MLM: Are make-up empires exploiting mums? BBC Stories


All over social media I’ve seen thousands of mysterious job ads. The best experience you’ll ever go through. It just keeps getting better and better. It’s not a job, it’s not a nine to five.
It’s a lifestyle. They’re offering massive salaries,
cars and holidays. A free white mercedes and a six figure income. It’s £15,000 a month.
And you can earn more than that. But very few of them say what job actually is. I didn’t know much about multi-level marketing before this and once you start looking,
these ads are everywhere. I’m investigating whether the reality matches up to what these companies seem to promise. And one name keeps coming
up again and again. This little black box that says Younique across it, changed my life. Younique is an online make-up company. If you sign up to sell for them
you’re called a presenter. It only launched in the UK in 2014. Jessica left Younique in 2018. Hi. Hi Jessica. She’s asked us to hide her identity. Can you explain a bit more about how it affected your relationships. It’s 24 hours a day, you eat,
sleep and breathe it. You know they have this hashtag #teamnosleep. I was losing friends because of it. And you know my family were like “it’s a cult”. I was like “no, it’s not, it’s not”. You know. And they do training where
basically what they tell you is, if someone doesn’t support you
then you get rid of them. That doesn’t matter if it’s your mam,
your brother, your sister, your husband, your friends –
“you don’t need that in your life”. Me and my partner would argue constantly. I even nearly said, well I did say it to him, “why are you even marrying me?” Some of them get really
nasty and that as well. And I think that’s why you get a
bit nervous about leaving, cos they starting calling you
names like fat and ugly. They proper pull you apart. They say, like, if you leave. That you’ve failed. “How dare you, you could’ve made it”. But you don’t know. Because you quit. At Younique I have also heard
from people who feel they were encouraged to spend their own money
to improve their business. I lost roughly with Younique, £1800. We had no money for food
and things because I was promised if I put this in I would get more back. Probably spent upwards of a couple of thousand, thinking about it. There’s another multi-level
marketing company that’s come up in my research
and they’re even bigger. This opportunity has
completely changed my life. It’s the time, retired my mum,
buy our dream home. We travel the world and spend
every single day with my children. It’s a cosmetics company called Nu Skin. I’ve come to Cornwall to meet someone who was drawn into this
company at a difficult time. Hi Vicki, I’m Ellie. Vicki has two children. She signed up for Nu Skin when she was pregnant with her first child. When you joined up,
you were heavily pregnant. Were going to have a new baby soon. How much do you feel like you
were targeted because of that? Oh, extremely. It was a few weeks before my maternity leave and me and my husband
went through our finances and thought ‘oh my god,
how are we going to survive?’ We had just moved into
a temporary accommodation, we were in quite a desperate situation.
We weren’t getting any housing. What expectations were you
given when you signed up? All the people at the top
had these lovely cars. They have lots and lots and lots of money. And lots and lots of nice houses. And I didn’t want to live like
in a council property forever. I wanted more out of life and I thought, that’s what was going to give it to me. Over the last five months. I’ve heard from former distributors and their loved ones, who felt that working for these two companies isolated them from their friends and family. Younique affected my mental health in such a way that it’s
nearly impossible to describe. My brother saw us as negative influences and negative influences need
to be cut out of your life. I really did not like the person
it was turning me into. It seemed a little bit like a cult. I’ll be honest. It’s time for some answers. I want to speak with the people at the top of these two companies, and it turns out Younique and Nu Skin both started in the same place. Utah, USA. Temperature -9. It’s most famous for being the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day saints, or LDS. But surprisingly, it’s also famous for being the world
capital of multi-level marketing. Every year thousands of recruits flock to conventions here. More than 100 MLMs were founded here. And these are two I recognise. During bring my research I’ve realised the founders of Younique and Nu Skin are also members of the LDS Church. Many in the state claim there is a link with Mormon culture and the high number of multi-level marketing companies here. Gina is 25 and has tried selling
for three different MLMs. She and her husband Cole first met when they were Mormon missionaries six years ago. This seems to be the heart of
MLMs in the world really. Yes. Why do you think that is? As members of the church,
I’m a member, we are taught that we, the mums, are supposed
to stay home with their kids and nurture them and raise them. And so I think a lot of women in this area take that a little, almost too seriously. Where they are like, ‘this is the
