I Was Not Prepared For The Bonkers Ride Of ‘LuLaRich’
I was totally obsessed with LuLaRoe. Listen, those leggings were the most comfortable thing I had ever put on my body. Before I finally stopped, I think I had somewhere in the range of 30 pairs of leggings, plus an assortment of other items. I spent probably close to $2000 on LuLaRoe stuff. And now? It’s mostly gone. I donated pretty much all of it, save for a few items. A woman in her 30s doesn’t need to wear leggings covered in milkshakes.
In 2017, there was no bigger story than the beginning of the end for LuLaRoe and their “buttery soft” leggings empire. Citing quality control issues (leggings shredding like wet toilet paper, moldy inventory, and my personal favorite, seams sewed to make things look like genitalia) people started seeing the writing on the wall and jumping ship. Buy, Sell, Trade groups quickly turned into GOBO (going-out-of-business) groups where consultants were selling their inventory below retail cost to break even. It was a disaster of epic proportions, and while it was fun to watch a pyramid scheme implode, you do have to feel bad for some of the consultants, especially the bottom tier ones who ended up in more debt at the end than when they started.
Amazon Prime Video released ‘LuLaRich,’ a four-part docuseries, that goes in depth into how the company started, and also how they were ruined by their success. As a former LuLaRoe junkie, I had to watch it. Let me tell you, it was a RIDE. Here are my thoughts while watching.
Deanne and Mark Stidham are BONKERS
These two are the Mormon equivalent of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, down to Deanne’s overly coated eyelashes. It’s awesome that they were willing to sit down and tell their side of the story, but I don’t think anyone could have been prepared for what we learned.
The Stidhams have a weird Brady Bunch-esque family. Combined they have like 14 children, not counting in-laws. And get this, one of Deanne’s sons (I believe he’s adopted) is married to one of the daughters they adopted together? I’m fuzzy on the details because my ears stopped working when I heard their children were married. What in the chicken fried hell is happening?
Weird family relations aside, Deanne and Mark Stidham are confusing AF. It’s hard to know if they’re as nuts as they seem, or if they’re playing into some sort of character archetype. But either way, it’s hard to wrap your mind around what you’re watching whenever they’re on screen. It’s fun to laugh at them until the story starts to shift into the darker side of LuLaRoe, and then they quickly pivot to these sinister villains and you’re not expecting the whiplash.
‘LuLaRich’ is intercut with video testimony from when the Stidhams, along with two of Deanne’s sons and nephew, had to testify when the state of Washington took them to court because LuLaRoe is a pyramid scheme. Deanne comes off as an even bigger airhead than she does in the one-on-one interview, which is hard to believe. She pretends to know nothing about the business in court, but then will give a full explanation in the interview. Like ma’am. Pick a lane. And Mark? Oh we’ll get to him again later.
Oh my god, have the clothes always been so ugly? (spoiler alert: yes)
Looking back and seeing the clothes on the advertisements, and seeing those clothes hanging on racks in the consultants’ homes, I realized how hideous and garish that shit is. They talk to one of the designers who made the patterns and she basically says that they just winged it most of the time. By 2017, there was such a high demand for designs that they were just throwing shit onto fabric to meet their quotas. So when you see those oopsies of designs of buildings looking like dicks or hamburgers that look like vaginas when sewn together, it’s because they were just rushing to make products.
When you see footage from their conventions or company cruises, it’s just an eyesore of women in loud prints who all basically look like carbon copies of each other. Fucking terrifying.
LuLaRoe was (and is) a fucking cult
One of the former consultants says it outright in the third episode, but you can see the seeds being planted all along. Deanne and Mark sold LuLaRoe to potential sellers as an opportunity to create family and community, but at the same time, made the sellers buy into the company (hello, pyramid scheme). That’s why they were able to prey on vulnerable women who just wanted an opportunity to connect with other people and still be able to be present for their families. That’s literally the dream for every mother, as evidenced by every seller they talked to in the series.
But it goes so much deeper than that. Top sellers had certain expectations placed on them by Deanne and Mark Stidham specifically. And the expectations go way beyond sales — they were expected to dress themselves head to toe in LuLaRoe, have perfectly blown out hair and fit a certain body mold. Deanne got some shoddy weight loss surgery in Mexico and was having her sister shuttling consultants over the border to get the surgery themselves. Only one woman details the barrage of texts she received from Deanne directly, trying to coerce her into having the surgery. The consultant eventually said “thanks, but fuck no,” and was basically rebuffed by Deanne.
One top seller, who is Black, started working at the home office before becoming a seller. She tells the story of how she showed up to work in Chanel and Deanne told her to change into some leggings. She then went on to detail that she was invited on the illusive company cruise for top sellers, but it was “too many white people” for her. Which, fair. As a Black woman, I also wouldn’t want to be stuck on a boat with a bunch of white women. But it’s funny that as a Black woman who was literally selling the culture of whiteness, that’s where she had to draw the line.
I’m Sorry, Not Sorry For The Consultants
These women were sold an incredibly false bill of goods and that’s really sad. Especially the ones who reached the top of the pyramid, only to be kicked in the teeth. Of course that hurts. Two women got divorced over it, because they financially ruined their families.
This goes against everything Deanne and Mark Stidham had in mind when creating LuLaRoe. Turns out, they were feeding these vulnerable women messaging about how their husbands should be involved. The Stidhams are Mormons and firm believers that the husband is the king, and the woman is there to serve. Even though these women were literally using their blood, sweat, and tears to build this “business.” It was expected that they had over the reins and let their husband run things once she got successful. I’m sorry, what? What man wants to run a business selling leggings covered in unicorns?
There are so many more things I can say about this docuseries, but really, you just need to watch it for yourself. I binged it in one night, because it’s literally a runaway train wreck. You seriously can’t make some of this stuff up; it’s too wild.
‘LuLaRich’ is now available on Amazon Prime Video.
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