Go through all of my American Girl items, and set aside those marked for future sale. —- Accomplished!
Schedule donation pick-up for the large bags of clothing and household items that need to leave my office pronto. —- Accomplished!
Schedule more time off from work. —- Accomplished!
Successfully coordinate my work department move. —- Accomplished!
Set additional screen time limits, both at work and at home. —- Semi-Achieved.
Make at least one significant editing pass through the printed version of book 2. —- Did not accomplish yet.
Continue meal planning. —- Accomplished!
Look into getting re-certified in adult and/or pediatric CPR. —- Accomplished!
Begin planning for NaNoWriMo 2021. —- Semi-Achieved.
Start reviewing the current version of book 3. —- Did not accomplish yet.
Look into a business course or something similar to prepare for my launch as an author. —- Accomplished!
Keep up my library patronage. —- Accomplished!
Prepare to donate blood again in October. —- Accomplished!
Restart my regular TBR Recap posts. —- Accomplished!
September was really good and really successful for me in a lot of areas. I’m proud of myself. Mostly with my home office. It’s finally sorted out and clean!!
I’m excited to get re-certified in adult and pediatric CPR. I signed up for a hybrid course through the American Red Cross. I have some virtual learning to do, and then I’ll go to the Red Cross Building in Norfolk at the end of the month for the in-person part. The last time I was certified was almost 20 years ago now, and I know a lot of things have been updated since then.
I need to do some more work regarding my future business and becoming an author, but I’ve had several great conversations recently with people who have had experience with publishing and navigating the business side of writing.
I’m getting really excited for NaNoWriMo 2021. I took last November off for mental health reasons, but I’m re-energized now and ready to write again for 30 days!
Jasmine Crowe is one amazing woman. She started feeding people out of her apartment in 2013, every weekend for three years. That alone is amazing.
But then she went further, and truly above and beyond.
Check out the information below. Her company, Goodr, is incredible. Now that she’s partnered with rapper Gunna, the students at Ronald McNair Middle School have access to amazing resources. What struck me the most was that now, the kids at school can bring home dinner or other supplies, no questions asked. If the adults are working when school lets out, these kids can bring home food for their families. To me, that’s a huge weight lifted!
Buckle up, friends. This is going to be a long post. Strong language is used.
Some of you know that I used to buy LuLaRoe (LLR) clothing for two years, from 2017-2019. At the time, I had no clue it was a multi-level marketing company, or MLM.
Now, Amazon Prime Video has released a decent documentary that features the founders, former front office employees, current and former “retailers,” and a few more.
NOTE: I originally set this post to publish on September 20th after having re-watched Episodes 1 and 2, thinking I was going to be able to re-watch all four episodes before the post published automatically. That didn’t happen. It published automatically, and I forgot about it for a few days. I decided to update the scheduling to publish it on September 24th after needing to re-watch Episodes 3 and 4 and make my notes about it. So the updated publishing date is actually September 24th.
Episode 1 – Start Up
I can’t believe the producers of this documentary were actually able to get DeAnne and Mark Stidham on camera! I’d love to know how that conversation went. Wow!
You are the boss of your business! — Hahahahaha. No, you’re not. MLMs are not legitimate small businesses. Period.
One of the commentators is Robert FitzPatrick – Author, MLM Expert – He was interviewed on Roberta Blevins’s excellent podcast, “Life After MLM.” He’s written two books on MLMs.
Independent fashion retailers — No, actually, you’re an independent contractor. And you have to pay taxes!
$5,000 buy-in (Say WHAT?!?!) Holy moly. This one blew my mind. What the fuck? I could do so much with $5,000 – So much!
Selling breast milk to afford start-up costs — Ummmmm. Yeah. That’s absolutely insane. Nope!
A million dollar company to a billion dollar company. — It grew way too fast, and no one was able to keep up. Plain and simple.
Weight loss surgery — What the actual fuck. No, no, no.
Roberta Blevins — Amazing woman! I have a link to her podcast above! She is awesome!
“Why are the leggings wet? Why does the whole house smell like dead fart leggings?“ — Right on, Roberta! Inferior product doesn’t sell!
“LuLaRoe tricked people into joining a pyramid scheme.“
Mark spouting passages from the Book of Mormon — Yeah. Roberta was right. You are/were in a cult!
LLR logo is a pyramid!
DeAnne’s maiden name is “Startup.” Seriously!
DeAnne is the 10th of 11 children. She has a twin sister, Diane.
Mark is one of four kids. Never wanted to work a job or work for a boss. “When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s no upper limit.”
1988 – DeAnne went to a swap meet in California. Bought four dresses from a man. Started booking dress parties. The first party sold 300 dresses. DeAnne did that for 27 years.
She started making maxi skirts after her daughter asked for one. Sold 20,000 maxi skirts quickly. Mark started in production.
