By Ellen Parlapiano
Carrie Steuer, 39
Mom of two, ages 10 and 7
Lives in Chicago, Illinois
Product: Essential Bodywear (myessentialbodywear.com/breastfriend)
Started: March 2005
Works: 25 to 35 hours a week
Earns: $69,000 per year
Five years after leaving corporate America to be a full-time mom, Carrie started selling specialty foods to try to earn money to buy a new car. Her exhibit at a women's expo had basically zero foot traffic, but she noticed a booth with bras was packed. "The rep offered to fit me, and when I came out of the dressing room and checked the mirror, I looked like I had lost 10 pounds," says Carrie. "Who doesn't love that?"
Backstory: To earn a free bra, she volunteered to host a party. But before it rolled around, she'd researched the company and signed on as a consultant. "I couldn't stop talking about that bra," she says. "Being passionate about the product is key to success in direct sales." Fourteen friends attended her first event, learning about common problems like too much cleavage and nipple show-through. Then each got measured, privately, for a bra to suit her body type. "The transformations were amazing," says Carrie. "They stood taller and more confidently." She sold a lot that night, and asked those friends to have parties. "Try to book as many as you can in the first month to build momentum," she recommends.
Then what? Carrie recruits new hostesses and consultants at every event and saves customers' sizes for easy reordering. She now works three nights a week, typically two at parties and one on coaching calls, encouraging her team to set tangible personal earning goals. Her own income goes toward her mortgage, saving for her kids' college tuitions and charitable donations. "It helps to sell something that every woman needs," Carrie says. "Bra measurement is a dying art." One customer was so thankful to find a good-fitting bra that she bought six. "I never really thought of myself as a salesperson, but magic happens when you find a product you completely believe in."