Friday, May 30, 2014

Things to Consider Before Becoming an Arbonne Consultant (Arbonne for Nerds)

*Even if you don't care about Arbonne, stick around to the end if you are a math or marketing nerd.  I find this stuff fascinating. 
**This is not meant to take anything away from anyone who has had a great experience and made a ton of money - it is just meant to be helpful information for people looking into the company!

My real life friend N recently became an Arbonne consultant to get the 35% discount for herself and friends/family, and is absolutely in love with the products.  Her success on the 28 day detox inspired our mutual friend E to try it (you can read about her experience here - new blogger alert!!), and all 3 of us have been gabbing about Arbonne ever since.  When I heard that N has lost around 20 pounds and her husband lost 25, I was instantly intrigued and basically went down an internet rabbit hole looking into it.  I thought anyone who might be interested in consulting for Arbonne would benefit from my research.

Basically, Arbonne is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company like Avon, Mary Kay, or Party-Lite.  I was a Party-Lite consultant in my early 20's (little known fact!), signing up just for the discounts and not so much to sell it, so I'm pretty familiar with the MLM construct.  You can go here and download Arbonne's "Success Plan" to learn how it works, but there are basically two requirements for a new Independent Consultant:

1) You must sell $1200 in your first year (which is actually the calendar month you start in and then 12 months after that) to keep your status as an Independent Consultant, and therefore keep your 35% discount.  Think long and hard about whether or not you really want/need/can afford $1200 in skincare, makeup, and health stuff before you sign up.  Ask yourself that question regardless of whether you are selling it or using the discount for yourself - you may not get that investment back.  UPDATE: If you don't sell $1200, the only penalty is that you would have to pay the $79 consultant fee again instead of the $20 annual renewal fee, so don't feel like you HAVE to hit this magical number or the Arbonne gods will strike you down. 

2) You must sell $150 every month in personal retail volume (PRV)(which does not necessarily equate to actual dollars sold/spent) to participate in management qualification programs and in the various bonus and override programs.  This is important for people who are consulting in order to start an actual business - even if you sign up 10 of your friends to consult your first month, if you don't sell $150 the next month, you don't make your 4% commission off the consultants you sponsor. 

If you hit your one year mark and still want to be a consultant, another rule applies:

3) You must pay an annual consultant fee (UPDATE - it's $20).  I don't know if this is the same as the initial $79 or if it's more or less.  I couldn't find this information anywhere on Arbonne's website, and I have been making poor N ask her sponsor a zillion questions so I didn't want to bother her again for this one. 

If you are okay with all of the above and are still interested, then there are a few more things you should probably be aware of.  If you are trying to sell Arbonne as a business, do your homework on MLM schemes in general and Arbonne's payouts in particular.  If you watch the Arbonne Opportunity video on YouTube, there is a disclaimer at the end that says only 2% of active consultants make it to Regional Vice President and 1% make it to National Vice President.  Manage your expectations accordingly.  I also thought this post makes some good points about market saturation and the availability of the product at a significant discount on ebay, and this is a really interesting read about greenwashing (the comments section is interesting too). 

I should probably stop right here and say that I read all of that (and so much more) and still signed up to be a consultant.  I just like to be an informed consumer.  I am not going to be selling it, I just want the discounts for myself and my friends and family (4 of us are doing the detox so this made it more affordable).  I will likely review some of the skincare products if I think they are especially noteworthy or if I just feel like it, because it's my blog and I'll review if I want to.  I will probably also do a post on my detox results (here) and my own personal opinions on detoxing in general (here) because I have a lot to say about it and god knows I have bored N and E enough with my thoughts. 

Okay, so if you made it this far and are still planning on signing up, here are some hot tips for placing your first few orders (and I think the math is SO INTERESTING). 

When you first sign up to be a consultant, you pay a $79 consulting fee.  You will then be shown some package options that look like this:

Hot tip #1: Sign up to become a consultant and fill out the agreement BEFORE you place your first order.  That way your consultant package counts towards your $1200 PRV and you are that much closer to fulfilling your end of the deal.

Hot tip #2:  Ignore all of the "this includes" stuff and just get what you want.  These are just suggestions and you can totally customize it to your needs based on whatever products you are interested in trying or want to sell.

