February 05, 2016

World News

This Week: Youngevity President & CFO Talks Growth, Shaklee Gets Culture Right

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

  • In a wide-ranging interview for The Wall Street Analyzer, Youngevity President and CFO David Briskie shared insights into the company’s growth, from revenue of $22 million in 2011 to pro forma revenue of approximately $165 million in 2015. Youngevity identifies as a hybrid of direct sales and e-commerce, and is currently beta testing a social selling platform set to launch in April. Briskie also discusses key trends in the sector and how the company is positioning itself to make the most of them.
  • Alyssa Rapp, Founder of the popular online wine community Bottlenotes Inc., wrote about her experience at Shaklee’s recent annual conference, Shaklee Live. A friend of Shaklee Chairman and CEO Roger Barnett, Rapp shared her main takeaway from the event—“culture matters”—and a few of the ways Shaklee is getting it right.
  • Herbalife is celebrating a decade as jersey sponsor of Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy with a new look for 2016. The club’s primary and secondary jerseys are getting a refresh featuring a new “Herbalife Nutrition” logo, which also will appear on the club’s training gear. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Herbalife signed on as the official nutrition company of the Galaxy in 2005, and then as official jersey and presenting sponsor in 2007. The deal, now extended through 2022, is the longest-running sponsorship in Major League Soccer.
  • The Orlando Sentinel reported that Jeunesse Global, headquartered in nearby Heathrow, Florida, is suing its former sales chief, Darren Jensen, for allegedly misappropriating trade secrets and violating a separation agreement with the company. Jensen, now CEO of LifeVantage, has made a formal denial of the claims, saying he did not cause any damages suffered by the company.
  • Corporate incentive trips and conventions are good for business, and not just the ones that hold them. As hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of attendees converge upon a city, local businesses reap the benefits as well. In one example, Dubai Business Events (DBE), which hosted an incentive trip for Jeunesse Global in 2015, reported a successful bid for NuSkin’s South East Asia incentive trip in 2017, an event that will bring 14,500 Distributors to the city.

February 05, 2016

U.S. News

Silpada Puts New Twist on Business Model with Stylemaker Option

Accessories seller Silpada is rolling out a new program for those looking to earn some extra income without investing the time required to manage a business.

Coming in February, Silpada Stylemaker offers a casual alternative to the company’s traditional Representative opportunity. Management said the program will target tech-savvy women interested in adding to, but not necessarily replacing, existing income.

Alongside the program Silpada is introducing the ShopBox, a sales tool in the vein of direct-ship offerings like Birchbox or Stitchfix. Each box contains 15 popular pieces from the company’s collection of handcrafted jewelry and accessories, for the Stylemaker to “wear, share and sell” over a 14-day period. Anything not sold is then returned to the company in the envelope provided.

For an enrollment fee of $129, a Stylemaker receives 25-30 percent commission on all sales, a personalized e-commerce site to share the entire Silpada collection, and the ability to earn $50 referral bonuses. Also included are two ShopBox credits, which the Stylemaker can supplement with additional boxes for $49 each. Silpada said it plans to release six different ShopBoxes throughout the year.

“By offering two ways to sell Silpada—as a traditional Representative or as a Stylemaker—we’re speaking to a larger demographic of female entrepreneurs,” said Ryane Delka, Co-CEO alongside Kelsey Perry. “Whether she wants to earn a little extra spending money to buy the boots she’s been eyeing or replace her income by building her own jewelry business, she can choose the best fit for her lifestyle.”

February 05, 2016

U.S. News

Stream Taps Former Tech and Consumer Goods Executive for CEO Role

Photo: Stream’s new CEO, Larry Mondry.


Essential services provider Stream has appointed Larry Mondry to succeed outgoing President and CEO Mark “Bouncer” Schiro.

Mondry is a former CompUSA executive who spent 16 years in a succession of roles, ultimately serving as president and CEO of the consumer electronics retailer. He previously was CEO of CSK Auto, a specialty auto parts chain acquired in 2008 by O’Reilly Automotive. Mondry currently sits on the board of Micron Technology.

“Considering Larry’s impressive track record as a seasoned executive and proven skill at growing companies, I’m confident he will serve Stream well as our new president and CEO,” Schiro said in a statement. “I know he is the right leader to bring Stream into its next era.”

Schiro took on leadership of the Dallas-based company in 2011, tasked with laying the groundwork for future expansion and diversification of the business. During his tenure, Stream began to build upon its core energy offerings with other essential services, including Mobile Services and Protective Services, under the Stream Connected Home concept. Upon stepping down, effective immediately, Schiro will continue his longtime involvement as a company shareholder and board member.

“Bouncer has been my partner for 10 years and has worked hard to set Stream up for continued success,” said Rob Snyder, Stream Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board. “He has left this firm organizationally more effective and financially stronger than at any time in our history. And with Larry, I know that we have leadership that will leverage off the base that Bouncer has built. Now more than ever, Stream is ready to grow.”

February 04, 2016

U.S. News

Natural Health Trends Reports 113% Annual Sales Growth

Natural Health Trends Corp. (NHTC—NASDAQ) on Tuesday reported record annual sales of $264.9 million, driven by operations in Hong Kong.

Sales of the company’s personal-care, wellness and lifestyle products were up 113 percent from 2014, in a second consecutive year of triple-digit percentage growth. Operating income rose 130 percent to $47.9 million. Earnings were $3.82 per share, versus $1.61 a year ago.

“2015 was a record year for Natural Health Trends, and we are very pleased with all we have accomplished,” company President Chris Sharng said in a statement. “The triple-digit increase in revenue and net income over 2014 was driven by impressive growth in our active member base as well as the ongoing development of our leadership programs, product development initiatives, and successful execution of our marketing programs and member services.”

In the last three months of 2015, revenue totaled $73.7 million, up 108 percent from the prior year. NHTC Hong Kong accounted for 92 percent, or $67.7 million, of total revenue. Sales outside Hong Kong increased 27 percent. Quarterly earnings rose to $1.13 per share from 45 cents per share in the last quarter of 2014.

The California-based company said its Active Member base grew by 15 percent in the fourth quarter. Limited to those individuals who have placed at least one product order with NHTC in the preceding 12 months, the company’s Active Members numbered 109,360 at the close of 2015.

Management also addressed a handful of online posts alleging an investigation of the company by the Chinese government. In a Jan. 13 statement, NHTC said its staff attorney and branch manager had met with Beijing Chaoyang District SAIC, the Public Security Bureau and two of the accusers to dispute the claims. As a result, government authorities advised the company that, online rumors notwithstanding, there was insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation of NHTC.

To offset any potential negative impact from the accusations, the company’s board has approved an increase in its ongoing share buyback, raising the ceiling to $70 million. “Their authorization of an additional $55 million for repurchases underscores their confidence. Separately, we are in regular contact with Chinese officials at several government agencies,” said Sharng.

February 03, 2016

U.S. News

Amway Reports Sales of $9.5 Billion in 2015

Photo: Amway World Headquarters in Ada, Michigan.


Amway Corp. on Wednesday released its 2015 financial results, announcing annual sales of $9.5 billion.

Despite constant-dollar sales growth in 70 percent of Amway’s top 20 markets, revenue fell 12 percent from a year ago, hurt by currency fluctuations and soft sales in China, where the economy experienced its slowest growth in 25 years. The company reported similar trends in 2014, when revenue dropped 8 percent to $10.8 billion—a performance that nevertheless secured Amway the No. 1 spot on the 2015 DSN Global 100, a list of the top direct selling companies in the world.

In 2015, the company’s top 10 markets were China, South Korea, United States, Japan, Thailand, Russia, Taiwan, Malaysia, India and Ukraine. Management also singled out Brazil and Mexico as emerging markets that recorded considerable gains.

“We experienced growth in seven of our top 10 markets, and emerging markets in Latin America and elsewhere continue to perform well,” Chairman Steve Van Andel noted in Amway’s report. “Several markets achieved record sales levels in 2015 with others producing their best performance in some time. An increasingly competitive environment in China and unfavorable currency exchange rates mask a positive year overall for Amway globally.”

Nutrition remains a powerhouse category for the company, accounting for 46 percent of 2015 sales. Amway Nutrilite is the world’s leading brand of vitamin, mineral and dietary supplements, according to research by Euromonitor International, and the company last year expanded the line with BodyKey by Nutrilite, a personalized weight-management program. BodyKey utilizes a genetic test or comprehensive, scientific assessment to provide a tailored plan for managing weight.

Beauty and personal care products accounted for 25 percent of sales, and durable products, such as the company’s eSpring water treatment system and Atmosphere air treatment system, made up another 16 percent. The remaining 13 percent was split between home care products and assorted other offerings.

Last year also marked the culmination of Amway’s three-year manufacturing and R&D expansion. The company has poured $335 million into strengthening its global infrastructure, opening five manufacturing facilities and a major R&D site in 2015 alone. Other investments included new digital tools to help Amway Business Owners showcase products and manage their businesses.

In 2016 and beyond, Amway leadership sees plenty of cause for optimism, particularly in light of its 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Report. The report, based on a survey of 50,000 people in 44 countries, quantifies attitudes about business ownership and the entrepreneurial spirit.  All told, 75 percent of respondents were positive about starting a business, and that number increased to 81 percent among those 35 and younger.

“Globally, more and more people are seeking an opportunity to do something on their own—whether it’s to earn a little extra or for a bigger commitment to earn more,” said Doug DeVos, Amway President and Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. “We’re well positioned to meet that demand with a low-cost, low-risk business opportunity selling world-class products.”

February 02, 2016

U.S. News

Young Living Reports Best Year Yet with $1 Billion in Annual Sales

Young Living Essential Oils LC disclosed Tuesday that—for the first time in company history—annual sales topped $1 billion in 2015. The pioneer in essential oil products is one of just nine U.S.-based direct selling companies to reach the billion-dollar benchmark (click here to view last year’s North America 50 list).

“We celebrate this milestone with sincere gratitude to our dedicated members, who work tirelessly to bring the purpose-driven benefits of Young Living to people around the world,” Travis Ogden, COO, said in a statement. “We truly believe Young Living offers unmatched opportunities to make a real difference in the lives of millions.”

Recent steps have pointed to significant growth at the privately held company. Young Living has expanded and renovated its global distribution center, more than doubling shipping capacity and tripling manufacturing capability. In June 2014, the company announced that its global staff had grown to 1,000. Now, that number has surpassed 2,000. In December 2015, Young Living moved its 500 call center employees to a new facility, one that will accommodate the 50 percent increase in staff the department expects in 2016. This year management also plans to open three new markets, upping the total to 17.

D. Gary Young, an expert in the field of essential oils, founded Young Living in 1993 and served as CEO until stepping down in November 2015. His wife and co-founder, Mary Young, then took on leadership of the company, equipped with two decades of experience as a Young Living executive. The Lehi, Utah-based company today sells more than 500 essential oils and essential oil-infused products, backed by its Seed to Seal commitment.

“From our humble beginnings until now, these milestones are significant because they demonstrate the power of authenticity and our unwavering commitment to quality,” said Jared Turner, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. “We will always stay true to our roots while we continue to innovate and lead the essential oil movement.”

February 02, 2016

U.S. News

Former HHS Official Joins Herbalife as Chief Health and Nutrition Officer

Herbalife Ltd. has tapped a former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official, Dr. John Agwunobi, to serve as Chief Health and Nutrition Officer.

From 2005 to 2007, Agwunobi oversaw the nation’s disease prevention and health promotion programs as the department’s Assistant Secretary of Health. As such, he headed up the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration, among other HHS offices.

Agwunobi also brings extensive private sector experience, having served as Senior Vice President and President of Health and Wellness for Walmart in the U.S., providing insights on health reform, public health advocacy and employee wellness. During his tenure at the retail giant, annual revenue increased from $25 billion to $30 billion. He also sits on the board of a number of nonprofit and for-profit enterprises, including the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and Magellan Health Services.

“We are proud to welcome Dr. Agwunobi to our Herbalife nutrition team,” Chairman and CEO Michael O. Johnson said in a statement. “As we continue to invest in accomplished leaders, we further strengthen our mission of providing health and nutrition education and training to our members and their customers around the world.”

Herbalife’s nutrition philosophy and nutrition and product education will come within Agwunobi’s purview as Chief Health and Nutrition Officer. He will lead the Herbalife Nutrition Institute, Nutrition Advisory Board and Dietetic Advisory Board. Agwunobi also is tasked with working alongside the company’s 34 Ph.D.s and 250 staff scientists to integrate nutrition science and member training into the product development process.

February 02, 2016

Software/Technology Solutions

Fragmob


February 01, 2016

World News

Growing US Business Drives Record Q4 at Immunotec

Record fourth-quarter revenue crowned a year of healthy growth at Immunotec, the nutrition company said in its annual earnings report.

Quebec, Canada-based Immunotec closed out the fourth quarter with revenue of CAN$24.8 million (US$17.8 million), up 6.4 percent from a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA rose 8.4 percent to US$1.5 million, with net profit totaling US$1.2 million.

“We ended fiscal 2015 with the strongest quarter in company history in terms of revenues, adjusted EBITDA and net profit,” CEO Charles L. Orr said in a statement. “This year was marked by solid progress in the U.S. market, as we continue to expand our capabilities in the United States.”

A strengthening U.S. dollar combined with a growing salesforce in the market helped Immunotec achieve annual revenue of US$60.8 million, a 4.9 percent increase from 2014. For the 12 months ended Oct. 31, 2015, adjusted EBITDA came to US$4.4 million. The company’s bottom line was US$2.9 million, compared to a loss of US$1.9 million a year ago. On a per share basis, earnings for the year were 4 cents.

Management reported a growing number of independent consultants and customers across the U.S. and Canada, where numbers were up 36.7 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively. In Mexico, where the company instituted a 16 percent value-added tax in October 2014, sponsoring fell 13.2 percent in 2015.

February 01, 2016

Company Spotlight

AdvoCare: Keeping the Legacies of a Champion Alive

by Courtney Roush


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


Company Profile

Founded: 1993
Headquarters: Plano, Texas
Top Executive: Brian Connolly, Interim CEO
Products: Health and wellness
2014 Revenue: $494 million
North America 50 Ranking: No. 17


In the direct selling space, nutritional supplements and weight-management products are a highly competitive business. In this crowded race, how can a contender pull ahead from the pack? If we take a lesson from the companies in the channel who have stood the test of time, we learn two things: One, that ingredients and the results they deliver are everything; and two, that a culture with an uncompromising set of principles will carry the day.

AdvoCare’s product lineup includes nutritional, weight-management, sports performance and skincare products, and targets a range of consumers: professional athletes, exercise enthusiasts, weekend warriors and those who merely want to look and feel better. If you’re a sports fan, the name AdvoCare likely isn’t a foreign one. From sponsoring collegiate and professional events to its roster of big-name endorsers like New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, the AdvoCare brand has garnered quite a bit of attention during its 23 years. The athlete endorsements and sports marketing sponsorships give the company and its distributors exposure and credibility while generating excitement among distributors. But it’s not just professional athletes that AdvoCare is after. Quite a few of their ads feature “regular folks” who just want to feel better and have more energy.

Former CEO Richard Wright led the company from 2007 to 2015 before announcing his retirement. In November 2015, AdvoCare announced the appointment of Interim CEO Brian Connolly who brings to AdvoCare a 30-year wealth of knowledge honed at a billion-dollar direct selling company as well as at the Direct Selling Association. His arrival at AdvoCare marks a new effort for this 23-year-old company, signaling that while the brand has enjoyed tremendous success to date, it is ready to push itself to a new level.


AdvoCare presents a check to the FC Dallas Foundation.

An Enduring Legacy

Founder Charlie Ragus was no stranger to direct selling or to the disciplines of health and fitness when he started AdvoCare, a name he created to signify “advocates who care.” Formerly a regional vice president for Fidelity Union Insurance and an independent distributor on separate occasions for Herbalife and Omnitrition, Ragus also was a defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1960s. Along the way, he developed an appreciation not only for the results that nutrition could have on performance, but also the power that direct selling had to help people discover and achieve their potential. “AdvoCare was the product of Charlie’s considerable experience. He left out things that didn’t work and weren’t durable. He had such clarity about this business,” says Rick Loy, Vice President of U.S. Sales Training and Field Development.

Charlie RagusAdvoCare Founder Charlie Ragus.

What did work, Ragus believed, was an investment in the personal development, growth and training of employees and distributors—not just as a one-time expression of good faith, but for a lifetime. And he was adamant that his company would be built upon the quality and reputation of its products, which would rely on rock-solid science.

To make good on that pledge, Ragus would oversee the establishment of a Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, represented by experts in the fields of medicine, nutrition and science; and a Sports Advisory Council, comprised of strength and conditioning coaches and athletic trainers who would consult with AdvoCare on product development.

Ragus passed away in 2001, leaving behind his wife, Peggy, and their three daughters, Debbie, Jenni and Stacey, all of whom continue to play an integral role in moving AdvoCare forward while preserving the 10 principles Charlie established to guide his company’s direction. Posted on the company’s website, those principles cover a lot of ground, but share common themes, such as dignity, integrity, honor and trust, along with a commitment to AdvoCare distributors to help them realize personal and financial growth and, ultimately, freedom.

Loy began his career with AdvoCare in 1998, when he says the company was starting to hit its stride. He reflects on his initial impressions: “The company looked exactly like Charlie. Strong, passionate leaders attract committed people. Charlie said that our greatest product is hope, and he was a source of hope for so many people. The times I saw him get emotional were when he heard stories, for example, about a mother who now had the energy to get off the couch and play with her kids, or a young couple who had been struggling financially but now were able to earn a little extra income with their AdvoCare business. Those were the scenarios where you saw his great passion come out.

Founding FamilyThe Founding Family: Peggy Ragus (second from left) with her three daughters Debbie, Jenni and Stacey Ragus.

“What continues to motivate me,” Loy continues, “is the reason I came to AdvoCare in the first place. Charlie never promoted big money. You don’t have to be a salesperson when you have fabulous, rock-solid products and a duplicable system, and you value people. Of course we’re here for profit, and we’ve enjoyed incredible success, but it’s easy to get your head turned by big money. The longer I’m here, the more I realize how unique Charlie’s legacy is. The biggest factor for success is the enduring strength of our founder’s vision and messaging. Charlie was adamant that this building doesn’t generate one red cent—our distributors do. Let the distributors win first, then the company wins. He was crystal clear about what this could be. And those guiding principles he created are still front and center. His exact language still overlaps everything we do.”

Companies launched by such legendary icons can lose touch with those legacies when their founders have left the building. The Ragus family, however, remains involved with AdvoCare at the board level, providing governance, attending distributor events, and providing education and motivation for distributors. “While they don’t run the day-to-day, they embrace the purpose and they stay engaged. It’s extremely important to protect this company and their father’s legacy,” says Allison Levy, Vice President and Chief Legal Officer.

Connolly adopts this viewpoint whole-heartedly. “When Stacey, Jenni, Debbie and I had our first conversation, we found that we were aligned in our values,” says Connolly. “This is an unbelievable company with an amazing culture. The core of this company, the values that Charlie laid down, are pristine. My simple theory of leadership is that, to develop a vision for the future, you must study the past.”


In November 2015, AdvoCare announced the appointment of Interim CEO Brian Connolly, who brought to AdvoCare a 30-year wealth of knowledge honed at a billion-dollar direct selling powerhouse as well as at the Direct Selling Association.


Connolly is working in partnership with AdvoCare leadership, including Ragus’ widow and three daughters. On his immediate radar are a series of priorities aimed at capitalizing on the company’s existing strengths, primarily its reputation for science and innovation, social media presence, and the wealth of online and mobile education resources made available to AdvoCare independent distributors. The result, Connolly hopes, will establish AdvoCare as a legacy company ready to adapt to meet the needs of its customers and distributors as well as reach new ones.

In 2014, AdvoCare ranked No. 35 on Direct Selling News’ Global 100 list, with annual revenue of $494 million, up from $460 million in 2013. To date, “the efforts of our employees have been focused on keeping up with demand,” Connolly says, “and they’ve done an excellent job.” Now, with the hope of increasing that demand and equipping the company to accommodate it, Connolly has identified three priorities: First, further strengthen the company’s product-to-market process; second, do a complete renovation of its digital strategy by second quarter 2016 with the goal of becoming best in class; and third, develop a comprehensive, mobile-optimized education and training system for independent distributors. Collectively, these goals have the potential to boost distributor confidence and increase retention rates while appealing to more prospective customers and, ultimately, distributors from all age groups united in their desire for more energy and a better quality of life, physically, mentally and financially. The company remains firmly on home soil, with some 618,000 distributors throughout the United States and its territories.


“This is an unbelievable company with an amazing culture. The core of this company, the values that Charlie laid down, are pristine. My simple theory of leadership is that, to develop a vision for the future, you must study the past.”
—Brian Connolly, Interim CEO


As AdvoCare continues to grow, staying laser-focused on the individual, in accordance with Charlie’s principles, becomes more challenging, but technology is helping the company connect with its ambassadors. “Today, with the sheer pace of growth, we know there’s a population of distributors who are deep down in the ranks, and we may never see them,” Loy says. “We have a massive number of live events by invitation only, and we have around 15 employees who are always in the field engaging with distributors. This has served us well, but things have moved so quickly that now we need a universally accessible system. Virtual training is a critical component with live streaming and pre-recorded education categorized by stage in business, and seamless for mobile. We have to build today for what we want to be tomorrow.”

Building the Brand

The direct selling channel proves time and again that a strong foundation of integrity is the best insurance policy for success. But it’s a crowded marketplace out there, and competition is stiff.

Trevor BayneDaytona 500 Champion Trevor Bayne drives the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“What first struck me,” Connolly says, “is that AdvoCare is the best-kept secret in our industry. My job is to unlock that secret. On our scientific board are renowned scientists and doctors credited with some of the most significant discoveries in medicine. We’re asking ‘How do we do better at getting the word out?’ ”

With the intention of reaching an active, health-conscious demographic, AdvoCare has made considerable investments, particularly in the last decade, in television advertising, sports sponsorships and, more recently, digital advertising. Collectively, those efforts have generated visibility for the brand on ESPN, Fox News, The Weather Channel, Food Network and HGTV, among others. “Our philosophy is that if we support our distributors and give them great tools, they’ll do amazing things,” says Patrick Wright, Vice President of Marketing. “We have two goals: to build the AdvoCare brand far and wide and enhance our distributors’ confidence and credibility in the marketplace.”

AdvoCare maintains a roster of endorsers including athletes from soccer, football, hockey, basketball, baseball and bodybuilding to golf, swimming, motor sports and CrossFit® competitors, plus an extensive list of coaches. At the same time, the AdvoCare brand has taken center stage at events like the AdvoCare Invitational (the college basketball tournament formerly known as the Orlando Classic); the No. 6 Sprint Cup entry in the NASCAR 2015 season; the V100 Texas Bowl, an annual and highly followed Southeastern Conference/Big 12 college football showdown; and a multimillion-dollar partnership with the FC Dallas Soccer Club, recently extended through 2020.

“It’s such a shot of energy and confidence for our distributor base to see these ads and sponsorships,” Loy says. “It sends the signal that we’re willing and able to invest money for distributors’ benefit, and these placements create great talking points for them.”

There’s no question that AdvoCare resonates with a youthful, high-energy demographic, but the company also enjoys a strong following of baby boomers who aren’t looking to be high-performance athletes, but rather just want enough energy to keep up with their grandchildren. Regardless of age, AdvoCare distributors are united in their value of relationships, augmented but not replaced by social media. “Social networking enhances our sense of community, but we still are fundamentally respectful of the power of one-on-one, of looking people in the eye,” Loy adds. “We maximize the technologies that are available, but it’s not ‘either or’; it’s both.”


AdvoCare maintains a roster of endorsers including athletes from soccer, football, hockey, basketball, baseball and bodybuilding to golf, swimming, motor sports and CrossFit® competitors, plus an extensive list of coaches.


‘Protecting the Health’

Nobody can discount the power of social media to build brands. At the same time, however, companies now have the great responsibility to monitor their online reputations around the clock. Health and wellness products and their purported benefits are, of course, areas in which companies have to tread lightly, and “we have a high number of high-profile endorsers with massive social media followings,” Loy says. “It’s an enormous challenge to retain the integrity and continuity of our messaging.”

The antidote to this conundrum, Levy says, is to return to that fundamental AdvoCare principle: Invest in people. It’s critical to educate them about the ethics and the standards of compliance that will continue to protect the opportunity they enjoy. And while AdvoCare stands by the quality and efficacy of its products, the company underlines the distinction that its products play just one part in a long-term, healthy lifestyle.


“The company looked exactly like [Founder Charlie Ragus]. Strong, passionate leaders attract committed people. Charlie said that our greatest product is hope, and he was a source of hope for so many people.”
—Rick Loy, Vice President of U.S. Sales Training and Field Development


“As a nutritional dietary supplements company, you have to be careful,” adds Levy, who describes her compliance team’s job description as “protecting the health” of AdvoCare. “We know that dietary supplements can support good diet and exercise habits. Good health comes with intention and effort.”

Another important distinction in the company’s messaging has been its ongoing mission to help distributors eliminate debt. Charlie Ragus was a big believer that direct selling was a vehicle not for attaining the trappings of wealth, but rather for helping families establish freedom from debt by making the money they earned work for them. Maintaining that debt freedom was the key to unlocking the door to all other freedoms, Ragus’ vision for AdvoCare was to create an opportunity in which people could help themselves while helping others. To that end, the company created a DebtBuster® program to show distributors how to whittle away their debts, one at a time, in part using their AdvoCare earnings, or “momentum money,” to achieve those goals.


“As a nutritional dietary supplements company, you have to be careful. We know that dietary supplements can support good diet and exercise habits. Good health comes with intention and effort.”
—Allison Levy, Vice President and Chief Legal Officer


When Connolly speaks of the journey ahead, it’s clear that the road will be paved by the mutual trust between company and distributors, those “who actually live the AdvoCare brand.” Charlie Ragus left the building 15 years ago, but his principles continue to inspire distributors to reach for the best version of themselves. The tagline of “We Build Champions” is about much more than sports; it’s about creating and upholding a standard of excellence in the game of life, and giving people the tools to live up to their potential.

February 01, 2016

Company Focus

Pushing Forward: Arbonne Operating with Strength Abroad and at Home

by Beth Douglass Silcox


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


Company Profile


Founded: 1980

Headquarters: Irvine, California
Executives: Kay Napier, CEO 

Products: botanically based personal care and wellness 

2014 Revenue: $486 million
North America 50 ranking: No. 18






Transformation takes time. It takes tenacity and skill, strategy, and an eye for opportunity. All of which Arbonne has exemplified in the past 18 months.

When Kay Napier took the helm as CEO at Arbonne some six years ago, the company set off on a journey of self-discovery—or rather rediscovery. It strategically reconnected to the corporate roots that once made Arbonne a powerhouse in direct selling. In 2015, Arbonne’s 35th year, the company reemerged stronger, topped growth expectations in the United Kingdom, solidified its 2014 launch in Poland, gained strength in the U.S. and abroad thanks to new products, and was on the verge of breaking into the Asian market.

Arbonne’s entry into Poland in 2014 was, at the time, more opportunistic than strategic, Napier admits. A large and persistent contingent of Arbonne consultants with Polish connections lobbied corporate, promising to do the legwork necessary to launch successfully. Their team effort delivered, and Arbonne had a list of 1,000 Consultants in hand prior to launch.

“The push for this market came from field leaders with a lot of connections to Poland already in downlines. What’s been great to see, as well, is all the people who didn’t have these existing connections and how they’ve been able to develop them. They’ve made a global, Internet-based, social selling business now as our model has evolved,” says Chief Sales Officer Ashley Good.


“I’m excited to take this business into not only new geographies, but new cultures. It’s very reassuring to see that this brand can play anywhere.”
—Kay Napier, CEO


Making that possible was the re-platform of Arbonne’s entire IT system in March 2015. From the front-end facing the consumer to the back-end, which processes orders and contains compensation genealogy and promotions functions, everything was new. For the first time, some 120,000 Arbonne Consultants linked their webpages to the Arbonne corporate site for free. A mobile application and a robust autoship program should follow in 2016.

“We needed to move off our legacy system, which was well over 20 years old and based in very old technology. It had been patched over and we kept it functioning, but we were up against capacity and international expansion deadlines,” Napier says.

While it hasn’t been without its challenges and less-than-perfect performance at times, Napier touts the fact that Arbonne stayed up and functioning when sites like Target.com and NeimanMarcus.com faltered during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2015. Plus, she says, “We just closed November with record sales, ahead of a year ago, and ahead of budget.”

Having the capacity of the Internet behind them has bolstered the work of Arbonne’s small team in Poland, the Consultants on the ground and those who traveled to help start downlines. “I think we are about two times the level we budgeted, with a relatively low investment,” Napier says of today’s business status in Poland.


A star-studded celebration event during Arbonne’s recent Global Training Conference.

The Polish Market

Philanthropy and Sustainability by the Numbers

In the past 18 months, Arbonne Charitable Foundation has increased fundraising from $500,000 to $3 million and has reached nearly 87,000 teens through 322 foundation grants funding self-esteem programs. Some of those funds came from the sale of commemorative, emerald jewelry items celebrating Arbonne’s 35th anniversary in 2015.

Also during this time, Arbonne won an Association for Corporate Growth Green Award for its work in sustainable and green manufacturing. The company’s manufacturing plant achieved a 75 percent recycled waste target, which led to 185 tons of material kept out of landfills. Also 35 percent, or 6 million gallons of water, was saved in Arbonne’s manufacturing processes in 2014. The company now has created and is proceeding with a three-year roadmap to further its green commitment.

European consumers approach products and brands very cautiously, says Napier. With a critical eye, they read and research product ingredients. They want specifics, and a brand has to earn their trust. “We’re very happy that the Polish Consultant and consumer are very discerning around product ingredients. That’s been a home run for us,” Napier says.

“We spent a lot of time before we launched Poland gearing up our science story, our history—both the emotional aspects as well as the real fundamental science that runs throughout our products—to make sure that we were armed with great information and support to speak intelligently about our product lineup,” says Chief Creative Officer Michael D’Arminio.

Products for Poland were aligned with the United Kingdom, and Arbonne made sure that Consultants understood the company’s plan and intentions, as well as the support given those products and their value from an ingredient perspective. That honesty and transparency built great partnerships and trust, as well as significant business, D’Arminio says.

With success in Poland well ahead of Arbonne’s objectives, as well as strong profitability and growth in the United Kingdom, Napier says, “It begs the question: Does Europe become a key footprint for us?”

As such, Arbonne is now looking at its once opportunistic move into Poland through a more strategic lens with views of a larger European marketplace. For many direct selling companies, Poland is simply an adjacency to a European launch that would likely start in Germany, but Arbonne’s established success in Poland flips that prospect.

“We haven’t made a conscious decision to go into Germany, but I think it’s one of the things that we’re looking at. In our minds, it’s become so much more strategic to be looking at Central Eastern Europe, as well as Western Europe. Poland has been a very good learning experience for the company,” Napier says.

While skincare and cosmetics passed regulatory muster quite easily in Poland, nutritional product regulations took more time and diligence. There were lessons learned operating in the company’s first non-English-speaking country, as well. But Arbonne’s culture of delivering appealing, botanically pure and beneficial products translated easily, and Napier says, “That was a huge relief to me, and I have every expectation that we’ll be able to do that as we venture into Taiwan as well.”

Opening the Gates to Asia

Arbonne's Taiwan office.An Arbonne Taiwan event.

“I’m excited to take this business into not only new geographies, but new cultures. It’s very reassuring to see that this brand can play anywhere,” Napier says. “I still maintain that Arbonne is as good or better a brand than anything I’ve worked on because not only do you have the product and all the attributes of the product, but you have the holistic approach to life.”

When strolling through department stores in Taiwan recently, Napier firmed up her belief that Arbonne’s brand and positioning will resonate well with Asian consumers when the company launches there in 2016. 

In preparation for the Taiwan launch, D’Arminio says Arbonne has strived to understand the customer, their expectations, and the established benchmarks in that country. “We absolutely went in with full disclosure saying we cannot force-fit our existing products locally into Taiwan. Companies who have tried to do that in the past have failed,” he says.

Caucasian skin is quite different from Asian, and Taiwanese skin possesses nuances not seen in Southern Asia or the South Pacific. So Arbonne spent a great deal of time working on product textures and formulations that address the needs of consumers in Taiwan’s high-humidity environment. “We went in knowing that we had to make adjustments on our formulas. We had to make a few modifications and changes on a few ingredients,” D’Arminio says.


European consumers approach products and brands very cautiously. With a critical eye, they read and research product ingredients. They want specifics, and a brand has to earn their trust.


Home usage product tests engaged Taiwan consumers and helped Arbonne tweak their formulas, and then the company sought third-party validation in the form of skincare clinical trials specific to Asia. “There’s nothing like facts and figures from an independent lab and facility to really support and justify your position and your claims,” D’Arminio says.

Going that extra mile, he says, sends the message that Arbonne absolutely believes in its products, not only for Taiwan but also for the larger population, and that the company is in it for the long haul.

As was the case in Poland where they experienced regulatory hurdles with Arbonne’s nutritional products, these products in Taiwan have been a particular challenge for entirely different reasons: taste profiles.

Where the U.S. taste preference leans sweet, Europe is savory and Asia lands somewhere in the middle. “We’re great learners here. We’re open. We absolutely understand that we can’t force-fit product. It has to meet the consumer needs and expectations in order to be successful,” D’Arminio says. So they adapted those formulas to meet the taste profile of Asian consumers.

Ultimately, Arbonne’s Taiwan market will open in the second half of 2016 with a pipeline of skincare, nutrition and color cosmetics products. “We believe we will be able to hit the ground running with a really nice mix and a nice focus,” D’Arminio says.

Give Them What They Want and Need

Arbonne’s current Preferred Client to Consultant ratio ranges from 4:1 to 5:1. Napier believes that ratio should be 30:1, and the company’s evolving IT platform will play a large role in meeting that goal. Today, online customers are automatically paired with Consultants, and it is here that the relationship-building process can begin in earnest through prompted email and social media communication.

While the company will never turn its back on traditional, in-person Consultant relationships, online relationships will play a significant role moving forward. New product offerings, which extend Arbonne’s reach into new consumer markets, also will be a major contributor, as will marketing strategies aimed at simplifying both consumer buying decisions and Consultant business growth.

ArbonneThe Arbonne Charitable Foundation supports teen self-esteem.
ArbonneTeens at an Arbonne Charitable Foundation self-esteem building event.

Arbonne operates in three product categories: skincare, nutrition and color cosmetics. But at its core is health and wellness; even beauty includes a combination of skincare and nutrition products. So when the company experienced an uptick in its nutrition business, they revisited a long-tabled idea proposed by the Consultant field to launch a sports nutrition line.

Entering into sports nutrition was an in-house battle of sorts between Arbonne’s team of nutritionally focused field leaders and Napier, who was concerned about inventory overstocks. D’Arminio, who championed the launch of PhytoSport in April 2015, says his gut told him an existing Consultant base that spent time at the gym, participated in competitive sports and ate healthy, gluten-free and even vegan diets would give the product line traction.

Arbonne aligned itself with the Banned Substance Control Group, an international organization that evaluates products and tests for more banned substances than any other. By doing so, the goal was to send a clear message: Arbonne is incredibly careful about the ingredients and cleanliness of its products for use by everyone, including competitive athletes.

The three-step PhytoSport system, including pre-workout, hydration and post-workout products with Arbonne’s proprietary botanicals threaded throughout, launched in the U.S. in April 2015 with subsequent rollouts around the world as compliance hurdles
were cleared.

PhytoSport is now one of Arbonne’s fastest-growing nutritional lines, is a great Consultant recruiting tool, and has exceeded Arbonne’s forecast by 1,000 percent. It also has built credibility for getting more men into the business.

“It was about really monitoring the forecast and then ensuring that we took a risk, but managed a win. I think as a company we did a really great job as a team,” D’Arminio says. As for Napier, she loved being proved wrong.

Simplification

Direct selling is not an easy business; however, it should be simple, and that’s what the Arbonne team sees as its focus in products and promotions. By prioritizing simplification, products are easier for Consultants to understand and sell. They’ve bundled what D’Arminio calls “hero” products in their Genius pack, nightly resurfacing pads and nightly resurfacing solution, to create an easy system without overlap of ingredients or benefits. “Coupled together, they tackle all your anti-aging and skincare needs. That has created great resonance and clarity for our Consultants,” he says.


“We’re great learners here. We’re open. We absolutely understand that we can’t force-fit product. It has to meet the consumer needs and expectations in order to be successful.”
—Michael D’Arminio, Chief Creative Officer


Arbonne also seeks to simplify compensation, incentives and promotions for the Consultant field. “Where I think we lost our way a bit was that our promotion plans were too complicated. Part of why we’ve been successful at Arbonne is because we didn’t throw everything out and start over,” Napier says. Instead, they worked with a combination of old legacy promotions and newer ones. That, however, is now changing.

Ashley Good, a nine-year Arbonne corporate veteran once in charge of legal and compliance, has become the architect for simplifying field compensation and in November 2015 took on the role of Chief Sales Officer. “She’s on a major crusade to simplify our promotion and comp plan even further and make it even easier for our Consultants to do business,” Napier says.

Good brings a completely fresh eye on the business, according to D’Arminio. “It is much needed and she has already created such great momentum with the field as well as with our colleagues and employees,” he says.

“There are so many things that our field needs to juggle that we really want to make sure as we’re designing incentives, specials for consumers and their clients, and ways to get started in the business, that they align well with our compensation plan and keep motivating the field in the right way. It’s really just doing all the fine-tuning necessary to remove the noise,” Good says.

“We work very hard to, above all else, do no harm, but also be sure that what we create going forward is very sustainable and is built to handle the future for all of our Consultants,” Napier says.

February 01, 2016

Company Focus

MakeUp Eraser: Fueled by Passion

by Lin Grensing-Pophal


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


Company Profile

Founded: 2012
Headquarters: Peoria, Arizona
Co-Founders: Daniel McCarthy, CEO; Elexsis McCarthy, Chief Operations Officer; Tanya Anderson, Chief Compliance Officer
Products: Makeup removal cloths, facial cleansers and mascara
2015 Revenue: $10 million to $11 million


Daniel McCarthyDaniel McCarthy
 Elexsis McCarthy Elexsis McCarthy

It’s a common evening ritual: taking off the day’s makeup. There are plenty of cleansers, oils, creams, lotions and lubricants designed to make this messy job easier and to ensure that all of the many products that have been applied, from foundation to mascara and everything in between, are completely removed. Effective makeup removal helps skin stay healthy, avoids breakouts and provides a clean slate for the next day’s makeup canvas.

Enter MakeUp Eraser™, a product designed to vastly simplify this daily ritual down to a polyester cloth and water.

The Magic Cloth

The Original MakeUp Eraser™ was founded in 2012 by Daniel and Elexsis (Lexi) McCarthy. Prior to launching the company, the couple worked as brokers for a major retailer, and was experiencing a great deal of success, until the retailer decided to pull the plug on the project. “Because of the relationship with our partners we had established, we relinquished ownership and walked away from a lot of money,” Daniel says. At that point, he says, “I really didn’t know what to do. I was kind of in a deep, dark depression about what they had done.”

It was a critical point in the McCarthys’ lives, and their future. Fortuitously, at the point when they decided to wash their hands of what had become a soured relationship, they were poised to help new customers and connections wash their faces of unwanted makeup.

“We had this little miracle cloth that Lexi had been using for years inside her family,” Daniel recalls. “We had started the process of creating a company with it, but we didn’t think anything seriously of it.” It is, he says, precisely because their expectations were so low that they achieved the unexpected success they did.

“It was something I’d been using for about four years before we decided that we really wanted to introduce this as a makeup remover cloth,” Elexsis says. “It just took a little while for it to really wow me, and once it did I realized this is really great! Women need to be able to use this, and we need to share it with as many women as we can.” The cloth is toxin free and made of microfiber, with each fiber thinner than a strand of human hair. With the abundance of surface area, the cloth relies on the electrostatic attraction between ions to pull makeup away from the skin. “You can remove all of your makeup with just water and not have to use any harsh chemicals,” she says.


Early on, as part of its distributor model, which included both retail and direct sales, MakeUp Eraser partnered with its now largest retail distributor, Sephora.


At MakeUp Eraser™, Tanya Anderson, Elexsis’ mother, is also Chief Compliance Officer, which makes it truly a family business. How the development of the cloth came about, Anderson recalls, was that “Lexi came across a material that kind of worked like the MakeUp Eraser™ does. She knew she had something and contacted me to ask if I wanted to be involved. Of course, I jumped on it and said, ‘Yes, I’ll do whatever you need.’ ” Anderson, who owned a car lot, auto repair shop and insurance company at the time, says: “I know a bit about business, and I’m not afraid of work.”

They built the business slowly, not taking on any investors. Instead, they worked hard and reinvested their own money into the company. “We worked for free for about a year and a half,” Daniel says. “We gave our hearts and souls to the company.”

A Turning Point

June 2013 was a critical time for the small company. It’s when the McCarthys met Betsy DeWit, who would later become Chief Marketing Officer of MakeUp Eraser. That June, the McCarthys decided to show their product at a bridal trade show in Phoenix. It was their first trade show, and DeWit’s as well.

“The gravitational pull to their booth was unbelievable,” DeWit recalls. “It was very tempting to see what it was all about.” She bought three MakeUp Erasers at the show before heading home to South Dakota; shortly after, she called to order 100 more.

“The first 100 went super-fast,” she says. “It just spread like crazy in South Dakota.”

Soon DeWit realized that the potential was beyond her ability to sell individually. “Daniel and I spent a lot of time on the phone talking about how we could do this. I couldn’t sell across the entire state of South Dakota; it was just too much to cover.” She committed to spending a year traveling around the country and attending trade shows to see what kind of interest she could generate among other potential distributors. “Within no time, we were in all 50 states,” she says.

In July 2015, the company formally became a direct sales organization, a move that was unexpected for DeWit and the McCarthys. None of them had prior direct sales experience, and yet, the move turned out to be the right one for them and for their growing team of distributors.


“We needed MakeUp Eraser to be the prominent name for removing makeup; Sephora gave us that ability to move quicker and faster, and it has actually helped our distributors.”
—Tanya Anderson, Chief Compliance Officer


“We have had a lot of people just in this last three months who are seeing explosive growth on their teams,” DeWit says. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

The product really took off after the McCarthys and DeWit connected. Soon DeWit was recruiting other women to sell the cloths.

“Before we knew it, she had 22 women who wanted to sell the MakeUp Eraser,” Anderson says. “That’s when the wheels really started going, and we knew what direction we were headed. Before we knew it, we had some 1,500 affiliates and 600 to 700 distributors.”

Then there was another turning point: Sephora called.


“The key is that our distributors have subsidiary sales channels that they can plug into. They can go small-, medium- or large-size reseller with corporate approval, and they will receive commission and qualify at four levels.”
—Elexsis McCarthy, Chief Operations Officer


Direct Sales—With a Twist

The company has patents pending on its MakeUp Eraser and is pursuing patents with its newer products, including AmpliLash, an amplifying mascara, and Pozz’D daily cleanser and power mist. The patents are important, but, Daniel says, “Our real power is in our brand.”

When interest and demand in the products began growing, the company founders recognized that they needed to capitalize on the interest and get their products out there as widely as possible to build the brand and prevent competitors from seizing an opportunity—and some of the market share. Daniel says that, early on, they reached out to Sephora because they felt it was a company that validated the MakeUp Eraser brand. When Sephora called back, he says he and the other co-founders were eager to see the true test of their distributor model, which included both retail and direct sales. Based on this model, Sephora is not in direct competition with distributors, as it sells MakeUp Eraser products at the same suggested retail price.

“We knew we needed to get it out to the masses as fast as we could in order to avoid knockoffs,” Anderson says. “We needed MakeUp Eraser to be the prominent name for removing makeup; Sephora gave us that ability to move quicker and faster, and it has actually helped our distributors,” she says. Distributors say that the ability to tell others that Sephora carries the brand adds credibility and builds demand.

Initially, Daniel says, the company was set up as an affiliate program. Then when it officially launched as a direct sales organization in 2015, the founders chose to take a different approach than the majority of organizations. “One thing we couldn’t figure out when we first launched is, ‘Why can’t our products be inside of retailers and be in the hands of distributors or consultants?’ ” Daniel says. So they created reseller relationships with distributors. “Our distributors can go to small retailers, like nail salons, hair salons, tanning salons, boutiques and doctors’ offices, and create relationships and receive commissions,” Daniel says.

Elexsis says, “The key is that our distributors have subsidiary sales channels that they can plug into. They can go small-, medium- or large-size reseller with corporate approval, and they will receive commission and qualify at four levels.”

Sephora is MakeUp Eraser’s largest retail distributor. “They’re very big in Europe and China,” says Daniel, who adds, “We’ve established relationships with about 26 countries around the globe. Some of them act as exclusive distributors, some of them act as large resellers.”


“I think the reason word-of-mouth spreads so quickly is that, initially, everybody is skeptical. I think when people are skeptical about something and it actually works, they end up telling their friends.”
—Betsy DeWit, Chief Marketing Officer


The arrangement, they both acknowledge, can be tough to sell, and they recognize that it’s not the norm in the direct sales industry. But once distributors understand how it works, and how they can benefit, they like the opportunities these relationships can offer.

“We’ve just achieved 5,000 independent contractors who have signed up to become distributors,” Daniel says, “and that number is continuing to grow quickly.”

Supporting Distributors

The company contracts with manufacturers to create their products, but everything else—including fulfillment—is done internally, Daniel says. “We do not outsource anything; customer service and fulfillment are in-house,” he says. “That goes along with the philosophy that it’s crucial to us that we treat our distributors as business owners. I can’t do that if I have a third-party fulfillment center or third-party customer service center. When a consultant has an issue and they call in, we hear about those issues as they’re coming in so we can immediately react.”

Distributors are supported in other ways as well. Because of their background in franchising, the McCarthys recognized the importance of detailed documentation to run a business effectively. “We invested a tremendous amount of capital in the internal documentation that comes with the distributor’s package,” Daniel says. That includes a website that distributors can customize, weekly live video webcasts, an unedited and authentic social media strategy monitored 24/7, sophisticated email software and a custom back office to communicate with the field. More than anything, he says, the company is working to bridge the gap in terms of direct communication between the decision-makers and distributors.

Much of Anderson’s focus is on supporting distributors, and it’s a role she loves. “You’re never working a day if you’re doing something you love,” she says. “I am so passionate about this and about our distributors. I take care of them; if they need something, they call me.” Anderson says she answers her phone at all hours of the day and night. Those on the East Coast might need something at 8 a.m. their time, 5 a.m. her time. “So I answer my phone at 5 a.m., and I answer it on Saturdays and Sundays, seven days a week.”

Resellers like Sephora, and the many smaller retail outlets that help to sell MakeUp Eraser, are important, but the company executives know that it is their distributors who drive the company’s growth.

“If you treat them well, they’re going to stay with you,” Anderson says. “We have a lot of ladies who came in on the ground floor and have not left us. They’ve been with us since day one.”


“We worked for free on the company for about a year and a half. We gave our hearts and souls to the company.”
—Daniel McCarthy, CEO


Moving Forward

MakeUp Eraser plans to continue its growth, but in a measured and strategic way. The co-founders will continue to invest in the company themselves, while avoiding debt. And they’ll continue to introduce new products to augment their produce lines and meet the needs of distributors and end users.

The newest product is a skincare line—Pozz’d—which will be released by the end of the year. The line features a cleanser, cream and mist.

Their products resonate, DeWit says, because they work. As she looks back on her early experiences selling MakeUp Eraser, she says, “I think the reason word-of-mouth spreads so quickly is that, initially, everybody is skeptical. When people are skeptical about something and it actually works, they end up telling their friends.” That, she says, along with the simplicity of the product, is what really helped to get the product into the hands of women around the globe.

A simple idea fueled by the passion of innovative leaders and the support of loyal distributors has proven, for MakeUp Eraser, to be a winning combination.

February 01, 2016

Stock Watch

Stock Watch, February 2016


February 01, 2016

DSA News

Direct Selling Market Insights: Helping You Make More Informed Business Decisions

by Ben Gamse



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


One of the primary benefits of the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) membership is our member-directed research program that provides unique insights and business intelligence about the direct selling channel you can’t find anywhere else. DSA’s research shares best practices and measures Key Performance Indicators that can help direct selling companies address business issues, as well as provide information on current salesforce members’ attitudes and opinions toward the channel. Specifically, the 2016 Growth & Outlook (G&O) Survey, now in the field, will provide a thorough understanding of the size and scope of the direct selling channel in the United States for 2015. This annual market-sizing survey also identifies emerging trends within the industry, places industry performance within national and global macroeconomic contexts, and provides projections for industry growth.

Last year’s Growth & Outlook Survey indicated that the United States continues to be the largest global market for direct sales, with the channel boasting record levels of growth both in terms of retail sales and number of people involved. The survey also provided key demographic data on direct selling (women represented nearly 75 percent of the salesforce), tracked the performance of party-plan relative to person-to-person strategies (person-to-person sales strategy represented more than 70 percent of retail sales), and showed that the wellness and services sectors experienced the largest growth. [See charts for reference]

Direct selling member companies utilize the operating benchmarks provided by DSA’s G&O Survey to measure their effectiveness in the marketplace and gain insights to help them find their competitive edge.

