Update: As of July 31st 2019, Chloe + Isabel closed it's doors. Throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019 under new president and CEO, Doug Hepfer, Chloe and Isabel underwent restructuring by implementing a new compensation plan with more earning potential and removed their extended vetting process. Despite these changes, Chloe and Isabel ceased operations at the end of July 2019.
Home based fashion businesses are a hot trend these day with multi-level-marketing leading the way. One company hoping to change minds and break away from the pyramid scheme business model is taking a different approach. In this Chloe + Isabel review I'll explain their strategy, go over the compensation, and discuss the reasons why this may, or may not be the opportunity for you.
Please note, I am not a member or an affiliate for Chloe and Isabel. This review has been researched with information and/or testimonials that are available online in the public domain. Any recommendations and/or conclusions are strictly opinions and may not to apply to, or agree with, all persons or situations. See full disclaimer for more info
What is Chloe + Isabel?
Chloe + Isabel is a jewelry retailer founded in 2011 by CEO Chantel Waterbury. Chantel, an entrepreneur who paid her way through university selling Cutco knives started Chloe + Isabel as a way to “empower the next generation of entrpreneurs through social retail (direct selling).
They also boast an impressive list of investors including First Round Capital, Floodgate, angel investors such as Ron Conway, and even Ashton Kutcher.
Is Chloe + Isabel a Scam?
Well, personally I think all jewelry is a scam... but not in the sense that there's something deceptive going on. I just think it's generally overpriced... and if we get into conversations of diamonds and other gems, ethics may be an issue.
I do have a ton of respect for people who make their own jewelry, start their own business and/or sell it at market kiosks, events, and online.
As far as Chloe + Isabel being a scam... no they're not. In fact, as mentioned, they're not even really an MLM or pyramid scheme... so getting involved in a scam here is not something you need to worry about.
How Does It Work?
The big selling point at Chloe + Isabel is not having to recruit people, and that’s a really big deal. There are many reasons why people don’t succeed with MLM’s. Having to recruit people is probably the biggest. It’s difficult to do, no one likes doing it, and you often damage relationships with those you care about.
But, I’m a little suspicious of this no recruiting claim, and I’ll explain why in a moment.
First, let’s go over the retail opportunity that Chloe + Isabel provide.
More than any MLM, at least on the surface, the focus here is on retail sales. As a Chloe + Isabel merchandiser you earn between twenty-five and forty percent (25% - 40%) of the purchase price of the jewelry you sell.
At first glance that seems like a great margin, but there's a reason I underlined purchase price.
Because Chloe + Isabel ship directly to your customers, you are not earning the profit margin on those products... but rather a commission on the sale.
And the fine print here is that your commissions are calculated on the purchase price, not the sales price. Unless there's a misprint here or some tricky word jujitsu... that would mean, on a product that would cost you $30 and be sold for $50, your commission is calculated on the $30. Not on the sales price.
How Much Does It Cost To Join Chloe and Isabel?
According to their website, the current one-time cost is $175, which provides you with everything you need to get started.
Your starter kit includes $700 worth of jewelry (15 items), Chloe + Isabel branded jewelry carrying case, a paycard, lookbooks/cataloges, order forms, wishlists, and a gift; Merchandiser-exclusive branch necklace!
Sales and Marketing
There is a move towards online retailing here, with training being provided for social media marketing. You can also set up your own online ‘boutique’ which will be hosted on the Chloe + Isabel website.
However, you are selling jewelry, which is a fashion accessory people like to try on. So, the bulk of your sales will come from doing home jewelry party’s, as well as selling to friends, family and co-workers.
I became suspicious about the no recruiting claim when researching Chloe + Isabel online. It seemed there were a lot of merchandisers either promoting their own c+i link or asking people to contact them before joining.
My first thought was Chloe + Isabel just had an affiliate program, a one-time referral commission for example in which case, this would not be an MLM.
But looking a little further I found another mention of “recruiting” under the Compensation heading of the merchandiser terms and conditions, which say “You will be responsible for all costs and expenses you incur in hosting Pop-up shops or marketing, promoting and selling our products or recruiting other potential sales representatives (each of whom you agree to require to apply to be a sales representative with us).”
As it turns out, there is a multi-tier structure that in many ways resembles an MLM. Where things differ slightly is that Chloe + Isabel only selects a limited number of merchandisers. You must apply (as you would with a job) and interview to get in.
Also, from the limited information available online, it seems your organization is assigned to you as you advance.
The multi-level part is structured as a leadership program. You join at the Merchandiser level, and in time move up to a Merchandiser Associate (MA) level where you mentor a group of 20.
Another level up from that, you find Merchandiser Managers (MM) and then Merchandiser Manager Seniors (MMS).
These are followed by Divisional Merchandiser Associates, Managers and Manager Seniors.
I couldn’t find a specific breakdown of how payments are calculated, but you can earn between four and twelve percent (4% - 12%) commissions on group sales.
So, although there seems to be less emphasis on recruiting and more on retailing… you do benefit from bringing people in and having a large organization.
Regardless of how good the opportunity is, or how it’s structured… none of that matters if the products you're selling are junk.
Chloe + Isabel jewelry is made by a Chinese manufacturer, keeping production costs down allowing for higher margins.
