Dear Analysts,

Hello everyone,

This is decidedly not going to be my most positive post. I do try to retain a positive, yet critical (as in, fact-based) perspective when I write here, and I also attempt to keep my emotions, but not my opinions, out of my posts. Although, at times, I think that hinders me more than it helps me. Regardless, this post is frankly about to be ‘some feelings,’ and if you prefer my relatively even toned articles, you may not find this one to your liking. If this is you, I apologize in advance, and advise you to please visit again in the future.

For those remaining, please enjoy.

I was recently deceived by someone online, shocking, I’m sure. What upset me the most is that, intrinsically, I harbor a strong desire to help people in any way I can. This person took advantage of my trusting nature. There have been countless people who email me asking what a certain item is (style/ color name), or to authenticate an item. It has been suggested to me, certainly for the latter, that I begin charging for my services. This is not something I intend to do. I perform authentications, and spend (literally) hours scouring Google to help someone identify their item, because I really do hate “fakes” and I really did start writing this blog so that I could help people. Even if it is with something as ostensibly frivolous as Lululemon.

So, when a reader writes to me, I always respond. There are two scenarios I want to describe for you. One is the right way, the honest, moral way to present yourself online, and ask for a favor, and the other is the wrong way, which actually resulted in a less favorable outcome for the person, although I’m sure he doesn’t know it.

In the first scenario, the analyst, Analyst A, let’s call him, emailed me asking for information about Lululemon. He asked a lot of questions, all about Lululemon’s financial performance, and my thoughts regarding the future of the company. But before he asked me the questions, he identified himself as an analyst and asked me if I worked for Lululemon, because, he informed me, “I can’t talk to you if you work for Lululemon, because of insider trading laws.” I said, “Don’t worry, I don’t work for Lululemon, let’s chat!” I proceeded to answer his questions to the best of my ability and was able to point him in the direction of many of the articles I wrote that pertained to his inquiry.

In the second scenario, Analyst B, let’s call him, did not disclose that he was an analyst. Not only did he not disclose this fact, when I directly asked him, he said that he was a student working on a project. A Google search following the entire conversation revealed that he works as an analyst, for a private equity fund. I only thought to Google after the entirety of the communication (all emails) had taken place, because I thought that perhaps he was an analyst because he asked primarily about financial data, the “popularity” (market share), prices and how much people are buying versus other brands. What made me even more suspicious, was after the fact, discovering the whole debacle about Lulu’s stock price having collapsed. It lost nearly 20% that day! No wonder this analyst was contacting me, looking for stock tips. However, at the time, I still believed that this person was a student. Well, I was concerned that this “student” had emailed me with questions from their professor when they really should have been doing the research themselves. So, I directed, who I thought was a student, to resources fit for a student. I told him to check SEC filings, and provided links to finance websites.

Analyst B was not satisfied with these sources. Resources perfectly suitable to be quoted for research projects were not what Analyst B wanted. He kept asking for my “opinion.” However, I didn’t think it would be right for me to inject my opinion into what I “knew” was an academic paper. What this person doesn’t know is that I would happily have provided my opinion, if I had known that an opinion was appropriate. It is not appropriate for a student to cite “Lululemon Expert’s personal opinion” in their research paper, when they could be citing Lululemon’s own SEC filings, which is where I directed the “student.” It is, however, perfectly suitable for a stock analyst to make trades based on expert’s opinion! If I had known that this person was an analyst, I may have provided my opinion. Instead, I thought that they were a student- attempting to obtain academic sources!

This brings us to the next point: Did you notice the part in the story about Analyst A, where he disclosed that he was an analyst and that it would be illegal to use information gained from someone who works at Lululemon? Well, unfortunately, Analyst B didn’t care enough about insider trading regulations to ask me whether I worked at Lululemon or not. Except for the above statement (“let’s chat!”) in this very post, I have never explicitly state in my blog that I don’t work for Lululemon. Not that Analyst B cares.

At the end of the day, I am happy that I directed Analyst B towards publically available documents. However, I am saddened that someone has lied to me. I directly asked whether he was an analyst, and he lied. It’s especially disconcerting due to the potential for legal repercussions on the part of the person who attempted to deceptively gain information, had I been a Lululemon employee.

My many thanks go out to Analyst A, I think I’ll share this article with him. To Analyst B, please do yourself a favor and do not misrepresent yourself in the future.

Lulu Has Missed The Mark This Spring

Hello everyone,

I saw this article, it was widely shared in my groups and across Facebook, and I just had to write about it. I feel like I’ve been talking about the general lack of color and boredom I’ve been feeling surrounding Lululemon’s offerings for months. This is actually one of the reasons I’ve been writing about other things, like LuLaRoe. Finally, VINDICATION! The market has acknowledged my feelings regarding Lululemon lately, and the CEO has acknowledged my, and countless other fans’ opinions. Does Laurent Potdevin read my blog? Is he in the Lululemon Facebook groups? Because I think we all could have told him that Lululemon needed to produce more colorful “Spring” items. And can Lululemon PLEASE bring back the feminine details, ruffles, ruching and personal touches? I miss the little messages inside pockets or under cuffins. And where have those cuffins been anyhow? Have thumbholes been nearly completely done away with? I know that I am not alone in having noticed that items have been degraded and renamed. The Cool Racerbacks have been renamed to Cool Racerback 2, shortened, narrowed, and had the fabric “innovated” (read: cheapened). I can see it now, “Swift Tech Long Sleeve Crew! Now without thumbholes, silverescent and underarm venting!” Sounds like a terrifying future for the Lululemon we all love. Except that that last one is true. Some of the new LS Swiftlies have no underarm venting- it’s only a matter of time before “cost-cutting measures” become more important than retaining brand value, quality and innovation. I worry that that time has already come for many in Lululemon Leadership.