“We compare our metrics to our peers and look for opportunities to realign our strategic goals for continued growth,” says Pammie Strickland, Senior Manager of Analytics at Ambit Energy and Chairman of DSA’s Industry Research Committee. “We are constantly monitoring key indicators and trends that are most relevant to our industry, particularly when comparing labor, wages and sales percentages to cost indices.”

Diagrams

Don Karn, Vice President of North American Markets at Stemtech International Inc., adds, “The annual DSA survey allows us to see industry changes year over year, and that can help us as we plan for our own company’s growth…. It is always good for a company to keep its finger on the pulse of our industry. We at Stemtech review entries in the annual survey, looking for ideas and suggestions from direct selling companies that may lead to some fine tuning as we build for the future.”

In addition to providing data to describe the channel, a direct selling company’s participation ensures that the company will receive a copy of the results report, full of market intelligence, which can help the company better understand the channel as well as defining benchmarks in the effort to make more informed business decisions.

The quality of the G&O results report and the data it contains is proportional to the level of participation from direct selling companies. DSA is pleased that the level of participation in the G&O Survey has increased over the last several years, and we look forward to it continuing to grow. For more information about DSA research, visit www.dsa.org/benefits/research.


Ben GamseBen Gamse is Manager of Market Research for the U.S. Direct Selling Association.

February 01, 2016

Top Desk

Defining a Legacy through Partnership

by Heather Chastain


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


Everyone you meet in this business has their own unique story of how they found the industry or, more likely, how it found them.

I found this industry quite by accident. The company that hired me to be the production manager for their lipstick manufacturing department just happened to be in direct selling. I knew nothing about the industry and didn’t really understand it until I was sent to my first national convention. Like most who attend a national convention for the first time, I was awestruck. And hooked. I saw first-hand the power that we have to transform people—their belief in themselves, their optimism for the future, and their active engagement in their lives. As I looked into the faces and heard the hearts of those who were building their businesses with us, I saw clearly how it helped them to be better.

As home office leaders, we are often called upon to tell our “why” stories of how we found the industry and why we stay. Like our field leaders, we each have our own reasons. But I have found that those of us who stay in the industry generally have one thing in common, and it has everything to do with the people we serve. 

Some of us are highly motivated by the significant financial impact we help people achieve, some are more focused on the life experiences we provide. For me personally, it’s all about the fulfillment of potential. When someone finally discovers that they are capable of achieving so much more than they ever thought possible, they overflow with confidence and pride. When that realization clicks for someone, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. And when it clicks for millions of people united by one common purpose, the potential is staggering! 

But to me, the real question we should be asking ourselves is not necessarily how we got here, or why we stay. The real question we should be asking ourselves is how we will leave this industry. What will we do today to ensure that our company, our industry and the millions of field leaders we serve are truly better for knowing us?

The desire to create a lasting impact and the commitment to help people to unlock their potential are what led me to Shaklee. From its inception 60 years ago, Shaklee has understood the value in uniting for a common purpose. We know the ripple effect of social influence and the power that it has, and we realized long ago that this industry has the scale to create real and meaningful change in the world. Not just to build successful businesses, but also, as an example, to make our planet a cleaner, healthier place to live. We have used our influence over the years to rally the Shaklee community to plant over 1 million trees, have become the first company in the world to obtain Climate Neutral™ certification and totally offset our CO2 emissions, and have helped millions of individuals lead healthier, more productive lives.

Through our business opportunity we make entrepreneurship accessible to everyone, and through our products and our genuine commitment to the earth (no greenwashing here!) we also help create the foundation for a longer, healthier life—something that is available to everyone who wants to join us. 

As Shaklee enters its 60th year in business, we are naturally thinking about our legacy. Milestone anniversaries are good times to look back, but as one of just a handful of companies in the U.S. Direct Selling Association with more than 50 years of heritage, simply celebrating the past would miss the point entirely. We must look forward. We understand that ultimately our legacy is not just what we have done before but what we will do in the decades to come. 

A rich heritage and long legacy are wonderful things, but we also need to ensure we stay relevant to the next generation of leaders. Shaklee was founded on the principle of Living in Harmony with Nature®. This founding position, quite fortuitously, is even more on trend and relevant today than it was in 1956. 

Since taking on the task of helping to grow a company like Shaklee, at the advent of our 60th year in business, I’ve received a lot of questions about our plans. Friends and competitors alike (often one and the same) are curious about the future, knowing that when one company in this industry is strengthened, we are all stronger. 

One thing I know for certain, it is only through a consistent partnership with our field leaders that we will have success. No matter what we may tell the media or our boards of directors or put on our resumes, no one in a home office has ever grown sales in this industry. Growth always comes from our field leaders. Always.

When faced with this opportunity, it can feel like the right thing to do to just listen to the under-30 set. You can easily convince yourself that they are the future and that’s “where we need to go.” But when you do only that, you will miss out on all the wisdom and history that got you where you are.

Conversely, when you just listen to the most senior people in the organization, you will miss out on the relevance and freshness that comes from those newer to your company. So, of course, the answer is to listen as much and as often and to as many distributors, leaders and customers as you can. And then take action! We certainly will have no shortage of action in the months and years to come. 

Of course we are going to keep ensuring that our incredible story of environmental commitment and Living in Harmony with Nature is told well and often. 

Of course we are going to continue to upgrade our digital experiences, focusing on leader-driven apps that truly deliver on performance and are so easy to use.

Of course we will keep delivering products that help you feel younger longer, keeping our industry and our company strong with science backing up every single claim we make about every single product, every single time.

But we are going to try a lot of new things too. As an industry, we tend to be leaders in product innovation, but we are often following behind our online and retail counterparts with inventive, effective and on-point marketing messaging and delivery systems. The cost of experimentation in this digital age is negligible, and we are going to take full advantage of that by experimenting, shaking things up and generally making people take notice. Not every idea will work, not every campaign will be effective, but this digital age gives us more power than ever to take what’s working for a pocket of field leaders, roll it out more broadly and test along the way to see what works and what doesn’t. 

The most important thing we will do is partner with our field leaders. Not through lip service or perfunctory conference calls, but through a transparent, open partnership through which we will strategically build together.

Through that partnership, a willingness to take risks and a commitment to freshness, fun, and our founding values, Shaklee will define its legacy. Not the last 60 years, but in the next. I can’t wait to see how far we will go… together.


Heather ChastainHeather Chastain is President of Shaklee U.S. and Canada.

February 01, 2016

Working Smart

Online Payments and Fraud: What You Don’t Know Could Cost You Millions

by Polly A. Bauer


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


As network marketers position their businesses for global e-commerce expansion, they’re finding there is no such thing as business as usual.

According to a recent trend report from eMarketer, smartphones are making mobile shopping easier and more efficient, and that will not only translate to an increase in mobile buying but also drive up the number of inbound calls to businesses. Get ready. As mobile commerce rises so, too, will online fraud. This has huge implications from an accountability and responsibility standpoint, especially in Europe. In other words, caveat venditor—let the seller beware.

Two major shifts in the last quarter of 2015 drastically changed the liability for protecting consumer information online. First, the mandated implementation of EMV chip cards in the U.S. last October moved fraudster attacks from in-person to online stores. Second, the nullification of the Safe Harbor agreement between the European Union and the U.S. Department of Congress upended long-standing best practices for data handling and security. To better understand the depth and impact of these global game changers on the future, we need to take a step back and review the histories as well as present implications.


With the implementation of EMV chip cards in the United States last October, the liability for fraudulent transactions shifted from the issuing bank to the merchant.


EMV Chip Cards Escalate Online Fraud

In 2002, European merchants began the migration to chip cards and EMV became the standard for chip technology across the pond. While international travelers worried less about their credit cards being cloned and counterfeited during in-person transactions, online fraud rates soared, increasing 97 percent between 2004 and 2008, according to Bank of International Settlements, Financial Fraud Action, BI Intelligence.

With the implementation of EMV chip cards in the United States last October, the liability for fraudulent transactions shifted from the issuing bank to the merchant. Although EMV technology makes in-person transactions safer, online merchants can’t accept chip and pin cards, yet they still have 100 percent liability for Internet fraud.

The impact to network marketers is significant when you consider that the estimated rise in fraudulent transactions for companies doing business online is now over 40 percent. Couple that with the fact that nearly 80 percent of online merchants weren’t prepared or weren’t knowledgeable enough to put in system security measures to authenticate a transaction. And penalties for businesses include being placed on the card association’s excessive chargeback list and incurring additional fees per transaction.

In addition, businesses that rely on autoship revenue can expect to have increased declined transactions, which can result in lost business. Anticipating these increases and fraud losses, bank card associations and major merchants have been working toward anti-fraud solutions.

Risk-Based Approach to Authentication Is Key

Authentication describes a process where the card holder’s identity is verified in “real time” by the merchant. Although the process is not new, the technology driving it has improved drastically over the last 24 months. This is a win-win-win for issuers, cardholders and retailers.

The leading solution that protects online merchants from high declines, fraudulent transactions and increased fraud chargebacks is the authentication protocol 3D Secure. Services based on this protocol have been adopted by Visa (Verified by Visa), MasterCard, (MasterCard Secure Code), American Express (SafeKey) and JCB International (J/Secure).

This additional security layer for online credit and debit transactions gives merchants more control over the approval process and protects them from fraud losses. For issuers it reduces fraud rates, and for cardholders it’s a safer, more efficient online checkout process. Bottom line? More transactions, higher conversion rates and increased sales equal satisfied customers. Not to mention a reduction in customer support calls, which translates to reduced costs.

Safe Harbor Demise De-Escalates Global Expansion

The Safe Harbor agreement was inked over 15 years ago to ensure protection of personal data being transferred from within the European Economic Area (EEA) to the United States. The EEA comprises 31 countries, and the agreement protected U.S. merchants from having to comply with each individual country’s privacy laws in addition to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS) compliance.

Last October, the Safe Harbor act was no longer honored by the European Court of Justice. The act was declared a privacy risk, and businesses were asked to comply with stricter privacy regulations that state any personally identifiable information of a European (EU) citizen must stay in Europe. It cannot be stored, viewed or processed outside of the EU country. The penalty to a company for breaking EU privacy laws are purported to be as high as 5 percent of the company’s global revenue.

According to CNN Money and other business news reports, the European court ruling is part of a pro-privacy initiative to protect Europeans from “mass indiscriminate surveillance and interception” of personal data by the U.S. authorities and is a “direct consequence of revelations made by whistleblower and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.”

Although large technology companies like Microsoft, Google and Amazon are reported to have workarounds in place for data transfers beyond Safe Harbor and a solution for major merchants doing business in Europe, smaller companies and consumers could experience significant challenges going forward.

Best practice recommendations for any network marketing company doing business in Europe is to consult a global legal advisor for clarity and to develop a next-step strategy for a more restrictive approach to data transfer and the handling of European data.


The leading solution that protects online merchants from high declines, fraudulent transactions and increased fraud chargebacks is the authentication protocol 3D Secure.


Authentication for Every Transaction a Must

Since almost all consumer trends involve the Internet, “many aspects of our physical lives are merging with our online habits: shopping, working, socializing, watching TV, studying, traveling, listening to music, eating and exercising.” These are just a few examples from the December 2015 Ericsson Consumer Insight Summary Report, based on a global research program that’s been studying consumer behavior in over 40 countries and 15 megacities for 20 years.

We don’t really need research to tell us this or that the future of personal selling and downline recruiting for direct sellers is already online or that as e-commerce continues to grow so does the number of fraudulent card purchases—and with it chargebacks. But we do need to be ready for it.

Authentication is the key to consumer confidence and to shifting liability from the merchant to the card issuer on the chargeback. Merchants currently using authentication protocols in each transaction are reporting an increase in sales, the ability to challenge and control the transaction authorization process, a reduction in processing costs (interchange) and a stronger relationship with issuing banks.

Now is the perfect time to build a strategy, a business case and an implementation plan for new authentication standards that confirm the identity of the buyer at the time of purchase. Transactions processed using authentication protocol are triple crown winners; the transactions qualify for chargeback protection and a hefty discount on interchange fees. Make 2016 your year to be fraud lean.


Polly BauerWith more than 35 years in the credit industry, Polly A. Bauer currently serves as CEO of Polly Bauer & Associates, Founding Chairman and Board Member for Direct Response Forum, a Board Advisor to the CNP-Europe, and as Payments Advisor and Director to multiple tech and direct sales organizations.

February 01, 2016

Working Smart

Is Cash Really King? 5 Unexpected Effects of Tangible Rewards

by Casey LaRocca


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


Many companies rely on incentive programs to retain and motivate their salesforce. However, creating an effective incentive program can make a tremendous difference in the success of a salesforce, and in turn, in the success of the entire company.

With that in mind, what is the best way to motivate your salesforce and help them experience joy while doing it? What is the best way to tap into the hearts and minds of your salesforce? The answers to these questions are not only key to your bottom line, but also to the emotional connection to your brand.

Let’s back up. The idea of “sell more, earn more” is fundamental for almost all sales jobs. The more you sell, the more you can deposit into the bank. However, when you ask your salesforce to perform at a higher level, psychological experts have learned that tangible rewards like merchandise and travel are both more motivational and more cost-effective than cash.

Cash Rewards: Why Not?

Cash unquestionably has its place in this world, with bonuses, salary increases, profit sharing, etc. However, the problem is when you reward your salesforce with cash as a special incentive, it gets mixed in with the rest of their money. It then becomes fair game for paying bills or buying groceries, rather than used to “reward” themselves. Giving cash as a gift means there’s no emotional connection, your people become dependent on it and it’s more expensive. Cash costs a lot more to deliver, and historically it has not produced the results companies have expected. Why? The biggest reason is that cash is not memorable. There is no emotional connection to cash in a paycheck. There is no moment to share. Cash rewards are simply deposited and forgotten.

On the other side of the coin, people need to be fairly compensated, but with cash-only incentives, companies are missing out on a huge opportunity to emotionally connect with their salesforce. According to many studies, when people are asked what they most want and need in an incentive program, their answer is cash—almost always. However, statistics and research tell a very different story.

Surprising Impact of Non-Cash Rewards

People are far more motivated to perform at a higher level when offered merchandise or travel as a reward.  Specifically, as discussed in Right Answer, Wrong Questions featured in SalesForceXP, Scott Jeffery, Ph.D., describes that in performance improvement programs, non-cash rewards are two to three times more effective than cash rewards. Why? I have outlined five unexpected reasons.


According to many studies, when people are asked what they most want and need in an incentive program, their answer is cash—almost always. However, statistics and research tell a very different story.


It’s Much More Memorable

Do you remember what your mother, significant other, or best friend, gave you for last year’s birthday? I do. Do you remember where you were and how you were celebrating when you look at that gift today? I do, too. Why does this matter? Human nature. Emotions. Connections. Memories.

Tangible rewards are tied to an emotion, which is then tied to your brand. The reward is memorable and clearly separated from compensation. It creates a bond between your people and your company. It is a similar bond that is created between your mother (or best friend or significant other) when they give you a special gift on your birthday.

Furthermore, as Scott Jeffery describes in From Art to Science: Why Tangible Non-Cash Rewards Are More Rewarding for You and Your Participants, “people are able to visualize and remember tangible items better than cash, and therefore stay more actively engaged with program goals and objectives.” Participants who visualize rewards have greater goal commitment and therefore have much better performance. For example, visualizing a Tiffany’s necklace or an iWatch as a reward inspires and motivates a salesperson to stick to his or her goal.

It Stimulates Conversation, Competition and Comradery

It’s much more acceptable to chat or brag about a tangible reward as opposed to hush-hush conversation around compensation: “Look what I earned from XYZ Company—a new flat screen TV for our living room! Let’s have movie night!” versus “Look! I have an extra $1,000 in my paycheck this month!” There is a trophy value associated with non-cash rewards, which encourages social reinforcement of the company brand that would otherwise be taboo with a cash reward.

It’s Considered Guilt-Free Shopping

Most people feel guilty rewarding themselves before taking care of mundane financial obligations. However, with a tangible incentive reward, the participant views it as a luxury that he or she would not normally justify buying. Furthermore, when a participant is able to validate the reward, it has much more motivational power. It is also much more difficult to attach a monetary value to a non-cash reward when it is earned; therefore, the focus turns to the positive elements associated with earning the reward rather than any negative emotions, such as how much the item cost. As an example, if you have earned a brand-new flat screen TV from your company’s incentive program, positive emotions surrounding the TV flow: The TV will look great in the living room, the picture quality will be so much better, and this would be a great reason to throw a Super Bowl party! Positive emotions rule.

It Provides Flexibility

Cash can become an entitlement; for instance, if your company starts giving bonuses on a regular basis, your employees will start to depend on it, and they are more likely to spend outside of their means. The problem is if your people do not receive a bonus (due to performance, budget cuts, etc.), they could then become bitter. At that point, the incentive program could have the opposite effect and cause negative emotions toward your company and your brand.


Most people feel guilty rewarding themselves before taking care of mundane financial obligations. However, with a tangible incentive reward, the participant views it as a luxury that he or she would not normally justify buying.


Higher Lift in Sales Using Less Budget

Usually, you will get more bang for your buck when you offer tangible rewards: a higher lift in performance (higher sales) using less budget. Why? Perceived value of merchandise and travel is much greater than cash. When you give someone cash, they know exactly what it is worth. However, when people redeem for tangible items, there is a higher perceived value. Not only that, but tangible rewards also cost less per improvement dollar and provide much financial benefit for companies concerned with ROI. On average, “Non-cash incentives provide a 3:1 Return-On-Investment when compared to cash to get the same performance improvement result,” as noted in People, Performance and Pay by Carla S. O’Dell and Jerry McAdams, and The Compensation Handbook by Lance Berger.

Cash, although it plays a very important role in all organizations, should not be the end-all be-all when motivating people. As discussed above, tangible rewards have much more potential to inspire and motivate powerful and lasting improvement, and they will provide a better return on investment. All in all, a balanced approach to rewards, one that includes cash as compensation, and non-cash as an incentive, is likely to be the best solution to retain and motivate your salesforce.


Casey LaRoccaAs a Strategic Account Executive at The Maritz Reward Studio, Casey LaRocca leverages her operational knowledge to create innovative and impactful rewards programs that drive results.

February 01, 2016

Publisher's Note

See Your Business through a New Consultant’s Eyes

by Lauren Lawley Head



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


In our cover story this month, Nerium International CEO Jeff Olson shared this thought with writer Courtney Roush: “Put yourself in the position of brand-new consultants. 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.” Olson was addressing the importance of high-quality tools for the salesforce, but his reminder that direct selling is fresh and new to so many people with whom we come into contact each day is an important one.

It’s easy to get caught up in the complexity of running a business. Many of you are part of multinational organizations with thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of independent business people representing your brands. The complexity is real, and managing that complexity is critical for the continued success of all involved. At Direct Selling News, one of our goals is to assist with that work, bringing you information, analysis and case studies about what your peers are doing today. But this month, we encourage you to pause and reflect not on managing complexity but on maintaining simplicity. As Olson suggests: Put yourself in the position of brand-new consultants. When you do, we think you’ll identify some simple but powerful ideas. For example:

Keep it simple. Our Company Focus on Arbonne, beginning on page 44, illustrates how important it is to maintain simplicity in the midst of complexity. The company celebrated its 35th anniversary last year and is juggling both international and product line expansions. Yet, at the same time, is working hard to simplify promotions and the compensation plan, as well as to create easy-to-follow product systems.

Keep it fun. One of DSN’s neighbors, Plano, Texas-based WorldVentures, has been having a lot of fun by giving back to communities all over the world. WorldVentures Foundation Executive Director Gwyneth Lloyd discusses the program in an interview beginning on page 8, sharing her thoughts on the benefits of giving direct sellers more opportunities to tap into their philanthropic spirits.

Keep it encouraging. This month’s Company Spotlight, beginning on page 34, shares how AdvoCare has been doing just that. When Founder Charlie Ragus set about the business of creating “advocates who care,” he put investing in the personal development of those advocates—and celebrating their successes—front and center. “The times I saw him get emotional,” Vice President of U.S. Sales Training and Field Development Rick Loy remembers, “were when he heard stories, for example, about a mother who now had the energy to get off the couch and play with her kids, or a young couple who had been struggling financially but now were able to earn a little extra income with their AdvoCare business.”

How did you feel when you first began working in the direct selling channel? Whether in the field or home office, those early days were undoubtedly exciting and filled with opportunity. Tap into that energy, and keep things simple, for it is at the core of success.

All the best,

Lauren Lawley Head
Publisher and Editor in Chief

P.S. You have just a few more weeks to participate in our 2016 Global 100 and North America research projects! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have your company take its rightful place on these lists. Visit www.dsnglobal100.com to complete a short survey and get your ticket to the celebration dinner April 7.

February 01, 2016

Regional Contributors

Global and Local: WorldVentures Voluntourism Sparks Philanthropy at Home

by DSN Staff



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


WorldVentures is going places. More precisely, the group travel agency’s 450,000 members are going places, presenting a rare opportunity to give back in communities around the world.

Plano-based WorldVentures, now celebrating 10 years in business, has tapped into that opportunity through voluntourism, or group travel with a social purpose. VolunTours are the flagship initiative of the WorldVentures Foundation, created in 2010 to advance the company’s mission to create more fun, freedom and fulfillment in people’s lives. As WorldVentures has expanded—annual revenue rose from $195 million to $352 million in 2014—so too has its approach to philanthropy. Alongside voluntourism the foundation supports an increasing number of local, representative-led volunteer projects. WorldVentures also partners with Nancy Lieberman Charities to build state-of-the-art basketball courts, called DreamCourts, primarily at Boys & Girls Clubs in low-income communities across the U.S. We sat down with Executive Director Gwyneth Lloyd to talk about honing the foundation’s initiatives and keeping in step with a fast-growing, visionary company. 

DSN: Could you provide some background on the WorldVentures Foundation and VolunTours?

GL: The foundation began as the founders’ [Wayne Nugent and Mike Azcue] idea. They wanted to have impact travel as well as build a travel MLM. The kind of people they are and the way they think is: How can we make a difference while we’re doing whatever we do? This new, somewhat European piece called voluntourism—which, by the way, is in the Oxford dictionary as of 2015—was for kids in their gap years or Europeans who were going to take a whole month and go dig trenches in Nicaragua or something, but it wasn’t the typical American experience. We owned it and then started to ask how we could make it match our membership. From there we developed VolunTours as a vacation option. For example, our members can choose to go on a cruise, a ski trip, a wine tour or a VolunTour. It’s a part of the portfolio.

DSN: The foundation started off with VolunTours, but now you’ve added Volunteer Days or Service Excursions, as well as DreamCourts. What gave rise to Volunteer Days?

GL: Volunteer Days go back to DreamTrips by WorldVentures. People would ask if they could do a little volunteering during the excursions. If you have a big group of people coming together, about 10 percent will want to participate—not everybody does, but when members do take part in the projects, the volunteering is what they remember most from the trip, even if they had great parties and stayed up all night and everything….

WorldVenturesWorldVentures Representatives visit a Hug It Forward Bottle School in Guatemala.

As the company grew globally, local reps and members wanted to begin doing philanthropic work locally, and so we designed a Volunteer Day they can organize. It’s grassroots, because we could never manage that volume, and now we’re really doing a surge on that concept because we believe that’s where the growth will be—people making a difference in their communities, with their friends and family. We looked at the WorldVentures mission, which revolves around fun, freedom and fulfillment, and how to actualize that both locally and globally. We wanted to give people a local impact capability and inspire them to do good in their own community.

DSN: When you have a groundswell of interest, as in the case of Volunteer Days, it can be tricky to channel that energy while also staying true to your mission. What has helped you tap into that interest without losing momentum along the way?

GL: In most cases you have a cause and you’re a nonprofit, but we come in as a nonprofit affiliated with a travel company that is also an MLM, which brings its own energy. I sought first to put in the structure of a well-run nonprofit, because there’s a lot of noise. Everyone’s excited. Everyone has mile-a-minute ideas. Somebody wants you to sponsor a ballet class with cookies, while somebody else wants to go build a disabled child center in the middle of Cambodia. You’ve got this incredible range of passions, but you’ve got to keep asking, “What is our purpose? What is our mission?” and be authentic in the delivery. By having the structure, you can now play the game…. Our job is to keep the volunteer experience authentic globally, and to do that we have to focus on keeping everyone moving in the same direction.

DSN: What do you do when a Representative proposes a volunteer project for a DreamCourt, meaning they would lead fundraising?

GL: We try to control the number we deal with, because everyone wants a court in their local community, and we want them to have it, but we have to identify who’s got the leadership involved and the stamina to launch within the next three years and stay with it. We get involved when we see that they’ve really got the fundraising bug. We have training materials and give them one-on-one support when it comes to execution.

DSN: What kind of charitable activities are taking place on the corporate side?

GL: In the past three years, we’ve been working to align our organization with Boys & Girls Clubs…. We recently did a hugely successful toy drive for the Plano club. Volunteers within the organization also helped us with the foundation’s #GivingTuesday push. They came in and took part in our communications that day, and a certain percentage of the money we raised came from our staff, rather than solely external donations. Several employees also give monthly through our recurring donation program. There’s really been a shift in focus, and we decided last quarter to adopt a local Boys & Girls Club and begin measuring our impact there.

DSN: What kind of volunteer projects have you tied into UNITED 2016, the company’s annual convention?

GL: We’re expecting about 22,000 people, and we’re organizing the largest Volunteer Day we’ve ever done in the U.S., with 350 people. Those are the two hands-on things we’ll be doing in Orlando, Florida.

We’re also celebrating the company’s 10th anniversary with a focus on Hug It Forward’s Bottle School program in Guatemala, which has been the foundation’s biggest investment in people, both in terms of volunteering and finances. Over the years Hug It Forward has been our largest single partner. Through their work in developing countries, communities collect bottles to build Bottle Schools [schools built using plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic trash] and teach local children about the environment. The land is the community’s, and the teacher is provided by the government. Once all that has come together, we go in and fund the building of the school….

WorldVenturesConstruction begins on a Bottle School in Guatemala.

We were at 64 schools completed this summer, and for our anniversary year, in 2016, we’re looking to complete our hundredth school as part of our Journey to 100 initiative. Guatemala has been our “country of change” for the past five years. The 100 schools we’ve built there will have created a legacy for the community that was otherwise impossible. These are children who studied under trees or not at all. We’re now 50 percent funded to reach our goal, and I hope to finish that during UNITED.

DSN: You now have five years behind you. What is the WorldVentures Foundation looking to accomplish in the next five years?

GL: We want to be part of a larger WorldVentures Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) picture. The foundation is now part of CSR at the holdings level. Our goal is to take this philanthropic heart and start measuring it against more than just what we do in the world, but how we behave in the world—from procurement to our tourist behaviors to how we share information and benefits with employees. By proving itself philanthropically, it’s also opened up this new model, and I’m going to be heading that up going forward.

For the foundation, under that, we want to really explode the Volunteer Day concept. We want people to do volunteer work locally as much as we can get them activated to do it…. Our mission is to share our bounty, our abundance, with the world. We want one rep to take 20 people who have no idea who WorldVentures is and go do something wonderful for their community. That’s the message that’s left behind—who is this organization that does so much in the world?—and it becomes an attractor.

February 01, 2016

News in Brief

News in Brief, February 2016



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


Jeunesse Reports Annual Sales of $1 Billion in 2015

JeunesseJeunesse corporate headquarters in Heathrow, Florida.

Jeunesse has set a new benchmark for direct selling companies looking to achieve billion-dollar revenue. The skincare and nutrition company reports that annual sales surpassed $1 billion in 2015, its sixth year of business.

“Our success is the direct result of the hard work, professionalism and dedication of our amazing network of Jeunesse Distributors around the world,” Wendy Lewis, Founder and COO, said in a statement. “I congratulate each and every one of them for helping Jeunesse reach this important milestone.”

Wendy and her husband, Randy Ray, CEO, founded Jeunesse in 2009 with flagship products that remain top sellers, including the brand’s Reserve antioxidant supplement and Luminesce skincare line. Since inception the company has averaged 100 percent growth year-over-year, but in 2015 revenue skyrocketed 162 percent to $1.1 billion. In the same year, Jeunesse doubled its corporate staff to about 700 and relocated to a 130,000-square-foot headquarters in Heathrow, Florida. The company also opened “Jeunesse West,” a logistics hub in Draper, Utah, with 150 staff.

Jeunesse is one of several young companies powering through the ranks of the DSN Global 100, an annual list of the top revenue-generating direct selling companies in the world. In 2015, Jeunesse shared the No. 38 spot with home fragrance brand Scentsy, both companies having posted revenue of $419 million in 2014. Just 16 companies on the list have topped $1 billion in revenue, half of them U.S. firms.

Thanks to an early emphasis on building an international infrastructure, Jeunesse sells its anti-aging products—collectively dubbed the Youth Enhancement System (Y.E.S.)—through independent distributors in 121 countries. The company’s strategy of growing widely rather than deeply has proven to be one of its greatest strengths, and greatest challenges, according to Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis.

“In adapting to a variety of local cultures, keeping our message tight from a marketing standpoint has been key,” Scott notes. “Since every culture is so different, having one consistent message out there in the field that aligns with our brand promise is essential to create the company culture we have.”

Greater China, comprising Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, is the company’s top region. Scott also singled out Thailand and the U.S. as leading markets, but stressed that the company sees plenty of untapped potential around the world. In Japan and Korea, for example, revenue is hovering at roughly $2 million per month. The company also reports healthy growth in Europe and Latin America, where Jeunesse is gearing up to launch in Brazil this April.

Management points to the company’s technology prowess as another critical driver of growth. Founders Randy and Wendy have brought to bear their own expertise in the technology sector, including the fields of medical software and computer hardware. Jeunesse distributors use tailor-made technology centered on the “J-World” marketing system, comprised of back office, social and mobile components.

“Investing in the right technological infrastructure from the beginning while expanding globally has allowed us to reach this level and positions us to continue to grow from $1 billion and beyond,” said Randy.

Moving into 2016, leadership is taking steps to establish Jeunesse as a mainstream brand. “I feel like we’ve done a great job in attracting network marketing professionals and people who have been doing this 30-plus years. They have great leadership, but a big initiative for any company is to get your brand into the mainstream,” said Scott. “We’ve got a brand and products that we’re very proud of, and we’ve put several different strategic initiatives in place.”


Mary Kay Patent Count Exceeds 1,200 after Prolific 2015

Mary KayMary Kay corporate headquarters in Addison, Texas.

Mary Kay logged a banner year in product innovation, having secured 130 new patents in 2015. The manufacturer of makeup and skincare products now lays claim to more than 1,200 utility and design patents.

A number of anti-aging technologies and product formulations were among this year’s patents, including Mary Kay’s TimeWise Repair Volu-Firm Lifting Serum and Volu-Firm Eye Renewal Cream, as well as TimeWise Body Targeted-Action Toning Lotion. The beauty brand also was awarded design patents for its Cityscape his and her fragrance bottles and Lash Intensity Mascara, among others.

More than formalities or safeguards, new patents serve as catalysts for further discovery, according to Mary Kay’s John Wiseman, Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property and Innovation. “The patent process spurs innovation. Because we can protect our inventions, we have an incentive to continue inventing great things.”

Mary Kay’s extensive patent library is the result of more than 500,000 research and consumer tests conducted by the company each year. The beauty brand is laying the foundation for future advances with the construction of a new global manufacturing and R&D complex near its corporate headquarters in North Texas. Completion of the facility is projected for the first quarter of 2018.


Young Living Foundation Tops $1 Million in 2015 Giving

Looking back on 2015, the Young Living Foundation reports more than $1 million in cash and products donated throughout the year.

The philanthropic arm of Young Living Essential Oils LLC advances the company’s mission to bring its essential oils to every home in the world. In doing so, the foundation supports numerous local projects and partnerships across the U.S., as well as five large-scale initiatives in other regions of the globe. Young Living ensures that 100 percent of incoming donations directly support those projects by covering all of the foundation’s administrative costs.

Among the foundation’s major initiatives is the Young Living Academy in Chongon, Ecuador, near one of the company’s farms. Young Living built the school in 2009 and continues to support it, partly through an ongoing “Sponsor a Child” program. Over the past 18 months, Young Living members also donated more than $250,000 to build a high school at Young Living Academy, complete with classrooms, a library, a teacher workroom, a science lab and bathrooms.

Several ongoing efforts are focused on Uganda, where the Young Living Foundation supports three nonprofit organizations. A partnership with Sole Hope helps to address the sanitation needs of children by providing durable shoes and health education. Young Living also partners with African Hearts to rescue children living in the slums and streets of Kampala, Uganda, and with Healing Faith Uganda to fight malaria in rural villages.


Private Equity Calling: Avon Sells Majority Stake in North American Business

AvonAvon CEO Sheri McCoy

After years of declining sales, Avon Products Inc. (AVP—NYSE) announced in December 2015 that it will sell its North American business in a $605 million deal with private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP.

The beauty company said it will sell off an 80.1 percent stake in Avon North America for $170 million, with Avon holding the remaining 19.9 percent in the resulting privately held company. Cerberus also will make a $435 million preferred-stock investment for a 16.6 percent stake in Avon Products.

The deal aims to spur the North America business and enhance focus on international markets, the companies said. In the first three quarters of 2015, Avon’s international business accounted for 86 percent of consolidated revenue.

Avon also announced plans to suspend its dividend, opting to use it and proceeds from the sale to pay down debt and reinvest in the business.

According to the agreement, Cerberus will appoint a CEO to lead Avon North America when the current President, Pablo Muñoz, steps down in early 2016. The company will be governed by a board of managers, with seven seats held by Cerberus and two filled by Avon Products CEO Sheri McCoy and former President and COO Susan Kropf.

“Importantly, Cerberus has both the conviction and resources to support our Representatives,” McCoy said in a statement. “We are confident that relief from the short-term pressures of a public company reporting cycle, the substantial investment that Cerberus is making to support and reinvigorate the business, and the operational excellence and discipline that define Cerberus’ reputation will return Avon North America to health.”

The new partnership extends to the board of Avon Products, which will gain three Cerberus directors and two more jointly appointed by the companies. The departure of six current directors will reduce the final headcount to 11. Cerberus appointee Chan Galbato has been tapped to serve as non-Executive Chairman, and longtime director W. Don Cornwell will be Lead Independent Director.


Viridian Kicks Off 2016 with New Solar Partner, Key Tax Credit

Viridian

After rolling out a solar partnership with Sungevity in September 2015, Viridian parent Crius Energy LLC is marking a milestone in the business. The company’s solar energy sales have topped 50 megawatts in the past two years, supplying clean solar power to nearly 7,000 customers.

Crius closed out the third quarter of 2015 with a 90 percent year-over-year increase in megawatts of generating capacity sold, driven primarily by direct selling subsidiary Viridian Energy. The Stamford, Connecticut-based company is looking to accelerate that growth through its partnership with Sungevity, a solar provider with operations in the U.S. and Europe. The contract secures more favorable terms and a higher profile for Crius than a prior agreement with SolarCity.

“The solar energy market represents a high-margin opportunity for Crius, having contributed 10 percent to our EBITDA last year,” Crius CEO Michael Fallquist said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to deliver on the extensive potential of this business with our well-capitalized partner, Sungevity, with optimism after having achieved our 50 megawatt sales milestone in just two years.”

The company’s outlook improved further with the recent extension of a key tax credit. Christmas came a week early for Crius and other industry players when the U.S. government voted to extend for five years the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), one of the most significant policy incentives in place to advance the industry. The ITC provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income taxes to companies or individuals investing in solar.


Beachbody Launches Workout Streaming App for Apple TV

Beachbody

Following the July 2015 rollout of its Beachbody On Demand streaming service, Beachbody LLC is making the extensive library of health and fitness programs available for Apple TV.

The Santa Monica, California-based company has positioned itself at the intersection of technology and fitness with its new digital offering. A Beachbody On Demand subscription provides instant access to the brand’s popular in-home workouts, including offerings like P90X  with celebrity trainer Tony Horton and Insanity with Shaun T. The service also rewards users with programs created exclusively for Beachbody On Demand.

Beachbody’s new app for Apple TV comes on the heels of a fall product release by the technology giant. In September 2015, Apple unveiled the first refresh of its big-screen offering in more than three years. The latest Apple TV features the company’s all-new tvOS operating system and a redesigned interface using the Siri Remote.

“Through the Beachbody On Demand app for Apple TV, users are able to access and participate in the most premium, at-home fitness experience ever available,” Beachbody’s Chief Digital Officer, Bill Bradford, said in a statement. “Over the years, Beachbody has developed fitness and weight-loss products that consistently deliver results, and with the new Apple TV and its powerful new tvOS, our ability to reach new customers with the best on-screen navigation increases exponentially.”

Beachbody is offering all consumers an introductory 30-day free trial of its fitness library—which the company values at more than $3,000—while the service is in its beta phase. Existing Beachbody On Demand users can install the Apple TV app and link their account to their new device.


Thousands Attend Primerica Events Marking 30 Years in Canada

Primerica ushered in its 30th year of business in Canada, the company’s sole international market, with six events across the country on Saturday, Jan. 9.

About 10,000 representatives attended the meetings, which featured an address by chief executive Glenn Williams, who brings firsthand knowledge of the Canadian side of the business. Williams was part of the team that launched operations in the country in 1986, and went on to serve as President and CEO of Primerica Canada from 1996 to 2000. His live address to an audience in Toronto was simulcast to crowds in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

Like the company’s U.S. business, Primerica Canada is in the midst of unprecedented growth. The Canadian segment has paid out more than $1 billion in Term Life Insurance claims, and currently insures more than 400,000 lives. Salesforce compensation in 2015 amounted to a record $124 million, up 15 percent year-over-year.

“2015 proved to be another record-shattering year for Primerica Canada,” Williams said in a statement. “Life insurance face amount in force exceeded $100 billion, and client asset values surpassed $10.5 billion, both as of December 31, 2015. Most importantly, we paid more than $102 million in claims to our Canadian policy beneficiaries during 2015. These families experienced a tragic loss of life and we were able to prevent further emotional devastation by helping them meet their financial needs.”


Youngevity Be the Change Foundation to Fight Hunger with Caterina’s Club

Food Delivery TruckThe Caterina’s Club food delivery truck featuring Chef Bruno Serato.

Youngevity is expanding the reach of its charitable arm, Youngevity Be the Change Foundation, through a new partnership with Caterina’s Club, a Los Angeles area nonprofit that serves hot meals to local children.

The 2-year-old foundation supports a roster of hand-picked charities, among them American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project. Funding comes from the sale of designated Youngevity products, with the company donating 100 percent of proceeds to Youngevity Be the Change.

California-based Youngevity has found a local partner in Caterina’s Club, a nonprofit founded by Italian Chef Bruno Serato, who presides over the kitchen at the famed White House restaurant in Anaheim, California. Each week, Caterina’s Club serves a nutritious meal of freshly made pasta and vegetables to more than 1,800 children, many of them poor and living in motels with their families. Serato is an advocate of “the power of pasta” as a sustainable and affordable source of energy.

Since its founding in 2005, Caterina’s Club has provided more than 1 million meals to children in need. The charity also has helped to relocate hundreds of people from motels to Section 8 housing. In 2011, CNN recognized the work of Caterina’s Club by including Serato among its Top 10 Heroes of the year.


Elken Gears Up for Opening of Philippines Market

Leading Malaysian direct selling company Elken is tapping into growth in the Asia Pacific region with its forthcoming entry into the Philippines.

The company coordinated a soft launch in the Philippines in December 2015, hosting public events to introduce its business model and extensive range of products, which number more than 500 across the categories of cosmetics, personal care, wellness, food and beverage, and home care. An organic spirulina supplement and water purification system are among the company’s top-selling products.

The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing direct selling markets in the world, according to research by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. From 2011 to 2014, constant dollar revenue from direct sales increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.6 percent, outpaced only by growth in China and Vietnam.

With the official opening of the Philippines, Elken’s operations will extend to 11 markets, including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan. The company, which has been in business for 20 years, has offices in 30 cities. Elken reported revenue of $233 million in 2013, earning the No. 50 spot on the 2014 DSN Global 100, but declined to participate in the 2015 ranking.

February 01, 2016

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, February 2016



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


Rodan + Fields Hires New Chief as Lori Bush Retires

Diane DietzDiane Dietz

Rodan + Fields has chosen Diane Dietz as its new President and CEO, following the retirement of Lori Bush. Dietz, who most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President at Safeway Inc., has more than 25 years of experience running large and complex businesses and brands.

“Diane has a strong track record for leadership and building global brands,” said Amnon Rodan, Chairman of Rodan + Fields’ Board of Directors. “This combined with her expertise in operations management, makes Diane uniquely qualified to lead Rodan + Fields successfully into the future.” Rodan also thanked Bush for her leadership and dedication to the company and for being “a driving force behind our remarkable success.”

While at Safeway, a food and drug retailer, Dietz was responsible for the multibillion-dollar profit and loss reporting of the business units and all functions related to marketing, merchandising, loyalty and digital strategy, and the private-label business. She was also responsible for the company’s extensive supply chain, including all distribution and manufacturing. Prior to her position at Safeway, Dietz spent nearly 20 years with Procter & Gamble.

“To be entrusted with the responsibility to continue to realize the Founders’ vision is truly a privilege,” said Dietz. “I am eager to begin what will be an exciting journey to drive the long-term success of Rodan + Fields.”

Bush, whose leadership set the tone for the skin care company since its move to direct selling in 2007, will retain her seat on the company’s board and serve as an advisor to the incoming CEO.

“It has been an honor and privilege to be entrusted with the founders’ brand and mission over the past eight years, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve built together,” said Bush. “I look forward to continued involvement with Rodan + Fields while enjoying more time with my family in my retirement.”


Natura Appoints Andrea Álvares as Chief Marketing Officer

Andrea ÁlvaresAndrea Álvares

Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura has appointed Andrea Figueiredo Teixeira Álvares as the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer.

With a degree in business administration, Álvares has built her career in prominent multinational companies. In her most recent company, she spent 15 years leading different divisions of PepsiCo in Latin America. There she served as Head of Marketing for the beverages business and later Senior Marketing Director of South America, before becoming the first woman to assume a General Manager role in PepsiCo Brazil with leadership over beverages and later salty snacks.

Prior to PepsiCo, Álvares worked as New Business Grouper and Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble’s Brazilian business for seven years.

Founded in 1969, Natura is one of the largest beauty and personal care companies in Latin America. Ranking at No. 6 with $3.20 billion on the 2015 DSN Global 100 list of top direct selling companies in the world, Natura reached a 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.


Herbalife Taps Tod Gimbel for Asia Pacific Public Affairs Role

Tod GimbelTod Gimbel
Dr. Francis Gregory SamonteDr. Francis Gregory Samonte

Global nutrition company Herbalife has hired Tod Gimbel to lead government affairs in Asia Pacific.

Gimbel, who took on the position of Vice President of Asia Pacific government affairs in December 2015, joins Herbalife from public policy firm Landmark Asia, where he has been Managing Director for the past two years.

Previously he held senior corporate affairs roles at Citi, Levi Strauss and Kraft Foods in the region. Before his move to Asia in 2006, Gimbel worked at Altria.

He joins Herbalife at a time when the Los Angeles-based brand is bolstering its global corporate affairs function. Earlier this year, the company welcomed a new Senior Vice President for Global Government Relations, Ric Hobby; Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Communications, Megan Jordan; and Vice President, Government and Industry Affairs, Randall Popelka.

Gimbel will remain in Singapore and be responsible for Herbalife’s government affairs strategy throughout Asia Pacific, exclusive
of China.

Herbalife also has increased the membership of its Nutrition Advisory Board to 30 with the appointment of Dr. Francis Gregory Samonte, an expert in pediatric neurology and the first Filipino member of the board.

Currently based in Manila, Philippines, Samonte studied at De La Salle University College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School. For his past work in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, Samonte was a recipient of the Chairman’s Achievement Award.

These new additions reflect the company’s growing interest in the Asia Pacific region, which accounted for 20 percent of revenue in third-quarter 2015.


Nature’s Sunshine Adds New Board Member

J. Christopher TeetsJ. Christopher Teets

Nature’s Sunshine has appointed J. Christopher Teets to its Board of Directors. Teets will serve as an independent director temporarily until an official election is held during the next shareholders’ meeting. He also will serve on the Audit Committee and the Compliance Committee.

Teets has been a Partner of Red Mountain Capital Partners, an investment management firm, since February 2005. Before joining Red Mountain, he was an investment banker at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 2000, Teets worked in the investment banking division of Citigroup.

He currently serves on the boards of directors of Marlin Business Services Corp. and Air Transport Services Group Inc. Teets holds a bachelor’s degree from Occidental College and an M.Sc. degree from the London School of Economics.


Vic Catalfamo Joins Modere as Chief Marketing Officer

Vic CatalfamoVic Catalfamo

Modere, a portfolio of lifestyle essentials for clean living, has appointed Vic Catalfamo as Chief Marketing Officer.

Catalfamo is a seasoned executive, leveraging more than 24 years of experience in pioneering digital marketing strategies for consumer products at Procter & Gamble. Throughout his career, his efforts in innovation have secured 24 global patents. Catalfamo most recently was responsible for designing and executing strategic partnerships and advanced media solutions as the Senior Vice President of Global Strategic Media at Viant. At Modere, formerly known as Neways, he succeeds Bob Finigan, who will transition to the newly created role of Chief Brand Officer.

“Vic and Bob will be instrumental as we work to realize the global vision and potential of the Modere brand and business,” said Robert Conlee, CEO of Modere. “Vic has a unique background in the areas of integrated digital marketing strategy and consumer product development, and I am confident that his experience will strengthen our ability to execute our transformational vision.”

Catalfamo, along with the Modere product development and marketing teams, will be located in the newly opened Newport Beach, California, office.


Natural Health Trends Expands Board of Directors

Yiu Tung (Enoch) ChanYiu Tung (Enoch) Chan

Health and wellness direct seller Natural Health Trends Corp. is growing the size of its Board of Directors with the addition of Yiu Tung (Enoch) Chan as a director. Chan has extensive business experience in the Chinese market and most recently served as a partner in Grant Thornton’s Tax and Business Advisory Group in Guangzhou, China.

The board also appointed Chan to the Audit Committee, the Compensation Committee and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.


Jade & Jasper Hires Executive Director, Field Development

Grace CalderonGrace Calderon

Boutique-style fashion jewelry company Jade & Jasper New York has hired Grace Calderon as Executive Director of Training and Field Development.

Calderon brings to Jade & Jasper an extensive portfolio with much experience in growing established direct sales companies. Most recently, she served as the National Sales Director for a startup in the skincare industry. Calderon’s direct sales career began in the field as an entrepreneur who built her own multimillion-dollar organization.

“We are thrilled about the expertise and energy that Grace brings to Jade & Jasper. Her key skills will assist us in building our sales force to accelerate Jade & Jasper’s market penetration and brand presence nationwide,” says Anne Lee, Vice President of Sales & Marketing.

Founded in 2001 in New York City, Jade & Jasper creates high-quality jewelry that is both distinctive and affordable.


Well & Company Partners with IndyCar Racer Pippa Mann

Pippa MannPippa Mann
Michelle MerriwetherMichelle Merriwether

Wellness seeker and entrepreneur Pippa Mann, a British race car driver now living in the U.S., has teamed with startup Well & Company, representing the company as a Wellness Ambassador.

The first ever British female to contest the Indy 500, Mann qualified for the 500-mile race in 2011, and went on to race in the event in 2013, 2014 and 2015, most recently partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

“Pippa is a role model in the self-care revolution. Every day she is challenged to live her best life by competing in an extremely challenging sport that has few female competitors,” says Maigread Eichten, Well & Company CEO.

Well & Company also selected Michelle Merriwether to join the company as Executive Vice President of Field Sales. Merriwether brings more than 20 years of executive management and leadership experience to Well & Company, having contributed to the growth of established and emerging brands in the direct selling industry.

Co-founded by Maigread Eichten and Dr. James Rouse in 2014, Well & Company is based in San Francisco and offers nutritional products supported by a science-driven lifestyle system.

February 01, 2016

Cover Story

The Tools Culture: What Is It, and Why Do You Need One?

by Courtney Roush


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


The direct selling channel has no peer when it comes to leveling the playing field for those who want to seize the opportunity. Regardless of one’s background, education, age, circumstance or any other possible limiting factor, in direct selling everyone begins their respective journeys at the same starting line. But how does the independent salesperson decide what’s next in their journey?

The fact that the gates are wide open can invite challenge for salespeople and the companies they represent, as most new representatives come into direct selling without a shred of sales experience. While that by no means automatically disqualifies them from having great potential to succeed, it does require an onboarding process specifically designed for the achievement of quick wins, immediate identification with brand/company culture and the ability for new representatives to establish a vision for their own futures as soon as possible.

Retaining salesforce members is probably the most formidable challenge a direct sales company faces. You’re working with a group of volunteers, and you may have no idea what initially brought them to your door or what will make them stay. Market segmentation research has made fantastic inroads into that enigma, but the reality is that salesforce retention is a never-ending job.