only way I can stay home is to do an MLM, so I earn money to help’. Do you think that the people
that are founding MLMs in Utah are almost exploiting that? Yes, I do, I feel like they’re targeting those young mums and those young women
who want to stay at home. When it comes down to it, it’s a little bit more predatory than a lot of people realise. Can you tell me a little bit
more about LDS culture? In the church we have
these things called missions. Men go for two years and
women go for a year and a half. So we would go out and we
would knock on doors and we would talk to people about Christ and see if they were interested in learning more about our beliefs. And so does that teach you quite a lot about, I suppose almost recruitment in a way? Yeah, definitely. Because of my mission, when I was in an MLM, it was
easier for me to reach out to people because that’s what I had
done for a year and a half. Having spoken to women like Geena, the question
I’m left with is; were these companies set up as a genuine opportunity for women? Or have they been set-up
to capitalise on pressures for young women to stay at
home with their families? And is that message now
being spread all over the globe? I’ve managed to reach someone who used to work at the Younique head office. She’s agreed to meet me tonight, but says it’s too risky to reveal her identity. Why did you leave Younique? Because I think you can’t say that you are uplifting or empowering women when you’re trying to convince them that they need these products and that it will ultimately improve their lives. How big is the mark-up on the products? Oh my gosh, massive. Some are more than like 400%. The make-up is not what
Younique is marketing. They are marketing a lifestyle, they are marketing a dream, they are marketing a support group. For the majority of promotions, we put on, are focused on recruitment. I’ve spoken to women now who have lost thousands of pounds at Younique. Do you think there was an awareness in the corporate office that that was happening? There is a shifting of blame. If you lose money, it’s because you aren’t working hard enough, it’s a lack of fortitude. Have they made lot of money from this? Younique has a billion dollar valuation. They have made millions of dollars. They are multi, multi-millionaires. It’s my final day in Utah, I gave both companies a deadline for an interview and I’ve heard nothing back. I start with Younique. I’m looking to speak with Derek Maxfield. That’s probably not possible. He’s not here. So that’s a no go. Do you know where he is? We are only in Utah today and we have been trying to get hold of someone all week. I just have a couple of questions
that I want to ask him on behalf of a number of
women we have spoken to. No-one calls me back. Next, I try Nu Skin. Hi, my name’s Ellie Flynn, I’m with the BBC. I’m trying to get hold of your CEO. I wait. So, I just talked to Rod. Says he’s in a meeting.
But he is going to send you a statement. But he cannot meet with you today. When does this meeting end?
Can he not meet with me after? No I’m sorry no. I think that says it all. People have lost everything
to these companies. They’ve lost hours of their lives. They’ve lost money, they’ve lost friends, they’ve lost family. When you come here to try and question the people that are responsible for that. No-one acknowledges it, and I think that’s the reality of what happens. People are buying into a dream and when it all goes wrong nobody cares. We did hear back from both companies. Nu Skin said “… the level of success varies greatly based on factors such as a person’s goals, ambition, commitment and skills”. They said they have “… strict policies against misrepresentation and exaggerated claims and take appropriate remedial action. They said they “… do not charge a sign-up fee and there is no requirement for [sales leaders] to purchase products”. They said they also have a refund policy in place for resalable products. They comply with the laws and regulations and they have implemented policies and training to help
their sales force comply. They have more than one million customers globally who enjoy their products. Younique said they “… developed
their business model to allow presenters to run at a level that makes sense for each individual”. They say their “… sign-up fee is low and presenters don’t need to build-up a product inventory because their digital platform allows customers to buy… directly from Younique”. They also have a one year refund policy in place for presenters’ unused products. They said they have strict policies in place to ensure adherence with local laws they supplement these policies with a large compliance audit team that provides ongoing training and enforcement including termination for non-compliance. Many people do say that multi-level marketing has changed their life. Not just in terms of money
but also friendships, gaining confidence and personal support. These companies seem to be everywhere and yet they’re so shrouded in secrecy. I think that until there’s more transparency and awareness about what it
means to work for an MLM and what your chances of success are, I just fear more people are going to lose out.




