10/7/17

{l.e.a.v.i.n.g LuLaRoe}

sometimes blogging can be a scary thing ... you open yourself up and become transparent and it's through the written word which means that your facial expression, body language and tone of voice can't be heard. that is why i often create posts in my head for days, sometimes weeks before posting them, and many don't get posted!

THIS is one of those posts.

a few weeks ago, i put up a video on my facebook page about "leaving lularoe" and i got feedback ... some good, some not so good, and i ended up taking the video down.

here i am, weeks later and in the same position i was when i made that video so i'm taking the time to share ... it is up to you if you want to continue reading or not.

in april of 2016, i discovered lularoe through a vendor that was at an event i attended. i liked the product, was intrigued by the concept and immediately booked a party. rick thought the clothes were cute and that it was a business i should look into joining. i spoke at length with the girl who ended up being my sponsor, and after prayer and much discussion, rick and i decided to take the leap into the "lulaworld"! this was a huge decision as you are essentially purchasing your own boutique, which does not come without cost. i sent in my paperwork on may 1, with the premise that if it was meant to be, i'd have the necessary funds in hand by the time my "on-boarding" call came ... in 6-8 weeks. during my time of waiting for the "call" to come, i started cleaning our house and purging ... so we'd have room for all the items i'd be receiving and also to generate some of the money i'd need to purchase my initial inventory! we actually sold 2 t.v. sets and many other miscellaneous household things we just never used {the purging felt very good!} 

fast forward to june 30 when "the call" came ... eeekkkk, i had the money in hand and i was so excited, to say the least! when my $6,000 + of inventory {yes, that is the initial investment} arrived, i was a bit disappointed ... I received it on july 8 and 1/3, yes a full 1/3 of it was 4th of july items ... 1/3 of the new items i'd just paid good money for were from a holiday that had just gone by! the day it arrived we had been at the Christian music festival "lifest" and it was 11:00 p.m. when i opened those boxes, and sat in the middle of my dining room, surrounded by clothes i was afraid would never sell {who wants 4th of july on july 9th?} and cried. i finally went to bed feeling defeated, before i even started, and even e-mailed lularoe that night asking if they were setting me up to fail {they never responded}. when morning came, i decided i could make the best of it or the worst of it, so i shook off my disappointment and dug in! 

to say it took off beyond my wildest imagination, despite all the red, white and blue items would be an understatement! lularoe was still new to many people, and there was great excitement! i put in many, many long hours, but i did love it! i loved what i was doing, i loved the interaction with other lades. i loved watching my customers come out of the dressing room looking and feeling pretty!

i.was.busy.! i signed up for vendor events, booked pop-ups in my home and packed my inventory to do pop-ups at the homes of friends and strangers! i traveled with my inventory and did all i could to make my business successful! 

i took time each tuesday at noon to tune into the home office call where weekly we were encouraged ... encouraged to build our business, to build our downlines ... and how were we to do that?  well, of course by BUYING MORE INVENTORY! from my immediate upline all the way to the top, it was preached "go deep before going wide" {meaning buy more of one style, carry 8-15 of each size in each style, and then when you got there, add a new style}! "the more you have, the more you'll sell" was the mantra. we were asked on home office calls why we would "waste" our time sitting down to watch a t.v. program in the evening when we could be building our business? we were encouraged to read motivational books to build up ourselves and our businesses, but, better yet, get those books on audio so you could work your business {take pictures, pack, ship, post photos ...} while you listened to the motivation. while i am in no way opposed to hard work, i was honestly putting in 12-14 hours a day on lularoe.  i missed so much of life because my phone was attached to me so i wouldn't miss a sale. i checked and answered messages at 5:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. as i was falling exhausted into bed, and yes, often when i got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. granted, i was blessed. the income from lularoe allowed us some luxuries we would not have otherwise afforded, and for that i am grateful! but lularoe and my business had become my little "g" god and i didn't like what i was becoming because of it.

