Las Vegas workers buy into direct selling

Updated August 6, 2017 - 6:57 pm

Amelia Cooper, 33, showed up to her friend’s house on a Thursday night prepared to eat, drink, socialize and spend up to $50 that she budgeted to support her new friend’s side gig: Plunder Design.

Plunder, founded in 2014, is one of several in a crop of multilevel-marketing companies that are making the rounds on social media and making their way into Nevada.

The Direct Selling Association estimates that there are around 173,180 people involved in direct selling in the state. You might have seen some of them on Facebook, selling Plunder jewelry, leggings from LuLaRoe, or lipstick from SeneGence.

The recession attracted Nevadans into the direct-selling industry, according to data from the U.S. Current Population Survey. And though the local economy is out of the woods, the industry continues to draw locals in.

“The bigger question is, of course, do they really make any money at this?” posed William Keep, dean of The College of New Jersey School of Business and one of few independent academics who study multilevel-marketing companies.

It depends.

Three local direct sellers for different multilevel-marketing companies say that they are in the industry because they like the products they sell and they are either making money, hoping to make money or enjoying the work and not expecting any regular income.

direct sellers graphic breakdown

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Earners

“I had a cocktail job in Vegas that made money, and I make more money doing this,” said Teresa Isgriggs, who became a SeneGence distributor in July 2016 and quit her job at the Rio in April.

As a SeneGence distributor, Isgriggs sells skin-care products, which range from anti-aging foundation to facial moisturizer, and makeup products, which range from eye shadow to lipstick.

She has slowly built up a stock of inventory for potential buyers to try and buy on the spot. Isgriggs estimates she has close to 100 new lipsticks on hand, with about 35 additional tester lipsticks and glosses on hand for people to try. She also has a handful of tester skin-care products and several dozen other makeup items. Much of this stock is stored in her home on her work desk and in a briefcase she takes with her to vendor parties.

SeneGence does not have an income disclosure statement available on its website, and the company did not respond to a request for comment.

Isgriggs said company policy prevents her from disclosing exactly how much she earns, but she said it’s enough to feel good about contributing to her household income.

SeneGence became the “key to staying home” with her son, she said.

What makes a direct seller financially successful is largely determined by how many people already have been recruited in a given market, Keep said.

SeneGence reports having around 200,000 total distributors nationwide, with about 2,400 of those in Nevada.

In most cases, Keep said, the earlier a direct seller penetrates a market, the more opportunity for that person to make money than the next because direct sellers can make more money from recruiting additional sellers than from their own product sales.

Isgriggs confirmed that is the case for her and estimated that she reinvests about a quarter of what she earns back into SeneGence products.

Hopefuls

For Courtney Everard, who became a Plunder stylist in May, being a direct seller is “a side hustle I can have fun with.”

Everard still works full time as a sales and event coordinator at MEET Las Vegas. She became a stylist because she already bought a few pieces of jewelry that she really liked, and she said people were asking her where she bought them.

“At that point, it kind of just turned into a, ‘Well, this is silly. Why don’t I just get it for them?’” she said. At the same time, she was already spending money on the product.

“I like jewelry, I like big jewelry, I like lots of jewelry,” she said. “For me, it was kind of a no-brainer. There was no harm, no foul in getting involved. … If it’s just something I could put towards a credit card bill, or putting away money for the baby we (Everard and her husband) plan to have, I’m OK with that.”

Everard said she has about a dozen pieces ready to sell and about 20 personal pieces for anyone to try.

A month and a half in, Everard said she has made back the $99 it costs to become a Plunder stylist.

According to Plunder’s 2016 income disclosure statement, which Everard read, “Less than 12 percent of all Stylists earned more than $1,000 in 2016.” Meanwhile, the company reported that the average annual expenses a Stylist incurs are $1,074.40.

“It basically told me that I would have to make sure that I am selling enough to cover the cost of any personal purchases I make on the products I like — purchases that I probably would be making regardless — and potentially still make extra on top,” Everard said.

Everard might be positioned to do better than average because Plunder reports having fewer than 11,000 total distributors nationwide, with about 45 of those in Nevada, which means there is significant opportunity to recruit additional sellers.

