Bellame – Pyramid Scheme or Legit Business Opportunity? [REVIEWED]
Before joining the Bellame business opportunity there are a few questions that should seriously be addressed, mainly... is Bellame a pyramid scheme?
People are worried. I've found quite a few concerns addressed online, such as this post on Reddit here..
... which, by the way, one of the comments addressing this post was to "Separate bank accounts. Don't let her touch your money/joined money. Spreadsheet everything. That helps show all the money loss. And warn your family and friends. The faster she runs out of recruits the better."
People have been asking and it's about time they get a good answer. In this review I'll be breaking down how the business opportunity works, why this looks like a pyramid scheme but actually isn't (legally speaking), the earning potential that an opportunity like this has (you'd be lucky to earn much), pros v cons and more.
Let's begin with an overview of the company...
Overview of Bellame
- Website: https://bellame.com/
- Type: Direct sales/MLM company
- Sector: Beauty products
- Cost to Join: Cheapest option is $19.19
Bella-Me is a beauty product, vegan-friendly MLM/direct sales company that was founded in 2018 by a wife and husband team, with the wife obviously having more of a say in the brand. They believe that "beauty is more than skin-deep", and there is a strong focus on giving women a path through science-backed beauty products and a business opportunity to go with it.
*Note: It's pronounced Bella-Me (I was saying it wrong in my head..)
The Bellame culture is all about positive energy, women's empowerment, and creating social bonds/networks. One thing that is quite unique about them is that they allow all of their Partners (same thing as distributors, consultants, reps, etc.) to have a say in their brand. For example, when a new product is coming out they hold a vote to determine the new name. It has a very inclusive atmosphere, which they sometimes refer to as a "tribe".
Who founded Bellame?
The company was founded by Melissa & Scott Thompson, wife and husband. Melissa comes from a background in direct sales. She had worked for other direct sales beauty companies in the past, such as Avon, Shaklee and others, and decided it was time that she start here own after falling "deeply in love with the industry". Scott has a background in digital marketing, which is as important as anything for business success in the modern age.
Can anyone join their business opportunity?
Yes, anyone can join - as long as Bellame exists in your country. There are no educational requirements or anything of this sort. However, you will have to purchase a starter kit, which I'll be going over in more detail soon.
Is Bellame a pyramid scheme?
No, it is not... at least not in a legal sense. That said, the compensation plan does have a pyramid shape to it and there are some big downsides with this. I'll also be going over this in more detail.
Is Bellame legit?
Yes, the company is legitimate and so are their products and business opportunity.
How much can you make selling Bellame?
Earnings vary greatly, as they do with most MLM business opportunities. There is the potential to earn a lot, but the amount of people that actually do so is few. You'll see what I mean soon.
Their product lineup consists of hydrating cleansers, eye creams, serums & moisturizers, brushes for foundation, eyes, brows & lashes, lip liners, body washes & moisturizers, color palettes, lip sticks & lip glosses, and more - similar to the popular Mary Kay MLM business.
They also sell a lot of collections and bundles of products, such as their Natural Nude Brilliant Beauty Collection (cosmetic case, makeup palette, lip liner, lip lacquer, lipstick), their Perfectly Pampered Bundle (cosmetic case, color palette, lip lacquer, lipstick, body wash, moisturizer, loofah), their Collectors Bundle (cosmetic case, color palette, lip lacquer, lipstick, 15-piece brush collection), a Luxury Lipstick Lineup that comes with 5 different lipsticks, and a few others.
When it comes to price, their products are fairly expensive. For example, a Boabab Body Wash (8 oz) costs around $30 and their Moisturizing Lipstick (3.5 g) costs around $28. There are definitely cheaper options available from other companies, but you get what you pay for.
Many of Bellame's products are vegan, cruelty-free, gluten free, paraben free, and phthalate free - and many consumers swear by them (but then again, MLM companies always seem to have devout followers that will back the company at all costs).
Something else that is worth mentioning is that MLM products are often higher priced than normal because they want to make the compensation plans more enticing. If they were selling products for cheap then they wouldn't be able to offer their Partners much in commissions.
The products are fine. They are good quality and the brand has a good reputation for this. It's the business opportunity that has everyone questioning the legitimacy of this whole operation... as expected.
In order to join Bellame you first have to purchase a Starter Kit. They have three different options to choose from:
- Essentials Starter Kit - Costs $200 and provides products such as lip liners, lip lacquers, a Bella Blender, body wash, body moisturizer, and a loofah - plus business materials such as a personal website, training portal access, a training binder, and access to the compensation plan
- CEO Luxe Kit - This is their most expensive kit - it costs $400 and comes with products such as lip liners, lip lacquers, lip glosses, lipsticks, makeup palettes, a Bella Blender, artistry brushes, body wash, body moisturizer and a loofah - plus you get all the business materials mentioned above
- Digital - This is the cheapest option at just $19.19. With this you just get the personal website, access to the training portal and access to the compensation plan
*Note: They seem to change up their starter kits every so often. What is listed above are the options available at the time of writing this review. You can go to bellame.com/starter-kit to see what they are currently offering.