Comments
  1. The building in the back of the thumbnail is a temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 🥰

  2. Maybe this highlights a job gap here. Many women are seeking a job they can do from home. Maybe there should be a way to meet that demand of potential employees with legitimate work?

  3. Its pretty much reinforced by the economy. Really good childcare is like 1,400 to 2,000 a month. Moms I know that are single and married are having a rough time with trying to raise a child and work. Its really hard.

  4. I'm endlessly disgusted with these schemes. I've been unemployed and seeking for half a year now. Every time I come on YouTube I'm shown those ridiculous adverts with awful men sitting in front of Lamborghinis telling me how easy it is to make a four figure income.

  5. People spend their own money to invest in their job, and it’s the companies fault that they weren’t good enough? The company tells people to break ties with family members, and the idiots do it? How is this the companies fault? Stop this bullshit victim nonsense.

  6. I come from a Mormon/LDS background and I think this video was spot on. I also think a major aspect of why MLMs often start in Utah is because the Mormon church has a lot of social capital. It is a very close community that is extremely interconnected. If you have access to one person, you have access to their entire congregation, and the congregations of any family members. Even outside of Utah, the church is very connected and so you have a huge base to sell to.

  7. I am a member of the lds church and at a recent lds general conference, our leaders warned about multi level marketing schemes. It's a choice the members have to make but mlm has absolutely nothing to do with our religion whatsoever. It's just easy for so many members to start in the company because of the influence they have on each other, it's not right though. Our church teaches honesty and when people are treating each other with disrespect and gaining money off of others when it puts others in financial and social poverty, it's beyond wrong!!!

  8. I would not be surprised in the slightest if the LDS church was backing these companies. I'm a former member, and making money is the number one goal of the church for its members.

  9. At the beginning of this video, an adult woman says, “I’ve never heard of MLM”. How can this be? I’m 35, and I’ve learned about it at 15 or 16, when I’ve learned about Avon & Orifllame, and I was living in Russia at the time.

  10. "When it comes down to it, it's a little bit more predatory than a lot of people realise."

    She just describe the Mormon Church and didn't even realize it.

  11. i'm in the US, so I have been bombarded by so many MLM schemes on FB. The most common one is a health supplement company that also just launched skin care (well, last year).. The ambassadors have been posting pics from their national convention. The thing is, despite their new skin care line, they all have tons more wrinkles than I do and many are younger than I am. I feel like posting on FB that they may need to check their photo filters when posting work related pictures…

  12. No wonder all of these companies were started in Utah, all of these things sound like Mormonism. If you fail or fall, it’s your fault. If you ask questions, you either don’t get answers or you get shunned. People are afraid to leave. People are taught to cut out bad influences in their lives (non-members). I also think that since the church constantly puts down people- not outright but you’re held to a level of “worthiness” and if you mess up you’re no longer worthy, you have to work for your salvation etc, and also the fact there’s so much pressure on mothers to be perfect, to stay home, and to be completely selfless, to have a spirit filled home, not only do they look at it as a way to make money from home but hopefully improve themselves as well because they don’t feel good enough.

  13. The LDS church did a huge church wide meeting expressly warning people to stay away from MLM and other investments that many members are falling prey to. Even in the church's general conference one of the leaders called out these companies as deceptive and evil. Hopefully more people stay far away from these scams as possible

  14. I cant wait to roast people when they try to get me into this when I get pregnant 😂 I want to meet more stay at home wives.,, i hope a lot of them arent into this stuff

  15. Is there a link to the full film/report for outside UK? When I opened the link in the description it says only available in UK.

  16. Unrelated note. As an American, I can't help but not take anything seriously that use the word "mum". It sounds like such a casual way to refer to a mother for such a serious topic. To my ears, it kind of sounds like a news story where they use the word Mommy

  17. 7:00 Oh you go on missions. Sorry, darling, but what you are doing IS THE SAME THING YOU ARE CRITIQUING! It's the same, she even says it's the same ahahah.

