Direct selling can allow people the freedom to work around their children, says the Direct Selling Association.
Paula Giles, who’s 29 and lives in Bournemouth, loves socialising. “I could talk for England,” she says, “and I also love parties and meeting new people.” That’s one of the reasons that last year, the mum of one began organising parties with Best in Glass – a direct selling company that specialises in wine and spirit accessories.
“I feel really passionate about the idea of mixing cocktails, and learning about which wines go with particular foods,” says Paula, whose son Harry turns two in April. “The parties I throw are great opportunities for both men and women to come along, have a fun evening and take away some really useful knowledge.
“I’ve worked for other direct selling companies before, and what I really love about Best in Glass is the concept – as it reflects what I like and enjoy, and allows me to put some of myself in to my work. The parties I throw are fun for the people who come along, but they are also great fun for me to host.”
As well as a social gathering, the parties that Paula runs offer attendees the opportunity to buy wines, spirits and accessories, and Paula receives a percentage of the sales.
With a toddler around Paula finds it easy to fit her direct selling work around her son. “As I’m my own boss, my hours are flexible and I’m able to schedule my work when Harry is asleep in the evening, or when my husband gets home.”
This is one reason that many mums are finding direct selling to be such an attractive option – with direct selling you run your own business and that means you can choose how many hours you work and when they are.
There’s also no reliance on the traditional jobs markets, which is putting many people under increased pressure at the moment – because with direct selling, you do not work for a company, but manage your own. Start-up costs are low too, with the maximum a member company of the industry body The Direct Selling Association can charge you for initial start-up materials being limited to £200.
As well as the financial benefits of direct selling, many mums also find the social side of it to be very enjoyable. “I love that the products fit really well into everyday life so it makes it easy to get the conversation going,” says Paula, “and it means I get talking to people everywhere about something that I feel passionate about, and they are very likely to have an interest in too.”
This passion for her products helps Paula to sell, and according to Paul Southworth, Director General of the Direct Selling Association, is key to making a success of direct selling. “Within direct selling in the UK, we have a great range of companies selling a diverse range of products, and this means that people can match their own likes and interests to what they are selling,” says Paul.
Nicola Kelsall, a former teacher, fell in love with Barefoot Books, a direct selling company that specialises in children’s books, after seeing how her baby son engaged with the books. “He couldn’t stop touching the pictures and reacted in a way I hadn’t seen with the other books he had. I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of this community to share these books with other parents because they would love them too. There was really something special about them, and I knew my son sensed it.”
Nicola finds that working with Barefoot Books has been life changing. “I know that the work I am doing is important. Finding books that enthral children is crucial in developing them into enthusiastic readers. Direct selling with Barefoot Books means I can have a meaningful and fulfilling working life, whilst still being around to look after my young children.”
Nicola [pictured] thinks creatively to sell. She explains: “I created a flyer of ideal titles for Mothers’ Day, and sent it with a covering letter to places such as garages, fire stations, police stations – anywhere there might to be men wondering what to do about Mothers’ Day (or more likely, forgetting about it altogether!). I’ve offered free delivery to their place of work in time for Mothers’ Day, and I’ll do the same for Fathers’ Day, targeting places where there are plenty of women who might be pushed for time – such as hospitals and care homes.”
Jill Florence who’s 46 and from the north east of Scotland, also finds direct selling fits with her lifestyle, as a single mum to two boys aged eight and 10. “I joined ENJO which sells natural cleaning products nearly a year ago, and since then I feel like my whole life has changed for the better.”
Jill has now given up her part-time job to concentrate on ENJO full time. “The support you get is amazing, and this has helped me to build my business, mindful that the customers always come first. I have learnt so much since being with ENJO, not only about the product, but about how to have a good business that balances with my lifestyle.”
For more information on setting up your own direct selling business, see the Direct Selling Association’s website – ww.dsa.org.uk – it has a full list of all members who sign up to the DSA’s code of conduct which ensures they act ethically and fairly to direct sellers and customers. Lynda Mills from the DSA will be speaking about direct selling at Workingmums LIVE in London on 27 March.