If you're captivated by the rise and fall of LuLaRoe, Amazon is here to feed your curiosity. The four-part docuseries LuLaRich is now available to watch, and it's getting plenty of coverage. It tells the story of the multilevel marketing (MLM) company found in 2012 by DeAnne and Mark Stidham and famed for its "buttery-soft" leggings in a sea of patterns. Fast-forward four years and the company was doing $1.3 billion in sales thanks to the more than 60,000 consultants (many of them stay-at-home moms) who sold the leggings—and were, in some cases, starting to sue the company, alleging the Stidhams were running a pyramid scheme. It also features the phrase "dead-fart leggings." More:
- Behind it: The Guardian reports the series was directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, who also made Hulu's Fyre, on the disastrous festival of the same name.
- Pyramid scheme or MLM? CNN reports the difference between the two comes down to whether LuLaRoe was selling products (making it a legal MLM) or membership (a pyramid scheme). As the Guardian explains, "legal MLMs have to have a buyback policy, and prohibit buying new inventory until retailers have sold 70% and have at least 10 new customers. ... LuLaRoe more than skirted this line."
- One seller's experience. The Guardian speaks with Roberta Blevins, who is featured in the documentary and uses the phrase "dead-fart leggings." One line that describes her experience: "Blevins received an order of merchandise that reeked of mold; quality was slipping, and some leggings straight-up poorly designed, with prints that resembled anatomy at the crotch."
- An employee's experience. "A lot of people lost their marriages, their lives were in shambles, people were selling breast milk for startup costs—are you kidding me?" says LaShae Kimbrough Benson, who joined the company as an administrative assistant in 2015.
- The Stidhams appear. CNN reports the couple were interviewed for LuLaRich and defend the company as a true MLM whose quality issues were overblown. "We did not have a huge problem with wet leggings. We didn't have a huge problem with damaged leggings and products," says Mark. "We had a huge social media problem. And we had a lot of noise over very little actual issue(s)." As for the breast milk claim? "Udderly ridiculous," quips Mark.
- LuLaRoe now. The Stidhams settled one suit alleging the company was a pyramid scheme for $4.75 million; they still face others. The company remains in business, though with some dramatic changes, like a start-up cost that's just 10% of what it once was.
- The ratings. Variety notes that current LuLaRoe consultants seem to have organized a review-bombing campaign of the Amazon series, with a Facebook post inviting those who sell the leggings to leave a one-star review. While the overall rating is 4.7 stars, 92% are five-star and 5% are one-star, with very, very few in between.
- Can't get enough? Listen to this ICYMI podcast from Slate. Here's the synopsis: "LuLaRich focuses on the women who were hurt by LulaRoe’s predatory practices, but completely ignores the women in the clothing supply chain." And AV Club recommends seven other documentaries about "grifters" and "scammers."
(Read more LuLaRoe