Meet the Sales Moms
Marleana Cross Woodstock, Illinois Mother of five children, ages 2 to 11
- What she's selling: Specialty teas, scone mixes, teapots, china, and tea accessories for Tealightful Treasures. She runs parties where guests sip tea, socialize, and later buy products.
- When she started: 2004
- Earnings: About $400 a month, working about ten hours a week
- Start-up costs: An initial investment of $200 to buy china for tea parties and assorted other sales materials
- Why she chose the business: "I've always viewed teatime as a great way for moms to slow down and relax, so I knew this was a business that I could pour my heart into. I love the products I sell, and I think my enthusiasm for them comes through to my customers."
- Challenges: "Setting aside the time I need to devote to training sessions."
- Rewards: "I've been able to earn money to pay for the extras that never quite seemed to fit into our regular budget, like piano lessons, horseback riding, soccer, and Girl Scouts. And I've really enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the house on a regular basis and meet new people."
Terri Budke Lancaster, California Mother of two children, ages 5 and 10
- What she's selling: Housewares and kitchen supplies from The Pampered Chef. She runs cooking parties, demonstrates culinary techniques, then sells products to guests.
- When she started: 2000
- Earnings: About $4,000 a month, working about 25 to 30 hours a week
- Start-up costs: Less than $100
- Business-building strategy: At first, she coordinated one cooking party a week. But after doing more than 700 parties, she now also recruits and trains other salespeople.
- Challenges: "I was working full-time as an elementary-school teacher when I started in sales, so I had to juggle two jobs at first. But after I built up my business, I was able to make enough money to quit my day job."
- Rewards: "I now net more than I did as a teacher, but I work fewer hours and don't need child care."
Ellen Castelli Dublin, Ohio Mother of four children, ages 4 to 17
- What she's selling: Women's clothing from Weekenders USA. She makes one-on-one sales calls and leads parties where she showcases the company's fashions.
- When she started: 1996
- Earnings: $2,000 to $5,000 per month, working about 20 hours a week
- Start-up costs: About $1,000 on merchandise, but she could have bought as little as $150 worth
- Secret to her success: "I truly believe in the products I'm selling. I always wear Weekender clothing, and I'm a walking advertisement for the company. People ask, "Where'd you get that cute outfit? and it's a perfect opening to tell them all about my business."
- Challenges: "Because I'm based at home, it can be hard to turn work off. I have to make it clear to my family -- and even to myself -- when it's work time and when it's personal time."
- Rewards: "After doing this for so long, I'm able to make full-time wages for part-time work. I earn money from sales, and I also earn commissions based on other women on my team."
Sandra Lallemand New York City, New York Mother of four children, ages 2 months to 4 years
- What's she selling: Mary Kay cosmetics.
- When she started: 2005
- Earnings: $2,000 to $2,500 a month, working about 15 hours a week
- Start-up costs: A starter kit for $100, plus about $1,200 worth of inventory, which she quickly sold
- Why she chose the business: "I really like the glamour aspect. A friend introduced me to the products, and I fell in love with them right away."
- Secret of selling success: "I have a big group of friends and neighbors who are my regular customers, but I also approach women everywhere and offer them my card. At the supermarket, in the bank, anywhere I go, I'm always working."
- Challenges: "Since I have such young children, it's sometimes tricky scheduling work appointments at a time when their father or another family member is available to babysit."
- Rewards: "I love being compensated for a job well done; I earned the use of a company car in just eight months! It's also a field where you can set your own hours and be your own boss -- and where you don't need a college degree to be a success.