LuLaRoe cost some women their homes, vehicles, financial savings, weddings

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In 2015, Roberta Blevins was a busy hairdresser, touring between San Diego and Los Angeles for work – and struggling to find stability between her career and co-parenting a four- and nine-year-old.

Then she heard about LuLaRoe through a Facebook mom group. The California-based clothing company – known for its leggings and brightly patterned clothing – has provided gross sales consultants with a method to “earn full-time income for part-time work” through the consolation of their personal homes.

For Blevins, it seemed like a dream come true.
“I could sell leggings,” recalls Blevins, now 40. “It’s really easy. Everyone wears them.

“What I know now is that it was a scam,” she advised the Post.

From 2014 to 2019, LuLaRoe leggings were ubiquitous on social media – slavishly peddled by women in search of the holy grail: setting their personal schedules and dealing from home, with the promise of a huge sum of money. This was a traditional multi-layered advertising setup – or, because the Washington State Attorney General’s office claimed in a 2019 swimsuit in opposition to the company, a “pyramid scheme.”

The founders of LulaRoe, DeAnne and Mark Stidham.
Amazon

This is now the subject of “LuLaRich», A docuseries in four parts broadcast on Amazon prime which gives an overview of the explosive progress of the model and how it led to fraud charges, lawsuits and, in the end, consultants dropping money, vehicles, homes and even their marriages .

Directors Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason also made “Fyre Fraud,” a Hulu documentary on the infamous 2017 musical competition, and say the topics are very common.

Both stories are full of “delusions of grandeur – and that kind of relentless entrepreneurship that’s being promoted from influencers to [strangers] on Facebook, ”Nason told the Post.

In September 2017, a little over a year after his signing, Blevins – which hosts the podcast “Life after MLM”(As in multi-level advertising programs) – had seen the sun. LuLaRoe was a pyramid scheme promoting empty boss goals. She gives up.

“There were red flags from the start,” Blevins said.

LuLaRoe was born from humble beginnings. Around 2012, DeAnn Stidham – who had previously hosted clothing events for retailers – began promoting homemade maxi skirts in the trunk of her car.

In 5 months, the vivacious Californian had moved 20,000 articles, she said in the docuseries. In 2013, DeAnn met a lady in Utah who mentioned that she could offload a bunch of skirts to her associates.

DeAnn called her husband, Mark. “[I] said, ‘What can I do to make it precious to her?’ She says in the docu series. His recommendation: “You present them to him or her … and she or he will earn double the money. [selling them to her friends].

“It was instant money and an instant opportunity,” she added.

This girl became the primary guide to gross sales for LuLaRoe, known as the Stidhams’ granddaughters, Lucy, Lola, and Monroe.

While old-school tiered ad makers like Tupperware or Amway have focused on women – typically stay-at-home moms – internet hosting events to push the product and recruit different women as crude sellers. below them, the latest counterparts such as the Rodan + Fields skincare line relies on social media. Even actress Ione Skye advertised on several levels just a few years ago, promoting Doterra essential oils with her singer husband Ben Lee and promote them on Instagram and YouTube.

Ashleigh Lautaha (here with the LuLaRoe clothes she bought) says in the documentary “LuLaRich” – about the business crash and fire – that she got so wrapped up in the model’s lore that this led to the collapse of her marriage.
Amazon
Seller LaShae Kimbroughgrew was disappointed with LuLaRoe.
Seller LaShae Kimbroughgrew was disappointed with LuLaRoe.
Amazon
Former saleswoman Roberta Blevins.
Former saleswoman Roberta Blevins.
Roberta Blevins

The consultants took to Facebook to promote the LuLaRoe leggings events and flaunt the monetary freedom, massive homes, and fancy vehicles offered by their new gig.

The message unfolded like wildfire. In 2016, LulaRoe had made more than $ 70 million.

It worked like this: once a lady’s application – or, usually, a husband and a team – was accepted, they paid the starting prices (up to $ 15,000) and started to jostle the clothes. Typically, they would mark leggings for up to $ 25, having bought pairs for $ 10.50 each wholesale.

When Blevins joined in February 2016, buying a preliminary fee of $ 9,000, there was a shortage of leggings – so she had to fork out extra money to buy them from different consultants.

At the time, budding consultants were ready to be approved within 90-100 days because the company did not have enough staff to meet the demand.
LaShae Kimbrough, 43, was part of the welcome team. She was collecting money from new consultants – which determined women to raise by whatever means necessary, including taking out loans, opening zero-interest bank cards, and even promoting their breast milk.

