If you are considering ways to make extra income, but you don’t have the knowledge or skills to do tech work, administration or a teachable skill, direct sales is another option for many women juggling family life with the need to make income. Like many women, I found myself at this tricky crossroads at one point and I happened into a direct sales position by chance, which turned out to be a fabulous career for me for over 6 years. I dove right in without really researching the company or the compensation, and I didn’t know to ask many things that would affect me later. Given that was a number of years ago and Direct Sales has grown substantially in popularity since, there are a number of new companies out there, as the desire for flexible employment seems to be increasing for women.
As a Canadian, there are a specific set of challenges that come from representing a direct sales organization that is headquartered, and therefore ships from the USA. On average, Canadian sales in any North American organization will make up approximately between 15-30% of the company’s overall sales. That can mean that there are less resources allocated to Canadian consultants.
There are now a variety of Direct Sales organizations that originate and are headquartered in Canada. I’m going to profile 4 of them; some where I know some consultants, and others that I have simply been a customer. While there are more than these 4 Canadian companies out there, I have chosen these 4 to profile because I feel they are consistent and innovative and each has almost created a new ‘category’ in direct sales and social selling with their business.
Silver Icing: A fashion destination and lifestyle brand based in Surrey BC, is a unique business model that helps to empower entrepreneurs to find success on their own terms. CEO and Founder Christina Marcano has been in the fashion industry for over 10 years. She had a vision to create an online fashion destination where women of all shapes and sizes could find pieces that complement their busy lives. Silver Icing is a unique social selling model, where Stylists are not required to purchase inventory, but rather, to sell online and via pre-sale to their customer base.
Cost to Join: $75 to join and receive immediately a $100 credit towards purchases.
Compensation: The stylist earns a straight 20% commission on her sales and 5% of her downlines that sign up immediately underneath her. At present time, they do not pay more than one generation deep. The monthly minimum is $250 sold. A stylist also gets a 50% item for every $200 in personal sales.
Pros: No inventory! No parties! Sales are done through sharing the company’s daily pre-sale to a Stylist’s personal social media sites. A stylist can choose how they want to share and sell what is available for sale. It is straight forward social selling model, and networking and selling the merchandise to your personal contacts is made simple by the graphics provided by the company. The pre-sale model is very effective because it creates a sense of urgency – once inventory of an item is sold out, it’s gone. As a stylist, the majority of your income earned will come from your own sales.
Cons: You must be somewhat tech savvy to run this type of business, and active on social media in order to do it well. Earning commissions via team sales is only on people that you bring into the business, but not stylists that sign up under them.
Peekaboo Beans: This is an ethically sourced line of children’s wear based in Richmond BC that just celebrated it’s 10th anniversary. The clothes are cute and playful designs, free of snaps, buttons and fuss, and are known to wear well. The company started with founder Traci Costa, and in 2010 grew into a direct sales model. From the most current reports I could find, the company is sitting at approximately 1000 play stylists across Canada, with plans to move into the US in the future. The company is listed on the TSX as of July of 2016.
Cost to Join: $199 for a basic kit, $299 for a larger kit.
Compensation: Earn 15-35% commission on sales (with sales of $2400+ a month = 35% commission). Build a team and earn up to 2-7% of their sales. Grow the team deeper and earn a varying percentage of their total sales, 4 generations deep. Personal sales must be $300 in that month to receive team commissions.
Pros: Peekaboo Beans has a devoted following of clients that love the product. If you are in the demographic of women with young children and have a network that loves quality clothing, then this is a perfect fit for you. Based on the numbers, you can earn a sizable part-time income by selling the products yourself and recruiting a small team that continues to be active. The company is dedicated to providing on-going support to their play-stylists, and it is still small enough for stylists to have opportunities to directly communicate with the head office staff and owner. The company is also very committed to philanthropic endeavours, and is very transparent about their core values.
Cons: Depending on your network and age of your own children, you could ‘age-out’ of the business as your own children move into their teens. You may end up spending more of your profits each season as you re-invest in new samples each Spring and Fall (although you can sell off older samples for cash profit). As with any company with a large amount of sized-inventory, more popular items can sell out before the season is through, which can be frustrating for sellers.
Steeped Tea: A line of ethically sourced teas and accessories sold through ‘tea parties’ founded by husband and wife team Hatem and Tonia Jahshan in 2006. An appearance on Dragon’s Den in Season 7 prompted an investment by Jim Treliving and David Chilton which took the business from a small 1200 sq ft warehouse to a 50K sq. ft warehouse moving over 60 tonnes of tea in a year. The Hamilton Ontario company has consultants in Canada and now in the USA also.
Cost to Join: $99 with additional kit enhancers available for $42.60 and $21.00.
Compensation: You can earn income of 25%-39% commission on your personal sales. By sponsoring others to join you and helping them be successful, you make a percentage called an override on their personal sales (*note: percentages on team sales are not published on their website). For ordering privileges from the company, you must have a minimum of $100 in sales over a six-month period of time. Cumulative sales of an average-sized party is quoted as being an $450, as per the company’s literature.
Pros: Training and support is provided by Home Office and a Success Start plan is in place for your first 120 days in business. Your samples/inventory level will be low, but is consumable, so you will need to replenish supplies in order to continue tea parties. The sales minimum is very low over a 6 month period, which allows for a lot of flexibility in your business.
Cons: With the average price point of goods being on the lower side, your take home income, at 25-39% of sales, could be on the lower side. You will need to have a lot of parties and some additional outside orders in order to make a sizeable part-time income. Not knowing the percentages you can make on team sales, it is unknown how much more you can make by recruiting others to sell Steeped Tea.
Epicure: A line of cooking spices and cookware sold through home parties and social selling. Based in Victoria BC, Epicure has been in business since 1997 when Sylvie Rochette a desire to take charge of the food she fed her own family and share her clean eating solutions with everyone. Today, Sylvie and her daughter, CEO Amelia Warren, are helping time-starved families reconnect across the table and share good food experiences.
Cost to Join: $175 although I could not find this published on their website. The company refers all leads to existing consultants to discuss sign-up costs and commissions.
Compensation: 25% of personal sales. Team sales commission structure unknown. The company refers all leads to existing consultants to discuss sign-up costs and commissions.
Pros: The company has been in business for a long time, has yearly conferences and training programs in place to help consultants succeed. Many products are consumable and therefore repeat business is likely from your customer base. Many Epicure products have a cult-like following. It is a product that easily lends itself to being sold at trade shows and craft fairs and cash & carry.
Cons: Shipping of the goods may be costly, as spices are housed in glass jars and cookware is also heavy. If you choose to ship to on address to save on shipping costs, then as a consultant you will be responsible for delivering orders to your customers, which can be inefficient.
Each of these companies speak to a specific demographic of women, depending on your personal interests, your network, and what you like to do. If you are extremely social, and like to cook, then something where you are demonstrating food may be right for you. If you love social media, and have a wider network of online friends, then a strong social selling model might be a great choice for you.
Other questions to ask yourself before joining any Direct Sales organization may be:
How many consultants are currently in the company?
What are other expenses must I incur to run my business (website, conferences, etc.)?
What type of training programs are required?
If I become a top seller, does that change my requirements and commitments to the company?
Can I achieve my personal income requirements by doing this business?
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*Note: All opinions are my own. I am not selling, or affiliated in any way with these organizations, nor being compensated.