Girls just wanna have fun. Indeed, long before Cyndi Lauper’s female anthem became a Billboard hit in the ‘80s, a saleswoman named Brownie Wise seemed to know this, and devised a winning formula utilizing female camaraderie as a means to making serious cash.
Back in 1946, Wise saw the potential in a new product, airtight plastic containers called Tupperware, and devised a marketing strategy to sell the wares at home parties. Her early “social networking” became a hit, quickly surpassing the in-store sales, and eventually helped make Tupperware a household name.
More than half a century later, the products are still very much in demand and the social-event-turned-sales-presentation lives on. Whether full or part time, some local women like her are finding a sustainable amount of income hosting in-home parties.
Just ask Leslie Pauline, who has spent more than a decade as a Tupperware consultant.
“We’re the originator of the in-home parties,” the Turnersville resident says. “And we’re going strong.” Pauline regularly hosts an average of five Tupperware parties a week, where a host invites friends and family to their home for Pauline’s presentation-based sales pitch in exchange for free gifts or incentives based on sales at the party.
“Today’s woman wants the best of both worlds,” says Pauline. “I meet girls who are 18 and starting hope chests, as well as 85-year-olds who can still remember their first Tupperware party.”
Camden County resident Merry Murphy, 32, wanted to enjoy spending more time with her two young children but was feeling the tightened belt that single-income families can experience, particularly in an economic downturn.
The stay-at-home mom was invited to a home demonstration for Premier Designs jewelry and enjoyed the high-quality products. But shilling shiny baubles to family, friends and, in some cases, strangers? “Not for me,” she quips of her first thoughts on the home sales business. “But once they told me how much money I could make, it was a no brainer. I can pay bills with it now. It’s full-time money with part-time hours.” Murphy says she works 10-16 hours a week and currently averages about $2,500 per month.
The direct sales model continues to be an ever-growing trend since the explosion of in-home parties a decade ago. Echoing Mad Money TV host Jim Cramer, this kind of marketing is going “great guns” around the world. That financial potential is what attracted Marlton’s Pam Burns. The 44-year-old customer service rep took on a second job roughly a year ago as a part-time consultant for Tennessee-based company Thirty-One. The product line includes women’s purses, totes and personal organizers. Burns says sales are soaring and she is working at making it her sole source of income.
It all started for her after attending a party back in January, which led to Burns hosting a party of her own. “It was inexpensive to get started and I saw the potential right away,” she says, noting the $99 startup cost was well worth the return on her investment. Her income potential is determined by how many parties she books each month. What may be just a hobby for some has transformed into a serious business venture to Burns.
Financial experts may debate whether direct selling is a recession-proof business, but they cannot argue the results it has produced for scores of women across the country. Those able to thrive in the industry are eager to share their success stories.
“It has absolutely changed my life,” says Nancy Burke. The Washington Township mom started selling food and drink products for Tastefully Simple nearly eight years ago after her two sons were diagnosed with autism. Previously employed as a paralegal for 27 years, Burke needed to work from home so she could better care for her sons during the day. Seven years later, Burke says she is earning what equates to a full-time paralegal salary, working on average five or six days a month. And, in addition to the monetary rewards, she found an unexpected surprise: new friends. “I didn’t anticipate the social aspect,” she says.
“It definitely has the potential to become full-time income if you are willing to put the effort into it and create a team of people under you,” Burns says, adding that a simple network of family and friends can help you expand rapidly. That means more parties and, ultimately, more money. “And it’s a lot of fun,” she says. “It’s a great girls’ night out.”
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 10 (January, 2012).
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