I have to say that is a pretty clever title of the documentary about the billion dollar clothing empire that is LuLaRoe. Needless to say – and I am saying this with a grain of salt as I know people who love the clothes and the sales opportunities and understand that the comments within the show could be exaggerated – I was blown away by several things in this docuseries. First, I had no clue that the company was worth over 1B dollars! In looking at the sales increase from the time the company was founded and production began, it had an astronomical growth in less than a few years. It had insane numbers that are unlike most companies have ever seen. But when you look at the marketing of it, it is easy to understand why it took off like it did. This multi-level marketing company focused primarily on young, stay-lat-home moms who were looking for opportunities to bring in money while being able to stay at home with their children. What could be better than having the products delivered to your home, setting up a ‘pop-up’ store, and selling your goods/clothes to your friends, neighbors or online, all in the comfort of your own home, right?
Well, for those who got into the business early, it was a dream come true and did provide that as described above. But then as time went on, in order to make the most money you had to recruit other people to buy inventory and sell, sell, sell! Thus, a multi-level marketing company. But to many others, nothing but a pyramid scheme. The other issue with this company is the start up cost of getting into the company – a minimum of $5,000 and this is the cheapest package! Now women who got into it at the start did sell it very fast and made crazy money, such as bonus checks of thousands a month. At one time this company was making so much money they had a convention and hired Katy Perry as their headliner! They are reported to have spent over $30 million on that one event alone.
So the dream was good while it lasted but as time has gone on, women who were on the lower ranks found that they were working non-stop but not making the big bucks as promised. But that was bound to happen as the market became saturated with the clothes/leggings and so it was hard to recruit new retailers. As one woman in an episode said, she had 3-4 neighbors around her also selling the products so she had a lot of competition. The other catch was once you bought the inventory, it was yours. They did not have a return policy. This led to other issues such as the clothes later on began being shipped with a horrible odor on them and the leggings, which appear to be their most popular product, began ripping even after just one wear. Needless to say people began complaining and wanting refunds or exchanges for the products but only to be told no. Well, it did not take long before people became so disgruntled that lawsuits were filed. The state of Washington filed a lawsuit at one time and that has since been settled, in addition to some individual lawsuits. As of today, however, there are still 60 lawsuits standing against the company.
The most fascinating thing about this show though is the story of the founders, DeAnne and Mark Stidham. While I give her credit for finding a niche in selling her clothes early own, then working with Mark on mass producing them, it is their somewhat flippant attitude that I am not sure about. When I say that, I mean they pretty much say in the first episode that they wanted – in not these exact words but you could understand their meaning – money, and lots of it. It shows them being interviewed during depositions and they just have such attitudes.
There is still a lot of noise around this show right now and I imagine it will be for a little bit based on the name alone. This series gives a fascinating insight into a billion dollar idea!