This post might not make me very popular. I’ve hovered over the publish button for a few weeks.
But I’ve decided that’s okay. I’ve never been one for caring whether or not I was in the right crowd. But it’s still tricky. Because if you sell products that I personally am not promoting or personally don’t want to buy, please know I’m not criticizing your business choices. I’m not, truly.
A few days ago, I wrote about how I choose companies to share on my blog. I hope it gave you a picture into my heart and the kinds of companies I’m looking to promote.
I’ve been mulling this post over and over in my head for a few months now. Trying to decide whether to put the words out there. It’s been on my heart for awhile but that doesn’t mean I should share everything I think about.
However, two things happened in the last few weeks that made me decide to go ahead and put it out there. Plus the fact that I’m daring to write this year anyway.
I read a blog post about why we should always support our friends who sell products (from MLM’s). And then I read another post about why you shouldn’t ever buy from MLM companies. Two opposing viewpoints. (I’d link them here but I read a lot of stuff and can’t remember where I read them). Both authors made some good points but I didn’t agree with either of them on every point. This isn’t a post for or against MLM’s by the way. Maybe one day, but not today. Besides, not every friend who sells something works for another company. They might have their own little business of some kind. The point is, both sides of this debate are something I’ve thought about extensively.
Then I was at a friend’s house who was hosting me with my Poofy Organics products. Someone there mentioned a particular company and wanted my opinion about them. I hesitate when people ask what I think of certain companies. Because I want to be honest with my opinions. And I am honest. If you want to know my answer to that question, you have to be prepared that I might not actually support the company you’re asking me about.
She had purchased some products from this particular company and didn’t like them. She also said the only reason she bought anything was because this person was a good customer of hers. Her comment took me aback a little. Because it really hit at the heart of what I had been struggling with for a few months. This idea of buying stuff from friends.
Honestly, one of the reasons I never wanted to sell products of any kind is because I didn’t want to be that friend. That one who sold stuff and you felt obligated to buy from because you know me. That’s why when I made my decision to sell Poofy, I didn’t take it lightly.
I didn’t choose to sell for this company because I expected my friends would buy from me. Rather because I believe in the company and what they stand for and because I’ve researched other companies so much, I knew they were the real deal. And I chose to sell Poofy Organics because I wanted to be part of the education mission. To be part of a company that is doing the right thing in the personal care industry when so many other companies only make claims they don’t back. Because I believe in what they stand for.
Do I want friends to buy from me? Of course, because I know that when they buy from Poofy, I’m helping them change conventional, harmful products into quality and healthy products. I earn a little bit of commission. When friends buy from me, I’m humbly appreciative.
In addition, I’m selectively choosing companies to write about on this blog who share practices I believe in to help people shop small and to support small businesses. Do I want friends to support these companies? Of course I do. That’s why I’m writing about them.
But, do I expect friends to buy from me, just because they know me and I’m selling something and have my own business? No, I don’t.
I think everyone can relate to this scenario. Friend after friend signing up with some company to sell something: jewelry, bags, personal care products, cleaning products, books, leggings, essential oils, cooking supplies, shakes and supplements, you name it. There are enough companies like this out there that you really could buy from your friends and never go anywhere else, am I right?
You get invited to 25 essential oil 101 classes every month. And you get added to FB parties or group pages without being asked. You watch them post something every 15 minutes and decide to just unfollow the group, rather than politely ask them to remove you.
And why? Because you don’t want to offend them. You don’t want to hurt their feelings that you don’t really care about what they’re selling. Especially if they seem so passionate about it. Or if they really love what they sell.
Or maybe this scenario? You have friends who ask you if you want to have a “party” for them. And even if you don’t want to, you do. But then, how do you decide who to have a party for and who not to? And who to buy from and who not to buy from? So you decide to not buy from anyone and that’s your excuse for never going to parties or having ones because it’s easier than being honest. You’re just not interested, but you don’t want to say it. Or you’re interested, but don’t want everyone else to be left out.
And that quite frankly, you’re tired of being “sold to” by your friends.
There. I said it for you.
