, has named Belmont the recipient of its Social Sustainability CEO of the Year award. According to the judges, the award honors Belcorp foremost “for improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of families through the support of more than 1 million female beauty consultants.” The panel commended the beauty and personal-care brand, which has reached $1.4 billion in annual revenue, for “committed action” on behalf of employees, consumers, suppliers, the community and the environment.

The BRAVO nomination process takes place through the group’s magazine, Latin Trade, where readers nominate individuals across the public and private sector. The magazine’s editorial team consults with past honorees, international business executives, and government and academic leaders to narrow the list of candidates.

Latin Trade Group is partnering with outlets such as CNN, The Financial Times and PR Newswire to present its annual one-day conference, followed by the 21st BRAVO Business Awards, a black-tie gala recognizing the BRAVO winners. This year’s event will take place Oct. 29 in Miami.

Avon Sells UK Skincare Brand to Walgreens

Liz EarleProducts on display at a Liz Earle store on England’s Isle of Wight.

Avon announced in July that pharmacy giant Walgreens Boots Alliance has acquired the Liz Earle retail brand for approximately $215 million.

In a statement, Avon CEO Sheri McCoy noted the transaction has “immediate benefits” for Avon and that “Liz Earle is the perfect fit for Walgreens Boots Alliance where it already has a strong presence in its retail stores.”

Avon acquired Liz Earle in 2010, just months before acquiring Silpada Designs, the direct selling jewelry brand that Avon divested in July 2013. Unlike Silpada, Liz Earle operated as a standalone business from Avon’s core direct selling business. Last year, the skincare brand accounted for 1 percent of Avon’s consolidated revenue and adjusted operating profit and 3 percent of its EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africe) revenue and adjusted operating profit.

Avon’s latest turnaround measure follows a disappointing 2014, which reported a net loss of $331 million on an 11 percent revenue decrease for the year. The company said it will use the proceeds from the Liz Earle sale in its planned redemption of $250 million, 2.375 percent notes due in March 2016.

Stream Connects Soldiers to Loved Ones with a Million Free Minutes


Stream has jumpstarted its newest charitable partnership by donating more than 1 million minutes of free talk time through Cell Phones for Soldiers. The family-run nonprofit supplies calling cards and cell phones to active-duty military members and veterans.

The donation resulted from Stream’s first associate promotion in support of Cell Phones for Soldiers. After launching the partnership in May, the home services provider said it would donate 1,000 minutes of international talk time for each new mobile customer signed on throughout the month.

“Stream helps people get connected with its Mobile Services, and now they are helping our organization provide a lifeline for America’s bravest,” Robbie Bergquist, Co-Founder of Cell Phones for Soldiers, said in a statement. “We are extremely grateful to Stream and its Associates for their support.”

Bergquist and his sister, Brittany, founded the national nonprofit in 2004, when they were just 12 and 13 years old. Since then, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided more than 200 million minutes of talk time and nearly 12 million recycled cell phones to service members. Dallas-based Stream said it plans to support the organization on an ongoing basis through various promotions with its associates.

Natural Health Trends Joins Russell Indexes

Personal-care and wellness company Natural Health Trends Corp. recently announced its inclusion on the Russell Global Index, the Russell 3000 Index and the Russell Microcap Index. The comprehensive set of equity indexes, reconstituted annually, captures the 3,000 largest U.S. stocks and ranks them by total market capitalization. Dallas-based NHTC joined the Russell indexes at the end of June.

“Inclusion in the Russell indexes is a significant milestone for us following our revenue and profit growth in the last few years,” Chris Sharng, Natural Health Trend Corp. President, said in a statement. “As we continue to execute on our growth strategy, we believe our membership will help facilitate efforts to raise our profile in the financial community, broaden our shareholder base and improve liquidity.”

US Market Boosts Quarterly Sales at Immunotec Inc.

Quebec-based Immunotec Inc. saw steady revenue growth in its second quarter, primarily on the strength of the company’s U.S. sales. For the quarter ended April 30, 2015, revenue was up 4.8 percent to $16.2 million. The nutrition company posted a net profit of $243,664, a 60 percent decrease from the second quarter of 2014. Adjusted EBITDA amounted to $1.1 million or 7 percent of revenue, compared to 7.4 percent a year ago.

“The recent volatility in currencies is causing businesses worldwide to review their supply chain strategies,” CFO Patrick Montpetit noted in the company’s release. “Subsequent to the end of April, we secured additional financing to support strengthening our supply chain.”

Judge Dismisses Solavei Case against Stream


A Dallas District Court judge has dismissed Solavei’s trade-secrets case against Dallas-based competitor Stream. Judge Craig Smith of the 192nd District Court dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit alleging that Stream had launched its mobile services using proprietary technology and information from Seattle-based Solavei.

Stream, an energy company that has expanded into other everyday services, launched Mobile Services by Stream in January, six months after backing out of extended merger talks with Solavei. Pointing to a confidentiality agreement signed by both companies, Solavei claimed senior Stream executives had used knowledge of Solavei’s technology, social marketing strategies, go-to-market plan and customer lists to roll out its mobile direct selling business.

The day before Stream’s mobile launch in January, Solavei aired its grievances in an official statement, a move that prompted Stream to obtain a temporary restraining order prohibiting further disparaging remarks by Solavei.

Back in June 2014, while in talks with Stream, Solavei filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced that services would continue uninterrupted as its business underwent restructuring. After Stream terminated the transaction, Solavei went on to merge with Aspider, a Netherlands-based mobile infrastructure and services brand.

At the end of June this year, the court granted Stream’s request for a summary judgment, ordering a dismissal that prohibits Solavei from filing another lawsuit on the same grounds.

Herbalife to Bring 300 New Jobs to North Carolina

HerbalifeHerbalife’s Innovation and Manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Following the grand opening of its largest manufacturing facility in January, Herbalife has announced plans for further investments that will bring 300 new jobs to North Carolina. The nutrition company previously announced that its Winston-Salem Innovation and Manufacturing facility would employ 500 by the end of 2015. Herbalife is now investing an additional $3.5 million in infrastructure that will open 300 manufacturing and IT jobs at the 800,000-square-foot plant. The company expects to complete this latest phase of development by the close of 2018.

The NSF-certified facility is one of four Herbalife Innovation and Manufacturing facilities worldwide. In addition to manufacturing operations, its one-mile loop houses Herbalife’s Global Technical Operations Center and a state-of-the-art quality and testing lab.

August 01, 2015

DSA News

A Relentless Pursuit

by Joseph N. Mariano

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to discuss the Direct Selling Association’s (DSA’s) self-regulatory approach at a Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) forum that examined best practices and ideas from various industries. At that time, I dedicated the association to building upon our strong commitment to consumer protection by suggesting we would consider enhancements to the transparency of enforcement in our Code of Ethics. 

I am extremely pleased to shed some additional light on what was already announced by Direct Selling News in early June—that effective Jan. 1, 2016, we are introducing some significant changes, recently approved by DSA’s Board of Directors, that make the enforcement actions of the independent Code Administrator more transparent. We are also strengthening policies governing claims by our member companies and their independent salespeople about their products and services and the opportunity to earn income. Finally, we are implementing even greater financial protections for independent salespeople against financial loss.

For those who may not have followed the work of DSA over the years, or are new to the direct selling community, it is important to recognize that this is not the first time we have acted to strengthen our Code, and it certainly won’t be the last. One of the great advantages of self-regulation is the ability to respond to the evolving expectations of consumers and government. The measures DSA will introduce in 2016 are recognition of such changes in the direct selling marketplace and represent a desire to lead all direct sellers—DSA members and non-members alike—to the highest ethical and consumer protection standards by example.

The paragraphs that follow are a summary of the enhancements to DSA’s Code of Ethics that we will introduce next year. DSA members are continuing to discuss implementation and will provide resources to help member companies educate various stakeholders, such as the independent salesforce and the public.

  • Product Claims. The modifications call for product claims made by members and their independent salespeople to be substantiated by competent and reliable evidence and not be misleading.
  • Earnings Claims. The modifications more clearly define earnings representation under the Code, including that which suggests lifestyle purchases are related to income earned. Claims by companies or independent salespeople must be truthful, accurate and presented in a manner that isn’t false, deceptive or misleading. They must also be documented and substantiated. Prospective salespeople must be given sufficient information to understand that earnings may vary significantly and to conduct a reasonable evaluation of the opportunity to earn income. .
  • Inventory Repurchase/Inventory Loading. The modifications prohibit false, misleading or deceptive recruiting practices, including requiring a salesperson to purchase unreasonable amounts of inventory or sales aides. The Code Administrator is empowered to employ any appropriate remedy to ensure that salespeople do not incur significant financial loss, including requiring DSA member companies to repurchase inventory or materials. .
  • Transparency. The modifications require member companies to publicize the process for filing a Code complaint, in addition to the Code itself. Furthermore, the Code Administrator is empowered to issue periodic compliance reports, including public reporting. .

As president of DSA, I am personally committed to ensuring that the association be recognized as having the most progressive consumer protection and ethical business practices in the marketplace. Continually examining our policies on ethics and consumer protection and making improvements that respect direct sellers and the marketplace is not only the right thing to do, it’s also a sound business strategy. When companies do the right thing by consumers, sales follow.

Are you interested in DSA’s Code of Ethics and how DSA membership can differentiate your company in the marketplace? Contact Joseph Aquilina at jaquilina@dsa.org to learn more.

Joseph N. MarianoJoseph N. Mariano is President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association.

August 01, 2015

Cover Story

How to Tap the Power of Personal Growth

by Courtney Roush

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the season, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” —Jim Rohn

“The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.” —Mary Kay Ash

In the direct selling industry, we’ve all had the extraordinary privilege of witnessing independent representatives command the stage during company events—leaders who, only years earlier, couldn’t have imagined possessing the confidence required to inspire an audience. Often, you’ll find their team members within arm’s reach on that stage, their very presence reflecting the interconnectedness of the entire group. 

We all know that the genuine direct selling success stories are based on a long, patient climb—a continual striving to reach a little further, to ask “what’s next?” Perhaps why we continue to run up against misconceptions of the industry is because we still keep company with some individuals who want to portray direct selling as a means to get rich quick. We all know it’s not—it’s never been, nor will it ever be. Taking that approach to direct selling is akin to the lottery winner who spends his windfall overnight, then files for bankruptcy. The instant gratification of rapid recruiting and frontloading builds a very shaky foundation that inevitably will crumble, and from which nobody benefits.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When approached correctly and according to its design, direct selling requires a keen focus on the objective directly in front of you—the potential customer, the team member, the next personal goal. Collectively, the accumulation of these individual wins is transformative not only for the initiator, but also for the beneficiaries of his or her actions. What the “get rich quickers” never grasp is that, in actuality, taking the slow road would have been far more lucrative, financially and personally. The foundation of the slow road is solid, the personal relationships deeper, the trust infinitely greater. And trust isn’t just the grease in the wheel of the direct selling industry; it’s the grease in the wheel of life.

The bottom line is that, in direct selling, your success is derived from helping others achieve their potential. What you give comes back to you—and then some. That’s what makes this industry unlike any other. You simply won’t get far if you don’t take others with you. Assuming a leadership role is mandatory. And therein lies the transformative power of direct selling. The leader on the stage didn’t start there. Her ultimate attainment of leadership probably had less to do with textbooks and college degrees than it did with an unceasing pursuit of personal development. Our very industry is built on this incredibly powerful concept.

“You can literally watch change happen. That’s the power of personal development—you get to see it come to life in every decision and choice you make.”
—Britney Vickery, CEO and Founder, Initials Inc.

When Did Personal Development Become a ‘Thing’?

