Before we start:
- I say so, WAY TOO MUCH. I’m working on finding other things to say, so bear with me as I sift my way through thesaurus
- I’m also working on finding a new addressment (?) for you guys, the collective, my fans. Again, please hang in here through this terribly awkward phase of the creation of my blog.
- I put headings in this post because it is long AF. When I have to do long readings for school, this always makes it seem shorter. I hope this helps.
The idea for this post came when I saw that a friend of mine, Renee Lawson, become an Arbonne consultant. I reached out to her and got my hands on some samples to try so I could really see what all of the hype is about. More info on all of this at the end of the post.
Before we go deeper into this, I want to say everything written here is my own opinion. I am in no way coming for the company or anyone associated with it. Renee knows this and has approved this post, so this is, in no way, a shot on her or anyone else associated with Arbonne. There is so much information online about the company and what everyone thinks about it, and I’m only trying to bring clarity for myself as well as all of you from my own experience. This research is also all my own, and I will link what I have used at the end of the post. My experience was neither bad nor good, simply neutral. It’s important to know that going into this “experiment”, I had no opinion of the company. In such a manner, continue reading to find out.
WTF is Arbonne? Is it a scheme?
The number one question that I think of as soon as anyone mentions Arbonne is “is it a pyramid scheme?”. When I started writing this post, I couldn’t fully answer that because I had no idea what a pyramid scheme even was. After some research, I learned that Arbonne is an MLM, or multi-level-marketing company, meaning they use a referral program as a marketing strategy. These “sellers” who you see on Instagram are not payed a salary (from what I can see) and make their money from commission and bringing in new clients and “sellers” to the company (the Arbonne term for these people is consultants). It seems as this kind of marketing is a strategy that markets the product at a lower cost, and the mother company (in this case, Arbonne) will always make money, no matter the sales. These practices seem to be legal but there does seem to be some controversy around it.
So, essentially, a pyramid scheme is defined as “a business model that recruits members via a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into the scheme, rather than supplying investments or sale of products.”. From the sounds of it, Arbonne does comply with this on the surface, but they also promise payments for enrolling others; ergo, I would classify this as a half pyramid scheme. It’s important to note that in a true pyramid scheme, someone always loses. In this case of an MLM, no one is really losing, simply someone is always winning more than you.
Tell me about ARBONNE, ALEX
From what I can see online, Arbonne is a company that takes a holistic approach to health and wellness. They say they are passionate about community and connection to nature, and they believe that everyone can flourish by being good to themselves, the community, and the planet. If you ask me, this sounds like some good shit. When I think of Arbonne, this is not what I think of, but hopefully, learning about this can prove me wrong. Arbonne uses plant-based ingredients, creates ethically made products, is developed with experts, and tested scientifically. So far, this all seems good and fair.
So, hopefully this opens your eyes to the other side of the company. You know, the more “real” side that doesn’t seem as sketchy as everyone makes it out to be. If you had no idea that Arbonne was “potentially sketchy”, then disregard that last comment.
This is what I learned
Renee and I talked for a good hour. I learned a lot. We started the conversation with her explaining to me how she got interested in Arbonne. After falling in love Arbonne’s acne line as a budding 13-year-old, she realized how quickly the products worked. Obviously, as a 13-year-old (I actually don’t know the exact age she tried this, but I’m using my imagination), Renee couldn’t become a consultant, nor, I think, did she even know what that was. But University is a beautiful place and soon after her arrival to Laurier, she met a friend who was a consultant. We talked a lot about her first apprehensions when considering the consultant life. Questions like “what are people going to think?”, “how am I going to make this work with my busy life?”, and “is this really worth it?” popped into her head. But, as she wants to become a professional dancer and move to New York City, she knew the extra money would always be worth it.
After trainings and trying out all of the goods, Renee created a social media platform to share all of her experiences. She now uses it (@rpl_arbonne) to advertise, share her life, and create a community as a consultant. One thing that she kept mentioning to me is how much she loves the community that Arbonne has created. It seems that everyone, meaning the consultant team all over the world, is super supportive of new comers, and wants to do everything to help them get off their feet and have a good experience.
