Avoid LuLaRoe: Six Reasons to LuLaNO

Written by Bridget Jack Jeffries

What’s that you say? You’re a stay-at-home mom with $6,000 to spare and no idea what to do with it? Stop right there! Before you even think about spending that money on a vacation, a charity, or legitimate business ownership, consider LuLaRoe, the latest MLM that’s taking the gullible proletariat by storm!

Or, you know, don’t. Here are 6 reasons why you should LuLaNO before you LuLaRoe:

1. LuLaRoe leggings are putting assets on display in all the wrong ways

Do you want your better side looking like this?

Okay, so most of us wouldn’t mind having butts like that. But that booty is 20 and attached to some good genes, so for 99% of us, not gonna happen.

The leggings, on the other hand, are LuLaRoe. For almost a year now, LLR has been under siege due to quality complaints surrounding its famous “buttery soft” leggings. These complaints state that the leggings:

Other prints are laughably bad or boast very unfortunate placing of patterns:


LLR claims a defect rate of < 1%, well below clothing industry standards. Yet many, many customers report that this has happened to large quantities of their leggings (if not all of them) — astronomical odds if the defect rate is really that low. The problem is bad enough that Mark Stidham, the CEO of LuLaRoe, has urged consultants to find creative ways to “sell [their] damaged items” rather than sending them back in to the company for a refund. If you’re a LuLaFanGirl in denial about the extent of the defective leggings problem, better watch out, the Karma bus is likely to go “BEEP BEEP” all over that!

Still thinking of selling LuLaRoe? That’s too bad, because . . .

2. LuLaRoe blames its consultants for the defective merchandise

Yup, you heard that right. In an e-mail to one disappointed customer, LLR maintained that consultants are expected to check their merchandise for holes and defects before selling, so all these blown-out butts are the consultants’ fault:


Never mind that some of these defects do not become apparent until after 1–2 wears (are consultants supposed to grow a spare of every body type imaginable and pre-wear them?). And consultants are expected to have hundreds of clothing articles in their inventory at any given time, minimum. Carefully inspecting hundreds of items of clothing every week is liable to be a full-time job in itself. Whatever happened to earning full-time pay on part-time hours?

Speaking of earnings . . .

3. LuLaRoe does not offer income disclosure to potential consultants

If you were going to franchise a McDonald’s restaurant, McDonald’s would have to provide you with hundreds of pages of analysis demonstrating what you can expect to be earning off your investment and why. LLR won’t even provide you with a 1-page statement of what the average consultant can expect to make.

Why? If this is such a lucrative “business opportunity” — if these women are earning full-time pay for part-time work like the company says — why not simply disclose that? It would be a simple matter to mandate that consultants report the figure they claimed on their IRS Schedule C along with estimating the hours they spend on work every week.


LLR did disclose bonus commissions paid out back in 2015. That number was a median $85.80 per consultant, with 78.43% of consultants being completely ineligible for bonus payments (meaning they received zero). Eligible consultants received a median of $397.69. You could earn more than that in a year donating plasma every other month.

These are only bonus payments, not earnings from sales, but LLR’s silence on what consultants make speaks volumes. While lots of women claim they are totes making bank on LuLaRoe, few are willing to back up their claims with hard data (like their IRS Schedule C). Blogger Kristi Trimmer posted her figures from her first month of selling LuLaRoe as well as some additional information about current her sales, and those numbers have revealed she’s making $6-$9 per hour for the time she’s putting in.

Using leaked figures, Business Insider recently reported that the average LLR consultant sold only $3,387 worth of LLR merchandise in February 2017. (Of course, they probably weren’t aware that this didn’t represent sales…. rather it represented how much consultants ORDERED from the company.) Even still, assuming that those clothes sold at twice the wholesale price (which is a generous assumption), those are gross profits (before all other business expenses) of a mere $1,693.50 per consultant — and that’s before tax, no benefits. If that still seems like the potential to be a lot, please consider that Business Insider also reported that 80% of consultants sold less than $5,000 (which included 10,834 consultants who sold nothing at all) and these consultants typically invested around $15,000 worth of inventory to turn a profit. $1,693.50 isn’t much when you’ve got $15,000 worth of inventory to move.

