‘LuLaRich’ takes a comedic look at the collapse of a business empire built on leggings – Contenders TV: Docs + Unscripted
Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason have pioneered a new genre in the category of true crime, what they call “true comedy.”
The directors/executive producers earned an Emmy nomination for their 2019 documentary fire fraud, about the luxury music festival gone wrong. Their latest docu-series, LuLaRichfrom Amazon Prime Video, takes a comedic look at the rise and fall of LuLaRoe, a clothing company known for its leggings that featured pizza slice prints, smiling pineapples, bespectacled dogs and other designs whimsical.
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LuLaRoe was founded by DeAnne and Mark Stidham, a couple steeped in the methods of multi-level marketing – companies created like Amway and Avon that sell directly to consumers.
“They started in their garage and they had to keep expanding until they had all their inventory in a parking lot, which infested it with mold and some of the aromas depicted in the movie,” explained Furst as he, Nason and fellow executive producers Blye Faust and Cori Shepherd Stern appeared at Deadline’s Contenders Television: Documentary + Unscripted event. “I think it’s a perfect metaphor for ‘bigger is better’. ”
The Stidhams mainly recruited women to sell the clothes from doorsteps, referring to these agents as “fashion consultants”. In true multi-level marketing, consultants were encouraged to recruit other recruits. Each new hire paid LuLaRoe a start-up fee and had to buy thousands of dollars in inventory, which they often couldn’t offload.
“Multilevel marketing is a legal form of a pyramid scheme, essentially,” Nason said. Furst added, “They were selling a dream to families across America that wasn’t a reality.”
Stern said the company was supposed to be all about supporting women.
“It was masked by a kind of cheap feminism,” she said. “These women were created for failure rather than success. … My mother was part of a multi-level marketing business when I was a child and I saw the toll it took on her. was one of the reasons I personally wanted to do this doc.
The Stidhams agreed to sit down with the filmmakers to pitch their side of the story, though they pulled out of a second scheduled interview.
Faust, which won an Oscar for the 2015 production Projector, said of the Stidhams: “They are very good sellers, and that is what allowed them to grow and become so huge. … They had a good idea [originally] and they unfortunately ended up really abusing that idea…and growing way too fast and really exploiting the women who sold for them by saturating the market in a way that was simply unsustainable. And then the business just imploded from there.
Check back Monday for the panel video.
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