Hot tip #3:  Ignore the % off retail stuff.  Those are just there to trick you into thinking that this is an extra special deal that is going to go away if you don't spend all of your money right this very second.  If you want your free product, you only need to spend $150 retail value (RV) before the free product up to $102 shows up as an option.  No need to buy any more in your first order, unless you want to.

Skeptical?  Let me prove it.

Take the "best deal" package up top.  You are able to get $750 worth of stuff for just $375.  Sounds great, right?  Sure, but it's just business as usual.  Do you know how you actually order it?  You add $500 RV worth of stuff to your cart, and since you get a 35% discount, it's $325.  Then you use one of your other perks - for each $250 RV you sell, you can buy $125 worth of stuff for only $25.  So by ordering $500 worth of stuff, you get to do the $125 for $25 twice, spending $50 for $250 more stuff.  That is how you get to the $750 worth of goodies for only $375.  This deal is something you can get at any time, all year long.

This is what it looks like on the screen, if the math is confusing you:

So I got $510 worth of stuff for $331.50, then $250 more of stuff for $50, and it counted for $510 towards my $1200.  Note that shipping and tax were crazy - it added about 15% to my order. 

In addition to the "$250 order gets you $125 for $25" deal, there are a few other perks you should be aware of when placing your first order.  All the perks are listed here, but for my next tip I want to focus on the "Right Start Value Pack" or RSVP. 

Hot tip #4: The RSVP is a great deal for your sponsor and upline manager, not so much for you.  If you sign up, your sponsor gets a $50 bonus and the upline manager gets $25.  Do you know where this bonus money comes from?  You.  How?  When signing up for the RSVP, you get an RE9 skincare kit and other goodies up to $700 value for $350, and you get $350 PRV for that.  Now look back at my example above where you can get $750 stuff for $375...that one is worth $500 PRV.  So instead of doing the RSVP you could just spend $25 more and get $50 more worth of product.  Or you could just NOT, seeing as how this deal is available to you all of the time, as part of business as usual.

I feel a little bad divulging this, since I'm guessing if it becomes widely known a lot of people are getting screwed out of their bonus.  So I will say that if you are totally confident you can hit your $1200 no problem and you want the RE9 anyway, go for it.  This tip is more for people like me who were really nervous about hitting the $1200 quota.  I love N dearly, but I don't want to give up $150 PRV ($150 that goes to my $1200 requirement) so she and whoever the "upline manager" is get a bonus.  I'll take her to lunch or something to make up for it, plus she gets 4% of my sales.  We are forever united by the bonds of being co-preggos, so I think she will forgive me. 

I don't really know how the RSVP2 works, but I assume it's similarly not worth it. 

Hot tip #5: Pay attention to all of those little deals that pop up at the bottom of your order screen. 

As you order, this little screen shows up at the bottom of your cart that shows what deals you qualify for.  I talked about the 250 RV special and the RSVP; there is also something called "Twice as Nice" that lets you pick from a small list of products (there were only 11 in mine, I got the eye cream) when you place your second order of more than $150, and there are a number of "Purchase with Purchase" items.  I haven't been able to test this theory, but I suspect the RE9 travel set is WAY BETTER than paying for the full size.  For every $250 purchase you are able to buy an 11 piece travel set for $50.  I don't know the product sizes to confirm, but considering that the full size set is $323 for 6 items, I'd think that 6 of the travel sets are way more product than the full price.  So my recommendation would be to get the little sets rather than wasting money on the RE9. 

Those are all of my tips for now, but I literally learned about Arbonne a week ago and have never attending a party or a gathering of consultants (nor do I intend to, ha). 

I am sorry if this was overly detailed, I am just FASCINATED by how this works.  Your consultant fee pays for the free product, and they make you feel like you have to buy or sell another $1200 of stuff.  They try to get everyone to buy a ton in the first 2 months while you are still excited about it, but short you on the PRV points through the RSVP 1 and 2 so you end up needed to buy more than $1200.  It's kind of genius, really.  I don't think Arbonne is a scam, but I think they jack up the prices on everything to make up for the high discounts (and then jack them up some more), and there is unfortunately some incentive for reps to not be 100% honest when signing people up so they make more money.  I hope you all do your homework and that my little list of tips helps!  Stay tuned for a totally honest look at Arbonne's detox program and skincare (I'm not doing the detox until July, so it will be a while). 