I wanted to know more about the nitty gritty. We talked about how you get started as a consultant, what she’s expecting to make, and all the other juicy topics. I learned that there’s a $59 start-up fee to becoming a consultant and the rest of the money that you put in is up to you. This means that she bought the products she uses with her own money. She explained to me that this is recommended, and it will help grow her business. Since she’s buying from “her store”, Renee therefore helps herself grow her store and hopefully get her to the next level. I’ve attached a photo that explains the money and levels of business a little bit better (Renee is at the “independent consultant” level), because honestly, it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around.
The most confusing part of this is the pay. Let me break it down for you:
Consultants make 35% commission on any product that they sell. This comes from “their store”, but don’t think that it’s separates from Arbonne, because it’s not. I like to think of it as a glorified affiliate link. This means that consultants are selling for Arbonne. They are NOT buying products FROM Arbonne and reselling them; that would be considered a real pyramid scheme. With this, Arbonne still makes the majority of the money. It can get a little bit more complicated, but I didn’t dive into it too much. Just to touch on it, however, Renee works under someone else, who is a District Manager (DM). Renee’s DM is named Jenny. Since Renee is “under” her, Jenny will also get a slice of the sale, but this portion doesn’t come out of Renee’s money, it is an extra cost that is taken off of the overall sale. So if Renee gets 35%, Jenny gets 15% (I’m not sure on the exact number, this is a ballpark), and Arbonne get the remaining 50%.
There are also bonuses from recruiting new consultants, and if Renee was to recruit me, then her team can grow to hopefully boost her up to become a DM, just like Jenny. Arbonne also has set up for each “worker” a little “treasure chest” that a small portion of money goes into to help each consultant save up for a white Mercedes Benz (yes, it does matter that it’s white). I didn’t learn too much more about this, but you can check out the website if you want to know more about it.
Now, she’s a few months into her Arbonne journey. When I asked her about the best part, she emphasized how she loved that she can create her own hours: “You get out what you put in, so if I don’t want to spend a lot of time advertising one week that’s ok! Alternatively, if I want to spend 10 hours in a week reaching out to people and trying really hard, that’s also awesome.”. Renee included me in a Zoom call a few days after our initial call, and the woman on the call (I think she was at the Area Manager level?) also highlighted this. Renee also really likes how this opportunity is allowing her to step out of her comfort zone and learn more about health, wellness, and how her brain, gut, and skin all work together.
From what I’ve touched on so far, it seems like the main selling points of Arbonne are these:
- You create your own schedule
- The already existing community
- You can make money by creating a community of people who support you, the brand, and like the products that Arbonne has created
The point about Arbonne being a clean company kept coming up. I mean, it was probably in every other sentence. Which, I get it; I totally do. You want your business to be recognized and appreciated for all of the hard work that goes into making it truly clean and good for you. But how is this any different from other clean beauty companies? For example, I know Kourtney Kardashian has created a company called Poosh, which emphasizes product cleanliness. I do get that this is a little different, because you can’t actually become a part of the company and make money from it. But there’s LOTS of brands who are hopping on this “clean beauty” trend right now. But from talking to Renee and Jenny, it seems like Arbonne has been doing this the whole time. Their website actually speaks to this, and you can find more about it here. So yes, from the looks of it, Arbonne has been a clean beauty company much longer than a lot of its competitors.
If you’re telling me that the biggest appeal from this is that you can sell your “favourite products” to your friends, make money, and promote your beliefs of clean, ethical, and sustainable beauty while making your own schedule, then I don’t see what sounds so bad about it. This isn’t me saying I agree with the company, but in this moment, I don’t really see the big fuss?
Real people, real experiences, real bad shakes?
I wanted to gather as much information as I could when writing this post. So, when a really good friend of mine reached out to tell me that her mom had an experience with Arbonne, we scheduled a call so that I could learn more.
I was introduced to my friend Lindsey’s mom, Catherine. We talked and I was able to get another great perspective on Arbonne from an actual consumer standpoint. Catherine told me she purchased Arbonne’s 30 days to Healthy Living program. This is approximately a $300 detox program, where you pay for a recipe book, Arbonne pea protein, digestion plus sticks, herbal tea, and some fizz sticks. This price also includes a few more powders such as green powder, fibre, and a body cleanse. Arbonne then markets some more add-ons that you can look at here. That link includes all of the information about this program, so check it out if you want to learn more. This program is super comprehensive, and has you cut out nearly all alergens or possibly problem foods such as wheat/gluten/yeast, dairy, sugar/artificial sweeteners, alcohol, coffee, vinegar, and soy. You’re then going to have a protein shake for breakfast and dinner. As you get into the program more, you can do down to one shake, and cook recipes from the book given to you while following healthy portion sizes. Arbonne recommends half a plate of veggies, one quarter of the plate protein, one eighth of carbohydrates, and one eighth of “good fats”. Before I continue, these portions are NOT Arbonne specific, and if you really care about your portions, the Canadian food guide states the exact same thing (give or take the healthy fats).
