Kierstin is a freelance writer living in Northern Michigan with her two daughters and a calico named Meredith.
It's the first of the month and that big fat paycheck is quickly disappearing to utility bills, rent, a mortgage, that car loan, health insurance—your pulse is gaining speed, your breaths coming quicker. Once again, there's just enough (maybe) to eek by until that next paycheck, so long as you vow to survive off pasta and tap water while you daydream of crusty bread loaves and filled wine glasses. We've all been there and even if you haven't, who couldn't use a little extra cash to start off each month? Whether you're a stay at home mom looking to subsidize your partner's income, a single person interested in making new friends through shared passions, or hoping to make direct sales into a full-time job, here's a list of direct sales companies in the United States and Canada that allow their consultants to celebrate the wonders of food and wine while making extra money.
As always, I'll include the information I can find and be straightforward about which companies aren't upfront about their startup costs. If you have more information about any of these companies please leave them in the comments below (without any URLs or website links because the spam filter hates them).
1. Thrive Life
The Company: Thrive Life, a health-minded business with a goal to get clean food on the table quickly.
What They Sell: This isn't your typical food-delivery company. The fresh foods Thrive Life delivers are actually freeze dried or dehydrated so that they don't expire and they don't have to be frozen or refrigerated during or after delivery. Besides pre-chopped and prepared veggies like onions, potatoes and corn, Thrive Life also offers meal plans that include ingredients to make simple and nutritious weeknight meals. They also sell beverages and seasonings.
How Much It Costs to Join: The range is from $129 to $474 depending on which started kit you decide to sign up with. The Social Seller kit is the cheapest ($129) and sets you up with what I imagine would be everything you need to start selling from home through social networking. From there you can choose the Business Builder ($259) and comes with enough food and supplies to start throwing Thrive Life parties from your home or in someone else's. The Business Builder Plus is the last and most expensive option ($474) and comes with a variety of Thrive Life products along with a pantry organizer to get your kitchen tidy. This works if you plan to sell products right from your home. The main difference that I honestly see in each kit though is how much product you're going to receive with each one. If you're just looking to dabble and start selling the product without a huge time or social commitment, start with the first package and add what you need later on.
Pros: I don't know if freeze dried food is really in, but healthy eating is, and this stuff actually looks pretty good. When you think about, it's not that different from boiling pasta or making chili with dried beans. We utilize cooking with preserved ingredients every day and in a lot of ways, freeze dried and dehydrated foods are probably much safer than some of our other day-to-day options. Plus, the meal kits look really yummy—a Garden Veggie Pizza with Sausage and Chicken Farfalle Pasta Primavera are just two of the meal options.
Everything that comes from Thrive Life is prepped so you won't have to chop veggies, measure ingredients or deal with raw meat which makes this a really awesome option for cooking with kids or those who want to eat healthier but have tight schedules or minimal cooking experience (dorm room staples!) and there are a bunch of baking mixes in the catalog.
Cons: I don't like that at first I was directed to join as a member before I could find out how to become a consultant. Quick googling led me to thrivelife.com/newkits which allowed me to view consultant information. But you know me, I like these companies to be transparent up front and not require too much digging to get a straight answer.
You'll also of course need to be creative in marketing these products to be successful. Some people are kind of weirded out by freeze dried ingredients like chicken. I'm one of those people. But honestly, the more I looked through the site the more interested I became in being able to stock my pantry with more than cans of beans and boxes of cake mix.
The Company: Subscription boxes are hot right now and DirectCellars is a dream come true for those who’d rather uncork a bottle of wine than dig through a bag of pre-selected cosmetics. Each month, customers receive a box of wines carefully curated to their taste and if they don’t like what they receive they can trade up for a new bottle.
What They Sell: Wine for people who love a little surprise and variety.
How Much It Costs to Join: This isn’t transparent on the website. I Googled and it looks like it costs around $250 give or take to join. I can’t verify that though since I can’t find that info on the website.