The business model is that of direct sales and MLM, both coupled together like most MLM opportunities. There are many ways to earn as you will see when I go over the compensation plan next, but they all boil down to 2 main categories...
- You can earn money by selling products yourself (personal sales commissions)
- You can earn money by recruiting in other partners, in which you earn commissions based on their sales (downline commissions)
They mention that their business model is "social selling", because what you do as a partner is build your business socially. You network with other people, build teams, and continue to branch out.
Sales can be made online or offline. Partners earn money directing people to their online websites or it's possible to simply order products at discount prices and sell them directly to consumers at a markup price.
That is probably hard to read and it's a bit confusing. I'll be breaking things down so that anyone can understand how this works. As mentioned, there are 2 main ways to earn. Let's begin with earning from personal sales...
1 - Personal Sales Commissions
There are two different types of personal sales: personal retail orders and Beauty Passport orders.
Personal Retail Order Commissions - These begin at 25% when you are at the Partner rank and increase to 40% when you make it to the Director rank and above.
Beauty Passport Order Commissions - And these begin at 20% and increase to 35% when you reach the rank of Director and above.
These commissions come from sales that you personally make - no need to recruit to earn these.
*Note: Partners also get 35 - 40% off of their personal orders. As mentioned, you can purchase products at a discount and sell them at markup prices. The earnings here would be the same as the Retail Sales Commissions listed above.
- Personal Selling Bonuses - Additionally they have Personal Selling Bonuses that can either be 5% or 10%. These are based mainly on the volume of products you sell. There are two different options here:
- 5% bonus if you have 1,000 - 1,999 personal sales volume (PSV) a month OR you can have just 500 PSV and 1 sponsored recruit to get this bonus
- 10% bonus if you have 2,000+ personal sales volume (PSV) a month OR you can have just 1,000 PSV and 3 sponsored recruits to get this bonus
So with this bonus it's possible to earn up to 50% on Personal Retail Orders and up to 45% on Personal Passport Orders.
2 - Downline Commissions
This is where recruitment and team building comes into play... and this is where people start asking... "well isn't this a pyramid scheme?"... which I'll get to in a minute.
There are multiple ways to earn from your downline, or from recruitment.
Line 1 Sales Bonus - This is a sales bonus that is dependent on the sales of your first line, which are the Partners that you personally recruit into the business. This bonus is a flat 4% for all ranks.
Generation Bonuses - You can earn commissions from your personal generation as well as your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation.
Your "personal generation" is what many other MLMs call your "team". This consists of people that you've recruited in, people that those people have recruited in, and so on. This personal generation branches out until there is someone at the Director rank, and then it breaks off and forms another generation (1st gen).
Your 1st Generation is the generation, or "team" that is underneath the 1st Director in your downline. And then when there is another Director in that person's downline, their "team" becomes your 2nd Generation... and so on.
- Personal Generation Bonus = 5%
- Starts at Director rank
- 1st Generation Bonus = 6%
- Starts at Senior Director rank
- 2nd Generation Bonus = 3%
- Starts at Executive Director rank
- 3rd Generation Bonus = 2%
- Starts at Diamond Director rank
Infinity Bonus - This is only paid out when you reach the Platinum Executive Director rank and above. It is a 0.25% bonus that goes down an infinite number of generations.
First Time Title Bonus - This is a bonus given out when a Partner advances up the ranks. It ranges anywhere from $100 - $10,000 and is paid out for 3 consecutive months, assuming that the rank is maintained.
The reason I include this under the Downline Commissions section is because advancing up the ranks is largely dependent on recruitment.
Mentor Title Bonus - This is a bonus Partners receive when people in their downline advance up the ranks. It works as an incentive to help people in one's downline achieve success.
Pool Shares - 1% of the commissionable volume from all products sold from all Bellame partners is sent into a pool. This is then distributed to shareholders. Shares can be earned via recruitment.
You already know that moving up the ranks is important for earning more commissions, but I should probably explain this a little better.
There are 9 ranks in the Bellame compensation plan:
- Senior Director
- Executive Director
- Diamond Director
- Senior Diamond Director
- Executive Diamond Director
- Platinum Executive Director
- Presidential Director
When you join you start out as a Partner. Then, to achieve each successive rank there are requirements you must meet. These include things such as your Personal Sales Volume, how many Personally Sponsored Active Partners (recruits) you have, the number of Directors in your 1st Generation, Total Personal Generation Sales and Total Downline Team Sales.
