Listen, before the LuLaRoe lovers decide to thoroughly trounce me, just hear me out. I’ll admit there are some mistakes I may have made along the way that led to my own failures, but the biggest failures come from within the company of LuLaRoe itself. I, like many others, fell in love with the clothing brand (although my eternal love is their Cassie skirts instead of the much more popular leggings.) I’m a single mom, and I have a career, so I am not a stay-at-home mom. Even so, I have time off in the summer and holidays, so I thought LuLaRoe would be a fun adventure.
I was kind of right.
It’s super exciting to have your initial shipment arrive — sure, you’ve just shelled out six thousand dollars, but you’re going to make that back in three weeks, right? Right? Besides, the Fed-Ex man is friendly and your boxes pile up and the whole scene feels like hopes and dreams — a huge box of Irmas, a huge box of leggings, boxes of Cassies, Azures, and kids’ clothing, and these beautiful Maxis! Your friends have been anxiously waiting while you wait in the queue — an approximately two-month wait period of onboarding in which you’re supposed to celebrate every time someone gets their call and shells out $6,000 on their new inventory.
Admittedly, like a month before my failed marriage, I began to feel uneasy. Nothing I could pinpoint exactly – just a general discomfort. The culture was very unlike me – it was very “unicorns and rainbows,” and I’m much more of a realist. We were encouraged to celebrate the fact that the company was continuously onboarding hundreds of new consultants every day. If anyone dared voice concern about an over-saturation of product, we were gently chided for not being “positive” enough or for not wanting to bless others enough. Many times, a hot product (like Halloween leggings) were sold out in minutes.
Most people don’t have time to spend hours at the computer hitting refresh to see if inventory is up. Then, I remember a specific incident where consultants expressed disappointment at not being able to get the product they wanted to sell, and a top LuLaRoe guru chided them and told them they should think about the orphans she had just visited instead of worrying about their leggings. I might be crazy, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive – you can have concern for orphans and also want Halloween leggings that other people were able to get.
There was a lot of talk about “blessing” others, and that’s great, but difficult to do when you are turning no profit. Sure, you can bless someone by giving away a pair of leggings that cost $12.50 wholesale, and that’s nothing that I’m putting down because it’s wonderful. But the truth is, a lot of the time, I palpably felt that I was ripping people off. There’s no way a dress that is often see-through and just basically an asymmetrical oversized T-shirt should cost $55.
I tore open my boxes with excitement, and some stuff was really cute. However, I realized I had seven Nicole dresses in the same pattern and same size. They had bicycles all over them. I couldn’t imagine this would be exceedingly popular, as I didn’t know any bicycle enthusiasts, but corporate LuLaRoe was singing in my ear that “everything sells!”
So I need to find bicycle enthusiasts. And people who love pizza slices on their leggings. And people who like things who resemble brown and green turds on their leggings.
I spent hours dressing mannequins, taking photos, having Facebook parties, pop-up parties (although some of those were awesome fun – thanks, Kristen and Kristina!) and I appreciate the many friends I made through LuLaRoe, including my sponsor, a genuinely nice woman, and many other consultants, many who have left or are also leaving the business after months of frustration.
I soon realized you have to reinvest a lot of money every month to keep a good inventory of cute clothes. For every cute item you receive, you may get two ugly ones. They don’t sell. They sit in your home, and it no longer looks like hopes and dreams — it looks like an exploded closet of really matronly clothes. So, you’re falling deeper into debt, but the CEO is assuring you that if you stay positive and bless lives, these ugly prints will sell.
They don’t. I’m not the only one with this opinion. Glassdoor now gives a rating to this company of 2.2 (out of five stars), and most of the consultant reviews are pretty damning.
Then, the damaged items began to arrive, and arrive late, three weeks after they had taken $700 out of my bank account, and what used to be made in the USA was now outsourced to Vietnam and my customers experienced sizing changes and worse yet, leggings that got holes the first time they wore them. I was constantly waiting on back-ordered items, some of which I never have received and have written off after multiple hours on hold with corporate offices, only to be disconnected. I began eating the cost of damaged items with no replacements.
Look, I admit I didn’t post about LuLaRoe every second, and so maybe I didn’t try hard enough. But I don’t want to pressure my friends again and again about a product I just don’t feel good about and a corporate headquarters who I feel is dishonest to their “consultants.” I don’t want to spam my Facebook friends thirty times a day about blue Irmas, and pink Irmas, and Yorkshire terrier Irmas. A small percentage is interested. The rest are annoyed, and I want to keep my friends because they were my friends before LuLaRoe and they will be my friends after. They are more important to me than money.
I now have a lot of debt and regret, especially the worry that sharing my true thoughts may hurt my LuLaRoe consultant friends, but I feel a moral responsibility to be honest with those friends who are considering becoming consultants. Some people experience tremendous success with LuLaRoe, and I admire them and take nothing away from them. But they generally got into the business early on and now have many consultants underneath them, and they get a cut from their sales. With the massive amount of consultants LuLaRoe now onboards every day and the inconsistent inventory and quality problems, the average consultant just can’t make it work.
I feel this company preys on moms who want to be home with their children. That sure didn’t work for me, but I do have a nicely stocked closet full of Cassies to wear to my real job.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]