You’ve all read my #Poonique tale by now, I’m sure. For those who haven’t, get caught up. 😉
A pivotal character of my tale is my former upline, “Scarlett”. She was the one who had tempted me to join her Younique team, and essentially lured me in (as told in Chapter 1). When my tale had finally reached its conclusion, I felt compelled to reach out to her – after all, she was a victim too.
“Scarlett” has given my tale her blessing – as she said to me during our chat, “it was all a big shower of shit, wasn’t it!” With that in mind, it is only right that she gives her version of events – as yet another Younique victim, and as a qualified makeup artist. I asked my Facebook Followers to submit their burning questions, as well as a few of my own.
She has also waived her right to anonymity, despite my utmost efforts to protect her identity during the telling of my tale. 😉 I didn’t want to cause her any hurt, but she declared “It’s okay, I don’t give a shit if people know who I am“. You never know, maybe I will take inspiration from her someday.
Thus, she will be referred to by her true name throughout the duration of this interview – her name is Jade. You may remember her from the time she initially shared her story with Timeless Vie, in the November 2016 article Why I Left Younique. The Truth.
Before reading my interview with Jade (in our Younique aftermath), please remind yourself of my mission statement here. In a nutshell, all views presented in this blog are ours, and ours only. Your own personal experiences with MLM companies may differ, negatively or positively. All names and identifying features have been changed to protect the individuals concerned, except for Jade of course, who has stated she doesn’t want her identity hidden.
We’ll also feature some of Jade’s work as a now-qualified MUA.
[Elle:] Jade, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me. After our shared experiences of #Poonique together, it certainly means a lot. Well, the first and pertinent question is from my follower Faye Kelley.
Q: What led you to start selling Younique?
[Jade:] No problem, Elle! At the time when I signed up, I was 7 months pregnant with my youngest and bored of not being able to work. I’d seen a certain woman promoting it everyday (Exemplary Blue Status Camilla – the woman who was to become my upline) and she seemed like she was loving life! She was always happy, always seemed to have spare cash and was generally just beaming positivity! I’ve always had a passion for makeup so I thought it was something that I could definitely do.
[Elle:] Its a vicious cycle, isn’t it? That’s exactly how I saw your projection of your life on social media, and I wanted it too. Which leads me to the next question, from Dave Wyatt.
Q: From an upline/downline perspective, how did you view Elle whilst you were both presenters?
[Jade:] See this is a funny one, my friendships overruled my business, in a sense. Elle, you had signed up which had already helped me immensely to hit promotion, so the rest was pretty much your doing. I’d encourage you to make sales, motivate and share my techniques with you of course, but I want you to know you were still my friend above anything else. I was really building the size of my team at the stage that you signed up.
[Elle:] I’m really glad that #Poonique didn’t destroy our friendship in the end – we both know that we made a mistake. When it comes to friendships, my follower Shan Dis and an anonymous fan have a similar question I have condensed into one:
Q: Did you ever feel like the team were your true friends, when you were deep into Younique? Or did you view them as minions that needed to sell, sell, sell to keep your team status?
[Jade:] As I said above, I tried to ensure my friendships came before anything else. When I was actively recruiting, I was completely and wholeheartedly true to the cause. I believed we were doing something amazing by helping abused women [via The Younique Foundation charity]. They were never my minions. The majority of my team were built up of women that I had personal relationships with and would class as friends. Only one woman was someone I didn’t really know.
[Elle:] Well, you know my thoughts on the so-called Younique Foundation (check out my collaboration with Maz Carrah on this “charity here, and the subsequent follow-up). Perhaps you’ll let me know your thoughts on this sometime. However, I’ll press on with the next question, from Sal Barley:
Q: Was it difficult to separate maintaining friendships/selling opportunities? By that, I mean, could you socialise with friends and be yourself without trying to ‘pitch’ to them, or was your mind geared up towards selling whenever you could?
[Jade:] Oh definitely! If I was out with friends, Younique would not even come out of my mouth unless someone asked me about it. I like to keep my work-life and my private-life separate.
