This post has two parts: 1. why I stopped being a ZYIA Active rep 2. sincere gratitude and direction for those of you who have supported me with your purchases.
I’ve moved to another website if you want to stay in touch and read my race recaps- nothing for sale!
Update: as a follow up to this post, I have a follow up article about how I left. You probably want to read this one first, though.
It’s actually really simple: my personal lifestyle.
I’ll unpack this a bit, but that’s honestly what it comes down to.
If you’re looking for a piece that slams the company, this isn’t it.
In March 2020, my husband and I read a book called Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki.
The book really resonated with me and I realized I was involved in a business that inherently meant bringing non-consumable items I didn’t need into our home on a regular basis.
Side note: I need to make really clear ZYIA did not require me to buy anything.
In fact, when I compare with other reps I probably bought the least of anyone since I stuck to staple items in a single color.
In order to be a good resource for someone, you have to try on things. You just do. Also, I had data from early on that showed people bought what I reviewed.
Minus those joggers in a bottle, of course. I still can’t believe someone would pay $80 for those things!
A lot of reps review things and then sell them to others at a deeply discounted price. This way, they are always cycling things in and out.
Great strategy for a minimalist…if you have an abundance of time.
I don’t. Perhaps in another season of life, but I currently have four elementary aged children including triplets and a full time job.
Why do I feel guilty?
Allow me to get really meta on you for a second.
Even if I keep my capsule and never buy anything myself, there’s absolutely a part of me that feels bad when someone is buying their 17th pair of leggings in a single year.
I know it’s not my job to make a value-based decision for someone else, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I was contributing to some sort of warped consumerism.
When someone asks me to give the short answer, this is it.
As soon as I embraced minimalism, I could no longer be excited about clothing anymore and I knew it was translating to my customers and team (even if I didn’t say it outright).
When I stepped back and looked at the business model, I felt guilty about contributing to the growth of “fast fashion”, which ultimately harms the people who make the clothes and creates a careless culture.
ZYIA releases products weekly and often has limited release items.
It creates an absolute frenzy each and every Wednesday.
For the first three years of the companies existence, the website would break weekly when new items published and reps overloaded the servers.
…and that’s by design. It’s not just ZYIA, either- it’s all of these brands that create a nonstop cycle of urgency (I’m looking at you too, Savvi, Fabletics, Shein, and others with 50+ releases annually).
Items are inexpensive enough not to care if you already own 30 sports bras but can’t live without the newest color. Wear something only a handful of times? No sweat. It was only $29.
Sister, I’m not here to tell you not to look for a great deal.
There’s a responsibility involved if you are part of the cycle, though.
Can you watch the documentary below, promote “must have” items every week, and sleep at night? You’re a better woman than I.
This is not the job you thought
Conscience aside, the ZYIA rep role is not just “wear and share”
I didn’t know this when I signed up (real talk: I just knew I loved the clothes!), but the most successful reps at ZYIA recruit heavily through a duplicated cycle of parties on Facebook or in home.
You hold a party, invite people into your “VIP group”, book more parties, sign on the person who hosted said party as a rep, rinse and repeat.
It takes a lot of time and oftentimes turns your friendships into business relationships.
The party police aren’t coming
Now, selling the clothes can be done differently. I had six digits in personal retail sales that prove as much.
Customers came to me when they needed something.
Even if someone never bought something from me, there was/is a podcast for fitness minded Moms every week.
You don’t have to do parties at ZYIA.
However, if you want to make the equivalent to a mid range salary or above, you need to wrap your mind around recruiting other salespeople.
Surprise! You’re a Recruiter
As a ZYIA rep, you’re not an activewear salesperson- you are a recruiter for other salespeople.
This is only great news for people who are okay with a constant hustle for new people to join their team.
I’m not here to debate the morality of this. I am here to say it’s exhausting.
I once heard someone describe team building in a direct sales company in this way: it’s like trying to fill a bathtub that doesn’t have a plug.
The water going in is like the new reps you’re bringing in; the water going out (because, no plug to stop it) is everyone leaving.
Can you make money?
I personally know several millionaires at ZYIA. They got in early, focused almost exclusively on recruiting, actively run Facebook ad campaigns 24/7, and invest a lot in systems and incentives for their own top recruiters.