With so many direct sellers on the scene today, there’s a lot of competition to get those prospective representatives to your doorstep in the first place. Given that it’s easier than ever for prospective independent representatives to study up on companies online, it’s never been more vital for companies to provide the very best support to their salesforce members. Putting ourselves in the prospect’s shoes again, if she’s never been in a sales position before and she’s not sold on whether a direct selling business is really for her, what does she want to hear that will increase her confidence in your opportunity? That it’s simple, and that you’re going to walk her through the steps—as few steps as possible—to get to her first win. She wants easy-to-digest tools that don’t require her to be the expert, only the messenger. And once she’s in the door, those first 90 days are the most critical, as they’ll likely determine whether she’ll still be in your salesforce ranks at this time next year.

Bridging the Generations

As the broader business world moves away from printed materials and sprints toward digital technology, it might be tempting to say that the direct selling channel is doing the same. There’s no doubt that this channel has moved into the digital age, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that we’ve abandoned traditional tools. Take a look at the broad cross-section of independent representatives who represent direct selling brands, and it’s clear that the channel has chosen to straddle the line instead of cross it. Companies who have been on the scene for several decades often continue to provide the beloved printed staples to loyal salesforce members. We’re a customer service-oriented channel, after all. At the same time, in an effort to present a brand image that appeals to younger generations—in particular, new college graduates entering the work force and considering direct selling as a viable career option—it’s imperative that companies incorporate the very latest technology into their respective tools cultures. It’s a careful balance. Abandoning the old in favor of the new could backfire, alienating those who either aren’t tech savvy or just prefer doing business the traditional way. Facing that conundrum, then, a lot of direct sellers, even companies who are less than 10 years old, have decided to offer everything to everyone. Direct selling is nothing if not accommodating.

Companies such as WorldVentures, for example, find a lot of validity in that approach. “Some tried and true stuff still works—printed pieces, CDs, DVDs—you can hand them off,” says Eddie Head, President of WorldVentures Holdings. The company makes quad-fold brochures available to its Independent Representatives, who distribute them at travel parties while they present the business opportunity. It’s a great leave-behind item that reiterates the key takeaways of the presentation. “We know that if representatives share it, you’ll get more yeses than nos,” Head says. The company also publishes Voyager, a monthly magazine highlighting not just those at the pinnacle of success, but perhaps more important, those in the middle of their respective journeys. Those mid-level testimonials, Head says, help promote the company’s “One Big Team” philosophy, serve as powerful validation of the integrity of the business opportunity, and provide inspiration to those striving to reach the next rung of the ladder. Best of all, they’re all presented in a format that, like CDs and DVDs, can pass through several sets of hands.

These traditional tools represent elements of the face-to-face culture upon which the direct selling channel was founded. There’s perhaps no better way to understand the potential of any direct selling opportunity than to see it through your own eyes: the enthusiasm on a representative’s face as he shares his story, the credibility of a printed brochure, a handshake and a business card at the end of the presentation.

At the same time, WorldVentures rolled out to its representatives in 2015 a native app that detects each user’s profile, then serves up from a single platform the information he or she needs at that point in a specific stage of business, such as testimonials, access to reports, event registration, training, presentation and support tools. Representatives have access to a full library of videos from personal development coaches and direct selling experts. These leader-led talks are “great resources for sucking it up and developing intestinal fortitude,” adds Head. The predominant advantage of the app is that it gives representatives easy access to training regardless of where their travels take them. “They can sharpen the saw on the road or in a hotel room.” In late 2015 the company introduced “Quick Coach,” a series of one- to two-minute videos on a single subject; for example, critical topics such as overcoming objection, how to conduct a travel party, how to teach others. The entirely animated videos, featuring hand-drawn caricatures of company leaders, have attracted a big audience.

By covering all of the traditional and digital spaces where representatives and their customers are, Head says WorldVentures aims to spread the message about what he considers to be the company’s cultural distinction. As a travel company, “our product is simpler to sell. It’s very emotional. That’s an advantage. Invariably, this is all about our content and less about the delivery mechanism.”


“With social media, you don’t have to handle the rejection in person. It’s a great way to get new Beauty Consultants started.”
—Kim Sater, Director U.S. Consumer Marketing, Mary Kay Inc.


Technology Changes the Landscape

From the earliest days of our channel, the intimidation factor surrounding the sales process has convinced countless potential distributors that direct selling just isn’t for them. But technology has transformed the way independent salespeople market their businesses, reducing the apprehension often associated with phone calls and personal appointments, particularly when representatives are interacting with acquaintances they don’t know very well. “With social media, you don’t have to handle the rejection in person. It’s a great way to get new Beauty Consultants started,” says Kim Sater, Director U.S. Consumer Marketing at Mary Kay Inc.

Social media holds enormous potential to influence others through the power of suggestion, and repetition. In May 2015, Mary Kay launched a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #mymklife and encouraged the independent salesforce to share stories and photos of anything relating to their Mary Kay businesses. On Instagram alone, approximately 23,000 have participated in the campaign since its inception.

Technology also allows prospective customers and team members to do their research behind the scenes and get to know a direct selling company before forging a relationship with a representative. Mary Kay offers a guest checkout option, which enables customers to browse and shop without direct contact with a Beauty Consultant; however, an average of nearly 40 percent of visitors to the company’s website ultimately choose to register with an Independent Beauty Consultant. And for Beauty Consultants, Mary Kay offers a team-building app “that takes the fear out of sharing the opportunity. The app walks them through the steps,” says Jill Wedding, Director U.S. Consultant Marketing at Mary Kay.

Developing Your ‘Tools Culture’

Of course, being everything to everyone doesn’t mean throwing everything at your salesforce and hoping that something sticks. Direct sellers know that representatives and their customers already are wading through a sea of information that grows deeper by the day. The pieces of the puzzle have to fit together, so to speak.

Getting the most out of the available tools requires more than simply encouraging the salesforce to use them. Each of those tools has to play a specific role in the bigger picture. “Tools Culture” is a term best defined by a companywide, consistent practice of creating sales opportunities, recruiting activity, training and motivation through clear, simplified and branded communication tools.

Simplicity is key; keeping your volume of tools to a minimum can help prevent confusion among your distributors. That’s a mission that companies like Nerium International, for example, have taken to heart. “Put yourself in the position of brand-new consultants,” says CEO Jeff Olson. “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.”

In 2007, Entrepreneur magazine cited studies indicating that as much as 80 percent of materials created by marketing staffs for use by salespeople remain unused. SiriusDecisions, a global business-to-business research and advisory firm, found in 2013 that 70 percent of content created by B2B businesses is never utilized. It’s hard to put definitive percentages around it, but companies that take a “more is always better” approach often find that when they ask their salesforce how many of those tools they actually use, the numbers aren’t as high as they’d hoped. While it’s true that people learn in a great variety of ways, companies still have the responsibility of narrowing down the choices, simplifying their message and making sure that their complete suite of tools, across the entire spectrum from new consultant to seasoned veteran, fit together as pieces of a puzzle that when connected serves a broader goal to support the culture and the values of the brands they represent.


Facing the conundrum of whether to follow tradition or abandon it for new technology, a lot of direct sellers have decided to offer everything to everyone. Direct selling is nothing if not accommodating.


In 2015, Mary Kay developed an internal Digital Evaluation Team to help the company maintain a singular, cohesive digital tools strategy. With a large corporate headquarters and multiple subsidiaries, the company recognized the need to rein in its processes, helping avoid duplication of efforts, inconsistent messages and, ultimately, salesforce confusion. Serving as gatekeepers of sorts, the evaluation team developed a set of simple baseline criteria. “We ask three questions before any app or tool launch,” Wedding says. “Does the independent salesforce want it? Do they need it? And do they need it now?” In large part, the answers to those questions come from the Mary Kay independent salesforce, a group that has always been forthcoming with feedback, she adds.

Rodan + Fields maintains internal teams focused on providing assets for their field leaders and consultants. Additionally, a group of top independent Field Leaders, dubbed the “Voices of the Field,” provides helpful feedback to these departments and others within the company. These consultants participate in monthly meetings with the company to discuss hot topics and often participate in A/B testing with various tools before they launch. Any tool considered for the field is measured by two benchmarks: “Anyone must be able to use them—we want to create an even playing field—and they must promote a balanced approach to the business. Assets should help consultants build their businesses through the credibility of the brand and their relationships, as well as provide first-class service to their customer base,” says Heidi Wissmiller, Chief Customer Officer.

Obtaining salesforce buy-in is critical. When WorldVentures was conducting research for the development of what would be its native app, the company asked salesforce leaders this simple question: If they could do anything with their phones, what would it be? And for those representatives who had been with other companies, direct selling or not, to what kind of tools did they have access, or wish they had access? Those answers helped create the short list of the app’s features.


“Tools Culture” is a term best defined by the companywide, consistent practice of creating sales opportunities, recruiting activity, training and motivation through clear, simplified and branded communication tools.


Third-Party Tools


Aside from retention, one of the most compelling reasons for direct sellers to have a well-thought-out strategy around tools is this: If your salesforce either doesn’t have the tools they need, or the tools you do provide don’t meet their needs, they’ll fill the void with tools of their own making. That leaves the door wide open to interpretation of your products and your opportunity, leaving you vulnerable to charges of noncompliance, false claims or worse. The establishment, promotion and maintenance of a tools culture gives companies greater control over their messaging and their brands.

Tools are one of the primary means by which any direct selling company controls the dissemination of its brand. The more you can listen to and accommodate the needs of your independent salesforce, the better they’ll represent your company consistently and accurately. The way you train them is the way they train their own team members.

Nerium’s Jeff Olson is a big believer in maintaining a duplicable system, and that includes using third-party tools. “No matter how big you get, 80 percent of your volume comes from people who have been with you a year or less, those who know the least about your company,” he says. “You have to empower them to be the messenger, not the message.” The philosophy is simple: “If you’re moving your mouth, you should be pointing at a third-party tool.”

Think of it this way: If your less-seasoned salesforce members are producing most of your volume, would you want them explaining your brand in their own terms and presenting themselves as experts when they didn’t know anything about your opportunity a week ago? Companies that offer up a pre-packaged, simplified suite of tools help reduce the steep learning curve for new consultants. And, Olson says, that duplicable, digestible approach is more appealing to customers. “Look at the business from the perspective of the person you’re speaking to,” he says. “If you can hand someone a beautiful brochure instead of yakking, that’s better.”

Further, Olson advises, it’s wise to minimize the number of tools you roll out to the salesforce. “Keep the choices minimal,” he says. “Don’t make consultants choose which video out of 10 videos they need to watch. As soon as people have choice, that leads to confusion, which reduces their efficiency.”

In the process of learning to be a good messenger, he adds, Nerium Brand Partners receive the additional benefit of personal development; “they present a more attractive persona. If they can focus on being a better version of themselves and use these tools, they have a chance” at longer-lasting success.

Mary Kay similarly has embraced the third-party approach, with tools like Social Publisher, an optional service in which automated posts are pushed out to the Facebook business pages of Independent Beauty Consultants. Those posts, covering everything from seasonal product launches to beauty tips and trends, direct visitors to Beauty Consultants’ respective Mary Kay® Personal Web Sites. Participating salesforce members may have access to a library of pre-approved evergreen posts, which they may share at any time. The convenience of the service not only cuts down on the time Beauty Consultants dedicate to administrative activities, but from a monitoring and compliance standpoint, it’s a boon to the company.

The Mary Kay Show & Sell app, which can be projected to a TV screen in a party setting, employs a point-and-click approach to presenting the business opportunity. The app includes notes and pointers to which the Beauty Consultant may refer during her presentation. In 2016 the company will roll out myCustomers Plus, an app designed to help Beauty Consultants manage their inventory, provide better service to their customers, plan their routes for product delivery and other time-consuming administrative duties associated with running their businesses. The end goal is to address Beauty Consultants’ “pain points” and give them more time to build customer relationships, sell product and, ultimately, attract new team members.


If your salesforce either doesn’t have the tools they need, or the tools you do provide don’t meet their needs, they’ll fill the void with tools of their own making.


Technology and Customer Service Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

Direct selling is legendary for extraordinary service. It stands to reason, then, that one of the most effective ways for retaining your distributors is to maintain a culture built upon listening and giving them exactly what they need when they need it. Technology has given the channel unprecedented access to a depth of real-time information. We now have at our fingertips an extraordinary knowledge base about the field, giving us the ability to respond to their needs in a more targeted manner.

To help consultants spend more time on developing their customer base and less time on administrative tasks, these days we’re seeing more direct selling companies—for example, Dallas-based men’s luxury custom clothing company J.Hilburn—issuing communications on behalf of their consultants. This hands-off approach to help consultants market their businesses makes direct selling an attractive, low-risk and low-intimidation career path for thousands with no prior sales experience.

Seventy percent of J.Hilburn’s salesforce of independent stylists are women, and roughly 90 percent of them have never measured anyone for custom clothing before starting a J.Hilburn business, says Co-Founder Veeral Rathod. And, their predominantly female consultant base has the challenge of understanding their customers, who are exclusively male. 


One of the most effective ways for retaining your distributors is to maintain a culture built upon listening and giving them exactly what they need when they need it.


To help address that learning curve, the company has built out its marketing and communications suite of tools to help train stylists on the basics, from how to take custom measurements to how to deliver a highly personalized shopping experience to their clients using a combination of technology and face-to-face meetings. “E-commerce is especially appealing to men, who often don’t like going to stores. But they’re very brand-loyal,” Rathod says. The company sends two to four emails per month to customers on behalf of their stylists—for example, “The Perfect White Shirt,” featuring a lineup of varying styles of this wardrobe staple. Consumers are able to quickly scan their style options; contact their stylists, who already have their measurements; and place an order. And customers receive seasonal “Look Books” on behalf of stylists, who are taught to follow up those mailings with phone calls and personal emails, sometimes even deskside order deliveries for busy clients. By combining marketing functionality with high stylist/consumer engagement, “we’re aiming to deliver a high-touch experience,” Rathod says. The company has taken great pains to merge the personal touch with the high-tech world and deliver not just a product, but an entire customer-service experience that gives men a reason to turn to direct selling, many for the first time. After all, “every product we sell, the customer is already buying somewhere else. We didn’t invent anything.”

Even as direct selling delves further and further into technology, though, in a channel that prides itself on relationship development, personal contact will never go out of style. It’s the very foundation of direct selling’s shared mission to deliver superior service while helping as many people as possible achieve their potential. “Digital initiatives are helpful because you don’t have to pick up the phone and call, although the best stylists will say that to be successful, you have to use the phone,” Rathod says.


“We ask three questions before any app or tool launch. Does the independent salesforce want it? Do they need it? And do they need it now?”
—Jill Wedding, Director U.S. Consultant Marketing, Mary Kay Inc.


Over the past couple of years, Rodan + Fields has been moving away from a mass approach to training and coaching and toward a personalized experience, says Wissmiller. This brand, business and personal development approach to customer service is a concept that is more meaningful, relatable and individually focused. The training software that is in its test phase asks questions as to what are the tools that the Consultants tend to use more, what kind of information is most helpful and where are they in their businesses? Rodan + Fields recently rolled out a pilot program to 400 consultants, in which they took a detailed test regarding their communication skills and other personality characteristics. Participants were then led through a personalized training program of multiple layers based on the answers to those questions. Let’s say, for example, that a consultant indicated that she’s nervous about conflict. Her training is designed to help her work through that challenge, learn to overcome it and come out feeling far more confident in her abilities.

Where Are We Headed?

Perhaps the best aspect of the digital age is the ability to deliver targeted messaging to specific audiences, and then measure and analyze your results. People come to direct selling for a multitude of reasons, and with that in mind, more companies have begun segmenting their distributor bases into personas based on activity, and then customizing the messaging they receive, whether it’s via email, SMS or website. The implications of targeted marketing for revenue generation, salesforce and customer retention could be significant for the channel.


“Tools should help consultants build their businesses through their relationships, provide first-class service and expand their customer base. Anyone must be able to use them—we want to create an even playing field—and they must promote a balanced approach to the business.”
—Heidi Wissmiller, Chief Customer Officer, Rodan + Fields


It’s clear that technology can help direct selling raise the bar on the service this channel provides, first to the independent representatives who represent our brands, then to the customers they serve. While direct selling companies strive to keep up with innovation, the respective tools cultures that each establish will look different. But the common mission, to provide continual, open-ended opportunities for people to achieve their fullest potential, unites us all.

January 29, 2016

U.S. News

Big Brothers Big Sisters Names Nerium Top Corporate Fundraising Partner

In its fourth year backing Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Nerium International became the organization’s largest corporate fundraising partner. Through its charitable arm, the Nerium Ripple Foundation, the skincare company donated $1.3 million in 2015.

“From top corporate leadership to local partner involvement, Nerium helps further our mission through nearly every facet of their organization,” Pam Iorio, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, said in a statement. “Their financial support and ability to encourage more brand ambassadors mean that we can help match even more children with a strong adult mentor.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs adult volunteers, or Bigs, with children at risk, or Littles, in a one-to-one mentoring relationship. Studies such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Survey have proven the effectiveness of the model, which has earned recognition from the federal government for keeping youth in school and out of trouble.

More than 300 of Nerium’s independent Brand Partners have signed on as volunteer mentors through the organization; however, company participation extends all the way to the top. Chief Leadership Officer Renee Olson has been a Big Sister for more than two years, and Co-CEO Jeff Dahl signed on as a Big Brother soon after joining the company in March 2014.

“The missions of Big Brothers Big Sisters and Nerium International are nearly identical,” said Founder and CEO Jeff Olson. “Both organizations work to make lives better with caring individuals gently modeling the way.”

All told, Nerium has donated $3.5 million, in both corporate funds and Brand Partner donations, to further the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters. The nonprofit has honored Nerium’s ongoing contributions with its 2013 Community Spirit Award and 2015 President’s Award, its highest recognition for corporate partners.

January 29, 2016

U.S. News

Currency Woes Weaken Quarterly Results at Tupperware

Tupperware Brands Corp. (TUP—NYSE) saw revenue drop in the fourth quarter despite continued growth in North America, according to the kitchenware company’s recent earnings release.

In the last three months of 2015, revenue totaled $592.1 million, falling 13 percent in dollars but edging up 2 percent in local currency. On an adjusted basis, earnings were $1.35 per share, coming up 2 cents short of the company’s expectations on profit of $68.4 million, down from $86.8 million a year ago.

“We had a disappointing quarter as we lapped a tough comparison and continued to see an impact from economic and political headwinds in many of our units,” Chairman and CEO Rick Goings said in a statement. “While I don’t want to take away from the strong performances in a number of units, our internal actions did not overcome the impact of worse than expected externals in some of our units.”

Emerging markets remain the backbone of the business, accounting for 63 percent of quarterly revenue, with a 4 percent increase in local currency. Tupperware logged its strongest performances in Argentina, Brazil, China and Mexico. North America revenue rose 6 percent, with Mexico, the U.S. and Canada all reporting double-digit increases in local currency sales. All other segments reported negative year-over-year comparisons in dollar revenue.

The company’s salesforce grew 5 percent in the fourth quarter to 3.1 million. Looking to the first quarter of 2016, management expects earnings in the range of 81 cents to 86 cents per share. Full-year guidance is $4.07 to $4.17 per share.

January 28, 2016

U.S. News

CVSL Announces Name Change, Provides Q4 Revenue Estimate

Photo: CVSL executives ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the company’s uplisting to the NYSE MKT in August 2015.


Direct selling conglomerate CVSL is entering the new year with a new name, the company announced Wednesday.

In a preview of its fourth quarter earnings, Texas-based CVSL said it will begin operating under the name JRJR Networks, in what is presumably an allusion to Chairman John P. Rochon and Vice Chairman John Rochon Jr., who together own more than 50 percent of CVSL voting stock. When the paperwork is in order, the company’s common stock will trade under the symbol JRJR on the NYSE MKT.

“We inherited the CVSL name when we acquired the company three years ago,” the junior Rochon said in a statement. “We have always intended to change our name at the appropriate time, to give us a unique identity. Now that we have grown to encompass 10 companies, doing business across the globe as a ‘network of networks,’ the time has come to assert our new identity.”

CVSL’s stable of direct-to-consumer brands includes basket and home decor seller The Longaberger Company; award-winning spice maker Your Inspiration At Home; and Tomboy Tools, a purveyor of tools designed for women, among others. Last year CVSL expanded its international business with the acquisitions of Kleeneze and Betterware, both longstanding U.K.-based businesses. Under the CVSL umbrella, each company retains its unique identity while benefiting from efficiencies in operational areas.

Though management has not said when it will disclose 2015 earnings, CVSL estimates that fourth-quarter pro forma revenue will be in the range of $49 million to $50 million, up from $37.0 million in the third quarter. The results will reflect the addition of Betterware, which the company acquired in October 2015.

January 28, 2016

U.S. News

ViSalus Co-Founder Blake Mallen Promoted to President

The longtime head of sales and marketing at ViSalus, Blake Mallen, is stepping into an expanded role as President of the healthy lifestyle company.

Mallen founded the weight-loss shake and supplement seller in 2005 alongside company Chairman and CEO, Ryan Blair, and Global Ambassador, Nick Sarnicola. In 2008 the young executives struck a deal with Connecticut-based Blyth Inc., which acquired a 43.6 percent stake in ViSalus and brought crucial infrastructure and operational expertise to the business. The partnership lasted until late 2014, when the trio and a handful of other preferred stockholders bought back all the shares that Blyth owned, minus 10 percent.

In 11 years at the company, Mallen has spent time working in the field as a ViSalus Promoter, as well as building the business from the corporate side. As Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, he crafted a marketing strategy, centered on the Body by Vi 90 Day Challenge, that powered more than 600 percent sales growth in a single year. Mallen also has been instrumental in building a global infrastructure that has enabled ViSalus to expand recently into 12 European countries, building on its operations in the U.S., Canada and Jamaica.

“Blake has been a vital asset to the creation and evolution of ViSalus, and I’m honored to be handing off the presidential reins to my fellow co-founder and longtime right hand,” said Blair. “He possesses a rare blend of creative and innovative passion, with the ability to execute with precision. I look forward to partnering with him to bring even more Vi innovations to life so that we continue to provide our Promoters with the ultimate entrepreneurial vehicle for success.”

In the past 14 months, ViSalus has expanded its product portfolio with the launch of NEON Energy Drink, Nutra-Bar and Vi Bites healthy snack offerings, and the newly introduced Vi Shape Superfood Shake. The company reports that sales of NEON, launched in the U.S. in April 2015, have surpassed $5 million. According to a Wednesday announcement from ViSalus, the company commenced international distribution of the energy drink at its EU Leadership Launch, held last week in London.

“Over my career I’ve been honored to build ViSalus, a brand that has reinvented and redefined itself over the years to achieve tremendous growth,” said Mallen. “Since our inception, we have transformed millions of lives by helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. Today, our internal team is laser-focused on transforming many areas of our brand experience, to elevate our game and raise the bar in the market.”

January 27, 2016

U.S. News

Ava Anderson Announces Closure, Cites Critics and Manufacturing Setbacks

One of direct selling’s promising young companies, Ava Anderson LLC, will undergo a change of name and ownership as the founding family pulls out of the business, according to an announcement posted Tuesday on the company’s website.

Then 14-year-old Ava Anderson and her mother, Kim, founded the company in 2009, on a mission to provide everyday products free of harmful chemicals. Ava, the granddaughter of direct sales icon Charlie Collis, Founder of Princess House, is passionate about building awareness of potentially harmful ingredients in common products and the possible long-term effects of exposure. That passion is evident in a TEDx Talk, “Toxic Baggage: A Journey to Healthier Living,” Ava presented in October 2013 at her high school alma mater.

Now preparing to graduate from Babson College in Massachusetts, Ava has led the company as CEO and Director of Product Development, supported by an executive team that includes her mother and father, Frohman, who serve as President and Executive Vice President, respectively.

In a statement to customers, the Andersons said both harassment of Ava and recent business troubles are behind its decision to shutter Ava Anderson. The family asserts that the company and its young CEO “have been disparaged and harassed unrelentingly for years online and in person, at speaking events and in her daily life.”

DSN’s April 2015 feature on Ava Anderson reveals Ava as a hands-on leader, one who even took the time, as did her mother, to personally respond to questions and comments on the brand’s Facebook page, now defunct but at the time followed by more than 62,000.

“We withstood the attacks because we felt the message was so dear to us, as well as the tremendous responsibility we have always held for our employees and independent representatives, who have built important incomes through hard work and dedication to their businesses,” the Andersons state.

Setbacks in production also took a toll on the family business. Management recently informed Ava Anderson Consultants and customers that a handful of suppliers had violated contractual agreements, adding ingredients banned by the company into several of its 80-plus products. “We created this line to share an important health message and are devastated to have discovered this,” the family said. The statement does not disclose whether any of the criticism cited was tied to the company’s manufacturing woes.

Despite the challenges besetting the business and its founder, Ava Anderson boasts a nearly 200 percent annual growth rate. More than 12,000 Consultants sell the brand’s personal- and home-care products, and upwards of 80 employees make up its corporate team. With that foundation in place, Ava Anderson’s experienced management team plans to re-open the business under a new name and branding. According to the company, the new enterprise, slated to launch days after Ava Anderson closes in February, will offer many of the same non-toxic product formulations.

January 26, 2016

U.S. News

January Events Boost Philanthropy at AdvoCare, Isagenix

Both AdvoCare International LP and Isagenix International leveraged corporate events in January to raise $100,000 in support of select charitable partners.

Salesforce training events and company-wide conventions are a regular occurrence among direct selling companies, and these gatherings—sometimes attracting crowds in the tens of thousands—often include a philanthropic focus. At AdvoCare’s recent series of AdvoNation training events, that focus was feeding children, which the company did in partnership with food banks across the U.S. Isagenix’s 2016 New Year Kick Off in Dallas spotlighted Make-A-Wish International, an organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

At each stop on its 10-city AdvoNation tour, AdvoCare made a $10,000 donation to a local food bank, a practice the company initiated three years ago. Texas-based AdvoCare selected recipients from the 200 food banks affiliated with Feeding America, a network that feeds more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs across the country. The funds were designated to Kids Café and Back Pack programs that support childhood nutrition. Over the past three years, the health and wellness company has donated more than $600,000 to local food banks.

“Proper nutrition is crucial to a child’s health, academic achievement and overall development,” AdvoCare’s Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Allison Levy, said in a statement. “We believe no child should ever be left hungry, and AdvoCare is committed to providing the resources and nourishment they need to build the best versions of themselves.”

Arizona-based Isagenix has contributed more than $4.3 million to Make-A-Wish in four years of partnership. Last year’s fundraising marked a new high, with company Associates and employees donating $1.8 million to the nonprofit. During an annual three-day conference held last week by Isagenix, attendees donated nearly $100,000 to the cause. In addition to soliciting donations the company offered reserved seating at the event, with all proceeds benefiting Make-A-Wish. The initiative raised more than $26,000.

“Every day we strive to positively impact our community and give back. Supporting children’s charities is one meaningful way we do so,” Kathy Coover, Isagenix Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, said in a statement. “Our team values serving others and finds real happiness in helping make a difference in the lives of children and their families.”

 

January 26, 2016

World News

Forever Living Establishes Middle East Headquarters in Dubai

Photo: Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


Wellness and beauty company Forever Living Products (FLP) has opened an office in Dubai to support its salesforce across the Middle East.

The regional hub will oversee operations in UAE, Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Kuwait. Arizona-based FLP entered the Middle East in 1999, making it one of the region’s longest-running direct selling companies. The company anticipates further expansion into Jordan and Bahrain in the first quarter of 2016.

“The new headquarters is part of our strategy to position FLP as a world leader that has synergistic operations in the region,” Khaled Khayati, the company’s Director of Operations in the Middle East, said in a statement. “With the entry of 2016, we are looking towards driving in more growth and revenue through the adoption of a new corporate structure that can address emerging challenges and opportunities.”

Approaching its fifth decade in business, FLP is a leading grower, manufacturer and distributor of aloe vera products. The company also sells a range of bee-derived cosmetics, nutritional supplements, and personal-care products through its network of independent distributors, known as Forever Business Owners.

January 25, 2016

U.S. News

Plexus Moves into New Corporate Headquarters in Arizona

Fast-growing Plexus Worldwide has officially opened its new 70,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The weight-loss and nutrition company elected to build the facility alongside its existing 30,000-square-foot warehouse and fulfillment center in Scottsdale’s Pima Center. The new headquarters consolidates Plexus’ 200-plus employees, formerly dispersed across multiple offices, with ample space for future growth.

“Building our new headquarters adjacent to our warehouse facility allowed us to create a functional campus where we can truly get the most out of each building design while increasing the coordination between our talented employee teams, which previously worked in various locations around Scottsdale,” Plexus CEO Tarl Robinson said in a statement.

Robinson and former company executive Alfred Pettersen took over Plexus Worldwide in 2008. At the time, the 2-year-old company sold just one product, a Breast Chek Kit to help women screen themselves for breast cancer. Plexus now sells a range of weight-loss, detoxification, pain-relief and nutrition products through more than 275,000 independent Ambassadors.

Annual revenue climbed from less than $1 million in 2010 to more than $300 million in 2014, an accomplishment that earned Plexus the No. 8 rank on the 2014 Inc. 5000, a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. Plexus remained in the top 4 percent in 2015, earning the No. 132 spot. The DSN North America 50 named Plexus the No. 30 direct selling company in the region, based on 2014 revenue.

Scottsdale officials and dignitaries from the local Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community joined Plexus employees and Ambassadors at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Thursday, Jan. 21, at the company’s new headquarters. Attendees had an opportunity to tour the facility, which features workspaces offset by oversized breakrooms and casual meeting spaces, as well as a large multimedia studio.

January 22, 2016

U.S. News

Youngevity Taps Scott Bell to Head Analytics and Promotions

Youngevity International Inc. has brought direct sales executive Scott Bell on board as Vice President of Analytics and Promotions to enhance the business intelligence used by the company and its distributors.

“What attracted me to Youngevity are the world-class products and a unique customer-first focus that drives the industry-leading incentive plan, which is above and beyond anything else I have seen in any industry,” Bell said in a statement.

Youngevity’s latest hire has spent two decades working with direct selling companies, using his expertise to orchestrate marketing and promotional campaigns. Bell has led global teams in developing corporate and distributor analytics and distributor compensation models. His previous work includes 16 years at a leading nutrition company, during a period when the company’s annual revenue climbed from approximately $700 million to several billion dollars.

Bell’s role at Youngevity will see him working closely with the entire executive team, according to President and CEO Dave Briskie. “We are excited and eagerly anticipate the positive impact our distributors will experience when they are provided actionable, real-time data on their own unique businesses. Scott is passionate about identifying opportunities and creating date-driven, actionable strategies that allow distributors to become healthier and more financially secure,” said Briskie.

January 21, 2016

U.S. News

Mary Kay Attracts Increasingly Young, Diverse Salesforce in 2015

Mary Kay Inc. reports an increasing number of young women starting their own Mary Kay businesses. Women ages 18-34 accounted for 47 percent of new consultants in 2015, according to statistics released by the cosmetics company.

“These young women are tech-savvy and digitally connected. They’re looking for flexibility and not a 9 to 5, one-size-fits-all position,” Mary Kay’s Vice President of U.S. Marketing, Sara Friedman, said in a statement. “A Mary Kay business can be customized to each person’s individual goals, and our company’s established social media presence and leading-edge digital technology have also proven to be attractive business-building tools.”

Friedman’s sentiments echo the findings of Amway’s 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Report, an in-depth look at the state of entrepreneurship around the world. Conducted in 44 countries, the survey found that starting a business is most appealing to those under 35 (65 percent), with independence and self-fulfillment being the top motivators. In the 35-49 demographic, 58 percent expressed the desire to start a business, followed by 44 percent of respondents over 50.

All told, more than 325,000 people signed up last year to sell Mary Kay’s skincare and cosmetics lines. The Addison, Texas-based company reports that new consultant sign-ups have exceeded 300,000 for 15 consecutive years.

As Mary Kay’s salesforce skews younger, it also grows more diverse. In 2015, 51 percent of new consultants identified as Latino, Asian or African American—groups that now make up 33 percent of Mary Kay’s total salesforce. Drilling down, the company found that Latinos accounted for 35 percent of last year’s recruits and 22 percent of the wider salesforce.

January 20, 2016

U.S. News

Direct Selling Veteran Joey Carter Joins Ruby Ribbon Brain Trust

Photo: Anna Zornosa, Founder and CEO of Ruby Ribbon.


Longtime direct sales executive Joey Carter is joining Ruby Ribbon’s advisory team, after participating in the shapewear company’s recent Series C funding round.

Carter is General Partner at Direct Selling Capital, the Dallas-based firm that co-led Ruby Ribbon’s $7.5 million round alongside San Francisco’s DBL Partners. Silicon Valley venture firms Trinity and Mohr Davidow also participated in the round.

Before founding Direct Selling Capital, Carter was Chairman and CEO of Home Interiors & Gifts Inc., a direct selling company founded in 1957 by his grandmother, Mary Crowley. During his tenure the business reached annual sales in excess of $600 million. Carter also has served as Chairman of the Direct Selling Association and held a seat on the Direct Selling Education Foundation’s board. He currently is an advisor and consultant to Ambit Energy LLP.

“We are thrilled to add Joey Carter as an advisor,” Anna Zornosa, Founder and CEO of Ruby Ribbon, said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of experience, and we are honored that he has chosen to join the Ruby Ribbon team.”

Zornosa, a former Yahoo and Knight Ridder executive, founded Ruby Ribbon in 2012. The California-based company sells shapewear and apparel through a network of more than 1,000 Stylists, taking the intimate shopping experience from an impersonal retail setting to home trunk shows or private appointments. In 2015, Inc. magazine recognized Ruby Ribbon’s unique products in a look at “7 Startups That Are Radically Altering the Apparel Industry.”

“I’m excited to join Ruby Ribbon and be part of what I see as the future of direct sales,” said Carter. “The company is revolutionizing the direct sales channel with unique products that customers are passionate about and easy-to-use digital tools to harness the power of social media in our ever-connected world. The team is impressive and I look forward to working with them as we grow Ruby Ribbon together.”

January 19, 2016

U.S. News

Rodan + Fields Announces Successor to Outgoing President and CEO

With the retirement of longtime chief executive Lori Bush, Rodan + Fields has appointed former Safeway executive Diane Dietz to succeed Bush as President and CEO.

Rodan + Fields announced in December 2015 that Bush would retire early this year. Founders Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, both dermatologists, brought Bush on board in 2007, after pulling the company’s products from high-end department stores to transition to a social commerce model. Under her leadership, Rodan + Fields generated revenue of $330 million in 2014.

The company’s newly appointed President and CEO is well-versed in the management of global retail brands. Dietz hails from food and drug retailer Safeway, where she served as Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, overseeing marketing, merchandising, digital strategy and supply chain, as well as the company’s award-winning private label business.

“The board is pleased to have found the best individual to continue pursuing the vision of the founding doctors. Their goal has been to empower entrepreneurs to build one of the world’s leading premium skincare brands,” Board Chairman Amnon Rodan said in a statement. “Diane has a strong track record for leadership and building global brands. This combined with her expertise in operations management, makes Diane uniquely qualified to lead Rodan + Fields successfully into the future.”

Prior to her stint at Safeway, Dietz held a succession of general and brand management positions at Proctor & Gamble. She spent nearly 20 years in the company’s Health & Beauty sector, where she earned recognition for rejuvenating the Crest dental care brand, an undertaking that included the rollout of Crest Whitestrips, Pro Health and Glide. Dietz also played a lead role in P&G’s acquisition of Gillette. Currently, she sits on the boards of both Whirlpool Corp. and Zoosk.

“Since its inception, Rodan + Fields has built a powerful brand, business model and technology. I am honored and grateful to the founders and the board for the opportunity to lead this exceptional company of dedicated and talented professionals and entrepreneurs,” said Dietz. “To be entrusted with the responsibility to continue to realize the founders’ vision is truly a privilege. I am eager to begin what will be an exciting journey to drive the long-term success of Rodan + Fields.”

January 15, 2016

U.S. News

Direct Selling News Announces the 2016 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling

For the first time ever, Direct Selling News has partnered with the employee engagement experts at Quantum Workplace to identify the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling. The contest was open to all direct selling companies headquartered in North America and having at least 50 employees.

The 2016 honorees for the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling are listed below in alphabetical order. All of these companies are equal honorees and are recognized collectively as the Best Places to Work within the direct selling channel.

  • Jamberry
  • Jeunesse
  • LegalShield
  • NuSkin
  • Team National
  • USANA
  • Zurvita

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

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

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

Quantum is an HR technology company that has been collecting Best Places to Work data for more than a decade and currently supports 40 programs across North America. Their software enables companies to discover the strength of their employees, culture and leadership.

Look for profiles of each winning company and additional coverage in the April issue of Direct Selling News. The 2016 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling contest is sponsored by Infotrax, Hyperwallet and the Direct Selling Educational Foundation.

January 13, 2016

U.S. News

ARIIX Announces Merger with Nutrition Brand Asantae

ARIIX has completed the latest in a succession of mergers, this one with nutrition brand Asantae.

The deal with Asantae follows ARIIX’s strategy of bringing smaller health-focused companies under its umbrella. The seller of wellness and personal-care products previously struck deals with Trivani Intl., ZENVEI, HAVVN, RevvNRG and Voluxa.

Arizona-based Asantae has brought dietary, immune support and whole food supplements to market. As a result of the merger, the two companies will combine their product portfolios and sales networks under ARIIX’s patent-pending compensation plan.

“Asantae Representatives bring with them tremendous passion and enthusiasm for products that have the potential of changing the world,” Dan Lundell, Asantae Co-Founder and COO, said in a statement. “Asantae and ARIIX Reps share a common passion for network marketing done right. We look forward to what the future has in store for us together.”

ARIIX did not disclose how many representatives it will gain as a result of the agreement. Prior to its latest mergers with Voluxa and Anastae, ARIIX reported a network of more than 35,000 representatives.

January 13, 2016

U.S. News

LifeVantage Announces Two Additions to Board of Directors

Two new members are adding their expertise to LifeVantage’s board of directors, one of them being company President and CEO Darren Jensen. The seller of wellness, skincare and pet care products also has appointed Dave Toole as Independent Director.

Jensen took on leadership of LifeVantage in April 2015, tasked with expanding business operations and driving sales growth. His 25 years of direct selling experience spans development and execution of global sales, product development and service expansion strategies, most recently as President of the Americas and Chief Sales Officer at a fast-growing personal-care and nutrition brand. He also has founded two direct selling companies.

“We are delighted to have Darren and Dave join our Board of Directors,” Board Chairman Garry Mauro said in a statement. “Since his appointment as CEO Darren has done a tremendous job outlining and executing a plan that puts LifeVantage on a path to accelerated growth.”

Toole currently is CEO of both MediaMobz, a private company that helps brands drive video content to revenue, and digital media incubator Outhink Media. The supply chain, digital media and video expert previously spent 21 years at GaSonics International, a semiconductor capital equipment company where he ultimately served as CEO for eight years before leading the company’s sale to Novellus Systems in 2001.

“We are also excited to have someone with Dave’s expertise in marketing and leadership of a public company join our Board of Directors,” Mauro added. “He has a solid track record for developing digital media and driving improved results that will provide a valuable perspective to our Board.”

January 12, 2016

U.S. News

Youngevity to Enhance Video Offerings with New VP of Global Content

After launching its Youngevity Virtual Meeting Platform this weekend, Youngevity International Inc. is hiring on the architect of the project, Scott Salik, as VP of Global Content.

Salik led the Youngevity team in deploying a scalable, multi-platform training experience that allows the company to simultaneously create and push out content in multiple languages. Youngevity reports that, in initial tests of the platform, audience retention increased by an average of 71 percent, with viewers in 25 different countries.

“We are so fortunate to add Scott Salik to our executive team,” Youngevity President and CFO, Dave Briskie, said in a statement. “His track record for integrating state-of-the-art technical and creative innovations to maximize content value, enhance user engagement and grow brands is unmatched in our industry.”

Salik has spent more than 30 years creating video content. A member of the Producer’s Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, he has worked on feature films and for all the major television networks. Salik also has used his talents to create marketing content, often in multiple languages across multiple markets, for several leading American brands. In the direct selling space, he has served as Vice President at two prominent companies.

“I am enthusiastic to join Youngevity and bring my expertise to one of the most progressive and innovative companies in the social selling space,” said Salik. “I am impressed with their commitment to embrace technology and proud to help accelerate their trail-blazing vision.”

January 11, 2016

World News

First Book by Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin Coming in May

Photo: Jessica Herrin, Founder and CEO of Stella & Dot Family Brands.


Chief executive Jessica Herrin is a mentor to thousands of entrepreneurs at Stella & Dot Family Brands, the company she founded in 2007, but her insights on life and business will find a wider audience in a forthcoming book.

Titled Find Your Extraordinary, the book marks Herrin’s literary debut and invites readers to “dream bigger, live happier, and achieve success on your own.” The 272-page tome from Crown Business, a subsidiary of Random House, is set to hit shelves on May 3, 2016.

“Whether we work a corporate job, run a family, or run our own business, Herrin offers realistic, attainable steps each one of us can take to achieve extraordinary success on our own terms,” the publisher’s blurb states.

“Through candid and inspiring lessons from her life as a successful CEO and working mother of two, as well as stories of many amazing individuals she’s met along the way, Herrin inspires and empowers us to dial up the sound of our own voices and make our authentic dreams a reality.”

Fresh out of college, Herrin worked with a succession of tech startups before attending the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where—at age 24—she co-founded leading wedding site WeddingChannel.com, acquired in 2006 by The Knot. The seeds of accessories brand Stella & Dot grew from Herrin’s living room in Austin, Texas, where she first designed jewelry to sell at home “trunk shows.”

Now based in San Francisco, Stella & Dot Family Brands comprises Stella & Dot, personalized jewelry brand KEEP Collective and EVER Skincare. The company reports nearly $1 billion in product sold through 50,000 independent business owners in six countries.

January 07, 2016

World News

Thousands to Attend Primerica Events Marking 30 Years in Canada

Primerica Canada has announced plans to usher in its 30th year of business with six events across the country on Saturday, Jan. 9.

The company expects about 10,000 representatives to attend the meetings, which will feature an address by chief executive Glenn Williams, who brings firsthand knowledge of the Canadian side of the business. Williams was part of the team that launched operations in the country in 1986, and went on to serve as President and CEO of Primerica Canada from 1996 to 2000. His live address to an audience in Toronto will be simulcast to crowds in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

“Our salesforce of more than 10,000 men and women is the most important factor of our success, and I am honoured to recognize their outstanding performance in 2015 during our upcoming meetings,” Williams said in a statement. “But equally important, we will focus on new initiatives to help us grow our strong momentum and meet the needs of thousands of additional Canadian families.”

Like the company’s U.S. business, Primerica Canada is in the midst of unprecedented growth. The Canadian segment has paid out more than $1 billion in Term Life Insurance claims, and currently insures more than 400,000 lives. Salesforce compensation in 2015 amounted to a record $124 million, up 15 percent year-over-year.

January 07, 2016

World News

Elken Gears Up for Opening of Philippines Market

Photo: Manila, Philippines.


Leading Malaysian direct selling company Elken is tapping into growth in the Asia Pacific region with its forthcoming entry into the Philippines.

The company coordinated a soft launch in the Philippines in December 2015, hosting public events to introduce its business model and extensive range of products, which number more than 500 across the categories of cosmetics, personal care, wellness, food and beverage, and home care. An organic spirulina supplement and water purification system are among the company’s top-selling products.

The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing direct selling markets in the world, according to research by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. From 2011 to 2014, constant dollar revenue from direct sales increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.6 percent, outpaced only by growth in China and Vietnam.

With the official opening of the Philippines, Elken’s operations will extend to 11 markets, including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan. The company, which has been in business for 20 years, has offices in 30 cities. Elken reported revenue of $233 million in 2013, earning the No. 50 spot on the 2014 DSN Global 100, but declined to participate in the 2015 ranking.

January 06, 2016

World News

Young Living Foundation Tops $1 Million in 2015 Giving

Looking back on 2015, the Young Living Foundation reports more than $1 million in cash and products donated throughout the year.

The philanthropic arm of Young Living Essential Oils LLC advances the company’s mission to bring its essential oils to every home in the world. In doing so, the foundation supports numerous local projects and partnerships across the U.S., as well as five large-scale initiatives in other regions of the globe. Young Living ensures that 100 percent of incoming donations directly support those projects by covering all of the foundation’s administrative costs.

“Young Living’s mission has always been tied to making this world a better place and empowering and improving the lives of others,” Nikki Davis, Executive Director of the foundation and Senior Director of Global Philanthropy for Young Living, said in a statement. “We are proud to be able to provide much needed support to our global philanthropic partners as they work tirelessly to improve the lives of those they serve.”

Among the foundation’s major initiatives is the Young Living Academy in Chongon, Ecuador, near one of the company’s farms. Young Living built the school in 2009 and continues to support it, partly through an ongoing “Sponsor a Child” program. Over the past 18 months, Young Living members also donated more than $250,000 to build a high school at Young Living Academy, complete with classrooms, a library, a teacher workroom, a science lab and bathrooms.

Several ongoing efforts are focused on Uganda, where the Young Living Foundation supports three nonprofit organizations. A partnership with Sole Hope helps to address the sanitation needs of children by providing durable shoes and health education. Young Living also partners with African Hearts to rescue children living in the slums and streets of Kampala, Uganda, and with Healing Faith Uganda to fight malaria in rural villages.

January 05, 2016

World News

Herbalife Adds Filipino Doctor to Nutrition Advisory Board

The newest addition to Herbalife’s Nutrition Advisory Board reflects the company’s growing interest in the Asia Pacific region, which accounted for 20 percent of third-quarter revenue.

Herbalife has increased the board’s membership to 30 with the appointment of Dr. Francis Gregory Samonte, an expert in pediatric neurology and the first Filipino member of the board. Currently based in Manila, Philippines, Samonte studied at De La Salle University College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School. For his past work in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, Samonte was a recipient of the Chairman’s Achievement Award.

The Nutrition Advisory Board helps to educate and train Herbalife independent members on the principles of healthy living. One of the company’s key educational initiatives is the Herbalife Asia Pacific Wellness Tour, which includes stops in 15 countries across the region. Various board members join company executives and researchers at each stop to host sessions, open to the general public, on the components of nutrition and physical activity.

David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., Founding Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles, is Chair of the Nutrition Advisory Board. Among the company’s other third-party advisors are Dr. Lou Ignarro, a 1998 Nobel laureate recognized in the category of Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of nitric oxide’s health benefits; and Dr. Gary Small, a specialist in brain health and aging whose numerous honors include the Senior Investigator Award from the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.

January 04, 2016

World News

Jeunesse Reports Annual Sales of $1 Billion in 2015

Jeunesse has set a new benchmark for direct selling companies looking to achieve billion-dollar revenue. The skincare and nutrition company reports that annual sales surpassed $1 billion in 2015, its sixth year of business.

The husband-and-wife team of Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis, CEO and COO, respectively, founded Jeunesse in 2009. In 2015 the company acquired a 130,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Heathrow, Florida, and opened a “Jeunesse West” facility in Draper, Utah, with 150 staff. Thanks to an early emphasis on building an international infrastructure, Jeunesse sells its anti-aging products—collectively dubbed the Youth Enhancement System (Y.E.S.)—through independent distributors in more than 100 countries.

“Our success is the direct result of the hard work, professionalism and dedication of our amazing network of Jeunesse Distributors around the world,” Lewis said in a statement. “I congratulate each and every one of them for helping Jeunesse reach this important milestone.”

Jeunesse is one of several young companies powering through the ranks of the DSN Global 100, an annual list of the top revenue-generating direct selling companies in the world. On the 2015 list, Jeunesse shared the No. 38 spot with home fragrance brand Scentsy, both companies having posted revenue of $419 million in 2014. The list includes just 16 companies with revenue exceeding $1 billion, half of them U.S. firms.

The Inc. 5000/500, which ranks America’s fastest-growing private companies, also served as an early indicator of remarkable growth at Jeunesse. The company made its debut on the list in 2014, breaking into the top 10 percent, known as the Inc. 500, at No. 258. In 2015, Jeunesse ranked No. 564 with three-year growth of 811 percent.

Management regularly points to the company’s technology prowess as a primary driver of growth. In the creation of Jeunesse, Ray and Lewis brought to bear their own expertise in the technology sector, including the fields of medical software and computer hardware. The company’s tailor-made technology includes the “J-World” marketing system, comprised of back office, social and mobile components to help distributors build their businesses.

“Investing in the right technological infrastructure from the beginning while expanding globally has allowed us to reach this level and positions us to continue to grow from $1 billion and beyond,” said Ray.

January 04, 2016

News in Brief

News in Brief January 2016


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


Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report Takes the Pulse of Today’s Entrepreneurs

Amway has released the 2015 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report (AGER), an in-depth look at the state of entrepreneurship around the world. For the first time, the research also reveals attitudes and behaviors at work in individual countries through the Amway Entrepreneurial Spirit Index.

