I recently read a post right here on Kveller about why one particular author is so against joining any sort of direct selling company. Her arguments inspired me to write the other side of the coin—why I do want to sell stuff to my friends.
I didn’t dream of being a skincare peddler. Heck, I wasn’t even a skincare junkie before I discovered my direct sales company of choosing. As an idealistic teenager, a focused college student, and a workaholic 20-something, I dreamed of and worked toward changing the world in whatever small way I could. I spent my time volunteering in my community and worked extremely hard to forge a successful career path in the non-profit world. It was a path I didn’t see myself deviating from ever, even after my first daughter and then my second daughter was born.
I was determined to have it all—a successful career, happy family, and the elusive work/life balance. Then my third daughter was born and I started questioning things. Was my 1.5-hour commute each way worth the time away from my kids? Was it really worth funneling the entirety of the salary I was earning at a job I loved into our daycare costs? Was this really the work/life balance I’d been dreaming of?
These were the questions circulating my mind as I prepared to go back to my dream job after my maternity leave was set to end in a few weeks. And these were the questions circling my head when a friend asked if I’d heard of a particular direct sales company her friend was already involved in. I was skeptical and pretty against it before I had even heard more, but out of respect for my friend, I took the time to hear what this lady had to say. And everything I heard only made me more interested.
So I took a chance and joined. On top of having a newborn baby, returning to a very demanding full-time job, commuting, caring for my other two children (who were 4 and 2 at the time), sharing responsibility for my home with my husband, and trying to take care of myself, I took a chance and made the tough but important decision to do something I’d never thought I’d do—become a stay-at-home mom.
Yes, I love to work. Yes, I attended a prestigious college (and spent most of my 20s paying off my loans). Yes, I had a promising and growing career that I worked my ass off to achieve. Yes, I thought I had it all figured out. And then I didn’t. Things change. Life changes.
And so, after a lot of deliberation, I changed too. My direct selling job—this thing where I sell stuff to my friends—has become an important source of income for my family. But more than that, it has become an important part of me. It allows me to “have it all” in my own way. My “stuff” of choice is skincare, and you know what? We all have skin. We are all aging or have something we want to address or change. So I choose to sell something I think my network would like and could use.
I don’t pester my friends about it. I tell them about it, and they can choose to tell me yes or no. It’s not an affront to our friendship, nor is it an affront to women or working women or to the traditional workplace. I respect my friends enough to ask without pestering, and they respect me enough to say they aren’t interested or to give it a shot.
By choosing this particular career path, that of simultaneously being a stay-at-home mom and a direct sales professional, I’m not setting feminism or “women in the workplace” back by the allure of being a stay-at-home mom who also sells stuff. Because that’s not the way I see it. I’m an entrepreneur, a multi-tasker, and a small business owner. I use my brain every day to analyze facts and figures, to develop sales strategies, and to move my business forward. I find it incredibly challenging, fulfilling, and stimulating, and I work hard to achieve success.
While some may dream of continuing to grow their careers, there are others who dream of having an alternative, and, before this boom in direct sales companies, may not have had an avenue to get there. Why does every argument have to stigmatize the choices we all make, or separate us with a line in the sand? Why do we, as women, have to cut each other down or criticize our choices? Whether we choose to work or we choose to stay home, or whether either of those are even choices at all, can’t we be happy for each other and the paths we are each on?
Personally, by leaving my traditional job and being home with my kids while still maintaining a level of professional engagement, I am a better mother. I’m the mother I dreamed of being and longed to be when I was working in my full-time job.
Do I ask my friends if they want to join me in selling this stuff? Yes, I do. Do I see it as an opportunity for them to determine their own destiny? Yes, I do. But am I offended if they say no? I’m not. Do I prejudge them about whether they’d want to join me in selling based on the number of degrees they have or the caliber of their profession? No, I don’t. I don’t judge them, and I don’t expect them to judge me. Because we are friends.
You don’t have to buy my stuff. You don’t have to sell it either. And if you’re not interested, just say “no thank you,” scroll past my posts on social media, and be my friend regardless of what choices I’ve made or have introduced to you. Because that’s what being a good friend is. And that’s all I ask.