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.
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 some anti-MLM 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.
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).
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.
No parties in a party plan
This is gonna seem like an afterthought to some of you.
There are others, though, who are thinking “you are overthinking this, lady. Tell your conscience to slow it’s roll“
For you, I want to highight this fact: the job 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 do parties on Facebook or in home.
You hold a party, invite people into your “VIP group”, book more parties, rinse and repeat.
It takes a lot of time.
The party police aren’t coming
Now, it can be done differently.
I had over 6 digits in personal retail sales that prove as much.
I sold things in a way that allows me to podcast, blog, and offer personalized run coaching at a fair price everyone can access.
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.
If you stumbled upon this post and are searching for something to blame in your own journey, I just don’t think the party plan is the villain here.
In fact, 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.
That is both the beauty and bummer of this business.
It actually isn’t about activewear…which 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.
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.
They are business savvy women who work really hard and commit to long hours!
This is not a bad thing! I admire these women.
If you’re considering a role like this, you just 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.
Square peg, round hole
When you don’t recruit heavily or do parties, you are a square peg in a round hole with this specific company culture.
Nobody has ever been rude or mean to me- in fact, they have cheered me on!
I am an outlier, though and another book that resonates with me is The Dip by Seth Godin.
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 and entrepreneurs, but not me.
ZYIA was the best professional development I’ve ever done- 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!
Any direct sales gig provides a built community of like-minded entrepreneurs that will show you the ropes on business basics.
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 call shots.
- They don’t get to manage people at work but have the ability to use leadership skills in direct sales.
- Values e-commerce drop shipping with proof of concept in the product and low entry points.
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.
I was the 2600th rep, 16th in NC when I joined 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 customers they built the business on it.
Even though I disagree with ZYIA’s closed model of business, I still stand by the quality.
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 truly love the women in this community.
Have a few dropped me cold now that I’m no longer officially a rep? Yes.
But for every one of them, there are 10 more who have invested in our friendship outside of activewear. I’m grateful for that and think it speaks to the majority of the women in this brand right now- they’re good people who care.
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!
Let’s Connect on Instagram
When I’m not running, lifting, momming (or working), you can find me on Instagram.
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