AmwayThe Ada, Michigan-based company unveiled this year’s report during a Nov. 18 event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Doug DeVos, Amway President and Co-CEO, and Global Entrepreneurship Week President Jonathan Ortmans discussed the research with guest speakers during the livestreamed panel forum, “Grit Happens: Defining the Entrepreneurial Spirit.”

The insights presented in the 2015 report come from a survey of 50,000 people aged 14-99. Amway once again partnered with the Chair of Strategy and Organization of the School of Management (TUM) in Munich, Germany, and leading research firm Gesellschaft fuer Konsumforschung (GfK) to create the AGER. The company also has partnered with an academic advisor in each market—44 in all—to assist in interpreting the data.

Notably, the research indicates a 33 percentage point “entrepreneurial gap” between those who could envision themselves starting a business (43 percent) and those actually self-employed (10 percent). The Entrepreneurial Spirit Index, based on Icek Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior, explores three factors behind an individual’s decision to start a business: desire, feasibility and stability against social pressure. Taken together, these benchmarks indicate that entrepreneurial spirit is at its highest in India, while Japan trails all other countries in the index. The United States, direct selling’s largest market, ranked No. 14.


Le-Vel Co-CEOs Paul Gravette (left) and Jason Camper present a donation to Rebecca Hughes Anderson of the National Breast Cancer Foundation.Le-Vel Co-CEOs Paul Gravette (left) and Jason Camper present a donation to Rebecca Hughes Anderson of the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Le-Vel Raises $250,000 in Support of National Breast Cancer Foundation

In Le-Vel’s largest charitable initiative yet, company distributors and customers recently raised more than $250,000 in support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).

The funds resulted from a promotion Le-Vel ran during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2015. The company’s Thrive line of nutrition and weight-management products includes a patent-pending DFT (Derma Fusion Technology) adhesive worn on the skin to support the body’s metabolism process. In October, Le-Vel offered a limited-edition DFT Pink adhesive, with $5 from each purchase benefitting NBCF.

“Breast cancer is important to our distributors, and so it quickly became important to us,” Le-Vel Founder and CEO Jason Camper told DSN. “We picked NBCF because we looked for organizations that had 100 percent transparency in their funding and were devoting at least 80 percent of their actual donations to the cause and research. We believe NBCF is a good match for us.”

To support the October initiative, Le-Vel set up a back-office tracking tool enabling distributors to monitor their personal contributions, as well as those made by their teams. “It brought a lot of internal, fun team competition,” said Camper’s Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Paul Gravette. “There were a lot of people behind this movement—cause marketing at its best.”


Oriflame Discloses Reorganization Effective This Month

Swedish cosmetics seller Oriflame has undergone a reorganization aimed at leveraging digital opportunities and maximizing efficiency throughout the business.

The Luxembourg-based company has formed a global Commercial Division led by Jesper Martinsson, newly appointed Senior Vice President and Head of Commercial Division and Deputy CEO. The division aligns Oriflame’s sales, marketing and supply chain operations.

To focus strategy execution, the company also has decentralized its Regional Organization, with separate teams coordinating strategy in the regions of Latin America, Europe and Africa, CIS (Russian Commonwealth), and Asia and Turkey. Oriflame’s reporting will reflect the new split beginning in the first quarter of 2016.

Additionally, the company has established a Global Manufacturing Division, looking to optimize an area formerly within the scope of Global Operations.

“In a constantly changing global environment, we need to become more agile,” President and CEO Magnus Brännström said in a statement. “The organisational change we announce today is a vigorous step to further strengthen our position in a more digital world. In addition, it will facilitate improved succession planning as well as promote talent within the company.”

As a result of the fine-tuning, which took effect Jan. 1, 2016, Oriflame expects one-time restructuring charges of approximately 6.5 MEUR (US$7.1 million) and, beginning in 2016, about 4 MEUR (US$4.3 million) in annual savings.


Mary Kay Settles on Site of Global Manufacturing and R&D Facility

After months of research and analysis, Mary Kay has pinpointed the future site of its planned global manufacturing and research and development facility. The beauty brand recently announced it will build the $100 million operation in the city of Lewisville, Texas, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

MaryKayThe company disclosed in June 2015 that it had engaged the services of commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE to explore potential sites, though Mary Kay had not ruled out an update to its existing global manufacturing facility in Dallas. Following the internal evaluation, Mary Kay announced in October that it would construct a new facility in North Texas to bring together its global manufacturing and R&D operations. The company settled on a site near its headquarters in Addison, Texas, a distribution center in Carrollton, Texas, and a warehouse facility in Dallas.

Mary Kay expects construction on the new facility to commence in July 2016 and run through the first quarter of 2018. Currently, the company’s manufacturing and R&D operation employs 600 and produces up to 1.1 million units of lipstick, moisturizer and other beauty products per day. Mary Kay also conducts more than 500,000 tests each year to ensure product quality, safety and performance.


Record Revenue Boosts Quarterly Earnings at Youngevity

Youngevity International Inc. reported record quarterly sales of its nutrition and lifestyle products. Revenue totaled $41.3 million in the third quarter, up 9.9 percent from a year ago.

Year to date, revenue has increased 20.8 percent to $116.9 million. In the third quarter, the Chula Vista, California-based company derived 90 percent of revenue from direct selling operations and the remaining 10 percent from its commercial coffee business. Gross profit increased 19.3 percent to $25 million.

Earnings climbed from $185,000 in the prior year to $416,000. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization remained flat at $2.1 million. The company reported an expense reduction of $1.1 million resulting from the change in fair value of warrant derivatives, due to the lower market price of Youngevity stock.


Plexus Donates $200K to Our Military Kids and Toys for Tots

Sales are not the only thing growing rapidly at Plexus Worldwide. The nutrition and weight-management company also reports an exponential increase in charitable giving, including two new donations to Our Military Kids and Toys for Tots.

Totaling $202,143.88, the latest donations resulted from promotional events held on Veterans Day and Cyber Monday at the end of 2015. Scottsdale, Arizona-based Plexus, which ranked No. 132 on 2015’s Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, regularly pledges a portion of its single-day sales to charity.

From its Veterans Day sales, Plexus donated $78,494.35 to Our Military Kids, an organization that supports military children whose parents are deployed or injured. Cyber Monday sales yielded a $123,649.53 donation to Toys for Tots, a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program that distributes new, unwrapped toys to less fortunate children throughout the U.S.

The response from Plexus customers and independent sellers helped the company achieve a three-fold increase over total giving in 2014, according to Chief Marketing Officer Alec Clark. “Our 250,000 Ambassadors from across the U.S. continue to inspire us by their commitment to helping their communities and giving to good causes like Toys for Tots and Our Military Children.


Three Winter Olympics Contenders Join Team USANA

USANAThree additional Olympic contenders have signed on to Team USANA, the stable of world-class athletes and teams product-sponsored by the nutrition company. The newest additions include Alex Deibold, a former wax technician for the U.S. Snowboarding team who, in a span of four years, rose to claim a bronze medal in the sport at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Also partnering with USANA is Brittany Bowe, a lifelong inline skater who transitioned to speedskating in 2010. Since hitting the ice, Bowe has collected 30 World Cup medals and raced for the U.S. Speedskating team at Sochi. This year alone, Bowe earned the World Champion title in the sprint, 1500-meter and 1000-meter races. The final addition is Speed Skating Canada’s Ivanie Blondin, another Sochi contender and the 2015 World Cup Mass Start Champion.


Stream Recoups Legal Fees following Dismissal of Solavei Suit

Stream has received another favorable ruling in its legal dispute with former competitor Solavei. A Dallas District Court judge has awarded Stream hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees arising from a lawsuit brought by Solavei in January 2015, falsely claiming misappropriation of trade secrets.

Energy provider Stream launched mobile services in January, six months after backing out of merger talks with Seattle-based 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, and other privileged information to roll out its mobile business.

A June ruling by Judge Craig Smith of the 192nd District Court dismissed with prejudice Solavei’s allegations against Stream. On Dec. 4, Judge Smith went a step further, awarding Stream $346,000 to cover legal expenses incurred by the company. Under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act, a court may grant attorney’s fees to a prevailing party when, in cases such as Stream’s, claims of trade secret misappropriation are found to have been made in bad faith.

“Today’s court’s order resoundingly reinforces what we have insisted from the commencement of this dispute: that Solavei’s allegations were baseless and maliciously designed to interfere with the nationwide launch of Stream’s mobile business,” Mark “Bouncer” Schiro, Stream President and CEO, said in a statement. “With this final vindication, our Associates can rest assured that this lawsuit soon will be history.”

On the same day Stream recouped its legal fees, Solavei shuttered its mobile business. The company had filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2014, amid talks with Stream. After Stream withdrew from the talks, Solavei merged with Netherlands-based Aspider, a mobile infrastructure and services brand; however, plans to restructure the business never came to fruition, and Solavei later announced it would discontinue its services as of Dec. 4, 2015.


Thirty-One Matches #GivingTuesday Donations to World Vision

A volunteer health educator in Burundi makes her rounds with a Thirty-One Gifts utility tote. (PRNewsFoto/World Vision,Thirty-One Gifts)A volunteer health educator in Burundi makes her rounds with a Thirty-One Gifts utility tote. (PRNewsFoto/World Vision,Thirty-One Gifts)

Thirty-One Gifts partnered with humanitarian organization World Vision once again on #GivingTuesday. The company announced it would match every donation made to World Vision on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, with up to $1 million in product donations.

This marks the second consecutive year Thirty-One has selected Christian aid organization World Vision as one of its #GivingDay recipients. In 2014, the Columbus, Ohio-based company provided totes filled with hygiene supplies to women in impoverished communities across the U.S. This year, Thirty-One is contributing blankets and utility totes from its range of functional bags and home organization products.

In a statement, World Vision’s Director of Community Engagement, Deborah Johns, said the organization will distribute the blankets to new mothers in Somalia and the tote bags to refugees in Armenia who have fled the Syrian conflict.

January 04, 2016

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, January 2016


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


Heather Chastain Named President of Shaklee U.S. and Canada

Shaklee Corp. has appointed Heather Chastain as President of Shaklee U.S. and Canada, a role that gives Chastain responsibility for partnering with the Shaklee field to generate growth and success for Shaklee Independent Distributors in these important markets. 

Heather ChastainHeather Chastain

With 20 years of experience in direct selling, Chastain brings a comprehensive understanding of the sales, marketing, manufacturing and operations functional areas, with a strong, collaborative and relational style of management and leadership. 

Shaklee Chairman and CEO Roger Barnett said, “We are very fortunate to have Heather join our Shaklee family.  She is a superb executive with a proven track record of generating growth in the direct selling industry. In addition, she is truly a delightful person and will be an outstanding partner to me and our entire Shaklee family.”

Prior to joining Shaklee, Chastain served as Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer with a leading personal-care and wellness company. She also has held other leadership roles in the industry in the capacity of President and Vice President. She served on the board of the U.S. Direct Selling Association and was Chair of the DSA Ethics Committee.

“Shaklee is an iconic brand in our channel with outstanding products and a strong track record of integrity and innovation. It’s exciting and such a privilege to be working with this group of professionals to help create the next chapter of growth for this legendary company,” Chastain said.


Ryan Reigle to Lead Regal Ware’s Saladmaster Cookware Division

Ryan ReigleRyan Reigle

Ryan Reigle has been promoted to President of the Saladmaster Cookware division at Regal Ware Inc., where he will oversee all Saladmaster activity worldwide.

A fourth generation descendent of Regal Ware Founder J.O. Reigle, he began his career with Regal Ware in 2007 as Manager of International Sales. Since January 2013 Reigle has served as Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing for the Saladmaster Division.

Before joining Regal Ware, he worked as a Relationship Manager for both Harris Bank and Northbrook Bank & Trust Company in Illinois, bringing extensive knowledge of developing profitable business relationships and exceeding customer needs and expectations, plus he has regulatory requirement experience.


Plexus Hires Mike Green as Chief Information Officer

Mike GreenMike Green

Health firm Plexus Worldwide is bolstering its technology expertise with the appointment of a new Chief Information Officer, Mike Green.

Green is no stranger to direct selling, previously having led IT operations for two companies within the industry. Most recently, he served as Vice President of Information Technology, establishing and structuring the IT department at a young company that has topped $200 million in annual revenue. Green’s earlier career included the role of Vice President of Technology at another company, where he also served as Interim CIO, directing all global IT initiatives.

“Mike brings a heightened focus and prioritization that will drive our IT team and benefit Plexus,” Chief Marketing Officer Alec Clark said. “His history of success at network marketing sales organizations will bridge the gap between our business goals and IT initiatives while spearheading the design of globally solid, reliable systems from concept to production.”

A statement by Plexus describes Green as a leader with a “hands-on management style focused on building and motivating IT teams.” In 14 years of leadership, Green has guided teams across numerous functions, including software development, web development, ERP, WMS, IT operations, help desk and project management.


Ryan Goodwin Joins LifeVantage as Chief Marketing Officer

Ryan GoodwinRyan Goodwin

LifeVantage Corp. has tapped marketing strategist Ryan Goodwin to serve as Chief Marketing Officer, rounding out the executive team assembled by CEO Darren Jensen, who joined the company in April 2015.

Goodwin joins Chief Sales Officer Justin Rose, who came on board in July 2015, and Chief Financial Officer Mark Jaggi, who followed in August.

As an entrepreneur and creative director, Goodwin has helped a wide range of companies build successful brands, both inside and outside the direct sales channel. In 2003 he co-founded Struck, a full-service creative agency with offices in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. Serving as Executive Creative Director of Struck, Goodwin headed up the agency’s creative work for clients such as Volkswagen, Nintendo and Gatorade.

“When it comes to CMOs, there are those who are managers, and there are those who are thought leaders and are truly revolutionary in the way they think,” Jensen said in a statement. “Ryan is one who sees things in a different way than others see things.”

Under Goodwin’s leadership Struck garnered numerous awards, including 2011 Small Agency of the Year from AdAge, a Cannes Lion from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Gold Pencils from the One Show, FWA Site of the Year 2006 and others.


Ruby Ribbon Expands Board of Directors

Norm MatthewsNorm Matthews
Cynthia RingoCynthia Ringo

Shapewear and fashion company Ruby Ribbon Inc. has closed $7.5 million in Series C Funding and with that added two new board members. The round was co-led by DBL Partners, of San Francisco, and Direct Selling Capital of Dallas, and included participation from current investors Trinity Ventures and Mohr Davidow Ventures. With the closing of the round, the additions to the board include Norm Matthews, former President of Federated Department Stores, and Cynthia Ringo of DBL Partners. Joey Carter, Founder of Direct Selling Capital, has become an Advisor.

Carter of Direct Selling Capital was formerly the CEO of a billion-dollar home decorating company as well as a former chairman of the U.S. Direct Selling Association.
Matthews has more than three decades of experience in retail, including serving as President of Federated Department Stores. He currently sits on the boards of ThredUP Inc., Children’s Place, Spectrum Brands, Henry Schein and Party City.

Ringo is a Senior Partner of DBL Partners, and a Managing Partner of a prior fund managed under DBL Investors. She was formerly a Managing Director of VantagePoint Venture Partners, where she was Group Leader of the Communications, Systems, Internet and Media Practice.

“DBL Partners identified in Ruby Ribbon the combination of impressive business results and deep social commitment that are the hallmark of our investments,” said Cynthia Ringo, General Partner.

Ruby Ribbon will use the additional funding to continue its nationwide expansion, including the build-out of additional technology to service the stylist base, an increase in training tools for the stylists and investments in marketing and brand awareness.


Amway Makes Three Additions to Nutrilite Scientific Advisory Board

Bradley WillcoxBradley Willcox
Padma VenkatasubramanianPadma Venkatasubramanian

Amway has added three new members to its Nutrilite Scientific Advisory Board, the brain trust behind the company’s top-selling Nutrilite brand. The latest additions to the board bring expertise in the areas of healthy aging, weight management and traditional Indian medicine.

Eric RavussinEric Ravussin

In the field of healthy aging, Amway has tapped Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., M.Sc., a professor and Director of Research at the Department of Geriatric Medicine in the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii. Willcox is widely published on the genetic, environmental and clinical aspects of healthy aging.

Also joining the board is Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., Director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center and Associate Executive Director for Clinical Sciences at Louisiana State University. Ravussin studies obesity at the molecular level, as well as its ties to other chronic conditions.

The final addition to the Board is Padma Venkatasubramanian, Ph.D., Professor and Advisor at the School of Life Sciences at the Institute of Transdisciplinary Health Sciences & Technology in Bangalore, India. She is an expert in microbiology, chemistry and contemporary applications of Ayurveda. 




Zija International Adds Monica Marcu to Its Product Advisory Council

Monica MarcuMonica Marcu

Monica G. Marcu, a researcher and clinical pharmacologist, has joined the Product Advisory Council at Zija International. Having cultivated a love of trees from an early age, this fascination led her to study plants, particularly medicinal and healing plants, and her study and research of Moringa is incorporated in her book Miracle Tree.

Marcu’s background as an expert on the nutrient-rich Moringa is extensive. With a Ph.D. in pharmacology and a Doctor of Pharmacy, she has worked in clinical pharmacies and biomedical research laboratories at the University of Ottawa, the National Institute of Health, and the National Cancer Institute.

January 04, 2016

World News

WFDSA’s Global Research Project for 2016 Is Underway

The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) and its Global Research Sub-committee have published the research calendar for 2016. The Sub-committee conducts the Global Direct Selling Statistical Survey each year on a global, regional and local basis, seeking to accomplish the following:

  • Size the direct selling industry estimated retails sales
  • Quantify the size of the industry’s salesforce
  • Provide trending statistics, both year-over-year growth and compound annual growth rates

Last year’s research indicated a three-year compound annual growth rate for the industry of 6.5 percent, and that figure also represents multiple years of solid data in the research database. Judy Jones of Amway and Global Research Sub-committee Chairman says, “It takes a village to develop the WFDSA annual statistics each year, and we thank all of the companies who faithfully fill out our research surveys and submit them, as well as the staff at WFDSA, SELDIA, all local DSAs, and the member company representatives on the Research Sub-committee.”

The research team is comprised of 15 to 18 DSA and member company representatives from all over the world, plus third-party vendor Nathan Associates. The team estimates that the research effort takes over 5,000 person hours each year to collect, compile, analyze and report on the global direct selling industry. As noted in the calendar, the survey will go out on Jan. 11 to over 60 Direct Selling Associations (DSAs) across the world, who will then distribute it to member companies. In the U.S., this survey is known as the Annual Growth & Outlook Survey.

Accurate statistics tell the positive story of direct selling to government officials and regulators, the media, academia, and the investment community, in addition to consumer groups and the public. Company responses are due back to their local DSAs by March 14. The Sub-committee publishes the report on its website, www.WFDSA.org, in early June.

All of the research responses remain confidential and are only reported in the aggregate by Nathan Associates. Jones adds, “We hope you’ll support our research efforts once again in 2016.”

January 04, 2016

Company Focus

Noonday Collection: An Artisan Revival The Rise of Fair Trade in Direct Selling

by Beth Douglass Silcox

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


Photo above: Noonday Collection sources its fair-trade jewelry and accessories from artisans all over the world including Ethiopia, Rwanda, India, Vietnam, Ecuador, Peru and Guatemala.


Company Profile

Founded: 2010
Headquarters: Austin, Texas
Top Executives: Founders and Co-CEOs Jessica Honegger and Travis Wilson
Products: Fair-Trade jewelry and accessories
2014 revenue: $11 million

noonday collection


Raise $40,000 and bring a small Rwandan boy home to Austin, Texas. That was Jessica Honegger’s mission five years ago—a daunting task faced by so many wishing to adopt a child internationally. But Honegger brought an entrepreneurial business background to the effort. She discovered that social entrepreneurship, based on selling fair-trade jewelry and accessories through a direct selling business model, could be a winning opportunity for everyone involved.

Jessica HoneggerJessica Honegger
Travis WilsonTravis Wilson

Today, Noonday Collection, run by Co-CEOs Honegger and Travis Wilson, is one of the fastest-growing, privately owned enterprises in the country, with 2014 revenue standing at $11 million and a three-year growth rate of 5,512 percent. Their jewelry and accessories are handmade by artisans in 13 countries with the company following strict guidelines as a member of the Fair Trade Federation. They have just over 1,000 active direct selling Ambassadors (those who have had $500 in sales in the last three months) and more than 60 employees. They’ve moved three times since 2011 and now occupy 12,000 square feet in Austin.


“Not only are we selling products, but we’re selling products with a story. There’s no more powerful place to storytell than sitting around another woman’s living room.” —Jessica Honegger, Founder and Co-CEO



A Ugandan Beginning

It was 2010 in Uganda, where the trajectory of Honegger’s life changed and Noonday Collection was born. On a trip to visit friends serving at a local orphanage, she and her husband, Joe, not only decided to grow their family through adoption, but also crossed paths with Jalia and Daniel, two talented jewelry artisans who would become the conduit to making their adoption dream a reality.

Jalia and Daniel created beautiful and stylish jewelry accessories. They had big dreams of employing others in their community to do the same, but they needed a marketplace for their goods. Honegger, who considered herself an activist of sorts since she was a teen, understood that entrepreneurship was a sustainable solution to poverty. She’d seen it work a decade earlier as a Food for the Hungry volunteer assisting Bolivian artisans. So standing there on Ugandan soil, Honegger’s past merged with her present. She could provide the marketplace Jalia and Daniel needed and simultaneously raise the funds necessary to grow her family.

It was Jalia and Daniel’s handmade jewelry that Honegger stocked and sold at her first cash-and-carry trunk show at home in Texas. “We gathered together, and I realized that not only did people want to come and support this adoption, but they also were asking about the story behind the products and wanted to know about the community that was making these products in Uganda,” Honegger says.

Afterward Honegger set to work pulling together a photo shoot, gathering additional products, creating a name and a website and filing appropriate paperwork. Women reached out from around Texas and as far away as Washington and Tennessee. They wanted to be part of Noonday Collection, and they liked the idea of raising money for an adoption. “Within a few months, I realized that this was more than a fundraiser. This had the potential to really be a business,” Honegger says.


Indian artisans share their experience of working with Noonday.Indian artisans share their experience of working with Noonday. Noonday's products with a purpose have attracted a distinctive Ambassador community, one that has a passion for helping others.Noonday’s products with a purpose have attracted a distinctive Ambassador community, one that has a passion for helping others.

Noonday Collection recently ranked No. 45 on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America and was No. 3 of the 50 fastest-growing women-led companies in the country.


Help!

Founder and Co-CEO Jessica Honegger visits with Vietnamese artisans she partners with who make Noonday's jewelry.Founder and Co-CEO Jessica Honegger visits with Vietnamese artisans she partners with who make Noonday’s jewelry.

There are 4,000 artisans making the Noonday Collection products that are so popular with U.S. consumers. The impact of the jobs created reaches some 20,000 artisan family members.


Sales were more than brisk, they were soaring and keeping up was difficult. Honegger needed finance and operational help. She needed to know if Noonday was profitable per se. So she turned to Travis Wilson, the husband of a longtime friend with expertise in finance and marketing and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

A decade prior, the Honeggers and Wilsons shared a meal near the Indian Ocean with no visions of Noonday Collection. Wilson ran a micro-bank in Maputo, Mozambique, under the umbrella of a larger international development NGO. That organization loaned money to women in rural villages to alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship. The Honeggers happened to be visiting a local orphanage.

Fast-forward more than a decade, and Travis and Suzanne Wilson relocate to Austin, where Jessica and Joe Honegger are real estate agents. The Honeggers help the Wilsons find a house, and the two young families grow to be closer friends. Each time they meet socially, the intensity of Noonday escalates, as does the Honeggers’ stress and excitement.

“I’d come to Austin with the aspiration of being an operator in an entrepreneurial way,” Wilson says. “Jessica knew that I had a mission orientation, an impact orientation, having lived in Africa and done the work that we were doing there. We both had that lens. And it all came together at the right time.”

Honegger lived the power of direct selling from that very first trunk show, when 70 women squeezed into her home. Wilson was less familiar, but trusted Noonday’s numbers. “Then the lightbulb came on for him, and he realized that this had the potential to be a viable company. That’s when we became business partners,” Honegger says.

Early on, the pair relied on complementary strengths and interests, long days and long weeks to figure things out. “We were able to get so much done on our own without having to hire out, which was super important,” Wilson says.

Ambassadors of Social Entrepreneurship

By 2011, Noonday Collection was no longer exclusively a fundraiser. It was a business with a flair for fashion, committed to social entrepreneurship and with a field of dedicated Ambassadors ready to tell the Noonday story.

“Not only are we selling products, but we’re selling products with a story. There’s no more powerful place to storytell than sitting around another woman’s living room. It’s really not just another opportunity to style, but an opportunity to catalyze women so that they feel a part of something bigger than themselves,” Honegger says.

Noonday attracted an interesting niche audience from the beginning because of the company’s give-back component to families raising money for adoption. When an adoptive family hosts a trunk show or someone else does in their honor, Noonday gives 10 percent back to that family. The company has celebrated and supported 1,600 adoptive families so far.

“It’s a very passionate community of women who are really go-getters, so in a way it was like my target audience and I didn’t know it,” Honegger says.

Not only did that niche audience host trunk shows and buy Noonday products, but also some amazing and pioneering women jumped aboard as the first Ambassadors, representing a business model never before used for fair-trade goods. Wilson recalls that so deep was their commitment and belief, Ambassadors forged ahead without a comp plan, direct selling website, catalogs or selling tools.

Ambassadors earned 20 percent commission at that time and still do. Monthly sales bonuses and awards that raise commission rates based on lifetime sales are now in place, as is a new intranet tool for posting announcements, collateral materials and training. Last year, the company instituted a well-received team structure, which they plan to build on in coming years.

The product with a purpose combination was powerful and attracted a distinctive Ambassador community that embodied Noonday’s mission. “They are women who are very much driven by a desire to make an impact by the work that they do,” Wilson says. “The Ambassador opportunity is more than an income opportunity, more than some sort of personal or professional development. It’s really an opportunity for them to be leaders in their communities, to have global focus, and to make an impact there.”

Many of those original Ambassadors remain, and today nearly 20 percent of Noonday Collection Ambassadors are adoptive moms that fit within the company’s overall demographic of churchgoing mothers between the ages of 25 and 40. These women embody the biblical Scripture for which the company was named: Isaiah 58:10, “If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like noonday.”

Storytelling

Ana is a Guatemalan artisan who is able to help support her family thanks to her partnership with Noonday Collection.Ana is a Guatemalan artisan who is able to help support her family thanks to her partnership with Noonday Collection.

“We’re constantly trying to calibrate between different levers we can pull to accelerate growth, while building and developing the supply chain to make sure that one doesn’t outstrip the other.” —Travis Wilson, Founder and Co-CEO


Fully engaged Ambassadors had a story to tell and they did so on social media, growing the company organically at a time when social media was free. Trunk show attendees, who previously had made charity purchases of fair-trade goods, were buying Noonday jewelry because it was legitimately beautiful and they wanted to wear it. “I think that was a definite advantage,” Honegger says. All sorts of people picked up on the message and spread it around cyberspace through Facebook posts, reposts and blogs. “People were just so generous,” Honegger says.

Digital marketing on a zero-dollar budget grew the company and gave them a wide breadth from the get-go. “I got to be friends with a bunch of people who ended up becoming huge social media influencers,” Honegger says. “One of the biggest influencers had 500,000 people following her on Facebook. So you get a few of those people in your camp and it’s really a domino effect.”

But blogging became saturated and Facebook began billing, so Noonday nimbly adopted Instagram. “That’s been our fastest-growing platform, and it’s really fun because it’s so visual. We’ve been able to re-gram and create different hashtags,” Honegger says. She’s particularly proud of #noondaystyle on Instagram getting over 10,000 posts recently.

Instagram’s visual format works because of its storytelling capability. “You’ve got not only these women who are posting pictures of themselves—selfies—with their Noonday on, but also we’re telling stories that other people want to engage with,” Honegger says.

Honegger and Wilson travel the world extensively, cultivating relationships with the artisans who make Noonday products. They take the world along on their travels, using Instagram, Facebook, blogs and even Periscope’s live-streaming capabilities to connect customers and Ambassadors to the hands, faces and lives of the people who make their products.

This nurtured relationship with its artisans is why Noonday holds itself to a high standard following the principles of the Fair Trade Federation, which promotes fairness in international trade and utilizes fair trade as a strategy for alleviating poverty and developing sustainability practices. Committed to the purpose of creating opportunities for the economically and socially marginalized, Noonday requires the same adherence from its artisan suppliers as well, asking that they maintain fair wages, provide safe and empowering work conditions, cultivate environmental stewardship, and strictly prohibit child and force labor.

Scaling Artisan Businesses

Ambassadors have the opportunity to travel as well as spend time with local Noonday artisans.Ambassadors have the opportunity to travel as well as spend time with local Noonday artisans.

Wilson says that Ambassadors and even hostesses are drawn to Noonday’s purpose, but their customers tell them that products drive sales. Currently, Noonday works with artisan businesses in countries such as Ethiopia, Ecuador and India. In the collection, there are Peruvian embroidery, Rwandan textiles, Mayan weaving, Vietnamese horn jewelry, and Guatemalan beading, alpaca knits, silks, paper beads and even pod art.

Noonday’s branding, conceived early on by Honegger, created a beautiful aesthetic and product entwined with meaning, and Wilson believes it’s one of the reasons the company has experienced rapid growth. He says sales grew from $1.4 million in 2011 to just under $12 million in 2014. Noonday Collection recently ranked No. 45 on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America and was No. 3 of the 50 fastest-growing women-led companies in the country.

But rapid growth has its challenges, especially for a company that is committed to handmade goods. “It’s challenged us to be really clear about what we’re trying to accomplish, in what time, and to be intentional about how we end up building,” Wilson says.

So Honegger and Wilson spend their time on the ground, meeting with their 30 artisan businesses and investing in those relationships that they have cultivated over the years. This allows them to have custom-designed pieces, as well as observation over fair-trade standards and the ability to partner with artisans that share Noonday’s mission.

Artisan businesses are commonplace in many of the countries where Noonday artisan partners are located. Art is part of their culture. But these artisans are poor, sometimes former street prostitutes, who are trying to survive. While a lot have the business leadership that can facilitate growth and meet product demand, some do lack business acumen, so Honegger says, “That’s part of our value proposition of what we’re doing. We’re coming alongside these businesses to help them scale.”


“Ultimately, it’s work and jobs that we’re creating in these really hard places where typical companies don’t really want to work.” —Jessica Honegger


That’s not to say it is easy, but for Noonday’s original Ugandan artisans, Jalia and Daniel, it is working. They now employ 100 artisans in their workshop and 300 more in their community. All told, there are 4,000 artisans making the Noonday Collection products that are so popular with U.S. consumers, with the largest of them supplying 10,000 pieces a month or about 100,000 a year. The impact of the jobs created reaches some 20,000 artisan family members.

With a year of internal growth—one that doubled the corporate team and created support and development infrastructure—behind them, Noonday Collection wants to reach deeper into the U.S. market. While they do business in all 50 states, their recruitment comprises informal meetups hosted by Ambassador groups. “So far, Noonday isn’t opportunistic about these meetups,” Wilson says. “We’re looking to be more intentional and strategic next year.”

To avoid “hockey stick” growth from a company perspective, Wilson says, “We’re constantly trying to calibrate between different levers we can pull to accelerate growth, while building and developing the supply chain to make sure that one doesn’t outstrip the other.”

Naysayers, even well-respected direct selling industry professionals, believe Noonday’s supply chain must change to succeed because artisans won’t be able to keep up with demand. But the founders say they are not discouraged by this unique position they are in. The real goal is helping to lift artisans out of poverty, empowering Ambassadors and supporting adoptive families. The growth is a by-product of what they can do for others.

“Travis and I are extremely committed to our mission, which is building a flourishing world through creating meaningful opportunities,” Honegger says. “Ultimately, it’s work and jobs that we’re creating in these really hard places where typical companies don’t really want to work.”

January 04, 2016

Cover Story

The Social Age

by Andrea Tortora

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


The Social Age is here. If you’re not taking full advantage of the tools and technologies that social platforms have to offer, you and your company are likely to be left behind as the competition leaps ahead. Now well into its infancy, the Social Age is and will be making a tremendous impact on the sales industry, especially within the world of direct selling. The changes already cannot be ignored.

Technology drives everything—recruitment, retention and revenue—for most companies. Those businesses that realize what they can achieve when all of their internal, back office, social media, field tools and software systems work together are equipped to innovate and leverage essential data that will let them thrive in the future.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are potent tools that companies and consultants are learning to use as they build connections with customers and grow sales. Other apps such as Periscope and Google Hangout are gaining traction, too. Yet many executives and companies are slow to embrace these advances. A study from CEO.com and Domo finds that 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence. Among the 30 percent who do, they only use one social channel. Here LinkedIn was the chosen platform.

In contrast to that study, it does appear that C-level executives within direct selling are more plugged in to the benefits of these engagement tools. A recent study conducted among members by the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA), titled The 2015 Managing Your Company’s Web Presence and Technology Systems Survey, indicates that nearly six in 10 companies surveyed report that one or more of their chief-level executives have company-associated social media accounts that they actively engage in
(57 percent).

Additionally, over half of those also indicate that the chief executives create the content for those accounts. At Scentsy, the Idaho-based wickless candle company, it’s common for an executive to personally respond to field achievements or post in conversations on Facebook, the social media platform most used by Scentsy Consultants.

Rick Stambaugh, Chief Information Officer at Utah-based company USANA, refers to the focus of today as “Digital Humanism.” He says, “The consumer-driven Internet of things has many components, but the most prominent one is social.”

As direct sellers work toward more fully embracing the Social Age and everything that comes with it, a few things are clear:

  • There is a growing correlation between social media use and deals closed. Consultants who know how to use social media see their sales skyrocket as a result.
  • The growth of mobile devices means the salesforce and their customers have constant access to social platforms, no matter where they are.
  • Social selling is quickly becoming a dominant sales model across all product categories.
  • The use of social technologies is predicted to keep growing at a record pace.


As the Social Age develops, it is mission critical for the direct selling channel to grab the reins, educate itself and either find vendors or hire staff who have a knack for predicting what’s next and how to stay ahead of the competition.


Social Engagement

How Small Companies Are Using Technology

How Small Companies Are Using Technology

Jordan Essentials—Personal Care

Jordan Essentials, which sells family skincare products, uses My Success Rocket to onboard, train and coach its consultants from day one. The interactive technology allows for two-way communication between a coach and a new recruit. The tool collects data that delivers targeted coaching and preserves time for the coach to still sell. At the same time, the gamified training module means new team members are better connected to the company. Nancy Bogart, CEO and Founder of Jordan Essentials, says corporate now receives fewer repetitive questions from first-year sellers. “We are a person-to-person business,” Bogart says. “This is a good interactive system for us.”

Bogart also envisions new methods that are more interactive than what’s available today, such as Go To Meeting or Skype. “I’d love to see something that creates an experience that lets me contact a consultant and her group in California and do a training, and do it with a multichannel coaching platform that keeps the humanness in the business,” Bogart says.

She sees future technology tools “getting warmer and more personal,” so that a video chat on the phone can truly stand in as being a substitute for an in-person meeting.

Simply Said—Home Décor

At Simply Said, which offers home décor based on positive language, Founder and CEO Michelle Leuthold spends lots of energy on getting new designers launched well so that they activate faster and start generating sales. She’s using social media, videos and interactive tools to do it.

“That is where it all gets so interesting,” Leuthold says. “With technology we have to find a way to keep the importance of the relationships. It is an interesting challenge that we are still experimenting with.”

CVSL—Multiple Companies

Social media can and should be used to reinforce the closeness and sense of “family” within and outside a company, says John Rochon, CEO of CVSL, a brand holding company of eight direct selling firms.

“It’s important not to make the mistake of getting too slick and losing the human essence of what drives social media,” he says. “It’s not about technology, it’s about relationships and reinforcing a sense of belonging by the salesforce.” The next big leap will be in finding new and interesting ways of combining social media and technology tools with making relationship-based commerce easier, Rochon says.

Traci Lynn Jewelry—Jewelry

Companies like Traci Lynn Jewelry, which leverage people in their own organizations to move things forward, will find success faster. People from the field (who are not sales leaders) are leading a Fragmob implementation at the jewelry firm, as well as leading the social aspect.

“Dr. Traci Lynn is embracing what good organizations have done forever,” says Michael McMillan, Vice President of Customer Experience at Fragmob. “Before you go external, you look internal, and all the field people are members of your sales team.”

Social media strengthens the person-to-person connection at the heart of direct sales. It allows for instructional videos on how to use a product, personal testimonials, and business coaching and training which build relationships between sellers and their sales leaders, sellers and clients, and even consumers and a company’s brand—whether they are in the same location or continents apart.

As the Social Age develops, it is mission critical for the direct selling channel to grab the reins, educate itself and either find vendors or hire in-house staff who know the platforms, can keep pace with their evolution, and have a knack for predicting what’s next while staying ahead of the competition.

Companies are often faced with tough decisions about where to allocate their IT budget. The speed of development within the tech field has produced and continues to produce more options for companies to choose among than they may have dollars to purchase. How does one decide?

Julie Cabinaw, Vice President Marketing Technology and Innovation at Scentsy, says, “It’s important to assess the value of each platform to your audience and choose the ones that will best help you enable conversations that amplify your brand. We view [these technologies] as an opportunity to connect to our Consultants and customers where they live digitally.”


Companies like Younique, It Works!, and Traci Lynn Jewelry recognize the need to integrate their systems in order to revolutionize social selling and meet their customers and potential distributors where they are. They are doing it by maintaining a focus on being flexible and mobile.


It’s also critical to balance dependence on technology tools with the people-centric philosophy that forms the foundation of the channel. Social media, according to Scott Stratten, President of Ontario-based UnMarketing, is not necessarily a lead-generation tool, but rather a conversation tool. Stratten, who delivered a keynote address at the recent DSA Sales and Marketing Conference, describes social media as more of a sales sieve than a sales funnel. He says, “Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be terrible for sales and marketing. Spam has a better click-through rate, and that’s not an exaggeration. These platforms are best used for the three C’s: community, conversation and customer service.”

When both the company and the salesforce use social media to listen to customers, share stories and share emotions, those efforts can have a positive impact on the brand and thus sales. Cabinaw goes so far as to say the companies who will succeed in this arena are those “that understand their first goal is helping Consultants use social media.”

Many companies use Facebook to start conversations with independent representatives as well as customers. When the company puts dedicated resources toward responding to comments and cultivating those conversations, a true community can develop.

Utah-based wellness company 4Life Research intends to use its Facebook conversations as the foundation for more far-reaching relationships. Calvin Jolley, Vice President, Commununications, says, “In 2016 we’re focusing on campaigns that engage followers with posts that are designed to encourage sharing and commenting. Our intention is to build relationships with those digital brand ambassadors whose social media activity increases our ability to communicate with others.”

Social Selling

Sales generated through social media channels are expected to top $30 billion worldwide for 2015, according to statistics provider Statistica. That’s up from $20 billion in 2014. Direct selling companies are capturing their share of those results. Since its launch in 2012, for example, Texas-based Le-Vel has found 90 percent of its customer growth through connections on Facebook and other social media networks (see “Cloud-Based Company Is Helping Millions Thrive” on Page 36).

As companies boost their social media audiences, they also increase social sales. A study of 500 retail merchants from Internet Retailer found that in 2014, total social commerce sales for this group of businesses was $3.3 billion, up from $2.6 billion in 2013.


Sales generated through social media channels are expected to top $30 billion worldwide for 2015, according to statistics provider Statistica. That’s up from $20 billion in 2014.


Derek Maxfield, Younique Founder and CEO, designed the beauty company around the use of social selling-empowered technology from the onset. Maxfield says, “When you equip social-media savvy Presenters with the right tools, you end up with a social selling model that works. We rely on a seamless digital experience that comes to life through our Presenters.”

Younique’s primary party takes place in the virtual world, and “we’re continually looking for ways to strengthen that approach,” says Maxfield. Younique has added Virtual Hangouts, a video conferencing capability in which Presenters can showcase and sell products as well share tips with customers and even train other Presenters.

The more time companies and consultants spend using social media, the more sales improve, according to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner.

Among all companies using social media for at least five years and who spend 40 hours a week marketing on social platforms, 70 percent say the efforts yield better sales. By comparison, only 38 percent of companies using social media less than five years, or those spending fewer than five hours a week, marketing through social media report increased sales.

An increasing number of companies believe that social media yields measurable returns. For example, 51 percent of business-to-consumer marketers think their Facebook campaigns are effective. They cite these benefits of social media marketing:

By the end of 2015, more than half of all social networking will occur on smartphones and tablets, according to research firm eMarketer.

By the end of 2015, more than half of all social networking will occur on smartphones and tablets, according to research firm eMarketer.


  • Nine in 10 see increased exposure.
  • Three-quarters report increased traffic.
  • 51 percent indicate improved sales.

Facebook tends to dominate the playing field. According to Social Media Examiner, 96 percent of marketers say Facebook is their primary social platform, though other platforms work well for many. Fast-growing jewelry company Noonday Collection is among companies that have placed an increasing emphasis on Instagram with positive results (see “An Artisan Revival” on Page 48).

Things are likely to change as businesses ramp up their use of social and technology tools. The Social Media Examiner report says that nearly two-thirds of marketers plan to increase the use of Twitter and YouTube, and 60 percent say they will increase their Instagram presence toward customers.

Successful sales people aren’t just playing around on social media. Their online activities and communications are wrapped up in the sales of their products and services. The most effective ones are those who create genuine communities of people connected by common interests. They may share product tips, answer questions, offer advice and even make people laugh or feel inspired with a funny picture or inspirational quote.

The common denominator among those in the salesforce who use social media to enhance their selling is authenticity. They believe in their product or service, and they believe in the power of social media. The combination creates a highly effective method to build a sales pipeline and nurture leads. At USANA, Stambaugh says the company looks at all social media platforms for insight and understanding of what people like and why they like it. “We may not always deploy a particular platform,” he says, “but we want to understand it.”

Data-Driven Decisions

Direct sellers and sales leaders know they need to use social media to their advantage, but they sometimes struggle to find ways to understand the data they generate about their sales teams and customers. They want to integrate this information into their systems in ways that allow them to gain new insights and take actions that grow sales.

Though Younique considers itself primarily a virtual party company, Maxfield understands that some Presenters still have in-person sales. As a result, the company is developing an app tied to the company platform that enables Presenters to process and record cash and credit card transactions for customers, as well as manage that customer information for future purchases.

In the next few years, companies can expect to have access to even better tools that build upon the reams of data now being collected. Vendors and direct sellers are working fast and hard to keep pace with technology, and better their analytical tools.



The Move to Mobile

Many of us now access the Internet through a mobile device. In the 2015 study, U.S. Digital Future in Focus, comScore reports that mobile access to the Internet quadrupled in the past four years. At the same time, desktop access is up 37 percent.


“Average people are connecting to extraordinary thinkers and they are able to become extraordinary themselves through their network. Your people, some of them are expert enough to lead you into the social age. You just have to let them.” —Ted Coiné, author and social media expert


What’s the No. 1 activity people engage in when they are online? Social networking. And a third of all traffic to the Top 10 digital properties were mobile-only visits:

  • Google is the No. 1 digital property with 238 million unique U.S. visitors.
  • Yahoo is No. 2 with 216 million unique visitors.
  • Facebook is No. 3 with 207 million visitors.

The amount of time and activity consumers spend on social networking sites makes the case for social selling crystal clear. By the end of 2015, more than half of all social networking will occur on smartphones and tablets, according to research firm eMarketer.

At the end of 2014, Facebook provided 61 percent of all social logins and made up 72 percent of all e-commerce social logins, reports Gigya, a customer data and insight provider. In fact, Facebook’s engagement rate among its users blows Instagram and Pinterest out of the water.

The DSA’s Web Presence study also reports that nearly eight in 10 companies surveyed indicated that their customers can place and complete orders entirely on mobile platforms (78 percent). Younique certainly is in this group, referring to itself as a “mobile first” company, with 76 percent of total traffic coming from mobile devices according to Maxfield.

In their book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, authors Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt talk about how social media requires executives to be willing to let go of their control of the corporate message and be active listeners. Social media channels allow companies to crowd source in innovative ways, Coiné says in a video message on the book’s website.

“Average people are connecting to extraordinary thinkers and they are able to become extraordinary themselves through their network,” Coiné says. “Your people, some of them are expert enough to lead you into the social age. You just have to let them.”

The balance between maintaining control of the corporate branding and messaging while at the same time empowering the salesforce to use social media to the fullest extent can be exceedingly difficult. It can be challenging knowing where to draw the line for field leaders with entreprenuerial instincts of their own. Certainly getting their input and including them in the discussion of how to protect the integrity of the corporate message could be a first step.

The Human Element

The companies that will excel in the Social Age are those that find ways to collaborate with the independent representatives in the field as they invest in IT and development to create useful tools. A team approach can strengthen businesses. Listening to the ideas and feedback from those who are selling the products brings competitiveness with new technology and keeps pace with growth, all while tapping into the motivations of what drives people to sell or buy.

The DSA’s Web Presence study reports that roughly 70 percent of those surveyed indicated the primary purpose of their company’s corporate website is information sharing and branding. Only 17 percent reported online selling as the primary purpose, even though two-thirds of those surveyed do award their online sales to a distributor.
This statistic illuminates an opportunity for all companies to align with consumer preferences. More and more attention will need to be given to the development of online and e-commerce strategies that satisfy both the independent representative’s relationship with his or her customer and the desire of customers to shop online.

In today’s Social Age, nothing is just business anymore; everything is personal. In fact, direct selling, as a business channel, is in the perfect position to lead the charge to take technology and turn it into something that resembles and enhances the human element. After all, direct selling is the most relational of all selling methods.

January 04, 2016

Publisher's Note

2016: A Year of Innovation

by Lauren Lawley Head


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


Lauren Lawley Head Publisher and Editor in Chief

Some may say it’s too early to designate a theme for the new year, but I believe it’s already clear that innovation will be a common thread woven throughout the next 12 months. The cover story for this month’s issue takes a deep dive into one of the many innovation drivers we’ll see in 2016: the establishment of the Social Age. New technologies and social media platforms are transforming the way consumers and entrepreneurs communicate, and that pace of change does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. USANA’s Chief Information Officer, Rick Stambaugh, shares in this month’s cover story, beginning on Page 20, that he considers this time in history as a time of “Digital Humanism,” in which social dominates the consumer-driven Internet of things.

Many companies are doing exciting things in the channel, and we are fortunate to be able to bring you three of those stories in this edition. Le-Vel first came on the scene in 2012, introducing the world of direct selling to the concept of a cloud-based company. The innovation didn’t stop there, and just a few years later the team has built a $350 million business still in growth mode. A few hours south from Le-Vel’s Dallas-area headquarters is Noonday Collection, a party plan company based out of Austin and dedicated to maintaining a high-touch approach to its supply chain even as demand continues to ramp up for its products. Founders and Co-CEOs Jessica Honegger and Travis Wilson continue to meet personally with their 30 artisan suppliers scattered across the globe to bring high-quality, handcrafted jewelry and accessories to the marketplace. It can be difficult to scale, but the largest suppliers now produce 10,000 pieces a month and provide financial support to hundreds of people in their communities. Our third company feature this month will introduce you to one of the newest entrants to the channel: Miami-based MONAT Global, a haircare products company launched in 2014. In MONAT, we see the founders of L’eudine take their direct selling experience and branch out into a new product category and consumer demographic.

We’ll be telling even more of these stories of innovation as 2016 progresses, and we want to invite you to become part of the process. Research work for the Direct Selling News Global 100 and North America 50 project is underway, and it is important that we hear from your company. Each year, this list shines a spotlight on the businesses making the biggest impact in the channel, either through their established prowess or their fast growth, and provides a window into the important role direct selling plays in business today. To make sure your company is a part of this special project, visit our website, www.directsellingnews.com, or send me an email to connect with our research team.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and innovative 2016!

Lauren Lawley Head
Publisher and Editor in Chief

P.S. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Global 100 celebration: April 7 at the Omni Hotel in Dallas!

January 04, 2016

Company Spotlight

Le-Vel: Cloud-Based Company Is Helping Millions Thrive

by Courtney Roush

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


Company Profile

Founded: 2012
Headquarters: Frisco, Texas
Top Executives: Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Jason Camper and Paul Gravette
Products: weight-management, mental clarity, energy, cognitive performance and inflammation support
2015 Revenue: approximately $350 million


It’s a fascinating time for the direct selling industry. Within our ranks are the legendary greats who have been on the scene for 50 years or more, those who have faced the challenge of updating their business models to keep pace with technology’s continuous evolution. In recent years, the industry has added several chairs to its proverbial table, welcoming a host of young direct selling companies for whom technology is woven into the very fabric of their respective cultures. Premium lifestyle product company Le-Vel is at the very forefront of this new wave, selling its supplements, shakes and metabolism-boosting wearable adhesives to support a healthy lifestyle.

