Back when I was getting married in 2016, all my friends were obsessed with LuLaRoe Leggings. It was the hot trending item of the year, and frankly, I knew many women selling them. It seemed you couldn’t get on Facebook without someone you knew trying to get you to buy these buttery leggings or, worse, get you to join the company as a rep. Amazon Prime Studios just released a 4 part docuseries on the MLM company, LuLaRoe, called LuLaRich. The directors of the series are the same ones who give us all the details on the notorious Frye Festival. So it seems only fitting that they tell this tale of an MLM that had a cult-like following and ruined families’ lives.
What I love most about this series is that the actual owners and creators of LuLaRoe were bold enough to come on here trying to defend themselves. After series like Tiger King, you would think that businesses might be a little wary of any docuseries coming to get the “full story.” Yet, DeAnne and Mark Stidham sat down and gave their whole story in one sitting, then refused to follow up. DeAnne’s story starts like every other enterprising single mom selling maxi skirts out of her car. She believes that she is genuinely giving mothers and women out there the ability to take care of themselves and get some extra money. While this statement seems harmless now, what DeAnne and Mark created over the next few years was a cult-like pyramid scheme that conned mothers and families to give up everything for LuLaRoe.
The series covers multiple women who were “representatives.” One woman originally started in their customer service department making “millions for LuLaRoe in recruiting costs a day” then turned into a selling machine as a rep. These women got introduced to the leggings and told they could make money by selling them. The reality is that most of their paychecks were coming from recruitment and these checks were HUGE. Multiple women were making six figures a month in bonuses and product cost. The catch? The women had to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 upfront in merchandise. When things started speeding up for them, they had waitlists growing, and women willing to sell their breast milk to afford the merchandise costs.
It’s at this point where you see DeAnne and Mark’s true side. We find out that everyone in their family was in some significant corporate role within the company. Did any of them have experience? NOPE! The focus was to be fun and get people excited about the brand. They had multiple events where celebrities like Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry showed up. The reps were told to market themselves as “Well if I can do it, you can do it too.” The reality is they got in early to the pyramid scheme, and now the market was oversaturated with reps. Women were told to treat themselves and dress successfully. The goal was to “retire your husband so he didn’t have to work.” Men started jumping on the LuLaRoe train when the checks started rolling in. This caused many women to live outside their means or live lavishly till the money stopped rolling in. There were constant pushes to look and dress a certain way. DeAnne was even offering reps trips to Tijuana for gastric sleeve surgery. It was at a conference when Mark started spouting out about the Book of Mormon that a rep realized that she’s in a cult, and it’s too late. They’ve pushed all these families to be dependent on LuLaRoe.
Due to LuLaRoe’s enormous popularity, the company ended up having the hugest growth in two years. But the growth eventually caught up with them and not in a good way. When they outgrew their warehouse, they left thousands of pounds of the product outside in the California sun. This caused some representatives to receive clothes that were completely wet, stinky and discolored from the sun. In the beginning, LuLaRoe was willing to help their reps out and even refunded them. But then, they stopped caring, and the trouble began. Leggings were no longer the quality that they were before. Some customers were experiencing rips and holes within an hour of wear. Many reps were left in massive debt since DeAnne kept telling them to keep purchasing so your “stock is fresh.” Designers were stealing other artists’ work to put on the leggings and leggings where the print was frankly NSFW or outside. The most significant change was that bonus checks changed from how much inventory was bought to how much was sold. This cut most reps’ checks in half, and they started the idea that they were a pyramid scheme.
LuLaRoe was playing with fire. They were caught in multiple office tapings and emails stating they were trying to get the business away from looking like a pyramid scheme. As the merchandise started to deteriorate, customers were angry, and reps were OUT money, the lawsuits started rolling in. It was then that LuLaRoe stated they would buy back any unused merchandise for a full refund. This caused what reps called the “Mass Exodus,” most were brilliant and sent everything back immediately. For most reps, though, they were left thousands of dollars in debt. Some of them have to claim bankruptcy. There was a class action lawsuit where the company was just slapped on the hand for acting like a pyramid scheme, yet they are still up and running. This was the part that was absolutely shocking to me. HOW ARE THERE STILL WOMEN WHO ARE REPS? While the company may not be at the same force that they were five-plus years ago, they have enough to keep HQ running and the name alive. Thus continuing to funnel money into Stidham’s pockets while thousands of women are still financially recovering.
This 4-hour documentary was a wild ride that got me hooked, especially since I had so many friends who were reps. It also sheds excellent insight into MLMs and pyramid schemes like businesses. Check out LulaRich on Amazon Prime now, and let me know what you think in the comments!