Direct sales company Ava Anderson closed their doors after allegations about the ingredients in their products. In news reports about the closure, the following information is made clear: that the Anderson family took pains to provide the best possible products, that they are now stepping out of the picture, and that the company will resume operations under another name with their product line and multilevel genealogy intact.
We can find lessons to learn from this closure. Let’s take a moment to consider the facts.
The primary inciting factor in the closure is the ongoing effort of Wisconsin blogger Jess of ecofriendlymamausa.com, to draw attention to Ava Anderson’s inaccurate ingredient labels and false claims of organic certifications. You can read through her posts about Ava Anderson yourself. They are passionate, even aggressive, and apparently the suspicion behind the passion was justified—the products did include unlisted ingredients, and they were not certified by the USDA.
The level of emotion is understandable given the industry; consumers looking for natural, organic ingredients have high expectations to match the high price points of the products they buy. The backlash has troubled the Anderson family enough to drive them out of the industry is not surprising.
Sources near the family confirm that the Andersons had the best of intentions—that they truly cared about delivering quality, nontoxic, organic products to their customers, and that they believed they were doing just that.
What went wrong? The manufacturing of Ava Anderson products was contracted outside of the company, and the outside manufacturers did not deliver the quality that was expected of them. This reflects poorly on the manufacturers, but the blame simply cannot end there. A company claiming to sell organic, nontoxic products is responsible for ensuring that the claims are true.
The major lesson here is that if you are going to go into health and beauty, you must make sure that you know the needs of the industry and what’s going on in the manufacturing process. Having the best of intentions is not enough when you’re dealing with personal care products. You must monitor your manufacturers closely, perform quality control checks, and know exactly what’s in your products.
There is a second lesson to be learned here. It’s a bad idea to assume that your critics are just haters. Dismissing the input of consumers—even angry and impassioned ones—without following up is a bad idea. Sometimes the words of a critic are the early warning signs that you need to pay attention to, even if you don’t like and don’t want to believe what they’re saying.
This problem isn’t specific to direct sales. The same thing can happen to any company selling products meant for use in the home. However, working in direct sales you are already under a microscope which means these lessons are even more important for you to heed. The Ava Anderson’s motto was “It’s all about the ingredients”. If you’re going to have a motto like that, in a market like personal care, you must back it up.