Hot Topics over Chilled Beverages: MLMs


mlmsHot Topics Over Chilled Beverages are conversations between contributor Charity and me. We realized that we are a unique pair: mom friends who often find themselves on different sides of parenting issues. However, we always find common ground and engage in respectful discourse.

This time we spoke about MLMs or multi-level marketing. If you’re not familiar with these companies, the Federal Trade Commission describes them as: “Businesses that involve selling products to family and friends and recruiting other people to do the same are called multi-level marketing (MLM), network marketing, or direct marketing businesses.”

Charity supports MLMs and is a distributor for one of these businesses, an essential oil company. Jenna tries to avoid buying MLM products. Grab a chilled beverage and enjoy the conversation.

Charity: I see MLMs as having two sides. One side is people who are super pushy and make false claims about health benefits and cold-call people. But I don’t think, at least from my experience, that that’s a company policy to do that. I try to be the other side and don’t push people to buy anything. I feel like anyone who has ever bought anything from me has come to me, and all I’ve done is share about it.

Jenna: I agree with that.

Charity: The company I’ve distributed for has been around 25 years. In my experience, it’s not condoned at all to be pushy, but I’m sure it varies from company to company.

Look, I understand that the CEO is making a ton of money, but so many other people, many of them moms. I like to support local, and this is a way to support moms in my community who may be trying to make extra money for their families.

Jenna: I’m all for the “hustle.”

Charity: I’m not into the shady stuff, the cold-calling, and aggressive marketing. We’re on the same page there.

Jenna: My major concern, as someone who doesn’t support these companies, is with the lifestyle and wellness MLMs. I see distributors spreading health misinformation and disinformation. The larger companies, in my opinion, are not doing enough to combat that.

The network of moms is important. People listen to their mom friends and their mom community. They’re the ones who see health and wellness information and take it as fact because it’s coming from someone they trust.

I want to give a mom my extra dollar, but I don’t want to support the larger structure. I want to call these companies out without calling my mom-tribe out. That’s hard.

Charity: For you, what’s the difference between buying collagen powder, something we know has health benefits, from a traditional company structure versus buying it from a local mom?

Jenna: There is no difference to me, really. But if that mom were selling for a company where I’ve seen them post on social media saying collagen powder cured their auto-immune disease, it would be a huge turn-off.

Charity: If you read the code of conduct, the rules we are supposed to follow for my company, you cannot say those types of things. It’s a huge problem with the FDA if you make these claims. A few years ago, there was a crackdown in my company, and many distributors were audited and kicked out of the company.

Should the companies be doing more like this to deal with misinformation? Yes!

Jenna: Absolutely!

Charity: We’re on the same page with MLMs, it seems like!

Jenna: Another concern I have is when moms go into these companies to make some extra money for their family and end up losing money. I’m not in this world, but I think that may be going by the wayside. Most will make something or come out net-zero, which is good.

Charity: I have many friends who lost money in MLMs buying thousands of dollars of product, and that’s not something I would ever be able to do. I’ve seen that side of it.

I agree that that type of company is less and less common.

Jenna: That’s good. I see the benefits in many of these company’s products. There are, unfortunately, people that take it to a negative place or people that prey on new moms.

Charity: I agree. I think some people are pushy about it. I try not to be. As I’ve gotten older, I realize just do what makes you happy and not take it to a negative place. I’m much more laid back than I was 5 years ago.

Jenna: Same to an extent. I teeter between super laid back and don’t let people tell you parabens are evil because they’re probably selling you something. But I’m working on it. [laughs]

So there you have it. Pro-MLM and anti-MLM finding the bottom line: don’t take it somewhere negative, research a company before you jump in, buy from a local mom when you can, and parabens won’t kill you.

Are there are any hot parenting topics you’d like to see discussed? Let us know in the comments. 


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