The Truth about Home Party Plan Sales: One Consultant’s Experience

by Julie on May 19, 2011 · 24 comments

A Creative Memories Workshop about ten years ago.

If you’re a woman of a certain age, the odds are excellent that you’ve attended a home sales party of some kind. Probably more than one, in fact.

Think Tupperware, Creative Memories, Silpada, Pampered Chef, Southern Living at Home, Discovery Toys, Mary Kay, and many more.

Depending on who you are, you may have seen that invitation in the mailbox and considered it a chance for a fun outing with friends, or a social obligation to be endured or get out of.

But either way, chances are you’ve wondered if the sales rep for the company was making good money. You may have even considered becoming one yourself, especially if you like the products.

My Home Party Plan Experience

I spent six years as a Creative Memories Consultant. Creative Memories is a home party plan company that teaches people to scrapbook and sells scrapbooking supplies.

My experience with Creative Memories was mostly a positive one.

Although I was a business major in college, I learned more about operating a business during my years as a CM Consultant than I did in four years of college. That’s not a knock on college, it’s a plug for the value of learning by doing.

During my years as a CM Consultant I taught classes, held workshops, managed an inventory, created customer communications, recruited other consultants and managed a team. I really enjoyed my time as a consultant and considered my experience a valuable one.

I also spent a few months as a Southern Living at Home Consultant. My time with Southern Living at Home was significantly shorter than my CM stint, and my heart really wasn’t in it, but I’m basing some of my thoughts in this post on my experiences there as well.

Having (hopefully) established my credentials as someone who knows about home party plans, here is what I would want you to know:

Most Home Party Plan Companies Are Legit.

If you’ve heard of the company, it’s probably a reputable one. The companies listed at the top of this post are good examples.

If you’re in doubt at all – and especially if you are thinking about signing on as a rep for one of these companies – make sure they are a member of the Direct Selling Association.

The Money is in the Recruiting

Here’s the answer to the money question: If you love the products and like the party scene, you can expect to get your own products at a reduced cost and maybe earn a little fun money on the side.

If you have dreams of making a significant income with a home party plan company, you’ll need to recruit others to sell under you. The compensation plan is set up this way because it’s how the companies continue to grow.

This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I genuinely enjoyed my relationships with my customers and eventually had a full team of consultants, many of whom became good friends.

Most Consultants Don’t Make Big Money

The percentage of consultants who advance to leadership levels and make full-time incomes is small. In my opinion, there are two main reasons for this:

1. It’s easy to become a consultant. Since the barriers to entry are low, you’ll have a lot of people getting in that are either not very well suited to being a consultant or are not very committed to it.

2. It’s simple to move up the ranks, but it’s not easy. There’s a difference. The business model is simple, which is one of its strengths. But selling (both products and the consultant opportunity) is not easy. Many people get frustrated or lose interest.

Having said all that, there are people that do well with home party companies. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from giving it a try. Just go in aware and keep your expectations realistic.

The Industry Has a Negative Reputation

Home party plans may suffer from this less than other network marketing companies, but the entire industry tends to be lumped together and its reputation isn’t good.

At best you won’t be taken very seriously by most people. Some will see it as “that little thing you do.” That’s because most people have seen a variety of people they know come and go as consultants or reps.

At worst, you may be lumped in with every overly pushy salesperson your

Some Things to Think About If You’re Considering Becoming a Home Party Plan Rep

1. Choose a company whose products you’re passionate about.

Or at least genuinely enjoy. You’re going to have to memorize the catalog and talk enthusiastically about the products in it, so make sure it’s a good fit.

2. Consider whether you’ll have to hold inventory.

Holding an inventory allows you to respond to customer’s needs quickly, but it’s going to require extra money and storage space on your part.

3. Look for a consumable product.

I didn’t know to consider this ahead of time, but I lucked out because many scrapbooking supplies are consumable. So are  food and health products, makeup, and skincare items.

consumable product means you’ll have readymade repeat sales with those who like your product. It also allows you to develop a relationship with your good customers, which makes it easier to recruit consultants in a non-pushy way.

4. Choose your upline (the person you sign under) carefully.

You’ll be working with this person closely, so choose someone who you get along with and whose style is similar to your own.

Consider what you want to get out of your experience as a rep too. If you’d like to build a big business and make a career of it, don’t choose someone who treats the business as a hobby. You won’t get what you’ll need from her.