early in the spring of 2017, i had a month where i exceed $12,000 in sales, which meant that i had "cruise qualified" ... for my 1st month ... i needed to do this for 6 of 8 months to earn the free cruise offered to top sellers. the next month, my sales weren't 2/3 of that amount, the next month, maybe 1/2.  the market was obviously becoming saturated. in my small area at one time there were probably 20 consultants i was aware of ... all competing for the same local customer base, vendor events and "pop-up" parties {in home selling events}. i began to feel a slave to lularoe and some mornings didn't even want to open the door to my lularoom that had become so overrun with clothes it was no longer my happy place! i had 400+ pairs of leggings in addition to 600+ other pieces of inventory and my customer base had seen all of it, and was begging for more, but i had no where to put more, and what was here wasn't selling ... and the "kicker"? we were strongly discouraged from putting things on sale {what retailer doesn't clearance out the old to bring in the new}?

with things literally coming to a screeching halt and my sales diminishing at a rapid rate, i was beginning to get nervous. in april 2017, lularoe announced a 100% buyback policy meaning that if a consultant just wasn't doing well, the company would buy back their inventory at 100%, basically no questions asked. while i thought this was amazing, i didn't want to be a quitter, and continued to do my best to build my business, promote the "up-sell" to sell more inventory and to "buy more so i could sell more".

finally in early june, i shared my mis-givings about all of it with rick and we, together decided to wait it out through the disney launch thinking that this may be just the "grand-slam" we needed to kick-start my business. it proved to be the opposite. from the night of the launch of the first items it was not what i'd hoped it might be. when and if i could get product, others had gotten theirs a good week before me, and many shoppers, even my "loyal" ones had gone elsewhere to claim their favorites, so when mine arrived, they were old news. 

the month of july was spent in soul searching, prayer, lots of discussion with rick, tears and more prayers asking for clear direction as to what to do .... bringing us after a series of events to august 1 where it became clear that leaving lularoe was the right thing to do. i made the difficult call to home office followed by my official resignation e-mail. my resignation was accepted and i was advised of my next steps. the process seemed fairly cut and dried, and at that point, the retailers that i'd spoken to had had a seamless transition with the funds from their returned items in hand in about 6 weeks, 8 max. checking the calendar, this meant that we'd easily have funds before the beginning of october, which was perfect as we'd be attending taya & justin's wedding in georgia on october 13. we were cutting it close, but not in the least concerned. lularoe had been very good to us up to this point, why would it change now? 

armed with all this information, i did run a few "GOOB" {going out of businss} sales, but felt guilty that I was undercutting my teammates and fellow lulasisters so i wrapped those up and began the tedious process of sorting, taking inventory of, and with my mom's help, neatly packaging 100's of pieces of product getting it ready to box up and ship out when my return mailing labels arrived.  finally, 24 days later, on august 24, i had those labels and on august 25, we brought 9 boxes of inventory worth $9,747.00 wholesale to ups to be shipped back to lularoe. 

per the tracking numbers on all 9 of those boxes, they arrived and were signed for on august 31 ... and then the wheels fell off the bus.

folks, since the day i shipped out those boxes, i've not had my lularoe inventory to sell. i COULD have gone on selling it at a discount 50%, 60% off, but didn't because it didn't feel like the right thing to continue doing when i had friends and teammates still trying to sell at full price. the fact remains though, that on 8/25, i packed up my business and entrusted it to a company whose motto is to bless lives and strengthen families. i sent back, per the policy they instituted almost $10,000 worth of my life. and you want to know a little secret?

