SeneGence International’s Founder and CEO shares her thoughts on the state of direct selling and its relevance in today’s marketplace, the pay-it-forward opportunity of mentorship, and the new opportunity that will allow her company to share its brand, mission, and products with even more women.
Joni Rogers-Kante on …
Q: How do you feel about the state of direct selling at this moment in time?
A: Optimistic and excited! I genuinely feel we are on the precipice of a new definition of the direct selling industry as a whole. What I mean by that is how we positively impact the overall economy, our ability to create entrepreneurs, and our ability to provide stability and predictability to those choosing to supplement their incomes or those who simply choose to work as representatives of our brands. With the inclusion of person-to-person online selling opportunities, the gig economy, and the need for alternative means to supplement income on one’s own terms—as well as the desire for so many not to be locked into traditional corporate jobs—the state of direct selling has never been brighter. The recent pandemic demonstrated that direct selling is one of the first opportunities people turn to in order to find peace of mind and take control of their own earning abilities.
Q: What do you see as direct selling’s greatest opportunity?
A: Agility and adaptability. Direct selling, unlike so many other industries, has the ability to adopt and adapt to a changing world quickly and with purpose. Companies rooted in a strong culture and mission truly can be transformative for those who desire to create positive change and seek opportunity. Nimble direct selling companies are often the first to embrace new technologies, product innovations, and communication strategies that keep them on the cutting edge of opportunity for their independent salesforce members. As well, our companies are historically known for their generous philanthropic support to a wide variety of causes. The more successful representatives and their respective companies, the more “good works” for those in need is possible.
Q: What do you see as direct selling’s greatest challenge?
A: The possible public misunderstanding of some for what today’s good direct selling companies offer to individuals, both those who might be interested in using a direct selling product and those who may be looking for ways to supplement their income. Validation of excellent products in the marketplace, consumer protection, direct selling representative protection, and the overall reputation of the direct selling channel is uniquely and completely dependent upon individual experiences of each person and is reflected by association from one company into the entire channel. To help combat possible misperceptions, it is vital that we all operate with the highest ethical standards to reduce any misperceptions that may be in the marketplace. Direct selling companies should join the Direct Selling Association (DSA) and follow the DSA Code of Ethics, which addresses good business practices and ethics. For all direct selling companies to lift the stigma associated with companies that have not taken the responsibility of fostering a positive impression of this time-honored business model seriously, membership is imperative for the good of all. As well, participating in DSA’s “Day on the Hill” to aid DSA staff in the effort to lobby for our channel is vital. Having independent distributors—those who have chosen to be part of the legacy of direct selling—tell their stories to our legislative bodies is an important part of ensuring this industry will be here for generations to come.
Q: What does the direct selling channel have to do to stay relevant in today’s changing marketplace?
A: Strong commitment to customer acquisition, product innovation, and customer and distributor engagement. Companies must continue to deliver high-quality products that deliver on their claims and remain committed to investing in technologies.
Customer acquisition is the basis for everything a direct selling company needs to be successful and sustainable. A focus on new customer acquisition gives distributors a strong base to earn retail profits on product sales, great leads to offer the opportunity to those who may be interested in starting their own businesses, and the chance to create residual income. Customer and distributor engagement is vital to sustainability that, in turn, results in brand loyalty.
Product innovation and products living up to their claims are the fuel that creates new customer acquisition, and technology enhancements support all of the above. It’s a recipe for success and growth when these elements are all in place and working in harmony.
Q: You are someone who loves to mentor others. Why is mentoring so special to you? Why does the direct selling channel, or the business world, in general, need more mentors?
A: I have so many things to say about this question. Mentorship is the “pay-it-forward” opportunity for any business or true leader. Not everything that creates success can be learned in school. Being a mentor is an opportunity to share your time, talent, and treasure with those who can then take that experience and share the love (in my case). However, above and beyond that, I feel women supporting and mentoring women should be the norm, expected, and valued. Women don’t seem to have an abundance of female mentors and so often have to learn what’s what through the School of Hard Knocks. Mentoring anyone who desires to succeed and excel is a privilege regardless of gender or age. Any person’s success makes us all stronger together and leaves the world a little better place than it was.