2012 – Brittany Hunter from Utah, came and got skirts out of DeAnne’s van. DeAnne and Mark officially formed LuLaRoe, LLC in 2013. The name comes from three of their granddaughters – Lucy, Lola, and Monroe.
What I really liked about LuLaRich was the group of people they interviewed. When I first saw the trailer, I was pretty sure the producers had only interviewed DeAnne, Mark, and both former and current fashion retailers. It was really nice to see journalists and other experts, too! And home office employees that really spilled the tea.
For those who may not know, MLMs have been around for a good long while. The first one in the United States was Nutrilite in the 1940s, and then they were purchased by Amway. Other MLMs include Tupperware, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Scentsy, Herbalife, and Rodan + Fields. But there are a lot more – I remember hearing for either this documentary or Roberta’s podcast that there are about 300 active MLM companies in the United States. And many of them have gone global to other countries. Ewwwwww.
What is really being sold is the opportunity.
You can only go about 13 levels, and you surpass the population of the Earth.
Even though MLMs have been around and growing since the 1940s, it’s really exploded in the last 10 years or so. It’s advertised primarily through social media.
Buy it for wholesale, sell it for retail. It’s not get-rich-quick. —- Yeahhhhhh. Right.
Mark: Underutilized resource of stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs). A lot of people of faith attracted to this business. It’s a pure meritocracy.
Meritocracy: Government or the holding of power by people selected on the basis of their ability.
Sam Schultz, DeAnne’s nephew, joined LLR in 2015 as the events director. Part of the same demographic as the fashion retailers. He hired Mario Lopez to present DeAnne with an award. The photos went viral, and 11,000 people wanted to join the company after that weekend.
2016 – LLR made over $70 million, and expanded to a new home office in Corona, California.
Catastrophic growth, corporate tornado.
“Helping families, blessing lives.” — Wow.
Episode 2 – Show Up
LLR created a video called “5 Ways to Finance Your Start Up Costs.” The smallest initial package was $5,000. The largest was $11,000!! Examples: Open an interest-free credit card, sell your breast milk.
LLR home office employees! I honestly wasn’t expecting these people to be interviewed, but it was AWESOME. LaShae is my FAVORITE. Worked at Macy’s originally. She met DeAnne in the hallway, she had Chanel on. She marched her to the warehouse and picked out a few pieces because she wasn’t wearing LLR! She was wearing Chanel!!
Derryl Trujillo came to LLR after working for Steve Madden, and reffing and officiating high school volleyball too. He found the ad for data entry and customer service on Craigslist. He was placed in the email department, which was the first line of defense for the company. They tried to be the filter of the building. Mark and DeAnne were seldom around the office, the window seat had to look out for their cars. The family had six Mercedes vehicles. Eight-five to ninety percent (85-90%) of the sixth floor was the family. No one had a clue to run the company of that size. “Data entry” was a Google Doc spreadsheet. Everyone kept editing it, and things would change second to second!
Creating the compensation plan on the fly.
Onboarding team – Fill out your application for LLR, and you were put into the onboarding queue. The team would call these retailers and let them know they were now a part of the family. Mark had a quota. What do you need to onboard 500 people on a Saturday?
These prospective retailers had the LuLaRoe phone number saved as “LuLaRoe – Life Changing Call.”
The number of retailers just grew and grew and grew. By 2016, there were 15,000 retailers! By the end of 2016, there were over 60,000!!
Unicorn hunting – Because you could only pick sizes and the type of clothing, you never knew what prints you were going to get! There were limited prints, too. It was nuts watching the documentary! I participated in multiple Facebook Lives when I bought LLR from three different consultants, so I understand the frenzy!
They talked about the Leadership Bonus Plan. It went from Retailer to Sponsor to Trainer to Coach to Mentor. There was a huge push to recruit and to buy. Recruiting was emphasized. Roberta purchased $78,000 worth of clothing wholesale, and made $83,000 total. And that didn’t include her business expenses. She made $65,000 in bonuses! It’s really easy to see how lucrative this was!
Social media posts were always supposed to be positive, and then attributed to LuLaRoe! DeAnne would become upset if a post didn’t have the #becauseofLuLaRoe hashtag!
And then there were the LuLaRoe cruises! You had to qualify for the cruises, which meant you had to sell $12,000 worth of clothes per month. That’s crazy! But there are/were people who qualified for 5-6 cruises!
Episode 3 – Blow Up
Mark and DeAnne would go live online. Every single Tuesday, people would tune in! There was so much idol worship and celebrity.
People started realizing that there was a lot of control. A couple of people started putting the pieces together and thinking, “Oh my God I’m in a cult.”
Enter Becca Peter. She sells washi tape online. For fun, she researches LuLaRoe online. The sales tax was strange, that was her first clue.