Improving self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-leadership. Renewing identity and self-esteem. Becoming a self-leader. Fulfilling your calling and therefore your destiny. It’s easy to wave off personal development as just another movement that belongs on the self-help bandwagon, but its roots are deeper than that. The idea that realizing one’s potential enhances quality of life and contributes to the betterment of society was on the mind of ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu in the 6th century B.C. “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power,” he said. Other ancient cultures, major religions and, yes, even New Age philosophers similarly have embraced the concept, although personal development really gained traction when it became linked to psychology in the late 1800s. It was the end of the Progressive Era. The Industrial Revolution was down to its last embers, but a tiny spark remained: the “rags-to-riches” dream inspired by such giants as Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller. The spark caught flame, setting forth the belief that our greatest resource as a nation didn’t lie with faster machines; it was within man himself.

In the 20th century, American psychologist and professor Abraham Maslow introduced the “hierarchy of needs,” with self-actualization at the top, a concept he defined as “the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” Further, Maslow believed that only an estimated 1 percent of people self-actualize. Over time, as companies grew and reached beyond international borders, it became clear that the weight of responsibility for personal development had shifted from the company to the individual, as management consultant Peter Drucker wrote in a 1999 issue of Harvard Business Journal:

“We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: if you’ve got ambition and smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you started out. But with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today aren’t managing their employees’ careers; knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers. It’s up to you to carve out your place, to know when to change course, and to keep yourself engaged and productive during a work life that may span some 50 years.”

While it’s true that personal development has to be self-directed, smart companies know it makes good business sense to make it as easy as possible for their people to pursue self-transformation. They offer their employees the tools to enhance their knowledge of such topics as diplomacy, holding effective meetings, overcoming rejection, negotiation and the like. Within the direct selling industry, independent business owners are out in the field, and it’s all too easy for them to slip through the cracks without a rallying cry to stretch for a cause larger than themselves. They need a mission-driven pursuit which ideally results in their own personal transformation while they shape the lives of customers and team members in a positive way.

Personal development isn’t intended to be a one-and-done crash course. Instead, it’s a higher calling that should introduce itself early, lead the procession of business training that follows and infiltrate the consciousness at every opportunity, ultimately transcending the confines of work and spilling over into everyday life.

While it’s true that personal development has to be self-directed, smart companies know it makes good business sense to make it as easy as possible for their people to pursue self-transformation.

Time to Rewrite the Textbook for Success?

Let’s imagine there was an official “route to success” in the United States. What would it look like? It’s likely that education would be on your itinerary. After all, the traditional path to achievement has been defined by such quantifiable skills as reading, writing, math and science—subjects that can be tested and measured. What about conflict management, confidence, time management, emotional intelligence, goal setting and other soft skills? We can’t quantify those, and yet they’re no less important. Arguably, such skills may be even more vital to our success.

We have many examples of independent sales representatives who took on the charge of personal development and have experienced nothing short of a complete transformation. But what about the employees within direct selling companies who serve those salesforce members?

“Personal development is so key to the field that if you don’t do it yourself, you won’t be able to mentor them,” says Kerry Shea Penland, President and Founder of All’asta. On the corporate side of direct selling, employees’ personal development might take place on the job, or it might not. Years of experience bring key learnings, of course, or one might have the occasional opportunity to attend a conference or seminar. Leaders who most frequently interact with the salesforce may receive more formal personal development opportunities than the middle management ranks. But there’s a gap, and that gap might just present an opportunity for direct selling. Given how people-oriented this industry is—and considering that employees throughout the entire organization interact with your salesforce on a daily basis—it may be time for companies to consider investing in personal development resources for a larger share of their employee base. But the fact of the matter is that the clock’s ticking, there’s work to be done, and personal development is often the first item to be sidelined in the wake of more urgent matters. Companies would be wise to hit the pause button and begin focusing resources on the personal development of their employees, if for no other reason than it makes good business sense, builds loyalty and increases productivity—and that’s good for everybody, employees and salesforce alike.

Those self-motivated individuals who continually work on developing themselves—and who subsequently are able to navigate the murky waters of interpersonal relationships, whether or not they have a college degree—in fact have enormous potential. Years of education and college degrees will only get you so far. When we’re given opportunities to tap into our inner strengths, capitalize on them and use them toward a higher purpose, that’s when the magic happens. 

In this sense, direct selling was truly ahead of its time, building the entire concept of personal development into its very foundation. In fact, the direct selling arena is one of the few places, if not the only place outside self-guided study, that a person can receive personal development training at little or no cost, and in fact, as a part of the “package” deal. For a direct selling brand to gain traction, expand into new markets and establish firm roots globally, it’s integral that its independent representatives reach their upmost potential, and inspire their respective team members to do the same. In perhaps no other industry are the futures of so many so intertwined.

Personal development is often the first item to be sidelined in the wake of more urgent matters.

Train the Basics, Inspire in Personal Development

Assimilation into this industry will always include training on such topics as compensation structures, salesforce promotions and goals. Learning the complexities of direct selling is challenging in and of itself, but for those who truly want to excel, adding personal development to the mix could move them closer to success—and faster. Companies who regard personal development as imperative to their success will offer the means and the methods for their employees and independent representatives to achieve it—and offer it to others. That means offering up resources in a variety of contexts to accommodate multiple ways of learning, whether through coaching groups, one-on-one mentoring sessions, book clubs, rotational opportunities, webinars and/or online courses. There’s no one way to do it, but the inspiration and the means have to be an omnipresent part of the culture. 

Despite an MBA and an impressive resume, Penland was brand-new to the direct selling industry when she founded All’asta in 2012. Knowing she had a lot to learn, she started working with industry mentors right away, and “the No. 1 thing they advised me to do was invest in personal development,” she says. “This is unlike any other industry, so I made a focused effort. I found a coach, I read books, I changed some of my management and life habits, and that put me in a position to be successful in a field-facing role. You have to want to be better, and you have to be honest with yourself. It’s hard, but if you stay focused, you can kick down your barriers and open the space in your mind for more. 

“I was a bit skeptical of this industry at first,” she admits, “but several things turned me around. I heard so many success stories due to personal development. These people had transformed their own lives and the lives of others. Their testimonials were a key factor that made me fall in love with this industry.”

Mark Pentecost, CEO and Founder of It Works!, says, “There isn’t a training guide or manual to build and run a multimillion dollar business, so I learned lessons from history and taught myself through the success of others. I made it a point to always be carrying a book. Whenever I had a spare moment, I would be reading.

“Throughout my life I’ve been drawn to watching people that are self-made,” he continues. “It’s always been in my nature to be better. From an early age, I saw my parents trying to better themselves. They taught me a lot about personal development and inspired me to include it in my daily life. In the United States, you aren’t born with a title—you can grow into it. That entrepreneurial spirit and desire to stretch myself to take things to an entirely new level—those have had the most significant impact on my business and my role as CEO.”

In the United States, you aren’t born with a title—you can grow into it. That entrepreneurial spirit and desire to stretch myself to take things to an entirely new level—those have had the most significant impact on my business and my role as CEO.”
—Mark Pentecost, CEO and Founder, It Works!

Soft Skills, Hard Dollars

Traci Lynn Burton, Founder and CEO of Traci Lynn Jewelry, shares an example of how focusing on personal development can make a profound difference on a company’s bottom-line results. Three years ago, she moved her offices from Delaware to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and in the process, experienced a serious issue with her new fulfillment center. For three months—and during a peak holiday season, no less—the company was unable to fulfill orders. Keeping her motto of “motivate, inspire, change lives” in mind, Burton made the bold move to shift gears. She turned her monthly conference calls with the field into weekly calls. “During those calls, we began spending 90 percent of our time on motivation and 10 percent on other announcements,” she says. When the company resumed operations three months later, salesforce retention increased from 35 percent to a remarkable 75 percent. Traci Lynn Jewelry quickly recouped the season’s losses, and then some. For Burton, what at first seemed catastrophic turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her company.

On her desk are emails from salesforce members who attest to the impact their businesses have had on their self-confidence and outlook in life; they’re filled with comments like “walking taller,” “smiling bigger” and “stepping out of my comfort zone.”

“In this industry, the sky’s the limit,” Burton says. “If we want our people to reach the moon, we’ve got to give them the tools to do it.

“You have to want to be better, and you have to be honest with yourself. It’s hard, but if you stay focused, you can kick down your barriers and open the space in your mind for more.”
—Kerry Shea Penland, President and Founder, All’asta

“You don’t know how far your reach is. You’re showing people you genuinely care about them,” she continues. “The field wants to see your vision, your power and your tenacity.” And, needless to say, those weekly calls have continued. She reinforces that connection with the field through such modern methods as the Periscope app, which enables her to share live video broadcasts via mobile devices. Her unrehearsed, “behind the scenes” videos offer a friendly dash of encouragement and have a bit of reality TV flavor, something representatives appreciate. To keep her own bucket full, Burton is committed to attending two spiritual conferences and four business conferences every year, commiserating with industry peers, comparing notes and returning home with the renewed confidence to lead and inspire.

Asma Ishaq, President of Jusuru International, reiterates this necessity as a leader to improve one’s self in order to help in the improvement of others. “Our goal is and should be to help people do more than they would have done on their own,” she says. Ishaq recalls one of her favorite quotes from leadership expert, speaker and author John Maxwell, in which he said that the two most important questions for leadership are: 1. What’s your game plan for personal growth? 2. What’s your game plan to develop others?

Business Skills = Life Skills

Over the last several decades, the most successful direct selling companies have proven to be the ones that include a wellspring of personal development with the ongoing product education, business training and general support and motivation they serve up to independent representatives at every stage of their respective career paths.

It’s no surprise, really, that companies savvy enough to encourage personal development have a leg up in the industry. Growing into a leader requires a shift in mindset; the student becomes the teacher, learning to coach others to success. It would stand to reason that the more emerging leaders you’re actively developing, the better, right? And, better still, as those leaders continue to grow and develop, they should have the appropriate resources to draw from the proverbial well on a continual basis. More confident leaders, in turn, have fewer reservations about sharing ideas, challenging the status quo, influencing others and rallying them behind a common mission.

These soft skills help representatives develop resilience to shrug off a “no” and move on to the next opportunity; steer a struggling team member back on track; or establish daily, weekly and monthly goals and a game plan to reach them. Once these skills become habit, they spill over into all areas of life; it’s impossible to contain them only within the confines of a direct selling business. The business becomes part of life, then larger than life itself. 

“I’ve always had a passion for personal growth and improvement, but I think it really crystalized for me when I had the opportunity for a private lunch with Zig Ziglar and his daughter, Julie, near his home in the Dallas area,” Ishaq says. “He said to me, ‘All people need is just a little encouragement.’ That’s when it truly hit home for me what this business is all about. The reasons for someone getting involved in our industry vary greatly, but encouragement will always be a motivator.”

Pentecost says the concepts associated with personal development are an integral part of the It Works! culture, both for employees and throughout the field. “We fight for it every single day. We don’t assume our employees are integrating personal development on their own, so we give them opportunities.” For example, the company has hosted four John Maxwell Leadership classes, each lasting between four and six months. The company’s executive team nominates managers and up-and-coming leaders to participate. “If we’re not growing through personal development, then we’re getting rusty—we’re moving backwards,” Pentecost says. “I believe we have to be intentional with personal development and encourage it. Our human resources director wasn’t trained in human resources; he was trained in our culture, in great leadership, and in developing more leaders.”

For the company’s top distributors, Pentecost hosts monthly calls that delve into personal and professional development. “We teach that it’s key to being a leader, being a good spouse, and being a good teammate. When we stretch ourselves, we’ll go further in all aspects of life.”

At Jusuru International, the company has made a concerted effort to apply throughout its employee base the culture of personal growth that flourishes in the field, including maintaining a multimedia personal development library for its support specialists. “By focusing on our ‘frontline,’ meaning those at our home office who answer the phones and interact with our field, we’ve embraced a philosophy that we should leave people better than we found them,” says Ishaq. “Our hope is that the skillsets and mindsets they develop at Jusuru International will benefit them not only within the walls of our offices, but in every facet of their lives.”