[Elle:] I’m glad that didn’t have that kind of an effect on you – I receive messages from people who are upset that they can’t even meet for a coffee with a friend, without receiving some kind of MLM sales pitch! 😦 Now, during our time with Younique, we were introduced to the concept of mindset coaches such as Lola Affirmation, and this law of attraction malarkey. This leads to a further question from Shan Dis:
Q: Did you ever truly buy into the Law of Attraction/positive thinking mindset stuff, and truly believe it would benefit you and your downlines, or were you just saying it for the sake of saying it?
[Jade:] You know, I fully believed in the law of attraction, and I still do! Hear me out, before you jump to any conclusions though. 😉 As a woman with an extensive mental health history, I’ve seen the changes that positive thinking can make. You sort of re-train your brain to make the best of a situation and that helped me in both my business and my personal life.
[Elle:] I know what you’re saying – fortunately, we both know there are ways to practise this without paying silly mindset coaches. Speaking of money, its time to talk about financial loss. In Chapter 15, I managed to recoup back as much as I could by selling my unwanted stock in secret presenter-only groups. My anti-MLM allies, Bot Watch and Maz Carrah, have a question for you:
Q: How much money do you estimate came out of your own pocket on stock to get your promotions or to “stay active”, and did you feel pressure from your uplines to do so? Did you keep a record of your business expenses – do you know how much you lost/made in total?
[Jade:] There was a huge amount of pressure from the uplines! We were often told to spend out own money and buy stock to keep us active (or as they like to call it, “investing in your business”).
The money side is a bit blurry. I think on my own products alone I averaged about £100 a month, so that’s £700ish. If you add in the discounts and me paying for shipping etc, I must have sunk over £1000 total into the company. 😥 My overall profit (according to my Younique Back Office) was £711 over 7 months, so I clearly made quite a big loss in the end.
[Elle:] Argh, I had no idea – I was so convinced that you were flying high and making a fortune! 😦 Let’s move onto the bane of our existences as presenters – the sales aspect. Erica Larsen had a question for you.
Q: Did you experience any difficulties when trying to sell to people – can you shed any light on the sales tactics you used to push the products?
[Jade:] I experienced a lot of difficulty. I wasn’t with Younique from the start of the UK launch, so by the time I joined, a lot of women had already formed their opinions about how shit it was. And of course, the ridiculously overpriced products and extortionate shipping did not help at all! My makeup skills helped a lot I think – I was able to make these products look good and take selfies that would make people want the products too.
I also use to regularly bypass the shipping and offer reductions. By doing so it was money out of my own pocket but I was still selling so it felt like an achievement to me (even though in reality, I put more money in to that company than I could bear to think about).
A lot of the uplines would try and slander other companies in order to get sales, or find pictures online and try to pass them off as Younique. I never did that though, and never encouraged my team to do it either – you should never have to shit on another company to try and get ahead. If your products are that good, they’ll speak for themselves.
[Elle:] Yes, I actually remember you telling us about not slating other companies. If I recall correctly, you gave us an example of a Younique presenter from another team, trying to slate Urban Decay? I managed to find the picture she’d copied, after a quick Google…!
[Jade:] Yes, that’s the one!
[Elle:] Someone should tell that rep that in this case, its quality that matters! 😉 Anyway, on to the next question…Sarah Garcia and Erica Larsen both had a similar curiosity:
Q: Did you have any customers that experienced product issues, such as mascara irritating their eyes, or (as in Elle’s case) finding the products cheaper on eBay and thinking you’d ripped them off?
[Jade:] I can’t even count the amount of times that I encountered some kind of issue with a customer! The 3D+mascara would dry out after 2 weeks, the liquid foundation was practically like sunflower oil and would separate within minutes of applying it etc. Dealing with complaints was a big part of my daily routine. Although, I would always discourage people from buying on eBay, even now. Products sold on eBay are often China replicas, therefore they haven’t been tested for cosmetics use and could cause some nasty damage.
