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Direct selling options can lead to lucrative operations

For many women, Avon and Tupperware are synonymous with direct sales and home parties. Today, 200 companies are members of the Direct Selling Association (DSA), which is the national trade association of the leading firms that manufacture and distribute goods and services sold directly to consumers.

According to DSA statistics, sales in the U.S. have more than doubled in the last decade to more than $30 billion, and are now more than $100 billion worldwide. More than 13.6 million people participated in direct selling in 2004 in the United States alone, and 75% of those working in direct sales are women. Many people start part-time, and later leave their other careers when direct selling becomes more lucrative.

Prior to becoming a consultant for Southern Living at HOME, Debbie Ferrill of Hattiesburg had never been to a party, let alone seen the merchandise up close. “I saw a catalog in the teacher’s lounge at school and fell in love with the products. I decided to host a party so I could get some items free. In working with the consultant, I decided I’d be better off to become a consultant myself.” That was five years ago, and her first party was her own launch party. Now a director for the company, Ferrill has been tops in sales and recruiting in her group.
Southern Living at HOME (www.southernlivingathome.com) is an easy business to get into, explained Ferrill. “For $199, a new consultant can get $500 in product, catalogs, order forms and everything she’ll need to begin her business. A consultant makes 25% profit on everything she sells, plus she can earn royalties on consultants she signs. Business credits earned from sales can be used on additional catalogs and supplies as needed. Our company’s ‘Spirit of Generosity’ is a key element of our founder Dianne Mooney’s vision to empower and enrich the lives of American women. Her vision, our brand and professional approach to direct sales management combined with a commitment to excellence are the ingredients that made Southern Living At HOME a most successful party plan start-up.”

A full-time teacher with the Lamar County School District, Ferrill said she loves the friendships she’s made in the business. “I’ve met some of my best friends through Southern Living at HOME. I meet people every week that I may have never met otherwise. I also love the flexibility the job offers, as well as the products and vacations.”

Ferrill has earned six all-expense paid vacations for she and her husband courtesy of Southern Living at HOME since joining in 2002, and is working on a trip to Cancun this summer. “My son played football at Mississippi State, and thanks to Southern Living at HOME, we never missed a game. That meant a lot of travel expenses over the years, but we were able to do it because of this business.”

So impressed with her mother’s success in the business, Ferrill’s daughter, Jennifer, became a consultant in 2006. Jennifer is a project control analyst with a major construction company, but enjoys the fact that Southern Living at HOME allows her to be around other women after working primarily with men all day.

Into business

Danielle Archer first began her career with Weekenders USA in 1997 and became a manager in just over one year. A corrections officer with the California State Department of Corrections, Archer went to a Weekenders party at a neighbor’s house. “I wasn’t looking for something else to do, but after the party, I spoke with the consultant, and she shared the company’s marketing plan with me. I’m a numbers person, and I have to admit, I fell in love with the plan before I fell in love with the clothes. I’ve just never been much of a shopper when it came to clothes.”

Weekender USA (www.weekendersusa.com) was founded in 1987. The product line includes women’s clothing made of blended knits, sized from extra small to XXL and designed for maximum mix and match versatility. The line consists of skirts, dresses, shorts, slacks, tops and jackets in ingenious designs that, by dressing up or dressing down, can express a woman’s personality and lifestyle be it casual, professional or dressy.

After several moves to different places, Archer found herself living in Mississippi. “Because I was going through a lot of personal issues, I decided to resign from Weekenders in January 2004 and move on. I won’t say that this was the worst decision of my life, but it definitely wasn’t one of the better decisions that I’d made over the years.”

After being in the insurance business for a year, she decided that it was time to give Weekenders another try. “I realized that sitting in a cubicle for eight hours a day just wasn’t for me.”

So with full support from her husband and the encouragement of a close friend, she rejoined Weekenders in August 2005. “I found myself walking through the ‘fear of failure’ and into what I call my ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ I’ve enjoyed great success since my return.” Archer’s success has been quite impressive: number one in sales and sponsorship for spring/summer 2006 and becoming a sales manager again December 2006.

“I realized that Weekenders is my ‘light’ because Weekenders gives me the opportunity to live my dreams. I don’t have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck and never have to struggle financially again. But most importantly, Weekenders gives me the opportunity to do something for my children that wasn’t done for me…and that is truly to model success. Weekenders continues to change my life, and I will forever remember Friday, January 12, 2006. when I received surprise recognition with an all-expense paid trip for two to Cancun. I have never felt so honored, so appreciated and so respected.”

Icing on the cake

A love of photography and scrap booking led Madison resident Lisa Sandefur to become a consultant for Creative Memories (www.creativememories.com). The company offers researched information, hands-on workshops and tested products for organizing and presenting photos, memorabilia and stories in photo-safe albums.

Sandefur began scrap booking around 1997, and became a consultant for Creative Memories in 1999. “I’ve met some of my best friends through this business. It has brought so many people together, and now they’re friends, too. But what I love the most is the fact that I’m working to preserve our family’s history. My son, who is now in the sixth grade, had to do a project on the 100th day of his second-grade year. They had to write what they’d be doing when they turned 100. He wrote that he’d be looking at albums, showing his grandchildren what life was like when he was a child. That really hit home with me. Scrap booking for children is a great way to increase self-esteem. It focuses on the positives in their lives.”

Making extra money has just been icing on the cake for Sandefur, who really has a passion for what she does. “The extra income I’ve earned has allowed us to take more family vacations and do the things we want to do.” She conducts regular classes and workshops on how to organize and store photos, how to crop, preserving photos and journaling. “It’s important to write down the facts, and to include all of the important memorabilia.”

Sandefur also coordinates weekend scrapping retreats at local camps. “It’s a time where women can get away from the laundry and the dishes in the sink and focus on scrap booking. It’s better than therapy!”

She also does mother/daughter crops and kids scrap booking camps.

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