Similarly, if you just want to get your products at a discount and be left alone, don’t choose Susie Saleswoman. She’ll drive you crazy.

5. Watch your expenses.

It’s easy to get carried away “playing store.” With many companies you will have to pay at least some of the cost for shopping bags, catalogs, and sometimes even order forms. These things will add up quickly and eat into your profits, so be aware.

6. Move beyond your friends and family quickly.

Teaching my first CM class @ my sister-in-law’s.

Most people are advised to start by marketing to their friends and family and many never make it beyond that point. That’s why so many people inwardly groan when they learn that a friend or family member has signed on with a company.

It’s fine – and understandable – that you’ll start with friends and family because you need to start somewhere. But act professionally, don’t expect everyone to be interested, and move beyond them as quickly as you can. This is important for the health of your business as well as your relationships.

7. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

It’s fine to put your own spin on things, but most of these companies provide solid training materials, so take advantage of what works.

Why I Left Home Party Plan Sales

As I mentioned at the top, I was a CM Consultant for over six years. I left for two main reasons:

1. I was ready to try something new.

Part of it was just a growth process. Opposite of most people, I loved having a team and recruiting, but I had tired of the need to teach new classes and get new customers. It just felt like time to move on.

2. Network marketing’s negative reputation bothered me.

Maybe it shouldn’t have, but it did. Even though I tried to always conduct myself professionally, I didn’t like being part of an industry that people didn’t take seriously.

Still, I learned so much and have good memories of my time as a consultant. And because there were things that I missed about it, I even had two short-lived attempts to get back in (once with Southern Living at Home and another time back with Creative Memories).

But I should have followed my first instinct, because my decision to leave at that time was a good one for me.

What are your experiences with home party plans? Postive? Negative? Somewhere in between? I’d love to hear your comments.

Interested in reading more about home party plan sales?

Here is a book I found helpful when I was a consultant:

Build It Big: 101 Insider Secrets from Top Direct Selling Experts

And this is the book I would buy if I were in the business today:

Selling It Softly: Create Your Own Story of Direct Selling Success

Both are referral links. See my disclosure policy for more details.

If you enjoyed this post and would like more, enter your email address in the box below and future posts from The Family CEO will be sent to your email inbox for free. Your email will not be shared. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Enter your email:


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Super Frugalette May 24, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I cannot recall ever attending such a party. However, I have moved around quite a bit so and haven’t made tons of acquaintances in the areas I have lived in so I am not surprised.

I would have difficulties with such parties. I am particular on the make up I use and would not buy Mary Kay just to try something “else”. I do not scrap book and have no intention to start scrap booking.

I couldn’t just buy something to “help” a friend out….maybe it is just me?

Reply

Julie May 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I don’t think it’s just you, Frugalette. A lot of people feel that way.

Reply

Ida Lott July 4, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I THINK WE ALL OUGHT TO GET BACK IN THE HOME SALES ,BACK IN THE 80′S THERE WAS THIS CRYSAL GLASS COMPANY AND ONE OF MY FRIEND,I HAD A PARTY FOR, WAS SELLING THIS CRYSTAL,I STILL HAVE THE CRYSTAL AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND I WISH I COULD FIND THIS COMPANY AGAIN,I EVEN HAVE THIS LAMP THAT IS CRYSTAL AND IT IS REALLY PRETTY.MOST PARTY SALES HAVE GOOD PRODUCTS ,IF YOU GO TO WALL MART AND BUY,WHY NOT BUY FROM YOUR FAMILY ARE FRIENDS,AT LEAST YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE BUYING FROM,AS WOMEN WE SHOULD STICK TOGETHER AND HELP EACH OTHER.

Reply

Julie July 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Ida, I went to a crystal party a million years ago too. The name of the company was Princess House. If that’s who you’re looking for, they’re still around. I found them at PrincessHouse.com. You could also check for their products on eBay.

Reply

Amy July 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Thank you for your article on home business consultants. I started with Thirty One (super cool & chic bags & totes) in February. I was that “ok honey what are you selling now” girl in the family and neighborhood but soon word got out and I have a great customer base that keeps growing! I haven’t been able (nor tried very hard) to get anyone under me yet but now I am working on that too! It’s such a great way to supplement my income and meet new people as I am a single mom and rarely get out to meet people other than work.
I won’t be in forever but WOW! is it fun and exciting to be selling something I LOVE to have myself! I do recommend people trying it sometime in their life because it really is your call to sell or not sell and many things can be found about yourself along the way! Enjoy home businesses!

