By Bianca Strzalkowski
We’ve all got that milspouse friend–or friends–who unexpectedly adds us to their Facebook group or sends us links to their products. From makeup companies, like Younique, to Stella & Dot, LuLaRoe and more, direct sales businesses have become all the rage in the military spouse career sphere. Before you eye-roll your way past another party invite, consider why this trend is as popular as the commissary on payday weekend.
1. These jobs are PCS proof.
Spouses move. They move often and unexpectedly, to great–and not so great–places. There may be jobs; there may be unemployment. The pink card carrying members of spouse life don’t really know what to expect when setting up shop at a new home. This is how Army wife Amanda Anderson discovered LuLaRoe–a clothing company that allows its retailers to set their own pace and schedule–after a military relocation last year. She said the nontraditional job helped her make friends at her new duty station.
“I started selling LuLaRoe in June after a PCS. The job market didn’t look promising and I loved the clothes. It seemed like a fun job to keep me busy while looking for a job and I get first dibs on all the fun, new leggings,” she said.
Anderson, who has been married for eight years, says she was interested in this specific company because they believe in empowering women–a welcome characteristic for a community used to sacrificing their own goals.
“I think military spouses are tired of starting over with each move. It was frustrating for me to leave a job I loved at our last duty station and not have very many opportunities at our new location,” Anderson said.
By owning a business like this, she doesn’t have to worry about military life getting in the way. She dictates when she works and how much… Plus, have you seen those leggings?
2. Some people are banking some serious cash.
It is no surprise that financial stability is a common topic for military families. People do not join the military to get rich, so direct sales businesses offer modern-day entrepreneurs, like Jaime Bridger, an opportunity to create a monetary cushion for their households.
The Marine wife of 10 years had zero experience in sales. That all changed when she connected with Younique–a company with a mission to uplift, empower, validate, and ultimately build self-esteem in women around the world through high-quality products–in 2014. Her business has allowed her to travel to Jamaica, the Bahamas, and make a substantial paycheck.
“The top benefit for me is the extra income. Military obviously doesn’t pay that well, so having help with groceries and bills is huge for us,” the mom of three said. “I also ‘found myself’ again if that makes sense. I’ve become more than just a mom. I’ve built great friendships and set personal goals for myself to achieve.”
3. They believe in their products.
Bridger loves what she sells. She found a unique way to attract customers using tools of the current times. She creates live social media tutorials and before-and-after pictures to showcase her favorite products. (The mascara, she adds, is like a tube of magic.)
“The skills that I think have helped me become so successful is still a mystery. There’s no magic formula,” she said. “Like I said before–I’ve never sold a thing in my life. But what I can guarantee is my genuine approach. I’m always myself, I’m real, and I’m certainly not going to poach you for sales. If you like what I have to offer, then I’m patient enough to wait for people to try it. And then of course fall in love with it.”
4. No childcare? No problem.
Childcare costs continue to be a burden to parents in the United States, including military families. The latest report from Childcare Aware of America states “the average cost for an infant in center-based care rivals the cost for one year of college tuition at a four-year institution. Further, the cost of full-time, center-based care for two children is the highest single household expense in most parts of the country.” The math just doesn’t add up.
Working just to pay for childcare doesn’t make for a satisfying professional life. Those ads for Scentsy or Mary Kay or BeachBody that you see in your newsfeed are possibly putting a spouse friend in a position to either fund quality childcare or not need it at all because they can work athome. There is a lot going on behind the scenes of these ambitious spouses trying to introduce their products to the judgmental hole that is the Internet.
5. It satisfies a need.
Military spouses are as diverse as they are similar, and so are their reasons for launching into the direct sales sphere. Finding your niche can be a windy road until you land on that one thing that makes you want to get up in the morning. Or, the thing that keeps you wide awake at night with ideas.
For motivational speaker Judy Davis, Stella & Dot–a social-selling company that creates flexible entrepreneurial opportunities for women–filled several buckets. Some of those buckets were full of jewelry.
“I have always worn jewelry and people would say to me, ‘Where did you get it?’ and it was this natural flow for me to talk about Stella & Dot, and I thought, why am I referring out something when I could spend just a little time with myself and focus energy and make an additional income stream. What I didn’t realize is how successful it would get really quickly,” Davis said. “It’s a great problem.”
Davis says prior to starting this business last year, she has always sought out ways to create additional means of income for herself. Her prior experience in the network marketing field propelled her to add Stella & Dot stylist to her already lengthy bio of author, speaker, and entrepreneur.
“It’s not alternative for me. I have always [had], in some way, shape or form, had a business in network marketing. That’s where I got my speaking start years ago … and I saw the benefits of multiple income streams,” she said. “And that’s why I think network marketing is such a great option for military families. Because it’s something you can do in addition to everything else that you’re doing.”
Her advice to other spouses considering direct sales is to spend some time thinking about what products you are passionate about.
“You need to know that doing this kind of business is no different than starting a blog or starting any other business. You will get out of it what you put into it so you have to decide that you are willing to do the work to be successful,” Davis said.
“Talk to a few people, do you due diligence, find out what the team is about. Dig in. There’s a ton of different things. Don’t just do the thing that everyone is doing because it might not be right for you,” she added.