LuLaRoe takes advantage of these feelings that women have – They want to be great moms to their kids, but also contribute to the household. It’s the opposite of empowering.
Some of these women started involving their husbands in their LuLaRoe world. And then there’s the “retire your husband” thing. I hate that with a burning passion. It’s another control thing!! Paul said it perfectly – It’s devious and sinister! You’re trapped!
Over 80 percent of people have no one underneath them in MLMs. In 2016, 70 percent of LLR consultants made NO MONEY – ZERO.
If everything is possible, nothing is true. It’s all a farce, a fallacy. The documentary didn’t really discuss the cost-sunk fallacy, but it’s true of all MLMs.
Then there’s the gastric sleeve. DeAnne and her sister, Lynnae, were recruiting women to go to Tijuana, Mexico to get the surgery! The group chat was called “Tijuana Skinny’s.” DeAnne got the surgery and is on video where she lost 72 pounds. Courtney Harwood from North Carolina was looking into it, and ultimately decided on the weight loss balloon surgery in the U.S. – She nearly died! And then she was told that the gastric sleeve was the way to go.
Then the number of retailers went up to 90,000. And if you weren’t making money, it wasn’t the obvious over-saturation of sellers, but it was because “you weren’t working hard enough.” How demoralizing is that!?
Roberta opened a box of inventory in 2016, and realized one item was soaking wet – One pair of leggings. A couple of shipments later, there was a horrible smell from the box. When filing a return request, one of the choices was “Stinky leggings.” Seriously! They were selling moldy leggings, and there was product outside, exposed to the elements. The Mentors went to the home office, and it was met with agitation and being dismissive.
The material was changing! The leggings were arriving with holes, or ripping apart after one hour. The material itself was thinner. The company claimed that they weren’t distributing old product, but they were. The design theft was rampant. They told designers to find a print, change two things, and then voila! It’s a new print!
If you complain or criticize, then you’re the loser. It highlights so many insecurities! Negativity is a big no-no. Use the delete button! People were being scolded like children. For most of the consultants, they were used and betrayed. In my opinion, there was also abuse! There was gaslighting and love bombing.
Episode 4 – Toe Up
In June 2017, LuLaRoe changed their bonus structure. It would be based on sales rather than ordering. The checks were cut in half almost overnight.
Complaints were rolling in, and the question of whether or not LLR was a pyramid scheme kept coming up. And then there was the return policy. The company implemented a 100 percent buyback policy. Consultants would get a full refund, and there was no expiration date.
A bunch of people joined, and then a lot of people left. It was a mass exodus. LLR paid over $100 million during that time. Then they reverted back to the original policy with an additional stipulation, and leaders were not eligible for refunds.
News coverage swelled. Social media groups exploded, such as “LuLaRoe Defective.” And then a few people started talking about hiring a class-action attorney. The reason? Withholding approved refunds is illegal.
The case started as a breach of contract case because they changed the buyback policy almost overnight. They started a website called LLR Class Action. The number of people who contacted the attorney was staggering.
There have been dozen of lawsuits filed against LLR, in multiple states. They were sued for defective leggings, and then copyright infringement. The MyDyer lawsuit basically called Mark and DeAnne outright scammers – One claim is that LLR owes them $49 MILLION DOLLARS. LLR is also tied to many LLCs, in multiple states. Many of them were set up simultaneously in 2017.
Then, in January 2019, a civil lawsuit was filed by the Washington State Attorney General. It alleged that LuLaRoe was operating as a pyramid scheme.
Depositions were taken from DeAnne, Mark, Kenny Brady, and Jordan Brady. They have absolved themselves of all blame and/or responsibility. In my humble opinion, they are all fucking scammers and greedy bastards. There, I said it. All of them are awful people. Mark, especially, reminded me of both of my abusive relationships. It’s all about the money!
Israel follows the U.K. and the U.S. in easing restrictions due to a decrease in needed blood supplies. The U.K. made their changes earlier this year to allow more gay and bisexual men to become donors, and the U.S. updated their screening questions in 2020.
The health history screening in Israel has been updated to use gender-neutral wording, and changing the timeframe from 12 months to three (3) months.
While I personally think that the overall restriction should be dropped entirely, I also understand the continued need to protect blood recipients. I have several gay, lesbian, and bisexual friends who have not donated because of these restrictions. Their argument is that blood products are now tested, and have been for years, for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other life-threatening infectious diseases. While this is true – Testing for HIV with the American Red Cross started in 1985 and has been reviewed and updated since then – I’m honestly not sure this restriction will ever be dropped entirely. It’s very rare that HIV Type 1 or 2 will come up after a single blood donation, but it has happened.
If you’re interested in giving blood or other blood products (platelets, plasma), visit these websites for more information.