Penland adds, “Even if, ultimately, my company isn’t successful—and I know it will be—I’ll consider myself successful because of all of the personal development efforts I’ve made since getting into this industry. Personal development has opened my mind to doing and being more. And our consultants should feel the same way. No matter what happens with their businesses, if they take the time to invest in personal development, they’ll always have these skills, and they’ll be better for it.”

For Britney Vickery, CEO and Founder of Initials Inc., “Personal development means constantly grasping new principles and discovering how they help not only me, but the company as a whole. I’ve begun to see what’s possible for me and for our company. Each day is a fresh challenge. You can literally watch change happen. That’s the power of personal development—you get to see it come to life in every decision and choice you make.”

“In this industry, the sky’s the limit. If we want our people to reach the moon, we’ve got to give them the tools to do it.”
—Traci Lynn Burton, Founder and CEO, Traci Lynn Jewelry

The Journey Has No End

We represent an industry based on open-ended opportunities, and that’s why the quest to reach one’s fullest potential—so fundamental to our shared principles—has no limit, either. This ever-changing itinerary has no destination, but it’s filled with rich rewards. And the further we travel, the more company we keep, enabling us to draw on each other’s strengths. That’s not only an exciting prospect from a personal standpoint; it’s an exciting prospect for the growth potential of the direct selling industry.

“To get from where you are to where you want to be, there’s only one thing that will fill that gap. Personal development allows you to discover the highest and best version of yourself,” Vickery says. “It’s a deeply personal journey that never ends and always has more room to grow. The idea that it is never-ending is what gets me excited. And, much like our direct sales businesses, everyone starts out the same. In direct sales, everyone joins a company with a small investment, no customers, no parties, no appointments. Personal development is much the same. Everyone starts as a blank slate. Your actions and your choices impact the course of your journey. Everyone’s path is meant to be different—that’s what makes it beautiful. You simply have to choose your route.”

Ishaq says, “From a corporate perspective, what we know is that the studies behind millennials show that the 9-to-5 job may soon be a thing of the past. Sixty percent of millennials are leaving their companies in less than three years.” She continues, “If you want to develop a strong culture and home office team that is career-minded and focused on the overall mission and vision of the company, you must first prioritize the growth of the individual, and foster that growth in your work environment. I think when people understand this reality about our industry we do stand alone. We give hope. We give encouragement. And above all, we give opportunity that if not for direct sales, many would never have had.”

August 01, 2015

Company Spotlight

WorldVentures: Dreaming Up a Better Way to Travel

by Jeremy Gregg

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 2005
Headquarters: Plano, Texas
Co-Founders: Wayne Nugent, Chief Visionary Officer; Mike Azcue
Top Executives: Dan Stammen, CEO; Eddie Head, President, WorldVentures Holdings; Jon McKillip, President, Global Sales, WorldVentures Marketing; and Roberto Canales, CFO.
Products: Vacation and entertainment club

 Dan Stammen and Wayne Nugent
 Dan Stammen and Wayne Nugent

From the start, WorldVentures founders Wayne Nugent and Mike Azcue set out to build a different kind of business. They dreamed of a vacation and entertainment club that would give members access to high-quality, yet affordable, travel experiences while also giving participants an opportunity to grow their own business by marketing the membership.

In the nearly 10 years since its founding, WorldVentures also has carved a unique position for itself in the direct selling space. Only 18 companies worldwide from the Direct Selling News Global 100 list increased revenue by more than $100 million last year, and WorldVentures was among them. Most of the other high-growth companies offer consumable products in the health, wellness or cosmetics industries. WorldVentures is one of just two that sells memberships, and it is the only one to focus exclusively on travel.

CEO Dan Stammen says the company is on track to join an even more elite group by the end of 2017: those posting annual revenue of $1 billion or more. WorldVentures increased its revenue by 80 percent last year, closing 2014 with revenue of $352 million, up from $195 million in 2013. It is on track to nearly double again to $650 million in 2015. In the past 12 months alone, new member sales have increased from 50,000 to more than 80,000 new enrollments per month.

What’s driving this growth? Company executives credit an innovative product offering coupled with key leadership strategies.

Established in 2005 by Wayne Nugent and Mike Azcue, WorldVentures’ primary offering is an annual membership that allows members to receive significant discounts on pre-arranged travel packages as well as the opportunity to earn points that can be applied to a variety of additional purchases, such as spa services at the destinations they visit. Stammen served as the company’s chief executive for its first three years, but then transitioned into the CMO position before stepping back from an active role so that he could primarily focus on his other business ventures. Azcue then stepped into the role to replace Stammen, and he led the company through an important period of growth over the next few years.

UNITED ConferenceWorldVentures’ UNITED conference this year in St. Louis

However, with many of the members of the executive team living outside of the company’s home state of Texas, WorldVentures felt it was not achieving its full potential. So, on Feb. 1 of this year, Stammen returned as CEO. One of Stammen’s primary goals is to leverage his 30-plus years of network marketing experience to build a stronger culture that is based on the industry’s best practices.

“My daily presence creates a whole new level of accountability in the office. If I am the first one in and the last one out, the other C-level execs see that and begin getting here earlier and staying later,” Stammen says. “We’ve also made some changes in the reporting and some internal moves within the executive team that have streamlined a lot of our processes. Decisions are being made faster, there are no bottlenecks in place, projects are getting completed faster, and morale is up.”

As part of the change, members of the executive team are no longer able to commute. Stammen explains: “We decided that if we are going to hire you as an exec and pay you this kind of money, you have to live in the Dallas area. That has made a huge impact on the team.”

As WorldVentures began to expand rapidly outside the U.S., the executive team developed a list of other direct selling travel companies that had failed to thrive. Stammen says, “Before we started WorldVentures we came up with almost 100 reasons other direct selling travel companies either failed or went out of business. Most of our predecessors were just trying to buck the system and did not choose to work in partnership with travel suppliers. We then analyzed what these companies did wrong, and made a commitment to avoid those practices.”

The result has been unparalleled growth in the travel industry. In a recent lunch meeting with the president of one of the largest cruise lines in the world, Stammen learned that WorldVentures was bringing them more guests than any other company with which they had worked in 30 years.

Making a Living by Giving

WorldVentures partners with Nancy Lieberman (far left) to build DreamCourts all over the U.S.

WorldVentures has three corporate pillars: “Build the world’s best vacation and entertainment club,” “Build a family of world-class direct sales people,” and “Leave the world a better place.” It is through support of this last pillar that the company’s corporate citizenship efforts are driven to undertake three signature initiatives:

  • WorldVentures Foundation: Incorporated within two years of the company’s launch, the foundation has funded the development of 62 schools in Guatemala as well as clean water projects all over the world. The Foundation also has raised enough money for Big Brothers Big Sisters that it’s enabled them to create over 1,200 sponsored matches thus far.
  • DreamCourts: Complementing the branding of the company’s “DreamTrips,” one of WorldVentures’ major philanthropic goals is to build over 1,000 DreamCourts in partnership with the Nancy Lieberman Foundation. To date WorldVentures representatives have already raised the money for and built 17 DreamCourts all over the U.S.; 12 courts were completed for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America of which WorldVentures is a National Partner. One recent sponsorship has provided a sports court in Long Beach, California, at a Boys & Girls Club at the very spot where a young man was shot and killed.
  • “Voluntourism.” Each year, WorldVentures’ members volunteer tens of thousands of hours to global causes. They volunteered 25,000 hours in 2014 and are on pace to give 40,000 hours in support in 2015. Each month, the company offers dozens of “voluntourism” trips through which travelers can visit a new country and spend some of their time serving the local community there. These efforts inspired CEO Dan Stammen to enhance one of the company’s internal slogans from “Make a Living Living” into “Make a Living Giving.”

To learn more about World Ventures’ charitable efforts, visit www.WorldVenturesFoundation.org.

Growing by Investing

Expansion into other countries added a significant improvement to the company’s bottom line, even though it took time to build the momentum. WorldVentures entered the Asian market about five years ago, but struggled for the first year and a half. As Stammen reports, “When we were launching in Asia, the pro was we were new, exciting and different… but the con was the same. People did not understand an MLM that did not require distributors to maintain a stock of [products]. We sell experiences.”

The company has since adapted to local needs by offering trips that are more conducive to the Asian culture. Today, nearly two-thirds of WorldVentures’ new starts and about half of its revenue are originating in the Asian market, particularly Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The company also recently entered Australia, which has rapidly grown into one of WorldVentures’ most important markets.

This success came as the result of tremendous persistence on the part of the field leaders that WorldVentures initially attracted. Stammen reports that WorldVentures’ top income earner in Asia only had 60 people in his downline after the first 15 months; but today, just a few years after he began, he has built it up to over 150,000 people.

President Eddie Head credits the company’s growth to its focus on supporting the field leadership. The “sweet spot” for new recruits, he explains, are people for whom an additional $300 to $500 per month makes a meaningful difference. To better attract distributors within this income range, the company began to adjust the compensation plan to incentivize the right behaviors within this target market. WorldVentures now pays out more than 60 cents per dollar directly to the field.

One of the most successful changes was a simple, volume-based monthly bonus, which expanded upon an already successful car promotion called “Wings & Wheels.” In 2012, the company lowered the qualifications on this program to only $5,000 in total monthly business volume. This paid a fixed monthly bonus of $600. The field responded enthusiastically and sales tripled globally.

In 2014, WorldVentures retooled this program and created two tiers at $3,000 and $5,000 total monthly business volume. Representatives were paid a fixed 10 percent until the second tier, when they could earn up to a $900 bonus per month. This effort increased the number of bonus-qualifying reps by a staggering 800 percent. Realizing that the company would need a sales increase of 6 percent (or 1.5 additional months of retention) to sustain this initiative, the executive team partnered with the top-tier leaders in the field to fund and promote the effort. The result was that sales once again doubled in the U.S. and tripled internationally.

Training by Entertaining

The rapid influx of so many representatives in different countries created a need for in-depth training. At the same time, the novelty of WorldVentures’ service in the Asian market demanded that these trainings remain high-quality so that representatives could learn how to effectively promote such a new concept in their region. To meet these dual challenges, WorldVentures opted to facilitate over 90 percent of its global training events directly through the corporate office.

Marc Accetta, the Director of Training, has developed an innovative approach that has made the trainings incredibly popular with the field. In a typical training, Accetta delivers as many as 20 performances as different famous people whose story can offer a strong lesson on personal development; American characters include George Washington, the Grim Reaper, and various sports figures such as Babe Ruth. WorldVentures has made significant financial investment in the costumes and sets to make these mini-plays and skits as professional and impactful as possible and can adapt and use various characters depending on the region of the world. Stammen describes the model as “edutainment—we educate you while we entertain you. That level of engagement helps you to remember about 10 times what you would otherwise.”

Stammen cites this training program as one of the company’s primary advantages in the areas where it is rapidly growing. The use of a consistent curriculum of high-quality content has allowed the training program to scale to include major themed events each quarter in 21 U.S. cities and in every major region across the globe, with participation reaching upwards of 2,500 per room. These events are complemented by an international convention in the U.S. every April as well as summer boot camps around the world, which have gathered upwards of 16,000 attendees.

“Controlling all of this through corporate, and having all of the trainers always together around the world, creates the sense of having one big team,” says Stammen.

WorldVentures HeadquartersThe company’s new 100,000-square-foot facility, which it moved into last year, features brand-new décor, large windows overlooking a stream and is adjacent to a 14-mile walking trail.

Focusing on Retention

Viral Marketing CampaignAs part of the company’s successful viral marketing campaign, members take photos of themselves with a “You Should Be Here” sign in locations all over the world.

