Simply put, yes, Chalk Couture is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company because, as an Independent Designer, you get paid a percentage of the sales of the people you recruit into the business.
Whether it’s a pyramid scheme is a different matter and I’ll be sharing more details below so that we can make that determination.
I have to tell you, I stumbled on Chalk Couture in a Facebook group I’m in and I thought, “An MLM for CHALK? Is there an MLM for absolutely everything?” And indeed, it seems that way.
As I discovered, this isn’t just some typical chalk you buy at Target, but let’s see if it’s worth the price – and if it’s worth signing up as an Independent Designer. (Hint: In my opinion, it’s not, and I’ll tell you why below.)
I’ll also give you an alternative way you can create an income with the craft niche. (This is not your typical Etsy suggestion.)
Let’s dig in and have a look at this fancy chalk!
Summary: Chalk Couture is a fairly new direct sales company that was started on July 1, 2017 by Tara Roark. Their product line includes chalk transfers, chalk paste, chalk ink (they call their chalks Chalkology™), surfaces to work on and accessories. Independent sellers are called Independent Designers, and you pay $99 to join and get a starter kit.
Recommended? I do not recommend any MLM companies because: 1. The products are usually overpriced, 2. More than 99% of people lose money in an MLM and, 3. In order for you to make money in an MLM, people below you have to lose money.
What is Chalk Couture?
Chalk Couture was started on July 1, 2017 by Utah native Tara Roark and is a direct sales / MLM company in the craft industry. What you get when you purchase from Chalk Couture are tools to easily create your own signs, t-shirts and other products.
You get their transfer designs, chalk pastes and / or ink and tools for spreading. You place the transfers onto a surface (a framed chalkboard, for instance), paint the chalk on and pull the transfer off to reveal the design on the chalkboard.
Here’s a demonstration of the product:
When you sign up as an Independent Designer, you pay $99 (more about what you get for that price below) and then a $19.99 / month fee.
Let’s get into more of the details.
How Much Does Chalk Couture Cost to Join?
When you sign up as an Independent Designer, you pay $99 for the starter kit. According to their website, the kit includes:
- Designer Start Up Guide
- Thank You Cards
- Chalk Couture Apron
- Small Squeegee
- 7 Chalk Transfers in different sizes
- 5 Chalkology pastes (3 oz jars)
- Couture Gallery™ Aiden White Frame (9” × 12”)
- Couture Boutique™ Board & Base (5½” X 7½”)
- Couture Boutique™ Chalkable Chips™ (Black, 12-Pack, 3”, Round)
Starting in your second month, you are charged a $19.99 / month fee, which pays for your website, back office resources and training. This payment also allows you to be a Club Couture member, which means you’ll get a transfer shipped to you automatically every month.
You have a $150 PV (personal volume) requirement per quarter. This can be from sales or from purchases you make yourself. As an Independent Designer, you also get 40% off of the products.
A little later we’ll look at how much the products cost and what alternatives cost at other places.
How Much Money Can You Make with Chalk Couture?
You make 25% commission on anything you sell. You can also earn bonuses when you build a team and level up.
For instance, for every $200 in PV (personal volume) you make in a month, you’ll earn $20 Designer Dollars, which is a product credit. So let’s say you sell/buy $800 worth of products in a month, you’ll receive $80 in Designer Dollars.
If you can manage to sell $2000 or more in a month, you’ll get 10% of your sales as a cash bonus. For instance, if you sell $3000 in a month, you’ll get a $300 cash bonus on top of your Designer Dollars. The bonus bumps up to 20% once you reach $4000 PV.
There’s also a Designer Debut bonus. If you hit 3 levels in your first 3 months (not including your sign up month, that’s a “free” month for this bonus), you will earn a $240 Designer Dollar bonus.
And those are just the bonuses. The compensation plan is a whole other animal. Honestly, I tried to take a look at it, and it’s pretty confusing. I couldn’t find anyone who explained it. SassyDirect has it on their website here, if you’d like to take a look.
Additional Ways to Make Money with Chalk Couture
Besides building a team, there are 4 other ways you can make money:
- Create the designs and sell the finished products
- Buy the products at 40% off and then re-sell them at retail price at vendor events
- Host make and take parties and charge for it
- Sell your the items or the finished products online
While there are a variety of ways to make money with Chalk Couture, is it worth the $99 + $19.99 monthly fee? Could you do these things on your own without having to pay this amount? We’re going to explore the costs of materials at from other stores a little later.
The real way that people in MLMs make money though, is through recruiting people. Unfortunately, only a very few people at the top make money. According to this article posted on the FTC, less than 1% of people in MLMs turn ANY profit. That means almost everyone loses money in an MLM.
Chalk Couture Complaints
I was surprised when I looked up Chalk Couture complaints. Because this is such a new company, I was certain that I wouldn’t find any complaints. But, I was wrong.
They actually have a few complaints on the BBB website, and reading through them, I think it’s because they are such a new company and they’re working out their processes. The complaints are mostly about shipping and refund issues.
Here’s one complaint focused on the opportunity:
To be fair, Chalk Couture responded back to this complaint and the others they had. They also have an A rating with the BBB.
I was going to have positive reviews here too. The thing is, all the positive reviews are from people who are in the business. Of course they’re going to be positive about it because they want you to join.
From what I’ve seen, people are generally happy with the quality of the products.
Is Chalk Couture an MLM or a Pyramid Scheme?
As mentioned above, since you can make money by recruiting people on a team and earning a percentage of their sales, that makes Chalk Couture an MLM.
It’s not technically considered a pyramid scheme because they do have a product to sell and, because of that, this is not a company that is doing something illegal. And Chalk Couture does seem to focus on product sales (versus recruiting) a little more than most MLMs.
But remember, they’re still new (And I did hear one of the “Designers” say this is a “ground floor opportunity.” Yikes.) so there’s plenty of opportunity for this to change. Not saying it will, but recruiting is where the money is made…
- Products seem to be high quality
- The product is fun and easy to use
- Fairly inexpensive start-up cost
- Expensive products
- Monthly fee
- Quarterly sales requirements
- You do make some money with the products, but you make more with recruiting
- Recruiting people into MLMs is not easy
- Have to put in a lot of work, not a great way to make passive income
- Almost everyone loses money in an MLM
- If you do make money, it’s only because someone below you is losing money
Now I want to take a look at some comparable products and see if the price of Chalk Couture makes sense. I saw some Independent Designers say they joined just for the “ahhhmazing” 40% discount. Let’s see if that discount makes it worth it…
Chalk Couture Prices vs Amazon Prices
Let’s take a look at some of Chalk Couture’s products on their website and see if we can find comparable items and see what the other items cost.
- Chalk Couture Chalk Paste (3oz) = $12.99
- Prima Marketing Chalk Paste on Amazon (3.4oz) = $7.99
- Chalk Couture squeegees = $10.00 and $14.99
- TECKWRAP squeegee on Amazon = $4.99
- Chalk Couture chalkboards = $39.99 – $149.99
- Cade Vintage Framed chalkboard from Amazon (9′ x 12′, 3 pack) = $23.74
There are other types of surfaces, but this gives you an idea for comparison.
An Alternative to Chalk Couture (and MLMs)
I saw someone’s review of Chalk Couture and they said they didn’t like when negative reviews were written just to give an alternative product or opportunity.
Well, that’s exactly what I’m about to do. lol I’m an honest person, what can I tell you?
The thing is, this article is not a Chalk Couture review. I’m just giving you information on them. Whether you join or not is up to you. I am going to give you an alternative because I personally was in an MLM and I know from experience it’s a very easy way to lose money.
–> Related: Read all of my posts about MLM companies here.
Let’s Talk about Affiliate Marketing
What I do now is affiliate marketing, and I personally find it a much easier, less hustle-y and less intense way to earn an income online.
As an affiliate marketer, you would create a website (it’s super easy now it can be done in just minutes) and put out content. That content could be articles or videos. Your content will help solve a problem or answer a question. And within your content you can also promote products that you like.
When you promote products you like and someone buys through your website, you get a percentage of the sales. The customer doesn’t pay any more for this, unlike with MLMs.
You could have a website all about crafting, sign up for affiliate programs (Amazon and Etsy both have great affiliate programs) and promote products you like.
What’s really great about affiliate marketing is the work you put in now can pay off over and over and over again. Let’s say you write an article or a tutorial today about how to sew curtains. Once the article is written, it’s written! But people can view that article for years to come.
And let’s say you have a recommendation for a particular sewing machine in that article. You can make commissions off of that sewing machine for a long, long time. That’s how affiliate marketing creates passive income.
Affiliate Marketing vs MLMs
Affiliate marketing is different from MLMs because:
- You don’t recruit anyone
- Your income is completely dependent on you, and not a team of people
- You don’t need to have any parties
- You don’t need to train anyone
- You don’t have to pay to play (there are some costs associated, but they’re minimal compared to MLMs)
- People are not skeptical of affiliate marketers
- You don’t need to cold message anyone about your business
- Creating a website is creating an online asset that you can sell later if you want
- You attract people to your website instead of chasing sales
As I mentioned, I was in an MLM recently. It’s much, much harder than you are led to believe. And those costs add up big time. Let’s say you can’t sell $150 of products in a quarter. It’s going to be on YOU to buy that to remain active.
$150 / quarter isn’t a lot compared to many MLMs, but there’s nothing stressful like that with affiliate marketing.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out my free guide, How To: Affiliate Marketing for Beginners, or you can check out my #1 recommendation for affiliate marketing training where they’ll take you through the whole process of setting up and monetizing your website, step by step.
To sum it all up, Chalk Couture is an MLM, but it’s not technically an illegal pyramid scheme. Because there is recruiting involved, and can make the most money by recruiting others into the business, it’s a borderline pyramid scheme.
The most important thing you need to know is that more than 99% of people lose money in an MLM. If you like the idea of making money via crafting, I recommend affiliate marketing instead. You can still promote crafting products and make a commission from them, but no one below you has to lose money in the process.
If you like that idea, you can see the training platform I recommend to help you get started. It’s free to join (no credit card required).