NaBloPoMo’09: Fired Up

I subscribe to several feeds of varying nature: some of them are strictly for boredom-curing (Savage Chickens, anyone?), some are hobby-related (The Kitchn, ftw), and some are information-based (Daily Blog Tips, ie).

One of them is a frugal-living blog.  I like spending wisely: it keeps me with a car to drive to work, food to eat, and a little extra when I want to splurge – all at the same time.  Sometimes, the advice is good, and I have run with it; sometimes, it seems a little more cheap than frugal, but hey – some people get off on being cheap (making your own detergent- really? I don’t know about you, but my time is better spent doing other things than making laundry detergent).

But this is the second time that I’ve been offended by a frugal living blog (and their community of commenters) because of the negative things that they’ve had to say about Direct Selling businesses.  For those not in the know, Mary Kay is a member of the Direct-Selling Association.  It is not a pyramid scheme – which is illegal in the United States (MK wouldn’t have celebrated it’s 50-year anniversary if it had Bernie Madoff’d it’s way there).

At any rate, this blogger basically went on to say that these companies, like Mary Kay, Advocare, Longaberger, and Pampered Chef, use duplicitous marketing techniques that emotionally blackmail customers into buying products.  In the frugal community, direct selling is used as a perjorative: associated with dirty materialism and the worst that capitalism has to offer.  I have marketed my wares to potential clients, just like any other business would: I have offered deals, coupons, and incentives to buy – just like any other business has.

The long and short of it is that there are some consultants – not just in MK, but in every business – that can make the whole bunch look bad.  But the reality is that when you buy from a direct-seller, you directly support the person who is selling to you.  I am lucky to work in a district of women who have worked their way from independent consultants to directors – of their own merit.  These women have earned cars, jewelry, gifts, trips and pensions – by working hard.  If they didn’t work, they didn’t make money.  These are all professional businesswomen.

If you don’t like my product, fine – a "no thank you" isn’t going to kill me.  But don’t get on your high horse about "buying local" when by boycotting your local MK consultant’s party you are shitting in the shoe of that ideal.

And for those in the frugal community who think that somehow they are above the marketing – well, good for you, I guess.  You are able to demonize a group of people who are working their own businesses into nothing more than succubi looking for their next dollar.  I defy you to find a business that never marketed, that never advertised, that never asked for a referral for their products. Mary Kay Ash went from being a single mother to a multi-billionaire whose product is now being sold in over 50 countries. 

I suppose it’s all in what you want to support.  Frugalists who want to find better deals on cosmetics by purchasing from a drugstore are also buying products made outside of the United States for pennies.  They support companies that use saved profits by underpaying their outsourced labor to pay faceless shareholders in a company could care less about supporting women who want to start their own businesses.  Hey, if that’s worth it to you to save a dollar and not feel "emotionally blackmailed" – well, I suppose you have every right.  It is your dollar.

If You’re Gonna Spew, Spew in This…

As is the ilk with anything electronic that I own, my laptop has taken a semi-major dump. My wireless card is shot, meaning I need to plug directly into the router in my basement.

This is like that disgusting, wet belch you hear your best girlfriend make before she becomes a fountain of all the Long Island Iced Teas (“hey, there’s no tea in this”) that she just had.  I have spent the last two hours metaphorically moving all of my stuff out of my handbag and into my pockets in case she might need it to barf into. I’ve managed to get everything of great importance into storage to mitigate the damage.

A week before I have a mjor project due in my grad class, and as the holiday season hits full boar for MK, I need to start scouting the possibility of buying a desktop computer.

I’d been planning for the last six weeks or so that I’d needed to move my base of operations into a more business-like setting.  I really wanted to wait until Black Friday, when I could get someone to go to Best Buy for me (as I will be looting at the Ann Taylor Factory Outlet), but I might not have that luxury.

In addition, I had been hoping that there would have been major renovations to the basement office in preparation for the big move.  As it is, there are a lot of spiders’ nests (ew), the whole office portion is an unorganized mess, and there isn’t a sufficient amount of heating to make the space a comfortable work area. K suggested that I invent an adult-sized, electric onesie, but I highly doubt I can fabricate and patent that before I start working from my home office.

The only upside to all of this was that at least my computer managed to hold out until after Windows 7 dropped.

I guess there is a silver lining.

Conversation Fodder

This week in my Environment of Business class, we are talking about ethics as they pertain to business.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much this subject bores me.  Allowing students to take the floor to talk about their belief system as a symposium for academic thought is a waste of time: each party is convinced that their way of seeing the issue is right.  Ethics are a belief system, and belief systems aren’t objective conversation fodder.  I don’t see anything learned about that – it is just a great way to filibuster a classroom and create a rift.

I’m just not interested in discussing my personal ethical believes with a classroom full of strangers, just as I am not interested in discussing my moral beliefs (which for this chapter in class, are pretty much interchangeable).  I don’t care to be judged in an academic setting as to what my personal beliefs are in practicing business.

Chug, Chug, Chug

Life keeps chug, chug, chugging along.  Sometimes, we’re skipping arm-in-arm; sometimes, I’m getting dragged three paces behind by the wrist.

It’s interesting to look at this holiday season as my first as a business-owner.  I now understand why the retail business is so calendar-skewed as it is.  You have to make sure that you are letting the customer know that you are there: you are a wonderful – the only option – for their gift needs this holiday season.

So, the prep is on for a few holiday boutiques to showcase the new MK products for the holiday season.  I’m planning for one at the end of the month, and two in November.

Prep, prep, prep, prep, prep.

But in reality, this is so much fun.  I love all the planning, designing, and marketing.

I was built for this.  I was built to run my own business.