For WorldVentures, there are two important moments that drive customer retention: immediately after people join the service, and the moment they step off the plane on their first trip.

The latter has been WorldVentures’ specialty since it was launched. While the service is offered as an effective way for committed travelers to save money, Stammen reports that the top value proposition reported through customer surveys is not the price savings but the convenience factor that “takes the guesswork out of travel.” Guests are picked up by uniformed staff right when they get off the plane, taken straight to their hotel (where they can bypass the registration and get their keys in two minutes), and then provided with an orientation that reviews all of the various activities from which they can choose over the course of their vacation. They are also introduced to many other WorldVentures members on the trip, many of whom remain friends afterwards.

“We have dozens of members who have been on over a 100 trips within the past several years,” says Stammen. The key, he believes, is getting customers to use the service more quickly and more often.

Currently, the average new member traveling takes about four months to take their first trip. Stammen and his team are focused on shortening this window by adding new benefits and features to membership. His vision is that a member “could sign up on Monday morning and by Monday night be realizing substantial savings and benefits that are available to them whether they are traveling or not.”

To drive this, WorldVentures is preparing to launch a new app that Stammen believes will revolutionize the company’s business model. Stating that he anticipates the app will “do to travel what Skype did to telecom,” one of its unique features is a customized member-based social community. The app is already available to existing members and reps, and by about the end of first quarter 2016 it will be available to share with non-members. Stammen expects at least 1 million downloads in the first 30 days of the release. To achieve this ambitious goal, the company has structured the app with a “freemium to premium” model in which users can download it without becoming members and then earn points for free travel by referring others and even by submitting pictures of themselves traveling around the world. This app will build on WorldVentures’ highly successful viral marketing campaign, in which members take photos of themselves with a “You Should Be Here” sign; members have successfully photographed themselves with over 100 celebrities, such as Katy Perry, holding this sign in locations around the world.

The Trip Ahead

WorldVentures has been able to leverage its low-cost structure to rapidly enter 30 countries in the past nine years.

As they enter uncharted waters, Stammen and his crew continue to direct all of their energy towards strengthening WorldVentures’ ship. The company invested $30 million in new products, systems and tools last year and is on pace to invest another $80 million in such long-term assets in 2015.

Head explains that “we’re committing our planning and resourcing to create a highly scalable, flexible, customer-centric e-commerce model that rewards consumers for sharing and adding value to the community. Our belief is that social commerce is the new model for marketplaces and we can help to define it. Our goal is to become a brand synonymous with great experiences the way that Disney is to family entertainment.”

WorldVentures is laying the groundwork to expand to six or seven more countries over the coming years. The company also is setting up regional offices in Singapore and the U.K., among others, to provide more support to the local markets in these areas. The company is investing millions of dollars in efforts to create additional revenue opportunities for its representatives and additional features that add value to the travel membership. This includes upgrades to WorldVentures’ own technology, apps, and systems as well as partnerships with strategic travel suppliers who continue to update their properties, resorts, and cruise lines for an improved experience for travelers.

These efforts are being taken to not only diversify the company’s revenue base, but to make it flexible enough to respond to any potential economic trend that could negatively impact the business.

Looking into the future, Stammen remains confident about WorldVentures’ prospects: “The travel industry is a multitrillion-dollar industry, more than oil or the entire direct selling industry combined. We are positioned to grow phenomenally over the coming years.”

August 01, 2015

Company Focus

Immunotec: Growth Driven by Alignment

by Barbara Seale

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 1996
Headquarters: Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Canada
Executives: CEO Charlie Orr
Products: Nutritional and personal care

Charlie OrrCharlie Orr

Better. That’s the word that captures how Immunotec created a dramatic growth surge this past year. It got better at a wide variety of actions that drive its business. Collectively, all those improvements resulted in a 47.5 percent increase in 2014 total revenue, reaching CAN$80.8 million (US$72 million).

Sponsoring, which the wellness company defines as the number of new consultants and customers, got better, too. It increased 85.2 percent over 2013 to nearly 64,000 in Mexico, its largest market, while the rest of North America increased 26.7 percent to nearly 20,000. Since then, the numbers have continued to get better, reaching almost 100,000 in total. The company’s growth catapulted it into the 2015 Direct Selling News Global 100 for the first time in its 19-year history, coming in at No. 97.

Such inspiring growth doesn’t happen randomly. Great products are required, of course, and Immunotec can boast that its flagship product is backed by an ever-increasing number of impressive clinical studies. It’s even listed in the prestigious Physician’s Desk Reference, the comprehensive drug reference book used by doctors, nurses and pharmacists. But products don’t tell the whole story. Underlying the numbers is a critical concept: better alignment. CEO Charlie Orr credits the growth surge to the alignment through implementation of the company’s vision, mission and values keystones.

“This isn’t just about a number of years of great growth,” he says. “We already had everything we needed, but we were out of balance. Until we all got aligned in terms of how we thought about the business every single day, growth was destined to be elusive.”

Product Prodigy

Changing the thought process took years and required a paradigm shift. Immunotec was actually founded as Immunotec Research in 1996 specifically to sell Immunocal, so it was product-centric from the start. It was born out of the work of medical researcher Dr. Gustavo Bounous. In 1978, Bounous initiated a novel research program in conjunction with colleagues from the McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montréal to search for a dietary protein source that would boost the immune system. The process took 15 years, but it led to the development of a high-quality, bioactive material given the name Immunocal. It was trademarked in 1993.

About the Science

One of Immunotec’s foundations is Immunocal—the product on which the company was launched. Immunocal is a patented natural protein that has been clinically demonstrated to help maintain users’ immune systems. It preceded Immunotec by more than three years, and ever since it was developed, it has accumulated scientific evidence of its effectiveness. Patented in 10 countries, the Immunocal family of products is supported by over 40 published articles and supporting science in medical and scientific literature.

“Research is part of our heritage, culture and identity, and it plays a very important role in terms of how we look at Immunocal now and in the future,” explains John Molson, Immunotec’s VP, Research and Development, as well as one of the company’s original investors.

Two studies, conducted years apart, stand out. The peer-reviewed, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials demonstrated the diversity of people who can benefit from Immunocal. In 1999 the Montréal Children’s hospital explored Immunocal’s effect on muscular performance and published the results in the Journal of Applied Physiology. In its study Immunocal consumption was associated with an average increase of 13.5 percent in peak power and 30-second work capacity in 20-year-olds.

Then this year Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM) published the results of a study in the Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging. It showed that Immunocal contributes to increased muscle strength in elderly adults. The findings showed that consuming Immunocal results in a statistically significant performance benefit of approximately 10 percent in muscle strength in an elderly population of between 65 years to 88 years who participated in a regimen of resistance exercise.

As a result of those two studies, Health Canada, which is similar to the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, has granted a new health claim specific to Immunocal’s ability to help increase muscle strength and enhance performance when combined with regular exercise.

The health claim is the second granted to Immunocal. The first was acquired in 2007 for the health claim, “Immunocal is a natural source of the glutathione precursor cysteine for the maintenance of a strong immune system.”

“To be the first in Canada to obtain a performance claim for a stand-alone whey protein isolate reinforces our leadership position in the health and wellness industry, and when combined with our existing immunity claim, it gives the Immunocal brand unique positioning. These milestones are the fruition of over four decades of research at leading university hospitals in Canada and abroad,” Molson says. Putting a human face on research findings and supporting better product sales are unpaid testimonials by a wide range of individual athletes and teams. Their appearance at Immunotec events emphasizes the power of Immunocal Platinum, in particular, to support their performance.

Immunocal and its sibling product, Immunocal Platinum, are the company’s flagship products and represent the largest segment of revenue. Molson describes Immunocal Platinum as a premium version of standard Immunocal.

But the path to taking Immunocal to market was a six-degrees-of-separation story, only without Kevin Bacon. Bounous was searching for a location to rent for his lab when he met entrepreneur Dieter Beer, who owned a building that Bounous visited. When they started to discuss Bounous’ research, Beer became fascinated. He suggested that they look into the possibility of a business opportunity. Beer was acquainted with attorney Alex Konigsberg, who later became Chairman of Immunotec’s board of directors. He brought Beer together with direct selling company executive Chuck Roberts. It was a match made in business heaven. Beer and Roberts soon became the founders of Immunotec Research. In addition to funding, they provided a method—direct selling—to introduce Immunocal to the people it could benefit.

For years Immunotec was all about its products. Growth was steady, but not swift. From its launch in 1996 until 2007, Immunocal reached $35 million in revenue. The company went public in 2007 (IMM—TSX Venture Exchange), and by 2010 revenue had grown to $40 million, primarily through the power of its products. Over time its field and corporate leaders realized that Immunotec also had to be about the business opportunity and the company’s culture. But change took a long time. It took Orr—with, he emphasizes, the collaboration of other executives, employees and field leaders—to finally make the shift. With a direct selling career that spans 25 years, Orr became CEO in May 2013 after having served four years as Executive Director at the U.S.-based Direct Selling Education Foundation. Orr has served as a director of Immunotec since 2006.

The first step of this company shift: Carefully craft the words that capture Immunotec’s vision, mission and values (VMV). They acknowledge the importance of great products while expanding emphasis on the business opportunity and corporate culture. Here’s a summary of how Immunotec states them.

Vision: With our customers, consultants and employees at the heart of what we do, Immunocal will become the nutritional choice worldwide.

Mission: Our mission is to provide high-quality, scientifically based nutrition and wellness products which enhance quality of life and performance. We thrive by empowering people to share an exceptional network marketing opportunity accessible to everyone. We commit to continued growth and prosperity for our consultants, employees and shareholders.

Values: A fun atmosphere in all we undertake; a work environment grounded in teamwork and the achievement of shared goals; a commitment to service excellence, always seeking to exceed expectations; continuous improvement in all aspects of the Immunotec experience; and a culture that embodies integrity, generates respect and reinforces trust.

Walking the Talk

Words alone aren’t enough though, and Immunotec threw the weight of a comprehensive program behind the words, creating visible messaging reminders that help to cement the common goal of consultants, employees and the board of directors to grow the business. In the headquarters lobby, a floor-to-ceiling stone wall incorporates all the important words from the VMV for visitors and employees to see. Accompanying the wall are stone portraits of Bounous and his collaborator Patricia Kongshavn, Ph.D., who was a professor and fellow researcher in immunology at McGill University. Framed copies of the VMV were presented to employees, who now prominently display them in every office and department of Immunotec in Canada, the United States and Mexico. And events—the lifeblood of any direct selling company—always reflect the VMV. Consultants even refer to them during opportunity meetings. And every communications element, including incentives, promotions, the company’s bimonthly electronic newsletter, the website, the Immunotec Facebook page, and email signatures are designed and aligned to “live” the VMV.

“The better alignment that our Vision, Mission and Values created throughout the company has accelerated growth, and it will support reaching $100 million Canadian and beyond.”
—Charlie Orr, CEO

The VMV even inspired the creation of the Immunotec Children’s Fund, the company’s philanthropic flagship. Immunotec launched the fund at last year’s annual barbecue to continue Bounous’ lifelong dream of improving the lives of underserved and underprivileged children. The fund partners with consultants in their local communities to help support children’s academic, nutritional and physical needs.

“The better alignment that our Vision, Mission and Values created throughout the company has already accelerated growth, and it will support reaching $100 million Canadian and beyond,” Orr says. “The next thing that is foundational for us is consistent execution of our business rhythm throughout all of our markets.”

That rhythm pulsates through the power of corporate, regional and local events strategically scheduled throughout the year to reinforce the sponsoring, engagement and development of consultants. From smaller events in January that build excitement for the big sales convention every February, to regional conventions in each market, to the company barbecue in September, to the big sales incentive trip—or trips, depending on the market—something is always happening to deliver excitement, training and recognition.

