Success Stories: Valerie Fowler
“When my husband and I returned to live in the UK in 2016 after spending five years in Dubai with his job in construction, we both knew that the move would bring big changes.
During the time we’d spent in the Middle East, we had become parents to two boys, I’d enjoyed time as a stay-at-home mum, and we’d also become accustomed to the tax-free living. But back in the UK, the prospect of us both needing to work, alongside all of the challenges and demands that come with looking after a young family really hit us.
I had originally trained as a pastry chef and it had been an enjoyable career – I’d worked at a French bakery in Dubai and developed a gluten free muffin range there too. But my career simply wasn’t compatible with having two children – the hours were too rigid, and there was no scope for working from home, which is what I really needed.
My husband makes a good living, but the financial challenges we faced as a result of moving back to the UK meant that we needed to supplement our household income, so I started to think about other ways of earning.
Having grown up in America, I was familiar with the concept of direct selling – essentially, being an independent sales representative for brands that sell direct-to-consumer. I knew people who’d earned this way back in the States, and I thought it was something I could do, and something that would afford me the flexibility I needed.
There are lots of brands that sell this way in the UK, and I looked into a few before my husband suggested Young Living, a company which specialises in organic essential oils.
I had used the oils myself for many years and loved the products – but it’d never crossed my mind to think of earning with them. But as Ben said, it made far more sense for me to sell a product I loved rather than something like make up when I don’t even wear lipstick! I also really liked the ethos of the company, which is focused on sustainability and the environment.
Starting From Scratch
I started as a direct seller with Young Living in 2017, and it is effectively like operating a micro franchise.
Young Living is free to join, and I then chose to buy a starter / demonstration pack for £150, which included 12 different oils and a diffuser, the cost of which was around 50% of the usual retail price.
Initially I found it challenging; having only just moved back to the UK, I didn’t have many friends or a network to help me get going, so I had to start from scratch. I began by talking to local businesses in my area, asking them if they would host a demonstration event at their premises and people responded really well.
After around 2 months I was earning about £200 a month, which considering the flexibility and the fact that I was able to do it mostly from home, I was pretty pleased with.
Over time, I gradually built up my customer base, holding weekly themed classes to teach people about the benefits of using oils (to support relaxation and sleep, for babies and children, and so on). Sometimes I hold classes in my home, or someone will ask me to host an event at their home. During Covid, online events really took off, and I found myself running Facebook Live events and Zoom classes. I regularly have 40+ people attending online.
Building Up My Business
Things have really taken off now, and my business is well established. I have about 350 customers, and as well as plenty in my local area, I also have customers all over the world – friends from Dubai and South Africa, people I knew in the States. I think they like the fact that they know me and trust my advice, but a big part of my success is that people love the products.
Often my customers will opt for one of the monthly subscription boxes, which are completely customisable, and can also include other items (such as household cleaners personal care products) from the Young Living range. They cost about £50 a month, and I am paid an average of 8% commission on my sales. I still earn commission from subscription sales I made over two years ago.
Since I started, a number of people I know have also asked me about selling the products and I now mentor around 10 people who also work as independent sales representatives for Young Living. I think the fact that I started my business from scratch inspires others, for sure.
I would estimate that I spend about 20 hours a week on my direct selling work. All my work is fitted around school hours and I run a regular class on a Tuesday night for half an hour and meet with my team for an hour. I don’t work weekends – I prefer the time with my family, and I’ve found it’s important to ringfence family time.
In total I tend to earn about £1,000 per month, which includes my sales commission and a small additional commission which I earn based on the product sales of my team.
The Impact of my Earnings
The money I make from direct selling is far more than I could ever earn in traditional part time job.
My earnings make a real difference to our lives. My husband earns a good living, but my direct selling work helps pay for all the extras like drum lessons and football classes for our boys, plus flights back to America to see my family.
It used to be a bit of a struggle financially to go back to America to visit my family as much as I wanted to, but in 2021 one month’s earnings from my direct selling work paid for all four of us to fly back and see everyone. I never want to put an airfare on my credit card again!
I now take the boys to America for a whole month each summer, and I’m able to keep working whilst I’m there so that our income isn’t affected.
Incentive trips are also common in direct selling and I have enjoyed trips to Barcelona, America and France. In France I stayed on one of the organic farms that Young Living owns and saw the lavender and oregano that the oils are made from. It helped me learn a lot more about the products and how they are grown (no pesticides or weedkillers are allowed; it is all organic). It was great fun.”