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February 01, 2015

News in Brief

News in Brief, February 2015

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

Janet Kincade and Cindy Monroe

Thirty-One Taps into Artisan Jewelry with Jewel Kade Acquisition

» Columbus, Ohio-based Thirty-One Gifts has acquired Utah-based direct seller Jewel Kade, an artisan jewelry brand founded in 2009. Beginning this spring, Thirty-One will offer JK by Thirty-One jewelry in addition to its handbags, totes and home organization products.

Like Thirty-One Founder Cindy Monroe, Janet Kinkade launched Jewel Kade from her basement with the hope of equipping and empowering women to succeed on their own terms. Both brands also bring a personal touch with the option to customize select products. Jewel Kade now partners with a network of 1,500 stylists nationwide and has been featured on the TODAY show, Ellen and American Idol.

JK by Thirty-One is not the only fresh offering coming to Thirty-One customers in 2015. The company has also acquired upscale accessories brand Jewell, a direct selling startup co-founded in 2013 by Monroe and her sister, Christie Jewell Woodfin. These strategic acquisitions bring new growth opportunities to a company that has achieved annual net sales of $763 million in its first decade.

With the acquisition, Thirty-One is offering Jewel Kade stylists the opportunity to join its family of consultants. Kinkade will also carry on her role as the principal jewelry designer for JK by Thirty-One.

Nu Skin Donates 400 Million Meals through Nourish the Children

Children in Malawi, Africa, receive meals supplied by Nourish the Children.Children in Malawi, Africa, receive meals supplied by Nourish the Children.

» As Nu Skin closed out its 30th anniversary year, the wellness and skincare company quietly celebrated a major milestone in its Nourish the Children initiative. Since the program launched in 2002, Nu Skin employees and distributors have donated more than 400 million meals to malnourished children around the world.

Nourish the Children supplies often life-saving nutrition through Nu Skin’s specially formulated VitaMeal product. The Provo, Utah-based company partnered with an expert on child malnutrition in third-world countries to develop VitaMeal, a blend of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber and other nutrients that easily supplements local ingredients.

When individuals purchase VitaMeal, Nu Skin matches the donation and distributes the meals to one of its authorized charity partners. The model answers a need for consistent sources of nourishment among the world’s neediest populations. Every day, nearly 100,000 children receive meals as a result of the initiative. Nourish the Children has also established education and disease prevention programs, such as the School of Agriculture for Family Independence (SAFI) in Malawi, Africa.

Natura Is the World’s Largest B Corps Certified Brand

» Natura Cosméticos, Brazil’s leading cosmetics, fragrance and toiletries maker, has built its business on a commitment to relationships, sustainable development and promoting well-being. The brand’s purpose-driven practices emphasize respect for and preservation of natural resources, as well as a strong sense of social responsibility. Pursuing that core philosophy, Natura has now become the largest—and first publicly traded—company to attain B Corps certification.

Certified B CorporationThe nonprofit B Lab certifies B Corporations for voluntarily meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Inc. magazine describes B Corp as “the highest standard for socially responsible businesses,” and the Sierra Club calls it “one of the most trustworthy eco-certifications.” More than 1,000 Certified B Corps across 33 countries and more than 60 industries have joined the initiative.

Like its fellow B Corps companies, Natura leverages the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Natura’s internal performance evaluation includes execution of its social or environmental mission and goals. The company also provides generous benefits and training to employees, and more than 50 percent of its managers are women. Other factors highlighted by B Corps include Natura’s contribution to public education and community investment—both monetarily and through partnerships with small community suppliers—and the company’s close tracking of environmental aspects of its operations.

Natura—a 7,000-employee company with $2.65 billion in net sales last year—joins two other large, high-profile businesses recently added to the B Corps ranks. Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and energy company Green Mountain Power 
both announced certification earlier this month.

DreamTrips by WorldVentures Named World’s Leading Travel Club

» The World Travel Awards (WTA), annual industry honors voted upon by travel professionals and high-end tourism consumers, has named WorldVentures’ DreamTrips vacation club the 2014 World’s Leading Travel Club. The club offers its members curated group travel opportunities and membership discounts, currently in 60 countries worldwide. DreamTrips members can also sign up to experience VolunTours, which combine voluntary service with travel.