“Executing against our business rhythm is as important as anything we do,” Orr says. “When you break that business rhythm, you confuse yourself and the field. You take something away that people have come to expect. We may tweak, update or change, but we always partner with the field to make everything we do an improvement over the last event, and always first class. But each event must have a high degree of predictability because our consultants are the folks who drive the business forward.”

Three years ago a senior leader could earn the annual travel incentive trip through personal performance. Today’s incentive qualifications require leaders to demonstrate both the ability to perform personally and to develop members of their teams.

Business Builders

Once the events are over, consultants take their knowledge and enthusiasm home. They work their business using recently developed training programs and better communications tools that create message alignment across the company.

“Our products have always been great, but we needed our distributors to open new doors,” says direct selling veteran Jean-Pierre (JP) Trottier, the company’s Vice President, Sales and Marketing. “Over the past two or three years we have provided them with training programs, communications to support the products and the business opportunity, a new field recognition program, and a business presentation template so that the presentation was easily duplicable and everyone spoke the same language. New people came into Immunotec because they wanted to live an active and productive lifestyle. We were able to position the product to attract a large segment of the population, and we supported business-building activities at the same time.”

ImmunotecImmunotech Research founders Chuck Roberts and Dieter Beer

They recrafted the compensation and incentives program for leaders and paired it with additional leadership-development initiatives, training leaders on their responsibilities at each leadership level. For example, three years ago a senior leader could earn the annual travel incentive trip through personal performance. Today’s incentive qualifications require leaders to demonstrate both the ability to perform personally and to develop members of their teams. Field leaders soon realized that focusing on their teams would bring even more income opportunities and satisfaction. The company also developed field task forces that enable the company’s headquarters staff to partner better with field leaders.

“Those who were given new responsibilities rose to fulfill the new expectations,” Trottier recalls. “People want to feel appreciated, and feel they can contribute. The system we created enabled them to feel better about their role and the impact they were creating. We’re still working on it, but it’s becoming part of the culture.”

Investing in Infrastructure

HeadquartersImmunotec headquarters in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Canada

As sales and sponsoring ramp-up, Immunotec is supporting its field by investing in key infrastructure. Its new $500,000 technology platform will be faster and easier to use, and it will provide better access to information that consultants use to build their business. The online order system will be more user-friendly and will provide the opportunity for immediate product purchases. They expect to launch a program this fall to ramp up monthly orders and auto-ship with an eye toward improving consultant retention. At the same time, they will launch programs that reward auto-purchasers, such as greater discounts.

“Our products have always been great, but we needed our distributors to open new doors.”
—Jean-Pierre (JP) Trottier, Vice President, Sales and Marketing

“Our field puts in a lot of effort to recruit customers, so we try to over-deliver in customer satisfaction,” Trottier explains. “We’re developing special loyalty programs that reward users so that they order regularly. For some people it takes weeks or months before they feel the benefit of the products, so we put lots of effort into communicating to users to explain the benefits of the products and of staying on the products. This also benefits the field, as it helps them create long-term customers.”

The new state-of-the-art system will give Immunotec an improved ability to analyze data, as well. This year the company will also deploy new payment processing capabilities in selected markets that will better support commission payments.

Beyond technology, Immunotec opened a new sales office in October 2014, in Commerce, California, customizing it with meeting rooms and computer facilities to support business presentations and sponsoring. Trottier says the facility has been a big help in boosting U.S. sales. Orr notes that the investment in the facility recognized better sales in the U.S., especially in Southern California, which produces about 25 percent of the company’s U.S. sales.

Immunotec has Diamond Leadership, a major leadership level, in two-thirds of all states in Mexico, its largest market.

“Our Southern California-based folks demonstrated by their performance that it was time for us to open such a facility,” Orr explains. “Looking ahead, I think that model can be replicated in other parts of the country.”

As Orr looks to the future, he is both optimistic and patient. He envisions the company expanding into more international markets, especially in Central and South America, over time, but he also wants to increase penetration in current markets. He notes that the company has created a robust product development system that will provide ongoing new products and enhancements. Orr also envisions further developing Immunotec’s field leadership and notes that the company has Diamond Leadership, its first major leadership level, in two-thirds of all states in Mexico, its largest market. But as Immunotec approaches its 20th anniversary, he emphasizes that this is a moment in the company’s history that deserves to be saluted.

“Everyone should celebrate the fact that we entered the Direct Selling News Global 100 and the North America 50. But just like there’s a difference between achieving rank and holding rank, our goal is to hold our Top 100 ranking,” he says. “Overall, we could grow as much as 10 percent in 2015. But we’re taking time now to hold rank, to do all the right things and not force things that can’t be forced. I see a vast amount of potential if we follow the model we’ve put in place over the last few months for how we think about this business.”

August 01, 2015

Industry with Heart

Young Entrepreneurs Still Working the Summer Strategies: CUTCO and Southwestern Advantage

by Carol Brzozowski

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profiles

CUTCO/Vector Marketing
Founded: CUTCO, 1949; Vector Marketing, 1985
Headquarters: Olean, New York
Executive: James E. Stitt, Chairman, CEO and President
Products: Home care, kitchenware and appliances

Southwestern Advantage
Founded: 1868
Headquarters: Nashville, Tennessee
Executive: Henry Bedford, Chairman and CEO
Products: Educational reference books and software

CUTCOVector Marketing representatives win CUTCO prizes during a “Crazy Clothes” contest.

College students are an attractive pool of potential recruits for direct selling companies. They tend to be open to new life experiences and eager to learn, which makes coaching easier than with groups that already have established more deeply rooted habits and beliefs. They are comfortable with new technology and are passionate about sharing their favorite things with others. And, particularly during the summer months, they are likely to have flexible schedules that lend themselves nicely to building a direct selling business.

The challenge, of course, is that the preferences of college students change perhaps more rapidly than in any other sector of the workforce. What’s in fashion this month may not be the case next month, whether it’s the latest sunglasses craze, a trendy new app or a business opportunity.

Staying nimble enough to appeal to this group year after year is no small feat. Yet, with very little fanfare, two direct selling companies have spent decades building their salesforces largely with this demographic group: Vector Marketing, the marketing arm for CUTCO knives, and Southwestern Advantage, which sells educational products. These two companies have developed methods for staying in tune with the likes and dislikes of young people, what motivates them and what keeps them engaged—all while consistently building teams of well-rounded, self-disciplined and hard-working independent sales representatives. A Direct Selling News analysis of the two companies revealed four common elements of their success.

“It’s the first job where you get to manage your time by yourself and one of the few jobs available that teaches you to become a professional.”
—Clayton Balistreri, former representative, Vector Marketing

1. Communicate the Bigger Picture

Joining Southwestern Advantage or Vector Marketing is, and always has been, about more than selling books or knives. Both companies offer an appealing income opportunity as well as programs to build important life skills, such as perseverance, integrity, keeping one’s word, and hard work—not to mention that ever important goal of employability.

Southwestern Advantage has been making this pitch the longest. Southwestern, its parent company, was founded by the Rev. James R. Graves in 1855 in Nashville, Tennessee, and began its direct selling program for college students in 1868, after the Civil War devastated the economy and Graves sought a way to help young people finance their schooling. That concept continues to resonate even today; students were hit hard during the recent recession, and many continue to struggle with the cost of tuition.

“Where there’s a need for people willing to work hard, follow a proven system, and use their best efforts at entrepreneurship, they can do really well with us,” says Dan Moore, Southwestern Advantage’s current President.

SouthwesternA Southwestern student dealer may start their business reaching out to family, and spread further out into their community as they become more comfortable.

Rebekah Hyde joined Southwestern Advantage as a University of Georgia student. As an athlete, Hyde says she was attracted to the program’s challenges, energy and competitiveness and sought to do something outside of her comfort zone. She made $15,000 the first year and relied on her belief that “there is a greater purpose out there—it’s not just about selling books, it’s about the character and principles I was forming. Every summer I would meet someone who bought the products in the past, and I saw how it had impacted them.” She now passes on the skills she learned as a Southwestern Advantage sales manager, working with students at eight colleges in five states doing event planning, hiring and training.

Like Hyde, Clayton Balistreri says he gained valuable sales experience selling CUTCO knives during his high school senior year. “CUTCO was a perfect job for me because I intend to be a salesman after college,” says Balistreri, now a Florida State University sophomore. He plans to join his family’s real estate business after graduation. “What’s funny is I started selling CUTCO because I wanted experience for the real estate and insurance business,” Balistreri says. “When I asked my father about making sales calls, he told me that in real estate, you have a phone list of names, follow a script, and ask people to buy. I realized all sales are the same, so I started making more calls.”

Balistreri advises students considering direct sales to “have fun with it and don’t get discouraged when people say no. It’s the first job where you get to manage your time by yourself and one of the few jobs available that teaches you to become a professional.”

2. Make It Fun

Another key to successfully recruiting and retaining young people is creating opportunities to have fun through work. For Vector Marketing, that means keeping office environments, training sessions and team meetings fun and laid back, says Ryan Long, Vector Marketing’s Content and Public Relations Manager, who herself sold CUTCO after college graduation. During the nighttime team meetings, especially, the group gets together for networking and fun—all in an environment that nurtures building relationships and bonding. That may entail playing miniature golf, bowling or having games in the office such as “CUTCO Jeopardy.”

“We’ve found that our young people are competitive and motivated by contests,” Long adds. “Students like to win. They like bragging rights. Sometimes they win things like CUTCO products and trips, but sometimes they do more fun things like pie-in-the-face contests.”

“Where there’s a need for people willing to work hard, follow a proven system, and use their best efforts at entrepreneurship, they can do really well.”
—Dan Moore, President, Southwestern Advantage

Making sales fun is a never-ending process for direct selling companies, as young people’s definition of fun shifts over time. Millennials, for example, have proven to be a service-minded and cause-oriented group, and it’s best to tap into that when recruiting them, says Trey Campbell, Southwestern Advantage Director of Communications. “They’re not always in it for themselves, so if you can have an aspect to what you’re doing that pulls on their heartstrings and emotions—something they care about—then they’re much more likely to be engaged,” he adds.

That’s why, Campbell says, Southwestern Advantage has found that value-added training, including life skills as well as sales lessons, is even more attractive to young salespeople.

“Young people don’t have habits established, so you have an opportunity to provide them with habits that will be good habits and will last a lifetime,” he says. “Millennials tend to be a lot more open to life experiences. They are a very coachable group. It makes training easier because they are eager to learn.”

“There is a greater purpose out there—it’s not just about selling books, it’s about the character and principles I was forming.”
—Rebekah Hyde, Sales Manager, Southwestern Advantage

3. Involve Parents and Other Community Adults

The rise of the so-called helicopter parent has made an impact in the direct selling space. Parents, Campbell says, express numerous concerns related to their children’s sales experiences. The best course of action: Go with the flow.

“They want to know their kids are going to be safe,” Campbell says. “They are very involved in their kids’ decisions and lives, which is great. Part of that comes from all of the things that parents get involved in, such as traveling and sports, when their kids are younger and it carries through to college. We respect that and that’s why we want them to be part of the program as well.”

SouthwesternA student representing Southwestern Advantage demonstrates products for a family interested in educational materials.

Southwestern Advantage reaches out to students through recommendations from other students. Those interested attend on-campus information sessions and follow-up meetings. The company rounds out the recruitment process by meeting with parents for their endorsement of the students in the program at a coffee meeting near campus. Such meetings have been a policy for many years in the interest of transparency, says Campbell, adding that parents sign an endorsement letter, even though the students are legally adults.

“We find the success rate is a lot greater when parents are supportive of the young people who participate in our program,” he says. Some of the parents had sold the product when they were in college as well. “Among the people the students trust the most are their parents. We want the parents to be fully informed to help them make an educated decision that this would be something right for the student.”