The Lululemon We All Love

But for some, the love is gone. I know that many of us remember staying up late waiting for upload. We would hop on a group, and comment in threads our upload predictions and wish lists. Ah, nostalgia. We’d share our shopping carts and share in the excitement that in a few days, we could share try-on reports and tell people who were curious but not interested enough to hit the “add to cart” button how we felt about our purchases. Were we in love? Did we return? Is this a future unicorn? What’s the concensus?

That excitement is gone. I no longer even remember to check upload night until I am reminded by a Facebook post. I certainly don’t “wait up”- or even get excited. I used to still be somewhat interested in WMTM uploads on Thursdays, but I almost never check anymore, even for the sale prices. And, while we’re on the topic: $9 off a $68 item, is not a sale. In fact, can we stop pretending that raising the price of a LS Swiftly from $68 to $78, then putting it on sale for $69 is a generous discount? This just means that instead of paying $10 extra for an item, we only have to pay $1 extra.

On Quality

Careful vs. Careless

It used to be that gaffs and quality issues were rare. So rare, indeed were these quality issues that they became scandals, reported on the blogs, and on news outlets and gossiped about within the community. I have spoken about quality before, on quite a few occasions. I remember a time when nearly every item on Lululemon’s website had 4-star and above reviews. I remember a more careful Lululemon, where fabric choices, fit and function were fundamental considerations, instead of the afterthought. I remember when I didn’t have to check to make sure that an item wasn’t 90% Polyester. I am not even going to touch the sizing inconsistencies, but what about function? Where have all the functional pieces been? Too much Leisure, not enough Athlete.

 

My Opinion On a Future Advertising Campaign

Recently, Lululemon has expressed an intention to start a formal ad campaign, a step away from their current community marketing campaign. Here are my thoughts on that:

I used to ignore Lululemon. I felt like they advertised directly to me. Even though they didn’t have a formal ad campaign, to me, it was everywhere. That positive, aspirational brand spoke to me. So, I ignored it because I don’t like being “sold” things. Then one day, I went in the store. Everything was so bright and fun. And the sales people were happy and treated me like a human- instead of a customer. And the stuff was pricey, but the details were delightful. I fell in love with Pace Setters and Paris Pink. Less than a year later, I had started a small collection and my obsession with the brand grew from there.

My point is that Lululemon did not need formal advertising to gain me, or the market share it has today. It needs to continue to rely on the viral marketing campaign it has relied on from the beginning, which is why keeping its core fan base happy is so important. Lulu, if you want, go ahead, hire more ambassadors, and give more people R&D discounts for being walking billboards, but in all honesty, a formal advertising campaign will help you sell only slightly more than what you already sell. And at what cost? Starting a formal ad campaign might cause your brand to lose cache. Additionally, Lululemon is known for its irreverence. Lululemon’s core supporters never left over Brahmacharya, we moved on. We keep buying the clothes and we move on. Or how about this? Or this? Well, Lululemon can’t go around offending people during a massive ad campaign. Mass appeal will mean that Lululemon will have to adjust its target audience from Ocean and Duke to Jane and John. Lululemon will lose its edginess, in favor of commercial appeal. Will Lululemon remain an aspirational brand? Maybe. However, I am concerned that the massive campaign will alienate core supporters.

Lululemon is more popular among women than Nike. Last year, Nike spent $804 million on “demand creation,” which included advertising, brand events and digital marketing. Lululemon’s marketing budget is nowhere to be found, and marketing expenses are rolled into general administrative expenses in SEC filings, so there is no official number I could find for them. Please link down below if you find one! The point is, Lululemon spends no where near that much on ads. And is outperforming Nike in the women’s athletic apparel market. An ad campaign is unlikely to make a huge difference, and Lululemon should be cautious with how it spends investor dollars.

My final thought on this is: Do it if you want to. Do it if you think you’ll make more money than you’ll spend on the campaign. But don’t do it for old school, big-money investors who don’t understand the current marketing model (viral) that is the very thing that helped bring LULU to where it is now.

The Future of Lululemon 

I think that someone needs to turn this company around and listen to the fans. This core group of influencers have been around for forever and have supported the brand through everything. This company has made some great moves this past year, like honoring “Dufflegate” and the Women’s Day discount. However, there has been plenty for people like me, true fans, to complain about. I think Lulu could get us to spend more, assuming they want to be a profitable company, if they returned to what made them popular. Some of their stuff doesn’t even look like Lululemon anymore. Lululemon is feminine, attractive, youthful and fit. Not boxy, drab, tired and frumpy. But that is what the designs evoke lately. Lululemon’s future depends on a triumphant return to what made them popular in the first place. Those fun designs, those functional, durable pieces that have a go-anywhere, do-anything attitude!

 

Let’s Chat about LuLaRoe

Hello everyone and WELCOME BACK TO MY BLOG!

