When it comes to most female empowerment business strategies, two CEOs in the beauty industry are raising an eyebrow. Michele Mallardi Gay (48) and her niece Madison Mallardi (28) are co-founders and co-CEOs of a direct sales company called LimeLife by Alcone. LimeLife is only five years old and has seen incredible success, boasting over $100 Million in annual sales after only their fourth year and is operating in ten different markets. The key to that success, according to the duo, is a complete focus on female empowerment.
“Female empowerment isn’t about addressing an organizational or compensation statistic, it is about unlocking the inner greatness of every female,” explains Mallardi Gay. “After working with a female sales field of over 25,000 worldwide, I see things quite differently than I once did. There are times when I see something and think, ‘that is like putting a bandaid on someone with two broken legs’. Yes, you are trying to help, but in the end, it really doesn’t address the problem.”
So how do these CEOs address the issues? They start by surrounding these women in a culture of immense support. Then, they provide continuous trainings that ask real questions — What does your future look like right now? What do you want it to look like? How are you going to take control and head in that direction? What fears and judgments are holding you back? All of this happens before they start educating on their products. “There are coaches with celebrity followings who offer the same trainings that we do, which is great. But the difference is that our sales field gets to practice those things within the context of a supportive culture, around common challenges, and with trusted allies who keep them accountable to moving forward toward their inspired futures,” Mallardi explains.
The world of direct sales is elevating its level of professionalism, and in doing so is helping put money in women’s pockets. LimeLife by Alcone has paid over $100 Million to women in leadership and sales commission. This flexible business model can help address real workplace problems that are specific to females — flexible time, work from home, no subjective judgment on promotion, and no setback with resume gaps for parenting or discrimination against potential maternity leave.
“We are doing everything we can to counteract bad business practices, fear of judgment or failure, and catfight cultures that have traditionally stopped business savvy women with a real drive from joining a direct sales company. Not because we want to grow, but because we want every woman to have the opportunity to grow and change the course of her future,” Mallardi Gay explains.
“If one woman can elevate her power, then she can have a significant effect on unlocking the power within her family members, network, and community. With that collective power, women can begin to take control of a whole array of female workplace issues without the need for legislation or top-down intervention.”
LimeLife’s mission to empower females does not stop with their sales field and customers. The company also has a charitable foundation, funded by its customers and sales field, that supports female entrepreneurs in Guatemala, Burundi, India, and Tanzania. The funding goes directly to business training for these women and includes establishing private microlending communities. To create a deeper connection between their sales field and the women who benefit from the company’s foundation, LimeLife hosted a Women’s Leadership Summit in Guatemala. At the event, the two groups of women, seemingly on the surface worlds apart, shared stories and perspectives that showed females around the world have a great deal in common. As explained by Mallardi, “It is the common struggles that were brought to the forefront at the summit which seems to be the root of most female-focused issues. If we can address those, we can start to level up.”
Additionally, the duo CEOs are also seeking to address the gap in funding for female start-ups. “We got really lucky in finding a great strategic and financial partnership with the Geiger family at L’Occitane Groupe,” explains Mallardi. “The vast majority of women with amazing business ideas will never have the funding to make a go of it.” In response, the company created an investment fund called The LimeLife Fempire Fund. This Fund seeks to invest in great female-led and centric business ideas but has a special factor — the support of the LimeLife sales field.
With a sales field of tens of thousands around the globe, a charitable fund to help female entrepreneurs, and an investment fund for women, it would appear that these CEOs are creating strategies for female empowerment. However, as Mallardi Gay explains, “The mission of LimeLife, the Foundation, and the Fund are great but they only make sense and are effective because of all the internal issues we relentlessly address each day, such as elevating confidence, not letting your past define your future, getting intentional about your life, and gaining autonomous financial power. These are the things that have the power to create systematic change when applied to one woman at a time.”
Tapping into LimeLife’s supportive community and really utilizing their power has created generous shifts in how LimeLife operates on a daily basis. They are ever-evolving and always pivoting to make their specific business strategy more impactful.