When Home Based Businesses Attack

It happens every time, without fail. You move to a new installation, and you put yourself out there to meet new people. After a few lunch dates, you’re starting to feel good about the potential friendship, and then the bomb drops.

fear“Would you like to come to my Scentsy/Passion/Tastefully Simple/Mark Kay/Monkey Decorating party?”

GAHHHH. Head. Bang.

I’m honestly not completely opposed to the home-based business culture that military wives seem to swirl around. I get it; most of us are SAHM/WAHM wives by necessity, and being a part of those organizations allows many spouses to feel a part of the workforce while making their own hours, meeting people, and getting fun products and services. Seems like a win-win-win all the way around, right?

Not when the economy tanks, and everyone stays at the same base for years and years instead of 24 months.

Not when the market is so saturated with Scentsy consultants, that everyone is taking turns hosting a party just to order a new flavor of wax.

Not when you own so many Mary Kay mascaras and skin-softening kits, that the already-too-small cabinet under the sink in base housing is overflowing with the light pink and cream tubes.

That’s when the Facebook invite to yet another party pops up in my notifications, I can’t help but groan.

In the beginning it was worse. My husband joined at a late 23-years-old, already saddled with a few maxed out credit cards, a $300 car payment, and of course a brand-new 19-year-old wife who was not the best at handling money. We would be six days out from payday and praying our three cans of tuna and popsicles in the freezer would sustain us.

I became skilled at declining invitations, instead spending nights at home with my husband and pup. Eventually, through the years, I became better at money management, and yet… I still have no desire to attend a party every weekend where I am expected to make a purchase. Oh, they say it’s not an obligation, but how awkward is it when you just sit there while everyone is filling out the purchase forms? More awkward than watching Brangelina in Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Like I said, I support the home-based hoopla in theory, I just can’t financially support it every weekend. And, because many friendships are tied up in who attends which parties, it becomes harder and harder to make friends without knowing you will have to turn down an inevitable invitation.
My strategy? I politely decline “party” invitations, and instead invite them to a play date, a lunch, or a Girls Afternoon Out for a pedicure. It maintains the friendship without letting monogrammed totes or fruity waxes get in the way.


  1. Yes! Yes!

    Rachel, you hit the nail on the head! Like you, I see the allure of home-based direct sales businesses to no loo rotary spouses. But, there are so many reps for each type of business that it becomes overwhelming. On just about every public forum, multiple spouses are advertising parties and inviting everyone to come whether they know them or not. I get the social aspect of it in that it offers an opportunity to meet others in the same situation and perhaps form a bond of sisterhood to some degree, but if I receive one more invitation on Facebook to attend a party from someone I don’t know, I’ll likely lose my mind. To me, receiving unsolicited invitations like that equate to telemarketers calling my house to sell me something. It irritates me, and causes me to never want to meet that person because I find them to be invasive and intrusive. If spouses sell particular products because they truly love them and believe in them, by all means, they should go for it and enjoy doing what they love. But, if they are doing it simply as a way to earn extra money while staying home, there are other ways to do that.

    As military spouses, we are a pretty resourceful bunch of men and women. We are smart and creative and pretty tough for the most part. We have to be! I would love to see more spouses put those traits to better use and come up with other ways, more unique and profitable ways, of earning income. Starting an online business is a perfect example of something to do with much less competition and higher earning potential. It may take a little more effort, but the rewards can be so much greater!

    • Apologies for the typos in my first reply. I was not on my computer. This was supposed to read:

      “Like you, I see the allure of home-based direct sales businesses to military spouses.”


  2. Rachel – you are hilarious! I like what you said (and totally agree, although I thankfully haven’t been invited to many of these parties), and I was cracking up over how you said it! Yes, yes, yes!

  3. OMG I totally feel you!! What I hate the most is when you do order something, they hound you every month after that wanting you to order more and try to coax you in with some BIG SALE they are holding that month. Why buy that month because the deal is going to be so much better the next month..LOL!!

  4. If I can support another woman, whether she is a fellow military spouse or not, with her business venture I am 100% happy to do so! I’d much rather spend my money helping support a small business or another family earn some income than giving it to a big corporation any day. I wish more women felt the same way. I will gladly get my monogrammed tote from you because I need a wedding/birthday/babyshower gift insead of going to Target. I will buy another bar of wax so my house smells yummy instead of a candle at Home Goods. So yes, I will come to your Scentsy/Pampered Chef/Tastefully Simple/Thirty One/Mary Kay/Whatever party if I can afford it right now and I need something. I will not assume that we cannot be friends because I don’t show up to everything.

    • That is awesome, Kim! I feel you on helping others, and as a Military Spouse of an AF guy, we see a lot of the “independent consultants” wherever we are going… I have recently become one of them for ThirtyOne, but I don’t like to hound people– just want them to enjoy a useful product. 🙂 🙂

  5. What a funny, well-written article! I think you just said what ALL of us have been thinking. I don’t want friendships that are dependent upon me buying things from you, it’s awkward, and it gets old. Plus, it’s always the same things. At least I could get on board if someone was creating and marketing an innovative or original product, but scented wax cubes that I can buy at Walmart for 1/2 the price? No thank you.

  6. Thanks for contributing to this forum, but I hope your next topic is a bit more high-minded and more thought out. This article helps exacerbate many stereotypes about milspouses (ie. overly sensitive, judgmental, etc.). It’s sad to see something like this in a site that overall has great contributors on many grownup topics. Heck, maybe this is a sign that I need to start contributing! As I said before, I appreciate the time you took to contribute, I just don’t see a point to this specific offering other than to be negative about those* that choose to have a home-based business.

    *I do not operate a home-based business (I work as a paralegal), but I am happy to host open houses for those milspouses that do have a home-based business. I have never been at a base where home-based business sales have been that overwhelming, but that’s just my experience I suppose.

  7. […] Direct sales parties go together with military spouse life like a Thirty-One tote bag filled with Scentsy candles, essential oils and every piece of cooking equipment you didn’t know you ever needed (because you didn’t) from Pampered Chef. Here’s 16 GIFs that illustrate our milspouse love-hate relationship with direct sales companies. […]


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