Given the snooze-fest that is Lululemon, as of late (I CAN NOT WAIT until they get the Spring collection online), I thought it would be fun to write about a company that is constantly showing up in my news feed. I want to write this article for a couple of reasons. One reason is to dispel any confusion regarding any link between the two companies (there is none), and the second is to talk about LuLaRoe as a whole and give my severely uneducated opinion on a company whose clothes I have never tried.

Truly, if you like LulaRoe, I encourage you to continue to indulge. However, several articles have popped up in my news feed regarding the declining quality of the clothing, so I decided to do a little research. In addition, I’ve seen questions on Twitter about whether LulaRoe and Lululemon are the same thing. If you are here regularly, you know that they are not. However, there are some people who may not know that, so I’m writing this article to highlight some of the differences. In addition, I have also come across somewhat more substantiated claims that LuLaRoe and Agnes & Dora are the same. Well, they do have similar models in that they are both sold by representatives. The clothes look somewhat similar to me, but there are articles and YouTube videos, so you can decide for yourself about that. And while I can’t say for sure that these companies are in fact the same, what I can tell you is that the owner of Agnes & Dora, Elizabeth (Buffy) Bandley (maiden: Worsley) is LuLaRoe founder Deanne Stidham’s niece. So, are LuLaRoe and Lululemon the same? No. Are LuLaRoe and Agnes & Dora the same, you decide.

A question on Twitter about whether Lululemon & LuLaRoe are the same

I recently came across this article: This clothing company is facing claims that its ‘pants rip like wet toilet paper’. It’s a Business Insider article with the most thorough description of the problems LuLaRoe is having with the leggings, in my opinion. LuLaRoe is a relatively new company (started ~2013 or 2014- I’ve seen both and their website doesn’t specify), and it is a company with a multi-level-marketing compensation scheme. I am going to try my best not to let this color my opinion of the company, but to be honest, I am not a fan of MLM-based companies. However, let’s begin by addressing the BI article:

On Quality:

Honestly, growing companies have hiccups. When you add 33,000 consultants in one year, you’re going to have growing pains. However, that does not absolve LuLaRoe of its corporate responsibility regarding quality. And there are a few points to touch on here, so please bear with me. Actually, kudos to you if you made it this far down! Let me know if you did in the comments! Haha!

  1. Hire fewer consultants. Easy task. First off, there is already talk that the market is saturated with LuLaRoe. (On this note, I found many websites with articles on whether the market was oversaturated with LuLaRoe. However, they all had clear bias either for or against LuLaRoe. It was my intention to find something less biased, however, there doesn’t seem to be any websites without opinion-based articles on whether the market is saturated or not.) If the market is oversaturated, LuLaRoe should slow down on-boarding of new consultants. As I understand it, there is already a queue to become a new consultant, so perhaps the wait should be lengthened even more.  Or perhaps the market is not oversaturated, in that case, my advice is the same. If your company is growing so quickly that it can not manage quality, growth must be slowed, quality must become the priority and the queue, therefore, must still be lengthened.
  2. Monitor Quality.  Given the pace of growth of LuLaRoe, quality monitoring must be maintained throughout the supply chain. When a company is growing quickly, that company may change suppliers or hire an extra supplier to keep pace with demand- and that’s OKAY! In fact, it’s probably the right thing to do! However, the new supplier must be able to produce a quality product, and again, that product must be quality monitored so that the consumer who is demanding the product because it has always been good quality can receive the quality product that they want.
  3. Develop a better return policy. I’m the first to admit that Lululemon’s return policy is not the best. Athleta’s is, actually.  But if a product gets random holes in it, or pills beyond belief or has a general quality issue, Lululemon will take it back. The reason so many customers and consultants are angry about the recent quality issues with LuLaRoe’s clothing is because they have to return the clothes to the consultant. And it can be difficult. Maybe the consultant won’t accept the return, maybe the consultant no longer sells LuLaRoe and can’t be found- who knows!? And the consultants are angry because, LuLaRoe, although they do accept returns, has been slow or reluctant to issue refunds for returned items.

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On Compensation:

Lululemon and LuLaRoe also have vastly different compensation schemes. Let’s discuss LuLaRoe’s first:

It works like this: You sign up to sell LuLaRoe, your “sponsor” receives 5% of your sales as a commission for getting you to sign up. You sign up your friends to sell LuLaRoe, and you get 5% of their sales. Most people know this, but this business model can only be recycled 13 or 14 times before everyone on earth is selling a single MLM product. In my research, I found this better, and more entertaining (albeit, NSFW) description of MLMs here on John Oliver’s YouTube channel.

LuLaRoe Lingo:

Team: Your “Team” is comprised of everyone you sign up, and everyone they sign up in turn. The people beneath you, and the people beneath them.

LuLaRoe Levels

Sponsor: As a sponsor, you can earn 5% of the sales for each friend you sign up, as well as 3% of the sales for each friend that they sign up. However, you, personally must be ordering 175 pieces a month to qualify for those earnings.

Trainer: In order to qualify for trainer status, you need to have a minimum of 10 people on your team who are ordering 1750 pieces or more per month. In addition, you need to be ordering 250 items per month. However, if three of the people on your team are ordering 175 pieces a month, then you can reduce the number you need to sell by 50 items per person, to a minimum of 100 items ordered per month. You might also qualify for “Leadership points,” which allow you to share in the profit pool. The profits you receive depends on the number of people who qualified that month, and on the profits, of course.

Coaches and Mentors: The next highest ranks comprise the fewest number of people, and the bonus structures get quite complicated. However, they are explained in some detail here, and here. The first site is a “pro-LuLaRoe” site, and the second is an “anti-LuLaRoe” site, so you get both sides of the story.