Jason CamperJason Camper Paul GravettePaul Gravette

“Because we’re cloud-based, we can reward our brand promoters and their customers with more because our overhead is a fraction of what most corporations have.” —Paul Gravette, Co-Founder and Co-CEO


Le-Vel Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Jason Camper and Paul Gravette, both industry veterans, knew what it took to launch a successful direct selling company. But they didn’t want to do it the traditional way. With an eye on trends taking shape in the business world at large, they opted to plunge into new territory, launching a direct selling company based entirely in the cloud.

For the uninitiated, that means Le-Vel has no brick-and-mortar headquarters. Camper and Gravette took the money they would have invested in overhead and pumped it into what they consider the highest-quality product ingredients for their THRIVE product line. It’s a philosophy consistent with a “product-first” mentality that has enabled the company to grow organically, yet steadily. Since its launch in 2012, Le-Vel’s annual revenue has ballooned from $10 million in 2013 to $100 million in 2014, then $350 million in 2015.

Cloud-Based Technology

“Before the word ‘cloud’ became the hot word, I’d built online-only companies,” Gravette says. “I’ve known for 10-plus years that a cloud-based corporate infrastructure will keep a company nimble and lean. Let’s face it: The Internet has made our business environment 100 times more competitive than ever before. Because we’re cloud-based, we can reward our brand promoters and their customers with more because our overhead is a fraction of what most corporations have. That allows us to ‘walk the walk’ and be loyal to those who represent our brand.”

To make this all possible, the company first had to create this non-traditional infrastructure. Gravette says its IT department was one of its “weapons” for conquering this piece of technology, and that from inception, the founders had absolute control of its software coding, which allowed Le-Vel to move much faster than if they had outsourced this process.

“We take pride in saying we believe our platform is not only advanced, but that we already are building out seamlessly our social network’s future of mobile and app tracking technologies,” Gravette says.

A direct selling company without a front door, corporate tours or offices, of course, is a relatively foreign concept. Direct sellers are known for maintaining close-knit cultures both among employees and in the field. While many of those companies manage their resources as effectively as possible, it’s undeniable that “the old way” is an expensive and, in some cases, not terribly flexible one. “We have a nontraditional corporate structure; the hierarchy is much flatter,” says Drew Hoffman, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. The company maintains a full-time staff based all over the United States, more than half of them on the customer support team. Being cloud-based allows Le-Vel to hire the best fit for its staff without limiting its options based on proximity to a fixed location. Executives and customer support operate from anywhere at any time. 

So how does a cloud-based company keep its employees around the campfire, so to speak? “The organic nature of our structure contributes to a real team feeling,” Hoffman says. “You don’t feel overly restricted here. You’ve got the ability to wear multiple hats and think creatively. Everyone knows they have a voice and can add value.”

Gravette adds, “The less you see of your colleagues, the more you appreciate the time you do have when you’re together.”

Cloud technology also means greater flexibility and agility for a company striving to push the limits in promoter and customer satisfaction. “It allows us to work together, communicate about what’s going on and respond faster while keeping overhead at an absolute minimum,” Hoffman says. “I never foresee us becoming a more hierarchal, bloated structure. We’ve added some great new talent over the last three to six months, but we’ll remain small, and that allows us to be efficient, lean and effective. Our agility remains an important piece of our success and our growth.”

Gravette says that the company’s infrastructure has allowed it to respond quickly and avoid backorders, shipping and customer service issues. 

More specifically, the company has designed a special batching process to cut down on cost, and has an extensive inventory reporting system to help determine inventory demand. “At the end of the day, speed of delivery will determine customer satisfaction in today’s online consumer world,” Gravette says. “Being able to grow for more than 40 months with no hickups in online orders and with products being shipped within 24 hours, on average, has really strengthened our salesforce’s appreciation for the fast online order processessing and fulfillment of their customers.”

“Cloud technology affords us great flexibility and agility. It allows us to work together, communicate about what’s going on and respond faster while keeping overhead at an absolute minimum.” —Drew Hoffman, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer

Product First

Thanks to greatly reduced expenditures, Camper says, “we’ve been able to put our money where we want it: on our products.” The supplement industry, both inside and outside the direct selling realm, is enormous, and there’s no denying that ingredient quality can and does vary wildly among various brands. “Anyone can look around and see that people are tired, they’re not feeling good and they’re utterly exhausted,” Gravette says. “Helping others feel great is what makes our accomplishments so fulfilling.”

Le-Vel sources premium-grade ingredients, which the company says carry a higher bioavailability than standard ingredients, meaning the body is better able to absorb them at a higher level and reap their associated benefits. “We’re focused on the efficacy of our products versus on our margins,” Camper says. “We had confidence that if we provided a superior product, that growth would follow. The cloud has enabled us to have a much higher cost of goods. If you look at the last 12 to 18 months, the biggest thing that our cloud infrastructure has done is help facilitate and sustain hyper-growth.”


“Anyone can look around and see that people are tired, they’re not feeling good and they’re utterly exhausted. Helping others feel great is what makes our accomplishments so fulfilling.” —Paul Gravette


In order to meet their own high standards for quality, company executives established a Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, which has more than 200 years of combined industry research in human nutrition and nutritional supplementation. Camper says that to date, Le-Vel has commissioned two double-blind placebo-controlled safety studies and two efficacy studies, as well as worked with Ohio State University to complete a statistical analysis on how to improve each future study.

“We feel like reaching new levels in human nutrition and research is a key ingredient to these innovations,” he says.

Each year, the company sets aside a significant portion of its budget for research and development and equally turns its attention to quality control, which Camper says is a top priority, with the company going to great lengths to make sure these processes are following the same high standard as ingredients do.

Product integrity isn’t the only factor behind Le-Vel’s dramatic and rapid growth. Testimonials are the very lifeblood of this company, and social media has been a powerful tool for getting those stories into the hands of potential consumers throughout the globe. “We never would have started Le-Vel if social media weren’t our focus to acquire customers,” Gravette says. “We’re here to move fast, not slow, and in order to survive in today’s business atmosphere, you’ve got to be present online. Ninety percent of our customer growth comes from connections on social networks, primarily Facebook. In my opinion, social media is shifting the direct sales industry, forever.”

More than 500,000 independent representatives, or “promoters,” as Le-Vel refers to them, are all over the Internet touting the benefits of the company’s flagship program, THRIVE EXPERIENCE, which incorporates a daily morning regimen of Premium Lifestyle Capsules, a Premium Lifestyle Shake Mix and Derma Fusion TechnologyTM (or DFTTM) adhesive, worn for time-released results. Collectively, this suite of products is designed to promote weight management, fitness, lean muscle support, mental clarity and appetite control.


“Two things kill direct selling: no growth and too much growth.” —Jason Camper, Co-Founder and Co-CEO


Beyond ingredients and benefits, it’s the simplicity of Le-Vel’s product line that has been key to its success, according to Camper. “As complex as our story could be,” he says, “we’ve kept it simple. These people already have jobs. We want to get them going.” THRIVE is marketed as an eight-week experience, and the daily regimen (capsules, shake and application of the DFTTM adhesive) is completed in 40 minutes’ time, all in the morning and before the workday begins. “Jason and I both knew there was a golden opportunity to formulate and manufacture a product line that filled a void: simplicity, but with a premium approach,” Gravette says. “A company can grow very fast when the adoption phase is simple for your everyday life.”

Even more telling than the promoters who love these products are their customers throughout the United States, Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand, who are sharing their own results via social media. In fact, “we’ve got enthusiasm from countries where we don’t even have a presence yet,” says Hoffman. Indeed, social media has helped forge a strong sense of online community among Le-Vel promoters and their customers. From the beginning, Camper and Gravette recognized that by leveraging technology and its potential for instantaneous delivery and boundless reach, they could connect with as many people as possible.

That’s not to imply that technology has completely replaced the power of face-to-face interactions. You’ll find a year-round roster of Le-Vel meetups, called “locals,” in cities throughout the country. Every three months, Le-Vel takes qualifying promoters at the $12K VIP level and above on Lifestyle Rewards trips, giving promoters who hope to reach the ranks of $40K, $80K and $200K VIP a taste of what’s to come. Camper and Gravette are nothing if not accessible; both travel the field on a near-constant basis and have been known to stick around long after closing time, talking to promoters one-on-one.
“I think we’ve done a good job—employees and promoters—of marrying the personal touch with technology,” Camper says. “Technology is critical, but personal relationships are always important; they convey the passion people have for our products.”

“The thing I’m proudest of,” he continues, “is how our promoters generate sales. With Le-Vel, the product leads. The proof is in the 500,000 promoters and 2 million customers we currently have. That’s the telltale sign of any long-term, legitimate company.”

While Le-Vel is on the fast track, its approach to international expansion is deliberate. After all, “two things kill direct selling: no growth and too much growth,” Camper says. The company has built strong relationships over the years, so they know where their strengths are and where growth can occur. Le-Vel currently is looking at Mexico and South America, with no specific timelines for launches there or any other new market. When the time is right, they’ll know it. “We have so many areas we haven’t tapped internationally, but we don’t cast the net where we’re not ready,” says Hoffman. “Given our organic approach to growth, we’re not going to force it.”


Le-Vel was featured for the second year in a row in Times Square, New York City, throughout the month of December and during the the annual ball drop on New Year's Eve 2015.Le-Vel was featured for the second year in a row in Times Square, New York City, throughout the month of December and during the the annual ball drop on New Year’s Eve 2015. Le-Vel executives and promoters gathered at Times Square to revel in the recent recognition of the company's products and lifestyle program.Le-Vel executives and promoters gathered at Times Square to revel in the recent recognition of the company’s products and lifestyle program.

‘Free’ Is Key

A series of bonuses have been charted around a Le-Vel promoter’s first 30 days. Quick wins, of course, are an important determinant of retention, but they’re not necessarily the only factor behind an independent distributor’s crucial first impressions of the brand. One of the more unique aspects of Le-Vel’s culture is the word “free,” and you’ll hear it often. It costs nothing to become a brand promoter. Developing trust and earning loyalty aren’t necessarily the means to a fast buck, but they can pay significant dividends for a company with its eye on the future. Promoters also pay nothing for their respective websites, back-office access and educational tools. “The first 30 days are the essential time when we need to make something happen for a promoter. Why in the world would we put a speedbump in front of someone? We can contribute to their belief in this opportunity,” Camper says.

Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Paul Gravette and Jason Camper celebrate a win for the company in Times Square.Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Paul Gravette and Jason Camper celebrate a win for the company in Times Square.

“The first 30 days are the essential time when we need to make something happen for a promoter. Why in the world would we put a speedbump in front of someone? We can contribute to their belief in this opportunity.” —Jason Camper


The volume and depth of a direct selling company’s customer base is a strong indicator of its health and potential for longevity. Under the terms of Le-Vel’s customer acquisition program, any customer who makes two referrals receives free product. “We have thousands of customers who have never made money with us, but they received our products free. We’ve taken the question ‘How much does it cost?’ out of both sides of the equation—promoters and customers. And it’s been a huge hit for us.”

Compliance: A Round-the-Clock Effort

While social media provides an incredibly powerful tool for building recognition and credibility, it also can be a bit like the Wild West when you’ve got an army of promoters who want to shout from the rooftops about how your products have changed their lives for the better. From the start, Camper and Gravette sought out a partner who would help protect the business opportunity their promoters enjoyed. Christopher Schmidt, In-House Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for Le-Vel, oversees a compliance department that monitors 24/7, but the “focus is on helping, not hindering,” he emphasizes. “We’re testimonial-driven, so education is key. We’re hands-on with the field. Promoters want to share with their friends in other countries we may not even be in yet. Our Facebook growth has been organic. We’ve generated nearly 500,000 followers in three years. Our community is real and vibrant. They’re family, and we look out for them. The game plan is to reach that delicate balance and maintain continuity in our messaging.” Based on the philosophy that if the products lead, the success will follow, Le-Vel strives to keep the spotlight focused on its products and their respective benefits, versus making income and lifestyle claims.

The Future


What’s on the horizon for 2016? “Our goal for next year is to break $500 million, and I have high hopes we’ll exceed that,” Camper says. “We’re aggressively researching things that have never been done before, and we have two product launches coming in early 2016. We’ll also continue exploring international markets because we want to get this brand as far as we can get it.”

Technology is building bridges across oceans for Le-Vel, but that bridge is only as strong as the products it represents. “Whether you’re retail or direct sales, at the end of the day, you have to have excellent products. In my opinion, we have a true, world-class product suite, and that’s key to our growth and sustainability,” Hoffman says. “The products and the culture are why Le-Vel promoters are so passionate. It’s a lot easier to sell something you believe in, and they have a powerful platform to do it.” 

January 04, 2016

Company Focus

Monat: Modern Nature Finds ‘Natural’ Fit in Direct Selling

by Lin Grensing-Pophal

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


Photo above: MONAT haircare products are made with high-quality botanical extracts, vitamins and essential oils including red clover (pictured here).


Company Profile

Founded: 2014
Headquarters: Miami, Florida
Top Executives: Co-Founders Luis and Rayner “Ray” Urdaneta; President Stuart A. MacMillan
Products: Anti-aging haircare
2015 Revenue: Tracking to $25 million

Luis UrdanetaLuis Urdaneta Rayner UrdanetaRayner Urdaneta Stuart MacMillanStuart MacMillan

Monat


MONAT is a company that has come on strong. Backed by a multimillion-dollar global operation focused on the Latin American markets and founded by a passionate entrepreneur, the company launched in 2014 in the United States and expanded into Canada in October 2015. MONAT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alcora Corp. and a U.S.-based direct selling company in the haircare industry.

“Our growth objectives are ambitious, but we’re confident that our products’ botanical ingredients and properties never fail to garner initial interest among consumers,” says Stuart A. MacMillan, who assumed the role of President of MONAT Global in September 2014.

The rapid growth of MONAT is perhaps not so surprising when you consider its roots and the history of its parent organization, Alcora.


Before MONAT, its founders Luis Urdaneta and his son Rayner had already established a successful beauty direct seller, L’eudine, which has grown to be a $200 million global organization operating throughout Latin America and parts of the United States.


Alcora was founded by Luis Urdaneta, a first-generation direct sales entrepreneur who developed a passion for social marketing at the age of 15. Fourteen years ago he and his son, Rayner, then co-founded a company called L’eudine, a beauty and wellness direct-selling enterprise, which has grown to be a $200 million global organization operating in Latin America, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico, as well as in Latin American markets in the United States.

L’eudine’s products are manufactured in Miami at a plant the Urdanetas acquired called B&R Enterprises. In addition to the plant, the acquisition included a laboratory and its Chief Science Officer, Jamie Ross. Now Senior Vice President of MONAT, Ross was the impetus behind the development of MONAT’s product line; he saw that while there was plenty of buzz and products in the anti-aging space for skincare, there wasn’t anything available in the haircare space. The Urdanetas were intrigued and launched MONAT in 2014, which joined L’eudine and B&R Enterprises under the same company umbrella.

Executives chose to launch MONAT as an individual company because they believed that one focused on naturally based haircare at a premium price point could stand alone. They also believe in diversifying their opportunities and expanding the brands within Alcora, and wanted to launch a North American sales company. This made MONAT’s method of operations, demographics, compensation and product lines very different from L’eudine.

MacMillan, who was brought on board initially as a consultant in early 2014, quickly saw the opportunities available and is excited about the growth the company already has seen as well as its potential for the future. The investment in the company has come entirely through private investment by the Urdaneta family, through its 100 percent ownership of Alcora. “We’ve seen some phenomenal success to be honest,” says MacMillan. “We just celebrated our first anniversary and have enrolled more than 12,000 market partners in that time and just launched into Canada.” In Canada, within the first month of business, the company added 2,000 market partners. “It’s going exceptionally well,” he says.

Modern Nature

The chemistry behind the success is embedded in the company’s Rejuvenique oil, a proprietary and patented blend of 11 oils from around the world, which is contained in all but one of MONAT’s nine products. The product line targets the actual cause of hair loss and the aging of hair.

Being the first to market with a line of anti-aging products for haircare was definitely a factor in the company’s success to date, says MacMillan. More specifically the products are preventive by helping to keep the follicles healthy and viable and in the growth stage longer; restoring by helping to restore essential moisure and nutrients lost by years of neglect, heat appliances, and chemical treatments; and preserving, by helping maintain longer, fuller, stronger, younger-looking hair.

The name MONAT (pronounced maw·nāt) comes from “modern nature,” says Tanna Johnson, Senior Director of Marketing. “We are modern nature,” she says. MONAT products are “naturally based,” which means that they comprise ingredients that are close to their natural source. These ingredients include high-quality botanical extracts, essential oils and vitamins. They’re blended with cleansing products, called surfactants, and emulsifiers. The company points out on its website that its products are not “all-natural.” According to the website: “To fall into the all-natural category would mean that we either would be using natural preservatives whose safety has not been substantiated or have a complete lack of preservatives altogether. The absence of preservatives would also mean that our products would have a very limited shelf-life and would need to be refrigerated.”

Naturally based, according to MONAT, is better. “Naturally based means you get the best of both worlds: a product with ingredients that are as close to the source as possible and blended in effective and safe formulations. We will continue to use only high-quality botanicals, essential oils and vitamins in MONAT formulations so that you get the most benefit of what the earth has to offer.”


The founding family of MONAT, led by Luis Urdaneta, strongly believes in nature, family and community.The founding family of MONAT, led by Luis Urdaneta, strongly believes in nature, family and community. Co-Founder Rayner Urdaneta also joined his father, Luis, in establishing beauty and wellness direct seller L'eudine.Co-Founder Rayner Urdaneta also joined his father, Luis, in establishing beauty and wellness direct seller L’eudine. President Stuart MacMillan has more than 20 years' experience in the direct selling industry.President Stuart MacMillan has more than 20 years’ experience in the direct selling industry.

Social Selling


“A number of companies have a great product and then look around for a distribution strategy. This was different because it was never a choice. The Urdanetas have grown up in the direct sales industry. L’eudine is a direct sales company.” —Stuart A. MacMillan, President


The direct sales model was a natural fit for MONAT, given the Urdanetas’ longtime success in direct sales. Luis was a master distributor for a leading direct seller in his home country of Venezuela.

“A number of companies have a great product and then look around for a distribution strategy,” MacMillan says. “This was different because it was never a choice. The Urdanetas have grown up in the direct sales industry. L’eudine is a direct sales company.” In addition, MacMillan says that his own background includes a heavy emphasis on direct sales, having already had 20 years in direct sales when he joined MONAT. That focus is important for the company’s market partners, he notes. “It provides credibility and assurance to the field that we’re not going to compete with them through another distribution channel because the three of us—Ray, Luis and I—are so committed to this channel.”

That level of experience and commitment to direct sales also is found at other levels of the organization. “The executive team that we put together over the last year is equally well-steeped in direct sales,” MacMillan says. “Tanna comes to us with close to a dozen years in the industry—all of our regional sales managers have been in the industry for a number of years, and we continue to hire people with that background.” Currently, MONAT has 40 employees, including 15 who staff the call center. It also invested in hiring four regional sales managers across the United States.

“We believed in startup that having regional sales managers in the field would help inspire, grow and encourage people in those regions to be talking about the opportunity,” MacMillan says. It’s not where a startup would typically spend its money, he points out, but for MONAT it has paid off.

Executives and marketing partners recently visited Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.Executives and marketing partners recently visited Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

The company also is investing in its market partners. Over Labor Day in 2015, about 50 of MONAT’s top leaders came together for two days of leadership training. Its first national convention will be held this month at Walt Disney World Resort.

Hiring to “stay ahead of the curve” has been one challenge that the young company has faced, MacMillan acknowledges. “We had a phenomenal September—the first month ever where we had to really batten down the hatches with respect to supply chain and make sure we didn’t have back orders.” Times like that can be tough, he adds, but the company is committed not just to bringing in warm bodies, but bringing in the right bodies who can help create the culture they are seeking.

“In hiring people we look at commitment, confidence, character and chemistry,” MacMillan says. Those people, whether internal staff or market partners, are focused on sharing the news about MONAT’s products; MacMillan believes their message is one that resonates.

Getting the word out has been done through a heavy focus on social selling, such as simple meetups in restaurants, bistros and wineries where the product can be presented and sampled. “Because we own our own manufacturing plant we can efficiently and cost-effectively create samples,” MacMillan says.

Market partners are provided with a replicated website on sign-up, along with a shopping cart, and receive support through a back office that processes and ships orders. Training videos and other materials also are made available through the website. Weekly conference calls ensure that everybody is kept up to date and has the opportunity to share their own experiences.

Communication and connections are important, says Tanna Johnson. A weekly newsletter serves as the company’s primary channel of communication and includes a regular feature story as well as business and sales tips and news about what’s happening with the company, such as its recent expansion into Canada. Once a month a recognition news blast highlights those who have been promoted. “We spend a lot of time really trying to develop that recognition piece,” Johnson says. That involves the newsletter as well as individual e-blasts that highlight successes.

“We also celebrate success through social media,” she says. Social media channels include public-facing sites as well as closed groups for market partners, leaders and professional development.

Successes also are recognized in tangible ways. “When someone promotes up, we send them a report and they receive a beauty box that’s branded and a certificate they can frame, along with a congratulatory note and the pin representing their level.” The pin is designed to incorporate the symbol of an oil drop, reflecting MONAT’s flagship product, Rejuveniqe.

MacMillan and Ray Urdaneta go a step further by adding their personal touch. “Ray and I set aside time every week to sit down and call anybody who reached a certain rank.” At the end of every month, MacMillan also writes handwritten notes that are sent out with portfolios that commemorate those who have achieved a certain rank. “The field truly appreciates the fact that Ray and I take the time to do this,” he says.

Rewards, recognition and celebration continue to be an important part of the MONAT culture. In its first year, the company had two incentive trips: a Miami cruise in February and a trip to Cabo San Lucas, where they took 37 of their top earners.

A Focus on Family and Giving Back


“Gratitude is a huge part of what we do…. When you get to do something from the ground up, without any baggage, you get to do it right—and we’ve done a lot of things.” —Tanna Johnson, Senior Director of Marketing


Founded by family, the company has a natural family feel and focus, in its daily work and through its giving to those less fortunate. In fact, one employee’s full-time job is specifically focused on giving back.

“Gratitude is a huge part of what we do,” Johnson says. For instance, Fridays are called “Celebration Friday.” “We spend the day making sure that we’re spreading the love,” she says. “When you get to do something from the ground up, without any baggage, you get to do it right—and we’ve done a lot of things.”

MONAT’s philosophy on gratitude is explained further on its website. “Gratitude has the power to transform our perception and allow our brain to focus on the positive. At MONAT, our focus is on making the world better by working with organizations that have a positive impact on society.”

Some of the organizations MONAT works with include the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and the Sierra Club, which together focus on the causes closest to the hearts of the company’s people: nature, family and community. Employees and market partners provide help through monthly volunteer opportunities; donations of food, toys and clothes; and monetary contributions, of which MONAT has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A quote on the page asks: “If all your prayers were answered, would they change the entire world or just yours?”

In support of this philosophy, MacMillan notes, even the compensation plan is designed to encourage a focus on others. A recent promotion, for instance, offered bonuses not for personal achievements but for helping someone else achieve something. “Luis’ major philosophy, which we sort of put on almost everything we do, is that in order to achieve success you have to help others achieve success,” MacMillan says. “In helping people to achieve success yours will come.”


Monat Monat

A Look to the Future


“We just want to do what we’re doing well—apart from introducing new products, our focus is going to be on doing what we do better and just getting more and more efficient as we grow.” —Stuart A. MacMillan


MONAT recently launched two new products, a hairspray and a sculpting taffy, and the company has committed to introducing six to seven products over the next year. But, MacMillan says, “to be honest, in terms of other growth, we just want to do what we’re doing well. Apart from introducing new products, our focus is going to be on doing what we do better and just getting more and more efficient as we grow. We’ve had double-digit growth every month since we started, and I don’t see that changing. We have enough work to do in just keeping up.”

As it moves forward, MacMillan says, MONAT will be driven by three p’s: “a really good pay plan that gets money into people’s hands up front, amazing products and people. Ray and Luis are people of immense integrity, family integrity, and I don’t think you can replace that.”

January 04, 2016

Working Smart

How to Ease Growing Pains in Your Fulfillment Operation

by Kirk Anderson

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


By starting out small, direct selling businesses can quickly tap into the latest trend. However, if that trend takes hold, the potential can be explosive. The ability to manage exponential growth is therefore critical to long-term success.

From a fulfillment perspective, many direct selling business startups will begin holding inventory in a rented space and move to bigger spaces as their inventory and business grow. While space itself may not necessarily be an issue, managing a growing inventory and getting the right orders to the right representatives in the right timeframe often is. This is important because direct sales companies have two customer bases: their distributors and the end consumer, where getting order fulfillment wrong means double disappointment.

To ease growing pains in their warehousing and fulfillment operations, fast-growing direct selling businesses may want to consider the following:

Optimize Your Inventory Visibility

The most critical aspect of your fulfillment operation is knowing what and how much inventory you have, as well as where it is in your extended supply chain.

While the aim is to carry an optimum amount of every item, out-of-stocks do happen and you need to know when they do. Unless you can get replacement stock quickly enough to meet your delivery promise, it’s better for an item to show as out of stock than for a representative or website channel to sell it and find out later that they can’t have it.

Equally, a lack of visibility can lead to excess inventory, causing companies to order more products that are already in stock. This ties up cash unnecessarily and leads to markdowns and obsolescence.

Many small businesses use spreadsheets to manage their inventory, and that works well up to a point. However, relying on people to input data takes time and gives rise to human error, both of which can increase exponentially as your fulfillment operation grows in size and complexity.


The most critical aspect of your fulfillment operation is knowing what and how much inventory you have, as well as where it is in your extended supply chain.


Accuracy

Ensuring that your inventory is accurate (i.e., that you really do have what you think you have and that it is where you think it is) is also critical, not only from a fulfillment perspective but also to prevent shrinkage.

Although an annual inventory take will identify issues after the fact, this is akin to shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Implementing a system to electronically reconcile inventory levels with inbound and outbound stock movements, along with a cycle-counting program to physically check a subset of your inventory against your records on a daily or weekly basis, will allow problems to be identified and addressed in near real-time.

Understand Your Order Profile

It is essential to understand the types and volumes of orders that your warehouse needs to handle and also the level of activity on individual products. How many orders do you receive each day? Are they single-item orders or multiple lines per order? Which are your most popular SKUs? All of these things have a significant impact on how your warehouse should be organized and which pick methods you should use.

When designing a warehouse, where the product is laid out is important. Since pickers spend most of their time walking to each item on their pick list, cutting down on travel time can greatly improve efficiency and productivity.

Most fulfillment operations follow the Pareto Rule in which 20 percent of SKUs will typically account for 80 percent of orders. Grouping these fast-movers together will automatically reduce travel times for your pickers and man-hours in your operation. To prevent congestion, make sure your fast-pick zone is designed to allow for high activity levels (e.g., wider aisles or maybe a one-way system).

Analyze Your Picking Methodology

Measured in time and money, order picking is the most costly activity within the warehouse. It is also the activity most closely linked to customer satisfaction. Choosing the right method is therefore imperative.

There are numerous factors to take into account when deciding what will work best in your operation. These include the characteristics of the product being handled (e.g., size, weight and shape), total number of transactions, total number of orders, picks per order, quantity per pick, picks per SKU, total number of SKUs, value-added processing such as personalization, and whether you are handling piece pick, case pick, or full-pallet loads. In many cases, a combination of picking methods is needed to handle diverse product and order characteristics.

Discrete order picking involves picking all the items for an order, one order at a time. The picker goes to each section and picks each individual item for that order before going back and starting on a new order. While discrete order picking is best to minimize confusion, since the picker isn’t juggling many orders, it does maximize cycle time. The picker is forced to walk the entire route for each order, cutting down on productivity.

For warehouses with more orders, especially orders with many of the same items, batch picking cuts down on cycle time, improving the picker’s efficiency. In one trip, the picker pulls many of the same items for multiple orders, separating them into different totes or cartons as he goes. Instead of traveling the same route 10 times for 10 orders, the picker can make one trip for 10 orders.

The Perfect Order

Your representatives and their customers expect you to get it right the first time, every time. Shipping the wrong product not only leads to disappointed customers, but also costs you to ship the wrong product back and to re-pick and re-ship the correct product to the customer. For many direct selling businesses, the value of the product doesn’t justify the cost of getting it returned, and wrongly shipped items are simply written off.

Most small companies start out with a paper-based picking process, where warehouse staff print lists or tickets to tell them what they need to pick. If your workers pick using a paper document, make sure that the picking document is clear and provides information the picker needs. Do not use shipping paperwork as picking paperwork. It includes extraneous information designed to aid the customer’s receipt, not the picker. The information should be presented in the order it is required: location, stock number, description, unit of measure and quantity required.

Always use large, easy-to-read fonts with double-spaced lines and horizontal rulers. The picker should use the clear, top copy of any multipage form. Second, make sure the picking document lists line items in pick route order to save the picker time and avoid accidentally skipping line items.

While these measures will help improve picking accuracy, there is still considerable room for human error. To completely eliminate confusion and guarantee that no line items are skipped, some form of automation technology is a great idea. With radio frequency (RF)-directed picking, for example, workers do not have a need for paper. A warehouse management system simply directs a worker to each location (in an efficient path) to pick items by sending the worker instructions via a handheld RF terminal. With a barcode scanner, the worker can confirm the location and item picked, thereby eliminating the potential for errors.

In operations where there are multiple SKUs of similar size and in similar packaging, a final scan to verify picked items prior to an order being released for shipment will ensure near perfect fulfillment accuracy.

Measure Your Performance

Most have heard the phrase, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” and nowhere is this more important than in your fulfillment operation. Decide which metrics are mission-critical to your business (e.g., perfect orders, cash-to-cash cycle time, inventory accuracy, etc.). Benchmark your operation against these key performance indicators and set targets for improvement.


Time spent refining and streamlining your original fulfillment center will not be wasted. Get it right the first time and you’ll have a blueprint you can take anywhere.


Future-Proof Your Operation

The world’s most successful direct sales businesses are global corporations, with millions of representatives in hundreds of countries. Time spent refining and streamlining your original fulfillment center will not be wasted. Get it right the first time and you’ll have a blueprint you can take anywhere.

At the same time, maintaining a stable ratio between fulfillment costs and revenue is essential to long-term, sustainable growth. What worked fine six months ago might now be costing you money, customers or, most likely, both.

Regularly review your order profile and picking methodologies to ensure that your fulfillment operation adapts as your business grows and evolves.


Kirk Anderson is Vice President of Channel Sales at Synergy Logistics, having worked for Tier 1 warehouse management system and supply chain software companies for the past 17 years. Headquartered in the U.S. and U.K., Synergy Logistics focuses on developing effective SaaS/Cloud WMS software. Kirk Anderson is Vice President of Channel Sales at Synergy Logistics, having worked for Tier 1 warehouse management system and supply chain software companies for the past 17 years. Headquartered in the U.S. and U.K., Synergy Logistics focuses on developing effective SaaS/Cloud WMS software.

January 04, 2016

Top Desk

Quality Products From Ideation to Delivery

by Steve Tew

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


In business, as in life, our reputation depends on the value of what we offer. As executives in the direct selling industry, customers and distributors count on our commitment to provide them with superior products and services. At 4Life® Global Headquarters, we approach quality as a commitment built into every step of the production process, from ideation to delivery.

Ideation and Qualification

One of the best guarantees for quality in any area of business is to hire employees whose skill set, passion and commitment closely match the company’s cultural values. This is particularly true when it comes to ideation. Thought leaders are essential to the product development process. We train our Research and Development and Quality Control team members in the latest industry rules, regulations and trends so that they can, in turn, develop unique products that drive demand. By empowering employees with training and education, we give them the tools necessary to innovate.


As a manufacturer of dietary supplements, we know that we can’t create superior products with inferior ingredients.


Once we’ve agreed on the direction of a new product, we begin at the ingredient level to ensure the quality of our finished good. As a manufacturer of dietary supplements, we know that we can’t create superior products with inferior ingredients. Our Quality Control procedures focus on proactive and preventive measures, as well as detective controls. And we routinely update documents to reflect the shifts and growth patterns in our corporate knowledge base.

The new product process often takes years of research, with many levels of collaboration to identify, characterize, and source the very best and most effective ingredients. Because we strive to uphold superior manufacturing processes and ethical business practices, we validate the identity, purity, strength and composition of all ingredients and product formulations. For this reason, we demand the highest quality from our ingredient suppliers in order to maintain confidence and integrity within our raw material supply chain.

Testing and More Testing

Vetting the supplier is only the first step. All incoming raw materials are subject to specifically designed release criteria. Our Quality Control team takes samples from each receipt. Since test results are only as good as the sample, we place a significant focus on our sampling procedure.

By utilizing chronological documentation—a chain of custody throughout the life cycle of a product sample—we can trace everything that happens throughout the process. If a sample doesn’t meet our strict specifications, we know why. Testing is perhaps the most crucial aspect of this initial vetting process, since those results reflect the quality of the ingredients. Many different ingredient varieties, strengths, and formulations are screened to ensure we receive the best and most appropriate materials. Once our Research and Development team has found a raw material that meets its stringent criteria, several lots go through further testing to ensure it can be manufactured consistently, that it’s compatible with other ingredients, and that it can be scaled up to production-level quantities.

I am very confident in the knowledge and capabilities of our Research and Development and Quality Control team members. We train our employees in the latest improvements in technology and processes. And we empower them with the expertise and tools necessary to follow through with corporate strategic initiatives.

Validation

By law, all dietary supplement manufacturers must follow current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs). At 4Life, we take it one step further and utilize similar guidelines and technical criteria found in the pharmaceutical industry. This is another way that we seek to provide the very best for our customers and distributors.

For example, our blending and encapsulation equipment was qualified and validated prior to any product manufacturing. This endorsement ensures that our blends are uniform from initial mixing through encapsulation, guaranteeing that the product’s purity, strength and composition are identical from the beginning to the end of the manufacturing process.

We also employ similar pharmaceutical-grade, equipment-qualification and method-validation processes in all quality control lab testing. As opposed to a “one-size-fits-all” approach, all critical testing for vitamin and/or mineral ingredients is fully validated against the 4Life products in which the ingredients are found. This commitment to substantiation allows us to utilize testing that is specific to our products and avoid potential interferences that could yield invalid test results.

Color Consistency

Product color is a “quality test” that all of us subconsciously perform every time we pick up a product. Many raw botanical materials have significant color differences that may be related to time of harvest, geographical location or even quality issues. This can result in vague color differences in the finished product (off-white to tan or beige, greenish to brown, etc.).

To address this issue, our Quality Control team systematically color tests 4Life dietary supplements, utilizing a handheld spectro-colorimeter to examine each ingredient and objectively assign that material a three-dimensional color coordinate. From there, a model is generated to determine a Pantone® color target for each raw material. With that color in mind, the team assesses incoming raw materials for color consistency and quality. This process reduces the number of color-related concerns from our consumers and helps us predict issues that may arise based on color perception.

Academic Partnerships

Supplement manufacturers should always look for opportunities to partner with academic institutions and third-party research facilities. At 4Life, we’ve worked with institutions such as Auburn University, University of Missouri, Northwestern University and University of Utah to advance our exploratory research efforts and demonstrate that our products are effective.

Innovation

Throughout my service as President and CEO, I’ve discovered that closely monitoring our manufacturing process empowers us to be truly innovative. Last month, 4Life held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new manufacturing facility in Vineyard, Utah. This facility adheres to strict Good Manufacturing Practices, as outlined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And it includes state-of-the-art packaging, encapsulation and blending equipment to ensure that our customers and distributors get the highest-quality products possible. This new facility also gives us start-to-finish control over every step of the manufacturing process, including the batching, blending, encapsulation and packaging of most 4Life Transfer Factor® products.


Providing high-quality products is the lifeblood of success for independent distributors. At 4Life, we take that charge very seriously.

Conclusion

In the direct selling industry, we must be experts in all facets of our business. However, providing high-quality products is the lifeblood of success for independent distributors. At 4Life, we take that charge very seriously. We ensure the excellence of our products through qualification, testing, academic partnerships, validation, innovation and more. When 4Life customers and distributors take any of our products, they know they’re getting the very best. In fact, we guarantee it.


Steve Tew is President and CEO of 4Life Research.Steve Tew is President and CEO of 4Life Research.

January 04, 2016

New Perspectives

John Addison on Field Leadership: A Healthy Company Starts with Good Cash Flow to the Field

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


John Addison, now President and CEO of Addison Leadership Group and Leadership Editor for SUCCESS magazine, engages and inspires audiences with his relatable messages. Most recently, he served as Co-CEO of Primerica Inc., a company he joined more than 35 years ago. Publisher and Editor in Chief Lauren Lawley Head had an opportunity to sit down with him this month to talk about his vision and the future of direct selling. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

DSN: John, you have often said that the key metric for assessing the health of a direct selling company is cash flow to the field. How did you come to recognize that?

JA: Just through the experience of being a part of the business through all of those years. In about 1984, I was responsible for field compensation. Bo Adams, who was Art Williams’ right-hand man, used to tell us that the most sensitive nerve in the body of a salesperson goes from the wallet to the brain and that as long as checks were going up everything was great, but when checks were going down everything was a disaster. He told us we needed to understand that the cash to the field was the life blood of leading a sales organization.

If a person’s income—cash flow—is going up, attitude is good, and that person works harder. And it’s the same when it goes the other way. If cash flow is down, attitude is down and that person works less. Cash flow is what drives attitude, which drives activity, which drives the business.

DSN: If the company starts to see a negative trend in that area what process do you advise the executive team to use to determine what’s causing the decline?

JA: In addition to all of the metrics that manage the business, executives need to have monthly metrics focused on the key leaders in the salesforce, looking to see whose cash flow is up year-over-year and whose cash flow is down. Now, there will always be some people up and some people down at the same time, because this is a business of momentum cycles. You need to understand what is going on in the pockets, and therefore the hearts and minds, of your salesforce. When you see negative trends, you’ve got to figure out what’s happening. If a key leader was down, I got on the phone and asked, “What’s going on?”

It’s also the executive’s responsibility to create momentum when things aren’t going well, looking for ways to make a surge in the business. When cash flow to the field is down, you must cause activity to go up, which therefore causes cash flow to go up. You need to understand that your business is not an organization, it’s an organism—it’s a living breathing thing and you’re either growing or you’re dying. And you’ve got to manage it that way.

DSN: Are there some specific incentives that you’ve seen inject some positive energy?

JA: The field’s cash flow is fundamentally dependent on what’s happening on the front end of the business with new people. A direct sales company is about new people bringing in new people. If you’re having the same old meeting with the same old people, you’re not growing. You’ve got to have new people coming in, new heroes emerging. You have to make sure there are incentives at the front of your business to drive new sales to customers. 

You also have to find what works for your specific business. I can speak to what worked for us, and that was cash and trips. We didn’t use a car program, though that works for some companies. We created momentum around a great trip, Hawaii for example, and we always made sure there were plenty of slots for new people to achieve.

DSN: You’ve spoken before about your time at the helm of Primerica and your relationships with your senior leaders. Can you elaborate on how those relationships impacted your leadership style?

JA: Well, you can’t run a direct sales company and not know your people. Not just how they are, but how they think. It’s important to understand that the term ‘salesforce consensus’ is an oxymoron. They are not all going to think the same. They are going to violently disagree on some things. You have to be able to deal with that and realize there are decisions you are going to make as a leader that some people are going to love and some people are going to hate. It can be difficult to manage because these folks have very strong personalities and very strong opinions. The only way to manage through all of that is to have developed very strong relationships with them over time. There has to be a level of trust, even when you disagree.

People can smell a phony a mile away, so never try to be something you aren’t. You have to develop trust and earn respect. It doesn’t happen overnight, and there will be difficult times. I always told the field “Look, I’m not going to talk to you about things I don’t know about. I know this business and I know this company, and I’m going to be a person you can trust.”

DSN: You advise leaders of all kinds of organizations to focus on what they can control and let the rest take care of itself. When you look at direct selling companies today across the spectrum, where do you see leaders tend to go wrong in that area?

JA: If you are a founder or a CEO and you get focused on your end game, and not focused on their cash flow, you are going into a death spiral of momentum in your business. You better be constantly focused on their attitude and their activity and be honest about where you are. The other thing I think is very easy to do is you get short-term focused on hyper-growth too quickly. You’re going to crash and burn. You’ve got to build a business day-to-day but in a healthy way. Don’t get focused on short-term recruiting or short-term hype.

I think some companies try to hype “get rich, get rich,” and “look how many rich people we got,” when in truth what I think they need to be focused on is how many part-time people earn $1,000 a month or $2,000 a month. You know, for a guy who is a school teacher making $40,000-$50,000 a year to now make an extra $1,500 a month, that’s a big deal, that’s a huge success.

DSN: As you look at the direct selling landscape as we head into 2016, what do you see as the greatest leadership challenges and opportunities for the channel?

JA: In the world we are in today, it’s almost like success has become a bad thing. I mean I hate to say it, but there’s almost an attitude that if people are making a lot of money they must be doing something wrong. I think the way you change the image is that you make sure that there are real people having real success in your business model.

I’ve said many times, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Would people buy what I’m selling if there was no opportunity attached to it?” Art Williams was great at selling the toughness. He never told people, “Hey, join our company and you’re going to get rich.” He said, “It’s going to be tough, but some of you are going to be great.” Make sure your underlying business is really producing people who make money and that you’re servicing real customers.

January 04, 2016

DSA News

Strength in Numbers: The Value of Association

by Nancy M. Burke


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


DSA

Did you know that, after the federal government, trade associations are the second-largest employer in the Washington, D.C., area? Despite this impressive fact, many people, however, actually do not know what a trade association is, or does. But we at DSA definitely do.

The definition of a trade association is an organization founded by a specific industry to support, champion and grow that industry. And the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) is the epitome of a flourishing trade association. From providing actionable industry intelligence and professional development opportunities, to the tools a company needs to demonstrate the most ethical of operating standards, DSA has been guiding, strengthening, lobbying and advocating on behalf of its members for more than 100 years.

The direct selling culture is unique in that executives are so keen to share their knowledge across the industry, viewing those from other companies not as competitors but as colleagues. I frequently hear stories of executives helping one another out. Many view it as a way to “pay it forward,” grateful for the critical information they received along the way. Learning from the successes and failures of others helps build a strong industry, and that really is the true value of DSA membership.

I have personally gained knowledge, inspiration and mentoring from many member executives from around the country. Want to know what I’m talking about? Join DSA and then log in to the members-only section of www.DSA.org in order to view the great “CEOs In Focus” podcast series, found under the member benefits tab. Launched for the membership in 2015, the series features DSA President Joe Mariano speaking to leading direct selling CEOs on a very personal level as he brings “Charlie Rose” style conversations to our industry.

But it is not just company executives who are passing on their wisdom. Our channel’s sense of camaraderie can be found everywhere. Here at DSA in Washington, D.C., there is always a dedicated team to call upon. The DSA staff is a ready resource for member companies, both large and small, and they are keen to answer your questions and point you in the direction of the DSA programs and services that you need most to build a better business. For example, DSA’s Code of Ethics, the self-regulatory framework governing ethical business practices, is the cornerstone of DSA’s commitment to consumer protection. With adherence to the Code’s robust policies, DSA members receive the guidance they need to demonstrate the highest ethical operating standards that set them apart in the marketplace.

And when a DSA member needs a software, supplier or fulfillment partner to service their company’s requirements, they need look no further than DSA Suppliers. Many of these partners have served as Supplier Exhibitors at DSA’s Annual Meeting and offer a wealth of trusted industry experience. And remember, if we can’t answer your question, we’ll find out who can and put you in touch. Nothing is more important to DSA than the community it serves and the meaningful connections it provides.

As new membership applications roll in and we gear up for 2016 renewals, the association continues in its mission to provide the most industry-relevant and comprehensive benefits for members new and old. Looking ahead, there are many more lessons to learn and connections to make, and this can happen for you in a variety of ways, whether at exclusive, member-only DSA events, where you can meet and network with fellow members and member-supplier companies; through job postings on the DSA Career Center; or even by participating on a DSA committee or council.

While you may still be in the process of closing your books for 2015, you can pledge to stand with us again in 2016. We’re here to empower you with the tools and resources you need to build a better business. But remember, an association is only as strong as its membership, so help us to help you by standing with us. I hear time and again that DSA applicants’ only regret is that they didn’t join sooner…


Nancy M. Burke is Vice President, Membership, at the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA).Nancy M. Burke is Vice President, Membership, at the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA).

December 31, 2015

World News

This Week: Avon CEO on the Hotseat, the Power of ‘No’

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

  • The CEO role is never an easy one, but some years make more demands than others. Fortune took a look at seven CEOs who will find themselves on the hotseat in 2016, including Avon’s Sheri McCoy. Having presided over the sale of Avon’s declining North America business, McCoy now faces the task of revitalizing the beauty brand’s international operations.
  • With resolution season upon us, PEOPLE magazine published its Half Their Size issue, featuring six individuals who used a variety of weight-loss programs, including Beachbody and Take Shape For Life, to shed half their weight—a combined 770 pounds!—in 2015. Michael MacDonald, CEO of Take Shape For Life parent Medifast, recently spoke to The Street about this busy time of year for the weight-loss industry and the company’s plans to introduce a sports nutrition line in January 2016.
  • Ambit Energy has refunded nearly $1 million to New York customers following an investigation into consumer complaints by the state’s Department of Public Service. The department’s consumer advocate, put in place in 2015, had already secured more than $3 million in returned fees from energy companies. In a statement, Ambit admitted no wrongdoing in its billing practices, the crux of the complaints, but said it “voluntarily initiated a customer refund program and obtained department approval of the manner in which Ambit addressed certain customer complaints.”
  • Learning when to say no is key to productivity—not to mention sanity—but sometimes difficult to master. Jessica Herrin, Founder and CEO of Stella & Dot, spoke to The Wall Street Journal about laying down the law when it comes to spending time with her kids, and how identifying priorities makes it easy to just say no.
  •  

December 31, 2015

U.S. News

Youngevity Be the Change Foundation to Fight Hunger with Caterina’s Club

Photo: The Caterina’s Club food delivery truck featuring Chef Bruno.


Youngevity is expanding the reach of its charitable arm, Youngevity Be the Change Foundation, through a new partnership with Caterina’s Club, a Los Angeles area nonprofit that serves hot meals to local children.

The 2-year-old foundation supports a roster of hand-picked charities, among them American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project. Funding comes from the sale of designated Youngevity products, with the company donating 100 percent of proceeds to Youngevity Be the Change.

California-based Youngevity has found a local partner in Caterina’s Club, a nonprofit founded by Italian Chef Bruno Serato, who presides over the kitchen at the famed White House restaurant in Anaheim, California. Each week, Caterina’s Club serves a nutritious meal of freshly made pasta and vegetables to more than 1,800 children, many of them poor and living in motels with their families. Serato is an advocate of “the power of pasta” as a sustainable and affordable source of energy.

“A call to action is one of our core tenants at Youngevity Be the Change Foundation, and Caterina’s Club provides an opportunity for any of our distributors and customers to emulate Chef Bruno’s model and help feed and provide help for families in need in America,” said Lisa “Sunshine” Briskie, Director of Youngevity Be the Change. “We are proud to stand with them.”

Since its founding in 2005, Caterina’s Club has provided more than 1 million meals to children in need. The charity also has helped to relocate hundreds of people from motels to Section 8 housing. In 2011, CNN recognized the work of Caterina’s Club by including Serato among its Top 10 Heroes of the year.

December 30, 2015

World News

Mary Kay Patent Count Exceeds 1,200 after Prolific 2015

Mary Kay is logging a banner year in product innovation, having secured 130 new patents in 2015. The manufacturer of makeup and skincare products now lays claim to more than 1,200 utility and design patents.

A number of anti-aging technologies and product formulations were among this year’s patents, including Mary Kay’s TimeWise Repair Volu-Firm Lifting Serum and Volu-Firm Eye Renewal Cream, as well as TimeWise Body Targeted-Action Toning Lotion. The beauty brand also was awarded design patents for its Cityscape his and her fragrance bottles and Lash Intensity Mascara, among others.

More than formalities or safeguards, new patents serve as catalysts for further discovery, according to Mary Kay’s John Wiseman, Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property and Innovation. “The patent process spurs innovation. Because we can protect our inventions, we have an incentive to continue inventing great things.”

Mary Kay’s extensive patent library is the result of more than 500,000 research and consumer tests conducted by the company each year. The beauty brand is laying the foundation for future advances with the construction of a new global manufacturing and R&D complex near its corporate headquarters in North Texas. Completion of the facility is projected for the first quarter of 2018.

December 29, 2015

U.S. News

Viridian Greets 2016 with New Solar Partner, Key Tax Credit

After rolling out a solar partnership with Sungevity in September, Viridian parent Crius Energy LLC is marking a milestone in the business. The company’s solar energy sales have topped 50 megawatts in the past two years, supplying clean solar power to nearly 7,000 customers.

Crius closed out the third quarter of 2015 with a 90 percent year-over-year increase in megawatts of generating capacity sold, driven primarily by direct selling subsidiary Viridian Energy. The Stamford, Connecticut-based company is looking to accelerate that growth through its partnership with Sungevity, a solar provider with operations in the U.S. and Europe. The contract secures more favorable terms and a higher profile for Crius than a prior agreement with SolarCity.