These are business savvy women who work really hard and commit to long hours.
That peaceful social media break you took a few weeks ago?
They haven’t taken one since they joined.
Direct sellers work holidays, weekends, and attend multiple ZOOM calls daily.
If you’re considering a role like this, you need to understand the job: you’re a recruiter.
There will never be another time where you can shift your focus elsewhere- the compensation plan assures this in the ranking system.
For what it’s worth, an entry level professional recruiting salary is $46,000 USD and likely receives a full benefits package including 401K matching and paid vacation.
Square peg, round hole
When you don’t recruit heavily, you are a square peg in a round hole with this specific company culture.
Nobody has ever been rude or mean to me; many have cheered me on!
I am an outlier, though.
Another book that resonates with me is The Dip by Seth Godin so I know when to keep fighting and when my energy is better spent elsewhere.
There’s a lesson in everything
I walk away from this experience beyond grateful. The sunk cost fallacy gets a lot of direct sellers, but not me.
Any direct sales gig provides a built community of like-minded people (as an example, ZYIA reps are typically passionate about fitness) and they will show you the ropes on business basics.
ZYIA was fantastic professional development- so much so, I jokingly call it an “experience MBA”! It’s a trophy I put on the shelf.
To be left there- proud, but finished.
Surprise- you have an audience!
…well, finished with an asterisk because ZYIA gave me an audience.
I began from scratch with zero on Instagram in July 2018 to sell my activewear and now have 14K+ connections over there that allow me to negotiate combo brand deals for my podcast, which gets 500-800 downloads per episode.
Speaking of the podcast, it only exists because I didn’t want to start a “VIP group” or do parties. I figured my family and a handful of customers would listen. Wrong.
None of that happens without ZYIA. None of it!
Am I against direct sales?
This is hard. I don’t agree with the model but know entirely too many fantastic women involved in these businesses.
They are smart, doing things honestly, and operate from a place of love.
It makes me sad they’ll never achieve the financial success of those who have more deceptive practices, but that’s true with everything isn’t it?
Toxic leaders exist in every industry. Liars, too. Remember Enron?
And sometimes money isn’t the only reason folks do something.
Most direct sellers are part timers and fall into one of these categories:
- Traditional 9-5 and direct sales allows them to be creative and do something different.
- Entry mid level business minded folks who don’t get to manage people at work but get to use leadership skills in DS.
- Stay at home Moms or military spouses who desire a built community.
I believe multi-level marketing is an antiquated model the Internet will eventually wipe out.
The online shopping experience for consumers for any big brand on its worst day is better than a direct sales brand on the best. Oftentimes, you get better quality and pricing also.
There’s just too much on the Internet these days bringing bad practices to consciousness, too.
Having been in the industry, I know these “hey girl” gross types are the minority, but folks uncovering them are getting loud and it affects perception on a brand.
ZYIA showed me I prefer to be with companies that are small, which was helpful as I was interviewing for full time work after my 5 years as a SAHM.
As the 2600th rep, 16th in NC when I joined (there are over 100K now) and really loved the intimacy of the company in the early days.
I also liked telling the brand story to the 9 out of 10 people who didn’t know what ZYIA was!
It added a layer of intimacy I need (and wanted!) with customers and gave my team that “in the trenches together” feeling.
I’ve never worked at a true startup but I imagine the energy is similar.
It’s all Providence
I know some of you still want your All Star bras and Mesh Energy shorts and I hope you’ll keep buying them!
When you support a ZYIA rep, you tap into a community that cares so deeply for uplifting others they built the business on it.
Even though I disagree with ZYIA’s closed model of business, I still love the quality.
If you also love the quality but feel a little what-is-happening about supporting a multi-level operation, try a female owned small brand like LoveHer or Senita, where the quality is nearly identical at a much lower price point.
If you made it this far, I want to thank you! This was a really hard post to write because there’s a sense of finality and I do love the women in this community.
I hope you can see this is the best decision for me.
Whether you purchased activewear or worked with me on the team or within the brand, I’m not going anywhere so let’s stay connected!
Update: as a follow up to this post, I have a follow up article about how I left. Enjoy? (that question mark is purposeful).
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When I’m not running, lifting, momming (or working), you can find me on Instagram.
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