  18. Elder Ballard’s talk, “The trek Continues”, Oct. 2017, attacked this issue. I am LDS, and remember going to a Mary Kay Meeting in Oregon, then again in Utah (never joined!). I remember joking how the Utahns compared it to the gospel and it was creepy and I refused so many invites over the years… Essential oils are giant out there, although I love them, never wanted to join an MLM and got manipulated into ZIJA, but never got on their 200 dollar a month fee, which was the ONLY way to make it up the ladder… convinced me to use my 0 balance CC, only once… Others were spending thousands and working hard to recruit others, I was glad to hear Elder Ballard’s talk that year… Utahns are not even half of the membership of the Church, but they are definitely vulnerable for the “get rich quick schemes”. They’re great at selling door to door in the summers, after missions, that targets male RMs, and they often make enough in summers to pay for school the next year, help their small families. Women are more sucked into pyramid schemes.

  19. To be 100% honest, i got roped in by the fact that the thumbnail has the reporter (i guess) in front of a mormon temple….
    Now i want to know what my ex religious cult has to do with the economical cult in question…

  20. Well…. the mormon church itself is an MLM so i guess its fitting.

    I mean, they thrust unto you, they seem friendly at first, then they give you their sales pitch and try to get you to join and start inevitable paying into the corporation. Finally they'll push you into recruiting more members

  21. I can assure you that make up is satans device to take many women to hell. Why wouldn't America, which is believed to be Babylon, be supporting it? They will use Hollywood, the whore of Babylon, to advertise and exploit it.

  22. You failed to explain that it is the entrepreneurial Capitol as well which would definitely include MLM's. All companies are "shrouded in secrecy" you dorks. Go ask the local burger place how their company 'preys on low wage workers'. I'd bet money they'd stonewall you too. And also, are you seriously purposefully connecting a church's intentions to control the worlds women through mom's? Big assumptions from very little.

  23. Of course they all are any mlm is exploitation. If you check their own analytics less that 1% makes money

  24. Wait…A company taking advantage of its target demographic? Its almost like a company is designed to make as much money as possible…………………………………………………….

  25. Ignorance. Pure ignorance. Multi level marketing/network marketing is the most powerful way for an individual to get into business. True, there have been some individual companies that claim to have that model but have done things unmoral. But in general, it’s the greatest industry on the planet. Someone who is working a full-time job, can come in on a part-time basis and start building up a residual income in an industry that their passionate about. Pyramid scheme‘s are illegal, and those particular companies don’t last long. But multi level marketing is the best way for anyone to get into business. The platform already exists and the systems are in place and all you have to do is do the work. So don’t be scared of something new. Don’t fear things just because it’s not what you grew up with. There is so much opportunity within the growing network marketing businesses, take advantage of them and reach out to me if you have any questions.

  26. There are two separate things: the LDS Church and Mormon culture. Focus on having a personal relationship with Christ, with emphasis on personal.

  27. I grew up mormon and I left a few years back. I honestly am shocked at how those who could claim to have such wholesome religious beliefs and practices could prey on young families. It is something I witnessed repeatedly when I lived in Idaho. The church is not directly affiliated with these companies but they NEVER discuss it. They don't discourage it and allow members to continually fall victim to other predatory LDS members. The LDS church is organized to feel like a tight knit community so these people truly trust the MLMs because they are associated with the church. It's terrible.

  28. MLMs are sleazy. Your thumbnail, however, is misleading by associating a religious landmark with fraud, as if the intended assumption is that the organization perpetuating these schemes is a church. As credible journalists, you should choose a thumbnail that doesn't rely on a religious trigger for clickbait traffic.

  29. I live in Utah, home of a lot of MLMs like Doterra, Younique (I'm actually friends with the son of the owner), Young Living, etc. And yes… It's all soccer moms spending their husband's money. At least here in Utah, where families have an average of 4 kids, women are so desperate to do something else other than being a mormon mom that they buy into this scams.