[Elle:] See, I had no idea you were having customer troubles – you always gave the impression of being so successful! However, I now realise this was all part of the teachings of Green Elite Overlord Tania and her “fake it til you make it” mantra. This leads to Lyndsey Smith’s question:
Q: How soon after becoming a presenter did you realise what a massive con the whole thing was?
[Jade:] It was when I started my makeup artistry course that I started to realise, so maybe 6 months in?
[Elle:] Jennifer Ferraro asks the next burning question from that:
Q: Why did you stick with it for as long as you did, knowing that you thought 80% of the products were crap? Were you making money, or had you made a loss that you were hoping to make back before bailing?
[Jade:] It wasn’t until I started training as a makeup artist that I realised the products really were shite. For me, they were the first “high-end” brand that I’d ever used, so I had no clue just how shit they were. Once I started MUA training, I realised that for a high-end product you should be getting a lot more for your money.
Once I started questioning the quality of the products, I got into a lot of shit with Camilla (my Exemplary Blue upline), Tania (Green Elite presenter) and even Younique headquarters themselves, which is eventually why I left. Once I’d lost the love/faith in what I was selling, I just couldn’t sell it anymore.
[Elle:] Again, I had no idea of the crap you were getting behind the scenes. 😦 Tania always painted you as this outspoken troublemaker who was “not a team player” – I didn’t realise Younique HQ was giving you shit too. This leads to a question asked by both Liz Shahlaei and Amy Sterling-Cook.
Q: What was the straw that broke the camel’s back for you – what spurred you to publicly slate your uplines, and did you struggle with just walking away vs. burning it all down?
[Jade:] For me, it was when I saw the dark side of the company. I saw how these women were being treated for simply questioning the products they were selling. I saw the way they were ripped apart by so called “Elite Uplines” and made to feel like they were worthless, and the reason their sales weren’t good was “because they were shit people“.
A big part of the reason I joined the company was because I believed in their mission to uplift, empower and validate…but from what I was seeing, the mission was bullshit. They weren’t uplifting or validating each other, they were tearing each other down at every chance they got!
[Elle:] I can’t argue with you there. A question now made up of queries from Charlie McAllister, Jenny Palleria and I:
Q: Why didn’t you warn your downlines off Younique when you’d had enough, do you think you dropped enough subtle hints to warn them?
Also, in your article shared by Timeless Vie, you mention how you were mistreated by the company and your uplines. How do you feel about the damage done to your own downlines?
[Jade:] I tried to leave subtle hints that my team should leave, but in all honesty?
I was really fucking ashamed. 😦
These women I classed as my friends, and I had brought them into something I now realised was false and full of bullshit promises. I’d made these women, my FRIENDS, believe in a cause that I no longer believed in, and it made me feel sick that I had done that too them. By the time I left, my mental health had taken such a beating I just wasn’t strong enough to do anything. Once I’d recovered somewhat, I apologised to those women and let them know how awful I felt about bringing them into this giant shit pile.
[Elle:] I appreciate that. At the time, I was really resentful of you for reeling me in…but the more I’ve learned about Younique and MLMs in general, the more I realise that you were a victim too. Therefore, there is no way I can blame you for this. I blame the devious minds who are sitting pretty at the top of the pyramid.
This leads to questions about cutting ties, such as this question from Sal Barley:
Q: How difficult was it to admit to friends and family when you gave Younique up, and did you feel any guilt towards people who had bought from you?
[Jade:] As I said above, it was a horrific experience. I’m not a proud woman; I will admit when I’m wrong. But the fact I had brought in all of these people to such a fucked-up scam of a company? It really cut me deep.
[Elle:] I hear you – I experienced the same guilt towards Mia (my recruit), and every single person I had convinced to buy shitty makeup from me. Like you, I’ve done my utmost to apologise and make peace with each and every one of them. In respect of the people you are in touch with, Courtney Lewin asks:
Q: Besides Elle, are you in touch with any of the girls who were in your downline now (Kerri, Harriet, Bethany etc), and have you repaired the friendships, or is Younique still the elephant in the room?
[Jade:] I don’t really talk to any of them anymore, except you, Elle, and Kerri. I think that’s because we had a good relationship before the whole Younique saga. We all had the same experiences, and are now working towards the same goal.
[Elle:] Indeed – to share the truth about the shitstorm known as Younique! I suppose this is a good point to lead us to Susan Black’s question:
Q: What do you regret the most?
[Jade:] My biggest regret was bringing my friends into this so-called “business”. However, I don’t regret joining the company, because it taught me very valuable lessons in life.
- Don’t buy into bullshit. Just because someone puts on a front and says they’re loving life, doesn’t mean it’s true.
- Do your research. Before I do anything now, I research the shit out of it – whether that’s buying products from a new brand, or taking up job opportunities.
- Always get as much information as possible before making a decision.
[Elle:] Valuable lessons indeed, ones I think every former presenter can take away with them. Let’s now talk about your status as a qualified makeup artist, and how it reflects on your perspective of Younique. Also, I absolutely need to share some more photos from your beautiful portfolio – they deserve to be seen!
Sal Barley is curious to know:
Q: Was there ever a time when you really believed in the product ‘quality’, or were you simply saying what your uplines told you to say?
[Jade:] I truly did believe in them, in the beginning. I had my issues with certain products from the very start, but I just stayed away from them and didn’t promote them.
[Elle:] Next up is a question of quality, from Sarah Isted:
Q: At what point did you realise that you didn’t have MAC/Benefit-quality products, and how long did you continue being a presenter for after realising?
[Jade:] I’m not a massive MAC fan so I’ll compare to Benefit or ABH [Anastasia Beverly Hills] 😂 It was when I started training as a makeup artist – I stopped being a Younique presenter the following month.
[Elle:] Morgan Gubser would like your perspective:
Q: I would like to know what you truly think of Younique’s quality, now that you are a MUA?
They’re actually very pigmented and easy to work with, so I always got a good colour pay-off. Surprising, I know.
[Elle:] As much as it pains me, I do agree with you there – I am still using my eyeliner pencil and eyeshadow palette until they’re gone – waste not, want not. When they’ve run out though, I sure as hell won’t be seeking out a rep to purchase a replacement from. I’ll be off to my nearest makeup counter!
[Jade:] Haha, yep! The rest of Younique’s range, I compare to Poundland makeup. It’s basically very poor high-street quality with a high-end price tag.
[Elle:] Definitely – the price tag is so over-inflated as all the various uplines have got to make their cut in the downline’s hard work, of course. But that’s a story for another time (**looks in the direction of Maz Carrah**). Sarah Louise has got a question for you to sink your teeth into though, Jade:
Q: Now you’re a qualified MUA, are there any products you’d recommend as an alternative the Younique “best-sellers” like the liquid foundation, concealer, spider-leg mascara etc?
[Jade:] As I’ve mentioned further above, the vast majority of Younique’s products are very, very poor quality. Now here’s some little tips from a MUA 😂;
- The best concealer is Tarte Shape Tape. A little on the pricey side, but lasts forever and is so worth it. Amazing coverage and staying power.
- You can get great results with any mascara. You just put on a layer of mascara, use a spoolie to put translucent powder over the top of the mascara, and then another coat of your mascara to finish it off. Instantly adds volume and no annoying spider fibres!
- Now, foundation is dependant on your skin type! If you have oily skin, you want to steer clear of an oil-based foundation and use a water-based one instead. If you have dry skin, you can use oil-based foundations. If you have combi skin, you can use any.
I personally like the RCMA CREAM foundation. Amazing buildable coverage and great for any skin type.
[Elle:] Thanks, Jade – some interesting tips there. My anti-MLM ally, Bot Watch, would like to pick your brains again:
Q: As a MUA, what is your favourite and least favourite #Poonique product and why. And how much do you think it is actually worth?
[Jade:] Favourite would have to be the eye and lip liners. They’re £12 each so reasonably priced and very pigmented and creamy! They’re actually a pleasure to use.
Least Favourite would have to be that goddamn liquid foundation – £30 for that is an absolute rip-off; it’s worth no more than £5 and that’s being generous! There are so many better options out there at a fraction of the price!
[Elle:] Now, our interview is drawing to a close, but I have some final questions – then I’ll let you go, promise!
Danielle Bayes would like to know:
Q: What would you say to anyone thinking about joining a MLM scheme?
[Jade:] Do your research and look for reviews. Every company will have good and bad reviews, so if you’re only shown positive ones I’d steer well clear. A good company will be honest and upfront from the very beginning.
[Elle:] That’s a lot more diplomatic than my advice, which is: DON’T. 😉 Anyway, moving on to Sophie Clutterbuck’s question:
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who’s looking to get out of their MLM?
[Jade:] Be strong. You’re probably going to get a lot of backlash from it, and you’ll probably be told that you just aren’t good enough. That’s fine – just know that it’s all bullshit. It takes a strong person to walk away from something that they once believed in! Don’t be pulled into staying if it’s not something you want to do.
Next from Mandy Tevendale:
Q: How would you express concern/disquiet to someone selling Younique without harming your relationship with them?
[Jade:] All I can do is share my experiences. In life, you have to make your own mistakes. I would personally share my experiences, and they can do with that what they will. It will not change my relationship with someone.
[Elle:] One more question for you, Jade – the honour of the final question goes to yours truly:
Q: Do you feel strongly enough about the damage MLMs cause to consider joining me in the anti-MLM movement?
[Jade:] Of course! There needs to be more information like this put there so people can see what’s really happening! So many people like you and I get caught up into the bullshit, and someone needs to make a stand and stop it from happening!
[Elle:] Happy to oblige, with the anti-MLM allies out there now, I think we stand a good chance. Jade, you’re free to go – thank you so much for taking the time out to answer all of these questions!
Jade’s business website is still under construction, but you can find Jade Pow MUA on Facebook or send a business enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Either way, I am sure you will hear more from her in the future – after all, we experienced all this together.
What’s next for Elle Beau?
On reflection, I do feel that I would like to rewrite my Poonique story into a proper novella – whether its an ebook, or if I find someone who would put me in print. The main reason being, I missed out “the smaller stuff” for the purpose of keeping the reader interested and driving the tale forward. When I wrote this blog, I wanted to mainly focus on the dodgy tactics I experienced, but on reflection I would like to talk more in-depth about everything I can remember.
I would like to rewrite my tale with the spreadsheet as more of a prominent reference point – it will also help me recall things in chronological order (i.e. when certain monthly kudos were released, little paltry orders etc). Mia is still lurking in some of the training groups, and is finding me screenshots to illustrate certain chapters. So, as well as writing anti-MLM articles, I will be working on producing a full, comprehensive story in the interim. I hope to set up a Kickstarter for this once I have an idea of costings.
If you like the anti-MLM aims I am working towards, please consider supporting me via Patreon. Anything is gratefully received.
Stay subscribed for upcoming anti-MLM news and articles, and of course the ever-popular #ShitHunsSay screenshots.
Don’t forget to join the MLM fight on social media – if you’re on Twitter, please give @ElleBeauBlog a follow (and help me get the #Poonique hashtag trending again!). Alternatively, join in the discussion with Elle Beau, the Anti-Blogger on Facebook. I am also on Instagram now – look for @ellebeaublog!
Please, also check out the good work of the people of Bot Watch, Juice Plus/MLM Lies Exposed and Timeless Vie. They work tirelessly to expose the truth and lies of the MLM industry, so anyone considering this line of work can make a fair, informed decision . In fact, I now have a Recommended Reading page for Anti-MLM writers and interesting lifestyle bloggers I think you will enjoy, such as Chammy in Real Life and my first Patreon, @yourolly.
For something a little different to pyramid schemes, I would also recommend a look at what Bad Psychics are up to. Award-winning and seen-on-TV, they have worked to expose false claims made by psychics, mediums and the paranormal since 2003.