She articulated to me how she felt this was a lot. While she did admit that she didn’t know too much about what she signed up for before she started, she felt as if it wasn’t very sustainable. “It was a lot of shakes, and it took out a lot of food,”. She kept repeating to me. And I totally see where she’s coming from. For a first-time cleanse, this does feel aggressive to me. But I also know that, in order to really change your diet and your body, you need to be aggressive. You need to see what your body likes and what it doesn’t. However I don’t think you need to pay $300 to have someone else tell you to cut out problem foods and replace it with clean options – but that’s my opinion.
Catherine also mentioned to me her confusion with the protein powder and green powder. She questioned why, a company that emphasizes healthy living, is having her eat synthetic protein and greens, rather than the real thing (I say synthetic as in: made in a factory, made of many ingredients. This doesn’t mean the protein is bad, but more so the point that a real chicken is better than powdered chicken. Ew, who would ever eat that.).
To finish our chat, I asked her, “was this worth it?”. Without hesitation, she confirmed what I was thinking and I’m sure you are all screaming, “absolutely not.” To Catherine, the products were average, and didn’t seem worth it for the money. She did like the recipe book, because that was something she could use for a long time and work into her daily life. She again mentioned how she didn’t want to eat (or drink, I guess) shakes every day. She didn’t want to remain on such a strict diet. She didn’t want to continue to pay $300 every three months for some medium grade protein, and most of all, I think she wanted to rid her Arbonne consultant. One of the last things she noted was how the woman she heard of the program from, still, a year and a half later, crazy lady is STILL trying to sell Catherine these products. I had to laugh at this. Isn’t this what consultants do best?
Arbonne is not consumer sustainable
So, there’s a review on the 30 days to healthy living “challenge”. What do I think? Don’t waste your money. In a scenario like this one, it seems to me like the company doesn’t really care about consumer sustainability. What I mean by this is, these products are so expensive, as is everything else on the website. With that said, who knows how much these things actually cost to make. We already know that the company uses “cheaper” forms of marketing, so what’s stopping them from wanting to make more money? If you buy enough on Arbonne, you become a preferred client, who gets a discount. So, if you’re spending hundreds (lets face it, thousands) of dollars on Arbonne, reality is, you think that these products are the best of the best; meaning you don’t care that they’re costing you an arm and a leg to get. So, you, being the rich old lady that you are, are going to keep spending your retirement fund here. But, for us, average university students who work a minimum wage job, constantly buying these products is like ubering everywhere (sorry). I think it’s a total waste of money. Arbonne does not care that we’re (you’re) spending all of your hard-earned money on a $300 protein shake cleanse, only to do things that you can learn if you read the free food guide that Canada makes for us every year or so. That was a rant. Sorry. Basically, Arbonne does not care about how much money you spend, but how much they make. I hope I’m wrong when I say this, but it may mean short cuts with creating their products.
Can we talk about me now?
You guys, I know this is a long post, but it’s my blog and what I say goes. Let’s talk about me now. You seriously think I would write all of this to not try it out for myself?
In this section, I’ll take you through my review of all of the samples I got. Totally unfiltered. Here we go.
cHOCOLATE PEA PROTEIN SHAKE MIX
I’ll admit I tried this last. I’m pretty hesitant to try new protein mixes, only because I really like the ones I use. After I had worked out one night, I was in the mood for a chocolate shake, so I knew this was the perfect time to try it.
The packet is 45 grams, 20 of which are actually protein. I found this very powdery, but it was also my mistake at first as I needed more water. I’m not used to adding so much powder to my shakes. For comparison, my accessible protein of choice is LeanFit Complete Green Organic in the vanilla bean flavour. I get this from Costco. This is what I add to all of my “shakes”, meaning my nutrition smoothies. These are ones I make with real food like bananas, spinach, and whatever other fruit I can find. Other times, I do like to have a simple “protein shake” which just consists of water and the protein, and for this I use chocolate protein from Tropeaka. I don’t find a big difference between these two brands, they’re both great for me.
