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Mum-of-three Sue Ardley tells Workingmums.co.uk that she thinks direct selling is ”under-rated”. Here, she talks about the income she’s derived from direct selling for nearly 20 years.
A friend told Sue Ardley that skincare range Neal’s Yard Remedies had decided to take the direct selling approach. ”I had always been a fan of their products and I liked the organic ethos behind the company, so I wanted to join,” said Sue. ”I hadn’t been particularly looking for anything but once I found out they were now selling direct I knew I just had to do it. The organic message is getting louder and louder.”
Sue has been involved in direct selling for 18 years since she had her children, Josh, now 20, Jake, 17, and 15-year-old Jessica. She joined Neal’s Yard Remedies in November 2009 and is now an independent consultant with 220 people in her team around the country.
”I know it’s a good way to earn extra money around the family,” she says. ”I think the direct selling industry as a whole is very under-rated. It’s almost like an underground movement – you have to stumble across it to learn the benefits. It’s the world’s best-kept secret – I think it’s because predominantly women are involved in it. We need to get the message across so that people could look at it more if they want to replace a full time income when they have had a family – they can achieve that with some effort and desire.”
When Sue, now 47, from Kent, left school she was self-employed and went into property development. In the 1980s, she converted some houses into flats, which she still owns.
But when her children were born, Sue took the direct selling route. She worked with Dorling Kindersley for eight years – she has worked for Phoenix Cards for 10 years and is still involved with the company. ”I worked when the children were asleep,” says Sue. ”They went to nursery school from the age of 18 months and I made use of the time that I had. Having kids is a great introduction to mums’ networks. If you’re alone, it’s so much harder, but if you’re involved in the likes of PTAs, schools, etc, you have got a mums’ network and it is so much easier to find an audience.”
Sue holds events in a number of different ways: toddler groups; party plan evenings; one-to-one selling experiences; fayres; coffee mornings; and office events during the day.
”I like coffee mornings the best where you have about five or six people,” she says. ”I was able to take my second son, Jake, along to them with me because he was a good sleeper and would just sleep through the whole thing. You can tell people about the brand and they can try the products without having to rush around.”
What about work-life balance? Sue says she’s happy with the balance of her work and family commitments. She estimates she works about three days a week. ”I’m not sure I can give it more than three days, because I’m still running the flats I own and I’ve got my own home to run,” she says. ”Three days work is enough. The flexibility I have has really benefited me.”
Sue thinks direct selling is an excellent way of fuelling mums’ confidence. ”There isn’t another industry which gives mums the ability to make an income and really keep up their confidence. A lot of mums who have had good jobs and have been out of work for a while lose their confidence. Direct selling helps you keep your confidence – it keeps you sharp – and you can still give your time to your family. You don’t have to make compromises – you can have it all.”