Side Hustles and Single Motherhood: A Rant on MLMs

Philosophy: it takes work. If anyone tells you otherwise, it’s a lie.

I tried the AVON thing and quit before I started. Maybe it wasn’t the right place, time, products…whatever, but I tagged myself a failure at sales.

From the time I was born, my grandma had an AVON lady. She overcharged her every two weeks and she was pushy. So, it came as no surprise that when I thought of Tupperware, Mary Kay…you name it, I thought of red lipstick, a bad perm and a West Virginia drawl talking about Skin So Soft.

Then I found “that Owl thing”. I met my Team Manager at an in-home party (I truly enjoy those) my best friend was having. The same best friend that steals Fiestaware with me.

I got hooked on creating Living Lockets. If I had to guess, it’s because they tell a story, and you know what a sucker I am for storytelling. On an Aqua table cloth, all lined up like little Swarovski soldiers, were these beautiful glass lockets in every shape, size and metal color you could think of. In trays around them were itty-bitty hand-painted charms.

I picked my locket, I picked a ruby, amethyst and pearl; a birthstone for Jack (and me), Elise and my mom. A set of silver angel wings, the scales of justice, a gold compass. I wanted everything.

A few years and 10 lockets later, Katie, my Origami Owl girl, got a hold of me to offer me a discount and the chance to sell these with her.

The discount came with a huge credit toward jewelry and a link to what could be my own virtual storefront. She promised me I didn’t have to sell anything. Heck yeah, I wanted the discount. Hell no, I wasn’t selling a thing.

I knew it was multi-level marketing, i.e. She gets me, I get two, they get two and so forth to build the pyramid. It gets a bad rap. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not a scheme. It just wasn’t for me. Afterall, I didn’t have a perm and I just wanted the Harry Potter charms for Elise.

So, for $19, I got her (and me) $155 worth of Origami Owl jewelry. Win. I wore my new stuff to a wedding reception. Six people asked me about it. I realized I loved telling them about the different things they could make that would tell their story.

Let’s cut to the chase. I started handing out my link and some catalogs. I started playing around with social media posts and strategies. I started building a team because I knew some people who also loved Origami Owl and really wanted the jewelry credit and designer discount for themselves. I didn’t even mean to do it, but it happened.

And, once it did, I realized I still had the ability to set a goal and crush it. So, I set another. Then another. That turned into a pretty decent stream of steady income on the side.

Is there a catch? Absolutely. Are there lies? Everywhere.

Here they are:

The catch: you have to work. It’s not called a hustle for nothing. But you better believe if a company basically gives me a blank check and pen, I’m going to work it to my advantage every time.

This is only possible, though, if you get creative, keep learning, have some patience and are willing to come out of your shell and try something new. It also helps if you really love what you’re standing behind product-wise.

The lie: All you have to do is wear it, use it, eat it, drink it, take it, post it and you’ll sell it. Lie, lie, lie. If you ever heard that, believed it, tried it and failed, let me tell you something. So did I. It never works. Here’s why: that’s only a third of the process of being successful in this space.

Of COURSE you need to promote your products, but you also need to show the ways they fit into your life. You need to show how you’re working your business.

People want to know who you are too, so they can associate your thing with you as a person. That creates desire and desire creates people wanting to try your stuff.

Next comes loyalty, then they make that huge fearful leap to host a party (why it has to be fearful, I do not know) and from there, they may even want to join you. Fancy that. But, getting to that point takes time and it takes w o r k. If anyone tells you otherwise: it’s a lie.

Then you build.

The work is work, but the beauty of a side-hustle with Origami Owl or any other Direct Sales company is that you truly do name your hours. You run your business the way you want to run it. Because it is. Your business.

I “work” (which isn’t work because I love every aspect of this brand and industry dearly) at all hours right from my phone.

I send messages while I dry my hair. I look up sale prices at red lights. I schedule posts to my pages and groups while I feed Tyler.

Because of social media, in-home parties are rare and I can host those on a Friday night in my pajamas smelling like baby sweet potatoes and Elise’s slime.

And yes, I make real money. I also earn credit toward jewelry, which is a perk in itself. But, I get real money, to deposit in my account, every single Friday.

How much? That all depends on hard I work the week before. Sometimes it’s a little. Sometimes it makes a car payment and buys groceries. With three little kids and a full-time job that pays the bills, but just barely sometimes, what a blessing it is to have a gig I can work whenever and wherever I want.

Besides being tempted by earning some extra money here and there without picking up a minimum-wage part-time job that calls for nights out and a sitter, the thrill of a challenge hooked me.

