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28 Facts From The "Rise And Fall Of LuLaRoe" Documentary That Prove It's One Of The Darkest MLMs Out There

It's pretty LuLa-scandalous.

In case you didn't know, a multilevel marketing (MLM) company is a company that emphasizes both direct sales and recruiting others to work under you so you can receive a percentage of profit from the products they sell as well. The people above you are considered your "upline," and the people below you are considered your "downline." MLMs have been around for decades, and there's been plenty of controversy over the years surrounding their business practices. I should also note that MLMs are legal, while pyramid schemes are not. The main difference is that MLMs involve the sale of products, and in a pyramid scheme, no actual product is sold.

Recently, Discovery+, in partnership with BuzzFeed Studios, released the investigative documentary The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe.

The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe title sequence

The doc takes a deep dive into the suspicious business practices of the infamous leggings MLM and features reporting from BuzzFeed News senior culture reporter Stephanie McNeal.

Stephanie McNeal

Now, I personally feel like I should have an honorary PhD in LuLaRoe, and even I learned something new! Here are some key takeaways:

Note: People recruited to sell LuLaRoe are referred to by LuLaRoe — and also throughout this post — as "consultants." 

1. LuLaRoe originated in 2013 and was founded by Mark and DeAnne Stidham. DeAnne allegedly began making and selling maxi skirts at flea markets and out of her car before transitioning into an MLM business model.

DeAnne saying "Invite all your friends, we're gonna have a maxi skirt party"

2. LuLaRoe grew SUPER fast. In 2015, the company had around 1,000 consultants selling leggings. By April 2017 — just two years later — they'd recruited about 80,000 consultants.

A giant pyramid infographic of the 80,000 LuLaRoe consultants

3. The startup cost for LuLaRoe consultants originally ranged from around $5,000 to $10,000. Some consultants resorted to taking out loans or asking family members to help them join.

A consultant explaining how her mother gave her money from her 401k

4. LuLaRoe also allegedly encouraged potential consultants to come up with the startup funds by any means necessary, including selling their possessions and crowdfunding.

A former LuLaRoe consultant suggesting that potential consultants "get a loan, use credit cats, or borrow money from family"

5. LuLaRoe's marketing strategy heavily focused on stay-at-home moms with the promise that they'd be able to make "full-time income for part-time work."

Mark stidham asking "how many women would like an opportunity to earn income while staying at home"

6. Early consultants were allegedly instructed to write down 50 names of people they could possibly recruit.

A room full of LuLaRoe consultants

7. LuLaRoe's annual cruise was — and is — one of the ultimate incentives for consultants. In order to qualify, consultants have to sell $12,000 worth of merchandise for six straight months.

Consultants on the deck of the cruise

8. Mark and DeAnne were treated like celebrities — nay, GODS — within the LuLaRoe community. In fact, one year DeAnne, Mark, and their head designer, Patrick Winget, printed and sold leggings with their faces on them.

A close-up of a holiday legging with reindeer and DeAnne in a Santa hat

9. Mark and DeAnne pressured consultants and corporate employees to share their "WHY" at conferences and events. Elijah Tucker, a former hype man at events, described it as "a sob story to make you relate."

Elijah Tucker in the documentary

10. At one conference, after having Elijah share his "WHY," DeAnne pulled Elijah's mom — who had no idea what LuLaRoe even was — out of the crowd, brought her onstage, and onboarded her as a consultant in front of thousands of people.

Sharon Tucker

11. Consultants allegedly were pressured to post only their successes on social media, always with the hashtag #BecauseOfLuLaRoe.

Women in LuLaRoe clothing with the hashtag #BecauseOfLuLaRoe

12. If anyone said something negative about the company or their products on social media, consultants were instructed to immediately delete it.

