Shirlynn White had a full-time job as a teacher and wasn't looking for a new one, especially in the MLM arena where she had bad past experiences with companies such as Tupperware. She also really "couldn't have cared less" about candles, but because she wanted to be neighborly, White went to a PartyLite candle party 12 years ago and got a lot more than she bargained for.
"At the party, the PartyLite representative talked about how when he went to work, it was a party and how he made no initial investments to join the company. Shirlynn explained that "that really stuck with me." He talked about how he was able to support his family by working for PartyLite full time, and it all sounded so glamorous and wonderful.
Best of all, the rep was giving away a huge snowball candle for just $5 to anyone who became a rep and booked their first party within the next month. "I really wanted that candle and figured I could book one party for it, so I got the hostess packet from the rep, but he never followed up with me."
White was completely undeterred by the rep's lack of follow-through, and found the company's main number on the back of her receipt and called corporate herself. When she informed them that her rep had gone MIA, PartyLite offered to send her another rep, but White declined and said she would sponsor herself into the business, which she did.
"There were no initial start-up costs," says White, "which was good for me, because I am a single mother. Working and taking care of my family was hard enough without adding another thing."
Her initial kit included $300 worth of materials, such as candles, training manuals, and business tips. PartyLite recommends that you have six parties within your first two weeks.
For the first year, White was not making "consistent money" with PartyLite, so she kept her teaching job for income and security, just enjoying the extra money she earned from running her MLM business on the side.
Then in 1999 she attended the PartyLite annual conference in Washington, D.C., and things changed. Shirlynn was eligible to enter into the annual company raffle because she had sold over $1,800 in one month and had acquired one other rep. The grand prize for 20 PartyLite reps out of the 40,000 in attendance at the conference was an all expenses-paid, weeklong vacation in San Francisco with the president of PartyLite. White was among those lucky 20 and that trip alone helped take her business to the next level. By 2001, she had left her job as a teacher and went to work for PartyLite full-time.
Pros and cons
"The biggest pro is that you have the freedom and flexibility of being your own boss; and there are no territories, or minimum quotas to make, so that stress is not there," she says. Another big draw to the business for Shirlynn is the family-like connections that she was able to make through the PartyLite business.
On the down side, White says, "just like any work-at-home job, you have to get up and work your business every day." Some people think that you are off just because you work from home. To avoid the usual work-at-home distractions, she uses motivational materials and strict scheduling to keep on track. For example, Shirlynn starts off each working day with a power hour of phone calls to recruit new team members or follow up with hostesses that have recently hosted a party, because she knows this MLM business can get her and her family to where she wants to be.
Games are another tactic White uses to set her business apart. "I play games at each one of my parties, and I believe that people book with me because I keep it fun."
Advice for others
"If you are thinking about [working for an MLM company], just do it, because you don't want to be left wondering 'what if?' You have nothing to lose. The only investment you have to make is some of your time."
Twelve years ago, White did just that. She invested a little time in being neighborly and supporting her friend who was hosting a candle party, and she ended up walking away from that one night with a part-time job that quickly led to a full-time career with unlimited earning potential.
"I admit that I am not at the top level of this business, but you can make a decent income working for PartyLite either full or part time," she concludes.