Working from her home in Sag Harbor, a local cafe, in her neighbors’ living room, or even on a street in the village, Christa Schleicher, an executive wellness coach with Isagenix International, says she’s made six figures a year for six consecutive years.
Isagenix is a 10-year-old company that markets dietary supplements and personal-care products to a growing number of people to help them live “healthier lives in an unhealthy environment.” Its associates, as they are called when they first join, rise through the ranks to become consultants, managers, directors, executives, and on up, with bonuses in cash, commissions, and free products for enrolling others in the program. As consultants build their own sales teams they get a percentage of commissions from those below them on the ladder.
Ms. Schleicher said she ranks among the company’s top 50 employees and got there by being a “coach who cares.” Working with individuals, groups, and as a lecturer at conferences, showing people how to use Isagenix products to help them feel and look better, she often conducts “tastings” at an associate’s home or public space. To help new associates make money, she said, she starts by asking what their goals are, physically and financially. “Whatever you want to make, I’ll help you get there,” she said one day last week at the Sag Harbor Golden Pear, with a cup of tea and a large day-planner completely filled with to-dos in front of her.
Married with two children, a high-schooler and a middle-schooler, Ms. Schleicher’s background and experience is in sports performance training and weight loss. At the University of Delaware, where she earned a degree in exercise physiology, she was captain of the college’s Division 1 field hockey team. In addition to her work with Isagenix, she is a personal trainer, certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
A nine-day cleanse is the mainstay of the Isagenix program, with two cleanse days, five shake days, and then two more shake days. A cleanse day consists of small, specific snacks and consumption of a detox drink. A shake day consists of two meal-replacement protein-liquid shakes (they come in Dutch Chocolate and French Vanilla), as well as a small meal and snacks. A 30-day program with more dietary flexibility and only one cleanse a day is offered as well.
To make money from the business, an associate needs to spend about $140 to $150 a month for Isagenix products — about the same as “a night at World Pie,” said Ms. Schleicher. A wide assortment of products are available, with new ones added every year. Altogether, it costs about $1,400 a year to run one’s own Isagenix business, including a personal Web site, she said. “Where else do you find that?”
There are those who disparage network marketing, where the guy at the top makes all the money, Ms. Schleicher said. Her response is that corporate America is a pyramid, where a C.E.O. may make $800,000 while workers make $8 an hour. Pyramid schemes, she noted, have been illegal since 1979. Isagenix has been around since 2002 and she has been with it since 2007, and, she said, “Nobody is capping my income,” or that of those below her either.
She and her sister, Jen Smith of Westhampton, did extensive research on other network marketing companies before signing up, she said, and found no compensation plan that could compare. Any financial person who studied it would find nothing wrong, she said, adding that they might even want to get involved.
With a “homegrown” approach, person-to-person, Ms. Schleicher and Ms. Smith now have their own training program and pay an administrator $80,000 a year to help their teams. Her sister is in the company’s top 25 earners, she said, having made $500,000 her first year and now maintaining about $350,000 a year, with less effort. “It is remarkable what Jen and I have accomplished,” Ms. Schleicher said.
Cindy Tuma of North Haven is one of her happy customers. “I haven’t felt this good in years,” Ms. Tuma wrote in a message to The Star on Friday. “Christa is an awesome trainer,” she said, expressing gratitude for the support that helped her lose over 30 pounds in four months and crediting the cleanse for ridding her of cravings for junk food and sugar. Ms. Tuma said she drinks a shake in the morning, has a bar for lunch, and has “a nice healthy dinner.” One cleanse a day helps keep her on track.
There are certainly those who will simply use the products and not become associates, Ms. Schleicher acknowledged. They stick around because of the results they attain — weight loss, increased energy, or simply how they feel about themselves, she said. Others make a few hundred dollars a month, just enough to pay for the products they use, and they are happy with that. But for those who like to teach or share their accomplishments, she said, “the world becomes a golden opportunity.”
Isagenix people come in all ages, shapes, and sizes. Ms. Schleicher said the company’s number-one earner is 81 years old and earns $2 million a year, equal to what he made in 40 years as a butcher.
To prepare for an influx of new cleansers in the new year, Ms. Schleicher and Ms. Smith have planned a “group cleanse” starting on Jan. 14. It will include 24/7 online support via Facebook as well as a daily conference call for those who wish to join. Her Web site, nutritionalrebalancing.com, has the details, along with “plenty of support.”