That level of partnership extends to the community as well. When Southwestern Advantage began marketing through social media, the company initially met resistance as people took to the platform to complain about college students. Now, students establish Facebook business pages, posting photographs of customers and their children with the company products and encouraging customers to share and tag them for greater exposure. Students also are encouraged to obtain permits from local law enforcement before the start of their sales program and to ask the police departments to post information about the program on their own websites.

That approach has had a dramatic impact on receptivity, sales and how college students feel about what they’re doing, says Moore. “We work with great young people who were out there doing their best, but there were some misperceptions creating this inaccurate flood of information on social media,” he says.

“Young people don’t have habits established, so you have an opportunity to provide them with habits that will be good habits and will last a lifetime.”
—Trey Campbell, Director of Communications, Southwestern Advantage

4. Don’t Re-invent the Wheel

CUTCO knives have been manufactured in the U.S. since 1949, and, while there have been technological changes, CUTCO’s training program looks very much like it did 30 years ago, says Long. The product is marketed primarily on an in-home basis by sales representatives, mostly college students, working for Vector Marketing. CUTCO also sells kitchen gadgets and hunting and fishing accessories, some from retail locations.

TEXTCUTCO reps have fun during a Fourth of July Team Night in San Jose, California.

Sales representatives request customer referrals at the end of the presentation and receive a base pay regardless of sales made. They start out making 10 percent commission on the first $1,000 of product sold, with graduated increases tied to sales.

Long notes that Vector Marketing recruits college students year-round. She finds them to be a demographic that does well at direct selling and is readily available to work in the summer time. But while college students seek work more during the summer than throughout the rest of the year, the job’s flexibility is a big draw and can work well for them during the school year too, she says.

“They can potentially get started with us during the summer and get the higher levels of commission by the end of the summer,” she adds.

Vector Marketing recruits primarily through direct mail invitations to high school graduates and college students and referrals from other student sales representatives. Other recruiting methods include on-campus visits, email blasts and community-based posters.

Following an interview, students attend a two- or three-day training in a local office, which involves role playing to help build confidence. During training, representatives learn about knives and competitors’ products. Although the company generates leads in the beginning, representatives learn to create a customer list, identify target customers and qualify leads. Students phone people with whom they are familiar, typically a parent or family friend, to set up initial appointments. All customer meetings are based on pre-set in-home appointments.

“As a direct selling representative, especially a college student, this is work they have probably never done before; we’re asking them to step outside of their comfort zone.”
—Ryan Long, Content and Public Relations Manager, Vector Marketing

“As a direct selling representative, especially a college student, this is work they have probably never done before; we’re asking them to step outside of their comfort zone,” says Long. “As their confidence improves, they expand their circle out to people they don’t really know.”

Technology has become increasingly incorporated into Vector Marketing’s sales approach. Paper orders are filled out with the customer, but the representative can also enter customer order information into a computer. The order is sent straight to the factory for immediate processing. A Rep Online Order enables representatives to instantly flag billing challenges.

Vector Marketing’s AEVA or All Encompassing Vector App enables representatives to load training information and to check on appointments, arrival times and sales statistics. The app allows the manager to communicate with the entire team and the team members to communicate with each other.

Also at Southwestern students have online resources to help them in product and sales knowledge. They use Skype and video conferencing to communicate with sales managers, manage their accounts on a proprietary website, and use tablet-based sales processing systems in which customers sign off on transactions through a touchscreen.

“The marketing strategy is to have a personal relationship with people. That’s what direct selling is.”
—Trey Campbell

Customers even benefit from technological advances: The educational products are offered in print and digital formats; the latter is refreshed for customers who buy a subscription.

While technology continues to change, the fundamentals also remain the same at Southwestern Advantage. Training includes product knowledge and presentation, prospecting, ethics, safety skills, self-discipline, time management, goal setting, running a business, teamwork, and customer service among others. Sales managers speak with students individually about how the skills will benefit them in their academics or in selling a brand and commodity in a workplace, Campbell says. “The marketing strategy is to have a personal relationship with people. That’s what direct selling is,” he says. “We build relationships, and through those relationships they decide what we have to offer is something that would benefit them.”

The success of these two companies is built upon values that do not change with the passing of time: hard work, commitment and ambition. By tapping into the natural enthusiasm of students, companies who focus on this population, such as Vemma with their Young People’s Revolution (YPR) and Isagenix with their START program, are joining Southwestern and CUTCO in gaining success and empowering young people with life skills.

August 01, 2015

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, August 2015

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Mary Young Transitions to CEO of Young Living

Mary Young Mary Young

Young Living Essential Oils has announced that its storied Co-Founder, Gary Young, is stepping down from his role as CEO. His wife, Mary, the brand’s Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, will take on leadership of the company.

Mary has served on Young Living’s corporate executive team for the past two decades. In a nod to her personal and professional work, Utah Business

“What started over two decades ago as a personal passion for both Gary and me has grown into a worldwide company committed to transforming the lives of millions,” Mary said in the company’s release. “Prior to launching Young Living with Gary, I established and grew my own successful direct selling business. This experience has led to a ‘member-first’ mindset for Young Living and continues to shape our culture and policies.”

In a statement, Young Living said Gary will continue his work in the wellness field as he writes books and shares his knowledge of essential oils. The 66-year-old is also looking to focus his time on family and various philanthropic and civic initiatives.

Youngevity Launches Outbound Sales and Retention Team

Alex Theis Alex Theis

Youngevity Essential Life Sciences announced the creation of an Outbound Sales and Retention Team along with an initiative to review and improve their overall customer and distributor experience.

Alex Theis, a veteran of the direct sales industry, has been brought on to spearhead both campaigns. Theis has worked with several companies in the industry and is a well-rounded executive with expertise in developing retention initiatives and outbound revenue generation teams. Additionally he brings executive-level experience in customer service, sales, marketing and field relations. Theis has an extensive international background as well, working with large groups in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.

Youngevity’s Outbound Sales and Retention Team officially launched in March. The newly formed department contacts customers within Youngevity’s data base of consumers through a courtesy call program. The program’s mission is to further engage, educate, and grow Youngevity’s account base. As the Outbound Courtesy Calling Team expands they will also be working in a support role to assist in streamlining the integration process of Youngevity’s acquisition strategy.

“The implementation of these new programs provides another example of the investments that we are making to stay ahead of our growth curve…,” says CEO Steve Wallach. “We’re excited to have someone with the industry experience and proven record of success that Alex Theis brings to Youngevity.”

Rodan + Fields Taps Finance Expert for Board

Louis J. Lavigne Jr. Louis J. Lavigne Jr.

With an eye toward future growth, skincare company Rodan + Fields has appointed corporate finance consultant Louis J. Lavigne Jr. to its board of directors.

“Lou’s demonstrated financial expertise and broad leadership experience will prove critical to Rodan + Fields as we continue to globalize our business,” said Amnon Rodan, Chairman of the Board.

Lavigne, currently Managing Director of consulting firm Lavrite LLC, spent 23 years as Executive Vice President and CFO
at Genentech Inc., a leading biotech company. In addition to overseeing the company’s financial, corporate relations and information technology groups, Lavigne sat on the executive committee and chaired the company’s 401(k) plan committee.

“I look forward to working with Rodan + Fields to continue the company’s momentum and growth as we redefine the future of skincare and social commerce,” Lavigne said.

Tastefully Simple Appoints New President and COO

Nancy Dahl Nancy Dahl

In July, Tastefully Simple Inc. introduced a new product concept aimed at catering to today’s consumer and injecting fresh energy into the business. Coinciding with this transition, the tasting party company is bringing on a new President and Chief Operations Officer, Nancy Dahl.

Dahl hails from photography giant Lifetouch Inc., a $1.2 billion company based in Minneapolis. She held various management positions within the company before serving as President and COO for the Lifetouch National School Studios division. Dahl currently sits on the board of both corporate and nonprofit organizations, including the Greater Twin Cities United Way, Dunwoody College of Technology, and the Family, Career & Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).

“In addition to being an amazing culture fit, [Dahl] is an innovative catalyst who provides crystal clarity in identifying priorities and has high standards of excellence,” Tastefully Simple CEO Jill Blashack Strahan said in a statement.

Dahl will help lead the company in its new strategic direction, which focuses on simple-to-make, cost-effective and wholesome meal solutions. Vice President of Sales, Chet Seely, said Tastefully Simple is also equipping its consultants to grow their one-to-one sales alongside the traditional tasting parties.

Among the answers Tastefully Simple provides are 10- and 30-meal collections—including products, grocery lists, recipes and menu planners—and the brand-new TS to You subscription service, launched July 1, which brings recurring orders of meal collections to subscribers’ homes every other month,” Seely told DSN.

4Life Announces General Manager, Australia and New Zealand

Jim O’Reilly Jim O’Reilly

Jim O’Reilly has joined 4Life as General Manager in Australia and New Zealand.

In his new role, O’Reilly will be responsible for all aspects of 4Life’s business in the market, including operations, marketing, and field development. He comes to 4Life with several years of experience. Most recently, he served as General Manager over Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific for another global direct selling company.

“Jim brings a diversity of experience to 4Life,” said Matt Lisonbee, International and Sales Manager. “First, he understands our business model. Second, he’s operationally proficient. Finally, he’s a marketer, communicator, and field developer.”

During his professional career, O’Reilly has lived and worked throughout Asia and the United States with a focus on creating sustainable and profitable relationships with distributors.

Former Industry CFO Joins Nu Skin Board of Directors

Edwina Woodbury Edwina Woodbury

Nu Skin’s newest board member is no stranger to the direct selling industry, despite her current position at the helm of a personal publishing company. Having spent more than 20 years at an iconic direct seller, Edwina Woodbury, President and CEO of The Chapel Hill Press, returns to the industry to serve on Nu Skin’s board of directors.

From 1977 to 1998, Woodbury held a series of finance and operations roles at one of the industry’s celebrated beauty brands, eventually serving as finance chief for the company. In addition to leading The Chapel Hill Press, Woodbury currently sits on the board of RadioShack and the nonprofit Medical Foundation of North Carolina.

“Edwina brings a wealth of experience in our industry,” Executive Chairman of the Board, Steven J. Lund, said in a statement. “Her extensive and in-depth understanding of the financial and operational issues associated with global companies will provide significant insights and another strong voice to our board.”

Zija International Introduces Product Advisory Council

Joshua Plant Joshua Plant
Daniel Pénöel Daniel Pénöel
Pierre Franchomme Pierre Franchomme
Doug Nelson Doug Nelson
Karen Jensen Karen Jensen

Zija International, a direct seller of natural health, wellness, nutrition and fitness products, has established the new Zija Product Advisory Council. The purpose of the council was to bring together an experienced and expert group of professionals to help the company maintain the highest quality of sourcing, validation, and delivery practices for their product lines.

Joshua Plant, Ph.D., Chairman of the Zija Product Advisory Council, graduated from Harvard Medical School first in his class and has a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. He has been published across several scientific journals for his work on cellular growth, metabolism and other health-related topics.

Daniel Pénöel, M.D., is an essential oil expert and medical practitioner as well as a Doctor of Medicine and homeopathy. He supports the use of clinical-grade essential oils for normal body function and has used essential oils as a practitioner around the world. Pénöel has published several books and been a public speaker worldwide.

Pierre Franchomme is a phytopharmacologist with more than 15 years of pharmacological lab management experience. He is an expert in essential oil screening, with an emphasis in inflammation and neurosciences and is the product formulator for a number of well-known health, wellness and beauty brands, including Estée Lauder, Origins and Aveda. Franchomme is the author of several books, including L’Aromathérapie exactement, which he co-authored with Pénöel.

Doug Nelson, Ph.D., is a farming and sourcing expert and former associate professor of recreation management at Brigham Young University. He serves as a Global Farm Manager and Global Farm Operations Strategic Advisor in the essential oil industry and has overseen the production and distillation of essential oil farms in Utah, Idaho, France and Ecuador.

