It all started at a hockey rink, and it’s led to driving a white Mercedes. When Johanne Pelletier (BMath ’85) encountered another hockey mom several years ago at the Westwood arena in Rexdale, she had no idea it would be a life-changer. She struck up a conversation with this new acquaintance, who praised a line of exceptional skin care products she had discovered and even gave her samples to try out.
"I could see the value in them, as they were all vegan and botanically based,” recalls Johanne (BMath ’85). “I started using them -- and immediately saw a difference in my skin. And I loved the nutritional line.”
What she had lucked into was Arbonne International’s line of toxin-free products and its dynamic network marketing strategy. It couldn’t have come at a better time. With three children soon to leave the nest, Johanne was looking to do something socially worthwhile that would still allow her to pursue other interests. She realized the potential of offering something people would really want by letting them try products in their own home and purchase them off the internet at a discount.
“I decided to look at the business plan,” she recalls, “and it blew me away. With a system for success in place and a team to help you, you could reach the top of the company in just five years! I decided to join right then!” She is now an Arbonne Independent Consultant and a Regional Vice-President.
Top Quality Health and Wellness Products
The Arbonne concept -- to provide skin care products of unparalleled quality and effectiveness – was developed in Switzerland in the 1970s by Petter Mørck and a team of bio-chemists, biologists and herbalists. Arbonne’s health and wellness offerings reflect “an integrative approach” based on botanical principles and respect for the environment. Arbonne International LLC and affiliates now operate with some 575,000 independent consultants and preferred clients worldwide.
Consultants earn income, sponsor others into the business, and receive commissions on client purchases. Preferred clients go straight to the Arbonne website to buy goods at a discount. Products are delivered directly to their door. “You don't need a lot of clients,” the Waterloo grad notes. Those who appreciate Arbonne’s “pure, safe and beneficial” products make repeat customers.
While selling was initially outside the UW grad’s comfort zone, she was soon weaving a skein of clients and consultants seeking top quality products and significant wealth creation opportunities. She now has clients in Ontario, Quebec and the United States. One of 250 V-Ps across Canada, she’s enjoying a unique perk from Arbonne in the form of a new white Mercedes. She will soon hand over the keys to a similar Mercedes to one of her managers who is moving up in the ranks.
“With low startup costs and by leveraging your time, you can really build a multimillion dollar international business,” Johanne observes, echoing Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad (Plata, 2011), who calls the network selling model “the new business of the 21st century.” Arbonne International reportedly stands 33rd on the list of network marketing companies worldwide and third in Canada. “We’re growing at double digits,” Johanne points out. “This is unheard of. It’s a very exciting time!”
Excitement of Entrepreneurship
Typical of a number of Waterloo accounting graduates who have gone the entrepreneurial route, Johanne didn’t see her professional life unfolding quite this way. “My plan was to obtain my CA, be successful as a woman in the corporate world, and have a work and family balance if possible,” she recalls.
So, how did she feel about choosing Arbonne? “Scared … uncertain … excited,” she laughs. “I thought, what If it actually works? I could create a business that can be passed on to family members for generations to come, and leave a legacy.” Her children, members of a generation committed to the environment, might even join the business too.
Johanne credits SAF (in the 1980s, the School of Accountancy) for preparing her well for her first career, a 15-year stint as a CA, and even for the upshots of that hockey rink conversation. “Getting the professional designation gave me the confidence to take on the challenge of starting over,” she says. “I’m now using business skills I learned at school and at work, and applying them to this new endeavour.”
Outside the consultancy, the Arbonne V-P and her family support a local youth shelter organization. She also participates in UW alumni events and KPMG reunions. “I'm always curious to see where people are in their journey, and how they balance life and work,” she says. “This is a challenge everyone has to deal with.” One Waterloo alumnus she sees every day is her husband Brent Mooney (BMath ’85), and she stays in touch with friends from their class.
In her view, the Arbonne model possesses unusually wide appeal. Fresh new graduates can carve out sales opportunities using the internet and social media; generation Xers can work from home and still contribute to family income; people with careers outside the home can add to their children’s education fund; and baby boomers caring for children and aging parents can benefit as well.
“Arbonne gives all of us a way to earn corporate income while doing part time hours,” Johanne observes. “It’s also a way to give back to our community by training others to go into business for themselves.”
By Stephen A. Jones, School of Accounting and Finance