The Personal Sales Volume requirement is only 250 PSV for all of the ranks. This doesn't change. What does change is the increasing requirements Team Sales, Generation Sales, etc... which means that in order to move up the ranks you need to recruit more and more... typical of a MLM.
Pyramid Scheme or Not?
No one can deny that this has a pyramid commission structure. As you recruit in more people, you are able to move up the ranks and earn commissions going down further and further in your downline.
It's has a pyramid shape, yes... but this doesn't mean it's a pyramid scheme... at least not in the legal sense of the word.
In my article on MLMs vs pyramid schemes I go over the difference between these two business models. But you don't have to read that. Just think of it like this: A legitimate, and legal, MLM sells products to real customers, whereas a pyramid scheme just makes all of its money by recruiting in new Partners, Consultants, Reps, whatever you want to call them.
The problem is that the lines aren't very clear in real life. It's possible that a pyramid scheme does sell real products to real customers - BUT - if there is too much focus placed on recruitment of new Partners then it could be labeled a pyramid scheme... so the lines are blurry.
What we have seen happen in the past is the FTC step into things and warn companies that they better change up their business model or else risk getting shut down. In 2016 Herbalife had to restructure their marketing operations; in 2019 the FTC sued Neora for illegal pyramid scheme operations, and the list goes on.
So... is Bellame a pyramid scheme?
There is no evidence that would lead me to conclude it is. It seems like your pretty typical MLM... it has a pyramid structure and obviously places a lot of emphasis on recruiting in new Partners, but this is typical. that said, it would be nice to see them place a little more emphasis on personal sales... this would make them seem less "schemey".
And don't worry about joining and it getting shut down. This rarely happens.
What usually happens with large MLM companies like this is the FTC steps in and tells them to make some changes or else... and then they simply make the changes suggested.
While I'm certainly not calling it a pyramid scheme, I'm also NOT saying you should go out and join right away.
There's something else you have to consider... and that is the actual earning potential this type of business opportunity has.
Sure, opportunities like this always boast of giving people the ability to live a life of their dreams, work whenever they want to, and so on... but this is usually pretty misleading.
Unfortunately Bellame's income disclosure (aka earnings disclosure) is nowhere to be found. Not all MLM companies provide them and it seems that Bellame is one of them, at least at this time.
That said, I've researched dozens and dozens of MLMs over the years and I can provide some insight into the actual earning potential that these sorts of opportunities have.
A realistic look..
As we know, Bellame has a pyramid commission structure, as all MLMs do. This is great, awesome, fantastic... IF YOU ARE AT THE TOP.
Each product that Bellame partners sell has a "Commissionable Volume", or CV. This is the amount of the sale that goes into paying Partners commissions.
So let's say you make a sale. Part of the CV is paid to you as a retail commission + some of the CV goes into the Generation Bonuses and whatnot.
If you are good at recruiting and have a large downline, this is good. You will be earning commissions from the sales that people beneath you make. BUT, if you're at the bottom then this isn't good because you could be making larger commissions if some of the CV wasn't being sucked away and going into the pockets of those above you.
And of course... with a pyramid structure the bottom is always bigger, meaning that there will always be more people at the bottom... the place you don't want to be.
This is the problem with MLM's and this is the reason they have high failure rates, some estimates stating that 99% of participants fail. Ya, there is a lot of earning potential if you make it to the top, but the chances of getting there are slim.
I've seen all sorts of crazy earning claims and even found a video from someone who earned $70k in a relatively short amount of time with Bellame...
... but who knows what rank she is. One thing's for sure... she's definitely up there at the top.
Pros v Cons
- Big earning potential (if you're able to climb the ranks)
- Be your own boss type of opportunity
- Good quality products you can feel confident selling (although many would say they're overpriced)
- Most people in MLM businesses don't make much - pyramid commission structure pretty-much guarantees this
- The opportunity is often promoted in misleading ways and this usually leads to disappointment
Conclusion - Worth Joining?
This is a decision you'll ultimately have to make for yourself. Bellame isn't a pyramid scheme, at least it shouldn't be considered one yet, and is legal... but whether or not it's actually a good opportunity to join is an entirely different question. Most women that join MLMs like this just struggle and give up eventually, due to the nature of these pyramid-ish opportunities.
The bottom line is that success comes down to being really good at recruiting other people in. The compensation plan strongly favors recruitment, and if you want to be successful then you are going to have to build a large downline to take advantage of this. It's a hard business to make it in, that's for sure.
But anyways, I hope this review has helped put things into perspective for you. I'm not the biggest fan of MLMs, as you could probably tell, because of their structure... but some people do rise to the top and do well with them.
Another work-at-home alternative that you could get involved with is affiliate marketing, which is actually what I do to make a living online. You can learn more about this here.
Comments or questions? Just leave them below...