Karen Jensen, MH, CM, is a healthy living expert and master herbalist, as well as a midwife. She has published several books about herbal health and midwifery and developed and taught courses for the National Association of Certified Natural Health Professionals.

Zrii Hires New Regional VP of South America

Carlos Lopez Ortega Carlos Lopez Ortega

Carlos Lopez Ortega has been hired as Regional Vice President of South America at nutrition and weight-loss company Zrii and will be based in Colombia. Lopez Ortega brings to Zrii a wealth of experience working for a billion-dollar, multinational direct selling brand as well as at Redbull and Coca Cola.

“I am extremely excited to assume the role of Regional Vice President of South America for Zrii,” said Lopez Ortega. “This position will allow me to work closely with the region’s field leaders to help them achieve stellar results.”

Submissions: Please submit news of executive promotions and hires at your company to be included in the Executive Announcements section of Direct Selling News.
» pr@directsellingnews.com

August 01, 2015

Top Desk

Success: Built from the Inside Out

by Greg Provenzano

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

As direct sellers, we have the opportunity—the privilege, really—to provide individuals with a vehicle that can drive incredible change in their lives, whether that definition of change is more time, more money or both. But in our “no experience necessary, all walks of life are welcome” world, what is it that sets the successful apart from the rest? Why is it that direct selling works so well for some but not for others?

Certainly there are the usual suspects like hard work and commitment level, but sometimes even people with an incredible work ethic and the best of intentions fall flat. In fact, have you ever met someone and immediately thought, Wow that guy is special—he is going to do great things in our business only to watch them quit before they ever got out of the gate? That’s because in order to be truly successful in our industry, individuals have to first change on the inside before success can ever be revealed on the outside. At ACN, we believe that if you aren’t growing as a person, there is no way for your business to grow. The two are absolutely interrelated. You can’t be a top leader long-term in ACN if you are at home screaming at your spouse and kids—it’s simply not possible. Our system will push you out. I’ve often said the wrong kind of people can’t stand the right environment for too long. Your outer world will always catch up with your inner world.

Because of what I’ve just mentioned, we don’t just talk about personal growth at ACN; we’ve created our entire culture around it. It’s a part of everything we teach and train. So how do you create a culture of personal development in your business? Here are some of my top tips:

At ACN, we believe that if you aren’t growing as a person, there is no way for your business to grow.

It Starts with You

Getting your organizations to commit to personal development, to being the best possible versions of themselves, starts with you. As owners and executives of our companies, we can’t expect our people to understand the value of personal growth if we don’t personally embody it. Remember, 90 percent of things are caught, not taught. I’m not the person I was 20 years ago. In order for ACN to grow, I had to take the first step and grow and evolve as a person and a leader. I had to make it a priority. We all know if it’s important enough we will find a way. And if it’s not, we will find an excuse. Be a constant student of becoming your very best self, and your people will naturally follow your lead.

Small Portions over Time Equal Big Results

For most people, the thought of adding another to-do item to the list is overwhelming. The key is to make personal development a part of your day, your lifestyle—and not just another thing added to the to-do list. The fact is you don’t have to pore over hundreds of pages in a single sitting or listen to hours of audios to get the big results. Instead set a goal to spend just 10 minutes a day on personal development, even if it’s only reading one chapter or listening to a portion of an audio on your car ride each morning. It’s a much more manageable dose, but in no time you will have absorbed some incredible content.

Content Absolutely Counts

Most of us are consumers of some sort of media every day, but just because we are spending time reading something doesn’t mean the content is beneficial. While guilty pleasures like gossip magazines and reality TV shows are fine in moderation, imagine if you replaced just one of those things a day with time spent on improving yourself. If you’re going to spend time consuming media, shouldn’t it be something that moves your business forward and improves your life?

Personal development forces us to look at ourselves in a completely different and new way, and it’s only then that the greatest versions of our companies and ourselves are revealed.

Embrace the Process

Personal growth isn’t just a one and done thing; it’s something that has to become a part of your business, and more importantly, your life. You can’t talk about it with your people once, never mention it again, and expect to see the lasting results. After all, we are never truly finished growing and evolving. I, for one, am a constant work in progress. Nothing worth doing comes easily. Personal development, like anything worthwhile, takes continuous effort and commitment, but over time it will become second nature. Have you ever noticed that the more junk food you eat, the more your body craves it? The same can be said about your mind. The more you feed your mind, the more it craves. I can’t imagine not eating for a long period of time. Can you? You must feel the same way about personal development.

Give Your People the Tools to Succeed

While talking about personal development is important, and it’s a start, it’s simply that: talking. You have to make the investment in your people if you expect them to make an investment in you. At ACN, we’ve implemented a robust personal development program that provides our independent business owners with articles, books, audios, videos and more. It’s millions of dollars in content that they can access online anytime.

I often encourage our leaders to “change the scenery” and to periodically spend time around people who aren’t impressed with them, because if you are always the smartest person in the group, you’re not growing. This is what personal development does for us; it provides a change in perspective, a reality check. It forces us to look at ourselves in a completely different and new way, and it’s only then that the greatest versions of our companies and ourselves are revealed.

We have a choice to make every day: We can choose to build our businesses on solid rock or sand. The only difference in the two is their foundations. By getting serious about personal and professional growth, you can lay a solid foundation for a future built upon solid rock. When the winds of change or adversity come your way—and they absolutely will—you can stand firm and win. More importantly, you can look back and be excited about the lifestyle you created for yourself, your family and countless others.

Greg ProvenzanoGreg Provenzano is the President and Co-Founder of ACN.

August 01, 2015

Working Smart

Call Center Impact: Tips for Setting Up, Optimizing or Outsourcing Your Call Center for Success

by Karen Danielson

Click here to order the August 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

During the startup phase of most direct sales companies, call centers are utilized to provide direct communications to both the organization’s field representatives and customers. However, what oftentimes goes unnoticed is that the call centers created during the startup phase of the business can end up controlling nearly 90 percent of those communications, directly impacting the overall credibility and perception of the organization, as well as influencing the purchase decisions of their consumers.

Call centers, whether internal or outsourced, are the front lines of your organization. They interact with your customers and distributors on a regular basis and can impact their loyalty to your organization. Making sure that your center is optimized, reliable, cost-effective, and a good representation of your brand are of the utmost importance.

Whether you are looking to provide a call center internally, currently have an existing call center or are looking to outsource, the below criteria can help serve as a checklist to ensure that your call center operations are efficient, reliable and cost-effective.

  1. Consider Hiring a Qualified Consultant. While this can be a big investment, the dividends often pay off in cost savings by capitalizing on the knowledge of an independent third-party analysis. Should you make this decision, be sure you:
    • Have a clear scope of the work that includes goals and duration for the consultant’s analysis.
    • Have clear expectations for both parties that highlight response times, fees, travel costs and timelines of when items will be completed and provided. Choose Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will allow you to measure the success, internal workings and productivity of the call center.
    • Outline a list of deliverables that you will be provided at the end of the analysis.

  2. Set Business Goals and Objectives. Determine what you want the call center to accomplish and develop a set of criteria for tracking and evaluating those goals.
  3. Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Implementation of any service requires you to measure its success. Select important KPIs that will allow you to measure internal workings and productivity of your call center. Tracking of these metrics will allow you to gauge where you might be able to gain more revenue by increasing staffing, or identify cost-saving areas where you might be spending more money than necessary. Some of the most common include:
    • Service Level
    • Agent Utilization
    • Abandon Rate
    • Cost per Call

    When determining these KPIs, make sure you understand how they relate to one another, as well as what the impact could be to your bottom line. A general industry operating standard that maximizes your cost savings is 80 percent of calls answered in 30 seconds or less with a 5 percent abandon rate. Deviations from these metrics could increase or decrease each of your KPIs and budget, so make sure you understand how before agreeing to specific operating metrics.

  4. Set a Budget. Setting a budget is integral to any operation. If the decision is being made to set up an internal center over outsourcing due to cost, make sure to include any hidden costs associated with your center for a cost-for-cost comparison. These hidden costs oftentimes include the behind-the-scenes individuals and software programs necessary to monitor, oversee, and run your call center. They include training, quality assurance, human resources, supervisors, recruiters and workforce scheduling, to name a few. If the decision is being made to outsource, make sure you understand exactly what is and is not included in the cost prior to making any decisions.
  5. Discover and Determine Any Operational Parameters or Constraints. Evaluate your customer base to determine which communication platforms your customers use to interact with you. This will allow you to offer services that will make your team the most efficient. Some of the most common include:
    • Integrated Voice Response (IVR). This offering allows you flexibility to provide customers with information without interaction with an agent. It can also point users to a secondary platform for the information they are looking for, or simply provide informational messages to them while they are on hold.
    • Data Recognition Software. This matches the number or information provided by your customer and pulls up their account for the agent once the call has been answered.
    • Live Operator. This can be dedicated agents or shared, depending on your business model. Live agents enable your customers to interact with a live person during scheduled hours of operation. Workforce solutions exist that can help provide scheduling to include lunch breaks, rest periods and time-off requests, as well as optimize coverage to either your operating metrics, or to your budget.
    • Email Response. With technology being so prevalent, email is a widely used feature for many businesses. Providing scripted responses to your most commonly asked questions can enable your agents to provide fast, consistent responses to email inquiries.
    • Live Chat. Allow customers to interact with agents via a live chat feature on your website. Scripted responses enable your agents to provide consistent responses and handle three to four chat sessions at any given time. Like the live operator, the hours of operation and scheduling will need to be handled via a workforce solution.
    • Social Media. Many companies, especially direct selling organizations, are finding more and more of their customers and distributors communicating via social media platforms. Develop a content strategy for a regular posting schedule as well as management and listening tools to help gauge what is being said about your product and organization online.
    • SMS/Text Messaging. Provide order status updates, tracking updates, contests, campaigns or special deals to your most loyal customers. This service can be provided either through a live agent or via a software offering.

    Whether you are outsourcing or keeping your call center internal, make sure you have a plan in place that addresses problem escalation, disaster plans and outages.

  6. Understand the Technology Platforms Selected. Once you have selected your service offerings, it is important to understand the technology platforms that will be used to deliver those services and how they will integrate together as well as with any internal operating systems for compatibility. This includes any software you use for taking orders, billing, email and CRM, as well as others.
  7. Establish the Team. In addition to your agents, you will want to hire team supervisors, human resources, and analysts. These individuals will help you manage and monitor your ongoing program and evaluate your productivity based on your KPIs. You may also want to consider staffing a recruiter, depending on how quickly you need to scale.

    Other positions that will help with your program success include hiring individuals capable of workforce staffing and scheduling, quality assurance programs, training and monitoring, as well as trainers to develop your onboarding curriculum and ongoing training programs.

  8. Train Your Team. Developing the initial training program is the first step to any training curriculum. Start building your training program by identifying which training skills you want your staff to take away from the training. Some of the most common items include:
    • Product Training
    • Company/Brand Training
    • Soft Sales Skills
    • De-Escalation
    • Data Security and Protection

    Once you have established your initial training curriculum, build the modules around it and determine how it will be delivered to your agents. Make sure that you can test your agents’ retention of the material prior to making them live on the floor.

    We also suggest regular review periods with your trainers, quality assurance team, team supervisors, HR, analysts and IT team to determine any ongoing training that is needed. These ongoing trainings could be revisions to your existing programs, additions due to compliance, technology updates, or efficiency and quality improvements identified by your analysts and quality assurance teams. It is recommended that you review your training program once every six months internally and once per year with an independent third-party consultant.

  9. It is always a good idea to partner with an outsource call center ahead of time to determine their ability to be an effective partner to your organization without having time pressures forcing the decision.