Anyways, this type of compensation structure encourages something common in the MLM industry called “becoming garage qualified,” or simply put: stockpiling. You can’t qualify for the bonuses that make selling worthwhile unless you are ‘qualified’ and in order to qualify you have to order a certain amount of product, so you continue to do so, hoping in turn, that everyone you signed up to sell LuLaRoe also meets their order quota, so that you can qualify for the bonus attached to them making that quota. It is cyclical and it encourages stockpiling.

As opposed to Lululemon, that of course, is a publically traded company, whose stores are corporately owned (they’re not a franchise) and that does not sell wholesale merchandise. Meanwhile, LuLaRoe’s compensation scheme and the independent representative model described above is quite different. So, ad nauseum, they are not the same.

This post is not meant to be anti-LuLaRoe, and again, if you love it, by all means, buy it! Some of the prints are really cute in my opinion. And that’s all this is, an opinion. If you’re thinking about selling LuLaRoe, congratulations on thinking about starting a new venture! Entrepreneurs are important to everyone’s continued economic success! However, I do encourage you to do your due diligence, and check out LuLaRoe’s financial disclosure statement. At the end of the day, buying or selling- it’s your choice! I do, however, hope that you found this helpful. And I also hope that it solidifies that Lululemon & LuLaRoe are not the same thing.

Thanks for reading. Please let me know your opinion in the comments, and also, if I got any of my information incorrect, and you have a better source for me to cite, please let me know.

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Edited to add LuLaRoe’s Financial Disclosure Statement. I suppose it is easier to see it here, rather than click off to a link to view it.

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Can we talk about this list?

Someone recently shared this list with me, and I want to have a chat about it. The list is entitled “Weird Rules that Lululemon Employees Have to Follow.” It was recently shared with me on Facebook and I just have to comment. I have so many friends that either work at Lululemon or used to work at Lululemon and I just need to talk to you about their experiences as well as the contents of this list and how it was collected. You can find the original list by clicking the link above, but I will go through the rules one by one to tell you what’s true and what’s not.

1. You Must Refer to the Ideal Lululemon Customer as “Ocean”

Not entirely true. Although Lululemon states that their “ideal customer” is a woman named Ocean, it’s not heresy or anything to not talk about customers in reference to Ocean. In fact, many stores consider their local market before they think about what “Ocean” would want or wear because it’s the local market that is shopping which helps that store earn money and make their sales goals. Trust me, before the manager asks “What would Ocean wear?” she’s asking herself “Will Southerners want to wear Scuba hoodies in the Summer?”

2. You Have to Attend Lectures on Willpower

Under this heading, the author also mentions that you “You also have to watch videos on the importance of setting goals.” 

I have never heard any of my friends talk about lectures on willpower, but the original author of the article that this is based on said that she did have that experience during training- but I need to unpack this article from Ranker a bit more.

So, under this heading on “lectures” the author of this article for “Ranker” links out to an article written in Cosmopolitan’s online magazine and the author of that Cosmo article is discussing an excerpt about someone else’s experience working at Lululemon. You can read the article in Cosmo here.

The author of the Cosmo article states that “After group yoga, the mornings were for lectures on willpower and videos on the importance of goal setting.” However, the author of the Cosmo article isn’t the original author of the experience working at Lululemon. He is simply restating some things mentioned by the original author in an article for Salon.

The original author in the article for salon says that “After group yoga, the mornings were for lectures on willpower and videos on the importance of goal setting starring company founder Chip Wilson” Maybe it was this 1-minute long clip? I actually didn’t get the impression that the original author was complaining about it- but subsequent articles make it seem like the goal setting experience was negative or onerous somehow. I just think she may have found it odd or at the very least different from most onboarding procedures at other clothing companies. And that, I can certainly agree with- it IS different. I don’t think a lot of other clothing companies care about what your longterm goals are. And, honestly, I wouldn’t mind being paid for a goal setting session!

So, anyways, this article for Ranker is based on an article for Cosmo that is based on the original author’s content in Salon- but it doesn’t link to her in the article.

3. You Can’t Chat or You’ll Get Fired

No one I spoke to said that you’re not allowed to chat. When I go into my local store employees are always chatting with one another about some new thing they received in-stock or about what song is playing on the store’s music system or about some class they attended, etc… However, it is a pretty busy environment, so if you’re chatting when you should be educating*guest* then you might get reprimanded. Educating= talking about the features of products in an attempt to sell them. Guests= customers.

In this “Ranked” article, they link to this article by someone who worked at Lululemon who talks about gossipping, but not about “chatting.” Here’s what she says about gossipping, which, in my opinion, is not akin to chatting. “Background conversation (i.e. gossiping) will get you fired.” The word ‘chatting’ is not mentioned anywhere in her article.

