Review: MLM promise and chaos ‘THE RISE AND FALL OF LULAROE’ now on Discovery+

THE RISE AND FALL OF LULAROE, a film that pulls the curtain back on the multi-level marketing company and features interviews with retailers, warehouse workers, designers and others whose lives were profoundly impacted by the organization. Through a partnership with BuzzFeed Studios and journalist Stephanie McNeal’s in-depth investigation, THE RISE AND FALL OF LULAROE uncovers parts of the story that haven’t been heard before, including recent developments and first hand accounts from sources who are speaking out for the first time. It includes authorities such as cult expert, Rick Ross, Cultish author Amanda Montell, and blogger Christina Hinks, who was one of the first to expose LuLaRoe’s innerworkings. The film will world premiere December 13th on discovery+, the definitive non-fiction, real-life subscription streaming service.

The film shines a light on present day LuLaRoe at the company’s most recent incentive trip in Cancun, Mexico called LuLaRoe D.R.E.A.M 2021. Here, we meet LuLaRoe’s first ever retailer and see that the company is still going strong, despite the growing community of Facebook activists, including former customers and retailers, who are determined to stop at nothing to take down the organization. Experts in the documentary reflect on how LuLaRoe seduced thousands of recruits, some of whom ended up risking their homes, their bank accounts, and their relationships with close family and friends – all in an effort to be their own boss by selling LuLaRoe leggings. The film explores the psychological techniques used by multi-level marketers, and how the company harnessed the full power of social media to onboard a massive pool of retailers.


I’ve watched one close friend become involved with three MLMs since we were both pregnant seven years ago. I cannot explain how many random messages I receive on Facebook from people I knew in high school (mostly women) asking if they can talk to me about a great business opportunity. I quickly learned that I was going to be pitched some sort of MLM scheme. In my early twenties, I was caught up in one myself. The amount of anxiety this caused me and money out of my pocket is indescribable. I get the notion of monetary freedom and a sense of community that these companies promise. In a lot of cases, they end up being overwhelming money monsters. In the new documentary, The Rise and Fall of LulaRoe, former and present consultants and employees talk about their personal experience with the company. If you don’t know about LuLaRoe by now, their claim to fame is leggings. But, not just any leggings, “buttery soft” leggings. In truth, because my friend started selling them, I started buying them. In 2015, I owned more pairs of leggings, Irma tops, Julia, and Carly dresses than five women needed. I started joining Facebook groups on the hunt for “unicorn prints,” and man, was I pissed when a co-worker bought the pizza leggings 10 seconds before in a group filled with 10K+ members. It wasn’t until my first pair arrived with a hole in them that I stopped and thought, “Oh Boy, this is what I’ve been hearing about lately.” My beautiful consultant friend told me that she’d swap them out and send those back to the company. A few months later, she quit. She and her husband were the lucky few to get reimbursed for their inventory. 

In the film, MLMs are clearly defined with colorful graphics. The promises LuLaRoe makes its consultants are plastered on social media. They get reinforced at conventions, cruises, and weekly webinars. “You gotta spend money to make money!” is a phrase repeated ad nauseam. The toxic positivity is glaring. Founders Deanne and Mark Stidham took the prosperity bible and saw an opportunity to make money. You’ll learn that the pyramid scheme dynamic is in their blood. The connection between Mormonism and mid-level marketing is no coincidence. As a stay-at-home Mom, who wouldn’t want to work less, make more money and spend time with their families? The doc features depositions from Deanne and Mark, and damn, they sound guilt as hell. You shake your head as you watch them not answer simple questions. When you hear the same stories, again and again from former consultants, it is clear that the company did more harm than good in the end. Knowing that there are countless lawsuits across the country and that the company continues to operate is nothing less than infuriating. The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe is eye-opening. It should scare CEOs of MLMs everywhere. 


THE RISE AND FALL OF LULAROE is produced by Left/Right, A Red Arrow Studios Company, in association with BuzzFeed Studios for TLC.

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About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.