Reply

Heather November 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Amy, just curious, but do you have people under you now? How big is your team? I just signed on with Thirty-One in September and haven’t really had the time to do a ton of parties but I just registered for a booth at a trade show taking place Thanksgiving weekend, so we’ll see where that takes me…I’m hoping to have lots of sales and party bookings and hopefully a few people to sign on under me during that 3-day show

Reply

Mara September 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

I really enjoyed this blogspot. I think you’re right on and honest about what people can expect from direct sales.

The only part I’d disagree with you on is that you will only make “a little fun money” from selling your products. I was a teacher before I signed on with Madison Handbags (a design your own handbag company that manufactures their handbags in NY). After having two children I found it was much more financially beneficial to stay at home with my children (which I wanted to do anyway) than go back to work and pay daycare. Although I do have a some consultants underneath me that I’ve recruited and continue to train, the majority of my income comes from my own personal sales. It’s the only part of my business I can truly ever control, so that’s where I put most of my efforts. I think there are many consultants out there who could easily make $700-$1,000 a month based on their sales alone even if they had no interest in recruiting. If anyone expects signs on expecting to bringing “fun money” odds are, that’s all they’ll ever earn.

Reply

Jennifer October 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I Actually sell for UnderCoverWear. Its the unique boutique. Its a romance home party plan. I did my research before i chose one. I actually researched and thought about it for 2 months before making a decision. Your right, you make more money when you have a team. That is where my down fall is. Why? because i don’t wanna sign anyone up unless they are serious about it! I want someone who is going to be ..as you said “Passionate”
about it. When you are not passionate about it, you will not make any money. You must believe in your products.

Reply

Gina November 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I am wondering if anyone knows of a home party plan that I could do just part time? I have a full time job , I just would like a little “mad money” and somthing to fill up my spare time. I have tried tupperware, House of Lloyd or Christmas Around the World, Princess House, Mary Kay & Pampered Chef. Unfortunately I live in a rural area that most of the women dont care for the make up parties, the fancy crystal or Pampered Chef. I thought Pampered Chef would do good because these ladies like to cook and all.I dont know anything about the Southern Living.What products do they sell?

Reply

sharon Hensel September 30, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Hello Crystal, I know where your coming from I have sold lots of different companies too, I now work for Gourmet Cupboard out of Sour Lake Texas. I love it!! It is food!! Everybody has to eat. and if you work full time, these mixes are pre mixed and easy to cook at home quickly. Every single item is very inexpensive. I usulally raise my price when I sell to the public 60 % above my cost. so i make good money. You really should check them out. I do craft shows, home shows, and just about anuything my customers need i do Feel free to call me if you want more inform or just simply got to Gourmet Cupboard.com and tell them I sent you. You will love them!!

Reply

Breonna Party Plan November 9, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Wow, surprisingly I never knew this.I have been reading your blog a lot over the past few days and it has earned a place in my bookmarks.Thanks for sharing with us.

Reply

Sara December 24, 2012 at 10:27 am

I was a Unit Leader for Creative Memories for 7 years. However, with all the time and energy (and constant need for recruiting) I finally left for another company. Most network marketing companies give you pay raises based on recruiting…my current company is different which I love. I now move up based on sales. So instead of having to look at everyone as if they are a possible recruit, I no longer have to. I’m paid based on product sales…. Not paid on people!!! Plus, having a consumable product (one you need to reorder) is key, like the author says. I love my Arbonne business, and earned my Mercedes Benz in 3 months and doubled my Creative Memories income in 4 months in Arbonne. I’m now at the top of the company (which took 3 years total)….something that is nearly impossible in most other Network Marketing companies.

Reply

Helene December 28, 2012 at 11:53 am

I guess I am one of the exceptions, because I am making a full-time living with Dove Chocolate Discoveries (it’s a brand of Dove that is not available in stores, only through a consultant), and I’ve only been with the company 2 years. I was a full-time teacher for 18 years and was able to quit that job after only 18 months with Dove.

I love what you said about it being simple but not easy. So true. Even with a consumable, delicious product like chocolate, we still get lots of “no”‘s and the consultants who don’t make it in the business simply gave up too quickly or couldn’t handle the no’s.