One of the top LuLaRoe consultants telling a crowd full of people "be an editor, use that delete button"

13. Mark and Deanne often placed the blame on consultants when they struggled to sell product.

DeAnne telling consultants, "If your business has taken kind of a dip, it's because you took a slow thought process...and got yourself thinking about the negativity"

14. All LuLaRoe orders sent to consultants were "surprise" orders, meaning consultants never knew what they'd be getting. One consultant described the orders as "addicting" and said they felt like "playing a scratch-off lottery ticket."

A LuLaRoe consultant with boxes and boxes of product

15. The "surprise" business model created a "hysteria" around the clothing among both customers and consultants. Prints that rarely showed up in orders and were harder to find were called "unicorns."

A pair of leggings with kiwis printed on them with an arrow pointing to them that says "unicorn"

16. There was a ton of pressure on consultants to constantly "grow their inventory," aka spend more money to buy more product.

One consultant saying, "I made about $60,000 in my first year, and I just took that money and threw it right back in"

17. Mark and DeAnne hired basically all of their adult children and relatives to work as higher-ups within the company.

DeAnne with a group of her children/employees on a private jet

18. Mark and DeAnne are big believers in the "prosperity gospel," which preaches that being financially successful means you've been blessed and favored by God.

Mark Stidham on a Zoom call saying, "Want to know if you've been good to your fellow man? Check your bank account"

19. At LuLaRoe corporate, designers were allegedly told to create 1,000 new print designs a DAY, split between a team of just four people.

A former LuLaRoe designer saying "it was a stressful environment"

20. This kind of pressure forced designers to reuse print designs and layer them on top of one another to quickly create "new" prints. It also played a part in what I like to refer to as the Crotch Scandal.™

Samantha B roasting a pair of LuLaRoe leggings for featuring a giant bumblebee right in the crotch

21. Warehouse workers were allegedly expected to move and handle up to 15 million units A DAY.

A former warehouse worker talking about the quotas

22. At one point, LuLaRoe's warehouse was so packed with inventory that they began storing "thousands" of leggings outside. Since they were exposed to the elements, the leggings started developing mold and holes — LuLaRoe shipped 'em out anyway.

The leggings being stored outside, and a consultants wearing a pair of leggings with a GIANT hole in them

23. When one former consultant, Christina Hinks, began speaking out against LuLaRoe on her blog, MommyGyver, in 2016, she reportedly received death threats and hate mail. People also showed up at her door to threaten her. Meanwhile, DeAnne encouraged employees and consultants to "block all the trolls."

DeAnne in and Instagram live telling people to block all the trolls

24. Multiple consultants described being involved with LuLaRoe as being in a "cult." Not only were they pressured to look the same, dress the same, and devote all their time to LuLaRoe, but when consultants decided to leave the company, they were immediately dropped and excommunicated.

A consultant saying "I just can't think of anything else to call it"

25. Sam Schultz, DeAnne's nephew and one of LulaRoe's top employees, left the company in 2017. He later faced 26 felonies for running multiple scams. One included convincing people to "invest" in a medicinal marijuana farm that never even existed.

Woman saying "In total, Sam managed to take from me...almost $100,000"

26. In 2017, LuLaRoe changed their policies in order to "get away from being a pyramid scheme," according to Jordan Brady, DeAnne's son and a LuLaRoe executive.

Jordan Brady talking about the company's policy change in a webinar, saying, "we need to get away from being a pyramid scheme"

27. In 2019, the Washington state attorney general filed a lawsuit against LuLaRoe based on evidence submitted by consultants. Evidence included the "full-time pay for part-time work" claim, as well as Jordan's "pyramid scheme" comments.

DeAnne in her deposition

28. And finally, in 2021, LuLaRoe held a "DREAM" trip/conference in Cancún, Mexico, as if none of the above ever happened.

A shot of the beach in Cancún, Mexico
Top LulaRoe consultants chatting and laughing in mexico

This post just barely scratches the surface, so feel free to stream the full documentary on Discovery+. And tell us what you think of LuLaRoe and MLMs in the comments!