There are ranks and I always thought climbing them was some impossible, lofty goal that suckered people into selling without ever rewarding them with a promotion. I was wrong. It’s more than possible to reach the levels and earn even more.

That challenge is addicting. For me, anyway. There are worse things to be addicted to. That’s a discussion for a different day.

The rant? It makes me mad when people don’t give things a fair shake. It makes me wonder how anyone gets anywhere in life when they buy into a promise that seems to good to be true, then give up when it is without a little sweat first. It makes me mad that they let themselves be spoiled on the idea forever because they’re scared of trying something.

If this was easy, everyone would do it. It seems like everyone has tried it and not many have truly succeeded, whatever success is anyway.

I’ll settle for meeting and exceeding my goals. It’s learning something new that I can implement to get ahead of the pack. It’s getting to use creativity to create a story with some charms.

If you’re up for following me on this journey as a single mom with a side hustle to see where I end up, you can follow me at

https://www.facebook.com/yourstorylocket/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/496089997873667/?ref=share

I continue to carve my niche, even though it’s winding. That’s okay. Carve it, I will. Who’s with me?

Full-Tilt Boy: The Wreckage of Raising Sons

Philosophy: When snips and snails and puppy dog tails turn into a one-man wrecking crew, all you can do is hold your breath and batten down the hatches.

Part of being an only-child-single-boy-mom is learning wreckage.

I had no brothers (or sisters), so not only do I notunderstand sibling rivalry, I had to learn to mother boys. This was tough forme.

Growing up, I was shy, quiet and into books. Sports didn’t interest me until I ran track and cross country much later, and even then, Ichose the most solitary form of athletics there is.

I still hate dirt. Chaos, noise and disorganization drove me crazy. Then along came Jack.

Jack spent 9 days in the NICU when he was born. Meconium,intubation, seizures and the night he was born, I checked myself out of thematernity ward to follow my 5-pound preemie on his first car ride; in anambulance.

He pulled through. Other than following his own growth-curve, he can see, speak and walk on his own (we weren’t so sure thatwould happen) and he’s all boy.

He runs everywhere. He’s fascinated with wheels, motors and guns. He’s loud, oh so very loud. While he has an odd propensity for cleaning things, he’s almost always covered in something sticky and dirty himself, though.

Tyler is laid back. More so than Jack at three months old, but his appetite is more like that of a full-grown man. Jack can’t wait for the day Tyler can walk and talk and he can have a partner in crime. I can wait. I certainly can wait.

Most of the time, I wonder where Elise is in the house. Since she needs me less and less, she disappears for long stretches and plays in her room or reads and I actually have to go looking for her.

That is not the case with boys. I always know exactly where Jack is. If he’s not following at my heels asking questions, I just have to listen to where the noise is coming from.

The big booms that make me think the second floor is caving in is him rearranging his closet. The slamming from the kitchen means it’s snack time. The bing-bing-bing that drives me mad means he left the refrigerator open. Again. Yelling means he’s trying to get into Elise’s room and Lord help me, when I hear the toilet flush, I still hope against hope nothing went down that wasn’t supposed to.

It’s when there’s silence that I go looking. In the past, silence led me to open paint cans, a couch full of Fruity Pebbles, Sharpie down the walls and sponges in the toilet. Silence is not golden. Silence means Trouble.

If silence doesn’t mean trouble, it means Jack is with his dad. Even with Tyler’s baby noises, the house is so quiet when the kids leave. There are times, I admit, when things are extra wild, that I count the hours in my head until I can get a break from the one-woman show that is my life.

I can’t wait for the plate-spinning act to be over. But the minute they leave, the silence almost eats me alive and I miss them down to my bones. I have Tyler. He occupies me, but as any parent of more than one kid knows, you love them equally and you love them equally for different reasons, in different ways. None of the three can fill the gaps of the others when they’re not there.

When the noise gets to me now, I think about the silence that follows and it stops bothering me. Soon enough the noise won’t be strewn toys and slamming cupboards, it’ll be the sound of crashing cars and breaking hearts and packing for college.

It’ll be wreckage of a different kind; a more mature kind and that kind hits harder and hurts more. That kind is harder to clean up and I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for it.

That leaves me in the here and now with all the mud and moonbeams. It leaves me in the midst of ramshackle forts and piles of laundry; a funnel cloud of full-decibel noise that never stops.

It’s all part of being a boy mom and if it means I get to ride the river with these two, I’ll gladly float with all the wreckage.

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