I currently have over 100 people in my downline and I know it’ll keep growing fast. We only have 2,200 reps nationwide, so it’s a ground-floor business (not a flooded market like other companies where there is a rep every half mile).

So I picked the right company at the right time and I really do work hard at it. I make a full-time income because I treat it as a full-time job. I schedule my time and make my phone calls and contact hostesses, and those things are non-negotiable because it is scheduled into my day.

I made just over $4,400 last month, and this month should be even better. :)

Reply

Julie December 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Congrats on your success, Helene. :)

Reply

Marlene January 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Thank you for being up front about the party plan business. My experience has been similar to the author’s. I’ve tried a number of businesses that use the party plan style and finally realized I really don’t like that style of business. I am still a rep for a company I started with way back in 1994. I like the products a lot, but I don’t sell them anymore. It seemed like the more I sold, the more it cost me in service fees, business supplies (i.e. sales catalogs), and time. Leadership drained me to no end. So, I’m glad I’m out of that style of business. I like the idea of doing something part-time, so I’m still on the search for that.

Reply

Karen January 18, 2013 at 10:42 pm

I am making my first attempt at a direct sales business, and I can tell you I never expected to have as much fun as I am, I am only a little over a month in to it but think I went with a company that fits ME. I am fortunate that my husband has a job that allows me to stay home with our children, with that being said, I also love a good deal, play with extreme couponing and when I came across $5 Jewelry I fell in LOVE! Our oldest is almost 11 and our youngest is 5 so I was beginning to get a little stir crazy at home and was looking for something that would get me out of the house in the evenings. I just made my original investment in my starter kit and have been reinvesting the profit from sales, I have now doubled my inventory and paid for my booth at two events coming up in March and April, with nothing more out of pocket. I am very pleased to have an opportunity that my direct sales company has offered me.

Reply

Jennifer @ Decorated Chaos January 28, 2013 at 8:40 am

I was a consultant for AtHome America back in 2007-2008. (Gifts and home decor business)I only did it for two years but during that time I had SO much fun, met a LOT of people, decorated my entrie home at a discount, and just like you, learned a lot about operating a business. I had to really watch what I bought and kept on hand and price my inventory well so I made a profit. Most of the items ordered were shipped directly from the company to the hostess to distribute, but if there was a big sale or steep discount incentive for consultants I would buy those products and sell them as cash and carry items at my home shows so these inventory items were mine to price.

I did recruit seven people and had all of them on my team for only a couple months but just as you mentioned people came and went and my team quickly diminshed before my eyes! I was in the home decor business so when the economy fell hard in 2008-2009 sales came to a screetching hault. People were losing their homes left and right with the foreclosure crisis so this pretty much drove me out of business.

I could have fought harder and rode it out but I work full time and that is where I foucsed my time and energy. I feel that the direct selling business have a lot to offer many of us, but they do take a lot of work and even if you are successful enough to make a 1,000 or more each month you are probably working 60 hours a week, including nights and weekends to do it. The key is to pick an product/industry you are passionate about and treat it like a “real” job and take it seriously.

Jennifer

Reply

Janette Stoll March 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Great post! I do agree it’s a simple business but it’s not an easy business. It’s not for everyone but perfect for that person. Be smart and don’t get carried away with frontloading products or join a company that encourages you to do so and use your website to sell products. It’s great with consumable products because I have to use the products anyway (although mlm prices are too high) but direct sales companies are in line with regular retail stores and the products tend to be higher in quality. If you’re already buying consumable products elsewhere and if the opportunity makes sense for you to join, get a discount, and build a business- it’s a great fit. I LOVE my business :).

Reply

Ashley April 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Thank you for writing this! I have actually been thinking about becoming a consultant for a company (havent decided which yet) mainly because I am a stay at home mom and I would like to make some extra cash and contribute. My friend does dove chocolate and pamper chef products and she gets a bunch of other vendors for a thing called quartermania, she loves doing these things and always has nice things to say about being a consultant but she never goes into detail about her experience and doesnt lay it out like you do! So once again thank you! Im still on the fence about doing it but this has helped!

Reply

crystal ard July 29, 2013 at 2:50 am

I am with Princess House and I am doing great. I have just started out and I have a growing customer base and recruits under me. I am working towards my unit organizer goal. I am very happy and love the products. Would recommend to anyone!

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: