Review of LulaRich Directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason Rating *****
This four-part documentary series covers the rise and fall of LuLaRoe, a multi-level marketing company that mainly catered to white working moms. Part one covers the backgrounds of company founders DeAnne and Mark Stidham. Interspersed throughout the series are interviews with past and current employees, consultants, and legal experts. The term consultant refers to women whose primary source of income came from recruiting other consultants.
From the first glimmer of inspiration from DeAnne, there is a sense that her idea for colorful maxi dresses and leggings had potential. She had a unique concept. But rather than focus on the product and the brand, she chose to grow her company by enlisting DeAnne clones. The resulting business turned into a very successful pyramid scheme.
DeAnne had great success selling her product directly to consumers through one on one interactions. At that point, she could have turned her company into a brand as relevant as Spandex or any other unique clothing company. Instead, she tried to duplicate her success by enlisting other women to do direct selling. In addition to earning income from the sales of LulaRoe clothing, women who signed up early on earned even more money in bonuses and commissions from women they recruited.
As the company expanded, thanks to social media platforms like Facebook live and Instagram, problems arose. It’s one thing when one person uses Facebook live to have pop-up sales events. It’s another thing when thousands of other women try to duplicate that success. Women who came in late to the process had to invest ten thousand dollars and up for inventory. They couldn’t order what they wanted. They had to sell what was shipped to them, which may not have been something they could sell. The quality of the product suffered. Design patterns passed off as LuLaRoe originals used patterns taken from other designers. Complaints grew.
At this point, the mostly family-run business let greed and self-importance interfere with their original intent, which was to empower women. Rather than admitting their mistakes, they accused others for their problems. They forced their religious viewpoints and values on their workforce. They tried to silence dissenters and voices of opposition. The result was a landslide of lawsuits and lost momentum.
This isn’t a story about a scam. LuLaRoe still has a unique product that has an audience. This story has more to do with what can happen when ambition gets in the way of ethics.
Catch this series on Amazon Prime.