  10. Develop an Outsource Plan. Even if you never use it, you will be prepared for outsourcing should the need arise at a moment’s notice. Determine how quickly you are able to scale and to what capacity. You also will want to set parameters that define when, within those boundaries, you will need to outsource, if at all.

    It is always a good idea to partner with an outsource call center ahead of time to determine their ability to be an effective partner to your organization without having time pressures forcing the decision. When discussing outsourcing with a firm, make sure you:

    • Choose a call center that understands your corporate goals and can work as a strategic partner to help you achieve those goals.
    • Choose a call center that can handle the volume of expected incoming and outgoing calls on an annual, monthly and daily basis.
    • Choose a call center that will not only allow but also encourage you to stop by for visits and interact with your agents.
    • Evaluate pricing based on your call volumes and understand completely what that pricing includes. Make sure you address quality assurance, training, training supervisors, etc., as well so you aren’t surprised with any hidden costs when the invoice comes.
    • Discuss KPIs and program goals.
    • Understand the center’s approach to quality monitoring and training programs to ensure they align with your company objectives.
    • Understand the center’s approach to initial and ongoing training curriculums related to your program.
    • Evaluate any disaster recovery plans, outage plans or escalation plans for the center and determine if they meet the needs of your organization.
    • Ask for references and check them.

By evaluating and partnering with an outsource call center ahead of time, you can be sure that should the need ever arise to utilize them at a moment’s notice, they can scale quickly and cost-effectively, and be able to provide reliable service that replicates the energy and service level of your brand.

Managing a call center is not an easy job. It takes constant evaluation and program management; but when done well it can have a huge impact on your business. Here’s to your call center success!

Author NameKaren Danielson is Director of Marketing for The Connection, an outsourced call center that provides customer and distributor support services as well as Tier I and Tier II technical support for direct sales organizations.

July 31, 2015

World News

This Week: Columbus Honors Thirty-One, E! Talks to Stella & Dot Creative Head

Catch up on this week’s industry chatter with these click-worthy links:

  • As part of its Trendsetters at Work series, E! spoke to Blythe Harris, the creative force behind Stella & Dot’s luxe jewelry designs. Harris shared her style inspirations, the most daring career risk she’s ever taken, and what her typical day looks like as Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the California-based brand.
  • Thirty-One Gifts wrapped up its National Conference at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, but the brand has left a permanent mark on the city. In honor of Thirty-One’s contributions—including the conference’s annual impact on the local economy and a #31Shares campaign that encourages random acts of kindness from consultants—Mayor Michael B. Coleman has renamed downtown thoroughfare Nationwide Boulevard as Thirty-One Way.
  • Discount shopping site Zulily featured fashion brand CAbi in one of its limited-time collections. In an accompanying Q&A, Zulily spoke to CAbi CEO Lynne Coté about the online partnership and leading the CAbi team.
  • Nutrition company Herbalife received another favorable ruling in a lawsuit led by the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System. The fund claims shareholders lost money after investor Bill Ackman accused Herbalife of being a pyramid scheme. After rejecting an earlier version of the suit, a Los Angeles district judge dismissed the fund’s complaint Tuesday, granting the applicants a month to submit a revised version.
  • A roundup at social forum theFashionSpot took a look at the industry’s “new generation” of beauty brands putting their own spin on the direct-to-consumer model.

July 31, 2015

U.S. News

Mary Kay Keeps Focus on Philanthropy at Annual Seminar

Mary Kay calls its anti-domestic violence initiative Don’t Look Away, and the company is taking its own advice by keeping the cause front and center during its 2015 Mary Kay Seminar. The annual event, which kicked off its fifth and final conference of the year on Friday, has been all about empowering women—including survivors of domestic violence.

As 27,000 Independent Beauty Consultants gathered in Dallas this month, they had the opportunity to prepare care kits for survivors, donate professional clothing to local women’s shelters, and see Mary Kay’s new, award-winning public service announcement series, One in Four. Additionally, Mary Kay recently announced $1.25 million in continued funding for loveisrespect, a text-for-help service launched as a tool for young people to help prevent dating abuse.

Seminar attendees, including more than 2,000 husbands who accompanied their wives, took part in assembling care kits filled with basic Mary Kay skincare products. Consultants are distributing the 2,000 kits to 20 women’s shelters across the country. One of those shelters is The Family Place in Dallas, where a Mary Kay pink Cadillac made a local delivery on Wednesday.

The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that, by its conclusion on Aug. 1, the Mary Kay Seminar will pump $30.4 million into the local economy. The event has taken place at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas since 1974 and is one of the city’s top 10 in terms of economic impact.

July 30, 2015

U.S. News

Avon North America Sees Rare Profit in Second Quarter

Sales at Avon Products Inc. (AVP—NYSE) continued to decline in the second quarter, but the beauty company’s lagging North America division posted its first quarterly profit in several years, Avon said Thursday.

Second-quarter revenue fell 17 percent to $1.8 billion, weighed down by currency pressures in several foreign markets. On a constant-dollar basis, overall sales remained flat, with growth in Russia and the Philippines offset by declines in Brazil, China and the U.S.

The New York-based company reported adjusted earnings of 11 cents a share, surpassing the 7 cents predicted by analysts but dropping 20 cents from a year ago.

Heavy cost-cutting initiatives are paying off for the company in North America, where it saw a modest profit for the first time since the first quarter of 2012. Despite an improving bottom line, the number of Avon sellers in North America fell 16 percent from the second quarter of 2014. Overall, the brand’s salesforce shrunk by 2 percent from a year ago.

Avon said its expectations for the full year remain the same. The company forecasted modest constant-dollar revenue growth, with continued negative effects from currency exchange rates.

July 30, 2015

U.S. News

Stream Awards First Batch of Teslas to Top Associates

Stream is taking its car bonus program to the next level with the creation of a new National Director position for top-performing Associates. This week, the home services provider presented an electric-powered Tesla Model S to each of its qualifying National Directors.

A brand-new vehicle is a popular recognition tool that appears in many forms across the industry, from LifeVantage’s Jeep Wrangler to Mary Kay’s signature pink Cadillac, which even has its own Twitter account. Dallas-based Stream is the first direct selling company to tap Silicon Valley automaker Tesla Motors—a fitting choice for a brand built on an innovative approach to marketing energy.

“We always strive to reward our Associates with phenomenal perks for their dedication and hard work,” Stream’s President and CEO, Mark “Bouncer” Schiro, said in a statement. “Like Tesla, Stream is committed to innovation and revolutionary ideas, so the decision to offer an all-electric Tesla was a perfect match.”

The seven-seat Model S sedan is the only model currently marketed by Tesla. Following its introduction in June 2012, the newcomer earned a slew of awards, such as Time’s Best Inventions of the Year 2012, 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, and the top score ever from Consumer Reports magazine. Tesla plans to introduce a new premium electric vehicle, the Model X crossover, this fall.

July 29, 2015

U.S. News

After 30 Years, Longaberger Convention Returns to Small Town Roots

Photo: Longaberger’s Newark, Ohio, headquarters building, modeled on the Longaberger Medium Market Basket.

Annual salesforce conventions are a common practice among direct selling companies, but the gatherings themselves are as diverse as the companies they represent. For Ohio-based basket maker The Longaberger Co., this year’s event was a literal return to the company’s roots and a celebration of its four-decade history.

Now a part of the CVSL family of brands, Longaberger got its start in the village of Dresden, home to the company’s manufacturing plant and a shopping, dining and entertainment destination known as the Longaberger Homestead. Dresden also hosted this year’s Longaberger convention, held July 23–25. Known as The Bee—think quilting or spelling—the meeting has taken place in Columbus for the past 30 years. The Bee’s symbolic return to Dresden was reinforced by the event’s theme, “Home Is Where the Heart Is.”

“Probably the most important factor was that we were really trying to get back to our roots and tell the story of the craft, as well as the small town in Ohio where all this was born,” Longaberger’s Director of Communications, Brenton Baker, told DSN. “We realized we were at odds with ourselves, talking about the charm of the Homestead and village but asking people to come to a cold convention hall in Columbus.”

In addition to visiting the Homestead and meeting the craftspeople behind Longaberger’s handmade baskets and home goods, the crowd of approximately 1,000 heard from Longaberger’s new CEO, CVSL Vice Chairman John Rochon Jr.  Rochon stepped in following Tami Longaberger’s exit in May, a less-than-clean break still disputed by the two parties. Longaberger is the daughter of Founder Dave Longaberger, who led the brand to nearly $1 billion in annual sales before his death in 1999. Last year, Longaberger recorded sales of about $100 million.

According to Baker, Rochon and the team at CVSL have a vision very much in keeping with Longaberger’s founding—a vision that includes the Longaberger family’s continued involvement in the company. “In fact, whether it’s because of his invitation to them to be present at this year’s festivities or the fact that it took place in their own backyard in Dresden, more Longaberger family members were present and active at this year’s Bee than we have seen in many, many years,” Baker noted.

Moving into the second half of 2015, the company’s top priority is equipping salespeople to share the product and bring new members into the organization. To that end, said Baker, Longaberger has refreshed its entire Home Consultant experience with tweaks that include a new business starter kit and updated technology.

July 27, 2015

U.S. News

$50K Primerica Grant Will Equip At-Risk Teens

During its 2015 Convention this month, Primerica brought home the event’s theme—“Freedom Redefined”—with the announcement of a $50,000 grant that will equip at-risk teens for future success.

CEO Glenn Williams presented the grant award to Sam Bracken, Co-Founder of The Orange Duffel Bag Initiative (ODBI), an organization Primerica has supported since 2013. ODBI helps Georgia teens who are homeless or aging out of the foster care system, often without the means or skills necessary to support themselves. ODBI’s team of certified life and executive coaches provides coaching, training and ongoing advocacy to these youth.

“It’s unimaginable that thousands of Georgia teens are homeless or will soon be too old to remain in the foster care system. These kids did not choose to be in this situation, and they deserve a chance for a better future,” Williams told the crowd of approximately 40,000 gathered in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. “We applaud the exceptional work done by the ODBI and are proud to support this worthwhile organization.”

The Orange Duffel Bag Initiative grew largely from Bracken’s own experiences. Though he would later become a star football player for Georgia Tech and an executive with FranklinCovey, Bracken was once a homeless teen who could carry everything he owned in an orange duffel bag. He has shared his experiences in My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change, a book he co-authored.


July 24, 2015

World News

This Week: Convention Happenings, Twitter Bullies and Working Women

Catch up on this week’s industry chatter with these click-worthy links:

  • Mary Kay’s annual Seminar—all five waves of it—is in full swing, and one of the speakers taking to the main stage is Abi Ferrin, who has partnered with the company in its cause to end domestic violence. The Dallas Morning News spoke to Ferrin, a fashion designer and domestic violence survivor, about her own story and what Mary Kay is doing to support the cause.
  • For the first time in its five-year history, Origami Owl is taking its annual convention outside the company’s home state of Arizona. On Thursday, the jewelry seller kicked off its O2 Experience in Chicago. Founder Bella Weems spoke to the Chicago Tribune about the milestone event and Origami Owl’s rapid growth.
  • Where does the line between career and family fall for today’s young working women? Cheryl Han, the 33-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Keaton Row, shared her perspective in a New York Times piece on the increasing number of women planning pauses in their climb up the corporate ladder.
  • During Stella & Dot’s annual European conference in London, Founder and CEO Jessica Herrin sat down with The Telegraph to share how the business is helping women change their lives.
  • Following Avon’s divestiture of U.K. skincare brand Liz Earle—which the beauty brand sold to Walgreens earlier this month for $215 million—Forbes featured an analysis of Avon’s stock by the team at Trefis.
  • The Los Angeles Times reported that Herbalife is pushing back against an anonymous Twitter account propagating negative comments about its products. The nutrition company has petitioned a Chicago judge to expose the naysayer’s identity, an action that requires a court order per the site’s privacy policy.