LuLaRich lets multilevel marketing speak for itself
Amazon Prime Video is successful with its own over-the-top docuseries, LuLaRich. No one gets their arms ripped off by tigers, but the four-part special is nonetheless full of larger-than-life characters and jaw-dropping moments, as well as chases that will have more of an impact on the lives of most. of people as to what extent zoos are regulated. It’s because LuLaRich – whose title is a play on the company’s name, LuLaRoe – tells the gripping, often insidious and all-too-common story of how multilevel marketing programs find their way into American life.
It is not surprising that LuLaRich previewed to an already interested audience. As the series shows, over 80,000 people have signed up to sell the company’s products, and exponentially more people have bought them. Anyone with a Facebook account around 2016 has heard of LuLaRoe, the direct-selling fashion retailer started by Deanne Brady and Mark Stidham, and anyone who has remained active on Facebook in the years since have probably scrolled on. his fall. LuLaRich gives a chair and microphone to a wide range of invested parties, with surprisingly little interference from filmmakers Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, who previously directed the documentary Fraud Fyre for Hulu.
Which makes LuLaRich binge-worthy is the voluntary participation of the founders of the company. Their story begins with a dubious bootstraps mythology. Deanne and Mark were both already married and had too many children to count between them, some of them adopted, and two of whom (in one of the show’s wildest revelations) got married. According to Mark, the worst thing in the world was having a regular job that paid $ 400 a week. He aspired to be an entrepreneur, just like Deanne’s mother. When Deanne shares what she thinks is an endearing anecdote about how Ms. Startup (her mother’s real name) threw thousands of dollars in bills in the air for her kids to scramble for, the viewer feels that , rather than stating his point, LuLaRich will let the Stidhams paint an unflattering image of themselves.
The Stidhams are a garish study of contrasts. The clothes they peddled were modest (they are Mormons), but Deanna had such control over the appearances of the consultants, she drove them to undergo gastric sleeve surgery in Tijuana, all so that they could have it. look sexier. They espouse hard work, but have given prime corporate positions to unskilled family members rarely seen in offices. They used a pop and superficial feminist aesthetic to trick stay-at-home moms into “girlbosses,” but promoted disgusting, backward-looking “rules” on femininity, including exchanging sexual favors with her husband for sex. money and property. Although Deanne launched the brand with skirts of her own design, when asked to speak about empowering women, Mark deigns to respond for her.
But by far the most remarkable cognitive dissonance is how the Stidhams see themselves: as saviors who “bless lives” instead of enjoying them. Self-delusion is a major theme in LuLaRich. Because the docuseries assemble the Stidhams interview with depositions, it is obvious that they are careful not to incriminate themselves. To assume that they have adhered to their own fantasy would be to excuse them for wrongdoing, but the Stidhams are so relentlessly positive and smug that one has to wonder. Both behave more and more like cult leaders as the business grows, and Mark openly preaches like he’s a prophet at what are supposed to be leggings business conferences. .
If LuLaRoe only sold leggings, or even clothing franchises, there would be no problem and no TV show. That’s what the company seemed to be doing when the first round of sales reps bought Deanne’s stock wholesale. She’s right when she says American mothers are an under-exploited resource, and in an inflexible economy that doesn’t value them, any opportunity to make money on their own seems too good to be true. Since LuLaRoe’s consultants managed unique inventory boxes that cost $ 5,500 but sold well, it didn’t seem like a pyramid scheme. Early adopters tell the camera how much it changed their lives … in the beginning.
But soon after, LuLaRoe adopted a “downline” structure in which Consultants made significantly more money “onboarding” other Consultants than selling clothing. As the people recruited skyrocketed, the quality plummeted. Defective and poorly designed product (some prints looked like genitals) was, of course, more difficult to unload, especially when there were suddenly multiple sales assistants for each dead end. Yet LuLaRoe’s bogus culture of brotherhood – with cruises and concerts by Katy Perry – has tricked attendees up and down the pyramid into believing they are part of something real and stable. These women (mostly white) were leading lives, turning out to be as perfect as they can be, on Facebook, while in real life they were stressed to the brink, losing cars, homes and spouses.
As one MLM expert explains, over 80% of those who join programs like LuLaRoe have no one below them in the pyramid and can be ruined by the experience. Selling leggings, women have broken even at best and many have lost thousands. Selling their membership – especially during the height of LuLaRoe hysteria – could push them up to seven figures. Some in this upper level have come to accept that their involvement was predatory, while others still see themselves as the Stidhams: as people who just made their way and made money.
The LuLaRoe fiasco could not have happened without the intersection of several societal phenomena and failures. As mothers struggled to find community and live comfortable middle-class lives, the rise of social media, the importance of consumer culture, the proliferation of MLMs, and the poor enforcement of laws meant to control them all seemed to be. conspire against these women. . But fraternity and social networks were also a balm. LuLaRoe still exists today. However, thanks to hordes of former consultants who found themselves on Facebook and pitched in to the attorney, the company began to be held accountable.
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