Anyways, the Arbonne protein has 15 grams of carbs and 9 grams of sugar. Ouch. Not necessarily what I look for in a protein. Again, for comparison, my Costco protein has 21 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs and 0 grams of sugar in one, 34 gram scoop which is the serving size that I use.
That’s what stood out to me when comparing these two brands. Overall, I’m not obsessed with the Arbonne protein, simply for the nutrition values. If I’m using protein powder, I want mostly protein.
Energy Fizz Sticks – Pomegranate Flavour
This was good, don’t get me wrong. But it felt like added sugar. I don’t drink pop, coffee, or any energy drinks, so having extra energy isn’t a huge thing for me. If I’m tired, I usually just suck it up. I will admit that it tasted good, and was a nice change from “typical water”.
One box of 30 sticks retails for $65.00, which comes to about 2 bucks a stick. If you compare this to a daily coffee, or Red-bull, it’s pretty similar. Arbonne does market these as having less sugar, so it’s a healthier alternative.
If I was to buy anything from Arbonne, it would be these, only because it’s easy and tastes good. I don’t feel like I’m really doing too much harm by using them, except for the single use plastic wrapping.
Mind Health sticks – Cherry lIME fLAVOUR
I think these only come in the one flavour, which wasn’t terrible. I’m not usually a cherry gal, but it tasted like fruit punch to me, so I could handle it.
These cost $71.00 per box of 30, which comes to again, 2-ish bucks per stick (a little more). These are suggested to support cellular and cognitive functioning, as well as energy production.
I don’t really know about these. It seems like a waste, or a rip off. How can I know that this little cherry lime stick will help me ace my finals? I want to see some proof. Until then, I’m saving my $71 for Lululemon.
Herbal Detox Tea
I have yet to try this. It literally came, one tea bag, no type of tea written on the package. It smells like hotel tea (don’t lie, you know what it smells like). Online, the only tea I could find is Arbonne Essentials Herbal Tea which retails for $21.00 a box of 20 tea packets. The description for the tea on the website is “Drink to your health. Take time each day to enjoy this delicious, mild, caffeine-free herbal tea with 9 botanicals.” What in the HELL does that tell me about the product. After a little more digging, it looks like the tea has milk thistle, peppermint, dandelion root, and a few other random leafs that I don’t usually drink in my teas. This is a no for me.
No. Just no. I thought I was drinking liquid bread, but the bad kind. This was another “stick” that you add to water, and apparently helps with intestinal health and gut flora to aid digestion. This costs $65.00 for 30 sticks, just like the fizz sticks. Nothing about this tasted good, and I honestly didn’t even finish it. With that said, I didn’t notice anything different about my digestion that night. Don’t waste your money.
Ps: Renee told me she mixes this with her fizz sticks, and she can’t taste the digestion plus. This is a valuable option, but I think if you need help with your gut, there are lots of other, more reputable options.
RE9 Advanced Skincare Set
This was by far the most comprehensive sample I’ve ever received in my life. I received a sample of 6 tiny bottles each with a different product to make me more beautiful. This included a face wash, toner, renewal serum, an eye cream, and both a day and night cream. This was the most I’ve ever skin-care-d. I will admit, it felt great. The products were all lovely, smelled nice, and nothing felt too abrasive.
I have pretty easy skin, so I think using such an in-depth system was a lot for me, and I noticed a few tiny breakouts as I finished off the samples two days later. This was nothing crazy, not even anything that you could see, but I was looking and I did see a little more than I typically do.
I also noticed some dryness around my nose towards the end, but again that may have just been a flaw of my own hands when applying the moisturisers.
While I enjoyed trying it, I would not purchase this. The whole set retails for $341.00. Yeah, this is a lot. Mind you it does come with 6 products, so about 57 bucks each. Still a lot, I know any guys who are reading this are cringing, but sometimes it’s what we do for beauty. Not me, I make my own face-wash, but I know lots of you do spend this kind of money.
But yeah, I wouldn’t buy it, but if you really want it, you go girl.
I PROMISE I’M ALMOST DONE TALKING
There you have it! My whole experience with Arbonne. I hope you learned a lot about the company, I sure did. I guess now you’re waiting for me to tell you what I think. Here it goes.