In all honesty, most things we buy are manufactured off shore and a strong argument can be made that China is both better equipped and skilled to mass produce quality jewelry than we are. Not that we couldn't do it, it's just that most of the Western world has moved away from manufacturing.
The jewelry hypo-allergenic as well as lead and nickel free.
Reviews are mixed.
You can find people who are not happy with the quality or the price of the jewelry, as well as people who give their products high praise.
It’s possible that the quality and pricing of pieces are inconsistent across the entire product line (some good and some not so good). In addition, these opinions are highly subjective.
I would say that they’ve been selling jewelry for a few years now with what seems to be great success… so the Chloe + Isabel products are a reason for, not against, becoming a merchandiser.
Your Home Based Business
The big selling point with any home business opportunity is you can eventually replace your job, work your own schedule, and become your own boss.
But, that’s not entirely true when you join an MLM or a hybrid-opportunity such as Chloe + Isabel.
This is important... because it's YOUR time and YOUR money being invested.
The reason you’re investing your time and money is to create freedom and call your own shots. The problem is, that the home business you’re creating is not really yours. Let me explain.
You may have heard some franchise owners say they've only bought themselves a job.
That's because, unlike owning your own business, you find yourself bound to certain restrictions. You can't sell similar brands or products for example. You also have non-compete contracts that not only forbid you to work with (or be affiliated with) a competing product... but some that prevent your from doing so years after you leave.
If you can generate a full-time income with a franchise type situation, it's better than working for someone else in my opinion. But, these are the kinds of rules you find in a job, NOT a business.
For example, as an owner of an online business… I promote and recommend several competing products because each one has its own pros and cons. Depending on your circumstances, goals, financial situation, likes and dislikes… only some products will be right for you.
I do have my top recommended products... in the make-money-online niche for example, Wealthy Affiliate is my #1 recommendation, but I do recommend others. I'm not under contract and the products I stand behind are ones I've tested and tried, not ones that are only available to me because I'm working for a company.
In another example, let's say someone named Katie runs a small home business with a network of 6 websites. Each website brings in on average $500 - $1000 per month of passive income, giving her a modest income of $3000 - $6000/month.
She's not a millionaire... but she does enjoy a comfortable life and runs her business from a deck overlooking the lake. Not a bad life.
The big difference between Katie and her friend, who has a successful MLM business, is that Katie never has to do a home-party, lug products around, deal with no-shows or be a sales person.
And more importantly, if for any reason Katie is unhappy with a product she recommends due to an unfair change in price, quality or service... she can simply switch to a different one and her business goes on.
Her friend does not have that freedom.
When you join what’s sometimes referred to as a ‘pre-packaged’ opportunity (franchised home business) you're locked in. If for any reason you want to quit, you effectively leave your entire business behind.
You also waive certain rights, such as intellectual property and materials created by YOU… on YOUR time.
To be absolutely clear, Chloe + Isabel can’t be faulted for any of these rules. It’s their company, their product, their reputation and although they support you… the company itself is their number one priority.
If you’re hoping to create a job replacing income with a business that offers true freedom, an online business might be more appealing.
What I Like
- Chloe + Isabel carry all the sales inventory and ship directly to your customer. This is a huge cost and logistical advantage over similar companies such as LuLaRoe which requires you to manage your own inventory and shipping.
- Jewelry has a lifetime replacement guarantee
- The product is lightweight and small making it easy to store and haul around to home party’s and sales displays.
- Although there is a multi-level-marketing element to it with group commissions and leadership tiers, Chloe + Isabel are taking a progressive step away from traditional MLM’s. That's a strong reason to consider them over many other fashion and design business opportunities out there.
What I Don’t Like
- The business is not your own and despite doing all the work, you’re bound to the rules and restrictions dictated by them.
- Home party’s, no-shows, wasted fuel, and evenings that would be better spent with your friends and family.
- If you leave or choose to take your entrepreneurial path in a different direction, you are effectively leaving your business behind and starting over.
- Chloe + Isabel manage the product and shipping, but you still need to keep a display inventory which can cost several hundred dollars. When you can start an online business for under fifty bucks (or even free in some cases), several hundred becomes a significant investment.
I’m torn here. I give Chloe + Isabel credit for changing the typical MLM business model and putting a bigger emphasis on retail. The sales margins are also quite good and as mentioned above, the product is lightweight and small to haul around.
So, I do recommend giving Chloe + Isabel a second a look if building a business around fashion accessories and jewelry is your thing. Just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into, as well the limitations, responsibilities and consequences of working for a company rather than owning one.
Other Ways To Make Money At Home
As mentioned earlier, I run an online business that provides passive income and doesn’t limit me to any product, supplier or company.
My passion is also to help others create that at-home lifestyle (as you can tell from this website 🙂 ) because I believe it’s critical in today’s economy that we develop an entrepreneurial mind-set. I could not count on the industry I worked in, and hated being dependent on an employer.
To learn the exact strategy I used to build my online business, and to work with me personally if you’d like, click here for #1 free resource.
I hope my Chloe + Isabel review was helpful and if you have your own review, comments, or opinions please share below. Your insight will be helpful for people looking into c+i as an opportunity.
Also, if you found this article informative, or you think it may be useful for others, please share 😀