Back in 2017, while sitting in the San Francisco airport, a friend asked if I had “seen that defective leggings group on Facebook.” At the time I owned a few pairs of LuLaRoe leggings, and I had a few friends who were retailers, but this group’s existence was totally new information. When hearing more about all of the drama going down in that group, I couldn’t join fast enough. The tea was, to say the least, scalding.
That group was my introduction to the fascinating and curious world of multi-level marketing in general, and the world of LuLaRoe fashion specifically. The company was founded in 2012 by Deanne Brady and her husband Mark Stidham. It grew explosively somewhere around 2016, fueled by the energy of Facebook lives where “independent fashion retailers” could showcase their exclusive prints to customers around the country.
Amazon Prime’s four-episode docuseries “LuLaRich” takes a deep dive into the world of LuLaRoe, from their explosive rise to their impending fall. It examines the stories of ripped leggings, stolen artwork, revoked return policies, Mexican weight loss surgery, and even a pot farm scam all through first-hand accounts. (Yes, Scammy Sammy is there, and yes, he gets called out.)
As a veteran, albeit a lurker, of that “defective” Facebook group, I was pleased to see just how deeply they dove into so many topics. You hear from past and present retailers, home office employees, and the Stidhams themselves. While I walked into the series thinking I knew most of the story, it was still eye-opening to see it so artfully laid out in a four-episode arc. The stories of Deanne’s mother, specifically, were very telling when it comes to creating the company culture that would become part of LuLaRoe’s mission. Journalists and experts help to balance out the more personal stories with their professional insights, helping to mitigate at least some of the potential “this is a hit piece” social media posts that are more than likely incoming.
I know I am the target audience for this series, already heavily invested in all of the stories it wanted to tell. What is harder to gauge is just how broadly appealing the series will be to those who know none of the background. That said, it comes from the creators of “Fyre Fraud,” a documentary that made a bunch of influencers eating cheese sandwiches in a tent on a beach a must-watch.
LuLaRoe is currently a plaintiff in multiple lawsuits — with the discovery videos from a massive case in Washington state providing many of the more interesting moments you’ll see onscreen. That said, the story of LuLaRoe is still pending. The series doesn’t give you the satisfactory, “And they all filed for bankruptcy and closed up shop” that many of those already deeply invested in the outcome would want. You do, however, get a glimpse of things to come. And you’ll probably never look at leggings—or multi-level marketing—quite the same again.
From the creators of Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud,” LuLaRich is a true-con docuseries about LuLaRoe, the women’s internet apparel company that went from fast-growing retail phenomenon to alleged viral multi-level marketing scam. The four part series streams September 10th, only on Amazon Prime Video.