By Jen Shragge

I have had some type of job since I was 16 years old (12 if you count babysitting). I started working in retail, moved up to office jobs and then worked for the government once I finished my graduate degree. Working has just always been a part of my life. Then my son came along. I had a terrible time going back to work when my son turned 1 even though I was able to negotiate a pretty sweet part-time arrangement with my department. I struggled. I missed him. I was miserable. Being a mom and being home for him and with him ended up being my undoing. I just couldn’t seem to manage both and feel happy about either.

As it happens, as part of my husband’s work transfer I am now home with both my kids and wouldn’t you know it, I really miss working. Of course I do. There is just no way to have it all! If you are home you miss work. If you work you miss your kids (most of the time anyways!). I have been trying to teach yoga when I can, but having to put my little one in care just to teach didn’t make financial sense and was a tricky proposition logistically. Enter MLM (multi-level marketing). You already know somebody doing MLM even if you have never heard that term before. Stella & Dot, Tupperware, Sweet Legs, Norwex, Jamberry and in my case Peekaboo Beans. All these businesses rely on sales reps to introduce and sell their products to their friends, families and even have a presence at mom and baby shows and the like.

So why have MLM companies exploded in popularity recently? I asked two of my friends who are also in the business about why they entered the markets. My friend Barb is a Jamberry consultant and sells designer nail wraps online. When I asked her why she signed up she told me it was a way to make some extra money (she is currently home with her three daughters in a rural part of Alberta) but also to make friends. She also explained that it gave her something to do that was just for her and provided a sense of purpose, which had been lacking since becoming a stay-at-home-mom.

barb jamberry
I also talked to my friend Deanna who is selling Norwex and she told me that her part-time job as a car seat installation technologist was spotty and inconsistent week-to-week and that selling Norwex was a way to work from home and also supplement their family income. She also told me that the start up costs for Norwex were so low when she signed up that she really had nothing to lose.

deanna norwex
And me? Why did I decide to enter the MLM game and become a Peekaboo Beans stylist? I have loved the brand for many years and have been a dedicated customer. I always tell my friends, once you go Beans, you never go back. It is a company I believe in (amazing ethical, environmental and social responsibility) and the commission is enough to pay for my own kid’s clothing. On top of that, I love going out, meeting new people and having fun and that’s exactly what the Soirees are for me. A way to meet new people here in Toronto and also show people exactly why I have loved the brand for so long.

MLM companies seem to be the current part-time job for stay-at-home-moms and I think it is because there are so many of them that there is bound to be one that appeals to you. I also know that you only get out of them what you put into them. So if you choose to put ten hours of work a week into the business you will see certain financial rewards, but if you can manage to get 20 hours a week in, it is a true part-time job that could really make a difference financially for most people. The best part is, it is mostly from the comfort of your own home and during the hours of the day that work for you. For most moms out there looking for some extra income or a way to get their head back into the working game, this can be the perfect answer.

People keep asking me if I’m going to go back to work when we move back to Vancouver or when my little one starts Kindergarten and the short answer is maybe. In a perfect world I will be selling Peekaboo Beans and teaching yoga but of course my crystal ball is in the shop and I really don’t know for sure. But for now, I am happily doing my best to make my beans business work and I am loving every minute of it. The beauty of this company for me is that I can easily manage a few evenings a month attending soirees and I can do a lot of my online work and marketing while my older one is at school and the little one is napping. I have found that the time commitment is very manageable for me and that is with running to programs for both of them, cleaning the house and general day-to-day mom-ing. MLM companies seem to be the way many stay-at-home-moms are supplementing their household income and certainly have a much better understanding of why not that I have joined one.

Do you work for a MLM company? Has it been a good experience for you? How do you make your work-life balance a reality?