Many earn extra cash in direct sales

March 30, 2009 9:46:55 AM PDT
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Many Houstonians are trying direct sales of beauty products, not just to make ends meet, but for some, to start a new career.

Milicent Banks is having the time of her life. She's taking her part time hobby as a beauty consultant for Mary Kay and turning it into a full time career after being laid off from her previous job in the health care industry.

"There are just certain things that you just can't make a profit right now, so direct sales, depending on what it is, is the way to go," she said.

Reports show that from 1987 to 2007, direct selling in the U.S. grew 4.5 percent on average, and the recession doesn't seem to be hurting. And with people being laid off, some have turned to direct sales jobs to make ends meet.

Kimberly Milton works for a NASA contractor and needs a part time job. She fears what the future may hold.

"There's been talk of contract changes with this and that with the aerospace industry," she said. "So this is a perfect time for me to start getting a part time thing going."

She signed up to sell Arbonne, a natural skin care line.

According to the Direct Selling Association, the average person works less than 10 hours per week and makes $2,400 a year in direct sales. Full time representatives reportedly can make $500 to several thousand dollars a month.

Christie Sumstad signed up in October after her husband's job was impacted.

"Then the hurricane hit and it snowballed into a huge catastrophe," said Sumstad. "I don't ever want to be afraid, like I was during that time period of losing everything that we had. The economy is just so up and down, I really wanted something that I could build that would be stable and be for a lifetime."

Plus, women aren't the only ones jumping on the bandwagon. Fifteen to 20 percent are men. Bryan Parks got out of the oil field to help his family and build upscale cabinets. But he needed more money.

"My fiancé was trying Arbonne and she started looking real good and I kind of snuck some in for myself and it's a really great product," he said. "I'm just getting started. I just started to build my empire."

And oh yes, his buddies are reacting.

"They're pretty open minded to it. They don't give me too much of a hard time," said Parks. "Being a man, we need all the help we can get. So they have products for men that help re-grow hair, get rid of wrinkles, so it's a win for everybody.

"I think there's a lot of money to be made and I really need that in my life right now," Parks continued.

There's one thing they all agree on. In direct sales, you should do something you enjoy. Also, in this economy, you need to make a plan before you ever get a pink slip, because you can no longer afford to put your eggs in one basket.

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