I STILL DON'T HAVE MY REFUND CHECK and it is not on the visible horizon. before they will issue the check, they will send me a verification, to make sure that my total anticipated refund amount matches what they counted in the warehouse. if that number is off, i provide documentation as to the discrepancy and wait for their reply. once i do agree to that amount, i wait for the next check run, which can vary from every wednesday & friday, to every friday to every other friday ... depending on the whims of lularoe that day, or so it seems. this process may also be stalled because their printer is broken {which supposedly accounted for a week long stoppage in the issuance of checks} or because their phone lines are down {another weeks worth of delay}. this from a multi-million dollar company who just opened another warehouse on the east coast to handle the influx of business.  a company that of their own accord offered the buy-back program, and encouraged consultants who were no longer able to continue with the business to take advantage of rather than selling at a discount and  hurting other consultants. a policy that i trusted. from a company that i trusted. for the record, i'm in this sad situation with 1,000's of other consultants who are owed $100,000's of  refunds. emails to the company are replied to with canned automated responses and calls are answered by "day makers" who read a scripted response and offer little more than what lularoe has instructed them to say ... this after sometimes waiting on hold 2, 4 even 8 hours!

$9,747.00 ... $9 ,747.00 of inventory sitting in a warehouse for over a month. a check for $9,747.00 anticipated for over a month, and still no sign of that check arriving any time in the near future. for this small town girl who was running a home-based business from a spare bedroom ... that's a pretty good chunk of change.  

and you know what? i feel like a quitter. i feel like i gave up. i feel defeated. i feel cheated. i feel sad. i am scared that i may never see that money.

yes, i KNOW that my GOD is bigger than lularoe. i know that my GOD knows what is going on and He has a plan for it all. i "know" all these things, but that does not make waiting for this amount of money any less stressful. it has caused some "intense fellowship" between rick and myself. it has caused more sleepless nights than i will admit to. it is draining on me and i'm tired.

so while i don't want to completely "throw lularoe under the bus" if you mention my journey with them, i may respond less than exuberantly! 

i am thankful for the blessings they afforded my family ... more than i can express, but right now, i'm also disappointed with how they are dealing with this situation. i'm disappointed that i and so many others are left at their mercy. i'm hopeful that some day in the not so distant future, i'll be able to report that my check arrived and i can breathe easier and put this behind me and move forward, but for right now ... just keeping it real ... this kinda stinks! 

if you read this all the way through, thank you. i didn't post for you to feel bad for me, but to let you know what has transpired over the last 2+ months. to give you another "glimpse" into my life. 

... and i guess also to encourage you that even though life will bring us to times like this where we truly have absolutely no control ... GOD remains in control ... and again tonight as i lay my head to sleep, wishing today would have been the day my funds would have arrived, i'll still thank God. 

for His provision for each day.

for the fact that He is not unpredictable and will not fail me, ever.

for the fact that even these circumstances do not surprise Him.

for my amazing husband who has stood by my side through every step of this journey, and continues to be my rock.

for my new business which is so very refreshing!

for the promises in His word that i'm cherished, loved and adored!

10/5/17

{d.r.e.a.m.s.}

being transparent

this is has always been the most difficult part of writing/blogging for me

being transparent

i don't want to post and get a bunch of "oh, i'm so sorry" comments
{i don't blog for pity}

i don't want to post and hurt anyone
{my girls, my husband, family or friends}

i don't want to stir up division or hurt.

but, let's be honest, sometimes life.is.hard.

sometimes the past collides with the present and leaves you reeling a little bit.

sometimes just being able to verbalize that we are human and we have hurts, and pains and that life is real is all we really need to do, and sometimes being able to share that can or will encourage someone else that there is HOPE, hope that can be found in Christ alone!

if you haven't already figured it out ... "this" is going to be one of "those" posts! {so please, in advance, i'm not looking for pity and i pray that my words don't cause pain to anyone who reads them ... but here goes}

we have a wedding coming up ... taya & justin will be getting married in just a few short days! this is such an exciting time! taya is our "middle" and i'm afraid that sometimes she got lost in the typical "middle" child position. i honestly pray daily that this sweet, precious girl knows just how much her mama loves her and that she will forgive me for the mistakes i made in being her mama and that our relationship will continue to grow and flourish as she becomes a wife and {hopefully, hint, hint} a mama! we love justin and know that God has blessed taya with an amazing guy to spend her life with!