4. Reading Atlas Shrugged Is All but Mandatory
This one is harder to pin down because of the language used in the article. By saying it’s “all but mandatory,” the article admits that it is not mandatory. Lululemon break rooms have mini-libraries in them and assuming that Atlas Shrugged is in every Lulu-library, does that mean that you are forced to read it? According to this “Ranked” article, it doesn’t. So, my main question, I guess, is why is this on the list as a “weird rule,” if it doesn’t qualify as a rule?
5. If You Don’t Do Yoga, You’re Excommunicated
I’m going to break this one down sentence by sentence, because there is something to this one, but I think the word excommunicated is a tad strong. So, in this “Ranked” article, under this heading, the author says “Being a yoga gear store, it’s understandable that employee training starts with yoga sessions in the mornings. However, employees are expected to continue to work out constantly and practice yoga together on their off-hours. It’s meant to form a sense of camaraderie… but people soon realize it’s more like a crazy health food cult. If you miss one workout session, people act like your life must be falling apart.” 
Breaking this down, sentence by sentence:
“Being a yoga gear store, it’s understandable that employee training starts with yoga sessions in the mornings.” 
The key words here are “employee training.” Employee training last maybe a week or two at most, and there may be some of those days- or even all of them in some cases that I am not aware of- where yoga is done in the morning. Yoga (or some other form of physical activity) also occurs during team sweat sessions and during, before or after team meetings. So, what I see here is yoga during training, for which employees are paid. As well as sweat sessions and meeting yoga (or other sweaty activity), for which employees are also paid.
My opinion: as long as employees are being paid, I don’t see why this is a negative thing. If I decided to work at Lululemon I would be ecstatic to be getting paid to get fit & healthy. No downside as far as I can see.

However, employees are expected to continue to work out constantly and practice yoga together on their off-hours
First thing: The article that this links to says nothing about practicing any type of physical activity off-hours. I read the article 4 times to check to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. However, number 24 in the linked article fits well into my narrative above about how having workouts during meetings is a good thing.

Regardless of the inaccurate attribution, this person is actually correct in that employees are expected to attend fitness classes when they are not at work. If you work at Lululemon, they will pay the fees of a certain number of fitness classes per week (PT=1, FT=2). The management does expect that people will use these classes. I’ve heard that people do feel pressured to go workout even though they don’t have time, etc… That’s unfortunate, and honestly, since the company is not paying employees to do that, I don’t think that anyone should feel obligated. But hey, it’s free advertising for the company, and if you’re interested, it’s a free $20 Pure Barre class for you.

It’s meant to form a sense of camaraderie… but people soon realize it’s more like a crazy health food cult. If you miss one workout session, people act like your life must be falling apart.” 
This seemed like hyperbole to me, so I pulled a quote from the Salon article to which the author of this Ranked article is (ultimately, by way of Cosmo) referring. She says “Exercise — what sort, how often, the afterglow — was the main topic of in-store conversation, so if you skipped a day it was obvious and people asked if you were feeling OK.” Whether people asking if you were feeling OK is equivalent to people acting like your life must be falling apart, I’ll leave to you to decide.

Final thoughts on this one: You are not “excommunicated” if you don’t do yoga. However, you are expected to participate in both paid and unpaid fitness classes with coworkers.

6. You Must Live by a Strict Diet

So, this one is just not true. You don’t have to diet or anything like that. Although “gratis” or “promotions” (more specifically) are given to people who are a size 6, you don’t have to diet if you don’t want to. And in fact, according to people I know and this author, even if you gain weight it’s totally fine as long as you remain positive and have a great personality. Regarding having to eat specific things, it’s simply not true.
Final Thoughts

I hope you found my assessment of the accuracy of this article at least somewhat informative. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions. I am also happy to clarify any of the statements I made above. I am truly interested in your feedback if you have any for me. If you have worked at Lululemon, the experiences of the people I know may not be inclusive, so if you have had any of these experiences in the same spirit expressed by the author of the Ranked article, please feel free to comment below and tell me about them. I would love to hear from you. Alternatively, certainly if you agree with my above assessment, I’d also be happy to hear from you!

As always, thank you so much for reading!

Why Are People Willing To Pay So Much For Lululemon?

I see this question a lot on social media. I never thought about answering it before because I figured it had already been answered but, upon reflection, I am happy to add my opinion to the collection. One issue with the opinions available online is that I was unable to find any written by “super fans” like me. (Side note: If Lulumum or Lululemon Addict has written a post similar to this one, please link it below!) I did find this one but by and large positive articles were difficult to find. This was my favorite critical, but fair article. There were many dissenting opinions, and some people complain with near vitriolic hatred about the price of Lululemon. If you don’t believe me, just spend a day on Twitter searching for Lululemon related posts.

There are several reasons why people have enormous collections of Lululemon and continue to buy and collect it. There are also reasons why people maintain smaller collections, selling as they get bored and using that money to add new items to their collection.

I wanted to show you some Lululemon closet photos to prove that there are many people who are dedicated to the brand, and also because they’re pretty. 🙂 I found some Lululemon Closet photos by Googling, and Lulumum has some posts on her blog from her subscribers.

Quality

Let’s start with an obvious reason to pay more. I’m the first to admit that Lululemon has had some quality issues in the past, but I feel that they’ve come a long way since then, and I am also dismayed to have witnessed the amount of coverage they received in the media about their lack of coverage. I have older Nike crops that have pilled on me, or sheer out when stretched, but Lululemon received a lot of bad publicity when people started complaining about it happening to their items. My theory on why they received so much bad publicity is because people expect higher quality standards for Lululemon items than they do for cheaper items. For example, I know that my Nike bottoms that are 80% Polyester are not going to feel as compressive as my Lululemon crops that are 80% Nylon. I also know that Polyester is prone to sheering out. So, people like me, who buy Lululemon on a regular basis, and pay for higher quality were outraged when the quality was disappearing from our expensive items. That’s my theory, what do you think? Why do you think the media covered Lululemon’s quality issues so fervently?

