Lips, Laughs and Life

Does LipSense have ties to Trump?

Before you attack me in the comments:
This article is for those who, like me, are struggling to continue with this company – either buying from or distributing. People who do not support the current President and are aware enough to acknowledge that even having a conversation about this is coming from a place of privilege.

If you are not bothered by this issue, please simply move on or read with an open mind and allow those of us who are struggling to know what to do our space to figure it out. Your comments of “it shouldn’t bother you”, “it doesn’t bother me” or “who cares” are not helpful in this conversation. 

I am Jewish, by birth I’m part Hispanic and I was born in America. United States politics have always mattered to me, because I am a citizen even though I live in Canada. The recent election has left me questioning the moral compass of many Americans who voted for the current President. Let me be absolutely clear – I question the moral compass of these voters, not their politics. I didn’t like Bush. I never once lost a friend over it. I questioned their judgement, maybe, but never parted ways with them. The rhetoric this President feeds in America is far more than normal partisan lines, it’s ethical reasoning and moral codes. Can you have better jobs in America, if not everyone has access to those jobs? Can you have good Health Care, when some people are dying because they can’t afford it? Can you raise moral little boys in a country where girls and women are degraded and treated like second class citizens? Can you claim freedom of religion, but only for one religion? Can you deny Climate Change while your citizens are losing land, crops and homes due to it? Can you claim to want to unify the country while allowing people to single out other religions, races or sexualities?

This isn’t about tax cuts, infrastructure or spending – this is about ethics.

What does this have to do with SeneGence and LipSense?

What’s scary to me now that I’ve laid all that out for you is that most early trainings that I did in Network Marketing told me to leave politics off the table. Many said it would alienate potential customers, so I kept my political rants to my personal page – figuring anyone who would feel alienated by my opinions on the matter had likely already unfriended or unfollowed me. Yet here I am voicing very clearly my political, moral and ethical beliefs on a public blog. My hand has been forced, because a recent blog  outed Bennie Kante, the husband of SeneGence’s CEO and founder Joni Rogers-Kante, for having made a large personal donation to Trump’s Inauguration Committee. Kante is also the Chief Strategy Officer for the company and while the donation was a personal one, the news shook me. First I wanted to know if it was true and very quickly found other sources including a Facebook post of Joni herself at the Inauguration claiming she was supporting every president “to help further the opportunities of women.” If that was the case, one would assume that while she was in Washington, she would post photos of her marching in the Womans’s March the following day, which she did not.

Here Representing! In Honey Rose, Pink Champagne, and Diamond Kiss💋#entrepeneurs #directsellers #women

Why does this matter to you as a Distributor?

In my heart, it feels like a big divide in ideals between the company’s founders and myself.

My knee jerk reaction was to jump ship immediately, sell everything and apologize to everyone who I sold to for allowing their money to support this. Most people I’ve talked to about it have thought that was uncalled-for, but it’s just how I am. Luckily a few girls on my team feel the same as me and were really struggling with what to do. It opened a dialogue of understanding. We talked a lot about the topic and what to do.

In my heart, it feels like a big divide in ideals between the company’s founders and myself. Already I have noticed a lack of an effort to work towards inclusivity in the company (only providing images on white skin tones, first nine NYC billboards chosen and all models are white [Update: the newest billboard ad contains PoC] and products that are being released without full range of skin tones covered). However this donation seems to be a pretty clear reason why these microagressions continued in the company unchecked.

I suppose this really shouldn’t have come as a big surprise. When I began selling LipSense, I was caught up in the excitement and love for the product. Thinking back, I should have done more research and asked more questions knowing this company is based in an area of the USA where support for the President is not lacking. However I saw no evidence of anything and continued on my happily not reapplying lipstick way.

What are other people saying about this?

Some people will say, but Google also donated to his Inauguration and I don’t see you dropping your Gmail account.  Sure, but they donate to lots of Presidential events and have done so for Obama as well. Furthermore, I don’t sell for Google. Lots of companies that I still shop from in one way or another have money or ties to Trump, but it’s one thing to buy supplies through a company (hey, Amazon). It’s another to represent that company.

The other argument I’ve heard is “who cares – it was a personal donation and I don’t need to know what they do with their money”. This is a really weak argument. Like I don’t care what Kante or Rogers-Kante do with their money when it comes to buying jewelry or playing golf. It’s none of my business at all. However supporting someone like Trump means someone’s personal values are firmly pointed in another moral direction than mine. I would never give money to someone who promotes misogyny, sexism, bigoted views, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia. It seems quite polarizing when the CEO’s husband does. We wouldn’t have much to talk about at a dinner table and it begs the question of who is at the helm of the ship I’m on.

My reason for joining SeneGence was to share Makeup with fellow women who are looking for a better product. LipSense made me feel human for the first time after having baby number two. It made transforming from zombie to mom something I had fun with and enjoyed. It all felt so light hearted. It’s also empowering to work with women, to lift each other up and build strong bonds with other women who were determined to take a piece of the pie for themselves. Somehow finding out about this Trump donation made me question that and question what agenda I was promoting.

I’m okay when I see distributors in the Bible Belt selling LipSense with references to Jesus. I mean that’s not me. But that’s truly and authecially them and it’s wonderful. But if I saw people selling LipSense and references to Hitler, I’d be fuming. That’s kind of how this felt.

 

 

 

So why are am I still doing it? Why haven’t I cleared out my inventory and left?

It was a conversation with one of my uplines that convinced me to stay. Her argument wasn’t belittling the problem. She, too, was distraught. What she said to me made sense. What she had gained from talking to her family was a valuable point. If she left, if I left and if some of our team left what difference would it make to them? SeneGence is a booming company. That’s one of the reasons I was eager to join. This is a ground floor, all elevators going up, full steam ahead company. A few distributors jumping ship will mean nothing to them. Let’s face it there are lots of people who simply find Network Marketing isn’t for them and leave – what’s a few more. Really, it spoke to my privilege that this was even a conversation for me. I am in a place where I can walk away and not be heavily impacted financially. What about the women who are working to make ends meet and take a leap into SeneGence with every penny they have. They can’t just walk away. What about the women of colour who are passionate about SeneGence, who love the product and want to succeed. What about my fellow Jewish women who feel hurt by Trump’s refusal to condemn the Nazis in the USA and now find their company supports him. If I leave my voice has no voice in the company. As a distributor, I can focus my efforts and involvement in the company in highlighting the issues with inclusivity in the company and pushing for improvement. The higher up I get in the company, the larger my team, the more my voice and the voice of my teammates will be heard.

Sure, this is small scale change. I’m not thinking this is going to change the world, but it could change a company that minorities distribute for and make them feel that their company cares about their lives.

So where do you start to achieve this goal? 

I’ll start here by making clear. This donation does not reflect my values. I do not want to support that schmuck. I want to continue to sell makeup and have every woman have them same opportunity as I have. Women are stronger when they are lifting each other up, so I’m choosing to focus on promoting inclusivity in the brand and giving this opportunity to more women who will help be a loud voice against hate – both in the world at large and within this company.

To Joni Rogers-Kante, if you see this, please take our requests for an inclusivity statement seriously and start including people of colour and other oppressed groups in your branding – this is important.