  30. I am an active member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and after reading many of the comments on here, I just think it’s interesting how suddenly the comments are focused on the church and not on MLMs. The two MLMs represented are in Utah yes, they were started by members of the church yes, and because they’re based in Utah they appeal to a certain demographic. HOWEVER, there are so many other sides to this coin it isn’t even funny. There are people who are happy with working with them, there are other shady MLMs that are not affiliated with the church, etc. but those who have decided to form an opinion about the church based on what this lady says in her video (which was kind of weird in my opinion on how she tried to tie the church in with this, it was kinda obvious what her intent was…..) anyway, I just hope we are smart enough to do our own research and find out the facts before basing our opinion on something we watched for 12 minutes.
    Those are my thoughts 😊

  31. For a second there I thought these people were escaping from the cult of scientology, and that one lady tried three different pyramid schemes? Wow, how much does being religious play into the gullibility of these people getting scammed?
    If these people believe in the horse-shit religions sells them, then the lies from an MLM aren't so far fetched after all, I remember believing the stupidest shit when I was religious, lol, it's so embarrassing.

  32. Haven't watched the video, just came here to say…

    DUHHHHHHHHHHHH. Do people really need a whole video to figure this out?

  33. A very milquetoast take re muh victimized wamminz. First & foremost, women should raise their children, not abandon them with strangers. Secondly, female susceptibility to ponzu schemes extends far beyond stay at home moms. The ads these vulture companies use to attract suckers are uniquely targeted towards women, bc women are largely the group that will be conned by the gimmick of high reward for minimal effort. They also focus on community, bc women are evolutionarily hardwired to want things like kid play dates & Tupperware parties. Like many other product advertisements, women are target based on their biological characteristics.

  34. Why are there so many people accusing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as the cause/endorsement of many mlm’s? The video clearly stated at 5:46 that the two are linked by the culture (paraphrasing). Correct me if I’m wrong, but cultures come from popular human conception of how people should behave and act. It’s not the law, commandments, rules, or whatever you want to call it of life. Cultures are based on traditions. I really believe that cultures can be extremely toxic, but that’s no excuse to blame someone’s religion. The “Mormon’s” aren’t the only group of people who earn a bad rep because of their culture. Muslims, Arabic people, many immigrants, LGBTQ, straight white men, feminists, colored people, white people, college kids, millennials (and younger generations), politicians, teachers, stay-at-home parents, people on well-fare the list goes on.

    Capitalism can inspire many people to become greedy. I think that’s the biggest reason why there are so many mlm’s. Having some kind of income can be a huge relief. My heart empathizes with those who were roped in. I tried to do Mary Kay while in college, but my inventory consisted of mostly things I liked and could use. It didn’t work out, so I got rid of what I couldn’t use and used up what I could.

    Kudos to you if you’ve read this entire post. 🥳

  35. the ad before this video advertised Zero Up, which based on the commercial and a little googling looks very much like an mlm

  36. MLM are built with the Mormon cult model. (I used to be a part of the LDS church so I know how hard it is to escape and the fact it is a cult) just look at these parallels. Mormons are always happy and smiling, MLM sellers are always posting about how great everything is. Mormons culture shame each other for many different reasons I will not get into because of how complex it is, MLM sellers culture shame each other. Mormons use thought control methods to keep members in check, MLM sellers do too they are controlled by the promise of more money and false facts. Mormons are constantly looking for options to share their church views but don’t reveal anything bad (for example the lady in this video) , MLM sellers are constantly looking to sell products. Mormons shame you for who you hang around, MLM sellers do to. So it doesn’t surprise me that Mormons get sucked into these so easily. Most of them have been programmed by their cult from birth to accept this cult model. Sorry about this rant I just wanted to provide the actual reasons as to why Mormons and MLM companies are so alike.

  37. As a mormon, I see why our members may be a little much too gullibe to fall for those scams. Which is dangerous, and eve strange, as they teach them to push away everthing and everyone else who isn't helping you make money for sales, and the Church says we should not push anyone away from our lives, unless they're an actua threat. Much less family. Also, the culture of helping each other is strong here, as why it may as well foster MLMs, in the way that "we need to help our friend's, so let's buy from them", whic is more fuel to MLM fire.

    So sad, honestly.

    Also, I'm not having kids until I'm financially stable, so theres always bad personal choices and bad judgement in the women and men who are falling for it, too. I'm glad at least the Church tells people to actually get a dregree and a real job.