So, full-time pay? Full-time pay at just barely above minimum wage, maybe.

4. The cult-ure at LuLaRoe

I have a degree from Mormon-owned Brigham Young University. I also happen to be an evangelical Christian. So I’ve spent a goodly amount of my adult life worshiping with people who like to hunt out “cults,” all while befriending and sympathizing with people who don’t want their religion known as a “cult.” These days, “cult” may be the only four-letter word that I’m not comfortable using under any circumstances.

Except LuLaRoe is totally a cult.

Let’s compare some of the things we observe at LuLaRoe to “Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups” by Janja Lalich, PhD and Michael D. Langone, PhD:

CULTS: “Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.”

LULAROE: From the Policies & Procedures Handbook, “Speak well of the Company, other Independent Fashion Consultants and our competitors.” From CEO Mark Stidham, “[A]lways know that we are fierce defenders of the Culture of LuLaRoe. If you see something not in line with the culture, see it as your responsibility to report those things.” Or see the next entry . . .

CULTS: “The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.”

LULAROE:

CULTS: “The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group.”

LULAROE: Most of us would be pretty angry at The GAP if they sold us leggings that developed holes on the first day, then put forth a policy of refusing to exchange or refund them. We would consider that wildly unethical. But LLR tells us “Fashion Retailers are not obligated to honor a return or exchange” if an item has been “worn” (see above). The LLR CEO (as cited earlier) encouraged consultants to find “creative” ways of selling their damaged leggings. And here is one consultant’s “creative” solution to the problem:


5. The LuLaRoe market is rapidly becoming oversaturated

As I’ve explained elsewhere, MLMs fail in part because they oversaturate the market with competition and product. They do not care whether there are already 4 other sellers on your same street; if people want to sign up, they can sign up. We here at PinkTruth recently had a LLR consultant compare LLR to The GAP, so let’s run with that comparison.

I live in Mount Prospect, a northwest suburb of Chicago surrounded by others villages/townships. Each village or township usually has 50,000–100,000 people, so it’s a pretty populated place. How many GAP stores do you think there are within 5–10 miles of me? Answer: One. There is a whole one GAP store over in yonder Schaumburg, and it is a small mall location, not a giant stand-alone store. This longstanding, national clothing company thinks it can only sustain one store in my populous locale, and they sell to both men and women.

Now how many LLR consultants are in the same radius? Well, according to the LuLaRoe “retailer map” feature, there are 22!

I can’t think of any clothing stores with more than 1–2 locations within 5–10 miles of me, yet LLR thinks we need 22 of their women’s clothing “stores” around here.

Business Insider reports that LLR has exploded from 38,277 consultants in September 2016 to 77,491 consultants in February 2017, and if you think the consultants aren’t feeling it in their sales, guess again. So if you buy into LuLaRoe now hoping to make the same amounts of money as people who were doing it 1–3 years ago, come see me. I have some lovely oceanfront property in Utah to sell you.

6. It doesn’t look good for LuLaRoe

LuLaRoe has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau — and no one to blame for that but itself. It has a rating of 2.5 stars on GlassDoor as I write this. LuLaRoe is now fending off two class action lawsuits, one for improperly charging sales tax in states that don’t have it, and one for selling defective merchandise. It is also fending off a copyright lawsuit due to improper use of an artist’s design on one of their leggings. A fourth lawsuit has been filed by CMS, LuLaRoe’s credit/debit card processors, alleging breach of contract on LuLaRoe’s part.  LLR’s answer to the aforementioned and longstanding improper sales tax issue was Bless, a transaction system that requires consultants to have an iOS (iPhone or iPad). The 58.1% of smart phone users with non-iOS phones can go pound sand, apparently. The end result is that many consultants are still using Audrey and making improper sales tax charges because, when it comes to a decision between owning an iOS product and breaking the law, the choice is clear.

Conclusion

Do what you want with your hard-earned money, just make sure you LuLaNO.