Why the guilt? Why do we feel that way? Why do we feel like we need to feel bad if we’re not interested in what our friends are selling?
I get it. We love our friends. We want to help them and support them. But we don’t always LIKE what they sell. We don’t always WANT what they sell. And we certainly don’t always NEED what they sell. While I’m not using this post to promote or discourage mama businesses who sell things, you have to admit that buying things just because our friends sell them sort of promotes this idea of consumerism in general, buying things we don’t want or need.
But don’t you write on here about shopping small? And supporting the little people? Yes, yes I do. So of course if your friend has a business, you want to support them because it’s small. You want to support them because you know every little bit helps. You want to buy something because you like them. All admirable reasons. And seriously. If you like their products, of course you should support them.
And yet, you don’t have to. And you don’t have to feel like you have to. There’s no unspoken friend rule that says you have to buy from every single person you know and love.
Let me help to free you from this if it’s something you’re hanging onto.
I can’t speak for anyone else. So I’m going to make this about me for a minute. If you’re not interested in the products I sell or the products I promote on my blog, that’s okay with me. I put in a lot of time and research and work hard to only promote products and companies I believe in. I want to feature other small bloggers or mamas sewing or creating or working hard to make a little bit on the side. I want to get the word out for them so we can shop small together and build community and support each other.
But if you don’t buy from those people I share on this space? If you don’t want to buy Poofy or have a party for me, guess what? We can still be friends. We can still hang out and be real and love each other and do life together without you having to buy something from me.
Here’s the other thing. I actually don’t want you to buy something from me because you feel obligated. I want you to see the value in what I’m promoting or selling and buy because you’re trying to shop small and make a difference for those small businesses I share with you. Not because I’m your friend telling you about them, but because YOU see something in that company that appeals to you. Because YOU want your purchase to really make a difference.
Know your heart. Know your shopping convictions. If you have a friend who you feel obligated to buy from and don’t really want to, then don’t. If they are really truly your friend, they will understand if you’re not interested. Be honest. Just say you’re not interested in the products they sell.
For me, and this is just me talking here, I choose not to buy from a lot of companies because I don’t agree with how the products are made. But those are my convictions. You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to think like I do. And if you choose to take offense that I don’t want to shop with the company you sell for, that’s not something I’m going to feel guilty about. I have felt guilty in the past and I’m not going to that place anymore. I still love you and still want to be your friend, even if I don’t want to buy what you sell.
If they’re personal care products, likely they’re full of ingredients I’m not interested in. And likely they’re a bunch of greenwashers. I’ll stick with Poofy Organics.
If they’re clothing, likely they are factory made in a country and not so ethically. I’ll stick with a company like Elegantees.
I’m a bit of a research freak about companies. I haven’t been my entire life but the more I learn about how products are made and the conditions of factories and the general state of consumerism in our world, I’m more likely to look a little deeper. I have made a decision not to buy from certain companies based on the research I’ve done. Sometimes it’s not about where the product is made but something I learn about their practices or conflicting information I’ve read. This isn’t me company bashing or saying I’m some kind of super amazing-better-than-you-shopper. I don’t even buy things that often.
It’s me saying I am developing shopping convictions. Doing my best to promote shopping small And ethical. And sticking to those convictions as best as I can.
I realize that most of the world doesn’t think like I do. Or care about the same things I do. I can get frustrated when people don’t buy Poofy because they don’t realize how rare these kinds of products are. They’d rather just pick up some junk at Target. I’ve had to learn to get over that.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this. If you like what your friends are selling, then by all means support them. By no means am I telling you NOT to buy from them if you really want to. If you don’t care about ethically or handmade goods, buy that bag or piece of jewelry or pair of leggings rather than supporting cheaply made products from Target. You’re doing a good thing by helping your friend out and helping them build a business.
But I’m also trying to say this. Don’t feel obligated to buy from your friends.
And if you’re like me, even a little, pay attention to what’s being sold to you. And be honest and true to your beliefs. Be okay with supporting the companies you believe in, whether they are ones your friends sells for or not.
Know your convictions when you shop and stick with them. Even if they’re not like mine.