The World Travel Awards have been setting travel and tourism industry benchmarks for more than two decades. Leading up to the international awards, DreamTrips and its travel agency partner, Rovia, were named this year’s Leading Travel Club for the North America, Europe, Asia and Africa regions.


 Youngevity to Offer Energy Services through New Partnership

» Youngevity International is adding another segment to its diverse direct selling business, this time in the services category. The San Diego-based company has branched into energy and natural gas services through a new partnership with Energy Professionals.

The new services, including green renewable energy options, launched for Youngevity’s Texas distributors and customers in January. The company anticipates that more deregulated markets will follow. Energy Professionals holds contracts with 10 of the country’s top 13 energy supply companies, enabling it to service more than 5 million residential customers and more than 50,000 commercial accounts.

Youngevity’s extensive offerings span the Health and Wellness, Beauty and Care, Food and Beverage, and Home and Family categories. Further diversifying its model with energy services allows Youngevity customers and distributors to participate in a
$500 billion industry, said President Bill Andreoli.

Foundation 4Life Brings Aid to Malaysian Flood Victims

» Foundation 4Life is bringing relief to Malaysia amid flooding on the country’s east coast, as well as in parts of neighboring Thailand and the Philippines. An unusually heavy monsoon season inundated the region from mid-December to early January, leaving nearly a quarter of a million people displaced from their homes.

4LifeThe flooding has caused dozens of deaths and extensive damage throughout the region. Initial estimates from the Malaysian ministry project that clean-up efforts will cost the federal government nearly US$60 million. 4Life reports that the disaster has affected more than 100 of its Malaysian distributors. The company has an office in Kota Bharu, a city in the northeastern state of Kelantan, where some of the most severe flooding occurred.

Foundation 4Life focuses on building people, family and communities wherever 4Life conducts business, and the company has repeatedly mobilized its network of distributors around the world to aid in disaster relief. In Malaysia, employees and distributors gathered at 4Life’s Petaling Jaya office outside Kuala Lumpur to prepare aid packages. The foundation delivered an initial shipment totaling nearly 2,000 pounds of food and necessities to Kota Bharu, followed by a second shipment exceeding 2,800 pounds.

4Life’s Vice President of Communications, Calvin Jolley, told DSN the company is also supporting local distributors with monetary donations and supplies. Foundation 4Life is holding a February event at its Kota Bharu office to meet with leaders, make donations, and assess next steps in the aftermath of the disaster.

Avon China Probe Concludes with $135 Million Settlement

Avon China» The Department of Justice will defer criminal prosecution of Avon Products Inc. for three years, according to a recently disclosed bribery probe settlement. A six-year federal investigation of the company has ended with Avon’s Chinese subsidiary pleading guilty and accruing $135 million in fines.

The investigation focused on the period from 2004 to late 2008. The SEC alleged that Avon China’s inaccurate and incomplete bookkeeping during that period conceals payments to government officials who ultimately awarded Avon the country’s first direct selling license.

According to the SEC’s Manhattan court filing, Avon violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by bankrolling $1.65 million in travel, meals and entertainment for Chinese officials. The company also provided $8 million in cash and gifts without properly recording the expenses. Additional payoffs went to state-owned media outlets to help the company avoid negative press.

The direct selling leader has spent about $300 million on an internal investigation launched in 2008. In the settlement, the DOJ recognized Avon’s cooperation and the “extensive remediation” it has undergone to improve compliance and internal controls.

Avon stated in May 2014 that it would settle the probe, which includes $68 million in fines to the DOJ and $67 million to the SEC. The agreement includes a corporate compliance monitor to oversee monitoring and reporting obligations for three years. With the company’s ongoing compliance, the charges will then be dropped.

Young Living

Young Living Plans to Create Utah Jobs

» After surpassing the 1,000-employee milestone in 2014, Young Living Essential Oils has announced plans to grow its workforce by nearly 50 percent over the next seven years. The Salt Lake City-based company worked with the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development on a plan to bring new job opportunities to the state. The jobs would bring a major economic boost, with total salaries amounting to 125 percent of the county average income.