Everard hosted a combined vendor party with Isgriggs on July 20, at which Everard sold Plunder products and Isgriggs sold SeneGence products.

Hobbyists

For Deana Didier, an independent fashion retailer for LuLaRoe, selling “buttery soft leggings” since February 2016 has been a creative outlet.

Between working the graveyard shift full time as an X-ray technician and juggling her family life, she said she wanted something of her own that she was passionate about.

Though she said that she became a retailer so she didn’t have to work two jobs, she is not yet as financially successful as she would like to be.

LuLaRoe’s 2016 income disclosure statement accounts only for income that retailers made based on the sales production of their teams. According to consumer advocacy group Truth in Advertising, the statement shows more than 85 percent of retailers received no bonuses in 2015 and the average annual bonus paid to a LuLaRoe retailer at all ranks was $92.

“Either way, I’m in this for the experience,” Didier said. “I’m happy to do this like I am for the fun, in order to meet new people, to help others feel confident — whether it’s as another retailer or as a customer in the clothes.”

On average, she estimated she reinvests half of what she makes back into the product. Didier has created what she calls a “mobile boutique,” a trailer with more than 700 items of clothing.

Sometimes she will reinvest all of what she makes depending on the financial needs of her household, she said.

A LuLaRoe spokesman said there are 527 LuLaRoe retailers in Nevada and more than 80,000 across the country.

Skeptics

The direct selling industry has battled a negative perception about how the industry operates. In the past 40 years the Federal Trade Commission has filed 26 cases against multilevel-marketing companies alleging that they were operating like pyramid schemes, according to Truth in Advertising. In nearly all of the cases, the companies in question went out of business or had to restructure their business models, per terms of the settlement.

Cooper said she believes millennials are changing the negative perception as 20- and 30-somethings are using multilevel-marketing companies to make money doing something they’re passionate about. She added that anything can be a scam, depending on the people involved.

“The only reason why MLMs get attached to that label is because they cast a wider net than say, a journalist or a makeup artist. More people are involved in that game, or the game doesn’t work,” Cooper said.

Isgriggs, Everard and Didier said they did not have a negative perception about multilevel-marketing companies and haven’t come across many people who do, as many of their friends are also in the industry.

“I have eight to 10 friends who do this,” said Lydia Pierce, 30, who attended Everard’s July 20 vendor party. “I’m happy to go buy from people I know, as opposed to people I don’t know, and support her, as opposed to a large company. It feels more personal.”

Pierce is not involved in the industry herself but was happy to browse Plunder jewelry and buy some SeneGence lipstick, marketed as a lipstick that stays on for up to 18 hours.

“I’ve wanted to buy it for a while,” she said, after hearing good reviews from a friend who has it but doesn’t sell it.

“I’m in the event industry, and running around and not having to reapply sounds amazing.”

Isgriggs, Everard and Didier agreed that being a direct seller isn’t for everybody, and it’s all about having the right expectations.