Pros: This is fun and it gives people a chance to try new things so that’s a good way to market these subscription boxes. People are bored and people love wine. DirectCellars caters to that so in a lot of ways this product sells itself.
Cons: If you plan to sell in “Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, & Utah as well as P.O. Boxes” then this company is no-go since they can’t deliver to those locales. The website is difficult to pull consultant information from, and I just find that to be a pain-in-the-butt when you're looking for the right company to join.
Also, some people hate mystery and essentially these are mystery wine boxes. For those who are skeptical you’ll need to reinforce that there’s a guarantee that if the customer doesn’t like the product they’ll be sent a new one.
3. Boisset Collection
The Company: Boisset Collection is steered by a handful of experts of both the wine and marketing kind. Together, they’ve brought the flavors of the Boisset family vineyards to the masses with this direct-selling company.
What They Sell: Wine! From all around the world! From France to California you’ll find pinots, chardonnays, cabernets and more plus luxe accessories like wine bags and charms.
How Much It Costs to Join: $149 - $849 and you know the drill, the more you pay to join, the more wine you’ll receive. All kits come with the materials you’ll need to start your business.
Pros: It’s wine. Wine isn’t a hard sell for people who are into wine and the prices range from anything you could find at your grocery store (like a $16 bottle of Merlot) to bottles for more special occasions (a $500 bottle of chardonnay), so there’s a bottle here for everyone’s budget.
Cons: For some people, wine isn’t something they buy in advance, but something they run out for to go with dinner or to celebrate a spur of the moment victory. Utilize social media and your own close network of wine lovers to help others build their collection.
4. The Gourmet Cupboard
The Company: Founded by a mother/daughter duo, The Gourmet Cupboard is a cozy company that gives work-from-home moms and the like an opportunity to sell kitchen mixes on the go.
What They Sell: When I was a kid my mom would always buy soup mixes, dip mixes, and other meal seasonings in cute packaging from craft shows. This is what The Gourmet Cupboard sells. You’ll find Almond Toffee Crunch and Coconut Cream Pie coffee mixes, slow cooker seasoning mixes, soup flavors from Chicken Enchilada to Creamy Wild Rice and even Beer Bread and beignet mixes. All customers have to do is add a couple of ingredients to complete the meal.
How Much It Costs to Join: Technically, this company is free to join but you will be charged $25. This $25 is then deducted from your first order. So if your first order is $100 then you’ll only be charged $75.
Pros: This company doesn’t seem to have a lot of reps! That means there’s a lot of room to create a base. Also, I got really hungry researching this company.
Cons: This isn’t a flashy company and some people look for flash and equate that to trustworthiness when it comes to a direct sales companies. I think The Gourmet Kitchen has a lot of potential though and the prices are right for gifts and pantry stocking.
5. Traveling Vineyard
The Company: Traveling Vineyard
What They Sell: Budget-friendly wine and accessories
How Much It Costs to Join: Around $200, from what I can find online.
Pros: This company seems really transparent and I think that’s important when you’re considering a new business venture. Even if it doesn’t cost that much to start a home-based business through a direct sales company, there are other factors to mull over like how much time you’ll put into selling the product, how much travel you’ll do and if the compensation plan is worth it. With a company that is upfront it’s easier to gauge whether they’re a right fit for your lifestyle or not.
Cons: This company declared bankruptcy almost a decade ago now. Yet they’re still going strong, so I think that’s actually a pro. More than other direct sales opportunities, this one seems very social and thrives on in-person wine tastings so if that’s not your thing then this might not be a good fit for you.
The Company: Epicure, a company that specializes in pantry staples for the clean-eating, health conscious cook as well as a small collection of cookware.
What They Sell: Epicure shoppers will find a cocoa acai “smoothie booster” powder, toppings for dishes that need a little extra flare with flavors like Garlicky Dill and Sesame Crunch, and a Sriracha Sauce Mix to kick up ribs, grilled corn, or even a BBQ chicken dinner.
How Much It Costs to Join: The actual cost to join Epicure isn’t clear anywhere that I can find. From what I can gather you’re looking at just around $200 to join Epicure but that might be different depending on if there’s a startup promotion happening.
