Phew. In 2022 I pulled the plug on a nearly 8 year MLM journey. My customers, teammates and followers were mostly perplexed – I was “successful” – what happened? After answering these questions for a few months now, I thought I’d just write a post and get all the complicated reasons for why I quit Paparazzi Accessories out in the open.
If you are a previous customer or follower of mine reading this post, I want you to know from the bottom of my heart how much I loved serving you these past years. Getting to know people I would have never met otherwise was truly the best part of my time with Paparazzi Accessories.
If you are a current consultant wondering if it is time to quit Paparazzi jewelry, I hope this post is helpful for you. I hope it gives you some things to think about and clarity for your next steps.
If you want other ideas for homeschool moms or work at home opportunities, check out this post.
How It All Started
For Christmas in 2013, my mom gave me 2 necklaces. I loved them! As a mom of 4 small babies, I was quickly losing any sense of style I had once possessed. Mom told me they were only $5 and I quickly Googled trying to find where I could buy this brand of jewelry. It turns out it was a direct sales company – Paparazzi Accessories. So I began Googling consultants. I found one person in the town where I lived so I messaged her and asked if I could go shopping, host a party, or what did I need to do? She totally blew me off.
And that set the wheels in motion for me to become a consultant. I thought about it nonstop for a few months. I hashed it out with my mom. I was a stay at home mom with 4 kids under the age of 5. My husband was in grad school. We had less than zero money. Could I make enough money selling $5 jewelry to buy my kids an ice cream cone or pay for swim lessons? It seemed like the answer was obvious.
So I googled some consultants and emailed 3 of them. One gal called me back and I got signed up that very day.
I had never done direct sales seriously before and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I was NOT going to lose money, so I researched, tried new things, made a lot of mistakes, and learned a completely new skillset. I was in the profit zone within a few weeks and just kept going.
But Did I Actually Make a Profit?
From the beginning, I was hyper aware of the low profit margin with Paparazzi jewelry. You buy the jewelry at a wholesale cost and resell it for the $5. I tracked my expenses and understood full well I was trading my time for money. I was able to pay some bills, though, so it was enough.
At the time, I was okay with it, because it was flexible and I could be home with my babies.
The Honeymoon Period
When I joined Paparazzi, it was a rather new company – groundfloor as they say in the biz. At the first convention I attended there were only 600 consultants in attendance. It was small and intimate and everyone was so supportive.
But, even then, there were cracks beginning to show. At that convention, Paparazzi announced their Life of the Party program to reward consultants who were selling. I received an award, and I had been hustling and selling a LOT. I found it interesting, though, that the “elites” did not receive these selling awards – which meant us peons were the ones doing all the work and elites were living off their teams.
For those of you familiar with MLMs, you’re screaming right now – YES! That’s how MLM works!
But at the time I didn’t realize what a huge red flag that was.
Building a Team
When I started with Paparazzi, I had no intention of building a team. I didn’t want to be that annoying Mary Kay lady in the grocery aisle, right? But as friends and customers saw me being successful, they naturally wanted to join.
As my team grew, I felt a lot of pressure and anxiety over helping my team to also be successful. When girls would join and then quit Paparazzi without ever selling a thing, or they would join and go into debt and then not sell anything . . . it crushed me. I didn’t want anyone to add to their financial distress – the point was to get out of debt. Work part-time hours for full-time pay, right?
If my actual friends joined, it made me so nervous. If they decided to quit Paparazzi, I never wanted it to be an issue between us. We were friends before Paparazzi and I wanted to remain friends afterwards. Writing this now – how weird is that? In a regular job, if your friend starts working with you – you never worry about your friendship being ruined when one of you decides to quit. Why should it be any different when you quit an MLM? Again – a red flag – but I didn’t think about it at the time.
Several times in my Paparazzi years, I told myself I was going to give it one more year and then I was going to quit. In 2020, I wrote in my journal and sent a text to a friend saying the same thing. That I wanted to be done. 2021 did nothing to make me feel any better about being a part of this company.
Ultimately, Why I Quit Paparazzi Accessories
This post could quickly become a full-blown novel. Above I’ve given you a bit of the background of Paparazzi Accessories and a few red flags that I should have paid attention to, but didn’t. In the end, all of that doesn’t matter. It basically boiled down to me fully understanding the MLM model, and no longer being willing to trade my time for pennies. In more detail, here are the top reasons why I quit Paparazzi. Down below, I’ll give you some tips for what to do if you are wanting to know how to quit Paparazzi Accessories as well.
