With Hanukkah rapidly approaching, I’m already deep into list-making mode in my attempt to come up with good gifts for the various people in my life. And though I’m not big into social media, it seems like every time I sign on, there’s a message from someone I know encouraging people like me to support other moms in their business ventures rather than give money to major retailers.
In fact, I have several mom friends who sell different product lines, from face cream to jewelry to fancy cooking tools. Most of them do it to earn a little extra income for their families while they raise their kids, which I totally respect. Although I know some people get a little miffed when their friends ask them to buy their products, I’ve never felt pressured by my friends to purchase things I didn’t want. And since this is a time of year when I need to shop anyway, I really would like to support my friends’ businesses as much as I can.
The problem, however, is that the stuff they sell tends to be expensive—as in, way more expensive than similar products I’d normally find at a major store. And I’m torn, because as much as I do want to support my friends, I can’t justify spending $60 for a small bottle of hand cream or $90 for a miniscule tub of face lotion. I can’t just snap my fingers and drop $25 for a pair of skimpy leggings knowing I pay $8 or less at Target or Old Navy. I work hard for the money I earn, and I have a difficult time supporting these businesses when the products are so pricey and I don’t feel like I’m getting a lot of bang for my buck.
It also makes me wonder about these various sales gigs. My friends who take on this extra work in the midst of raising children (a full-time job itself) know how much the extra income helps their families. But many of us who’d be buying these products—myself included—are also on a budget and in a similar boat. Why, in that case, aren’t there more affordable choices out there?
I asked a couple of friends about this, and they had different answers. One admitted that while the items she sells are a bit on the pricey side, she believes in the products and is actually passionate about selling them. Another friend told me she tried looking into more budget-friendly sales opportunities but failed to find anything that seemed like a good fit.
And all of that makes sense. I get that a person isn’t going to decide to sell nail polish over cooking products if she has no interest in it just because the product line is cheaper. And I also get that there’s the “you get what you pay for” element at play. Some of these products may be expensive, but perhaps they come with rave reviews and solid guarantees to back them up.
And also, having perused my friends’ various offerings, I’ll also throw in a little disclaimer that it’s not always the case that a particular brand is more expensive than its mass-produced counterpart. One of my friends who does the part-time sales thing has a catalog with $20 items and $200 items, and she never pushes one end of the spectrum over the other. But I have found that generally speaking, sticking to the lower end of the spectrum doesn’t get you very far when you’re trying to buy a decent gift for a family member.
So I’m back to the question: If these sales gigs—which, let’s face it, are often targeted toward stay-at-home parents—are at least partially designed to help folks on a budget bring home a little extra cash, why aren’t they priced more reasonably?
I want to support my friends in their business endeavors—I really do. But right now, the numbers just don’t add up.