“The solar energy market represents a high-margin opportunity for Crius, having contributed 10 percent to our EBITDA last year,” Crius CEO Michael Fallquist said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to deliver on the extensive potential of this business with our well-capitalized partner, Sungevity, with optimism after having achieved our 50 megawatt sales milestone in just two years.”

The company’s outlook improved further with the recent extension of a key tax credit. Christmas came a week early for Crius and other industry players when the U.S. government voted to extend for five years the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), one of the most significant policy incentives in place to advance the industry. The ITC provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income taxes to companies or individuals investing in solar.

“The ITC extension promises to accelerate the already rapid growth of the solar industry by enabling solar energy products to be viably offered in more states, thereby expanding Crius’ geographic footprint and enabling our solar business to continue its strong growth trajectory,” said Fallquist.

December 28, 2015

U.S. News

Primerica Continues to Get High Marks in Customer Satisfaction

If the customer knows best, it follows that the customer also knows the best, and according to recent consumer data Primerica is among the financial sector’s best when it comes to service.

The Duluth, Georgia-based company has once again earned the DALBAR Mutual Fund Service Award, a nod to Primerica’s ISP (Investment and Savings Products) segment. Each year, independent research firm DALBAR recognizes standout companies based on its comprehensive testing of service delivery. Primerica has collected the award in the mutual fund category for 13 years running.

“Having won the DALBAR Mutual Fund Service Award for more than a dozen consecutive years, Primerica understands that when all things are equal, service is a powerful differentiator and creates loyal customers as well as strong advocates,” said DALBAR Managing Director Kathleen Whalen.

Customer service has been a longtime focus at Primerica, where client experience falls under regular review, according to Chief Operating Officer Gregory Pitts.

“As part of our strategy to grow Primerica’s Investment and Saving Products business, we continue to add new products and look for ways to improve our customer service platform,” said Pitts. “We are very proud to receive DALBAR’s 2015 Mutual Fund Service Award recognizing our ongoing commitment to superior customer service.”

Primerica also has garnered recognition in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which interviews roughly 70,000 customers annually to analyze customer satisfaction across 43 industries. ACSI recently identified Primerica as a leader among its peers in the life insurance industry, where overall customer satisfaction has fallen 3 percent in the past year. Primerica achieved a score of 81 on ACSI’s 100-point scale, just one point behind industry leader Thrivent Financial.

December 27, 2015

U.S. News

DreamCourts Are a Team Effort for WorldVentures, Nancy Lieberman Charities

Photo: Sacramento Kings Assistant Coach Nancy Lieberman leads a ribbon-cutting at the Sacramento DreamCourt provided by her charity and the WorldVentures Foundation.


The WorldVentures Foundation and Nancy Lieberman Charities this month christened their latest DreamCourt in Sacramento, California. The organizations have partnered to build 22 of the multipurpose play spaces in lower-income communities across the U.S.

The new court in Sacramento’s Del Paso Heights is a gift to the community from WNBA legend Nancy Lieberman, who joined the Sacramento Kings last summer as only the second female assistant coach in the NBA. Lieberman’s charity and the WorldVentures Foundation created the DreamCourts initiative to help children develop skills in a safe and competitive environment. The courts themselves are a product of Connor Sport Court International, the outfit recently tapped to install hardwoods at downtown Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, soon-to-be home of the Kings franchise.

“I am living the dream that every one of the kids who will play on this court will have one day,” Lieberman said at the unveiling of the Sacramento DreamCourt, where members of the community were joined by city officials, Kings players and cheerleaders and WorldVentures representatives. “DreamCourts are not just places to play basketball; they are places to set goals, to find purpose, to carve a path to the future and to envision the possibilities.”

A handful of DreamCourts have resulted from partnerships with brands or public figures such as Lieberman, and even boxing great Muhammad Ali, but those are exceptions to the rule. Typically, independent representatives of group travel agency WorldVentures raise money to bring the courts to their communities, in a testament to one of the brand’s core values: Care and Contribute. In some cases, representatives cover the cost of a court—some $25,000 to $30,000—over a couple years of steady fundraising, while other groups muster the funds in a matter of months.

“Depending on the size of the court and how elaborate the team wants it to be, they can get together and raise X amount of dollars,” said representative April Consulo, who led the effort to bring a DreamCourt to Atlanta. “You can do a lot of things from there. It starts with the basketball court, but it can include lights, benches, elaborate logos—depending on how much money we think we can raise as a team.”

In Atlanta, Consulo and a coalition of local representatives auctioned off concert tickets, artwork, and even dinner with regional sales leaders to fund the project. Herself a singer and Country Music Hall of Fame songwriter, Consulo also leveraged connections in the music industry to hold benefit concerts. In the end the funds came together in less than four months, and Atlanta got its DreamCourt in the summer of 2014.

WorldVentures partners with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to install DreamCourts at the organization’s local clubs, where young people congregate for after-school programs. At the Atlanta chapter, the new court bordered a wall marred by gang signs and other graffiti. Here the representatives once again took the initiative, and with the help of an artist—another friend of Consulo’s—painted a 96-foot mural on the offending wall. Home-improvement giant The Home Depot donated the considerable supply of paint that went into the project.

“This is really about the team coming together,” Consulo said of the DreamCourt initiative. “Whether we’re doing a barbecue or picnic, or charging $20 to go bowling with half of the proceeds going to the DreamCourt, the point is that we’re trying to create a family and a culture. The end result is to create this amazing legacy.”

Ten-year-old WorldVentures also is building a legacy of service through its VolunTourism trips, which are group vacations with a social purpose, and volunteer opportunities tied to company training events. Representatives planning to attend UNITED, the company’s upcoming international convention in Orlando, Florida, can sign on for a large-scale Volunteer Day supporting the local Boys & Girls Club. WorldVentures also plans to leave its mark on the city with the gift of a brand-new DreamCourt.

December 22, 2015

U.S. News

Rodan + Fields Chief Lori Bush Set to Retire

President and CEO Lori Bush is set to retire from Rodan + Fields in early 2016, according to a recent statement from the skincare company.

“It has been an honor and privilege to be entrusted with the founders’ brand and mission over the past eight years, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve built together,” said Bush. “Our brand and business model is so much about choice, deciding today how tomorrow looks, and I am more than grateful that I am in a position to choose the timing of the start of my next chapter. I look forward to continued involvement with Rodan + Fields while enjoying more time with my family in my retirement.”

The San Francisco-based company expects to name a successor early next year. Bush has led Rodan + Fields since 2007, when management decided to pull out of high-end department stores and implement a social commerce model. Under her leadership, the seller of dermatology-inspired products has grown to $330 million in annual revenue, making it the No. 28 direct selling company in North America. After handing over the reins, Bush will retain her seat on the company’s board and serve as an advisor to the incoming CEO.

“Lori’s leadership and dedication to Rodan + Fields has been a driving force behind our remarkable success as one of the fastest-growing premium skincare brands in the U.S.,” said Amnon Rodan, Chairman of the Board. “Her guidance as a member of our board will be invaluable as we continue to grow the brand domestically and globally. We thank Lori for the innumerable contributions she has made to Rodan + Fields during her tenure as CEO and wish her all the best in her retirement.”

December 18, 2015

World News

This Week: Q&A with Jessica Herrin, Forbes on the Sharing Economy

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

  • Stella & Dot Founder Jessica Herrin began working two jobs at age 15, and it seems she has not slowed since. In an interview for The New York Times, the chief executive shared, inter alia, some early influences on her career, her hiring dictum (“hire missionaries, not mercenaries”), hard-earned management lessons and the advice she gives to aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Forbes featured an in-depth look at America’s so-called “sharing economy,” made up of independent contractors working for the likes of Uber and Airbnb, as well as direct selling companies. Despite a growing number of sharing economy entrepreneurs, particularly among the millennial demographic, outdated regulations have caused gridlock in the space as special interests make their case.
  • Canada’s CBC News sat down to talk business with Amelia Warren, CEO of Epicure, who at age 24 took the helm at the healthy food and cookware company founded by her mother. Business in Vancouver magazine recently named Warren to its “Forty under 40” list of outstanding young professionals for her leadership of the Canadian direct selling company.
  • Forbes also shared the story of Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Inc., in a look at one thing few people want to talk about when they talk about success. Spoiler: That thing is failure and adversity and learning to overcome it, as the widowed, middle-aged Ash did when she decided to launch her eponymous cosmetics company, now a $4 billion global enterprise.

December 18, 2015

U.S. News

Direct Selling Companies Donate Millions in Gifts to TODAY Toy Drive

This holiday season direct selling companies have donated more than $15.4 million in cash and products to the TODAY Show Holiday Toy and Gift Drive, which supplies gifts to underprivileged children across the U.S. 

The partnership with TODAY has been an initiative of the Direct Selling Assocation (DSA) for more than a decade. On Dec. 22, DSA Senior Vice President Melissa Brunton will appear on the show to thank the companies that participated and acknowledge the work direct selling entrepreneurs do for their communities throughout the year.

This month a handful of company executives have visited the TODAY set to present donations on behalf of their employees and salespeople. On Dec. 1, Thirty-One Gifts President and CEO Cindy Monroe delivered an assortment of products worth $5.5 million—one of the largest donations in this year’s toy drive. To date, the seller of functional bags, home organization products and accessories has contributed more than $36.4 million in products to the program.

“We are excited and honored to be part of the DSA’s toy drive support,” Monroe said in a statement. “Our charitable mission, through our philanthropic outreach Thirty-One Gives, is to assist organizations that empower girls and women, and strengthen families. The TODAY show makes it easy for us to enable our many sales consultants across the country to be involved with the donation too by selecting local charities where they can deliver the products.”

The following direct selling companies donated cash or products in this year’s toy drive:

    •    Amway
    •    Arbonne
    •    Good Will Publishers
    •    Initials Inc. 
    •    Jordan Essentials
    •    Living Fresh Collection
    •    Lulu Avenue
    •    Mary Kay
    •    Origami Owl
    •    PartyLite
    •    Shaklee
    •    SpenserNation
    •    Stampin’ Up!
    •    Stella & Dot
    •    Thirty-One Gifts
    •    USANA Health Sciences
    •    Vantel Pearls

December 17, 2015

World News

Private Equity Calling: Avon Sells Majority Stake in North American Business

After years of declining sales, Avon Products Inc. (AVP—NYSE) on Thursday said it will sell its North American business in a $605 million deal with private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP.

The beauty company announced it will sell off an 80.1 percent stake in Avon North America for $170 million, with Avon holding the remaining 19.9 percent in the resulting privately held company. Cerberus also will make a $435 million preferred-stock investment for a 16.6 percent stake in Avon Products.

The deal aims to spur the North America business and enhance focus on international markets, the companies said. In the first three quarters of 2015, Avon’s international business accounted for 86 percent of consolidated revenue.

Avon also announced plans to suspend its dividend, opting to use it and proceeds from the sale to pay down debt and reinvest in the business.

According to the agreement, Cerberus will appoint a CEO to lead Avon North America when the current President, Pablo Muñoz, steps down in January. The company will be governed by a board of managers, with seven seats held by Cerberus and two filled by Avon Products CEO Sheri McCoy and former President and COO Susan Kropf.

“Importantly, Cerberus has both the conviction and resources to support our Representatives,” McCoy said in a statement. “We are confident that relief from the short-term pressures of a public company reporting cycle, the substantial investment that Cerberus is making to support and reinvigorate the business, and the operational excellence and discipline that define Cerberus’ reputation will return Avon North America to health.”

The new partnership extends to the board of Avon Products, which will gain three Cerberus directors and two more jointly appointed by the companies. The departure of six current directors will reduce the final headcount to 11. Cerberus appointee Chan Galbato has been tapped to serve as non-Executive Chairman, and longtime director W. Don Cornwell will be Lead Independent Director.

On news of the long-rumored deal, shares of Avon climbed 24 percent in premarket trading to $4.94 before leveling out to $4.04 at close of day.

December 16, 2015

U.S. News

Beauty Editors Are Buzzing about This Nerium Product

Nerium’s Firming Body Contour Cream has made a number of recent appearances in the beauty press, partly due to a report that Hollywood actress Sofia Vergara used the product ahead of her November nuptials.

The tightening and sculpting cream was part of an intensive skincare regimen the actress followed in the two months leading up to her marriage to fellow actor Joe Manganiello, Vergara’s dermatologist told ET. Beyond the flurry of coverage surrounding the celebrity wedding, the cream recently caught the eye of InStyle’s Kahlana Barfield Brown, who featured it on the brand’s I’m Obsessed video series.

As its name implies, Firming Body Contour Cream helps to firm problem areas on the skin. The product’s hero ingredient is NAE-8, a proprietary extract and antioxidant derived from nerium oleander and aloe vera. Nerium has commissioned third-party clinical trials, wherein 92 percent of participants saw increased skin hydration and positive improvements on their thighs after using the cream.

The product is one of just a handful sold by Nerium, including its flagship anti-aging creams for day and night and a brain-boosting supplement. In four years of business, the Dallas-based company has generated cumulative sales of more than $1 billion—a record among direct selling companies. Last year, revenue topped $403 million.

December 15, 2015

World News

Beachbody Launches Workout Streaming App for Apple TV

Following the July rollout of its Beachbody On Demand streaming service, Beachbody LLC is making the extensive library of health and fitness programs available for Apple TV.

The Santa Monica, California-based company has positioned itself at the intersection of technology and fitness with its new digital offering. A Beachbody On Demand subscription provides instant access to the brand’s popular in-home workouts, including offerings like P90X with celebrity trainer Tony Horton and Insanity with Shaun T. The service also rewards users with programs created exclusively for Beachbody On Demand.

Beachbody’s new app for Apple TV comes on the heels of a fall product release by the technology giant. In September, Apple unveiled the first refresh of its big-screen offering in more than three years. The latest Apple TV features the company’s all-new tvOS operating system and a redesigned interface using the Siri Remote.

“Through the Beachbody On Demand app for Apple TV, users are able to access and participate in the most premium, at-home fitness experience ever available,” Beachbody’s Chief Digital Officer, Bill Bradford, said in a statement. “Over the years, Beachbody has developed fitness and weight-loss products that consistently deliver results, and with the new Apple TV and its powerful new tvOS, our ability to reach new customers with the best on-screen navigation increases exponentially.”

Beachbody is offering all consumers an introductory 30-day free trial of its fitness library—which the company values at more than $3,000—while the service is in its beta phase. Existing Beachbody On Demand users can install the Apple TV app and link their account to their new device.

December 15, 2015

World News

Heather Chastain Named President of Shaklee U.S. and Canada

Nutrition and personal-care products seller Shaklee has brought on Heather Chastain as President of Shaklee U.S. and Canada, a role supporting the growth and success of Independent Distributors in the company’s key North American markets.

Shaklee’s new President brings 20 years of experience in direct selling, most recently as Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer at another personal-care and wellness brand within the industry. In a statement, Shaklee describes Chastain as an executive with a “strong, collaborative and relational style of management and leadership.” Her previous roles have included responsibilities in sales, marketing, manufacturing and operations.

“We are very fortunate to have Heather join our Shaklee family. She is a superb executive with a proven track record of generating growth in the direct selling industry,” Chairman and CEO Roger Barnett said in a statement. “In addition, she is truly a delightful person and will be an outstanding partner to me and our entire Shaklee family.”

Over and above her corporate roles, Chastain has provided leadership to the wider industry by serving on the board of the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) and as Chair of the DSA Ethics Committee.

“Shaklee is an iconic brand in our channel with outstanding products and a strong track record of integrity and innovation,” said Chastain. “It’s exciting and such a privilege to be working with this group of professionals to help create the next chapter of growth for this legendary company.”

Pleasanton, California-based Shaklee reported revenue of $844 million in 2014, earning the No. 21 spot on this year’s DSN Global 100. The century-old company operates in eight markets through a network of 1.25 million Independent Distributors.

December 11, 2015

U.S. News

This Week: Herbalife’s Attorney Warns off Ackman, J.Hilburn CEO Talks Holiday Style

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

  • Fox Business Network’s Charlie Gasparino set Herbalife’s stock price aflutter on Tuesday with news of a letter from Herbalife’s legal counsel to OTG Research Group, the outside research firm of Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management. The letter calls on the firm to cease and desist what it terms “improper conduct” on behalf of Herbalife short seller Ackman, including contacting current and former Herbalife employees and offering compensation for confidential information on the company.
  • After having her first child, model Erin Joy Henry found herself mentally and physically depleted, with less time to meet the demands of her career. That’s when she began using health products recommended by a friend in direct selling, despite her skepticism about the business model. Writing for the Huffington Post, Henry shared her evolution from skeptic to direct sales entrepreneur and holistic nutrition counselor, helping other people improve their health and finances in what she calls a “dream career.”
  • Also at HuffPost, J.Hilburn’s Veeral Rathod has some tips on how to be the best-dressed man at any holiday party. Drawing on his expertise as Co-Founder and CEO of the custom menswear company, Rathod lays out a few rules of thumb to help his fellow men celebrate the holiday season in style.
  • Two top Avon executives will exit the company at year-end, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The beauty brand’s strategy chief and supply chain head, both brought on by CEO Sheri McCoy in 2013, were named by an anonymous source (paywall). News of the decision, reportedly communicated within the company last month, comes as activist investors including Barington Capital Management LP call for restructuring and new leadership within the company.
  • Scentsy is lighting up the night with an elaborate holiday display at the company’s Meridian, Idaho headquarters. To get the job done, the home fragrance seller tapped a local husband-and-wife team, who set out in October to string 20 miles of lights on hundreds of trees across the corporate campus.

December 11, 2015

U.S. News

Plexus Donates $200K to Our Military Kids and Toys for Tots

Photo: Plexus CEO Tarl Robinson (left) and CMO Alec Clark (right) present donations to Toys for Tots and Our Military Kids.


Sales are not the only thing growing rapidly at Plexus Worldwide. The nutrition and weight-management company also reports an exponential increase in charitable giving, including two new donations to Our Military Kids and Toys for Tots.

Totaling $202,143.88, the latest donations resulted from promotional events held on Veterans Day and Cyber Monday. Scottsdale, Arizona-based Plexus, which ranked No. 132 on this year’s Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, regularly pledges a portion of its single-day sales to charity.

From its Veterans Day sales, Plexus donated $78,494.35 to Our Military Kids, an organization that supports military children whose parents are deployed or injured. Cyber Monday sales yielded a $123,649.53 donation to Toys for Tots, a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program that distributes new, unwrapped toys to less fortunate children throughout the U.S.

The response from Plexus customers and independent sellers helped the company achieve a three-fold increase over total giving in 2014, according to Chief Marketing Officer Alec Clark. “Our 250,000 Ambassadors from across the U.S. continue to inspire us by their commitment to helping their communities and giving to good causes like Toys for Tots and Our Military Children.”

December 11, 2015

U.S. News

Q&A: Rep. Blackburn on Backing Direct Sellers in Congress

In September, members of Congress came together in an official capacity to support the work of direct selling entrepreneurs across the U.S. The group of likeminded legislators formed the Direct Selling Caucus, an effort spearheaded by Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marc Veasey (D-TX), in conjunction with the U.S. Direct Selling Association.

DSN recently spoke to Rep. Blackburn, who co-chairs the caucus alongside Rep. Veasey, about her involvement and what to expect from the bipartisan group in the future.

DSN: What was the catalyst for bringing this caucus together? Why now?

MB: The catalyst was to make sure that our colleagues here in Congress understand both the importance of direct selling and the reach direct selling has into each congressional district. Looking at the importance of it, it’s about jobs and growth and about individuals being able to own their own businesses. It’s about income potential and shifting the focus so you’re talking about earning a maximum wage—earning as much as you’re able to possibly earn and building a business that will support that. We have to talk about the ways it encourages individuals to build their own businesses. Once they’ve built one successful business, many times individuals will go on to a second successful business.

Looking at the timing, we identified a point of opportunity. Coming past the recession in 2009, there has been less job growth in the marketplace, as well as wage stagnation. When there’s wage stagnation, what do people do? They look for ways to grow their income. Much of that has been done through direct selling. Since direct selling is widespread and used by many people, it gave us the opportunity to say, “Yes, with millions of individuals participating in direct selling across every congressional district, it’s the right time to go ahead and start the caucus.”

DSN: You have participated in direct selling yourself. Can you share about that experience and its influence on your career?

MB: I sold books for Southwestern Company, which is out of Nashville. While I was in college, I sold educational books and a cookbook product that I helped to put together for the company. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to have a job that allowed me to work on commission and decide how much I wanted to work and how much I wanted to earn. I learned very quickly that the harder I worked, the smarter I worked, the more diligent I was, the more hours I put in, the more people I talked to, the better my chance of closing sales and earning more money. It had a tremendous impact on my life and my understanding of the business process.

Read more from Rep. Blackburn in the January issue of Direct Selling News.

 

December 10, 2015

U.S. News

Morinda Sees Exponential Sales in First Cyber Monday Campaign

Morinda launched its first Cyber Monday campaign this year, with the promotion generating exponential sales for the wellness products seller.

“Cyber Monday is a promotional opportunity for non-retail business models. It’s the Black Friday of the Internet,” Morinda’s Vice President of Sales, Shon Whitney, said in a statement. “The decision to hop on the opportunity this year was a no-brainer.”

To capitalize on the online doorbuster, the Morinda team spruced up the company’s website, created holiday gift bundles and crafted a social media campaign. The company saw gains ahead of the actual event; in the week leading up to Cyber Monday, sales were up 175 percent from Morinda’s average “last week of the month” figures. On Cyber Monday, Nov. 30, Morinda outstripped by more than 300 percent its single-day sales record for the year.

The Provo, Utah-based company, entering its 20th year of business, recently equipped its independent sellers with the TruAge Operating System, a custom marketing and lead management tool designed around Morinda’s TruAge Scanner. In 2016, the company plans to expand its product offerings with the launch of ML Boutique, a new line of hand-crafted artisan jewelry.

 

December 09, 2015

U.S. News

Stream Recoups Legal Fees following Dismissal of Solavei Suit

Stream has received another favorable ruling in its legal dispute with former competitor Solavei. A Dallas District Court judge has awarded Stream hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees arising from a lawsuit brought by Solavei in January 2015, falsely claiming misappropriation of trade secrets.

Energy provider Stream launched mobile services in January, six months after backing out of merger talks with Seattle-based 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, and other privileged information to roll out its mobile business.

A June ruling by Judge Craig Smith of the 192nd District Court dismissed with prejudice Solavei’s allegations against Stream. On Dec. 4, Judge Smith went a step further, awarding Stream $346,000 to cover legal expenses incurred by the company. Under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act, a court may grant attorney’s fees to a prevailing party when, in cases such as Stream’s, claims of trade secret misappropriation are found to have been made in bad faith.

“Today’s court’s order resoundingly reinforces what we have insisted from the commencement of this dispute: that Solavei’s allegations were baseless and maliciously designed to interfere with the nationwide launch of Stream’s mobile business,” Mark “Bouncer” Schiro, Stream President and CEO, said in a statement. “With this final vindication, our Associates can rest assured that this lawsuit soon will be history.”

On the same day Stream recouped its legal fees, Solavei shuttered its mobile business. The company had filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2014, amid talks with Stream. After Stream withdrew from the talks, Solavei merged with Netherlands-based Aspider, a mobile infrastructure and services brand; however, plans to restructure the business never came to fruition, and Solavei later announced it would discontinue its services as of Dec. 4, 2015.

December 09, 2015

U.S. News

Speech Therapy Expert Says SimplyFun Games among Year’s Top 10

For parents knee-deep in holiday shopping, respected speech-language pathologist Sherry Artemenko has unveiled her Top 10 PAL (Play Advances Language) Picks of 2015, including two offerings from educational board game developer SimplyFun LLC.

Each year, Artemenko publishes the PAL Awards on her popular speech therapy blog, playonwords.com. The Top 10 lists, categorized by age and product type, highlight exceptional toys, games and books that build language through play, along with Artemenko’s reviews and tips for parents.

This year’s picks include SimplyFun’s Bid-A-Letter and Pass the Rooby Roo!, both named Top 10 Games for school-aged children. According to the company’s website, Bid-A-Letter is an alphabet game focused on building words and problem solving, while Pass the Rooby Roo! hones word association and quick thinking.

Artemenko has spent 35 years helping children develop speech and language skills, both in the public and private school systems and through her private practice, Playonwords LLC. Her work has appeared in outlets such as the San Francisco Chronicle, parenting.com and Parents magazine. Currently, she is an advisor to children’s authors and startups for children’s toys and media.

December 09, 2015

U.S. News

Industry Veteran Mike Green Named Plexus CIO

Health firm Plexus Worldwide is bolstering its technology expertise with the appointment of a new Chief Information Officer, Mike Green.

Green is no stranger to direct selling, previously having led IT operations for two companies within the industry. Most recently, he served as Vice President of Information Technology, establishing and structuring the IT department at a young company that has topped $200 million in annual revenue. Green’s earlier career included the role of Vice President of Technology at another company, where he also served as Interim CIO, directing all global IT initiatives.

“Mike brings a heightened focus and prioritization that will drive our IT team and benefit Plexus,” Chief Marketing Officer Alec Clark said in a statement. “His history of success at network marketing sales organizations will bridge the gap between our business goals and IT initiatives while spearheading the design of globally solid, reliable systems from concept to production.”

A statement by Plexus describes Green as a leader with a “hands-on management style focused on building and motivating IT teams.” In 14 years of leadership, Green has guided teams across numerous functions, including software development, web development, ERP, WMS, IT operations, help desk and project management.

“Plexus has quickly earned a very positive reputation within the direct sales industry, thanks to its well-respected executive team and the company’s rapid growth and focus on its Ambassadors,” said Green. “I’m thrilled to join Plexus’ talented team and to lead the IT department as Plexus expands its initiatives to further help the company and its Ambassadors succeed.”

December 04, 2015

World News

This Week: Reports of Avon Sale, Direct Selling in the City

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

  • Amid ongoing reports of a possible sale of Avon’s North American business, The Wall Street Journal said Thursday that the company is in talks with Cerberus Capital Management LP(paywall). Terms of any potential deal are unknown, but the company would face one hurdle in the form of an activist investor group, Barington Capital Group LP, which holds a stake of about 3 percent in Avon. In a statement released Thursday, the group claimed the beauty company is undervalued and proposed a restructuring plan in lieu of selling off the North America business.
  • As companies like Jamberry, Younique and Ever Skincare wield social media platforms as powerful customer acquisition tools, inquiring minds are weighing social selling’s potential in the fashion category. The Business of Fashion spoke to industry leaders and investors about the strengths and weaknesses of the model and fashion startups dipping their toes in the water.
  • The New York Times went behind the scenes at a trunk show for jewelry company Chloe & Isabel for a piece on the growing wave of direct selling activity in big cities.
  • Lori Bush joined Rodan + Fields in 2007 as the skincare company pulled out of high-end department stores and implemented a direct selling model. In a cover story for Smart Business, the President and CEO shares lessons learned as she helped to build a salesforce of more than 50,000 and launch the company’s e-commerce platform.
  • Marketing-focused outlet The Drum took a look at the untapped potential LinkedIn holds for B2B companies. Chris D’Alessandro, Chief Digital Officer at LegalShield, calls the professional social networking platform a key tool for any organization that needs to get its product in front of the right person at the right company.

December 04, 2015

U.S. News

Thirty-One Gifts to Premiere New Collection at Hundreds of Theaters

Thirty-One Gifts is coming soon to theaters across North America. The Columbus, Ohio-based company is unveiling its latest collection during special showings to be held Saturday in 275 cities.

The unique format is a means to promote the company’s spring/summer 2016 offerings and train independent sales consultants to sell the products. The 12-year-old company specializes in trendy and functional bags, home organization solutions and, following last year’s acquisition of Jewel Kade, artisan jewelry.

“This is the best, most exciting way to give our sales field the tools they need to find solutions for their customers’ personal, family and home organization and fashion needs, and more,” Cindy Monroe, Thirty-One Gifts Founder, President and CEO, said in a statement. “Our product premiere allows thousands to see the reveal of our new products and patterns at once, and to be able to share that information with their customers at home parties in 2016.”

Through its network of 85,000-plus consultants, Thirty-One Gifts generated revenue of $643 million in 2014. The company expects approximately 45,000 of those consultants to attend its mass product premiere at select theaters across the U.S. and Canada.

December 04, 2015

World News

Oriflame Discloses Reorganization Effective in 2016

Swedish cosmetics seller Oriflame has undergone a reorganization aimed at leveraging digital opportunities and maximizing efficiency throughout the business.

The Luxembourg-based company has formed a global Commercial Division led by Jesper Martinsson, newly appointed Senior Vice President and Head of Commercial Division and Deputy CEO. The division aligns Oriflame’s sales, marketing and supply chain operations.

To focus strategy execution, the company has decentralized its Regional Organization, with separate teams coordinating strategy in the regions of Latin America, Europe & Africa, CIS (Russian Commonwealth), and Asia & Turkey. Oriflame’s reporting will reflect the new split as of the first quarter of 2016.

Additionally, the company has established a Global Manufacturing division, looking to optimize an area formerly within the scope of Global Operations.

“In a constantly changing global environment, we need to become more agile,” President and CEO Magnus Brännström said in a statement. “The organisational change we announce today is a vigorous step to further strengthen our position in a more digital world. In addition, it will facilitate improved succession planning as well as promote talent within the company.”

As a result of the fine-tuning, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2016, Oriflame expects one-time restructuring charges of approximately 6.5 MEUR (US$7.1 million) and, beginning in 2016, about 4 MEUR (US$4.3 million) in annual savings.

December 04, 2015

U.S. News

Le-Vel Announces December Initiative Supporting Toys for Tots

Following an October promotion benefitting the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Le-Vel is partnering with Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in December to provide toys for children this holiday season.

The nutrition and weight-management company has introduced a Holiday Edition DFT product, with $5 of each purchase benefitting Toys for Tots. The company’s patent-pending DFT patch is worn directly on the skin to support the body’s metabolism process. A similar promotion during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October raised $250,000 to fund cancer research and prevention programs.

Toys for Tots, a program of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, distributes new, unwrapped toys to less fortunate children throughout the U.S. Leading up to the holiday season each year, the program collects toy donations at more than 700 sites across the country. All net proceeds donated by Le-Vel will be used by the program to purchase toys.

In addition to its product promotion, Dallas-based Le-Vel is encouraging its network of independent Promoters—who number about 90,000—to hold regional toy drives or “Locals” during the month of December.

“We are thrilled to have Le-Vel on board this holiday season,” Bill Grein, Toys for Tots Foundation Vice President of Marketing and a retired Marine, said in a statement. “Their monetary donation along with the numerous toy drives hosted by Promoters will guarantee that many additional disadvantaged children across the country will have a memorable Christmas.”

December 03, 2015

U.S. News

Three Winter Olympics Contenders Join Team USANA

Three additional Olympic contenders have signed on to Team USANA, the stable of world-class athletes and teams sponsored by the nutrition company.

Among the latest additions is Alex Deibold, a former wax technician for the U.S. Snowboarding team who, in a span of four years, rose to claim a bronze medal in the sport at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

“I’m really excited to join an elite group of athletes in partnering with USANA,” Deibold said in a statement. “The level of hard work and integrity they put into their products is the same that I put into my athletic career, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do together.”

Also partnering with USANA is Brittany Bowe, a lifelong inline skater who transitioned to speedskating in 2010. Since hitting the ice, Bowe has collected 30 World Cup medals and raced for the U.S. Speedskating team at Sochi. This year alone, Bowe earned the World Champion title in the sprint, 1500-meter and 1000-meter races. The final addition is Speed Skating Canada’s Ivanie Blondin, another Sochi contender and the 2015 World Cup Mass Start Champion.

“Team USANA is composed of more than 700 elite athletes from around the world who trust their health to USANA and its NSF and LGC-tested nutritional products,” said USANA Chief Communications Officer Dan Macuga. “To work alongside these extraordinary Olympians as they begin their respective seasons and journeys to PyeongChang is an honor and testament to what USANA stands for.”

Salt Lake City-based USANA largely enters product sponsorships, meaning athletes sign on to receive supplements and health products from the company. In an interview earlier this year on sports sponsorships, Macuga told DSN his team receives requests for product sponsorships every week from athletes all over the world.

December 02, 2015

U.S. News

4Life Manufacturing Facility Comes Online in Utah

Photo: 4Life executives, general managers, and special guests gathered for the opening of the company’s new manufacturing facility.


4Life Research has expanded its production capabilities with the opening of a new manufacturing facility in Vineyard, Utah.

After breaking ground on the site in December 2014, the health and wellness company opened the new facility during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday. 4Life has outfitted the space with state-of-the-art equipment that will enable the company to continue adhering to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). The company’s quality assurance team also tests raw materials and finished goods at an existing analytical laboratory.

“The completion of this facility gives us start-to-finish control over every step of the manufacturing process, including the batching, blending, encapsulation and packaging of most 4Life Transfer Factor products,” company President and CEO Steve Tew said in a statement.

Building upon Transfer Factor, its flagship immune support product, 4Life has developed a range of nutrition, weight-management and animal health products. The Salt Lake City-based company earned the No. 49 spot on this year’s DSN Global 100 with 2014 revenue of $332 million, up from $300 million in 2013.

December 02, 2015

World News

Amway Makes Three Additions to Nutrilite Scientific Advisory Board

Photo: Amway’s Nutrilite Scientific Advisory Board.


Amway has added three new members to its Nutrilite Scientific Advisory Board, the brain trust behind Amway’s top-selling Nutrilite brand. The latest additions to the board bring expertise in the areas of healthy aging, weight management and traditional Indian medicine.

In the field of healthy aging, Amway has tapped Bradley J. Willcox M.D., M.Sc., Professor and Director of Research at the Department of Geriatric Medicine in the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii. Willcox is widely published on the genetic, environmental and clinical aspects of healthy aging. He also authored The Okinawa Program, a New York Times best-selling book based on Willcox’s investigations in the Kuakini Hawaii lifespan and healthspan studies and the Okinawa Centenarian Study.

Also joining the board is Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., Director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center and Associate Executive Director for Clinical Sciences at Louisiana State University. Ravussin studies obesity at the molecular level, as well as its ties to other chronic conditions. He has published his research in more than 450 peer-reviewed papers in numerous scientific journals.

The final addition to the Nutrilite Scientific Advisory Board is Padma Venkatasubramanian, Ph.D., Professor and Advisor at the School of Life Sciences at the Institute of Transdisciplinary Health Sciences & Technology in Bangalore, India. There she helped to establish the Research and Development Center, which takes a transdisciplinary approach to applying the knowledge of Ayurveda or traditional Indian medicine. Venkatasubramanian is an expert in microbiology and chemistry as well as contemporary applications of Ayurveda. Using transdisciplinary tools, she has developed 25 nutraceutical and cosmeceutical products such as herbal drinks and soups and Ayurvedic cookies.

“The new members significantly strengthen and broaden our Board. Their diverse perspectives will be invaluable as we develop plans for research to support new product ideas,” Keith Randolph, Ph.D., Chair of the Board and Technology Strategist for the Nutrilite Health Institute, said in a statement.

Willcox, Ravussin and Venkatasubramanian join nine other board members in the fields of nutrition, health and genetics. The board’s expertise guides the research and development of Nutrilite, the world’s No. 1 selling brand of vitamins and dietary supplements, according to research by Euromonitor International.

December 01, 2015

Stock Watch

Stock Watch, December 2015


December 01, 2015

Company Focus

DSEF: Industry Advocates Working to Shape the Future of Direct Selling, One Partnership at a Time

by Courtney Roush

All of us in direct selling are united by a common mission to educate the public about the legitimacy of the channel and its profound contributions to the lives of individuals, families and our economy at large. According to the U.S. Direct Selling Association, direct selling contributed $34 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014. One organization, the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF), has been working behind the scenes since 1973, joined by industry leaders in a shared cause: to educate the public on the ways direct selling empowers individuals, supports communities and strengthens economies both in the United States and abroad. And it is poised to do more.

DSEF, in fact, is heading into a new era, strengthening its mission to build relationships, share information and educate people of all ages and backgrounds not just about direct selling, but about the broader principles and benefits of entrepreneurship. 2015 has been a pivotal year for DSEF. The renewed focus has been building since the organization initiated an extensive search for a new executive director, which it found in Gary Huggins.

With more than 15 years managing nonprofits, Huggins has worked with various constituencies including educators, government officials, business executives, and consumer advocacy groups and brings with him substantial experience in policy and innovation. He previously was CEO of the National Summer Learning Association as well as Director of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan, independent effort dedicated to improving the No Child Left Behind Act. 

“For 40 years, we’ve been making a case for the direct selling industry,” says DSEF Executive Director Gary Huggins. “We want people to understand that we’re leaders in ethical entrepreneurship. What happens within our industry affects the broader economy.”

DSEF Board Chairman John Parker, who also serves as Amway’s Chief Sales Officer, has personally, and through Amway, devoted a lot of time to the efforts of DSEF, because he believes in the power of the organization. He says, “The primary challenge we face as a foundation is the same challenge faced by the industry: the need for more awareness and understanding.”

Heading into his second year as Executive Director of DSEF, Huggins will continue to build on the framework of the organization’s efforts to overcome this challenge of awareness. Starting with the expansion of the board of directors as well as staff, he has plans to execute several programs moving into 2016.

The DSEF, which funds its programs entirely through voluntary contributions from industry leaders, has three primary areas of focus: consumer initiatives, academic initiatives, and entrepreneurship initiatives.


Connie Tang, CEO of Princess House, and Britney Vickery, Founder and CEO of Initials Inc., participate in a DSEF Campus Event at the University of Georgia.

Consumer Advocacy/Outreach

While DSEF already partners with consumer groups, consumer agencies and regulatory agencies—the Federal Trade Commission, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, consumer reporters and others—the Foundation is taking its consumer outreach even further this year, expanding its efforts to share information about direct selling’s channel of distribution, extensive product offering, entrepreneurship opportunity and Code of Ethics.

To start, DSEF is increasing its commitment to the FTC’s National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). Held in March each year, NCPW is a campaign of federal and state governments and nonprofit partner organizations that encourages consumers to understand and exercise their rights in the marketplace. For DSEF members, NCPW is an opportunity to present the industry’s Code of Ethics and inform the public about what to expect from ethical direct sellers.


DSEF is heading into a new era, strengthening its mission to build relationships, share information and educate people of all ages and backgrounds not just about direct selling, but about the broader principles and benefits of entrepreneurship.


Already an annual partner for the event, this year DSEF created a NCPW-themed Consumer Protection Toolkit that included materials from the FTC and other state and local consumer organizations on topics like identity theft, job scams and online shopping, plus materials highlighting consumer protection measures supported by the U.S. Direct Selling Association’s Code of Ethics. DSEF delivered the toolkit to members of Congress, FTC Commissioners and staff as well as other constituents involved in consumer protection issues.

“Our goal is to be a concrete resource in their hands as they field calls from consumers,” says Huggins. “Our industry thrives on legitimate businesses, but if you’re not familiar with the industry, you don’t know who’s legitimate and who’s not,” he adds. “Direct selling is just as much about protecting consumers as the organizations we partner with; hence, the DSA’s Code of Ethics.”

Academic Outreach

The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, a global annual trust and credibility survey, found that academia remains among the most trusted sectors of society—higher than business, government and the media. An industry seeking to affect change, then, would be wise to build relationships among those who influence young minds every day. In fact, early leaders like Dick Bartlett, DSEF Chairman and Mary Kay Inc. Vice Chairman, recognized decades ago that the direct selling industry needed the academic community in its corner to fulfill its greater mission.

For many years, DSEF has been working with professors from a wide variety of disciplines to commission research, case studies, and white papers and sponsor direct selling education programs on college campuses throughout the United States. More recently, the organization is pushing to take those efforts to scale, leverage its network to connect with more professors at more institutions and, ultimately, promote mainstream understanding of direct selling. 


“The primary challenge we face as a foundation is the same challenge faced by the industry: the need for more awareness and understanding.”
—John Parker, DSEF Board Chairman and Amway Chief Sales Officer


The Foundation is responding to a rather urgent situation: A lot of college students are coming out of business, marketing and entrepreneurship programs without having had any introduction to the direct selling industry.

To help strengthen its ties to the academic community, the DSEF recently established an Academic Advisory Council (AAC), a strategic group of leading professors from business, ethics, marketing, consumer studies, entrepreneurship and economics. During their respective terms, AAC members will collaborate with DSEF on the development of initiatives that advance the understanding of direct selling as a viable path to entrepreneurship and serve as the Foundation’s strategic connection to engaging academics in a variety of disciplines.

Dr. Victoria Crittenden, a professor and Chair of the Marketing Division at Babson College as well as a DSEF AAC member, teaches an Entrepreneurial Marketing course to her undergraduate students in which direct selling permeates the content—through case studies, published direct selling interviews, even a guest lecture from Joan Hartel Cabral, Founder and President of Massachusetts-based Vantel Pearls. The students’ final project is to read The Mary Kay Way: Timeless Principles from America’s Greatest Woman Entrepreneur, and relate the book’s lessons to leaders they’ve learned about throughout the semester. Crittenden recalls one of her recent students, who saw entrepreneurship through new eyes after reading the book. “Mary Kay Ash humanized entrepreneurship so much that it really brought it home for her,” Crittenden says. 

Building a solid base of case studies and research, workshops and campus visits will go a long way toward moving direct selling further into the public’s awareness, while strengthening companies’ branding and image. And for academics, the benefits are clear: publishing and research, closer engagement with companies facing real-world business challenges, and the potential for corporate internship and other career exploration programs for their students. Aside from commissioning research and sponsoring campus programs, DSEF maintains an online archive of academic research papers and case studies with findings applicable to the industry and the broader business community. Another way that the Foundation and its academic partners are seeking to advocate direct selling to younger generations is through Campus Programs. At these events, students hear directly from industry executives as they share their own experiences and learnings. DSEF’s most recent program was held at Florida State University with Randi Farina of Living Fresh Collections speaking to students, and the organization plans to hold at least four Campus Programs a year going forward.

In years past, working the topic of direct selling into a college curriculum may have been like forcing a square peg into a round hole. Not so anymore. Entrepreneurship has become a more attractive option for college graduates who are facing a lagging job market, and were raised in an era during which trust in big corporations has eroded. And self-employment carries cache, thanks to legendary figures like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. But you don’t have to be a Harvard dropout, move to Silicon Valley, land a few venture capitalists or build the next Microsoft to become a successful business owner.

To meet demand, more colleges have launched entrepreneurship programs, but even for those who don’t offer an entrepreneurship track per se, direct selling case studies and discussions can present a great fit, complementing courses on ethics, economics, supply chain, women’s studies and many more. “Today, there’s a more natural fit for direct selling in the college environment. They didn’t know where to fit us before,” Amway’s Parker says.

Kerry Tassopoulos, who is Vice President of Public Affairs, Compliance and Risk Management at Mary Kay Inc., says speaking to college students is “a practical opportunity to share with them how easy it is to have a business of their own, and help them understand the depth and breadth of this business.” Tassopoulos is a DSEF board member and the Education Committee Chair.


“For 40 years, we’ve been making a case for the direct selling industry. We want people to understand that we’re leaders in ethical entrepreneurship. What happens within our industry affects the broader economy.”
—Gary Huggins, Executive Director, DSEF


Dr. Brenda Cude, a professor at the University of Georgia at Athens (UGA) in the Department of Housing and Consumer Economics, hosted Foundation presentations earlier this year during Thinc Week, an annual campus-wide initiative designed to inspire entrepreneurship among students and faculty. Cude, who is a DSEF board member, Consumer Committee Co-Chair and AAC member, says that while many of the student attendees had prior exposure to direct selling products, few understood the business model before the event. Nor did they attach those products back to million- or even billion-dollar corporations with international markets, supply chain challenges, advertising budgets, leading-edge research and development, and even a few crash courses in reputation management. It was an opportunity to share knowledge about the channel of distribution, counter myths and misperceptions, and build trust.

During Thinc Week, Cude and DSEF hosted “Start Something… On Your Own,” an event for undergraduate students from five different UGA courses as well as students from Athen Technical College. Among those direct selling leaders at the event were DSEF board members Connie Tang, CEO of Princess House, and Britney Vickery, Founder and CEO of Initials Inc.


“In the longer term, we have the potential to work with direct selling companies to collaborate on research projects by gathering data. That requires building trust between researchers and the industry. To attract researchers, you have to be willing to provide data.”
—Dr. Elizabeth Davis, Dean, University of San Francisco School of Management


The organization also just released an Executive Guide to Academic Engagement, a how-to manual for direct selling executives seeking to connect with the academic community. “Many people say that they don’t have time to go talk to students, but you’d be surprised at the benefits it can bring to your company,” Tassopoulos says. “A professor could recommend an intern who becomes your next valued employee. This is one of the aspects of our business that has serendipity. You never know when a conversation with a professor will help your business.”

Dr. Elizabeth Davis, Dean of University of San Francisco School of Management and a member of the DSEF board and AAC, says, “Whenever you engage the academic side of the house, there’s a short- and long-term payoff. Short term, we can generate more non-publishing opportunities by sending graduate student teams to work on identified organizational projects of significance in direct selling companies. That’s an easy way to get both universities and companies immediately connected.” She continues, “In the longer term, we have the potential to work with direct selling companies to collaborate on research projects by gathering data. That requires building trust between researchers and the industry. To attract researchers, you have to be willing to provide data.”

Dr. Linda Ferrell, a professor of Leadership and Business Ethics at Belmont University, as well as a DSEF board and AAC member, was first introduced to DSEF when Foundation staff attended a meeting of the Academy of Marketing Sciences, for which she serves as president. She’s now an ardent supporter of bringing more direct selling education into the classroom, removing the industry from its silo and bringing it into the mainstream. “I’ve seen students’ attitudes change about the industry; they get more clarity around it,” Ferrell says.

“I encourage [executives] who have a story they want to tell to partner with us,” Ferrell adds. “I know they’re short on time, but there’s something so positive that’s going to come from working together.”

Engaging Academics

Academic engagement comes with many benefits. Strategic investment in academic partnerships can lead to opportunities to share your company’s business model and leadership principles with students and future leaders, as well as to be included in case studies and college textbooks, all of which provide more brand awareness and image enhancement in your community and among academics influencers.

Below are several ways you can engage academics:

  • Download Benefits and Opportunities for Academics and Students to use in your academic outreach at www.dsef.org/academic-engagement-guide.
  • Survey your employees about their current academic/university connections, which can be used to coordinate outreach to universities.
  • Stay informed about the latest college alumni news and events including alumni-faculty receptions, homecoming activities, reunions, and regional alumni events. No faculty-alumni networking events?
  • Sponsor a networking reception or breakfast for business leaders and business school faculty.
  • Add university professors to your company newsletter and holiday card mailing lists.
  • Send personalized notes or emails inviting university professors and/or their students to corporate events.
  • Invite academics to serve on your company’s board of directors or advisory board.
  • Offer to be a guest speaker for entrepreneurship and business course lectures and special events.
  • Participate in college career fairs.
  • Become a student mentor.
  • Partner with business school faculty to write company case studies and sponsor company-specific research projects.
  • Introduce your academic connections to the DSEF to further foster their involvement with the industry.
  • Support annual university fundraising campaigns.
  • Financially support student organizations and student-directed campus events.
  • Financially support a scholarship or graduate student stipend.


Entrepreneurship Initiatives

To further expand its reach, DSEF, in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, developed the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program (DSEP), a 30-hour, 10-module course that provides participants with the entrepreneurial skills to help them achieve their self-employment goals. DSEP introduces students to the fundamental components of small business management, including marketing, finance, legal issues, planning and operations, all through the lens of direct selling. 

A course about effectively running a business from a direct selling perspective has the potential to meet the needs of many audiences. With that in mind, DSEF is developing an online version of the course to reach more students at community colleges as well as through other delivery partners.

Kevin McMurray, Deputy General Counsel for USANA Health Sciences Inc., taught the DSEP in Utah during fall 2014, at Salt Lake Community College’s Miller Campus. In the audience were local students, including aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as local distributors from such companies as USANA, Thrive and 4Life Research. “The course materials were exceptional; they provided students in the seminar an overview of the industry and what it was like to be an independent contractor,” McMurray says. For those who already were independent distributors, “the course enabled them to become a lot more familiar with the direct selling model. It gave them the opportunity to evaluate what they were doing to build their businesses and consider how they could improve.”


“A professor could recommend an intern who becomes your next valued employee. This is one of the aspects of our business that has serendipity. You never know when a conversation with a professor will help your business.”
—Kerry Tassopoulos, Vice President of Public Affairs, Compliance and Risk Management, Mary Kay Inc.


Given McMurray’s role with USANA, he was able to open attendees’ eyes to regulatory and compliance policies as well as their rationale. For current direct sellers, the discussion reminded them of the responsibilities of owning a direct selling business, while students of entrepreneurship learned that direct selling companies make considerable investments to preserve the integrity of their respective organizations and the industry at large. “We want the sales field to know that it’s not about us or you; it’s what we can do to build long-term success for everyone. There’s a reason for compliance, so direct selling companies can operate long-term.” 

