Selling candlelight

At Work

A stay-at-home mom found she could make good money in the living rooms of others


August 08, 2007|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to the Sun

Tammy Martin

Regional vice president and sales consultant

PartyLite, Damascus

Salary --$78,000 in commission sales

Age --38

Years on the job --Six

How she got started --Martin, a stay-at-home mom with an education background, moved to Maryland from Massachusetts and attended a PartyLite show to get to know her neighbors. PartyLite shows are house parties where candles and accessories are sold to friends and family. Martin needed to find a job, but wanted to remain at home with her young children. After the candle party, she decided to sign up to be a saleswoman. She received a starter kit of candles and committed to scheduling six parties.

"I needed to replace an income. Once I got into the business, that first month, I made $2,000 and I never looked back. The second month I put my heart and soul into this business."

In the next six weeks, she made $10,000, building up enough momentum to remain a stay-at-home mom. She has since moved up through the ranks, recently being named a regional vice president.

Typical day --Martin says she works an average of 15 hours a week but because she's a manager, she takes a lot of telephone calls and e-mails from nine women who schedule parties around the region. She tries to maintain a flexible schedule, which means she typically works nights and weekends. While her hours are more manageable now, Martin acknowledged that getting the business started required her to approach it as a full-time job. She would hold four to five shows each week. In order to book that many shows, she would have to convince family members and friends to host a party and sell the candles to others. "You have to be a go-getter and you have to be willing to work for yourself. You have to have that initiative to be your own boss."

Since then her business has grown. Sales in her region are expected to reach $1.5 million this year. Martin is paid a percentage of those sales.

Under her new job description, her time is divided between two parties a week and conference calls with her team members. She also offers two, monthly training meetings. Her phone is always on so salespeople can call her with questions. "I work very closely with my team. I probably talk to at least one person every single day."

Sales region --Martin's territory is not a geographic location, but consists of the salespeople she has on her team. For the two weekly parties that Martin works, she tries to stay within one-hour travel distance. In the past she has gone as far as Delaware and Virginia.

Typical sale --The average salesperson makes about $100 per show, based on 25 percent commission of the total sales. Once a saleperson moves up to management, the commission is 38 percent. Much of Martin's income is made through training and building her sales team. She is paid to motivate, coach and advise salespeople - PartyLite pays her a 7 percent commission based on those workers' sales.

Own hours --The business is designed so salespeople can work when and how often they want. A typical party lasts two or three hours. Martin schedules parties Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons at the home of the party's hostess. When she first started, Martin would also usually have two parties on weekday evenings.

First show --"I was really, really nervous in the beginning," said Martin. So she developed games that go over the sales program, the products and how to get started in the business. "This took the focus off of people looking at me. They started to have fun and I started to have fun."

The good --Meeting people and helping others get started in the business.

The bad --Packing up the candles and accessories after a party.

Philosophy on the job --"If you find something you absolutely love to do, then it's not really work."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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