Kimbrough 43, informed The Post that his team was making as much as $ 1 million a day.

The consultants had been paid for recruiting new raw salespeople into their groups. They obtained a minimum of integration price paid by their proteges who, then, introduced people below them.

In docuseries, married couple Tiffany and Paul Ivanovsky mentioned that at one level they had 1,100 people on their crew and made between $ 22,000 and $ 42,000 per month as bonuses over the course of a year.

As the LuLaRoe gospel unfolded from coast to coast, massive society flew by the seat of its pants. The Stidhams, who have 14 youngsters between them, put their inexperienced offspring into government roles.

“Did any of them know how to run a business of this size? No, ”ex-worker Derryl Trujillo said in the film.

Blevins became skeptical when she began receiving mailings with broken leggings – as well as wet pairs that she described as smelling “of chlorine and death.” On Facebook, other customers posted about how their LuLaRoe clothes tore on the first garment.

Sources in “LuLaRich” say this was emblematic of more important points – like inexperienced management and too massive an increase too fast, which led to poor build quality.

LuLaRoe headquarters in Corona, Calif., December 9, 2017.
LuLaRoe headquarters in Corona, Calif., December 9, 2017.
Alamy

“It was like flying the plane while you were still building the plane. And you don’t even know how all the parts on the plane work. And you don’t even know how to fly the plane. You are not a pilot, ”said Sam Schultz, DeAnn’s nephew and former laborer. He was hired to organize cruises and corporate retreats where artists like Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson performed.

On a cruise for big sellers, Blevins complimented another guide on how well she looked in a swimsuit. “She said she had ‘weight loss surgery’ in Tijuana,” Blevins recalls. “She called a mentor leader who told me all about it.”

According to former guide Courtney Harwood who appears in “LulaRich,” DeAnn pressured top performing players to travel to Tijuana and have gastric bypass surgery performed by her personal physician.

For Blevins, who was suspicious of a tradition akin to non-secular fanaticism, this was all the more reason to defect. “I was like, ‘How can I get away from this conversation? Do you really think i need [the surgery]? ‘. This whole trip was very cult.

Kimbrough believes DeAnn fed off different women’s money, hard work – and their adulation. “[DeAnn] managed to come up with a recipe for people to crawl at his feet. I give them credit for it because it happened for a long time and they made a lot of money. “

Finally, there were more consultants than consumers. The market was too flooded to post income.

And lawsuits had started to pile up – several for copyright infringement, claiming LuLaRoe had stolen paintings to be printed on leggings. A 2017 class action lawsuit challenged the company’s return coverage, with customers alleging the leggings were of poor quality. The model was also sued by a former supplier for unpaid payments

As morale began to drop, the model conducted a survey where consultants could re-ship inventory for a refund of their wholesale prices. The change led to an exodus. “I believe LulaRoe paid over a hundred million refunds during that time,” Blevins said.

LulaRoe leggings.
LulaRoe leggings.
MediaNews Group via Getty Images
LulaRoe clothing.
LulaRoe clothing labels.
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

She added that the cancellation of that coverage at the end of 2017 led to her breaking level as she couldn’t deal with her team members saying they were going to lose their homes if they couldn’t get repayments.

In 2019, the Washington state attorney general filed a swimsuit against LuLaRoe, claiming it was a pyramid scheme that defrauded hundreds of people out of tens of millions of {dollars} . The case was settled in 2021, with the model paying $ 4.75 million.

When it was all mentioned and executed, Blevins shelled out over $ 78,000 for stocks and bought about $ 83,000 – gross income of $ 5,000. She earned around $ 65,000 in bonuses for signing up different women, something she now regrets. But she also took out a mortgage to buy the clothes and still has credit card debt.

Harwood, who was one of the many top consultants, had bought a brand new home and matched Chevy Tahoes for her and her husband – all to keep up appearances and look profitable on the LuLaRoe dining chain, and as she thought the money would keep rolling. When she left in 2018, she had to file a complaint, abandoning her home, her cars and even her marriage.

“I thought I was better than everyone else,” she says tearfully in the streak.
Consultant Ashleigh Lautaha, who has left the company, said in the document that she was so wrapped up in the LuLaRoe tradition that she only had time for family or work. Her marriage broke up.

“The company has grown bigger than [the Stidhams], and what they might be following, ”co-director Willoughby Nason said of the couple. “They put out fires left and right. “

But she also sees how determined women have been overtaken by the desire to flourish.
“There was a corrosive element of greed going over them.”


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