because, seriously ... what's not to love?!! :)


in all seriousness though ... from their first date to their engagement ... which was a day fit for a princess ...


we have fallen in love with justin {almost} as much as taya has and we are looking forward not only to their wedding day, but to the life that God has called them to together!

sweet, precious ty just had his 9th birthday ... he's had more birthdays without his papa than with him and his memories of papa will mostly be through the stories he hears us tell of him than real memories ... but i can assure you precious ty {and mama ashley} that you were loved with an immeasurable love ... and THIS picture to me is the perfect depiction of that love {i think we have pictures of each grandbaby just like this with their heads cradled gently in papa's hands}


this may seem all very random, and in reality it is but i share these little things to say that life is not always what we plan for it to be. life {and death} is not in our control. 

last night, as i snuggled in bed and fell asleep, safe and secure in the arms of the amazing man that God has brought into my life, i fell asleep praying prayers of thanksgiving to God! thanksgiving for the amazing life i had with rickey {because let's be honest, with taya's upcoming wedding, it would be hard not to think of her daddy} and the beautiful girls we were blessed with ... being their mom has truly been one of the greatest blessings i have ever had! i was thankful for my wonderful "bonus kids" nick & ashley and their families who are such a blessing!  i was thankful for the new life God has given me and the miracle of being able to love again, and truly enjoy life with a man who desires to follow God's leading in our lives and desires that we leave a legacy for Him! i was thankful that i have 3 more "bonus" sons because of rick and that my life is truly so full and blessed!  i fell asleep safe and secure and thankful, oh so thankful!

as night gave way to morning, i was dreaming. this is not unusual, I have dreams all the time! some are vivid and memorable, some are vague and blurry, some make complete sense and some are dis-jointed and make no sense ... they are dreams after all! last night though, my dreams were just unsettling. maybe it's because the wedding is coming up, maybe it's because it was just sweet ty's birthday, maybe it's because i'm finally chasing a dream i've had for awhile that rick has been strongly urging me to pursue. i'm not sure why but last night i dreamed that rickey died. yes. i know. rickey died almost 6 years ago. but in my dream he died. and then he died again. and again, and again. and although it was only a dream, it was an unsettling one. one that left me just a little "off" and a little teary this morning! i know that i know that i know where rickey is today! i am thankful and blessed to have had an amazing life with him! I am thankful and blessed that God brought my sweet "new" rick to me! i know that it was just a dream, i know that i'm blessed and held in God's hand and that all things work together for good, but still it was unsettling! 

all this to say ... i guess grief hits when you least expect it! when i met rick, you may remember if you've read my blog for awhile he asked me "when are you going to grieve"? because with him, i could share that i hadn't. that i felt like something was wrong with me because i didn't cry, honestly, i almost never cried. i held it in because i had to be strong for everyone else. i didn't grieve, at least not well ... and in that simple question he gave me permission to grieve, and he gave me the promise that he'd be there to support me through that process ... and i became free! free to fully love again and full to grieve in my way, in my time. but, boy-oh-boy, it sure can hit at the strangest times! 

where am i going with this? i guess i'm not sure ... i just felt the need to share with you all ... to share that God IS good! that He loves us all the time. that we are held in His everlasting arms and He does carry us through ... and that sometimes, the past does collide with the present and we just have to "go with it". of course in a "fairy tale world" rickey would have been here for ty's birthday this week, and for taya's upcoming wedding and for all of the milestones that have come since 11/5/11 and all those that are yet to come ... but God ... but God in His infinite wisdom knew that rickey was supposed to come home on that november day in 2011. He knows more than we do and He has written each day of our lives in His book before any of them came to be {it's in psalm 139 ... check it out if you don't believe me}! He knows. He cares. He was there and He is here! He gives and He takes away ... blessed be His name!

so ...  as i maneuver through this day, as i shake off the remnants of sleep and a dream that {yes} was unsettling, i rest in God, knowing that where i am today, who i am today, and what i'll do today {and for all the days of my life here on earth} is because of Whose i am today! 

xo, sheila

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