Pros: The products are consumable, so customers have the potential to be repeats and the products feature clean, neat and on-trend packaging that sells itself. They can be marketed to anyone who eats even if they don’t do a lot of cooking since most of these mixes and toppers are essentially flavor enhancers. Whether you’re just trying to upgrade the flavor on a bag of ramen or hosting a BBQ, these flavor packed products have a place in every kitchen.
Cons: When people think of buying from direct sales companies they’re not always thinking food but with more and more people buying their groceries online these days, this shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
7. Sunset Gourmet
The Company: Sunset Gourmet, a company offering a saucy, spicy and sometimes sweet slew of food products, cookware and meal creation workshops.
What They Sell: Gourmet food seasonings, bread mixes, cheeseball and savory dip mixes along with cocktail mixes like Strawberry Keylime Hard Iced Tea and Peach Sangria Slush. Besides those deliciously sweet drinks customers can also stock up on Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix, Caramel Apple Cheesecake Mix and No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bar Mix.
How Much It Costs to Join: I can’t find a startup price! Could a consultant chime in? I Googled and searched the site but didn’t find one right up front.
Pros: Sunset Gourmet’s mixes and seasonings allow customers to make rather time consuming and complicated recipes faster and cheaper than if they bought each ingredient separately from the grocery store.
Cons: This stuff is a hard sell to people who’d rather create their own mixes, but that’s the only real con I can think of. More often than not, people don’t have a lot of time to come up with everything from scratch, and Sunset Gourmet solves that.
8. Your Inspiration at Home
The Company: Your Inspiration at Home, a company that thrives on home-tasting parties of recipes culled from all around the world featuring Your Inspiration at Home spices and blends.
What They Sell: Infused oils and vinegar, spice blends, baking mixes and unique seasonings like meat rubs and specialty salts all with an ethnic twist.
How Much It Costs to Join: I just can not find even one single number out there.
Pros: These products are offered globally in The United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, and the European Union. That means the market is huge!
Cons: The website doesn’t allow you to see any specific products, only categories and maybe it’s just my browser, but every time I try to view the catalog it comes up with an error message. It’s hard to get too excited about a product you can’t explore. Also, it’s a bad sign when you can’t find any information on what it costs to join. It’s 2017, finding answers shouldn’t be a scavenger hunt.
Have You Tried One of These Companies?
Comment below and let me know what your experiences as either a consumer or consultant with one of these companies was like.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Kierstin Gunsberg
Leah Rasmussen on September 05, 2019:
I am a Thrive Life Consultant and have been with the company for almost 10 years. The foods is incredible, healthy, clean, and simple to use. The variety of foods in outstanding. And the leadership is by far the best I have ever come across in my years of involvement in Direct Sales.
Kierstin Gunsberg (author) from Traverse City, Michigan on January 16, 2018:
Ah, thanks for that info, Teri! :)
Teri Metcalf on January 15, 2018:
I am a Sunset Gourmet consultant. The startup cost is $139 for the deluxe kit or $69 for the basic kit plus shipping. :)
Kierstin Gunsberg (author) from Traverse City, Michigan on November 08, 2017:
Josefina, thank you for stopping by the comment! I always love to hear from past and present consultants on what their experience with the companies I've written about are. I'm glad to hear you've found a company that you not only enjoy being a part of, but whose product excites you!
josefina giuffre on November 07, 2017:
I am a Boisset wine ambassador, and these are probably the best wines I ever had in my life. I love wines, and this is not just selling wines but living and sharing the lifestyle. Upscale without the spend, and sharing and learning about wines. Totally worth it if you like wine.
Kierstin Gunsberg (author) from Traverse City, Michigan on September 19, 2017:
Dawn, I love hearing that Gourmet Cupboard's mixes are made to order so the consumer is receiving the absolute freshest pruduct. That's awesome!
FlourishAnyway from USA on August 14, 2017:
I've never heard of any of these but would probably buy products from The Gourmet Cupboard.