Now let’s address what Lululemon does right. First of all, most of Lululemon’s clothing is made from Luon, which is generally comprised of 80% Nylon and 20% Lycra, or some close combination thereof. If I spot an item that says “Luon” and it’s made of any less than 70% Nylon, I can tell the difference in terms of feel. “Feel” is another thing that Lululemon does right. Their Rulu fabric is some of the softest stuff out there. I love my Base Runners and my Vinyassa scarves and they’re both made of super soft Rulu. Regular old Luon is also much softer than any Polyester-based item I can find at Target or Nike and that’s a huge reason why I hardly ever buy from those places. I once purchased shorts from Target, but the fit was off. There’s another thing Lululemon does right. Lululemon clothing hugs the body and twists in the right places. I’ve tried knock-offs and have fit issues I don’t experience with Lululemon, either thumbholes are not in the perfect place, or the tops ride up, etc…

Fashion

So, aside from the above quality issues like fabric content, feel, and fit, fashion is another reason why people like me are willing to purchase Lululemon. Lululemon’s designs have been cutting edge for a while, and I still enjoy seeing what they come up with. The Nouveau Limits tank will never replace my No Limits tanks, but I enjoy this creative design. Although I can agree with people who love Zella, especially for their prints, I just can’t get over the 80% Polyester content. Same with Nike. Same with Target’s brand. I touch their clothes nearly every time I stop in there, and I’ve yet to be impressed. One other brand from which I do own quite a few pairs of crops that I LOVE is Glyder. 80% Nylon or better, and they feel just like my Wunder Under Crops. They’re around $50-$60 and I would love to have more, they just don’t come out with new colors that often.

Lululemon has been known for their dedication to innovative design for a long time, and as a consumer, I am happy to benefit from that. They even have the “Lab” where they release limited runs of items to test them out and ask for feedback so they can continue to be innovative with their designs. Although Zella and other companies do an excellent job with their designs, I still feel that Lululemon is the first to market with a lot of their ideas.

I love the little details Lululemon takes the time to put into their clothing. Apart from the little quotes they often put on their clothes, they also take the time to put hidden pockets or other features.

Here are some pics of the “hidden” quotes under the hemline of the Swiftlies.

IMG_0369
Heathered Plum SS Swiftly
IMG_0368
SS Swiftly in Heathered Raspberry
IMG_0367
SS Swiftly in Heathered Raspberry
IMG_0366 (1)
LS Swiftly in Heathered Raspberry

 

Function

Function, for most people who exercise, is the most important thing. These clothes work for me. I am never pulling up my crops, like I have to with my Nikes or my Bebe Sport crops. The waistbands on most of my non-Luon, Lululemon workout crops have built-in drawstrings that I can tie tightly so I don’t have to worry about pulling up my crops.

Built in drawstring
Lululemon says “continuous drawcord won’t get lost in the wash”

Thumbholes are great, and I find myself legitimately disappointed when I don’t find them on my non-lululemon workout tops. Thumbholes help keep my hands warm, and they also help keep my sleeves from rolling up when I’m putting on layers.

Thumbholes

Sweat-proof technology & Silverescent.  There’s actual silver woven into the fabric of the Swiftlys. It inhibits bacteria growth, stopping stink.

There are many other function-related details Lululemon adds to their clothes that contribute to their awesomeness, but I won’t list them all. What are some of your favorite features? Tell me about them below!

Brand Name Value

This reason, in my opinion, has some of this highest validity, yet both the lowest recognition and the lowest level of understanding on the part of those who do mention it. I’ve seen people say, ‘If you buy Lululemon for the brand name, you’re just…’ Insert your own brand of criticism here, but that’s essentially what they have said. However, people need to understand that there is inherent value in a brand name and that brand names influence our purchasing decisions whether we like to admit it or not. The same people who judge Lululemon addicts for buying Lululemon for the brand name are the same people who buy Nike shoes instead of New Balance. New Balance shoes are of good quality, and will perform well, but Nike shoes have a higher brand value. Nike shoes are designed and marketed expertly. Nike outsources the manufacture of its shoes, much in the same way that Lululemon outsources the manufacture of its clothing. However, both Lululemon and Nike operate and maintain their design functions as core competencies of their companies. People talk about quality, but New Balance manufactures its shoes in the USA, while Nike outsources, yet Nike has the higher brand name value, shown in the table below. Lululemon’s brand value is also shown below.

Brand Value
Brand Value

I hope you can see that what I’m getting at is that brand name, regardless of the criticisms, does have value. Therefore, people who buy Lululemon or Nike “just because” of the brand name are actually making a pragmatic decision. The brand value that has been added by proper marketing or by previous experience with that brand creates a positive feedback loop with regards to perception and people are willing to pay more for that reliability.

Unfortunately, both Nike and Lululemon have done damage to their brands in the past and the effects of those faux-pas’ have been seen in the bottom line, and when they’ve been serious enough some C-suite personnel changes have occurred. We saw this in 2012 with “Pantsgate.” However, it seems to me that Lululemon has bounced back from that severe setback. It’s stock price is on the rise, and it has adapted to consumer demands such as manufacturing larger runs of popular items, so customers experience fewer sell-outs immediately after upload.

