By now, most of us have been invited to and/or attended a direct sales party—whether it’s a Tupperware, jewelry, or candle party—we’ve all gone and bought something! Well, here’s a glimpse into the life of someone who is making a living as a direct sales woman, only her business is Tastefully Simple.
Cari Blake’s, Minnesota native now living in New Jersey, venture into ‘being her own boss’ began with an Internet search.
“My husband, with business partners, owned a pharmacy and I was running the ‘front’ store, which was a Hallmark store,” said Blake. “I really loved putting gift baskets together, so I searched online for interesting food to put in the gift baskets—that’s when I found Tastefully Simple.”
A self-described ‘shy, quiet Midwestern girl’ looking to get out and meet new people, is what encouraged Blake to join the Tastefully Simple team. She was living in New Jersey raising her children and missing her New York City job as an editor of a trade magazine. She quotes Mary Englebriet, “bloom where you’re planted,” and that’s what she set out to do.
Now a Senior Team Mentor, Blake says the most rewarding part of her business is helping people see that they can do more than they think they can.
“When I started my business, I never thought I would reach the top level or have a team of over 400 consultants who sell over $2 million each year for many years,” said Blake. “When I see someone else get that vision, and then work to make it happen—it is the best thing!”
With rewards there are also challenges. Blake says dealing with the negative perceptions some have about the direct sales industry is her main hurdle. Tastefully Simple is a proud member of the Direct Selling Association, which maintains standards of practice for direct sales companies across the nation. They also belong to the Better Business Bureau, which promotes the highest standards for business ethics and customer service in the marketplace.
Blake’s husband, whom she refers to as her CFO, helps with her banking and taxes, and she recently hired a virtual assistant to help Blake do more recognition for her sales team.
Blake says her personal life, her family and home, her gourmet food business, and her sales team all require her attention.
“I don’t necessarily feel I balance it all,” Blake said. “There’s a quote that says, you can have it all, just not at the same time—I live by that.”
She adds, “If a couple of them are moving in the right directions (and a couple are coasting), I’m good. And if I’m tempted to look at what’s not working, I make myself look at the other areas that are working knowing it will all change next month.”
Blake credits reading books about leadership (John Maxwell) and personal development books (Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy) as great motivators. She also is surrounded by entrepreneurs.
“My husband has been an entrepreneur since before I knew him, and my younger sister is a professor (with a PhD in entrepreneurship) at Northeastern University,” said Blake. “I guess it’s hard for me to ‘own’ the entrepreneur title since I work from home and have so much flexibility, but I am very proud and happy with what I have accomplished with my business.”
Blake is on a steady path looking for ways to evolve and grow—she hopes to get more involved with social media and write more in the future.
What have you accepted in your life that took time?
I am organizationally challenged. I collect things (books, articles, and quotes) so it’s hard to keep things in sight (because I’m such a visual person) yet neat.
What do you appreciate the most in your life?
I appreciate that I have the freedom to work from home doing something I love.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life?
I won our company’s top award, which is a spirit award. I never saw myself earning any of the other top awards (for sales, recruiting, etc.), but I knew I would have done something really special if my peers voted me as someone who lives by the principles of our mission.
What is your not-so-perfect way?
I am a type A, control freak, and workaholic. I have to remind myself to slow down, to delegate, and to not procrastinate my way to perfection.
Susan also has an “I Love My…” section of her web site where you can say something that you love…it can be anything…how would you complete the phrase “I Love My…”?
I love my…Big Life. That’s how I describe it. I’ve got a husband, a home, three active teenagers, an active social network, and a big business. It can get crazy at times, but I love it!
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