Q: You recently hosted the Women’s Industry Leadership Retreat. What takeaways from that meeting can you share?
A: What an honor it was to host this event. As I mentioned, women supporting women is a privilege and watching it happen in real-time within a small group of high-level, dynamic women within our channel is an amazing and rare opportunity. The biggest takeaway I had was that we’re in this together. The women CEOs who attended the retreat were open, transparent, and vulnerable. They allowed themselves and those in attendance to be in a safe zone to gather insights and information that they could take back to their companies to grow and continue to develop their companies to the next level, whatever that might be.
Q: SeneGence was the official presenting sponsor of this year’s Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. What prompted you to become involved with these organizations?
A: The alignment of our cultures to uplift women was, first and foremost, the main reason we aligned with the pageant. Empowering intelligent, positive, energetic women to be the very best is exactly what SeneGence strives to accomplish for its independent distributors. Under new inspired management, this pageant was not only a great deal of fun and very exciting, but it also allowed SeneGence to partner with an organization that complements our company culture, mission, and vision. It was definitely a match made in heaven (or on the runway!).
Q: Your involvement with the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA organizations has given notice to the wider cosmetic community that SeneGence is a player on the global stage and not just a little direct selling company.
A: We have been defined over the last five years as the overnight success that was over twenty years in the making! We have been on the global stage for more than twenty years, with operations and distributors in the United States and its territories, Canada, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. Plus, we operate with brokers in another six countries. Up until 2019, SeneGence had not sought out any type of publicity, so our growth has been truly organic. Our involvement with the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA organizations was an amazing opportunity to continue to share our brand, mission, and products with more women than ever before.
Q: You are currently the Chair for DSA’s Annual Meeting. What will be the focus of DSA ENGAGE 2022, and what are you most excited about with regard to the event?
A: I am honored to Chair the DSA Annual Meeting for 2022. The list of things I look forward to is long, but generally, I am looking forward to a highly interactive event that engages all attendees regardless of the size of their respective companies. From notable thought-provoking keynote speakers, top-level training, and insightful roundtable topics, I know all attendees will come away from the event inspired, informed, and giving serious thought to what is possible in the future. We—each of us—are responsible for the preservation and success of the channel, and I intend to make this event one that will surely help all who attend do just that.
As well, this is our annual opportunity for networking and relationship building. I want to use the opportunity to build even more meaningful relationships by making this a place where even a spouse or partner will feel at home and enjoy meeting one another. There will be fun activities for our guests while we are in session and a very cool concert to attend to celebrate our collective accomplishments. I, and others within our SeneGence team, value the relationships, partnerships, and friendships we’ve built over the years. I hope to continue that tradition as we plan for an amazing conference.
Q: You have long been a respected leader, mentor, and champion of women. What brings you the most satisfaction as you reflect back on your association with the direct selling community?
A: First, I have to say the overarching gratification comes deep within from how proud I am to belong to a community that is purely about helping others. Whether it be through our products, our compensation plans, or our philanthropy, ours is a proud community that delivers quality products, support, and opportunity to all. And, to live in a state of “the good part of business”—meaning adopting and strictly following DSA’s Code of Ethics, enforcing good business practices through the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), and aiding the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) to educate the public and teach new generations about the benefits of direct selling as a normal course of business—assures the highest level of integrity and standards within the channel as it applies to business operations, the end-user, and distributor policies and procedures. Without a doubt, our commitment to these programs, along with the other companies that also promote and adapt these programs, is to help elevate public perception of the entire channel and, ultimately, increase our returns.
My personal connection and satisfaction are linked directly back to our distributors. Every time I hear that very first small success story from each, I still feel giddy. Their first sale, their first recognition earned, their first expense covered (large or small), the look on their face when they realize they have control over their own path—those are moments when you know you’ve been part of creating positive change and that the future is bright and exciting. I love to share these stories with the direct selling community. It’s the “firsts” that create the “nexts.” And, as I like to say, “I can’t wait to see what’s next.”