Multi-level marketing businesses sweep Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

Katie Anooshian, 'It Works' Fresno distributor said, "I've had a couple parties and people are just excited to come. They're excited to try these wrap things because everyone is talking about it."

It's literally a wrap at Katie Anooshian's latest wrap party.

"You can leave this on for a minimum of 45 minutes but up to 8 hours," Anooshian said.

The Skinny Wrap or the "Ultimate Body Applicator," is a patch that's billed by the "It Works" company as a "body contouring treatment that can tighten, tone, and firm any place on the body in as little as 45 minutes."

It's quickly become one of the hottest direct marketing products to hit the Central Valley.

Guests pay $25 each and apply the wrap with the help of a little saran wrap, and then, Anooshian says the botanically-infused cloths do their work.

Customer Melanie Blythe said, "I'm feeling kind of tingly, kind of a warm sensation, like Ben Gay."

Blythe and Anooshian's before and after photos show the difference.

"You're thinking no, no, Photoshop did that. But when you witness it with someone you've been friends with since junior high, that sells it right there," Anooshian said.

Michelle Biggs, 'It Works' distributor said "my girlfriend had been posting pictures on Facebook for months. And I saw the pictures constantly and I thought that is no way that works."

Michelle Biggs is Anooshian's up-line, which means she sponsored Anooshian's start in the business and receives a portion of Anooshian's sales.

She says she went in with her eyes wide open. She'd done a multi-level marketing business before.

"I started in November and I make 5 times as I did at my last job after three months' time," Biggs said.

Dr. Timothy Stearns of the Lyles Center for Entrepreneurship said, "There's quite a few multi-level marketing businesses and they continue to flourish."

Stearns says the reason MLM's continue to flourish is because they're easier to start than traditional businesses.

"It's almost packaged for you, you can almost go in, sign in, get the contract, pay your fees, you're selling the next day," Stearns said.

But he says a common mistake is sellers underestimate the challenges of selling the product and recruiting new distributors once the excitement wears off.

And like any new business timing is everything.

"You're better off looking at whether you're going to be at the top or not. And is it a fairly new MLM. And fundamentally you gotta believe in the product," Stearns said.

It wasn't the celebrity endorsements of Advocare or the promise of wealth that convinced Jose Garza to try it. It was a diabetes diagnosis that made him realize he needed to lose weight.

Jose Garza, Advocare Fresno distributor said, "I lost my vision and I was very just devastated."

His cousin told him to try Advocare. The products include sports nutrition, weight management, and skin care products.

Jose lost 40 pounds. He's no longer on insulin. His vision is back.

"People just wanted to know more. And I told them about the products, they got involved. They also became distributors and here we are," Garza said.

At a recent party at his home Garza shared his story.

"I just feel great and I'm doing with all my heart and passion and just trying to help people," Garza said.

His friends listened. Even the skeptics like his childhood friend Juan Gonzalez signed up.

Juan Gonzalez, Advocare customer said, "There's no miracle product out there. It is a commitment. It all depends on what you put in, that's what you're gonna get out."

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