  • Founded: 1993
  • Members: 925,000
  • Employees: 1,375
  • New jobs projected: 445
  • Farms worldwide: 8
  • Global markets: 11

Beautycounter Backs Controls on Chemical Use

CFP» Nontoxic skincare and cosmetics brand Beautycounter has teamed up with a group of likeminded corporations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to introduce the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP). An initiative of BizNGO and the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production and Pure Strategies, the project is using a model similar to carbon footprinting to establish the first-ever common metric on corporate chemicals management.

Founder Gregg Renfrew launched Beautycounter in 2013 to offer products that are both safe and highly effective. Though the U.S. government has banned just 11 ingredients from personal-care products to date, the company has established its own “Never List” that currently includes 1,500 ingredients restricted from its products. With its partners in the Chemical Footprint Project, including companies such as Target Corp., Staples Inc. and the Environmental Defense Fund, Beautycounter is providing a means for consumers and investors to identify organizations committed to using safer chemicals.


Medifast Shifts Focus

» Weight-loss company Medifast Inc. is shifting away from managing its own weight control centers to partnering with franchisees through its various distribution models. At the close of 2014, the Take Shape For Life parent company closed 34 of its corporate-owned Medifast Weight Control Centers. It also expects to sell the assets of 17 corporate-owned Medifast Weight Control Centers to existing business partners, which would then be transitioned to the franchise model. 

“Exiting the corporate center model is consistent with our long-term strategy and will allow us to focus on optimizing the performance of our franchise partners,” said Michael MacDonald, Chairman and CEO of Medifast. “We will continue to leverage our multi-channel distribution approach across franchised Medifast Weight Control Centers, Take Shape For Life, Medifast Direct, and Medifast Medical Providers. By providing unique support offerings, we meet customers where they are in their weight-loss or weight-management journey and provide healthy living tools for long-term wellness.”

The company offered severance to impacted employees and the unique opportunity to become a Take Shape For Life Health Coach. Affected Center members also had several options to continue their programs with Medifast.

ViSalus Orchestrates International Workout in World Record Bid

ViSalus» ViSalus helped people jumpstart their New Year’s health and fitness resolutions in a big way. At noon on Jan. 3, the healthy lifestyle company attempted to set a record for the World’s Largest Simultaneous Group Workout.

Troy, Michigan-based ViSalus invited individuals to participate by hosting or joining one of its Challenge Group events. The groups formed across North America as well as Europe, where the company operates under the Vi brand.

If the attempt proves successful, the record would not be the first set by ViSalus, which teamed up with celebrity Alfonso Ribeiro in 2012 to perform the World’s Largest Simultaneous Flash Mob. The flash mob featured Ribeiro’s “Carlton” dance, named for his character on television’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The famous moves also helped Ribeiro and his partner, Witney Carson, win the latest season of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.

In addition to gunning for a world record, the Challenge Groups worked up a sweat for a good cause. For every person who participated, ViSalus donated 30 meals through its PROJECT 10 Kids program, which supplies Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Meals to children in need.

Nu Skin Enterprises Hosts Annual Investor Conference

» Nu Skin Enterprises hosted its annual investor conference on Dec. 12, 2014, at the Nu Skin Innovation Center at its global headquarters in Provo, Utah. The company’s management team shared details of its 2015 and longer-term growth plans at the event.

The anti-aging and wellness company projects 2015 revenue of $2.50 billion to $2.56 billion, representing growth of 4 to 6 percent in local currency. This revenue level reflects a negative foreign currency impact of 6 percent. Earnings per share are estimated to be $3.80 to $4.00.

Nu Skin also announced that it has received official approval to commence direct selling activities in five new districts in Shanghai and two new cities in Jiangsu Province.

MonaVie China Lays Groundwork for Official Launch

» MonaVie rolled out big plans in 2015 with the launch of its business in China, direct selling’s second largest market. The health and wellness company has kicked off a pre-launch phase in the country with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new Shanghai administration office.

The Shanghai office is one of three that will initially support MonaVie’s Chinese distributors and customers. MonaVie has also opened an office in Guangzhou, the capital of South China’s Guangdong Province, and plans to open a Beijing location with its full market launch in April 2015.