Hey there! I'm Vivian. Sometimes I write about life and sometimes I write about teaching.

Does anyone remember Shaklee products? Maybe you use them? I think of this brand much like Amway–sold using a multi-level marketing strategy.

There was a time in the 80’s when my mom sold Shaklee. I remember we always had an assortment of brown bottles of various vitamins and supplements in our cupboards that looked like the ones pictured above. Often times she’d share with me the benefits of one or another, as if she was trying to sell me on the product, even though I was only in elementary school. And I definitely wasn’t going to buy any. Now I wonder if she was just practicing her pitch. There was even a time when she put on a sales presentation to a group of people, maybe they were neighbors or customers of my grandpa’s restaurant, in the living room. Where did she get the extra chairs and slide projector? I’ll never know. My brother and I were relegated to our rooms. No coming out and no making noise!

My mom had some qualities that I think made her particularly suited to this work. One, she definitely lived by the saying, “You catch more flies with honey.” Two, she was a liar.* I’ll never forget the time I heard her tell a potential customer, “You know I’m 40 years old,” while turning her face so that the unsuspecting victim could get a closer look at her incredible skin. At the time she couldn’t have been more than 32. To this day, when people ask me my age, I’m reminded of this moment. For the record, I never lie about my age.

But this, like the ventures before and after, was relatively short-lived. One day I came home from school to find a garage full of leotards. How she was going to sell these, I had no idea. I’d never seen my mother sport a leotard or exercise for that matter. I guess that’s why there were always lingering boxes in the garage, along with unsold brown bottles of selenium.

*I don’t think you have to be a liar to be a good salesperson, but this tactic worked well for my mother.

  1. Nan Santucci says:

    What a delightful read! It’s obvious you respect and love your mother regardless of her idiosyncrasies, which in my opinion is a requirement for a good mother/daughter relationship.

  2. Amy Ellerman says:

    Your details paint a picture of a character who would pull me into a book. The juxtaposition of her tools of the trade in their out-of-placeness of your home–leotards in the garage, chairs and a slide projector in the living room–with the character traits that read more salesperson than maternal figure, it brings up complicated, conflicting emotions. A compelling character, for sure.

  3. I have bought so many items from colleagues: lunch bags (thirty-one), essential oils, Norwex cloths, Mary Kay, and Pampered Chef . . . the amount of items people are selling from home is intriguing. The social pressure of “parties” and the awkward contact when you run low on an item that needs replacing is definitely post-worthy. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Alice Almaraz-Garza says:

    My favorite part is the description of your mom *lying* about her age. My mom attended home parties/sales pitches frequently, although they didn’t include brown bottles of supplements or leotards.

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