Have you tried or do you sell Arbonne?  What has your experience been like?  Any products you especially recommend?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Enabler Alert: Sephora Sun Safety and Summer Crushes Kits

So, I have a million other posts I want/need to do, not to mention that I do actually need more sunscreen right this second, but my mom got me a Sephora gift card for mother's day (weird that she buys ME stuff, right?) and Kelly pointed out that ebates is offering 15% cash back for Sephora (and Ulta!) and here I am, buying more Sephora kits.  I want you to join me so we can gab about it and because it benefits the Skin Cancer Foundation (they get $20 from each bag, I think).  If you are a VIB, you can get both kits today, otherwise you have to wait until tomorrow for the Sun Safety kit. 

First up is the Sun Safety kit ($32), which I reviewed last year. 

This Set Contains:
- 0.06 oz Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta® Daily Glow Moisture
- 0.5 oz Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense® Lotion
- 0.14 oz Too Faced® Chocolate Soleil Medium/Deep Matte Bronzer
- 0.3 oz Clarins UV Plus HP Multi-Purpose Broad Spectrum SPF 40 Sunscreen
- 0.33 oz Murad® Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15 PA++
- 0.5 oz Tarte™ Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Self Tanner
- 0.23 oz Stila Stay All Day® 10-in-1 HD Bronzing Beauty Balm Broad-Spectrum SPF 30
- Dr. Dennis Gross™ Alpha Beta® Glow Pad
- 0.15 oz bareMinerals READY Touch Up Veil Broad Spectrum SPF 15 in Translucent
- 1.69 oz St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse
- 0.5 oz Origins A Perfect World™ SPF 25 Age-Defense Moisturizer
- 1 oz Supergoop! Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil Broad Spectrum SPF 50
- 0.64 oz Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ For Face
- 0.5 oz Algenist Regenerative Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20
- 0.08 oz Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15
- 0.5 oz Ole Henriksen Protect the Truth SPF 50+ Broad Spectrum UV Protection
- Travel bag
The items in bold are repeats from last year, so if you are still working your way through last year's kit, I would say this is not for you.  But if you travel a lot and enjoy trying a ton of fancy shmancy sunscreens, go for it!  The Shiseido and Clarins are particularly nice.  I am pleased to see Algenist and Fresh in here, because I LOVE both items when sampling them in the past but wouldn't purchase them on my own due to the price.  I wish they would let us try a different bronzer, I have like 5 of those little Too Faced guys sitting around.  I don't really use bronzer much, I actually end up using it in my crease as an eyeshadow more than anything, but it would still be nice to try a new brand.  I feel the opposite about the St. Tropez though - I don't self tan, but loved the One Night Only so I wish they included that one again instead.  It is perfect for weddings or special occasions, it gives a really nice natural boost and doesn't make me feel orange or get all over clothes and sheets or do any of the other things that scare me away from self tanner.  Buf if you do self tan, St. Tropez is supposed to be one of the best. 
I also bought the Summer Crushes kit ($45).  
 This Set Contains:
- 0.5 oz Caudalie Divine Oil
- 0.84 oz Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse in Medium
- Mini tanning mitt
- 1.7 oz Bumble and bumble Surf Spray
- 0.13 oz Lavanila The Healthy Fragrance in Vanilla Coconut
- 1 oz Living Proof® Restore Mask Treatment
- 1 oz Shaveworks™ The Cool Fix™
- 0.1 oz Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Shea Butter & Vitamin E
- 0.33 oz Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++
- 0.33 oz Murad® Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 PA+++
- 1 oz DERMAdoctor® Shrinking Beauty™
- Travel bag

I am definitely more excited about this one than the Sun Safety kit, as there is a lot more variety.  This is perfect for people who like the concept of the Sun Safety but could not possibly use that much sunscreen.  The Caudalie Divine Oil works on face, body, and hair, so it would be great to travel with.  Even though I don't tan, I have heard a lot of good things about Vida Liberata so I'm probably actually going to try it.  Wish me luck.  I have also head a ton of great reviews of the Jack Black lip balm.  Does anyone know if it's Jack Black of Nacho Libre fame?  I keep forgetting to look it up.  If so, that's really bizarre. 

Annnnnnnnnnnnyway, I just wanted to give you the heads up if you haven't already heard, because sunscreen is IMPORTANT!