NACCE, which represents more than 300 community colleges throughout the United States and Canada, is working alongside DSEF to promote DSEP to community college entrepreneurship program administrators and faculty. Dr. Rebecca Corbin joined the NACCE as President and CEO in January 2015. Formerly an administration vice president for a community college, where many students were shifting gears in their careers to start their own businesses, “I’d seen the value of direct selling, and I’d always believed in it, so one of the first partnerships I formed in my new role was with the DSEF,” she says. For students, Corbin adds, one of the biggest takeaways from the DSEF-designed module is that it encourages plenty of self-reflection—an inventory of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Those are invaluable lessons to learn early in the entrepreneurship journey instead of later, when you’re in the trenches.

“All businesses have a high failure rate,” Corbin adds. “Entrepreneurial training closes the gap and decreases that failure rate. Can you imagine the revenue implications of that?”

The Future Holds Tremendous Promise

When direct sellers have a voice in the continuing discussion about how entrepreneurship can make a profound difference in people’s lives, the industry as a whole benefits.

“Look at what’s happening in the marketplace. People are more interested than ever in independent work, entrepreneurship and finding fulfilling career opportunities,” says Huggins. “More than ever there’s an appetite for what our industry offers. DSEF’s work with academics ensures that our form of entrepreneurship is better understood by educators and the next generation of leaders.”

December 01, 2015

Company Spotlight

Team National: A Legacy Races Forward

by Courtney Roush


Company Profile

Founded: 1997
Headquarters: Davie, Florida
Top Executives: CEO Angela Loehr Chrysler
Products: Membership savings on products
and services
2014 Revenue: $339 Million
North America 50 Rank: No. 22


Angela Loehr ChryslerAngela Loehr Chrysler

If you haven’t heard the name Team National, then you’ve most certainly heard of the company this direct seller keeps—names like AT&T, Sprint, Met Life and ADP. All of those mega-brands and several others have partnered with Team National to present a product offering to customers from more than 20 industries.

Team National independent distributors, called Independent Marketing Directors (IMDs), sell memberships offering significant discounts on a host of products and services, including everything from furniture, legal services, wireless services and jewelry to co-branded credit cards, car care, coffee and nutritional supplements. Think of an Amazon Prime or Costco, which offer access to savings via memberships. Instead of opening buildings around the country, however, Team National leverages the direct selling model to market membership savings directly to customers. 

In an industry in which new product launches are the norm, Team National is marching to its own beat. And as membership offerings become more popular and profitable in the marketplace, the company couldn’t be in a better position. Its leadership team continually examines the depth of the company’s membership offerings, forging additional partnerships with name brands, enhancing coverage for existing services and, occasionally, even launching their own services from the ground up. What keeps the company’s field of more than 400,000 Independent Marketing Directors and their customers excited is that near-universal love of saving money. And in an era in which online comparison shopping takes seconds, and news turns viral in the blink of an eye, Team National could just be scratching the surface of its potential for success.

Team NationalTeam National and its IMDs regularly help sponsor the Boys & Girls Club backpack school supply drive in the company’s local Florida community.

Founded in 1997 by former drag racer-turned-entrepreneur Dick Loehr, the company is celebrating four consecutive years of double-digit growth. Total product, service and membership sales reached $399 million in 2014. Before Loehr passed away from cancer in 2008, he passed the torch to daughter Angela Loehr Chrysler, who has proudly served at the helm as CEO ever since. And she’s kept his culture of sincerity, unshakeable ethics and family atmosphere very much alive.

This deep-rooted loyalty also extends to the field, and Angela believes the company’s recent growth is due in large part to rewarding the IMDs for their efforts. One of the more successful promotions has been a cruise contest that has an easily accessible threshold for winning, something she says was set in place so more people could be rewarded early on in their business development and allowed to experience the leadership training as well as other valuable prizes on the trip. Top executives and sales leaders are there to mingle and connect with salespeople at all levels, and the family atmosphere of Team National shines through. This is especially true, since the cruise leaves out from the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, port near the home office and includes that all-important tour of the headquarters to connect the field to the larger team.


“We’re seeing nice, grassroots steady growth. But I don’t think we’ll ever have hyper-growth. We’re not about hype. We’re about need and value.”
—Angela Loehr Chrysler, CEO


The Legacy of Dick Loehr

It’s impossible to explain the current success of Team National without recalling the foundation laid in its early years by Dick Loehr. At first glance, he may seem an unlikely choice to have founded a direct selling company, but his entrepreneurial spirit suggests otherwise.

Loehr might be the textbook definition of a Renaissance man. He began his career as a racecar driver of the champion Ford Drag Racing Team, for which he would serve as captain, and where he was profoundly influenced by the legacy of Henry Ford. In fact, Loehr would often quote his favorite Ford adage: “You can’t make a new beginning, but you can make a new ending.” That very philosophy would define the rest of Loehr’s life and have a profound influence on Angela.

When Ford left the racing industry in 1971, Loehr opened his own car dealership and RV lot in Portage, Michigan. A second dealership would follow, this one in Kalamazoo. In time, the pair of dealerships would include nine franchises and hundreds of employees. Loehr became well-known for the fun commercials and promotions that would air in his hometown. Angela had the benefit of learning right alongside him, witnessing her father’s no-holds-barred approach to customer service and hard work.

In 1990 Loehr sold both dealerships and headed to South Florida, where he owned and operated nine restaurants. Six years later, he decided to chart a new course for his life: He began working on the plan for a membership savings company. Loehr’s objective was to create a one-of-a-kind savings program that would empower any member to enjoy discount buying power on par with any Fortune 500 company. Although he didn’t have a background in direct selling, he had grown up in Amway territory in Michigan. With the team mentality of his racing days, he wanted to provide real value for items consumers would buy anyway, and give them the option to earn money and supplement their incomes. In 1997, Loehr offered his membership savings and services to a small direct selling company, and then merged the direct seller with his benefits company two years later to form National Companies. He established the corporate office in Davie, Florida, where it remains today under the name Team National.


Today, Team National has issued approximately 300,000 active memberships, which is a somewhat misleading number when you consider that each membership covers multiple family members or co-workers.


Growing the company in those first several years wasn’t an easy proposition. “The membership is based on group buying power, and at that time, we didn’t have a very big group,” Angela says. “We’d go to another company and ask for their partnership, but we had a struggle attracting name brands.” Through Loehr’s continued persistence, and by leveraging his direct selling industry knowledge and contacts, partners eventually joined the fold. The company’s robust membership today is testimony to his entrepreneurial spirit. “We started with six manufacturers,” says Executive Vice President Phil Chrysler, “and now we have 170 from more than 20 industries. Our membership looks vastly different today than it used to.”

While the company still actively pursues partnerships, its greater buying power these days has shifted the dynamics. “We have name brands coming to us now,” says Lou Prats, Vice President of Business Strategies. “And we say no more often than yes, because there has to be real, demonstrated value for our International Marketing Directors and their customers. We want to create savings opportunities that allow them to validate their memberships.” Sprint is among the company’s newest partners.

Collectively, these third-party associations “give us credibility” both inside and outside of the industry, Prats adds. “These brands are putting their names next to ours, and they do their due diligence.”

Team National memberships are available either for a two-year period or for a lifetime. Lifetime memberships are intergenerational and willable. Today, Team National has issued approximately 300,000 active memberships, which is a somewhat misleading number when you consider that each membership covers multiple family members or co-workers. The average membership covers four people.

“We offer products at close to manufacturer price—lower than wholesale. For us, the biggest hurdle is that it seems too good to be true,” says Andres Forero, Vice President of Membership.


“We offer products at close to manufacturer price—lower than wholesale. For us, the biggest hurdle is that it seems too good to be true.”
—Andres Forero, Vice President of Membership


Home furnishings rank among the membership’s top-selling items. Due to the high retail markups associated with furniture sales, it’s here that Team National customers typically realize big savings and recoup their initial membership fees quickly. Realizing the potential that home furnishings could have to propel membership sales forward, the company created its own furniture division, Team National Factory Direct, from the ground up in 2006.

On the surface, the timing seemed perfect for the launch. The national housing boom was in full swing, and mortgages were all too easy to obtain. Direct Buy was probably Team National Factory Direct’s closest competitor, and its membership was significantly more expensive. However, the concept of online furniture sales was still a foreign one.

“When we started, it was hard to go to manufacturers and have them understand what we were doing,” Phil says. “They didn’t think online furniture sales could be done.” Once again, persistence paid off. Online furniture sales finally caught on once customers realized the potential savings, says Chris Ramcharitar, Vice President of Team National Factory Direct. Whereas retail furniture sales include high markups to compensate for inbound shipping costs, inventory, warehousing and inspection, “we just send a carrier over to pick up the items from our manufacturing partners and bring them to our customers’ homes,” Ramcharitar says.

While the company could not have predicted the crash of the housing market or the Great Recession that followed, Angela says that despite a decrease in sales in the Factory Direct division, and the business overall, for that matter, people were still in need of furnishing basics such as mattresses, tables and chairs.
Fast-forward a few years, and Team National shows it is nothing if not ambitious, welcoming a diverse lineup of manufacturers and industries under its membership umbrella. In fact, the company currently is exploring the renewable energy space for potential opportunities, Phil says. Regardless of the product, “Our compass, whether we launch internally or partner with a company, is whether we can provide value,” he adds. “Our value proposition has to be real.”

It costs nothing to become an Independent Marketing Director; the membership, in essence, is the product. As IMDs enjoy the benefits of membership and promote it to others, they earn commissions on those sales. Over the years, the company has continued to enrich the membership but has never raised the price point. It’s worth noting, too, that business owners who hold a Team National Premium membership have the opportunity to participate in Team National’s Business Exchange. In exchange for discounts on their own products or services, they receive promotion to the company’s base of membership holders through a host of Team National channels, online/mobile directories, banner ads, even a Team National TV network.

From the very beginning, Loehr created a company determined to prove itself on a continual basis to the customers it aimed to serve. Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to do that. The competitive climate for Team National is much different than it was in 1997. Potential customers most assuredly are researching sites like Amazon and Wayfair, and comparing the deals offered on Sprint, AT&T and elsewhere, to validate the savings of a Team National membership before they ever commit.

Executives like Forero are very aware that every service and product offering associated with a Team National membership must offer clear and measurable savings. “The membership wouldn’t hold water if it didn’t save you money,” he says. In an environment in which information is so readily available, the onus is on leadership to stay one step ahead, continually examining ways in which they can offer more and better savings to an increasing share of the marketplace, and leaving no stone unturned.


CEO Angela Loehr Chrysler believes the company’s recent growth is due in large part to rewarding Independent Marketing Directors for their efforts. One of the more successful promotions has been a cruise contest.

A ‘Top-Down Servant Leadership’ Mentality

This loyal, family-owned company of 60 employees, small by direct selling standards, prides itself on maintaining an inclusive, close-knit culture. For the field, that begins on day one. Education for IMDs begins with the very first company email. “Most independent distributors in our industry don’t have prior entrepreneurship experience,” Forero says. With that in mind, “We take a systematic approach to education; we cover all of the bases. All of our materials are free or close to free. It’s not a profit center for us.” An online learning center contains more than 300 video and audio recordings and syncs with the company’s mobile app. Phil refers to his wife, Angela, as the company’s “Chief Encouragement Officer,” who routinely uses the Periscope app to record impromptu videos for the field, including recognition.

Twenty of Team National’s 60 employees are in customer service. By the end of 2015, the company will have launched a new customer contact system. This knowledge-based software includes a database that is both searchable by topic and can be augmented as representatives address additional topics with the field over time, which greatly reduces training time for new staff. In anticipation of similar double-digit growth over the next three years, Team National is moving into paperless, automated and less labor-intensive systems across the board. With the price of the membership remaining the same, “We continue to be profitable because of our technology,” Forero says. “We’re always working with IT to operate faster and better.”

The company’s forthright culture has served it well amid continued misperceptions of the direct selling industry. Visit the Team National website, and you’ll find a “Consumer Explanation” video from Angela, who outlines the company’s commitment to being as proactive and transparent as possible. “There’s not a company out there who hasn’t been scrutinized,” says Prats, who formerly served as the company’s Chief Compliance Officer. “Anytime you can diffuse potential criticism, you should. We’re above board on everything. Frankly, we don’t know any other way.”

By the end of 2015, the company also will include an income disclosure statement on its website, something Chrysler says is becoming standard in the direct selling industry. Team National’s statement will allow prospective IMDs to decide the amount of income they’d like to make with a Team National business, then chart the average number of months likely required to earn it. Dick Loehr always encouraged the field to focus on helping as many people as possible, and that the money would find them. As Angela told a crowd of IMDs at an event in Dallas: “Don’t have hype; have fun. Don’t exaggerate where you’re at on your journey. It’s not needed.”

Ramcharitar began his career with Team National as 16-year-old in the shipping and receiving department. Throughout those years, he watched the company grow from 13 to more than 60 employees in its Davie headquarters, making it a small but mighty presence in the direct selling industry. “One thing I admire is that what we preach to the field is exactly what we practice within the company,” he says. “Even as we tell them to dream, we’re dreaming, too.”


“We have name brands coming to us now. And we say no more often than yes, because there has to be real, demonstrated value for our International Marketing Directors and their customers.”
—Lou Prats, Vice President of Business Strategies


Staying on Home Soil

Team National is firmly based in the United States, “and we’re really proud of that,” Ramcharitar says. Does the company have any plans to go international? “Never say never, but it’s not in our plans for the next three years,” he says. If history is any indication, Team National will continue to grow intentionally and systematically.

“We’re seeing nice, grassroots steady growth,” Angela says. “But I don’t think we’ll ever have hyper-growth. We’re not about hype. We’re about need and value.”

What was the biggest lesson Loehr taught Angela? “To make decisions that you feel good about when your head hits the pillow at the end of the day. I’m going to make mistakes, but if I’ve made a decision with good intentions and good heart, our field knows that and appreciates it. My dad really helped establish a culture that lives on in me and in the sales field. The foundation that he established, we’re moving forward.”

December 01, 2015

U.S. News

Natural Health Trends Opens Healthy Lifestyle Center in Southern California

Photo: Inside the Natural Health Trends HLC Plus in Monterey Park, California.


Natural Health Trends Corp. is establishing a brick-and-mortar presence in North America with the opening of its Healthy Lifestyle Center Plus (HLC Plus) in Monterey Park, California.

The retail space gives customers the opportunity to interact with trained staff and experience the company’s beauty, lifestyle and wellness products firsthand. Dallas-based Natural Health Trends is already operating 14 Healthy Lifestyle Centers across China, where regulations restrict direct selling activities.

“The opening of our first HLC Plus in North America will help address our members’ needs through real-time product fulfillment and customer support and provide our leaders in Southern California with a venue to host product training sessions and present the NHT Global business opportunity,” company President Chris Sharng said in a statement.

The company also has announced plans to open a second HLF Plus on the West Coast—this one in Vancouver, British Columbia—in the first quarter of 2016.

December 01, 2015

News in Brief

News in Brief, December 2015


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


Industry Veteran Ken Brailsford, Founder of Zija, Pens Autobiography

Ken Brailsford

A new autobiography from Ken Brailsford, Founder and Board Chairman of Zija International, highlights a direct selling career that has spanned more than four decades. In My Life Encapsulated, Brailsford shares insights gleaned along the way.

The industry veteran founded his first direct selling company, Nature’s Sunshine Products, in 1972, where he earned the title “Father of Encapsulation.” He went on to co-found Nature’s Labs Inc., renamed Enrich International.

In 2005, he launched Zija International to bring the benefits of the moringa oleifera plant to market. In 2012—its best year yet—the nutrition and skincare company topped $100 million in revenue.

Brailsford recently spoke to DSN about his career in direct selling, and below is an excerpt from our interview.

DSN: When you founded Nature’s Sunshine in 1972, direct selling was not nearly as prevalent as it is today. What attracted you to the model?

KB: We started out with the retail model; we were selling in health food stores. We had an individual tell us we ought to be selling through multi-level marketing, and I didn’t see a downside to it, other than that we had to put a different label out. So it was all potentially an upside. I didn’t know too much about it at the time. I knew about Amway, but that’s it.

DSN: You came out of retirement to help launch Zija International. What inspired you to get back into the business?

KB: I didn’t intend to get back into the business at all—it’s not an easy business, and I have invested in others that are doing well. I was shown a video on the moringa plant by a friend of mine who wanted to start an MLM company. I told him I’d give him 30 minutes of my time, but didn’t tell him that at the end of 30 minutes I planned to tell him I wasn’t interested. Watching the video, I could see this plant replaced a couple hundred products from my old company. That was always a challenge, having too many products. I also felt this was a nutritional product that needed to go throughout the world, that God wanted it for his children. It’s called the “miracle tree” by the indigenous people because of the effects it has on a person’s health. When I saw that, I wanted to get back into the business.

DSN: As Chairman at Zija, you still have an insider’s perspective on the industry. What would you consider a challenge facing direct selling companies at this time?

KB: One of the challenges within the industry is that you sometimes have people running companies who put the companies ahead of the distributors. I don’t think that’s good long term. There has to be a balance; it has to be good for everybody. …I also look at the industry as the closest thing we have to capitalism and free enterprise left in our country, if not in the world. It’s a great opportunity for people to start their own business for almost no investment, and it totally falls upon them to be successful or not. I think it’s a great tool.

DSN: When you’re not hard at work, how do you prefer to spend your time these days?

KB: I’m different from a lot of people. I don’t fish or hunt, but I do read a lot. I love to read all kinds of books—religious, historical, motivational. If you ask my hobbies, I suppose I’d say business and reading. I own 10 or 12 businesses. They’re all doing quite well, but I don’t run them. I find good people who can run the businesses, and I just look at the big picture.


Nu Skin Meets Quarterly Earnings Expectations, Raises Share Buyback

Nu Skin’s quarterly earnings met Wall Street expectations despite a 17 percent revenue decrease in Greater China, the company’s largest business segment. Reported earnings totaled 28 cents per share, reflecting a $37.9 million inventory write-down charge in China and a resulting higher tax rate, as well as a foreign currency impact of 13 cents a share. Actual earnings of 84 cents per share were in line with average estimates by analysts. Revenue fell 11 percent to $571.3 million. The company expects fourth quarter revenue in the $570 million to $590 million range, with earnings per share of 70 cents to 73 cents.


Primerica Beats Wall Street Expectations with Record Earnings

Primerica Inc. (PRI—NYSE) generated net income of $49.4 million in the third quarter. The Duluth, Georgia-based company posted record earnings of 98 cents per share, up 19 percent from a year ago. On average, analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research had predicted earnings of 93 cents per share. Revenue climbed 5 percent to $355.8 million. The year-over-year growth resulted primarily from higher sales of the company’s term life insurance product. The number of policies issued rose 21 percent in the quarter, driving operating revenue in the segment up 11 percent to $197.2 million.


Facebook Taps Stella & Dot in Trial Run of New Business Offering

Facebook

“Facebook” and “work” might seem like a contradiction in terms, but the social media giant is looking to unite the two with the rollout of its new service, Facebook At Work. The company’s San Francisco Bay Area neighbor Stella & Dot is one of several businesses testing the product ahead of its official launch.

Facebook At Work, an enterprise version of the classic network, is Facebook’s answer to popular collaboration tools such as Microsoft’s Yammer, Slack, and Chatter at Salesforce. The service enables companies to create their own networks, with employee profiles that resemble regular Facebook profiles; however, profiles on the new interface are shaded white instead of the company’s signature blue.

Accessories seller Stella & Dot has always embraced social media in its day-to-day business, Vice President of Product Meera Bhatia told DSN. Field-facing employees heavily use Facebook, in particular, to communicate with the brand’s Independent Business Owners. After Facebook approached Stella & Dot earlier this year, the company rolled out Facebook At Work to its full team of about 400 employees in August. Like the classic version, the service features a company-wide News Feed, Groups and Events. Employees also can communicate through direct messages, voice and video calls, and screen-sharing capabilities.

“Employees have created many affinity groups for purposes ranging from inter-team communication to developing a running club,” said Bhatia. “Our most popular group by far is ‘Stella Shout Outs,’ where employees call out their fellow employees for different accomplishments. It’s great to see this happening at the employee level versus being driven by management.”


Belcorp Named a World’s Best Multinational Workplace

Peruvian beauty giant Belcorp appears alongside household names such as Microsoft, American Express and Marriott in a new ranking of the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces. Great Place to Work, a global research and consulting firm, surveyed employees and management to discover the priorities of today’s worker and identify the top 25 multinational companies. Belcorp landed the No. 12 spot in its second consecutive year on the list, led by No.1-ranked Google. The cosmetics and personal-care products seller employs more than 10,000 at its headquarters in Lima, Peru, and in seven additional markets across Latin America.


Herbalife Misses Sales Expectations, Raises Outlook

Herbalife

Herbalife Ltd. (HLF—NYSE) yielded a profit of $93.6 million in the third quarter. The shake and supplement seller reported net income of $1.09 per share, compared to 13 cents per share a year ago. Excluding one-time costs, earnings were $1.28 per share, exceeding management’s guidance of $1.00 to $1.10 and the Zacks Concensus Estimate of $1.07. Expenses incurred in the quarter included $4.7 million related to regulatory inquiries and $2.8 million spent responding to attacks on the company’s business model.

Quarterly revenue totaled $1.1 billion, down 12 percent on a reported basis and up 5 percent in constant currency. Analysts had expected revenue of $1.15 billion. The most significant revenue growth came from China, where constant currency sales spiked 27 percent. The company’s weakest performance came from the Asia Pacific region outside China, which reported a 16 percent revenue decline. For the full year, management now expects earnings in the range of $4.65 to $4.75, up from its previous guidance of $4.50 to $4.70.


Direct Selling Day Brings More than 500 Distributors to Capitol Hill

Direct Selling DayDirect Selling Day participants gather outside the U.S. Capitol.

More than 500 direct selling entrepreneurs converged upon Washington, D.C., on Oct. 29 for the third annual Direct Selling Day on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) initiative is an opportunity for independent consultants to share with lawmakers the value of the business model, both to individuals and the economy.

Throughout the day participants from 32 states took part in one-on-one meetings with representatives and heard from congressional speakers from both parties. The event also featured a Direct Selling Marketplace in the Rayburn House Office Building, where Members of Congress and their staffs could see firsthand the kinds of products and services sold through direct selling companies. In a statement from the floor by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Co-Chair of the recently formed Direct Selling Caucus, the House of Representatives marked the occasion by formally recognizing Oct. 29, 2015, as Direct Selling Day.

Blackburn also emphasized the importance of the business ethics and consumer safeguards put in place under the DSA’s leadership. Those efforts were the topic of discussion at the DSA Global Regulatory Summit, held two weeks earlier in Washington, D.C. The summit brought together regulators, law enforcement officials, and industry leaders to explore various challenges facing direct selling companies, including issues raised by the Federal Trade Commission’s ongoing pyramid scheme lawsuit against Vemma Nutrition Co. and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s three-year short campaign against Herbalife Ltd. Both Direct Selling Day and the Global Regulatory Summit are part of what DSA President Joseph N. Mariano calls a “tapestry of communication and advocacy” the organization is weaving at the federal and state level to provide an accurate picture of direct selling.

“We want to have the important and sometimes difficult dialogue with regulators on issues that are of concern, but we also want to have this important conversation with lawmakers and policymakers, as a demonstration of who we are, and then we want to have involvement in the community by our member companies and members of the field,” Mariano told DSN. “It’s all of those things together, along with the day-to-day activities of the association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) that will end up, we trust, creating a positive understanding of direct selling and protecting and supporting us in the marketplace.”


Amway Opens $13 Million Botanical Research Center in China

AmwayThe Amway Botanical Research Center in Wuxi, China.

To facilitate the study of plants integral to Amway’s best-selling Nutrilite supplement line, the company has opened the Amway Botanical Research Center in Wuxi, China. The $13 million site, developed over the past two years, comprises a laboratory and large greenhouse built on 84 acres of farmland.

Chinese herbal medicines were a source of inspiration for Carl Rehnborg, the creator of Amway’s Nutrilite brand of vitamins and dietary supplements. In a statement, the Michigan-based company said it will use the site to expand its research on botanicals and integrate the findings into Amway products. The company operates 6,400 acres of certified-organic farmland across Brazil, Mexico and the U.S., in addition to the new site in China.


Brazil Challenges Hurt Quarterly Profit at Natura

Brazil’s Natura Cosmeticos SA posted a 39 percent drop in quarterly profit, reflecting unfavorable conditions in the brand’s domestic market. On the back of lagging sales, higher taxes and currency depreciation in Brazil, where revenue dropped nearly 10 percent, profit fell 39 percent to 132 million reais (US$34 million). On average, analysts had estimated profit of 190 million reais. The results also include a provision to buy the remaining 29 percent of Aesop, Natura’s Australian subsidiary. The retail brand now has 120 stores in 18 countries, up from 94 stores in 12 countries a year ago. The beauty enterprise reported net revenue of 2 billion reais (US$513 million), up 6.9 percent from the third quarter of 2014. Earnings before income, taxes, depreciation and amortization dipped 6.4 percent to 400 million reais.


NEON by ViSalus Sponsors ‘American Idol’ David Cook’s 34-City Tour

David CookDavid Cook and Vi Promoters share a NEON Energy Drink backstage.

Weight-loss and fitness company ViSalus has teamed up with rocker David Cook in a large-scale promotion of its NEON Energy Drink. NEON is sponsoring the “American Idol” winner’s 2015 Digital Vein Tour and giving ViSalus Promoters a chance to win VIP concert tickets.

Since winning Season 7 of the popular singing competition, Cook has become a platinum-selling recording artist, known for hits like “Light On,” “Time of My Life” and his current single, “Criminals.” The tour featuring songs from his latest album, “Digital Vein,” runs from September to November.

ViSalus introduced NEON in April, billing the product as a good-tasting energy drink with a proprietary blend of ingredients for energy and antioxidant support. NEON earned its name from the glow it emits under black light, due to an element sourced from the South American Cinchona tree. The Michigan-based company reports that NEON sales to date have topped $4 million.

Alongside its sponsorship of the Digital Vein Tour, ViSalus is rewarding qualifying Promoters with a VIP experience at the tour stop of their choice. In a statement, the company said more than 550 qualified for the offer, which includes two concert tickets with priority seating and the opportunity to meet Cook backstage.

ViSalus plans to continue offering its Promoters exclusive or “A-List” experiences built around the NEON brand, Vice President of Marketing John Laun told DSN. Earlier this year, ViSalus hosted a NEON A-List Party on July 4 in Malibu, California, and another on Labor Day in Miami.

“We’re always looking for premium experiences and brands to tie in to the product,” said Laun. “As more of these opportunities pop up I’m sure we’ll be throwing more A-List Parties and participating in events around the world, giving people the opportunity to experience these events who would have no way to go otherwise.”


USANA Boosts Earnings Outlook on Strong Q3 Results

USANAUSANA headquarters in Salt Lake City

USANA Health Sciences (USNA—NYSE) reported its fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth in sales, earnings and customer acquisition. The health firm posted net income of $25.6 million in the third quarter, up 31 percent from $19.5 million a year ago. Diluted earnings were $1.92 per share, coming in 16 cents higher than the average estimate from analysts. The Utah-based company closed out the quarter with zero debt and $174 million in cash.

Revenue for the quarter rose 21.5 percent to $233.3 million, despite an $18.3 million hit from currency rates. Constant currency revenue increased 31.1 percent. The Asia Pacific region accounted for 72 percent of total sales, with 29 percent growth in the quarter. The Americas and Europe reported a 5.5 percent uptick in revenue. Globally, the company’s network of active sellers grew by 39 percent.


CVSL Builds UK Business with Acquisition of Betterware

BetterwareBetterware’s Birmingham headquarters.

CVSL Inc. is strengthening its position in the U.K. direct selling market with the acquisition of Betterware Ltd. The deal follows CVSL’s February acquisition of Kleeneze, another prominent U.K.-based brand. Like Kleeneze, Betterware has operated in the U.K. since the 1920s. Both brands market a range of houseware, home-cleaning, health and beauty, clothing and outdoor products. Birmingham-based Betterware has signed on about 5,000 distributors across the U.K. and Ireland. In its last reported 12-month period, the company posted net revenue of approximately $36 million.

“With both of these established consumer growth brands in the CVSL portfolio, we expect to have a total sales network of about 13,000 people in the U.K. market, making us a major income opportunity creator in the U.K. and Ireland,” CVSL’s Vice Chairman and CFO, John Rochon Jr., said in a statement. “Having Betterware and Kleeneze together inside CVSL should give us an excellent platform for expansion into other European markets.”


Beautycounter Joins Environmental Working Group to Launch Product Safety Certification

Beautycounter

Nontoxic cosmetics seller Beautycounter has found a like-minded partner in Environmental Working Group (EWG), the nonprofit environmental and health group known for its research on toxic and potentially harmful chemicals in consumer goods. California-based Beautycounter and skincare brand MyChelle Dermaceuticals are founding members of EWG VERIFIED, a new program to help shoppers identify safe personal-care products. Products that meet the group’s highest standards will now bear a green EWG VERIFIED seal. To gain the stamp of approval, companies must avoid an extensive list of harmful ingredients banned by U.S. or international government agencies and other public health organizations. EWG also requires that companies follow good manufacturing practices and fully disclose product ingredients on their packaging and websites.


Tupperware Beats Q3 Guidance on Strong North America Sales

Despite a dip in year-over-year revenue, Tupperware Brands Corp. (TUP—NYSE) achieved its second consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth in the U.S. and Canada. Revenue totaled $521.0 million, down 11 percent from a year ago. The results, driven by improving sales in the Americas, represent a 7 percent increase in local currency. Excluding some items, earnings were 79 cents per share, down 12 percent but exceeding the company’s guidance by 5 cents.

In the U.S. and Canada, where sales have slowed for many direct selling companies, revenue increased 14 percent in dollars. The region benefited from a 20 percent increase in sellers versus third quarter 2014. Emerging markets remain the backbone of the business, accounting for 70 percent of all sales. Management highlighted strong local currency gains in South Africa, where Tupperware sales were up 52 percent, and the Avroy Shlain beauty business posted a 23 percent increase in sales. In South America, Brazil generated a 21 percent increase in local currency, while Argentina spiked 39 percent on the back of inflation-related price hikes. China and Indonesia also achieved double-digit percentage gains in local currency, though the company’s Asia Pacific revenue fell 8 percent in dollars versus a year ago.


Avon Continues to Stagnate with Q3 Earnings Miss

Avon Products Inc. (AVP—NYSE) posted a quarterly loss of $50 million, coming in well below estimates by analysts. The New York-based company reported an adjusted loss of 11 cents per share, hurt in part by the strong dollar, a new industrial production tax in Brazil, and the sale of U.K.-based skincare brand Liz Earle. On average, analysts had expected a profit of 7 cents per share. On a reported basis, the company’s shortfall totaled $1.58 per share, compared with earnings of 21 cents per share last year.

Revenue was down 22 percent to $1.7 billion, dipping 2 percent in constant dollars but narrowly beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The results reflect a 17 percent revenue decline in Avon’s home market as the ranks of active sellers continue to thin. Globally, the company’s salesforce of roughly 6 million shrank 1 percent from a year ago.

The disappointing results come amid ongoing efforts by management, led by CEO Sheri McCoy, to restructure the beauty business. For the full year, Avon expects revenue to remain flat on a constant dollar basis. However, management anticipates foreign currency declines will cut revenue nearly 19 percentage points, compared with earlier guidance of 17 percentage points. The company maintains that free cash flow this year will be positive, though lower than the prior guidance of roughly $100 million.

December 01, 2015

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, December 2015


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


John Addison Joins LegalShield Board of Directors

John AddisonJohn Addison

After stepping down as Co-CEO of Primerica earlier this year, industry veteran John Addison is joining LegalShield’s board of directors.

Addison, who also sits on the Primerica board, is the non-executive Chairman of Primerica Distribution. He transitioned to the role in April, after 33 years with the financial services distributor. Formerly a part of Citigroup, Primerica conducted a successful IPO in 2010 under the leadership of Addison and Co-CEO Rick Williams.

“John Addison is not only an industry pioneer who understands our business; he also sits at the vanguard of people development and motivation,” LegalShield CEO Jeff Bell said in a statement. “We are combining best-in-class leadership with an industry-leading suite of products, creating a business that truly helps people.”

After more than 40 years in the business, Oklahoma-based LegalShield has built a membership of 1.4 million covering 3.7 million lives. Independent Associates market the company’s 24/7 legal counsel and identity theft protection to businesses as well as individuals. Currently, upwards of 34,000 companies offer the LegalShield plan to employees as a voluntary benefit.

Addison’s relationship with LegalShield began in 1997, when he met the company’s late founder, Harland Stonecipher. “Harland always said LegalShield exists to serve a mission greater than itself—equal access to equal justice—something that matters now more than ever. I am very proud to be a part of this company,” said Addison.


ARIIX Welcomes New Members to Wellness Council

Dr. Hai-Tao YangDr. Hai-Tao Yang
Jack ChangJack Chang

ARIIX, an international opportunity company that promotes healthy, toxic-free living, has added two new members to the ARIIX Wellness Council—Dr. Hai-Tao Yang and Jack Chang, L.Ac., H.Ct.

With extensive experience in the fields of biotechnology research, genetics, and genomics, Yang completed medical school at Northwestern University School for Minorities in Lanshou, China. He continued his education at Peking University in Beijing, China, receiving a Master of Science in microbiology and molecular virology and most recently received a Ph.D. in medical genetics at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Dr. Yang join the ARIIX Wellness Council. With so much knowledge and experience in several health fields, we know this will be a great relationship,” says Deanna Latson, Chief Product Officer and Founder of ARIIX.

As a Chinese Medicine Practitioner and licensed acupuncturist, Chang integrates methods including Mental and Emotional Release therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and hypnosis to help people achieve their goals. This comprehensive approach creates a partnership mindset with his patients, empowering them to take control of their own nutritional and lifestyle choices needed to create a better life.

“This is an honor for me as well as a great opportunity,” said Chang. “As a member of the Wellness Council, I will be able to reach more people through travel, education, and personal interaction, as I strive to increase awareness of the importance of using superior products to support overall health.”


Brian Connolly Named Interim CEO at AdvoCare

Brian ConnollyBrian Connolly

Brian Connolly, a globally respected leader in the direct sales industry, has joined the AdvoCare International LP Board of Directors. Following the retirement of AdvoCare CEO Richard Wright in September, Connolly has accepted the role of interim CEO.

“The company and its Board of Directors are grateful Brian has agreed to assume this role and utilize his extensive industry knowledge to help move AdvoCare toward the next phase of growth,” Allison Levy, Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, told DSN. “The entire team has already benefited tremendously from his deep commitment, never-ending passion and in-depth experience.”

Connolly spent 30 years at one of the leading Fortune 500 global direct selling companies in cosmetics and toiletries. He joined the company in 1978 and continued to excel through executive roles that ultimately resulted in being named Executive Vice President, Global Sales. He also served as a founding board member of the company’s foundation for women, which became the largest corporate philanthropy for women in the world, having raised almost $1 billion to support women’s health and empowerment initiatives.

He is now leading a company with more than 250 employees and 430,000 distributors selling its nutritional products. Founded in 1993 by Charlie Ragus, AdvoCare is based in Plano, Texas. In 2014, the company posted sales of $494 million, earning it the No. 35 spot on the Direct Selling News Global 100 and the No. 17 spot on the North America 50.

Connolly has held many board positions including Chairman of the U.S. Direct Selling Association in 2004. In 2008, he was inducted into the Direct Selling Hall of Fame, the highest recognition given by the industry.


USANA Executive Promoted to Regional Manager of Philippines, Indonesia

Aurora “Duday” GastonAurora Gaston

Global manufacturer of health supplements USANA Health Sciences has named Aurora “Duday” Gaston as its Regional Manager in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Previously serving as USANA Philippines General Manager, Gaston’s appointment comes at the heel of USANA’s establishment of its Indonesian operations, its 20th market worldwide.

“I’ve been in the industry for around 30 years and perhaps this is one of my most important achievements in the direct selling industry: the honor to take this new role and showcase the brilliance of Philippine entrepreneurship and leadership in an international scale,” said Gaston.

Before starting her direct selling career, Gaston was a professional model and was the Miss Philippines representative to Miss Asia Pacific held at Christchurch, New Zealand.


Chief Operations Officer Transitions at Exigo

Beau CoplinBeau Coplin

Exigo, an open source Platform as a Service (PaaS) that serves the global direct selling industry, has hired Beau Coplin as its new Chief Operations Officer to replace Holly McKinney. 

As one of Exigo’s founding employees, McKinney’s leadership has contributed to the company’s substantial global client base, and she will continue her career in the direct selling industry as a consultant.

McKinney has spent the last several months training her successor, Beau Coplin, whose extensive background includes roles from support engineer to Director of International IT systems, to most recently, Senior Vice President of IT for a growing direct selling company. Coplin’s experience on the client side provides him with a unique understanding of the needs of customers and the insight to execute quality service.

On Coplin’s appointment as the new Chief Operations Officer, President Ed Jarrin said, “We would be hard-pressed to find a more qualified and well-rounded executive to lead our operations efforts here at Exigo.”


Youngevity CFO Dave Briskie Takes on Role of President

Dave BriskieDave Briskie

Youngevity International Inc. has made three appointments to its leadership team, including a new President, Chief Technology Officer and VP of Distributor Relations and Training.

The company’s Chief Financial Officer, Dave Briskie, is taking on the added role of President following the resignation of Bill Andreoli. Briskie is the former CEO of Javalution Coffee Co., a vertically integrated coffee roaster and distributor that merged with Youngevity in June 2011. His professional career has included 10 years in the direct selling space.

“Dave Briskie is the ideal choice as President of Youngevity, and I could not be more confident to have him as our President and CFO,” CEO Steve Wallach said in a statement. “Dave’s experience prior to Youngevity included all C-Suite positions, with 15 years as CEO of an international business. He has extensive public company experience and proven international experience, and he will continue to lead our acquisition strategy and oversee our coffee operations.”

To serve as Chief Technology Officer, the California-based company has appointed Brad Kenson, who recently worked with Youngevity to develop the distributor web interfaces for its MK Collab fashion brand and Anthology scrapbooking and crafting line. Kenson, who brings 25 years of development experience, will help Youngevity build its own team of web, mobile and back-office developers. The company plans to open an office in California’s technology corridor by the end of the year to house its growing web team.

The final addition to Youngevity’s leadership team is Alex Theis, VP of Distributor Relations and Training. Theis’ career in direct selling has spanned sales, customer service, compliance, international management and a range of other areas. He is the author of the Amazon best-seller Stop Pitching & Start Connecting: Social Media Strategies for Network Marketing and creator of the personal development podcast Limitless. As a speaker and trainer, Theis has worked with companies and distributors in North America, Asia, Australia, Europe and Central America.


Life Shotz Appoints New Vice President of Sales

Matt MorrowMatt Morrow

Health and wellness brand Life Shotz is making some big changes—beginning with its name. The Idaho-based company has rolled out new products under the name Life Matters and appointed Matt Morrow as Vice President of Sales.

According to Richard Brooke, an industry veteran who founded the company in 2010 with his wife, Kimmy, the nutrition company’s culture—and its new name—reflect the values embraced by Life Matters and its customers. “Fun, integrity, leadership and honor matter to us. We just love this name,” said Brooke.

As the new Vice President of Sales, Morrow will be inspiring and supporting all the teams in North America. Before taking on the role, Morrow spent nearly three decades building direct selling businesses as a field sales leader, having prompted his career as a sales strategist by obtaining a degree in economics from the University of California in Santa Barbara.

“I have known and been inspired by Matt Morrow for over 20 years,” said Brooke, who also serves as Chief Visionary Officer of Life Matters. “He is one of the very few who not only has all the rich distinctions of our profession and has built empires with them, but his heart to serve others is huge. I am grateful and so very excited to have him on our team.”


NuCerity Names Roger Chi Associate Director, Taiwan

Roger ChiRoger Chi

Roger Chi has joined health and wellness direct seller NuCerity as Associate Director of its Taiwan segment. With the guidance of Vice President of Asia Shawn Larsen, Chi will manage Taiwan’s business strategy, sales, and marketing functions.

“Roger’s background in traditional business as well as his experience as a successful distributor leader enables him to understand distributors’ needs and provide the necessary support for their success,” Larsen said.

Chi brings to NuCerity 15 years of sales and business development experience in the information technology and network marketing industries. He has opened and expanded businesses internationally and specifically within the Asian marketplace. Chi also has served in sales and business management capacities for various direct selling companies where he has successfully facilitated sales and enrollment growth.

“I believe positive, productive teams with excellent cultures make dreams come true, I’m pleased to join the NuCerity family and to participate in our mission of Creating Beautiful Lives,” Chi said.

December 01, 2015

Cover Story

People Power: Direct Selling’s Path to Growth and Change

by DSN Staff

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


The direct selling channel is in a period of transformation. Innovation is driving growth in many companies, particularly some of the highly entrepreneurial upstarts that began operations in the 21st century. Consumer tastes and shopping preferences are evolving ever more swiftly, propelled by new technology. And there is a growing hunger for and acceptance of flexible, independent opportunities for entrepreneurship. Through it all, the power of personal connection weaves a unifying thread.

As 2015 draws to a close, we thought it fitting to step back and take a wide-angle view of the direct selling channel, where it stands in its transformation process and where it is likely to head in 2016. Direct Selling News’ analysis reveals a community of companies with abundant strengths and opportunities. There are some threats on the horizon, as there always are, and the speed of change continues to increase in areas that have strong impacts. But direct selling has sustained all manner of challenges through the years and has consistently performed as an outstanding channel of distribution for companies representing a wide variety of goods and services.

Hard to Argue with Growth

We have long maintained that one of the chief strengths of direct selling is the business model itself. The model contains distinct assets, including the potential to earn money, gain skills and development, and have access to quality products and services for oneself and one’s family, as well as sharing and selling them to others. It taps into the power of people, rather than the power of traditional advertising and marketing, to deliver products and services to the marketplace. And it has proven effective. From the earliest days of door-to-door sales of books, perfume, cookware and other household products, direct selling has gained traction in the U.S. and abroad. According to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA), both global retail sales and total consultants reached record highs in 2014. Retail sales rose 6.4 percent (from $171.8 billion to $182.8 billion) and consultant numbers grew 3.4 percent (from 96.5 million people to 99.7 million people).

These most recent figures indicate a welcoming world of customers to the direct selling channel of distribution, supported by the nearly 100 million independent contractors across the world who find value in a direct selling opportunity. U.S. Direct Selling Association President (U.S. DSA) Joseph N. Mariano states, “People become involved in direct selling for many reasons, including a love of a company’s products and services, a way to supplement income, the desire for more work-life balance or a more substantial opportunity to build a business. Direct selling is increasingly seen as a modern, sustainable professional pursuit, and that means more opportunity for more people over time.”

The growth, in fact, has been steady. According to WFDSA, the industry has a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5 percent from 2011 to 2014. Twenty-three countries posted retail sales of $1 billion or more in 2014, including the U.S., where 18.2 million people participated in direct selling and generated $34 billion in retail sales. Another strong indicator of growth is what DSN calls its “$100 Million Club.” For the past two years, after the DSN Global 100 statistics are compiled, DSN has released a list of those companies from the Global 100 list that grew $100 million or more in a single year. In 2014, 16 companies achieved this milestone. The highest dollar amount was achieved by Mary Kay Corp, which reached a $400 million increase in one year. Possibly even more indicative of solid and sustainable growth, 69 percent of the companies that grew over $100 million in 2014 also had done it in 2013.


DSN has identified 30-plus U.S.-based companies that are expected to close out 2015 with revenue that would place them in the upper middle-market range of $300 million to more than $1 billion.


While we won’t have 2015 results for several months, there are strong indications that the channel continues to grow in the U.S. and around the world. DSN has identified 30-plus U.S.-based companies that are expected to close out 2015 with revenue that would place them in the upper middle-market range of $300 million to more than $1 billion. We expect this group to continue to grow, as two-thirds of the companies are younger than 30 years old and several are less than 5 years old. The youngest companies performing in this range include the following:

  • Jamberry
  • Le-Vel
  • Nerium
  • Younique

This high level of new company growth is a strong indicator that the companies, consultants and customers in this industry find value in its many aspects. Additionally, about one-third of the companies in this DSN analysis are tracking to break the $1 billion barrier by year end (or already have). These companies include:

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

As economic trends drive toward the creation of new and different job opportunities, more and more start-up companies are capitalizing on the individual’s preference for flexibility and self-determination in work. These micro-entrepreneurs are functioning as independent contractors, and their rate of adoption is growing by leaps and bounds, according to two researchers—Harvard’s Larry Katz and Princeton’s Alan Krueger—who are tracking the share of the adult population filing a 1099 form with the IRS.

It is our belief that as this segment of the new economy continues to grow, the role of the independent contractor will continue to be more fully embraced, and the additional benefits attached to a direct selling opportunity might be more fully understood. We agree with Mariano, who states, “In an economy that increasingly values meaningful opportunities for independent work, it’s not surprising that direct selling continues to experience solid growth in the United States and around the world.” Indeed, of all of the independent contractor opportunities available, none provide a real pathway for substantial learning and development, recognition, and incentives to grow professionally and personally except direct selling.


For this industry, the concepts of self-improvement are built into the very foundations of the model, as an independent contractor won’t rise to the top and become a leader without bringing a team along.


Personal Development

Few, if any, traditional companies offer the range of skill training and personal development opportunities so widespread among direct selling companies. Once an individual signs on as an independent consultant, that person generally has access to a back office system that contains training material on such traditional skills as sales basics, time management, goal setting, presentation skills, handling rejection and so forth.

Both the disciplines of psychology and sociology tell us that once basic human needs such as food, shelter and safety are met, the desire to be more and do more begins to take shape in the human spirit. As a species, humans appear to have an insatiable desire to improve themselves and their circumstances. The direct selling opportunity is one of the few places, if not the only place, where economic opportunity and personal growth opportunity intersect, and where personal development programs are generally offered and funded by the parent company. Personal development has many aspects and nuances that encompass both formal and informal education such as gaining trade skills and soft skills, enlarging one’s view of the world and learning to welcome success. It’s one of the few places where the opportunity itself helps an individual become who they want to be.

Personal development at its most effective is not a course or even a series of courses. It’s a lifestyle, an adopted point of view from which the rest of life is then put into focus. For this industry, the concepts of self-improvement are built into the very foundations of the model, as an independent contractor won’t rise to the top and become a leader without bringing a team along. That team will only hold together long-term as long as it cohesively exhibits the basic tenets of personal development: teamwork, initiative, leadership, self-discipline, a positive attitude, and not least of all, the desire to be better and do better in all things. Within a direct selling team, the mantra to grow personally and then to help others grow personally is foundational.

Public and Regulatory Scrutiny

Over the past few years, regulatory scrutiny of direct selling companies has intensified, and 2015 was no exception. In the U.S., we have seen mainstream media coverage of the channel include a number of critical accounts. Multi-level marketing has even earned some brief, and unflattering, mentions as part of the presidential campaign. Much of the criticism surrounding the business model stems from income claims made when companies and/or their independent contractors set forth a get-rich-quick mentality. This may take the form of videos, photography, speeches or other marketing collateral that emphasizes as common what only the top 1 percent of independent contractors may reach within a company’s compensation plan.

The claim that everyone who takes up the opportunity can live a lavish lifestyle is not only misleading, it’s completely unnecessary. The opportunity here lies in full disclosure of the earnings opportunities of consultants at all levels. In the online study by Harris Poll commissioned by DSN in 2014, 85 percent of current sellers reported a good or excellent experience as an independent contractor for a direct selling firm. Additionally, 70 percent reported that they had spent 15 hours or less on their business activities, indicating a part-time status. Furthermore, 27 percent indicated they earned less than $1,000 in the year, and an additional 51 percent made between $1,000 and $49,999. All of these statistics considered together paint a picture of independent contractors, most of whom work part-time hours and earn part-time to lower full-time money, and yet are completely content with the opportunity and their part in it. We know that in reality a very small percentage of those working as independent contractors will earn the incomes that would be considered extraordinary; however, the opportunity is available to all who put in the time and effort. This is perhaps the least understood premise of direct selling—the availability of the opportunity.


A very small percentage of those working as independent contractors will earn the incomes that would be considered extraordinary; however, the opportunity is available to all who put in the time and effort. This is perhaps the least understood premise of direct selling—the availability of the opportunity.


The second largest area for improvement lies in product claims. The regulatory bodies put in place by the U.S. government have very specific rules and laws around what can be said about a product and its attributes. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are charged with protecting the public interest by prohibiting companies from making unsubstantiated claims about products, and attributing medicinal, healing or curing properties to any substance that hasn’t undergone medical testing and review. Our responsibility as an industry is to understand these rules and ensure that the independent contractors representing our products and services also understand and abide by them.

Direct selling companies, unlike most retailers, have two simultaneous constituencies to satisfy: the independent contractor and the end user. In most companies, the independent contractor is often an end user as well, which is a subject of some debate. This practice of an independent contractor participating in a compensation plan by selling to others and also purchasing the products or services for themselves is often referred to as personal use. The U.S. DSA recently took a bold move in support of personal use with the publication of a report it commissioned by New York City-based NERA Economic Consulting. Moving forward, it will be important for the direct selling community to continue to highlight the value and legitimacy of the passion distributors feel for the products and services they represent.

