Scenes from a Tupperware Party: Bell Bottoms, Mud Pies, and Success in DS

Confession: I’m approaching the big 4-0 this year.  Although I am not sure how I let the years slip by so quickly, when I think back on my single-digit years, I am brought back to my introduction to direct sales, Tupperware®.

My aunt, a stay-at-home mother, ran a very successful business as a Tupperware consultant in the late 70’s, early 80’s.  In an effort to support her business, my mother would attend almost every show.  This meant long nights for me as I hid in my Holly Hobbie pink nightgown from the bell-bottomed guests behind the orange and brown striped sofa when I should have been sleeping in the other room.  It was exciting to see all our family friends and new acquaintances gather when the sun went down. It was a school night, it was after 8 o’clock and there were cookies calling my name!

In the tiny two-bedroom apartment, I watched ladies enjoying their cigarettes, telling jokes, talking about their husbands, their kids and their bosses, and occasionally using language that should not have fallen on little ears but managed to creep into mine.  At the time, I thought the best part of the party was that they let me stay up after my secret hiding spot was revealed.  However, when I think back, I was mesmerized by the consultant, who, after the welcoming of last-minute guests, started her demonstration.

Through a room of smoke-filled joy, the plastic treasures were passed from person to person, creating expressions of awe and longing with each item.  I loved the colorful plastic bowls of orange, green and yellow, knowing I could stack them as high as the ceiling if no one was looking, or take them out back to make mud pies.

At the close of the show, I remember a lot of paper; order forms, replacement forms, flyers, catalogs, packets, credit card slips with the carbon paper in between…so messy! I watched how she effortlessly met with each woman to complete her order, occasionally excusing herself to flutter from person to person to re-demonstrate how to find the special number on the piece that was key to combining different covers with different bottoms. So many questions!

My aunt was the only Tupperware consultant at the time in the area. It seemed like she knew the whole state!  She started by getting to know her neighborhood and word spread.  Before she knew it, folks from towns away were calling her to place orders, have parties, get pieces replaced, etc. Her phone never stopped ringing.  My aunt used her earning in this business to contribute to her household’s finances.  This was her way of feeling like more than a housewife and mother.  I won’t lie to you; she would treat herself, too, with an occasional new piece of sparkly jewelry.  That’s when we knew she had a good show! Not only did her trophies of success aid in my own passion for jewelry today, but it gave me the courage and determination to start my own successful direct sales business, twice!

Although my aunt has moved on from that business, she still gets asked if she is selling Tupperware. When I asked her about the secret to her success, she replied, “Happy customers and trust.” She learned early in her career the importance of relationships, that the last sale is just as important as the first introduction.  Today, those elements still hold true.

As a customer, how are you keeping in touch with your favorite consultants?  Are they top of mind when you need something specific? As a consultant, how are nurturing your customers so YOU stay top of mind?  As a corporation, how are you supporting your consultants to make sure they are successful in their first 90 days and beyond? As a hostess, how are you going to keep your child from mingling with your guests, eating cookies, and playing with the displayed product? My recommendation:  Stop thinking about it, and let them enjoy it.  After all, it may be life changing.

For more information on direct selling, join our #ContentCounts tweet chat tomorrow, Thursday, September 5, at noon with moderator @LoyaltyDriver and IMN’s Worldwide Director and Direct Selling expert, Michelle Larter (@mlarter) as well as the author of “Social Selling”, Jonathan Gilliam (@MomoFactor). Go to to follow along and ask your questions on direct sales and content marketing. Make sure to include #ContentCounts to be a part of the conversation.

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