LuLaRoewas founded in 2013 by Mark and DeAnne Stidham, husband and wife. By 2017, the California-baseddirect marketing company had approximately 90,000 independent contractors selling their products.
They went from startup to over $1 billion in revenue in less than four years. And with that came a lot of challenges, growing pains, and learning.
I had the opportunity of interviewing various members of LuLaRoeto better understand:
And to be clear: I have no affiliation with LuLaRoe. I received no compensation for writing this article. I'm a writer, psychologist, entrepreneur, and reporter of entrepreneurship.
A Challenging Industry
LuLaRoe is one of many "direct selling" companies, wherein independent contractors become sellers of LuLaRoe'sbrand and products.
This industry has many pros and cons. A major con is that such companies can be viewed as pyramid schemes or "get-rich-quick" shams.
There is a lot of hype in this industry for multiple reasons. One reason is that, in all reality, some people do make tons of money. As an independent business owner, if a person has a platform or is good at selling, they can choose their own hours and make an incredible income.
However, this isn't always the case.
One of the initial challenges LuLaRoe faced during their explosive growth was that many people came in with the false pretense that it was going to be "easy."
Perhaps some of the independent business owners touted the ease with which they were making money by selling LuLaRoe, but LuLaRoe as a company cannot control that.
Therefore, many people became sellers during the extreme growth wave and were disappointedby the challenge of running a business and selling products.
Entrepreneurship is hard. Let's just say it.
Selling not only takes guts, but it requires a reason for selling. If you have a "why," you can do any "how," as the saying goes. But when you were led to believe you'd make tens of thousands of dollars without much work, you've been sold a lie.
There have been multiple lawsuits against LuLaRoedue to people being upset, believing they were going to get rich quick, and finding it wasn't that easy. TheStidhamsand their LuLaRoe team have had to weather extreme challenges and continue to do so, as theypush their mission forward.
And without question, LuLaRoe admits to having made plenty of mistakes. No business owner has ever not made lots of mistakes, especially in the midst of such growth.
There are many detractors who want to see LuLaRoe fail. This isn't surprising when something grows so fast and is so successful.
TheStidhams are deeply spiritual people who believe their company has a bigger "mission" than selling clothing. As their website states:
"Our Mission is to create freedom, serve others, and strengthen families through fashion. It's a community where lives are being improved through love, purpose, confidence, trust & growth."
They believe that LuLaRoe is simply a platform for helping people gain skills and abilities for self-reliance and personal freedom. They believe in human agency and have a desire to helppeople gain greater freedom, autonomy, and confidence.
In order for people to have more freedom, LuLaRoe wants their sellers to take more responsibility for themselves.
Being an entrepreneur and improving your life requires taking on greater responsibility. In the words of Strategic Coach founderDan Sullivan, "All progress starts by telling the truth."
LuLaRoe is simply a vehicle from their perspective: a vehicle for helping people take ownership and responsibility for their lives and a platform through which that can happen.
They want to do good in the world.
Whether it's an individual, a single mom trying to raise a family, a wife and mother supporting the family's income or a family working together full time, they genuinely want to offer an opportunity for people to improve their lives.
In every conversation I've had with any member of the LuLaRoe team, the conversations have centered around their mission, values, and spiritual beliefs.
How to Be "Successful"?
I asked various members of the team what they believed would make someone successful, whether that was a single mom trying to make ends meetor someone trying to make millions.
Here's what they told me:
Currently, there are approximately 25,000 independent business owners selling LuLaRoe products. From LuLaRoe's perspective, their mission is to help these 25,000 people improve themselves and create greater freedom in their lives.
Fundamentally, theLuLaRoe team sees the company as an education and personal empowerment platform more than anything else.
It will be interesting to watch as LuLaRoe continuesto weather future storms. The team is committed to their mission.
Entrepreneurship, especially during rapid growth, is an extreme, challenging, and rewarding journey.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
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