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

Direct selling chart

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Local
Working cats at St. John the Baptist Church
Parish councilmember John Koutsulis talks about the two cats St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church have adopted as part of a working cats program.
Lee Canyon snow makes skiers smile
Skiers and snow boarders took advantage of the Presidents Day holiday and the recent snowfall at Lee Canyon, outside of Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston gets fresh blanket of snow
A winter storm drops nearly four inches of fresh snow on Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Mount Charleston outside Las Vegas. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in the Las Vegas Valley
Snow accumulated in the Las Vegas Valley for the first time in more than a decade, with snow falling mostly in the western, northwestern and southern areas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal) @bizutesfaye
Snow at US 95 and Lee Canyon Road
Passers-by pulled off Lee Canyon Road northwest of Las Vegas Monday to play in the fresh snow. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Road truck on an empty I-15
Snow and ice contributed to the closure of Interstate 15 near Primm. Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal
I-15 traffic diverted at St. Rose Parkway
The Nevada Highway Patrol has closed Interstate 15 in both directions between south Las Vegas and the California state line due to icy road conditions, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ice on roadway shuts down I-15 south of Las Vegas
An overnight snowstorm left an icy roadway, causing the Nevada Highway Patrol to shut down Interstate 15 south of Las Vegas to the California state line. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 closed at St. Rose Parkway
Ice on Interstate 15 caused the Nevada Highway Patrol to close the highway from St. Rose Parkway in south Las Vegas to the California state line on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driving a snowy Sunday night in Summerlin
Several inches of snow have fallen in Summerlin on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. This shows street conditions between Charleston and Far Hills in Summerlin. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Winter wonderland at Summerlin park
A snowstorm hit Fox Hill Park in Summerlin on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
February snowstorm in western Las Vegas
A snowstorm hit Summerlin and parts of western Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in Summerlin
Snow near Far Hills and Fox Hill Drive.
Valentine's Day Brings Wet Weather To Las Vegas
Parts of the Las Vegas Valley received more than an inch of rain by 1 p.m. Thursday, triggering numerous vehicle accidents, sparking flooding and prompting at least two swift-water rescues in flood channels. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Artist sends love from the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign
Artist Chris O'Rourke has a giant heart mounted in the back of pickup positioned for photos at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on the Las Vegas Strip on Valentine's Day 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain doesn't dampen weddings on Valentine's Day
Charolette Richards, owner of A Little White Wedding Chapel who has been performing weddings for 60 years, started Valentine’s Day 2019 by performing a wdding for Las Vegas couple David and Elaine Cook at the chapel’s Tunnel of Love drive-thru. Richards has over 100 weddings booked for Valentine’s Day. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Swift-water rescue in Las Vegas
The Clark County Fire Department rescued one person from the flooded Durango Wash in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rainy and soggy on Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day across the Las Vegas Valley will be soggy and wet. A flood advisory has been issued for Clark County. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Early morning rainfall in Las Vegas
The Las Vegas valley was hit with rainfall early Thursday morning. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Janelle Veith, Quest Academy principal, talks about her school success
Janelle Veith, Quest Academy principal, talks about her school success. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Learning how to create your own comic book
Jean Munson talks about the class she teaches at the Maximum Comics in Henderson on creating and publishing your own comic book.
Top Ladies of Distinction unveils second Las Vegas chapter
Officers Clair Hart and Rose Coker discuss the service organization’s work and mission.
The Animal Foundation Opens New Wing
On Tuesday, The Animal Foundation opened the doors to its new Engelstad Foundation Adoption center. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
North Las Vegas firefighter skates from ice to fire
Darcy Loewen, a former pro hockey player, finds a new career as a North Las Vegas firefighter. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Carnival AirShip floats over Las Vegas
Carnival Cruise flew a blimp over the LAs Vegas Valley on Thursday in a promotion for its new Carnival Panorama ship. (Mat luschek/Review-Journal)
Pedestrian dies after crash at Decatur and Alta
Las Vegas police investigate a fatal crash that killed a pedestrian at Decatur Boulevard and Alta Driver about 6 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (Jessica Terrones/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars Cosplayers Visit Sick Kids At Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
Members of Coruscant Base, a Star Wars cosplay group, visit kids at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Hail and wet snow in Las Vegas
The western edges of Las Vegas saw some hail and wet snow on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Developer Jim Rhodes lists his mansion for $30 million
Jim Rhodes, a developer, has listed his mansion in Spanish Hills community for $30 million. The mansion is situated on 2 acres of land and features 19,345 square feet of living space. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Court ruling brings hope to local Vietnam veteran
Blue Water Navy Veteran Michael Yates talks about possible medical benefits he could receive after a federal court ruling this week. Yates claims he was exposed to Agent Orange and attributes that to his health problems, which include cancer.
