This is a guest post written by one of our favourite #manhuns, Andrew Rowe-Henney. You can check out his skincare business here
After nearly seventeen years in the hair and beauty industry I have been approached by ‘reps’ for pretty much every MLM company going. All offering me the same dream that they offer many people, which is apparent long term financial freedom and escaping the ‘rat race’. Here is where they fall down in establishing any major foothold in my profession. A survey carried out by City and Guilds in 2008 found beauty therapists and hairdressers were the two happiest professions in Britain. So creating an escape for people to run to does not really work.
The main issue that any kind of MLM business selling in or to my industry faces is lack of knowledge.
When you are trying to sell moisturiser to a beauty therapist or conditioner to a hairdresser, you better know your stuff. Some people do think they know their stuff and approach someone like myself, leading to an often harsh sounding rebuttal. Because they have been told their moisturiser is scientifically the best thing out there and people will be snatching it out of their hands and throwing money in their face, they truly believe this. I have the benefit of years of training, experience and sound knowledge of cosmetic chemistry and biology to challenge the claims made by these companies. Even companies I sometimes deal with that are not MLM’s, make me roll my eyes sometimes with cleverly worded advertising. It is not unique to that industry but, in my opinion, it is by far the overriding factor in making people believe they are entering a solid business ‘franchise’.
I recently had a message from someone trying to recruit me.
I recently had a message from someone trying to recruit me. She was a school friend and wanted to come and see me when I had some free time (actually not a friend as such, but in my year and dated my cousin kind of friend. One you would not pass in the street, but one you would not get a nice birthday card for either). This was not to catch up on old times, it was because she had discovered this wonderful bunch of products. I did not share her enthusiasm for these products. I normally just ignore messages from this kind of business, as I find engaging in conversation about the scientific merit of their products claims can be confusing for the representative as they have had ‘training’ in the product, but understand little of the science, which in itself can be presented by the company in a very biased format and without links to external studies which verify the claims. The company in question sold a multitude of cosmetic products and their star product was a ‘Galvanic Spa machine’ which this representative had been ‘trained to use’ (more on that later). Understanding a great deal about galvanic current used for cosmetic purposes, I decided to respond with why I thought her company’s machine was comparable to one which was £220 cheaper and offered not a sufficient level of controllable and ‘true’ galvanic current to make any real difference. I also stated I used the world’s largest salon skin care brand which is part owned by the world’s third largest company, meaning I was happy with the level of research that goes into the products I use and retail. This was enough to dissuade her from contacting me about joining her any further.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE
I would say the biggest disappointment for me was discovering she (at the time) did not have professional liability insurance. You see when you go into a salon or have someone visit your home to perform a treatment, they will be insured with a policy from a specialist insurer or insured through a trade body like the one I am a member of. Specifically my trade body BABTAC (British Association of Beauty Therapy And Cosmetology) will require submission of certificates from a recognised educator working under an approved framework (City & Guilds, VTCT etc.). There are many insurers who require this and who will not insure non-qualified practitioners.
If you go into a store like Superdrug, for example, they have insurance that covers them for what they do. You are the person picking something up off the shelf, therefore it is your responsibility to check ingredients for any allergens that are specific to you. These products will also have legal notices printed on them advising against use if you have specific conditions and notices if you require a sensitivity test (like with hair colour products). That is how standard high street retail of products work.
THE RULES FOR SALON-ONLY PRODUCTS
When we look at salon only products a different set of rules comes into play. I am responsible for checking allergens, I am responsible for contraindications to use (like salicylic acid during pregnancy), it is me who is responsible for checking professional only products are suitable for use. Unfortunately, my industry is largely unregulated and as such anyone can pop up in a shop and call themselves a beauty therapist or hairdresser. Some councils are now moving to combat this by making sure people have licences for treatments like massage, but it is still not getting to where it needs to be. The problem of MLM companies advocating those without qualifications both perform and recommend products only complicates the matter. Remember that the MLM representative is advising you from the point of a business now. In this circumstance they are not your friend offering their opinion on a moisturiser they like, they are advising your purchase from them in their capacity as a ‘trained’ individual.
Remember the second someone is recommending you something or performing a treatment on you, they are declaring that they are qualified to do so and as such should provide you with proof of qualifications and, importantly, proof of insurance. If they do not have either, please be sensible and refuse their advice.
To the people who think it is ok to inbox me with these offers;
I have years of practical experience, backed up by extensive education in my field, including qualifications in anatomy and physiology and many CPD hours each year. I am a member of a professional trade body and I am qualified and insured to provide each treatment I perform. Please do not compare three hours of ‘training’ to this and consider yourself a professional. I quite frankly find it insulting. If you truly wish to enter the field as a professional, please seek out your local careers office or college who will advise you on which path of training is best for you. It is not too late, or indeed too early to leave MLM behind.
Thanks very much for sharing this post with us, Andrew. You make a compelling case for men and women to use professional, trained beauty therapists.