You can’t miss the row of matching white Lexus sedans and SUVs parked in the soft shadows outside the Terrace, a banquet hall in Paramus, New Jersey. The sun is setting behind the dozen or so vehicles, which have been arranged side by side, facing out, gleaming and glamorous in the twilight. In front of them, about the same number of women—many blonde, most in short dresses—pose with their arms around each other. It’s like every wealth-building tableau you’ve ever seen in which some self-made mogul shows off his toys.
Except that in this version, there’s no man at the center. The women are the success stories here. They have gathered on this warm evening for a business dinner, in their chic little dresses, YSL handbags, and Louboutin stilettos and driving their luxury cars. They make their living as saleswomen for Rodan + Fields, the San Francisco–based skin-care company whose 100,000 independent consultants, including this super-high-performing group, sell products from home on commission to their friends and acquaintances. Including, possibly, you.
A Rodan + Fields consultant is the highly educated, digitally savvy update of the cosmetics saleslady who used to ring your mom’s doorbell bearing frosted lip gloss and soap-on-a-rope. Like many of her predecessors from Avon or Mary Kay, the Rodan + Fields consultant is probably a mother in her 30s or 40s who needs a flexible job. But the resemblance ends there. Instead of making sales calls in person, the Rodan + Fields consultant is more likely to use Facebook and Instagram, posting before-and-after skin selfies and offers for free products. She doesn’t fulfill your order out of the back of her station wagon but refers you to her personal Rodan + Fields website, where you choose what you want so the company can ship it to you. She doesn’t generally throw house parties, either. But if you belong to a certain tony suburban demographic, she might sidle up to you at barre class or at elementary-school drop-off. She’ll start chitchatting about nothing in particular, segue nimbly into a sales pitch, and before you realize what’s happening, you’ve agreed to buy $500 worth of cleansers, toners, exfoliators, and serums you didn’t even know you needed.
But the Rodan + Fields consultant’s goal isn’t only to hook you up with products. She also wants you to join her team, selling skin care to everyone you know, making fistfuls of cash, and perhaps even scoring the most coveted bonus incentive reserved for the brand’s top salespeople: that shiny new Lexus. You can choose any model you’d like, as long as it’s white.
This has all actually happened to Lore Cardella. “I went out and introduced the products to about 50 people, and they went out and introduced the products, and it grew exponentially,” says the Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, 36-year-old, who in less than five years has become one of the most successful Rodan + Fields consultants in the United States. It’s easy to see why. With a lambent complexion, meticulously highlighted hair, lashes out to there, a truly colossal diamond, and a Birkin, Cardella is a woman you could easily resent, until you realize her intention isn’t to make you jealous; it’s to make you just as fabulous—on every level. Her message: You can have all of this, too.
Cardella is the unofficial hostess of this evening’s event at the Terrace, which includes a private dinner for the highest earners of the sales team to which she belongs and what Rodan + Fields consultants refer to as a Biz Opp—a public presentation about the company designed to share product information and recruit new salespeople. But Cardella’s day began much earlier. After settling her toddler with her parents and dropping her older two at school, she pitched camp at a Starbucks to catch up with orders and train a new team member. Then it was on to a party at her middle child’s preschool, a wardrobe change, and this meeting, which will last past 10. “I work my tush off,” she says.
Every consultant is encouraged to hone the narrative of her own Rodan + Fields story. Here is Cardella’s: In 2011, she was a pharmaceutical saleswoman turned stay-at-home mother with an entrepreneurial longing she had decided would remain unfulfilled because she didn’t want to sacrifice her family life. “My dad had his own business, and it came at a cost—he worked around the clock,” she explained earlier at Starbucks, between tippity-tapping customer orders into her iPad. “He was never home.”
Then fate intervened. Cardella’s second pregnancy left her with a hormone-related patch of darkened skin, known as melasma, on her upper lip that had an unfortunate resemblance to facial hair. A girlfriend who had just started selling Rodan + Fields invited Cardella to get into the business and recommended some products formulated to fade discoloration. Cardella promptly joined her friend’s team, started using the products, and her melasma vanished. Now Cardella makes a sixfigure income. She and her husband are building their dream house on the street where her parents live, and she regularly enjoys company-sponsored trips to Hawaii and Thailand—all with plenty of time left for her children. “I thought I’d get rid of my mustache and make preschool money,” she says. It turns out she is living every working woman’s fantasy.
By Lauren Lipton