  38. You show up at a multi-million/billion dollar company and are shocked their CEO's don't drop everything to speak with you? And that is your proof for lack of transparency? Seems pretty flimsy to me. I can pretty much guarantee that these companies are up front about their success rate and income disclosures stating that very few people end up "getting rich quick" but yet it is still their responsibility if people don't succeed? Neither of the two companies featured charge an arm and a leg to start the business so those who lost "thousands of pounds" must have continued ordering and ordering even though they weren't experiencing success. So by that logic, if I spend a fortune at Sephora hoping to become and influencer and make money, is Sephora to blame?

  39. Younique mascara totally got me. Never was a presenter, but I have so much lose powder eyeshadow that doesn't do shit lol

  40. 3:34–Vicky, You are heavily pregnant and ONLY THEN sit down with your husband to figure out "how you can survive"?!! WTF is wrong with you?? Part of being a parent is BEING RESPONSIBLE and only bringing kids into the world you can afford! If you can't afford them, don't have them!

    Gina, 5:55 God gave you a brain and common sense also. You being Mormon has nothing to do with it. You are free to make choices that are best for you and your family. Failing to learn from your mistakes after THREE MLM scams shows the problem is you and you need to use your critical thinking skills and judgment in a better way for your family. God never tells you to naively believe people and make the same bad choices over and over -_-

  41. If they don't spell out the job role clearly, I'm not involved. I know it's some kind of scam, they even have jobs like this on the job sites, no experience needed, training given but no clear breakdown of the job, that is always a big red flag to me.

  42. I mean….I feel for these women but it's always "I was encouraged" or "I felt I had to"…..no one forced your hand. Millions of people set up businesses and fail every year….why don't they just take responsibility instead of blaming the company?

  43. Mormonism is a cult. They are exactly like MLMs. That's why they are all in Utah, bc the majority of us are already brainwashed and will push their shit on people just like missionaries.

  44. It would have been helpful to have the business model explained – how does it actually work? Sad to see so many people of modest means just trying to make a living being exploited so clinically and coldly.

  45. Can you remake this while replacing the younique with young living, and make up with essential oils? I would like to show it to my aunt

  46. You went way too easy on them and didn't even mention the dreaded P.S. phrase. These companies have pat lines to counter the claim that they're pyramid schemes – suspicious that they have to rehearse those answers because it comes up so often.

  47. If you're a woman, chances are you'll encounter at least 5 MLMs before age 30 ._. I've never joined one, but I have many friends and some relatives who have sold for MLMs.

  48. These companies aren't as bad as like lularoe or beachbody. They don't require "presenters" to maintain any inventory. And there isn't a subscription fee (like with beachbody you have to continue to buy monthly shakeology). So, these ones really aren't that bad in the Pyramid scheme of things *zing.

  49. Who is running production on these bbc shorts?
    At what point did this woman think she could rock up to the headquarters of a billion dollar company with scruffy hair, gold hoop earrings and sweats and attempt to speak to the CEO without an appointment…
    I'm really anti – MLM (pyramid schemes) and think people should be aware of the entrapment of these companies, but this was so poorly put together 🙈
    #getlouisthereouxonit

  50. Who the hell would go into this?
    When your seller dictates the rules of the retailer, then you are not an entrepeneur…

  51. And it doesn't work.

    A paper bag over the head is cheaper and more effective.

    (Unless you are an actual make-up artist, obviously.)

  52. I live by Melanie Huscroft, (co-owner of younique) and she is the sweetest thing ever. But I barely see any MLMs. I feel like it’s a little over blown ?? It’s not right, but personally I see more in Idaho then Utah.

    Just my personal opinion.

  53. MLMs, predatory in general, specifically prey on two vastly different groups:

    1) extremely tight-knit communities (e.g., Mormons, Hispanics)
    2) lonely, isolated individuals (e.g., new moms, military wives)

    I’ve gotten sucked into my share of MLMs—mostly in my early thirties—but the thing that saved me was that I knew I sucked at getting people to spend money they didn’t have. When I realized that was required for success, I was outta there. Just couldn’t do it.

  54. I’ve always wondered why the majority of European/British people I have seen have horrible teeth? Don’t they have “free healthcare” there?

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