So, I’ve already told you that I don’t think Arbonne isn’t financially sustainable or smart. I think for a company where consultants continuously remind you that you probably need more, the products are priced way too high. I do understand that you have to pay for good quality, but from my experience, I didn’t find the quality of the product that unreal. Maybe, if this was 10 years ago where clean and ethical beauty wasn’t as emphasized, then this would be more worth it. But I think that today, whether you can get it right now or in a few months, way more companies are focusing on this and it’s super easy to find at half the cost.
I also want to talk a minute about the company itself. I find that so many people have such strong opinions on the way that Arbonne does its business. I personally don’t really understand why people have such strong feelings about this. If that individual chooses to be a part of a company that works in such a way, then that is up to them. They are simply doing the job of the consultant by reaching you to you, the consumer, to see if you are interested. All you have to do is say no.
I would love to write another post diving more into the controversy behind Arbonne, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do that unless I understood more about the company first. Be sure to let me know if that’s something that would interest you, and I’ll totally move it up on my priority list.
What are my final thoughts on Arbonne? Well, I think that this company works in ways that are different from typical companies today, and theres nothing wrong with that. What I think outsiders struggle with the most is the pressure that comes from consultants.
A lot of times, when you friends sign up to be consultants, they aren’t doing it as a way to annoy you. I think that these consultants genuinely want to explore the business and make money for themselves. The nature of how to do that, however, can be annoying to those people around the consultant. I think a lot of times these people who are getting started don’t have a massive circle to sell to, so at first, you have to start selling to people around you. This can get annoying, and I see how this can turn a lot of “consumers” away from the company. This, though, works in a dynamic of different things, like the price and the quality of the products themselves, so it’s not only about the annoying qualities of the consultant that may turn you away.
Take a minute to look at other companies that you may know of that are also MLM companies:
- The Body Shop
- Pampered Chef
- Young Living
Arbonne is just another one of these, which uses a different type of strategy than most of us are used to. There’s nothing actually illegal about this. There is nothing wrong with a business branching out to market in this way. Yes, this may be annoying and not what you agree with, but it’s totally allowed.
To me, something about Arbonne still seems fishy, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the fact that it seems like all products are recommended to you, versus you stumbling upon it yourself. I think there’s a huge push with selling products here, and I’m not too sure why. With other companies, there’s not as large of a push. When you walk into the Bay and the consultants won’t leave you alone, its got to be a similar feeling to this. Having someone reach out to you, telling you that you’re perfect for the job, that you’ll love these products, just seems like a lot to me. It feels like they’re targeting everyone, and they don’t really care about you as the consumer, but more about the sale.
I learned from this that Arbonne is nothing special. We’re talking about a company who emphasizes clean beauty and ethical standards with a very high price range. So, have your own opinion about the company or take my standpoint, but whatever you do, I want to leave you with this:
Know what you’re talking about when you rip on a company that uses MLM as a strategy. Don’t come for your friends who work as consultants – they want to make extra money just like you do, they’re just choosing a different way of doing this. Try the products out for yourself to make an educated claim about how much you hate the company (or how much you love it). And most importantly: don’t waste your money on fizz sticks.
I really hope you guys liked this post, I had so much fun writing it. I learned so much and I really hope you did too. I know this is a different kind of post from what you typically see on here, but I wanted to really dive deep about something I’ve been wondering about. If you liked this post, I would love to hear some feedback! The best way is to send me a message on my Instagram or Facebook page, both are linked below.
I also want to thank Renee SO MUCH for the hook-up on all of these products, the zoom calls, and for all of the information that was used in this post. You can check her instagram profile out here and message her for more info.
Here are some of the links that I used to find the info you saw here:
As always, thank you for being here and getting this far! I have so many exciting posts coming up that I know you’re going to love! Make sure to follow me on all of my socials for constant updates and you can subscribe to my blog so you get my new posts delivered right to your email! Stay safe my friends, you all rock.
If this is your first time to my page, thank you for being here, reading through this post and supporting me by visiting my blog! I still have a lot of work to do but your support means more than ever. You can follow my blog on Instagram: @girlbosspending as well as my personal account @allexxyoung . Check out my creative writing tab at the top of this page, as well as give my facebook page a like so you can see other updates! Leave a comment below and let me know if there’s anything you want me to write about or if you have any suggestions. You can also let me know what you thought about this post and leave some kind words! I appreciate you so much, go be the best you can be!