Indeed, the rest of the marketing world now seems to be catching up with what direct sellers have always known: the best marketing revolves around the customer’s needs, not the company’s. There is, in fact, no more customer-centric approach to selling than when you are a customer yourself, an idea direct selling companies have espoused for decades.


It is only by raising the standards ourselves, practicing rigorous self-regulation and continuing to educate the public that we can free the good companies from the public’s poor perception of the direct selling channel.



Perform a simple Google search on the words “customer centric marketing,” and you’ll receive over 3 million responses of articles from magazines like Forbes and consulting white papers from firms like McKinsey in support of making the customer the center of the buying and selling universe. Yet many people who work at retail companies don’t buy what they sell. Within the direct selling universe, the opposite is true—most independent contractors do buy for themselves what they sell to others.

Call to Action for 2016

We must tirelessly continue to draw distinctions between legitimate direct selling companies and those entities that truly are fraudulent bodies that victimize consumers. We cannot and should not defend all companies that self-identify as direct selling companies, as it is the low barrier of entry that attracts both legitimate entrepreneurs as well as crafty fraudsters. Rather, we must continue to define and promote healthy business practices, provide guidance to those seeking it and call out wrongdoers. It is only by raising the standards ourselves, practicing rigorous self-regulation and continuing to educate the public that we can free the good companies from the public’s poor perception of the direct selling channel. As Ben Franklin noted, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is advice we would do well to take.

Establishing a clear culture for the field that includes expectations for customer service levels as well as operating principles around how to sell and present the products and services can go a long way toward mitigating some common consumer complaints, and thus positively influencing the public perception.

Basic, foundational principals for any company include offering a quality product that creates value for consultants and customers alike. It is also critical to establish ongoing and clear communication with the field about what can be said about products and services, thus educating the independent contractor about problems with making unsubstantiated claims, whether it is about the product or the earnings opportunity.


“Direct selling is increasingly seen as a modern, sustainable professional pursuit, and that means more opportunity for more people over time.”
—Joseph N. Mariano, President, U.S. Direct Selling Association


Additionally, incorporate excellent customer service for both consultants and consumers, including buy-backs and return policies that leave everyone you touch praising you, not complaining about you. Invest in support and training for your independent contractors so they feel better about their entire experience.

The direct selling model has transformational properties, providing opportunity without regard to social standing or education. The model has a positive social and economic impact globally, offering people from all walks of life benefits that cannot be found in any other economic model such as low cost of entry, training and backing by a larger parent company. Many have drawn parallels between a direct selling opportunity and a franchising opportunity, but without the restrictive and most often prohibitive cost of a franchise. Additionally, no franchise will return 90 percent of the purchase price to a dissatisfied business owner.

We are now the generation entrusted with ensuring the longevity of this exceptional business model, and we must as an industry collectively rise to the occasion. The people involved are worth the effort.

December 01, 2015

DSA News

2015: A Year in Review

by Joseph N. Mariano


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


It’s hard to believe another year is about to come to a close. When I think back on what we’ve been able to accomplish together in 2015, it’s clear that our progress is possible because of the strong partnership between the Direct Selling Association (DSA), the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) and, of course, our members, who work across dozens of industries for the benefit of the retail sales channel we believe in so deeply, and that we know benefits so many Americans in numerous ways.

Perhaps our biggest collective achievement in the past 12 months was putting in place a structure that yielded, through months of hard work and consensus building, some of the most substantial revisions to our Code of Ethics in the history of the Association. As I mentioned in this column earlier this year, the Code has always been a living document, changing from time to time as the marketplace and stakeholders’ expectations have evolved. That’s one of the advantages of a robust system of self-regulation—the ability to act quickly. Our actions give greater clarity and guidance regarding earning and product claims, and provide the DSA Code Administrator with greater authority to resolve disputes, making DSA and the direct selling channel even stronger. Additionally, the creation of a public registry of complaints and resolutions will enhance the credibility of the Code.

Since these notable changes to DSA’s Code of Ethics were announced, the Communications Committee has begun to implement a comprehensive stakeholder education and engagement campaign for member company executives and members of the salesforce. Working together, we organized two educational webinars and a series of fact sheets that discuss Code modifications and why they matter so that members understand what it will take to comply with the new provisions when they take effect on January 1, 2016. Also in the works is a compendium of best practices for member companies to consult for guidance in various areas, such as earning and product claims, and a toolkit of materials that, utilized by member companies, will speak directly to members of the salesforce about these important issues.

Earlier this year, DSEF set the stage for these important initiatives at an event that examined different approaches to responsible, consumer-centric self-regulation around the Federal Trade Commission’s National Consumer Protection Week.

DSA also scored some notable victories in the states in 2015, including helping prevent damaging legislative proposals in Illinois and Rhode Island and keep in place a law in Montana, which DSA helped pass, that exempts our member companies from having to register with the state as multi-level marketers due to their strong commitment on ethics and compliance with the Code.

At the federal level, more than 30 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle joined a new Direct Selling Caucus co-chaired by Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marc Veasey (D-TX). Direct Selling Day on Capitol Hill was a resounding success, with more than 500 distributors from nearly 20 companies and 32 states participating in meetings with members of Congress and their staffs, a bipartisan speakers program and a new Direct Selling Marketplace offering a glimpse of our business to the policymakers whose support we must constantly continue to cultivate. The Association and members of our Government Relations Committee also met with dozens of federal policymakers to begin to educate them on the challenges in the direct selling marketplace around what makes a pyramid scheme a fraud. Following up on that important effort, we also released new research from independent experts at NERA Economic Consulting that offers new insight into this issue.

DSA members also participated in a series of two events this year with the respected Washington D.C. think-tank American Action Forum. These events help educate policymakers about the value of direct selling through enlightened policy dialogue on the importance of independent work and its benefits in a constantly changing economy. The public affairs team will continue to pursue opportunities that elevate our channel with policymakers by injecting our issues into relevant conversations at relevant times.

Globally, DSA engaged in high-level trade negotiations with officials representing 51 countries involved in the Trade-In Services Agreement (TISA). DSA and its member companies are actively pursuing a direct selling addition to the agreement that would open trade between participating nations and facilitate the continued growth and success of direct selling globally. The adoption of the direct selling addition would ensure that millions of independent entrepreneurial opportunities in both new and existing markets are not inadvertently prohibited.

As I look back at 2015, proud of our accomplishments, I am also realistic about the challenges that lie ahead. On many occasions in our more than 100-year history we have faced—and overcome—adversity because we stuck together. As we navigate what is to come, it is this same spirit of partnership and solutions-driven thinking that will make the future bright.


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

December 01, 2015

Publisher's Note

Direct Selling’s Strength Is in Its People

by Lauren Lawley Head


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


As the team at Direct Selling News sat down to take the pulse of the channel as 2015 draws to a close, we saw the power of the people coursing throughout the direct selling community.

It’s impressive to see so many companies adapting—and thriving—in an environment in which consumer tastes, shopping preferences and technology use are changing at an ever-increasing pace, and it speaks to the fundamental strength of the model of one person selling a product or service to another in a very personal interaction. U.S. DSA President Joseph N. Mariano described it beautifully: “Direct selling is increasingly seen as a modern, sustainable professional pursuit, and that means more opportunity for more people over time.” We look forward to covering that continuing transformation in 2016.

I had the privilege of spending some time with one of our feature story subjects at a U.S. Direct Selling Association event this fall. As we spoke, Traci Lynn, Founder and President of her namesake jewelry company, shared with me her firm belief in the power of personal connection between the home office and the field. In fact, during the earliest years of building her direct selling business, her strategy was to limit expansion to only areas that she could reach by car. “If I couldn’t drive to a location, then we couldn’t open up that market for recruiting,” she told writer Beth Douglass Silcox for the story that begins on Page 44. “I used to go to every business opportunity meeting, every training. I wanted to know the field. I needed to build relationships.”

Today, with a company 25,000 sales consultants strong, Lynn has loosened the reins on growth, but she continues to spend as much time with her field as possible. The day we spoke, she was planning to spend the evening with some of her leaders in the area and was gearing up to bring 300 consultants back to Washington for DSA’s Direct Selling Day on the Hill later that month. It is precisely because of her strong connection with her field that when Lynn wants to mobilize them for a common cause, they respond. “When I call for the Force, they come,” she says. “I need them to come out and support, so we can make sure that everyone is very aware of direct selling and what we do.”

Also in this issue, we explore Team National’s celebration of four consecutive years of double-digit growth and the company’s increased focus on rewarding its independent marketing directors. Additionally, we bring you the vision of Executive Director Gary Huggins for the Direct Selling Education Foundation’s (DSEF) coming year.

As you put the wraps on 2015, don’t forget to submit your company’s information for the Direct Selling News Global 100 ranking. This will mark our seventh year producing the premiere list of the world’s largest direct selling companies, and each year it has grown in its influence and recognition. Participation is simple. All you have to do is complete a short survey about your company and submit a signed revenue certification form. You’ll find more information on our website, www.directsellingnews.com, or send me an email and I’ll make sure to connect you with our research team.

We also hope that you will mark your calendars and plan to join us as we unveil the list at a gala event April 7 at the Omni Hotel in the heart of Dallas, Texas. This is a night to celebrate the achievements of the entire channel and a wonderful opportunity to connect with peers.

Enjoy these final weeks of 2015, and we look forward to connecting with you in the new year!

All the best,

Lauren Lawley Head
Publisher and Editor in Chief

December 01, 2015

New Perspectives

The Vemma Case: Is the FTC’s Target a Company, a Compensation Plan, or the Industry?

by Mark Rawlins

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


As the Vemma case unfolds, I grow increasingly concerned about the impact it could have on the industry’s future. What first appeared to be a case about income claims, targeting college students, and questionable statements made by company leaders, has turned into a case with groundbreaking compensation plan restrictions. While the industry did not jump to defend those practices which drew the FTC’s attention to Vemma, we should respond to the dangerous positions the FTC is trying to establish as precedent.

No federal law specifically regulates most aspects of direct sales compensation plans, so the most useful guidance we have are the arguments and rulings generated during previous actions against MLMs. However, since these opinions are specific to the facts of the cases they are a part of, the picture painted by them is ambiguous and at times even contradictory. Therefore, it can be difficult to know what is allowed and what isn’t.

In the past, industry-relevant rulings seem to have focused on specific actions, like paying for the recruitment of distributors, not selling a real product, front-end loading, or other practices that were so clearly fraudulent that the only remedy the FTC saw was to shut the company down. This case is different. It appeared to start the same way; the FTC claimed that the actions and claims of Vemma’s owners and some of its distributors were so outrageous that the company needed to be shut down. But Vemma successfully argued to the judge that it had a legitimate product and legitimate consumers, and the judge ruled that within certain restrictions Vemma could restart operations as long as it changed its compensation plan and agreed to oversight by a court appointed monitor. 

This is where it gets scary. On Oct. 16, Vemma filed documents proposing changes meant to align their compensation plan with the Preliminary Injunction Order. On Oct. 20, the FTC filed its response, strongly implying that the FTC believes binaries are de-facto illegal. It is a truly frightening document. Over and over, the FTC uses the word “binary” as a criticism, and implies that Vemma can’t be legal because it is a binary. It is troubling to see the FTC directly attack one of the industry’s three primary compensation models. Even more troubling, on Oct. 28 the judge ruled against Vemma’s proposed changes. The judge did not go so far as to say binaries are illegal, but the FTC may still use this ruling to try to give their position credibility.

If the arguments put forward by the FTC become the standard by which the industry is judged it will create problems for most modern compensation plans—but they really wreak havoc with binaries. To understand why, you have to know a little bit about how binary plans work.

The modern binary is built around a very simple concept. A distributor is only allowed two downline legs and is paid approximately 10 percent on the pay leg, which is the leg with the least amount of sales volume. (There are plan rules that keep a company from paying too much but we won’t go into that.) So a distributor need only focus on the balance of sales volume between his two downline legs. In the diagram on p. 82, Al receives 10 percent of the total downline volume of the leg that begins with Betty. The commission percentage is the same on all volume regardless of level. So Betty’s sales are exactly as valuable to Al as Joe’s sales.

Once Al has built this downline, he can go to Betty, Frank, and Suzan and point out the amount of volume under them that they are not capitalizing on because they haven’t built a second downline leg or pay leg. The higher the amount of the volume in this leg, the more volume Betty, Frank, and Suzan can receive commission on in a second downline leg if they build one. This is the essence of the standard binary build strategy. (It’s important to note that not all binaries are the same, and some companies have built a unique version of binary that doesn’t behave this way.) Put Betty in the tree and if you or other people under Betty continue to build, eventually Betty will have enough volume underneath her that she will want to build that second downline leg and get paid on it.

This feature is what the detractors of binaries really dislike, because irresponsible distributors and companies oversell this feature. It’s hard to overstate how much trouble this has caused; there have been cases of distributors promising to put hundreds or thousands of people under promising prospects. It becomes a bidding war for new distributors.

So here is the major problem that I see for binaries: the FTC wants retail customers to be pure retail customers, people whose decision to buy product was not influenced by the possibility of making money—and that completely goes against the theory of operation for most modern binary companies. The idea behind a binary is that everyone goes in the tree. If they build a pay leg, great they get paid; if they don’t, they won’t get paid. But by all appearances, the FTC’s argument is that retail customers cannot be in the downline tree. If that becomes part of the case law that governs the industry, it will be open season on binaries. Case by case the FTC will be able to accumulate precedents, making it harder and harder for a company to have a binary compensation plan.

Even though the FTC is targeting binaries now, most of the issues raised in this case affect virtually every multi-level marketing company out there. The way I read these filings, the FTC wants retail sales to customers to be the primary focus of any compensation plan; they want a “structure that [rewards] Affiliates for direct retail sales.” (FTC Response to the Revise Compensation Plan, page 2.) In this case, the FTC went so far as to argue that unless at least 51 percent of a distributor’s total downline sales came from these retail sales they could not be paid any commission. Furthermore, the court rejected the argument that anyone who signed up as a distributor but had not actually sponsored anyone could be counted as a retail customer, even though in most cases they had not purchased a distributor kit, or engaged in any other “distributor” type behavior.

So where does this leave us? It is impossible to overstate how much it would change the industry if these FTC positions become a standard against which MLM companies are judged.

More than almost anything I have seen in my 35 years in this industry, this case has the potential of remaking the rules that define how direct sales companies can operate, but as far as I can tell the industry has left Vemma to fight this battle alone.

When the TRO and asset freeze went into effect, the DSA chose to distance itself from the case, rather than take a stand. Given some of the allegations against the CEO and top distributors, that may well have been a reasonable choice at the time. But make no mistake, this case is now about the FTC trying to ban industry standard compensation plan practices, and still the industry hasn’t responded.

Several years ago the FTC proposed a set of rules that would have created real problems for the industry, and, led by the DSA, the industry responded. In my opinion this case needs the same type of response. This isn’t just about Vemma, and it’s not just about binaries. I really don’t see how the industry can stand by and watch. Maybe collectively we’re hoping that Vemma has the money and will to fight to the bitter end. But we should all stand up to protect the industry from case law that will be a thorn in our sides for the foreseeable future.

Note: As this article goes to print, Vemma has released its revised compensation plan, which according to previous court action had to be approved by the FTC and the court.

  • No personal purchases whatsoever can count toward qualifications.
  • No affiliate will be paid any commissions—at all—unless 51 percent of the volume in his entire downline organization comes from customer purchases.
  • No one who has ever been registered as an affiliate can be automatically reclassified as a customer.
  • No product packs can be sold.
  • Autoship can continue but it cannot be tied to compensation.
  • No fast start bonuses can be paid for the recruitment of new affiliates.

Once again I asked the question: Are these rules that we, as an industry, can live with? If Vemma does not prevail when this goes to trial, the FTC will use this agreement as precedent against other companies in the industry. Can we live with that?

Disclaimer: Mark Rawlins is not a lawyer.


Mark RawlinsMark Rawlins is Founder and CEO of InfoTrax Systems and author of the book, From Commission Plan to Compensation Strategy: Success for Today’s MLM Enterprise.

December 01, 2015

Working Smart

How to Create a Marketing Roadmap That Gets Results

by Brett Duncan

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


Marketing and communications have never been more important within the direct sales industry than they are right now. While good marketing always has been a common thread among successful companies, it’s often been overlooked as a recognized driver, playing second fiddle to compensation plan design, product development, field training and the like.

Today’s direct sales marketing leader has a lot on his or her plate. In a new way, the industry is recognizing the need to deliberately build brands and experiences that stand out to certain market segments. At the same time, our marketing and communications teams still spend large amounts of their time and attention on efforts that support the sales and field development efforts. And, of course, the marketer’s role in the ever-changing digital space is growing exponentially.

Wearing all of these hats can make the planning process a real challenge. I hear from companies regularly who recognize the need to improve their planning process for marketing and communication efforts, but they just don’t know where to start. I hope this process will help you shape your planning process for 2016.

What Is Marketing at My Company?

One of the most basic steps you can take in your planning process is to simply define “marketing.” It’s not an easy term to fully capture with a single sentence. Is it Branding? Advertising? Sales? Communication?

I like to push this question to a new level, and get specific. Ask yourself this question: “What is marketing at my company?”

It’s too easy to let someone else in a different situation at a different company with different circumstances define what marketing should be in our own situation and circumstances. In direct sales, it’s especially easy to look at what other companies are doing, and let them answer the question for us. It’s certainly wise to see what your colleagues are doing at other companies, but you can’t let that be the sole driver for your strategy.

One of the best actions you can take as a marketing leader is clearly defining what marketing is (and what it’s not) at your organization, specifically and realistically. Only then can you create a plan that actually supports what your company will benefit from most and can realistically pull off.

Capture and Collect

Every planning process needs to allow for some dreaming, some creative thinking, some input from others.
But too often we get caught up in a “there’s no such thing as a bad idea” type of session that leads nowhere in the end because of a lack of structure and purpose.

A productive planning session should begin with an objective already defined. Hopefully, your company has clearly established its three to seven overall objectives for the year prior to this planning process. Ask yourself this question: “What can we do to help make those objectives happen?” Spend time alone thinking through this, then present it to your team. At this point, it’s OK to be open to any and all ideas, because those ideas should be in response to the company’s core objectives. Collect and capture each thought without committing to anything.

Filter and Focus

After careful thought, sift through the ideas presented and create three to seven departmental objectives that support the company’s overall objectives.

As you look at all the different ideas, here’s a question to get you started: “What has the best shot of impacting our objectives the most?” Many, if not most, of your collected ideas probably could support your objectives. Your job is to determine what will impact those objectives best. You really haven’t committed to a strategy until you can tell a good idea “no.”

Remember, choose no more than seven core objectives that your department will be committed to. Otherwise, you’re trying to accomplish too much.

Create Your Roadmap

Now let’s move into more practical steps of the planning process.

The marketing and communications team touches every area of the company. In some cases you’re a strategic driver for a project. In many others, you serve a critical support function. So you must keep your hand on the pulse not just for your own team’s objectives, but for meeting expectations for the company overall.

I’m a big believer in well-constructed documents. There’s a certain amount of clarity that comes with getting things on paper in a way that’s logical and clear. Some companies do a great job of creating a comprehensive calendar that captures the major launch dates, project milestones, promotional efforts, events, incentives, etc., in a way that’s easily accessible. Most companies struggle with creating such a document. It’s hard for everyone to be on the same page when “the page” hasn’t even been created. I’m convinced that this is a great opportunity for marketing leaders to step up and drive productivity for both the team and the company overall.


One of the most basic steps you can take in your planning process is to simply define “marketing.” Is it Branding? Advertising? Sales? Communication?


It can be helpful to create a combined Sales and Marketing Roadmap. The point is for you to have a quick visual reference on hand at any time so you can quickly make decisions. It’s also a way to assess what’s possible and what’s not in terms of resources and time, and what’s too much and not enough in terms of communication with your field and your customers.
Here’s a simple process that anyone can use:

  1. Create a spreadsheet, and know upfront it probably will be fairly large (think 11 inches by 17 inches if you print it).
  2. Across the top (X axis), list the calendar time periods that make sense for your company. It may be a calendar month, or your pay period.
  3. Down the side (Y axis), list all the different types of projects. These aren’t specific projects, but rather types of programs. For example, typical items for a direct sales company would include Events, Incentives, Campaigns, Training, Product Marketing or Digital Projects.
  4. Under each project type, now start adding specific projects that fall into that type. For example, under Events, you would have National Convention, regional events, etc. Under Product Marketing, it may be Product Launches, Promotions or Discontinuations.
  5. Start dropping in your items with each project. Perhaps start with National Convention (since nearly everything seems to revolve around that anyway). Find where that project type and the date meet, and color that cell in as the launch date. Now, think backward in terms of when your team will need to work on that project, and fill in those cells. For example, if Convention is in June, and you know your team will be working on it a lot starting in February, color in the cells for February through June.
  6. Repeat for each line item and fill out the roadmap. You should end up with a mix of blank cells and colored. Use different colors as it makes sense to you.

This is a very basic approach, but it works. You are creating a visual tool that, when completed, shows you quickly when stuff is happening and when it’s not. At a glance, you will be able to see when the company may be biting off more than it can chew as you see “too much color” vertically over a given time period. Then maybe you can suggest rethinking timelines for some projects. Most important, you can eyeball when your resources will be most needed, and plan accordingly.


The marketing and communications team touches every area of the company. In some cases you’re a strategic driver for a project. In many others, you serve a critical support function.


Create Your Resource Grid

The roadmap you’ve created has helped you identify how to best serve your company for the coming year. Now you need to line up your resources to match the workload that’s coming your way.

A Resource Grid is an extension of the roadmap you create. Its purpose is to identify how to use the resources you have, where to increase resources and when to possibly reduce resources. It also should give you a holistic perspective on what lies ahead for your team, where there are areas for margin, and where you risk being overwhelmed.

Below the roadmap portion of your spreadsheet, create a new section. Down the vertical axis, label each cell with a department on your team. For marketing, this may include Creative, Communications, Web Marketing, Product Marketing or PR.

Also, add a space for Extra Resources. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Now, using the same date ranges across the top of the spreadsheet, let’s gauge how much work will be required of each department during each time period. It can be helpful to have three levels to measure by: low, normal and high. “Normal” should be what you expect a typical workload to be for that department.

At this point, start filling in cells. You may have a color-coded system where, for example, green is low, yellow is normal and red is high. Or you may split these cells into three cells and fill in one, two or all three of the split cells to show the level of work required from this group. Do what works for you. The key is for you to quickly glance at the sheet and spot when your team is maxed out and when it’s not.

As you fill in the spaces, there should be times when several spaces aren’t full, meaning that team is working at a normal or slightly lower workload. That’s OK. Don’t feel like you have to fill it. Other times, you may see that all departments are in “the red zone” (like around convention).

When you see an extended period of “the red zone,” this should quickly prompt you to make some decisions. Should I hire on someone full-time? Or maybe bring on a contractor just to get us through this period?

When you see some white space on the grid, those are times you could possibly work in some projects that improve your department operationally. Reports, analytics, workflow updates—these are all things that you could plan to address.

In some cases, you will see that a department or team member has a lot of white space for an extended period of time. This may indicate that you don’t need full-time resources for this function.

As a manager and a planner, match your resource planning with the company’s overall plans to make sure you’re in a position to succeed.

It is best to have strategic plans in place before budgets are created. Allocated funds shouldn’t determine your strategy; your strategy should determine where funds are allocated. However, this isn’t always the reality, so work with the hand you’re dealt and push forward.

For budgeting, think in terms of four buckets to start: staff, operational costs, project-specific costs and contractor/flex costs. From here, you should be able to gain a strong grasp on how you will use your funds for the year.


It is best to have strategic plans in place before budgets are created. Allocated funds shouldn’t determine your strategy; your strategy should determine where funds are allocated.


Ongoing Execution

Execution is everything! All this planning means nothing if something doesn’t actually happen. A brief status meeting, either weekly or biweekly, is a good way to keep things on track. Each meeting should include these components:

  • Report on Commitments: It’s amazing how phrasing can change how we think of something. Instead of asking your team to “give us an update,” ask them to “report on their commitments.” It shifts ownership of the projects to them. A task hasn’t simply been assigned; a commitment has been made.
  • Identify Challenges and Changes: Create an environment where everyone identifies changes and challenges to the plan, and where the team wants to openly address them for the sake of the company.
  • Make Decisions: We’ve all been to meetings where a lot is talked about, and nothing happens as a result. Be prepared and committed to make decisions on the spot whenever possible.
  • Document It: The single best thing you can do to increase accountability is to document commitments and decisions. Having someone responsible for group note-taking and capturing the key decisions and updates can help everyone.

I hope this example has sparked some thoughts for you. Whatever you do, don’t overthink it. The best process is the one you’ll use on a regular basis. Don’t let software or project management philosophies distract you from using the process and approach that works for you and your company. 


Brett DuncanBrett Duncan is Managing Principal of Strategic Choice Partners, a firm that focuses on marketing and communications efforts, and facilitating the planning and execution process for companies. He also offers business coaching.

December 01, 2015

Company Focus

Beautiful Comes in Its Own Time: Traci Lynn Jewelry’s Second Take

by Beth Douglass Silcox

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



Company Profile

Founded: 2006
Headquarters: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Top Executive: Founder and President Traci Lynn
Products: jewelry


Traci LynnTraci Lynn

For Traci Lynn and her namesake direct selling jewelry company, everything beautiful has come in its own time. Her story is her company’s story.

It began in West Philadelphia where a very wise woman made her 4-year-old granddaughter useful on her door-to-door clothing sales and delivery route. The same young girl went on to earn entrepreneurial acclaim as a 20-something. Her success, however, was abruptly derailed after she silenced her own gut instincts—but not for long. Traci Lynn pushed on and reinvented herself. She became a motivational speaker and an author. She earned not one but two doctorates, in divinity and theology, and finally on a plane bound for California nearly a decade ago, time came ’round again and delivered something beautiful.

Take One

It was 1989. Lynn could almost reach out and touch her memories of the University of Michigan at Dearborn, and of being that campus’s founding chapter president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. Her ambition and drive had advanced her to a managerial role at the investment firm Vanguard, but entrepreneurial seeds long ago sown by her grandmother sprouted a little more each day.

She left Vanguard and for a while ran her entrepreneurial-self ragged. She sold clothing, started a nail technician agency and even created a wedding planning company. They were all “failed blessings” until Lynn deposited $200 worth of jewelry into a Tupperware container and sold out in 10 minutes. Traci Lynn Jewelry was born. She was 25.

Lynn became a local success story in Philadelphia, and national media like Essence magazine and Good Morning America came calling. The company even won a coveted Madame C.J. Walker Award for entrepreneurial excellence. Her salesforce numbered 1,000 and was paid through a straightforward, one-level compensation plan. There were sales rewards and incentives like cruises and furs. She took no loans, yet operated “an incredible budget” for a young company.

“I read Mary Kay’s book, read Mary Kay’s story, and I just figured some stuff out,” Lynn says. “Unfortunately, I did not figure it all out, and that’s why the success of that business was short-lived.”


“[With this new company] it wasn’t about staying small forever. It was really about financing it ourselves. I needed proof of concept. I put so much of my life into this business. My family is involved too. I wanted to make sure it would work when all the finances—the dust—settled.”
—Traci Lynn, Founder and President


Take Two

Fast-forward some 15 years, and Lynn’s full-time motivational speaking career had placed her on a cross-country flight that changed the trajectory of her future and gave her jewelry business a second take.

If regret burns slow, acceptance burns slower. That’s why so many years later Lynn vividly recalls the gnawing decision to remain snug within a comfort zone that kept Traci Lynn Jewelry a showroom-only sales company. Back then, Lynn’s gut told her they needed a custom-branded catalog of uniquely Traci Lynn pieces, rather than selling more wholesale, cash-and-carry jewelry. But she succumbed to status quo pressure that lulled her into believing showrooms in Philly and Baltimore were enough. Turns out, it wasn’t.

“I didn’t understand anything about organic growth back then, and I wasn’t bold enough to take that leap into the catalog,” Lynn says. “The business couldn’t sustain itself that way, and I learned some incredible, valuable lessons as a result.”


In her early life Traci Lynn had already “made it” by many standards, having started her career at the investment firm Vanguard, followed by entrepreneurial stints in clothing, wedding planning and even jewelry, which drew national media attention in Essence magazine and on Good Morning America.


So mid-flight—somewhere between Philly and California—a slightly older version of herself sat chatting with a direct selling jewelry consultant with catalog in hand. Page after beautiful, colorful page, Lynn flipped. She says, “I was screaming inside. I was excited because that represented where I never went, what I didn’t do, and it represented the future.”

Lynn went back to her original vision, the one she hadn’t been confident enough to grab, and she embraced it wholly. Within a year, Traci Lynn Jewelry softly and slowly launched, and by 2008 the jewelry business’s second take was officially underway. This time would be different, and Lynn would make sure of it.

Small Is a Beautiful Thing

Lynn embraced the notion that small was a beautiful thing. That first year, the company’s Representative base was strictly regional and limited to Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. “If I couldn’t drive to a location, then we couldn’t open up that market for recruiting. I used to go to every business opportunity meeting, every training. I wanted to know the field. I needed to build relationships,” Lynn says.

During this time, she also took that leap she long ago hedged—Lynn added a catalog to the company’s fledgling cash-and-carry jewelry business. Traci Lynn Jewelry began to establish a brand and a culture, and when Representative numbers in the tri-state area reached 2,400, Lynn loosened the reins and opened recruitment in Virginia.

She understood all too well that until the company’s culture was set, until they found their niche, and systems were fully locked in place for who they were and what they were doing, Traci Lynn Representatives would just be selling jewelry. “Anyone can sell jewelry,” she says.


Tracy Lynn’s story began in West Philadelphia where she tagged along with her grandmother who sold and delivered clothing door-to-door.

Going Organic

This time around Lynn developed a careful, slow growth strategy, inspired by a cover story in Direct Selling News. “I’ll never forget it. I still have it today. It had a picture of a flower in a pot made of money, and it said, ‘Organic Growth.’ It talked about how you could make a choice to organically grow the business at a slower pace, and long-term you would have more retention, more of a relationship with the field, a much deeper salesforce, and much deeper roots in your culture,” she says.

The key was developing a path that would never be out of control, a path solid enough to springboard future growth. She read about companies that had succeeded and committed to the concept then and there.

Taking the Hill: Traci Lynn’s Loyalty to the Industry

Dr. Traci Lynn’s commitment to the industry is rooted in her beginnings—her successes and downfalls. In her youth, she didn’t know what she didn’t know. But the U.S. Direct Selling Association changed all that. “It has just shortened the learning curve. What might have taken me years to get, I’m able to get sometimes in one DSA session. They provide so much information that I didn’t have before, and this industry is the most giving and sharing,” she says.

For years, Lynn listened and learned at direct selling industry events. “I wasn’t trying to be a voice. I was trying to be a sponge,” she says. “I have soaked up so much. I’ve heard so much. I’ve learned so much. I have years of wisdom from so many others who’ve gone before me and made those mistakes and paved the way, so I don’t have to make those particular mistakes.”

Realizing just how much she had gained, Lynn wanted to do her part to bring up the positive and drive down the negative surrounding the direct selling industry. So she spoke up, and it landed her on Capitol Hill. As a member of the DSA Board of Directors, Lynn has been a voice for the industry since before the DSA’s Direct Selling Day on the Hill drew large numbers of direct sellers to Washington, D.C.

“I enjoyed sitting there and talking to the senators and going into the state representatives’ offices, and this and that. It was really just getting a full understanding of what’s going on. I can’t even say I have a full understanding, but an understanding of what’s going on, on Capitol Hill,” Lynn says.

Lynn has used not only her own voice, but also the force of her independent sales consultants to make an impact on behalf of the industry. “When I call for the Force, they come. I need them to come out and support, so we can make sure that everyone is very aware of direct selling and what we do,” she says.

Last year’s Traci Lynn Jewelry contingent for Direct Selling Day on the Hill was the largest of any direct selling company and totaled 200. This year her group was 300 strong.

Small became an incredibly beautiful thing at Traci Lynn Jewelry because it gave her time. “It wasn’t about staying small forever,” Lynn says. “It was really about financing it ourselves. I needed proof of concept. I put so much of my life into this business. My family is involved too. I wanted to make sure it would work when all the finances—the dust—settled.”

Lynn took loan-to-value ratio off the table using only what was necessary. She used personal funds to finance the company and to quickly repay any short-term loans for inventory. She found financial stability easier to accomplish with organic growth. “If you operate the way that we do, you always know you have a profitable business,” Lynn says. The company, now a multimillion-dollar enterprise, continues to operate nearly debt-free today.

Frugality meant staving off the bells and whistles that many other direct sellers took for granted. Lynn held tight to a dynamic, color-coded Excel spreadsheet masterpiece that ran the company commission plan until she could afford and locate an ideal software development partner. She drew on her motivational speaking skills, saved a bundle on outside speakers for conferences and took to the road for major city recruitment tours—something she continues to this day.

With some 25,000 independent sales consultants now spanning nearly every state, Lynn’s need for the personal touch with her field morphed from driving to every single meeting to getting to know them through Facebook. She prompts her photographic memory before heading to Washington state to meet a group of dynamic Representatives in a growing market. She learns their faces and what they and their kids are doing. “People love that you care enough to know them. I don’t look through them. I look at them,” she says.

And for all of these reasons, Lynn’s field loves her. In fact, it’s safe to say that Lynn’s dynamic personality and dedication to what she calls, “passing the MIC” is key to almost every aspect of the company. It stands for Motivate, Inspire, Change—which are Lynn’s goals for herself, her company and her field.


“People love that you care enough to know them. I don’t look through them. I look at them.”
—Traci Lynn


The company’s national events brim with personal development opportunities and lessons on communicating effectively as women. They celebrate field successes with rewards and recognition, launch new product lines with fashion shows, and cap each weekend with a Super Soul Sunday type of event.

While immensely popular and productive, rising expenses and drooping attendance at their January national event sent Lynn looking for alternatives to their annual, two-convention schedule. It was a hard call. Sales always skyrocketed in February. Dare she tinker with rising sales? An industry colleague at the U.S. Direct Selling Association suggested replacing the large-scale national event with small field launches in January, so Lynn pitched it to her field.

Buy-in came from more than 200 leaders, so the company hosted its first National Launch Day last January. Corporate sent cohesive and consistent branding and messaging on travel drives and in Dropbox files. They supplied catalogs and party favors too. “It was Super Soul on steroids!” Lynn says. And it worked.

More than 4,000 people attended satellite events in homes and hotels across the country, compared with just 2,000 at typical January conventions. In the end, they recruited 450 people and amassed nearly double-digit sales in both February and March this year. “We did better than we ever did before, and we cannot wait to do it again in 2016,” Lynn says.


Traci Lynn Jewelry boasts a 50 percent retention rate, and almost half of the company’s field is active, doing at least $100 in business every month.


Prepping to Springboard

Three years ago, prep began for springboard growth at Traci Lynn Jewelry. The company relocated its corporate offices from Delaware to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to better position itself for international expansion, and started tweaking the business model.

The evolution of Traci Lynn Jewelry’s cash-and-carry model into a dynamic party plan direct selling model has taken two years of planning. Among the company’s goals were to minimize Representative inventory, offer direct-to-consumer shipping while leaving the option for the personal touch of home delivery, and meeting the needs of the international marketplace. Party plan rollout commences with the opening of the Canada and Puerto Rico markets in February 2016, with adaptation within the U.S. market to follow.

Traci LynnIt’s safe to say that Traci Lynn’s dynamic personality and dedication to the field are key to almost every aspect of the company.

“We want to allow our Representatives to use 100 percent of the assets we have available, use our inventory and sell directly from our inventory,” Lynn says. Good news for a field that proves its loyalty month-in and month-out.

Traci Lynn Jewelry boasts a 50 percent retention rate and almost half of the company’s field is active, doing at least $100 in business every month. The company tracks progression through leadership ranks, and Lynn says, data reveals Representatives easily advance through the first three levels. Overtaking the fourth takes more time. New coaching software, she says, should help individuals at that point move past that waterfall and accelerate their pace through leadership ranks.

But Lynn also recognizes human nature’s tendency toward comfort. “People like the celebration but few want to do the work to stay there. We want to be Miss America. Unfortunately, that crown goes back,” Lynn says.

So corporate works hard to inspire and motivate everyone, including upper-tier leadership. Lynn and other field leaders burn up the telephone lines every Monday night. They connect using the live streaming video app, Periscope. But perhaps, nothing excites the field more than Traci Lynn Jewelry front and center in the public eye.

Popular industry bloggers and stylists for television’s Real Housewives franchise, regularly show off Traci Lynn Jewelry. When Raven-Symoné wears a piece on The View or Wendy Williams gives the company a shout-out on her talk show, Lynn says, “Our Representatives pause the TV, take a picture and put it on social media, saying, ‘Look what they’re wearing! We’re everywhere!’ ”

With some beautiful double-digit, organic growth behind her, Lynn looks forward to the stair-step, incremental growth party plan will bring. Party plan has the stability that she likes, and she expects serious double- and even triple-digit growth in the next 12 months. Lynn says, “I know we’re on a faster track now. We are a much stronger and solid company, much more financially stable as a result of our organic growth, and we’ve got deep roots.”

December 01, 2015

Top Desk

Memo to a CEO: Listen and Learn, Then Lead

by Kay Napier

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


It has been an amazing six years leading what is easily one of the most incredible companies and cultures I have seen in my career: Arbonne. Perhaps I am most proud that we have been able to take the culture from the field and make it seamless with our internal employee culture through an initiative called “Pure Transformation.” This platform encourages our employees to lead active, holistic lives, striving for balance for themselves and their families—and in partnership with our field.

The hard work of coming on board from outside the industry, reinforcing key areas of the business and positioning the company for accelerated growth required a great deal of time and effort during the first few years as CEO. In time, we made great strides, creating our own Arbonne Charitable Foundation, launching innovative new product lines, and growing both sales and sponsoring. By 2014, we were ready to enter our first market in seven years, with the opening of Arbonne Poland. In fact, Arbonne’s growth has exceeded the industry trend, where the statistics are already impressive and positive.

Together with our incredible Arbonne salesforce leaders and internal executive team, we have focused on excellence in execution in every area of the business. This year, Arbonne proudly celebrated its 35th anniversary and we are working toward opening our first country in Asia, with the launch of Arbonne Taiwan, anticipated in 2016.


I always say that our Arbonne Independent Consultants are the smartest people in the room because it is true. They understand the brand, the sales model and the Arbonne culture as well as its incredible potential.


From my first days at Arbonne in 2009, I referred to our sales leaders as the “secret sauce.” I always say that our Arbonne Independent Consultants are the smartest people in the room because it is true. They understand the brand, the sales model and the Arbonne culture as well as its incredible potential. Partnering with them, I learned what has contributed to our positive culture and our longevity: Listen and learn, then lead. Don’t focus on the money—rather focus on improving our Arbonne community through helping others regardless of financial benefit to oneself. This philosophy and partnership helped us grow the existing business and transform our Arbonne community, and it is now shaping a clear and compelling vision for the next 35 years of success.

I genuinely believe there has never been a better time for direct sales. The clear difference in how the new generation of millennials approaches work-life balance is one very positive indicator of the future. Many were raised by working women like myself, and they see the tradeoffs. Yet they are educated, worldly, and want to be part of a culture of self-improvement. Direct selling offers all of those benefits and ultimately greater life balance.


Kay NapierKay Napier is CEO of Arbonne International.

December 01, 2015

Working Smart

Incentive Travel That Works

by Amy Pfeiffer

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


10 Best Practices for Using Travel Rewards to Build Revenue and Distributor Retention

By now, the power of travel rewards to increase sales productivity, build retention and accomplish a myriad of other business objectives, has been clearly established. In fact, according to a 2014 study by the Incentive Federation, 46 percent of American businesses now use incentive travel, spending over $22.5 billion a year on these programs.

Top direct selling companies regularly deploy travel rewards, banking on the enduring power of a trip that qualifiers could never duplicate themselves—no matter how big their incomes. Moreover, bringing top distributors together once a year is a powerful brand-building experience that is particularly important in direct sales, providing a golden opportunity for sales reps to meet face to face with leadership and with each other.

And yet, even for companies that regularly incorporate travel rewards, it’s easy to drop the ball in planning and executing these complex programs, especially when changing demographics and shifting economic trends can complicate even the best laid plans.

Here’s a look at 10 best practices that will help keep your incentive travel program on track.

1. Develop objectives that are strategic and specific. Without a clearly defined business goal for the incentive program, the ship is sunk before it even leaves the port. Investing the time to analyze, set, communicate and monitor strategic goals will pay in program momentum and better return on investment.

Distributor incentive programs often include a mix of objectives involving sales, recruiting and leader development. All three are important for creating a successful direct selling business, which in turn drives overall sales productivity for the parent company.

2. Establish clear parameters for participating and winning. What are the rules for participating in the program? What are the metrics for winning the trip, and how will they be tracked? The target goal should be challenging but not so ambitious that it is too difficult to attain, in which case the program can backfire and have a demotivating effect. Keep in mind that incentive programs that reward the same people every time aren’t increasing the pool of performers.

3. The incentive trip should pay for itself out of revenue generated. A careful analysis of projected costs versus projected benefits is essential. According to studies by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), properly designed and executed incentive trips can increase sales productivity by 18 percent and return on investment by 112 percent.

4. Create a training strategy that is paired with the incentive program. In order to reach program goals, your distributors may need training, for example, in how to be better recruiters. Be sure individuals and teams have the training they need to succeed.

5. Make program information readily available. Most incentive programs involving a high-end travel reward run over at least a six-month period, according to IRF studies. With these complex programs, it’s essential to create a brochure or webpage that provides all the important details, especially if the incentive has a variety of awards or levels of achievement. Clear and frequent communication of goals and awards is critical and helps build your program’s engagement.

6. Design a promotional campaign that lasts throughout the contest period. Give periodic updates on the company website recognizing people who are on pace. Send out mailings to people’s homes with destination teasers. Tap social media and company e-newsletters to amplify interest and keep it stoked. Consider adding gamification to your portfolio of promotional tactics. The important thing is to drive reinforcement on a regular basis.

7. Create a travel reward that truly has the power to inspire your team to reach for the stars. This means carefully profiling potential qualifiers and using that information to create a “wow” experience. What kinds of destinations and trip experiences will motivate them? Would a five-day trip be too long away from home—or just right? Do participants want to be pampered with spa treatments and gourmet meals, or are they more interested in zip lining and parasailing? Will they want a trip that’s a family vacation?

One way to get this information is to ask your distributors themselves. Seems like a no-brainer, but leadership can sometimes lose sight of the obvious when they focus too much on the corporate objectives of running the incentive program and not enough on how to align those goals with what will motivate their sales teams.

8. Work with partners who know the drill. When designed and executed the right way, incentive travel trips create unforgettable memories—and few things are more powerful drivers of achievement. Partnering with professionals who have a good track record of delivering incentive travel programs and experiences that are well-designed and flawlessly executed can make a huge difference in achieving your goals.

9. Make necessary adjustments along the way. Tweaking some components of the incentive program while the contest is underway may be necessary. You might find, for instance, that certain elements are too complicated or, worse, are hurting incentive goals rather than facilitating them.

10. Gather useful information after the trip. Be sure to conduct a post-event evaluation so that you can use the feedback to help design future programs. A good incentive travel program not only drives revenue, the trip itself can change the way qualifiers feel about themselves and the brand.

You can also learn a lot by getting feedback from people who did not qualify for the trip. What were their obstacles? And don’t forget to recognize incentive award winners on the company webpage and other media, including social media. Leverage this power of recognition!


Amy PfeifferHaving been with Disney for more than 25 years, Pfeiffer, as Director of Resort Sales, leads a sales organization that drives meetings, incentives and other group business to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

November 30, 2015

World News

Avon Foundation for Women Awards Scholarships to Avon Reps and Family Members

In addition to funding breast cancer and domestic violence prevention programs, the Avon Foundation for Women gives back to Avon representatives and their families through its Avon Global Scholarship Program. This year, the foundation awarded $210,000 in scholarships to the children and grandchildren of top Avon sellers.

“With this initiative, we are not only able to support our Representatives’ families but we are also able to further their education, which makes the Global Scholarship Program one of my favorite incentives,” Andrea Slater, Avon General Manager Western Europe, said in a statement. “We provide our Representatives with many rewards and recognition throughout the year, but this one is very special.”

The Global Scholarship Program launched in 2011 to help representatives and their families pursue higher education. Each year, the program has awarded 100 scholarships to children and grandchildren of the company’s President’s Club members. The foundation also offers Avon Representative Scholarships to its independent sellers. To date, the nonprofit has awarded more than $5 million in scholarship funds.

November 30, 2015

U.S. News

Vemma Launches New Comp Plan

Vemma may be down, but don’t count it out.

When the Federal Trade Commission served Arizona-based Vemma Nutrition Co. with a temporary restraining order on Aug. 24, many observers inside and outside the direct selling community assumed it marked the end of the 11-year-old company. But Vemma’s management team has fought back. First, it regained some control over the business, while the court case continues, and restarted product sales to the tune of nearly $1 million in October. More recently, it launched a revised compensation plan that puts it squarely back in the business of direct selling. It expects to pay its first commissions Dec. 2.

The company once again began selling product on Oct. 8, offering a “thank you” sale, with discounts as much as 40 percent off the prior retail price. Happy customers began posting pictures on social media soon after, celebrating the arrival of boxes of Vemma, Verve and Bod-e products. The company continued to mark its progress through its various social media accounts, tweeting on Oct. 28, “We’re blessed with a second chance and we’ve sold $809,522.00 so far this month! You all are AMAZING, thank you!!”

At that point, the company had not yet gained approval for a new compensation plan, so no commissions were paid on any of those sales. But Vemma’s goal has been to get back to direct selling as soon as possible. The company recently obtained the FTC’s approval for a new compensation plan, which it began marketing Nov. 12. By Nov. 25, company executives say, sales had reached nearly $1.59 million since Oct 8.

Getting back in business has not been easy. After it was served with the temporary restraining order, or TRO, more than three weeks passed before Vemma was able to make its case to the judge. The company currently is operating under a preliminary injunction that restricts many of its operations. Its new compensation plan is a binary structure as in the past, but in order to qualify for any commissions or bonuses, at least 51 percent of the total sales for an Affiliate’s entire organization must come from sales to customers who are not participating in the business opportunity. In addition, Vemma has removed any bonuses on first-time product orders, and Affiliates’ personal purchases no longer qualify them for commissions. Only personally enrolled customer and Affiliate purchases can qualify an Affiliate for commissions.

In addition to the restrictions put in place by the court, Vemma has had to contend with the logistical fallout from the TRO. One of the first hurdles was staffing. In the first few hours after Vemma was served with the TRO, a court-appointed receiver had laid-off nearly all of the employees. Another hurdle was establishing a mechanism for accepting customer payments by credit or debit card. Vemma has been transparent about its challenges in re-establishing a relationship with a merchant account that would integrate with the company’s system, describing the challenges in social media posts addressing customer service and acknowledging wait times of up to two hours for phone support. International sales also have taken a hit. Before the FTC action, Vemma was operating in 50 markets. So far, it has only been able to reopen in the U.S. and Canada.

The company’s recent sales volume, particularly in light of those challenges, shows that Vemma is a customer-driven model, said Richard Brooke, a veteran of the direct selling channel. “It may have been a recruiting-driven model for growth, but the backbone, bedrock of the company is customers,” Brooke said. “…The only people who would jump through those hoops are people who absolutely want your product.”

With the company back in business, the Vemma team also continues to prepare for its ongoing legal battle. Experts say defending a case of this nature typically costs millions of dollars, with the cost of preparing for the preliminary injunction hearing alone running $500,000 to $1 million. Vemma has established a Direct Selling Defense Fund, which is accepting donations to assist with the expenses.

November 30, 2015

U.S. News

Herbalife, LA Galaxy Help Los Angeles Families Celebrate Thanksgiving

Photo: Herbalife Executive Vice President Rob Levy hands out groceries as the Herbalife Family Foundation and the LA Galaxy Foundation partner with A Place Called Home to provide Thanksgiving meals.


As jersey sponsor of the LA Galaxy, Herbalife has partnered with the Major League Soccer club both on and off the field. The Herbalife Family Foundation (HFF) and the LA Galaxy Foundation recently teamed up with A Place Called Home, a nonprofit youth center in Los Angeles, to help local families celebrate Thanksgiving.

On the day before Thanksgiving, HFF officials joined two former stars of the LA Galaxy, Cobi Jones and five-time MLS Cup Winner Todd Dunivant, as well as LA Galaxy President Chris Klein to distribute food and turkeys to more than 1,200 families. The organizations also partnered with A Place Called Home last year to serve Thanksgiving dinner to 1,000-plus families.

A Place Called Home provides educational programs, counseling and mentorship to children and teens in the South Central Los Angeles area, with the help of more than 1,000 volunteers each year. The LA Galaxy Foundation also has announced plans to hold a holiday season toy drive in support of the youth center. Club players and staff will distribute the toys at a Place Called Home on Saturday, Dec. 19.