I just want to say “Thank You” for reading if you made it this far. It’s admittedly difficult for me to be impartial, since I have had such positive experiences with the brand and I very much enjoy Lululemon’s products. In that same vein, if you feel that I’ve missed a reason, either to love or hate Lululemon I would love to hear your opinions in the box below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ulta’s Ultamate Rewards Program Tips & Tricks

When you reach 2,000 points, spend your points 2,000 at at time, this is when they have the greatest per point monetary value. Also: You can redeem -maximum- up to 4,000 points at once in a purchase online.

Wait for 3x and 5x the points offers to make purchases.

Once a year, Ulta has a 10x the points Platinum Member Appreciation Day- it’s at the end of August each year.

Wait until Wednesdays for the best “Gift With Purchase” offers.

Hello everyone!

Let me just start by saying: I LOVE makeup! However, I am all about getting the best deals on the things I love. For example, just check out this post I wrote about getting the best deals on Lululemon!

I WISH Lululemon had a rewards program, but since 2014,  nothing has materialized. I hope to update this post with a retraction, but I digress…

UPDATE: Editing this post to add a photo of the HeyLululemon.com link, since HeyLululemon is being closed down on the 16th of May 2016.

Hey lululemon.png

This post is going to be about how to get the most out of the Ultamate rewards program, how to save money at Ulta and how to get the most out of the money that you do spend. I love their rewards program, as well as the extra savings I’m able to get- and because of this, I almost never shop at Sephora anymore!

If you play your cards right, you can accumulate tons of points at Ulta, and the more points you get- the more money you can save!

UPDATE: FEB 25/ 2016

This post is over 3,000 words long! And although I think the information is valuable throughout, I also think that 3,000 words is too long for one post! So, here are the main points, summarized, for busy people who don’t have time to read this entire post.

When you reach 2,000 points, spend your points 2,000 at at time, this is when they have the greatest per point monetary value.

Wait for 3x and 5x the points offers to make purchases. 

Once a year, Ulta has a 10x the points Platinum Member Appreciation Day- it’s at the end of August each year.

Wait until Wednesdays for the best “Gift With Purchase” offers.

If you want to know the whys behind the points listed above in bold- please read on below!

Steps to getting the most out of Ulta and the Ultamate Rewards Program

First:

Create an Ulta account and sign up!

This enrolls you as a customer, and you can select “sign me up,” to sign up as an Ultamate Rewards member. One benefit of signing up online is that you can collect points in-store as well, and you don’t have to have your card, you only need your phone number.

If you’re not a member of Ulta’s Ultamate rewards, they have a special offer for people like you! If you click this link, or the link just above, you and I will both receive $10 off our next orders! And after you sign up, you will have your own referral link and you can send that to your friends too!

Full disclosure: Ulta doesn’t know who I am, they haven’t paid me to write this post, and anyone can get their own referral link if they want to. I just love Ulta and their rewards program, and I wanted to share my opinions and experience.

Subscribe to emails:

Second:

When you sign up, be sure that the box is checked for “Yes! Please send me emails with current offers,new products and over $250 per year in saving coupons!” This way you can be sure that you’re receiving all your offers. I would also say that it’s likely that these offers are worth way more than just $250 a year, depending on how much you spend.

Take Full Advantage of the Offers You Receive!

Third:

Since you’ve signed up to be an Ultamate rewards member, and you’re now receiving email offers, you’ll want to be sure that you’re leveraging those offers for all they’re worth! There are a few different types of offers to consider, and I will discuss them below.  I also created this excel sheet to show how often I received offers from Ulta from February 19, 2015 until Platinum Appreciation Day, August 24th, 2015.

Ulta Perks

From the same data, I also created this Pivot table, which shows us that the most common day to receive offers is Wednesday, and that the most common requirement was either a $40 or $50 Ulta purchase in order to receive the perk.

Pivot Table of Ulta Offers

Offers Available:

1.) 4-Hours Only Free Gifts, aka “Beauty Breaks”

These are extra gifts usually requiring any $50 purchase on Ulta.com between the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm on the day that you receive the email. One great thing about these is that they can be combined with other offers including 5x the points offers and other GWP offers. Ulta also offers so-called “Extended Beauty Breaks,” that can last up to 12 hours, however, the most common are the ones that are four hours in length.

2.) Earn Extra Points with 2x, 3x, and 5x the Points Offers

In addition to all the other coupons, gift with purchase offers, and other perks, Ulta will often offer double, triple or even quintuple the points on certain items! This is the best way to build up your points balance quickly! Remember, points are as good as money at Ulta so it’s worth doing your best to activate offers and combine them with GWPs to maximize what you get for every dollar spent at Ulta.

Just as an aside, a lot of the time, when I’m offered 3x the points for Platinum members, non-platinum members get a 2x the points offer as well, but since I’m a Platinum member, I’m sure I’m not always seeing every time that regular Ultamate rewards members are receiving double the points offers.

3.) Free Gifts With Purchase

Ulta’s brands are constantly giving away free GWPs. You just have to know where to find them to see them. On Ulta’s website, if you click “sale” on the left hand side of the screen, you have the option of seeing three different types of offers.

The first is “Buy More, Save More,” which is usually filled with their drugstore brands as well as hair care. Every so often they’ll have something that’s rarely on sale listed, so I do like to check it out. One of my favorite hair masks is called “Therapy Session Hair Mask” by Eva NYC. It’s almost always on sale, but a few times a year they’ll have it on BOGO, and that’s when I stock up!

