If you’re anything like me, then you can’t resist a good scam takedown. Both Fyre Festival documentaries? Streamed. The Inventor, on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos? Check. McMillions, about the rigged McDonald’s Monopoly game? I’m lovin’ it. There’s just a certain kind of fascination—and perhaps a bit of schadenfreude—in witnessing the unraveling of a scheme deemed too big to fail. So, naturally, LuLaRich was the latest addition to the list.
The new, four-part Prime Video docuseries, directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, delves into the hyper-popular women’s clothing brand and multi-level marketing company LuLaRoe. Established in 2013, the brand saw explosive popularity in the 2010s with the help of social media. Among its appeal was its comfy printed leggings and positioning as a #girlboss part-time business opportunity for women. But LuLaRoe ultimately became embroiled in lawsuits for “defective” products and accusations of functioning as a pyramid scheme. As LuLaRich shows in its lighter moments, some pieces of inventory featured phallic patterns, and, in some cases, a so-called “dead fart” stench. In its darker scenes, former retailers detailed how they fell into debt while struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
In February, LuLaRoe paid $4.75 million in settlements after it was sued for violating Washington state’s anti-pyramid scheme laws, AP reports. “LuLaRoe tricked Washingtonians into buying into its pyramid scheme with deceptive claims and false promises,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “As a result, thousands lost money and two individuals made millions from their scheme.” Of the total settlement, $4 would be paid in restitution to Washington-based LuLaRoe retailers. Per the agreement, LuLaRoe was also required to “publish an income disclosure statement that accurately details retailer income potential,” among other demands. Customers, former employees, and the brand’s supplier have also sued the company. Still, LuLaRoe managed to survive.
LuLaRoe does, in fact, still exist, which is made clear at the end of the docuseries. (Its website and Instagram alive and well.) However, it has since cut startup costs by 90 percent and reorganized its compensation structure. There’s also an annual Income Disclosure Statement available on its website, which is often linked to in their Instagram posts. The current report states that “the average Retailer gross profit was $10,073.41 while the median gross profit was $1,444.65.” A chart on the page shows that 50 percent of retailers made between $1 to $4,999 while under three percent made over $75,000.
LuLaRoe co-founders DeAnne and Mark Stidham, whose interviews appear in LuLaRich, did not outright address the claims made in the doc. But the company did share a statement saying, “We continue to bring greater focus to our mission of improving lives and strengthening families through the principles of entrepreneurism while continuing to educate small business owners about the opportunities found in personal responsibility and individual choice.”
Some loyal LuLaRoe retailers, on the other hand, are defending the brand in the review section of LuLaRich, Variety reports. According to the outlet, one seller urged other members of a Facebook group to leave one-star reviews of the series. At the time of writing, five percent of the reviews are one-star (some of which call the series “boring” and “garbage”), while 92 percent are five-star.
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Contemplating LuLaRoe’s future, Furst told Variety, “It’s been effective to focus on fewer people. There’s plenty of happy customers and people who are behind the LuLaRoe message—and good for them.”
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