In September, members of Congress came together in an official capacity to support the work of direct selling entrepreneurs across the U.S. The group of likeminded legislators formed the Direct Selling Caucus, an effort spearheaded by Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marc Veasey (D-TX), in conjunction with the U.S. Direct Selling Association.
DSN recently spoke to Rep. Blackburn, who co-chairs the caucus alongside Rep. Veasey, about her involvement and what to expect from the bipartisan group in the future.
DSN: What was the catalyst for bringing this caucus together? Why now?
MB: The catalyst was to make sure that our colleagues here in Congress understand both the importance of direct selling and the reach direct selling has into each congressional district. Looking at the importance of it, it’s about jobs and growth and about individuals being able to own their own businesses. It’s about income potential and shifting the focus so you’re talking about earning a maximum wage—earning as much as you’re able to possibly earn and building a business that will support that. We have to talk about the ways it encourages individuals to build their own businesses. Once they’ve built one successful business, many times individuals will go on to a second successful business.
Looking at the timing, we identified a point of opportunity. Coming past the recession in 2009, there has been less job growth in the marketplace, as well as wage stagnation. When there’s wage stagnation, what do people do? They look for ways to grow their income. Much of that has been done through direct selling. Since direct selling is widespread and used by many people, it gave us the opportunity to say, “Yes, with millions of individuals participating in direct selling across every congressional district, it’s the right time to go ahead and start the caucus.”
DSN: You have participated in direct selling yourself. Can you share about that experience and its influence on your career?
MB: I sold books for Southwestern Company, which is out of Nashville. While I was in college, I sold educational books and a cookbook product that I helped to put together for the company. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to have a job that allowed me to work on commission and decide how much I wanted to work and how much I wanted to earn. I learned very quickly that the harder I worked, the smarter I worked, the more diligent I was, the more hours I put in, the more people I talked to, the better my chance of closing sales and earning more money. It had a tremendous impact on my life and my understanding of the business process.
Read more from Rep. Blackburn in the January issue of Direct Selling News.