Youngevity Acquires Renew Interests, Owner of SOZO and Integris

Youngevity International LLC on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Renew Interests LLC, which includes the SOZO Global and Integris brands.

California-based Youngevity sells a wide range of nutrition, coffee and lifestyle products through its growing direct sales platform, described as a “network of networks.” The company’s vertically integrated coffee business also serves the commercial and retail channels.

The addition of SOZO and Integris, part of Youngevity’s ongoing acquisition strategy, will expand both the company’s salesforce and its product offerings across the nutrition, coffee, weight-loss, energy and skincare categories.

“The brands we acquired in this transaction exceed our high and stringent quality standards,” said Steve Wallach, CEO of Youngevity. “I believe SOZO’s emphasis on the coffee berry as an ingredient will have particular appeal to our growing customer base.”

SOZO Global’s Co-Founder, President and CEO, Mark Adams, said Youngevity’s extensive product lines, business structure and support system, and experienced management team made joining forces an attractive proposition. “Our team at SOZO Global viewed the unique opportunity provided through Youngevity’s platform as an opportunity we could not pass up,” said Adams.

Founded in 2009, SOZO takes its name from a Greek term meaning health, rejuvenation and wholeness. The Austin, Texas-based company sells a range of wellness and personal-care products. Integris, launched in 1996, is a maker of health supplements and shakes formulated with natural ingredients.


Take Shape For Life to Take on New Name in Brand Evolution

Photo: Optavia Chia Berry Bliss Smoothie.

Take Shape For Life, the direct selling division of weight-loss firm Medifast Inc., introduced a new name and strategic vision to company Health Coaches during its recent National Convention.

The annual event took place in Austin, Texas, over the weekend, with more than 3,400 Health Coaches in attendance. From the stage, TSFL leaders unveiled a collection of new products under the Optavia brand, which it will adopt company-wide over the course of the next year.

“The announcement of Optavia marks a significant evolution in Take Shape For Life, putting it in prime position in the health and wellness market and the direct selling industry for growth and global expansion,” said Michael MacDonald, Chairman and CEO of Medifast.

The new name, meaning “optimal way” in Latin, is part of a wider effort to reposition the weight-loss company as a lifestyle company focused on optimal wellbeing. Since launching in 2003 as the direct selling arm of Medifast, TSFL has become the company’s largest segment, with revenue of $202 million in 2015. The parent company’s weight-loss plans and products also are sold through the web and national call centers, Medifast Weight Control Centers and a national network of physicians.

Under the Optavia brand, the company will operate as its own entity, offering exclusive products. “For the first time in the company’s history, we have created and built a fully exclusive offering that is only available to our family of Health Coaches and Clients,” said Mona Ameli, President of TSFL.

The company plans to add more health products, called Fuelings, to the Optavia line and upgrade its existing meals, snacks and bars to the new standard. The entire company is set to adopt the new branding and name by National Convention in July 2017.

For more in-depth coverage of Take Shape For Life’s brand transition to Optavia and new product roll-out, look for our August issue of Direct Selling News online and in print next week.

AdvoCare-Backed No. 6 Gets Throwback Look for NASCAR Nostalgia Race

The No. 6 AdvoCare Ford and driver Trevor Bayne are paying homage to one of NASCAR’s top competitors with a throwback paint scheme unveiled Tuesday.

Texas-based AdvoCare is primary sponsor of the No. 6 Ford Fusion fielded by Roush Fenway Racing, one of the top teams in stock car racing. In September, the team will head back to South Carolina for Darlington Raceway’s second throwback weekend, revolving around the Bojangles’ Southern 500 race on Sept. 4.  As part of the track’s The Tradition Continues celebration, each car will sport a paint scheme harkening back to one of the NASCAR greats.

Bayne and team founder Jack Roush appeared on the NBC Sports Network program NASCAR America on Tuesday to unveil this year’s throwback scheme—a red, white and blue design carried by Mark Martin’s No. 6 Ford during the 1996 and 1997 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) seasons. During a successful career, Martin spent 19 seasons with Roush Fenway, winning 35 NSCS races—two of them at Darlington—and finishing second in the Cup Series point standings four times.

“It’s an honor any time you are mentioned alongside Mark Martin,” said Bayne. “He obviously contributed a lot to Roush Fenway and this organization, so to carry a paint scheme that he ran for the second year in a row is really cool. Our team has been working really hard and running well this season, so I’m hopeful that we can make Mark proud.”

AdvoCare, a maker of nutrition, weight-loss, energy and sports performance products, announced its multi-year sponsorship of the No. 6 Sprint Cup entry ahead of the 2015 season. In the first nine races of 2016, Bayne has driven the car to two top-15 finishes, including a fifth place finish at his home track of Bristol Motor Speedway.

Mary Kay Attracts Increasingly Young, Diverse Salesforce in 2015

Mary Kay Inc. reports an increasing number of young women starting their own Mary Kay businesses. Women ages 18-34 accounted for 47 percent of new consultants in 2015, according to statistics released by the cosmetics company.

“These young women are tech-savvy and digitally connected. They’re looking for flexibility and not a 9 to 5, one-size-fits-all position,” Mary Kay’s Vice President of U.S. Marketing, Sara Friedman, said in a statement. “A Mary Kay business can be customized to each person’s individual goals, and our company’s established social media presence and leading-edge digital technology have also proven to be attractive business-building tools.”

Friedman’s sentiments echo the findings of Amway’s 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Report, an in-depth look at the state of entrepreneurship around the world. Conducted in 44 countries, the survey found that starting a business is most appealing to those under 35 (65 percent), with independence and self-fulfillment being the top motivators. In the 35-49 demographic, 58 percent expressed the desire to start a business, followed by 44 percent of respondents over 50.

All told, more than 325,000 people signed up last year to sell Mary Kay’s skincare and cosmetics lines. The Addison, Texas-based company reports that new consultant sign-ups have exceeded 300,000 for 15 consecutive years.

As Mary Kay’s salesforce skews younger, it also grows more diverse. In 2015, 51 percent of new consultants identified as Latino, Asian or African American—groups that now make up 33 percent of Mary Kay’s total salesforce. Drilling down, the company found that Latinos accounted for 35 percent of last year’s recruits and 22 percent of the wider salesforce.

First Book by Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin Coming in May

Photo: Jessica Herrin, Founder and CEO of Stella & Dot Family Brands.

Chief executive Jessica Herrin is a mentor to thousands of entrepreneurs at Stella & Dot Family Brands, the company she founded in 2007, but her insights on life and business will find a wider audience in a forthcoming book.

Titled Find Your Extraordinary, the book marks Herrin’s literary debut and invites readers to “dream bigger, live happier, and achieve success on your own.” The 272-page tome from Crown Business, a subsidiary of Random House, is set to hit shelves on May 3, 2016.

“Whether we work a corporate job, run a family, or run our own business, Herrin offers realistic, attainable steps each one of us can take to achieve extraordinary success on our own terms,” the publisher’s blurb states.

“Through candid and inspiring lessons from her life as a successful CEO and working mother of two, as well as stories of many amazing individuals she’s met along the way, Herrin inspires and empowers us to dial up the sound of our own voices and make our authentic dreams a reality.”

Fresh out of college, Herrin worked with a succession of tech startups before attending the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where—at age 24—she co-founded leading wedding site, acquired in 2006 by The Knot. The seeds of accessories brand Stella & Dot grew from Herrin’s living room in Austin, Texas, where she first designed jewelry to sell at home “trunk shows.”

Now based in San Francisco, Stella & Dot Family Brands comprises Stella & Dot, personalized jewelry brand KEEP Collective and EVER Skincare. The company reports nearly $1 billion in product sold through 50,000 independent business owners in six countries.

Mary Kay Settles on Future Site of Global Manufacturing and R&D Facility

Photo: Mary Kay’s global headquarters in Addison, Texas.

After months of research and analysis, Mary Kay has pinpointed the future site of its planned global manufacturing and R&D facility. The beauty brand on Tuesday said it will build the $100 million operation in the city of Lewisville, Texas, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

“As we approach the status of a top five beauty brand globally and following several years of double digit growth, the new facility will support our company’s future needs,” Mary Kay CEO David Holl said in a statement. “Today, approximately 75 percent of our business is overseas, yet more than 50 percent of Mary Kay products produced at our current manufacturing facility are exported to our international markets.”

The company disclosed in June that it had engaged the services of commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE to explore potential sites, though Mary Kay had not ruled out an update to its existing global manufacturing facility in Dallas. Following the internal evaluation, Mary Kay announced last month that it would construct a new facility in North Texas to bring together its global manufacturing and R&D operations. The company settled on a site near its global headquarters in Addison, a distribution center in Carrollton, and a warehouse facility in Dallas.

Mary Kay expects construction on the new facility to commence in July 2016 and run through the first quarter of 2018. Currently, the company’s manufacturing and R&D operation employs 600 and produces up to 1.1 million units of lipstick, moisturizer and other beauty products per day. Mary Kay also conducts more than 500,000 tests each year to ensure product quality, safety and performance.

Green Energy Seller Viridian Expands into Texas

Viridian Energy is now open for business in Texas, the largest deregulated energy market in the U.S. The latest expansion puts the green energy company in 19 markets nationwide.

“Texas accounts for an eighth of America’s overall energy consumption, and we’re excited to further our company’s sustainability mission by offering consumers one more way to stretch their energy budgets while helping the environment,” CEO Michael Fallquist said in a statement.

To mark the opening of Viridian’s new market, employees and Independent Associates put in more than 150 volunteer hours at the Trinity River Corridor Project, an extensive public works and urban development project underway in Dallas. The volunteers removed 2,050 pounds of invasive plants, trash and debris from the Dallas Floodway.

Viridian is the largest subsidiary of Crius Energy Trust, accounting for more than half of the company’s total sales. The Stamford, Connecticut-based company offers electricity that is more than 50 percent renewable, natural gas with carbon offsets and residential solar power.

Crius Energy reported revenue up 32.1 percent to $204.1 million in the third quarter. Management said revenue growth was largely driven by the acquisition of TriEagle Energy in April. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization totaled $16.1 million, versus $15.2 million a year ago.

Mannatech Reports Lower Sales across All Regions in Third Quarter

Mannatech Inc. (MTEX—NASDAQ) on Tuesday reported that quarterly income fell to $100,000, or 3 cents per share, from $5.1 million in the prior year.

The Coppell, Texas-based company said revenue was $43.9 million, slipping from $46.7 million last quarter and down 21.2 percent from a year ago. The year-over-year comparison suffered from the international launch of Mannatech’s U[th] skincare line in the third quarter of 2014, as well as the impact of currency exchange rates. Excluding currency fluctuations, revenue totaled $48.2 million.

Markets outside North America generated 59 percent of consolidated revenue. In the Asia-Pacific region, which accounted for half of total sales, revenue was down 27 percent to $22.0 million. Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) posted a 16 percent decrease with revenue of $4.1 million, while North America revenue dipped 13 percent to $17.8 million.

Recruiting activity also slowed, with the number of new independent sellers dropping 18.8 percent. The company closed out the quarter with $35.3 million in cash, reflecting a year-to-date increase of $7.3 million.

Wellness International Network Unveils New Name and Product Offerings

A major transition is underway at Plano, Texas-based Wellness International Network. The 23-year-old nutrition company is moving to a new corporate office and relaunching under the WIN Worldwide brand, which will feature all-new products and a revised business model.

The husband and wife team of Ralph and Cathy Oats founded WIN in 1992, six years after they took up direct sales to earn an extra $100 in weekly income. Now, a second generation of Oats family members fills key marketing and operations roles within the company.

“For any company to remain successful it must be open to change, and WIN is no exception,” Ralph Oats told DSN in an email. “Technology advances and changes in the ways people connect and make purchases made us realize it was truly time to launch a more contemporary business model. We are committed to innovations and changes that will grow WIN and leverage us toward our goal of becoming a billion-dollar company.“

WIN’s existing business plan and product line is rolling over to a new company, Physician’s Health & Diet (PHD) Program LLC, which will transition the business away from multilevel marketing. PHD reflects the identity that Wellness International Network developed over the years, as its product distribution increasingly focused on the physician-oriented market. With WIN’s relaunch, leadership aims to carve out a new niche in the industry and build “a multi-level marketing company that offers products and opportunity for anyone, anywhere, anytime,” said Director of Marketing Sheri Matthews.

WIN has made a “financial commitment to innovate,” in Matthews’ words, that extends to every part of the business. The company has developed a new product line that “helps to fill the gap between what you eat and what you don’t eat.” Central to the line is WIN Daily Lift, a powdered-drink mix that contains 59 superfoods, including fruits, vegetables, enzymes and beneficial algae—and no wheat, dairy, GMOs, MSG or artificial ingredients. For brand partners, WIN has developed simple, action-oriented tools such as a new launch kit, a 3 for Free program that enables customers to earn free product, fresh marketing materials, product sampling options, and an improved online shopping cart and back office. The company is also introducing a new compensation plan that incorporates weekly payments, bonus pools, promotional iPads and a luxury car program.

“We view our people, the WIN family, as our No. 1 asset, and we do everything we can to help ensure they are positioned for success,” said Founder Cathy Oats. “This approach, coupled with a strong belief in our high-quality product line, is the foundation of our company. We believe our latest innovations will help to ensure WIN continues to prosper for decades to come.”

To develop its new branding and distributor tools, WIN engaged DSN parent company SUCCESS Partners, a producer of marketing tools, videos and personal development materials for the direct sales industry as well as the publisher of SUCCESS magazine and Success from Home. The collaboration produced not only a fresh look and feel for WIN, but also a buyer for the company’s existing headquarters facility. SUCCESS Partners has purchased the 81,000-square-foot building with plans to relocate its own corporate headquarters from nearby Lake Dallas, Texas.

WIN has found a new home in Plano’s 2220-acre Legacy Development, neighboring prominent corporations such as Dr Pepper/Snapple, Frito Lay, JC Penney and Toyota. “The facility has more of what WIN needs and less of what WIN doesn’t need,” said Matthews. The company plans to hold a grand opening celebration in June 2015 after occupying its new space.

Don’t Miss our Global 100 Celebration in April!

The annual DSN Global 100 dinner and awards ceremony recognizing the Top 100 Direct Selling Companies in the World is drawing near. On April 8, hundreds of company executives will gather in Dallas, Texas, at the InterContinental Hotel to discover this year’s top companies and celebrate their own achievements during the 2014 year.

If you are a direct selling executive and have not yet registered for this celebratory industry event, please visit our site to purchase your tickets. All executives are invited to the party! Your company does not have to appear on the list for you to enjoy the evening applauding our great industry.

The event will include a spectacular dinner as well as a special opportunity to listen to Jere Thompson, CEO of Ambit Energy, as he delivers the keynote speech of the evening. The deadline for submitting your company information and Revenue Certification Form for consideration to be included in the DSN Global 100 is Friday, March 20.

We hope to see you at this amazing event honoring the Top 100 Direct Selling companies and our entire industry!

Click here to purchase your tickets to the Global 100 celebration.