Bridget Jack Jeffries is a human resources professional from Chicago. Her writing and interviews have appeared in The Washington Post, The Hill, and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. Follow her on Twitter.

12 Comments

  1. Joelyn

    I’ve noticed on Glassdoor, LuLaRose supporters have flooded the site with positive reviews. They won’t be able to do this indefinitely, of course. The truth usually comes out.

  2. Lizzie

    Buyers got sucked right into the cult too! Truth is the quality of the clothing never matched the prices. It’s always been overpriced cheap Chinese goods , always had sizing issues, always had predominately horrific prints, always had bad print placement on the garments, always had giant muumuu dresses buyers creatively knot and tie to make them not look so bad.

    For some reason it took the downward slide into shredding fabrics to make some draw the line at buying more of these products, and there is a stunning amount of pushback from many who continue to buy the clothing – even though they’ve experienced some of the same issues themselves or know others who have. There are still women spending hundreds of dollars a month even after their own leggings fell apart after one wear. Every day I see at least one post on Facebook groups asking if a particular print or a country of manufacture is “safe”. They want so much to believe that everything is going to be okay.

    I think many of these ladies are addicted to the “thrill of the hunt” and a false sense of belonging to a likeminded group. They adore and unquestioningly believe LLR’s faith-based BS and the outright lies about empowering women. They can’t see that the only thing this company is doing is enriching itself.

  3. Kelsey

    I’ve had a really bad experience with an LLR “online” hostess party. I was promised free items if I did it and I honestly didn’t seem how it would negatively affect my time so I agreed. Well, I invited most of my friends (I honestly didn’t invite my closest friends because I hate the idea of pimping my friends on Facebook like that), or the ones I knew liked LulaRoe, and posted pictures and videos. When it was time for the party, no one really showed up (it was Saturday at 3pm…which I insisted was a bad time because people are out and about on a Saturday!) and it was just a disaster. Beforehand, she told me to “pick out what I wanted to put on Wishlist” so I could get free items. Well I picked two items. After the party was over, I apologized for the low turnout because I honestly felt horrible about it. She said not to worry. So then I get hit with an invoice for the things I wishlisted, and mind you, their items are cheap, and she explained that it meant “sold” when I commented on the items. She did agree to give me the free items, but I could tell it was forcibly because her comment was “Well, you did what I asked, so you get them”. But it was a horrible experience because I felt like the directions weren’t clear. I’m done with LLR after that.

    1. pinkvictim

      A “wish list” is just that… a list of things you WISH for. It is NOT a list of items you have agreed to purchase. Did you pay for the items because you felt obligated to the sales rep?

  4. MLM Radar

    She’s delusional. And manipulative. Tell her that she misrepresented herself and hid important details from you. Tell her that you refuse to be manipulated any more. So you won’t be giving her money and she can keep her not-so-free gifts.

  5. I got sucked in too. Either I’m frumpy looking or things too clingy to show my worst areas, so I cover them with a sweater at their suggestion. I was lured in, also, by it supposing to be Christian based business. One size fits and others don’t. The tall and curvy same thing. I spent a lot of money on this stuff. I still have under the bottom areas starting to rip and fraying and cannot fix and they have no take backs. I should have known.

  6. Mrs Smith 3141592

    A little late to the party, but I happened to see this article today. The cult like mentality was so spotted on. I stayed at a hotel in Anaheim CA when LuLaRoe had its convention there. The consultants all dressed in a very similar fashion (long skirts, muted color top with large flower prints, many of them have bright shinny or busy patterned backpacks). They mostly looked like teens tried to dress like professionals; which seemed odd to me. I posted this “observation” in a FB group that talked about MLM and fake science stuff. I learned that they had crazy dress codes at the convention, like Men in tuxedos and women in LLR for gala night. How could you dress formal in LLR? I happened to eat lunch with my 10-year old daughter surrounding by LLR groups in a restaurant while in Anaheim. My daughter commend that a lot of them acted like “plastic” from the movie Mean Girls. lol. It was a surreal day.

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