Bath and Body Works – I love the Beautiful Day scent! I found this scent through a beautiful gift basket that was given to me for my wedding nearly six years ago (Where did the time go?!). I’ve bought it ever since.
Summer’s Concoctions! – This is the newest small business I learned about through social media. I love Summer and her determination to grow her business. She’s a former multi-level marketing consultant / independent contractor, but decided to get out and start her own business. I’m so proud of her! I joined her own new Facebook group after seeing her posts in a great group called your MLM is not a small business, Karen. I immediately placed an order with her. I cannot rave about her products enough. I’ve bought her Body Butter and Body Scrub so far, and I can’t wait to buy more. Her products are handmade, affordable, and really fast shipping! They smell amazing, too!! I’m borderline obsessed with the Orange Ginger! And she has a long, long list of scents to choose from – New colors, too. I paid $31 total for the six two-ounce (2 oz.) jars and shipping. It got to me in less than a week from Indiana to Virginia. She is super responsive to messages. She’s currently operating through Facebook only, but I’ll keep you posted if she has other business updates. She just posted a customer’s order of Christmas-scented hand sanitizers, so you better believe I’m jumping on that quick!
Clean & Clear – I’m using up my existing products now. I plan to switch to CeraVe soon.
This deodorant has changed my world. I think I found it at CVS or Walgreens a while ago.
Herbal Essences – I’m currently using Hello Hydration, the large bottles from BJs. Once that’s used up, I have new bottles of Moroccan My Shine ready. I found it through Harris Teeter.
Eyeliner – Illamasqua felt tip liquid liner. I found this unopened sample from the eBay store Needle in a Haystack Treasures. Please check out Cynthia’s store! I’ve found a lot of great things from her in the last few years.
Great Lash Clear Mascara – This has been a great alternative to black/brown mascara.
What about you?
Do you have a certain skin routine? What about makeup?
Have you tried any homemade recipes related to skin or makeup?
Let me know about any awesome small businesses that you support, too!
American Girl books are great pick-me-ups! Whenever I’m in a reading slump or struggling to pick the next book, an American Girl book usually sets me right. I found Lea Dives In at my local library.
Lea was the Girl of the Year for 2016. I remember falling in love with the doll and her collection. And the books sounded magical – Traveling and seeing a new country? Yes, please!
Lea’s brother, Zac, is studying abroad in Brazil. Lea and her parents are going to spend a week there! Lea is excited, but also nervous and a bit sad. She’s grieving the recent loss of a dear family member, and she knows she’s changed since Zac left for college a few years earlier. It’s great how this book addresses multiple real-world challenges in less than 100 pages.
I loved Lea as a character, she reminded me of me around her age. I love the richness of the culture, too, and how the author paid attention to detail with mixing English and Portuguese, one of the languages spoken in Brazil. I’ve always appreciated that about American Girl in general – Both the historical and modern stories try really hard to educate readers on different cultures and time periods. There’s even a glossary in the back of the book with pronunciations!
I’m excited to read book 2 – Lea Leads The Way. There’s also a third book, Lea and Camila.
When I started writing this post, I could have sworn the last time I wrote about September 11th was in 2016 for the 15th anniversary. Turns out, my only post about it so far on this blog was in 2019, for the 18th anniversary.
What I wrote in 2019 captures a lot of what I was preparing to write today, so I’ll let you read those words on that post, if you choose. A warning: I do have several images in that post that are disturbing from 2001. Proceed with caution.
I will say today that I remember, 20 years ago, that I felt true fear and anxiety. A few days ago, I thought those feelings on that brilliant Tuesday were the first time I felt them, at 13 years old. Now, I’m fairly certain it was the second time that I felt fear, anxiety, and despair. The first time was on April 20, 1999, the day of the Columbine High School massacre.
I think of the 2,977 innocent lives that were lost on the four planes, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon. I think of the firefighters and other first responders. All of them were heroes and heroines. I think of the unborn children. I think of the children who lost their parents or their other family members. The entire nation – The entire word – was changed on September 11, 2001.
I was watching the sun rise this morning as I drove to get breakfast for Al and I this morning. I stopped the podcast I was listening to mid-sentence, and I found myself praying as I drove back home. I was expressing gratitude for still being on this Earth, watching another sunrise.
As I finish this post today, in the middle of the afternoon, the sun is shining, it’s 78 degrees and so pleasant. Fall is on the way. And I think of all the families – Families of the victims, families of the rescuers, families who were directly affected by the debris and destruction in New York, Arlington, and Shanksville. I’ve consumed more news media this week than normal, because so many stations and channels have been covering the 20th anniversary. At the end of this post, I’ll share a few links of ones that captured my heart. All of them made me cry.
Today has been about reflection, gratitude, and prayer. I’m definitely a different person at 33 years old than I was at 13. And I’m grateful to be writing about it, hopefully as respectfully as I can be.