The Time/Money Ratio
In the beginning, I began tracking expenses and income. I knew if I calculated my hourly wage it would be right around $10 an hour. This is with both team commissions and jewelry sales. I was okay with that because it was flexible and I could still be home with my babies.
But when you work at home and have to hustle, go live, do parties, do events, etc – you are actually sacrificing a ton of time. Precious time with your babies that you can’t get back.
As technology and remote job opportunities have become more available, it is no longer worth it to me to work for minimum wage. I can make a real income with benefits and vacation days and still have flexibility with my kids!
The Constant Hustle
Paparazzi’s company culture is to hustle hard, if you’re sleeping – you’re not working hard enough. I remember when one of my friend’s hit elite status. At the following convention people would come up to her and ask for her top secrets. She always started the conversation with “well, it’s not easy. And I never sleep.”
Consultants were told to take their jewelry everywhere – going on vacation? Take jewelry with you and go live from the beach! Give out jewelry to strangers in the parking lots. Use your bling bag to get people’s attention. And, yes, I took part in all of this, too. That’s the thing with MLMs. You’re a victim of a scam, but you’re also a perpetrator.
As the company began to grow, compliance became more of a beast. I remember the first time my account was suspended for something I had on Pinterest. I was so freaked out! There was no warning, no notice. Just – your account is locked. It was a graphic that uplines had shared with us when I first started. I took it down and my account was reinstated.
I’ve been suspended a few times over the years. Paparazzi can change their policies and procedures without giving any notice to consultants.
One time I was suspended for not having the Paparazzi logo on a graphic. I thought IF we used the Paparazzi logo it had to be the one from the back office. Turns out the policy had changed, without notice, that if you make an original graphic and even mention the word Paparazzi, you are now required to use the independent consultant logo. So I changed all my graphics, emailed compliance to let them know. And they told me the logo was not even the right one, I would need to download the right one from the back office. (Keep in mind, my account is locked – I can’t access the logos). So, not only had they changed the policy – they had also changed the independent consultant logo – without telling anyone!
At the drop of a hat, a jealous consultant could report you for some random offense that may or may not be true and compliance can lock your account, taking away your income. (But it’s your own business, right?)
Pay attention to what they do, not what they say. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard elite uplines and the founders of Paparazzi say there is room for everyone at the top – you just need to hustle and get out of your comfort zone! But that is not the way they run the company.
Ultimately, this might be the biggest reason why I ended up leaving Paparazzi jewelry. The policies and procedures have changed over the years and they now say if you have ever mentioned Paparazzi on your PERSONAL social media pages, then you cannot advertise anything else on that page – whether it is a competing product or not. This includes things like selling your kid’s soccer shoes or advertising your garage sale. It can, at times, also include things like sharing a link to your friend’s Pampered Chef page.
The way that this policy is enforced does not appear to be equally distributed. Some consultants get away with it. Others get canceled. I don’t know how the compliance department is run. Do they have compliance people scouring the interwebs for consultants doing the wrong thing? Or are they reliant on other consultants reporting the rulebreakers? But – if Paparazzi is truly your OWN business, shouldn’t you be free to advertise an Etsy shop, a car for sale or a link to your friend’s boutique?
Follow any rich person and they will all tell you – the way to build lifechanging wealth is to have multiple streams of income. But with Paparazzi – you have to depend solely on them. If you do have other ways of making money – you are not allowed to talk about it. If Paparazzi thinks they are such a great company, empowering women, why do they have such a scarcity mindset? Why are they forcing you to keep all your eggs in one basket?
If you’ve read this far, congratulations! 🙂 Remember back up at the beginning when I told you in 2015, Paparazzi began their Life of the Party program to reward consultants who were selling? This sounded so great to me because I didn’t really want to build a large team. And, I think at the time, the intentions behind this program were good (but maybe I’m still too generous or naive!). Unfortunately, it has created a monster!
This rewards program is NOT about selling – it is about buying! When you see consultants say they are a Black Diamond seller – what they really mean is they are a black diamond BUYER. Consultants buy a certain amount of jewelry to hit these levels. In theory, and according to Paparazzi policy, you are not supposed to buy more than you can expect to sell in 30 days as that would be “bonus buying” and “inventory loading”.
In reality, however, elites and uplines push consultants to hit these levels – because if you have consultants steadily buying in order to hit the life of the party levels – that will give you a steady commission check. I did this when I had a team as well – if you have just a few downlines working towards these Life of the Party goals – your team commission check grows in direct proportion.
Today you will find consultants who are “diamond sellers” and also have a garage full of jewelry that they are not actually selling. Listen to elites talk about their monstrous inventories – having half a million pieces in their homes. Now, some people DO sell hundreds of thousands of pieces of jewelry (mostly to other consultants) – but is there any reason to have half a million stored in your living room and basement and garage? Consultants who are seriously in debt due to Paparazzi – is it because of the Life of the Party program and pressure from your uplines to hit those levels?
Selling to Other Consultants
I don’t remember exactly when this change happened, my best guess is 2017ish? When I first started with Paparazzi, we sold to other consultants at consultant price or traded pieces. After a few years there came a new policy, or interpretation of the old, that you could not sell for less than $5 – even to other consultants. This set off a whole new disaster.
According to the FTC, the majority of a company’s sales must be to people outside the company. In other words, the consultant cannot be the end consumer. But, if consultants are selling at full price to other consultants – doesn’t that hyperinflate the numbers making it look like the jewelry is ending up outside the company?
A few consultants quickly figured out that if they bought up all the hottest new pieces at new release time, they could then resell those pieces to other consultants at full price and make a nice profit. The consultants buying those pieces did so because they thought they would lose customers if they didn’t have the newest and hottest items. But they would lose money on every transaction.
The consultants selling to other consultants also quickly realized this boosted their social credibility. If you are doing a live show, selling hundreds of pieces, other people will see you and think ‘wow! she’s selling a ton! I could do that, too!’ and then join their team. As a result these consultants get bigger team commission checks, and bigger sales checks, but it’s all built on a lie. The sales are inflated because they are selling to other consultants at full price. This is not a sustainable business model, FYI.
Is Paparazzi Jewelry Lead and Nickel Free?
In 2021, a few ex-consultants started really speaking out about the predatory business practices of Paparazzi. They also made assertions that the jewelry was not actually lead and nickel-free. This is a huge deal since Paparazzi has built their brand on $5 jewelry that is lead and nickel-free. I’ve had teammates join under me because it was the only fashion jewelry they could wear.
These ex-consultants did a livestream “testing” the jewelry with at-home lead and nickel kits. Turns out this is not a scientific method and testing really needs to be done in a consumer safety lab. BUT – it did get a lot of attention. Paparazzi said nothing.
Later, this same group did send some jewelry to the labs and the results came back with some frightening numbers. Some said this wasn’t the right type of lab. Some said it was fine because things like cadmium or mercury are only dangerous if you ingest them and we aren’t eating bracelets. Paparazzi said nothing . . . .
Until they took lead and nickel-free off their website in the middle of December.
Several days later, they did send out an email saying their jewelry meets Prop 65 California standards. But they’ve never released any testing results themselves. They never did a livestream or sent out any education telling consultants to stop saying lead and nickel-free.
For me, the lack of transparency and consultant education was really the issue. Why couldn’t they do a livestream or put a video on their website explaining why they took off the lead and nickel-free? Why is there no education for consultants about explaining prop 65 to your customers?
At $5, you can’t expect to be getting sterling silver, hypoallergenic jewelry – but you should be able to expect transparency from a company in knowing what you are selling/buying – especially when the company has built a brand on being lead and nickel-free. For me, the lack of transparency and communication is the biggest issue. I don’t want to represent a company that I can’t actually trust.
In January of 2022, Lead Safe Mama released testing results on the starlet shimmer line of accessories – kids’ jewelry – even though the tag says it’s for 14 and up. In January 2022, Paparazzi discontinued the Starlet Shimmer line due to “shipping space”.
Was it All Bad?
It took me 8 years to quit precisely because it wasn’t all bad. I adore my teammates. My customers are now good friends. My upline is my bestie. Those relationships made this experience fun. Paparazzi was an emotional outlet for me when I desperately needed one.
Paparazzi also has really bad training for its consultants. Everything relies on your upline training you well. Because there was virtually no training available when I started, I sought out lots of other training resources and mentors. I gained so many marketing and technology skills!
Everything in life happens for a reason.
How to Quit Paparazzi Accessories
So now you know the majority of my reasons for quitting Paparazzi. It’s an emotionally complicated landmine for me still, so I apologize for the length. If you are a current consultant and want to quit Paparazzi Accessories there are a few things to think about.
Do You Need the Money From Your Inventory?
If you have a lot of inventory or a lot of debt from being a Paparazzi consultant – do you need to get money out of what you have remaining? If the answer is yes, then you might want to participate in the Paparazzi Accessories Inventory Buyback program.
To take advantage of the Inventory Buyback program you must still be a consultant in good standing. You will email support and request an RMA for inventory buyback. They will direct you in the next steps. Basically, you box up all of your inventory that is NEW and UNOPENED. You fill out the RMA sheets and include them in your boxes. Follow the directions EXACTLY. You will then ship this back to Paparazzi. They have 60 days to process it. My buyback took less than 30, though.
You WILL lose money from the Paparazzi Inventory Buyback. They give you $2 a piece. Wholesale cost was $2.75 plus tax. (what does Paparazzi do with that Sales tax they charged you? Who knows? Sounds like a good question for the FTC.) There is NO GUARANTEE they will accept what you send back. If they don’t accept it, they also don’t return it to you. You also are paying shipping on the items. (I sent mine in 4 giant boxes with UPS ground for $80 total – ship it the cheapest way you can).
Even though you will technically lose money from the Paparazzi buyback program, it might be worth it just to get the jewelry out of your house and be done. Just remember, you must be a current consultant when initiating this. You also cannot discount any products or “disparage” the company until you have your money in the bank. If you get canceled by compliance while they are processing your buyback, you will lose it all.
Let Time Expire Your Consultant Status
To remain a consultant you need to order 200 pv (100 pieces) of jewelry in a rolling 12 months. You can simply stop ordering new jewelry and eventually the company will cancel you.
Another way to quit Paparazzi Accessories is to just email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them you quit. Sometimes they don’t respond to this email. In the back office, you can also message them directly through the chat bot. This is generally a quicker response and you can be canceled that same day.
If you cancel yourself, though, consider the timing. If you do have a team commission check, you might want to wait until the 20th (when your check has been deposited), to quit. Paparazzi doesn’t seem to be super consistent with who gets their last commission check and who loses out on it. Again – it’s that whole lack of transparency for me.
The Emotional Quagmire of Quitting Paparazzi Accessories
Leaving an MLM is emotionally difficult. Some describe the experience as cult-like. If you are a big buyer, your upline might be mad at you as you’re directly effecting her commission check. The company rhetoric is that you just didn’t try hard enough, you just didn’t work enough, you’re giving up on your dreams.
Try to give yourself some grace. You’re not giving up on your dreams – your dreams have just taken you another direction. When I quit Paparazzi, I told my team and customers it’s just a shift in the relationship. And I truly mean that. I love all of them dearly. I will cheer them on in the pursuit of their dreams no matter what.
Depending on how long you were in Paparazzi, it might also be an identity shift for you. There will be questions. There will be comments. It’s okay. Give yourself space to back away. Give yourself patience and grace. You don’t have to give all the details if you don’t want to. Recognize that it is an actual grieving process – both for you and those you were close to in the company.
Roberta Blevins on TikTok is my favorite anti-MLMer because she has such compassion for others. Follow her if you need some gentle humor and a whole lot of love.
This post may contain affiliate links which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What to Do Now?
Like I said above, one of the absolute main reasons I quit Paparazzi is because I wanted to have multiple streams of income. I did not want all my eggs in one basket. I started researching ways to make passive income a reality. My kids are growing and busier than ever. I need time to slow down and I need income that is not dependent on me showing up for a live stream or scheduling social media posts when I’m supposed to be watching a soccer game.
Our family is going through some big shifts this season, so flexibility is more important to me than ever. I took a few courses about setting up Etsy shops and began a couple blogs. As a result of new relationships, I’ve started doing freelance writing and virtual assistant projects.
It’s fun and different. I’m learning so much (I love learning new things!!), and making new friends. The best part of all is that I get to actually enjoy my evenings without worrying about social media posts or going live or packing orders. It’s actually my own business and no one gets to cancel me! If you want more ideas about working from home or flexible remote jobs be sure to get on the email list!