Selling on the Side: an in-depth look at independent consultants - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Selling on the Side: an in-depth look at independent consultants

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MADISON (WKOW) -- If you're looking for stylish jewelry, a purse or a new pair of jeans there's probably a local representative selling the product.

At-home parties, with companies like Lia Sophia and Thirty-One Gifts, have become a popular business.

Most of you have been involved, invited or know someone that has been to an at-home party. It's an industry some representatives embrace and others would not recommend as an independent business.

Independent consultants sell everything from jewelry, to denim jeans to beauty products all in the comfort of your home.

"I think it's awesome to get all your girlfriends together, sit and drink wine, have snacks and listen to music. And, gossip of course and then shop," says Tiereny Mitchell, Vault Denim Fashion Consultant.

Sheri Kanter works full time at the Bank of New Glarus and part time as a Lia Sophia representative selling jewelry. She networks with other women to find a party host, sends out invitations and advertises through word of mouth, newsletters and social media.

"I tried to talk my daughter into it and she said absolutely not and when trying to talk her into it, that's when I decided to give it a try," says Kanter.

Kanter says she makes $800 to $1000 a month, at least, to pay off a credit card bill.

Most independent representatives sell as a part time job, it's a way to make extra money.

Thirty-One Gifts Independent Consultant, Kari Vriesema says she really enjoys the industry and has been able to help her family with the extra income.

"We've been able to pay for a transmission replacement in our truck, being able to pay for ballet for gymnastics," says Vriesema.

Lauretta Bell, Beauti Control director and representative, says she also has had a positive experience as a representative.

"We lived in a 900 square foot apartment, four kids, two dogs and a cat and now we're in a 2600 square foot home," says Bell.

On average, representatives earn 20 to a maximum of 30 or 40 percent commission on each item sold.

One former home sales representative didn't have the best experience selling products during at-home parties. Marie Davis says as a former home sales representative she found it hard to make consistent money.

"There are so many representatives. Just like if you have 10 coffee shops, you can only sell a certain amount of product to people," says Davis.

Davis worked for two years looking to supplement her income. She felt pressure to sell and in the end lost money.

"When I look at the inventory of all the companies, I did sell for more than one company with commission sales set up differently, and it's very hard to make money in this economy with this type of business," says Davis.

Davis says some companies require a minimum sales amount for representatives, anywhere from $250 to $1000 every two or three months, depending on the company. She says it's a rolling month, which means your sales have to be in consecutive months.

Craft fairs, expos or places like the grocery store offer opportunities for representatives to find clients. Davis says a lot of clients are family and friends. She says once you exhaust them it's hard to find new clients to host a party.

"I think people sometimes feel obligated to purchase from you when they normally would not," says Davis.

Vault Denim, Lia Sophia, Thirty-One Gifts and Beauti Control were featured in this segment. Click the links above to learn more information about the products and companies.

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