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Business
Dig This opens new location In Las Vegas
Remember when you were a kid and played with construction toys in the sand box? Dig This Las Vegas has the same idea, except instead of toy bulldozers, you get to play with the real thing. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Town Square developer Jim Stuart building again in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ real estate bubble took developers on a wild ride, something Jim Stuart knows all too well. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Salon opens at Veterans Village
T.H.E. Salon, owned by Nicole Christie, celebrated their opening at the Veterans Village with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Southwest Airlines considering Las Vegas-Hawaii flights
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says the airline is "very focused" on Hawaii. Hawaiians have a strong presence in Las Vegas.The city’s unofficial status is “Hawaii’s ninth island.” In 2018, at least 2,958 people from Hawaii moved to Nevada. Of those, 88.7 percent moved into Clark County, according to driver license surrender data. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 310,249 people came to Las Vegas from Hawaii in 2018.
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day. About 1.2 million Nevadans are expected to celebrate this year, a 5 percent drop from 2018. A growing number of people consider Valentine’s Day over-commercialized. Others weren’t interested in the holiday or had nobody to celebrate with. But spending is expected to rise. Those who do celebrate are buying for more people. The average American is expected to spend about $162 this year for Valentine’s Day, a 57 percent jump from a decade prior. Katherine Cullen, director of industry and consumer insights at NRF
Foreclosures of mansions in Las Vegas
Las Vegas was ground zero for America's foreclosure crisis after the housing bubble burst. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Helfenbein talks about the impact of tariffs on the clothing industry
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Air flight attendants learn how to handle a water landing
Field instructor Ashleigh Markel talks about training prospective flight attendants for Allegiant Air getting live training with a raft for a water landing at the Heritage Park Aquatic Complex in Henderson on Monday. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery talks about Las Vegas return
Michael Feighery, CEO of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, discusses the restaurant's upcoming return to the Las Vegas Strip.
Apartments to Come to Hughes Center
Developer Eric Cohen discusses his current building project at the Hughes Center office park in Las Vegas, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Stratosphere to rebrand to The STRAT
The Stratosphere, a 1,150-foot-tall property in Las Vegas will be renamed The STRAT Hotel, Casino and Skypod.
Local designers’ picks for the Las Vegas Market
The trends that local interior designers are noticing at the Las Vegas Market this year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trends in bath products at Las Vegas Market
Camille Herd, the showroom manager for European Bath Kitchen Tile & Stone, talks about the popularity of free-standing bath tubs. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Kitchen trends at Las Vegas Winter Market
Las Vegas Winter Market displayed kitchen trends that mirror common dining accessories at Strip eateries. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Emerging trends in gifts at Las Vegas Market
Julie Smith Vincenti, curator for the First Look showroom tour on gifts and lifestyle, talks about the emerging trends in those categories for this season. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Las Vegas house prices are rising
Southern Nevada home prices were up 12 percent year-over-year in November.
Caesars Republic Scottsdale
Caesars Entertainment Corp. is building its first non-gaming hotel in the United States in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Caesars Entertainment Corp.)
Interior designer Mikel Welch talks about trends for Las Vegas Market
Interior designer Mikel Welch, who also is the on-camera designer for TLC’s Trading Spaces, discusses the trends he sees for the 2019 Las Vegas Winter Market. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
SHOT Show 2019: MEGGITT Virtual Training
MEGGIT showcases its virtual training system at SHOT Show 2019 in Las Vegas.
MGM delivers 700 meals to TSA workers at McCarran
Chefs at Garde Manger at Mandalay Bay provided 700 meals to federal employees who are affected by the government shutdown. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
SHOT Show 2019: A "nonsemi-automatic” weapon
Brandon Dunham of Nevada-based Franklin Armory show off the company’s new rifle prototype it calls a “nonsemi-automatic” weapon. The gun does not use a gas system to fire.
Las Vegas-based concrete repair company knows how to beat the heat
ART Concrete Solutions, a Las Vegas concrete-repair firm, addresses the challenges of construction in the extreme heat and sun of Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas based company brings color to concrete in the desert heat
Semco Modern Seamless Surface, a Las Vegas surface engineering company, knows how to put color in concrete construction in the Vegas heat. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Fun photo booth at World of Concrete
World of Concrete show at the Las Vegas Convention Center sponsored by DeWalt gives conventioneers a chance for photos with giant tools. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
SHOT Show 2019: Laserstar Technologies
Laerstar Technologies showed off their laser engraving machines, that can be used to personalize anything from guns and knives, to medical tools and household items. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
World of Concrete Show has big equipment on display
World of Concrete Show has big equipment on display at the Las Vegas Convention Center including an impact crusher, concrete pump and a self-erecting portable concrete batch plant. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Shot Show 2019: Kalashnikov USA shows off new products
Jonathan Mossberg of Kalashnikov USA talks about new products on display at Shot Show 2019 in Las Vegas.
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing