By Elizabeth Stitt
Many stay-at-home mothers are seeking ways to make extra money and for some, home parties provide that extra source of income.
Home parties, in a marketing sense, are parties where the host sells a specific product. Grace Lee, co-founder of the Direct Selling Women?s Alliance said that of the 50 million direct sellers, 80 percent are women.
?There are more women millionaires in this profession than any other profession in the world,? Lee said. ?Women are natural net-workers.?
However, direct selling through home parties is not new to the Utah scene. For many years, women have hosted Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, Tupperware, Avon and jewelry parties.
?The freedom you have to do home-based parties is unbelievable,? said Ally Brickley, a consultant for Cookie Lee Jewelry.
Grace Lee said marketing through home parties moves the clientele away from a high technology environment to a high touch and personal environment.
?People like to be acknowledged and recognized more than just coming into a store,? Lee said. ?They like social purchasing. They learn something fun, have an excuse to get together, they?re in the comfort of a friend?s home and they don?t have to travel a great distance.?
?I really think there?s this magical combination of women, clothes and parties,? said Troy Slade, owner of The Mod Bod. ?Women enjoy having the parties, and they get excited about them.?
According to the Public Broadcasting Service?s Web site, home parties started in the 1930s with Stanley Home Products. The products were originally sold door-to-door, but one salesman became successful after a woman brought invited guests into her home for a party. This way the salesman could present several items at once and sell to many women at the same time. Stanley products moved its sales entirely to home parties and women found this to be a profitable business.
In the late 1940s, based on the success of Stanley home parties, other companies began using similar sales techniques.
Tupperware, for example, is a 1.2 billion-dollar business internationally. A Tupperware press release said a Tupperware party begins every 2.5 seconds on average, and more than 60 million people attended a Tupperware party in the past year.
Local companies deal with home parties on a smaller scale.
Since the recent camisole craze, some are starting their own camisole companies, and home parties are the leading sellers for many of them.
Chelsea Rippy, owner of Shade Clothing, said her business was the first to start camisole home parties. Shortly after they began selling the camisoles, they had requests for home parties because women wanted to share the product with their friends and families.
?After a couple of parties, I realized it was a great way to get the word out,? Rippy said.
Many start-up camisole companies saw the success of Shade and decided to try it themselves.
Shauna Peterson, owner of Apricot Apparel, said she prefers to sell through home parties.
?People are calling and e-mailing me daily wanting to do parties,? Peterson said. ?I don?t think they?ll get tired of these until [camisoles] go out of style.?
For camisole companies, home parties are an open house where women can come, see all the products, try on the shirts, and in many cases, take the products home with them to avoid shipping costs.
But some people wonder how many house parties women can put up with before they get tired of them. Some people said they don?t like home parties because they don?t want to hurt neighbor?s feelings by not going. They said they also feel an obligation to buy something if they attend.
Scott Askew, owner of Knee Shorts, said he only carries camisoles in his store.
?People hate home parties,? Askew said. ?Eventually the market is going to say they?re tired of going to home parties and hosting home parties.?
DressModestly.com also chose not to distribute through home parties because of the expense. By adding more levels between the manufacturer and the consumer, the price can increase between 5 and 50 percent for each level. They choose to keep prices low by decreasing the number of people the product goes through before being purchased.
And for other companies, home parties don?t reach the desired market. The camisole company Undertease, does not sell through home parties because they prefer retail outlets.
?In a retail setting you?re going to get a higher quality brand and make of product,? said Suzanne Broadbent, owner of Undertease. ?That just went along with the image and brand we were trying to establish.?
Broadbent said home parties are still popular, though, and whether or not the demand stays may depend on the demand for the product sold.
?There are people who love to buy Mary Kay cosmetics and they love doing it through a friend,? Broadbent said. ?Then there?s other customers who like to shop through the mall and get more of a designer image so there?s a customer for both markets.?