The second is where you’ll find all the brands that are currently offering GWPs. There are currently 40 different ones to choose from, and it’s really fun when I’m able to combine a “Beauty Break” with a free GWP by being careful about which brands I choose.

The last is their “Sale” section. Personally, I don’t find this section to be particularly helpful since, at any one time Ulta is having a “sale” on hundreds of items, and it’s difficult to find any good deals when you’re not able put things in order by “percentage off.” PS: I love doing that on 6pm.com‘s website.

I also keep in mind that some of those “sale” items are almost always on sale, and so they’re not really that great a deal. A lot of retailers do this, because by listing something as “on sale,” and having a ‘regular price’ that’s higher than you expect consumers to pay, you can create perceived value and increase sales. Unfortunately, this practice is common among consumer goods- especially clothing. In the linked article, this line says it best: “So many discounts are priced into the cost of goods these days that it is possible to mark an item down severely and still make money.” This phenomenon is nothing I want to write extensively about right now, but definitely something I keep in mind when making purchases.

4.) Extra Deals

There were also other sales and offers that I didn’t discuss because they were, in my opinion, not the best sales, or not a “surprise,” like the “Beauty Breaks” are. Of note, I did not include any of the ’21-days of Beauty’ deals that change every day when they are being offered. This is mainly because you can just look at the ad that Ulta puts out to see when those deals are offered. Another thing I did not include were periodic invitations to enter contests- I think I only received one or two, and I didn’t feel that they were relevant to this blog post.

Become a Platinum member

Fourth:

Become a Platinum member. In order to achieve “Platinum” status, you must spend $450 in a given calendar year. If you love makeup, like I do, you’re probably already there or you’re spending money at Sephora and DermStore and Urban Decay and other online makeup shops in addition to shopping at Ulta. Since I’ve discovered how good the benefits of shopping at Ulta are, I’ve essentially stopped shopping elsewhere for makeup and skincare. If you check Ulta first for your beauty needs, I’m sure you’ll be Platinum in no time.

There are several reasons to want to become a Platinum member:

1.) Earn more points per dollar spent.

One of the perks of being a Platinum Ultamate Rewards member is that instead of earning only point per dollar spent, you earn 1 *base* point per dollar, plus 0.25 *bonus points*. This distinction between base and bonus points becomes important when calculating the number of points one earns when 2x, 3x, and 5x the points offers are fielded. Namely, the offers apply only to base points and not to bonus points. So, for example, if you activate a 3x the points offer, and spend $100, you’ll earn 325 points (100 base times 3, plus your 25 bonus points for being Platinum), not 375 points (which is what it would be if all points earned were multiplied by three and not just base points). I hope this provides some clarity.

2.) Points don’t expire.

This is essential to saving up your points and then ultimately earning the most number possible. Platinum member’s points don’t expire.

3.) You get a present and a birthday gift during your birthday month! Make sure you let them know your birthday!

4.) You get extra offers. These are called “Platinum Perks,” and you will get plenty of them once you’re Platinum. These will help you maximize your point-earning potential!

Get The Most Bang For Your Buck At Ulta

Fifth:

You’ll want to start getting the most value for the money that you spend at Ulta. Here is a list of some of the ways I get the most value for my makeup dollars, and how I save money by shopping at Ulta.

Save MORE with coupons!

Ulta constantly has a $3.50 coupon, that you can almost always use on your purchase, unless you’re only buying things that literally have a little warning under them that explicitly tells you that coupons don’t apply. Personally, I appreciate that Ulta lists that certain items are not eligible for coupon discounts, because it is transparent and honest. Instead of clicking “check out” and finding out that my item is not eligible for coupon discounts, Ulta tells you up-front. I have experienced this before at other vendors, both in-store and online and I’m sure you have also been disappointed by the lack of transparency in pricing before as well.

Ulta will also often email “20% off of one item” coupons. This is great if there’s a single, but more pricey item that you would like.

Save EVEN MORE with eBates and Shop at Home!

There are so many posts online on how to save money using eBates. It’s not a scam, it’s just an intermediary website that helps direct traffic and purchases to a lot of already very popular online retailers. You literally just get money back from shopping at places you already shop. Shop at Home operates very similarly, and also offers cashback for shopping online, however, I find eBates more convenient since it deposits directly into your PayPal account. I included Shop at Home because, as of this writing, it was offering  4% cash back on Ulta.com, while eBates was offering 3%. However, eBates does sometimes offer double cash back on websites on a regular basis. And I have seen cash back offers from eBates for Ulta purchases of up to 8%.

I am writing this post about Ulta for the same reason I wrote the review of MyFitnessPal Premium: There isn’t a very good post online about how to make the most of your Ulta points. There are a few that explain them, but none that go into detail about how to best accumulate and take advantage of all the offers that Ulta sends online- or how to combine them!

So, in the interest of comprehensive inclusion of all the ways to save on your Ulta purchase, I have included eBates and Shop At Home, which offers a similar discount on Ulta’s website. I also checked every website on this list, and both eBates and Shop at Home offered the highest percentage discounts on Ulta, from what I could tell.

Just FYI: I do use eBates, and the above is a referral link, but I do not use Shop at Home because I don’t like that they send a physical check. I prefer eBates because it deposits the money directly into my PayPal account and doesn’t use such archaic implements.

GET MORE by Combining Offers

Combine Gifts With Purchase To Get More

In addition to the emailed offers documented above, I also received notices when other gift with purchase (GWP) offers were available, but to be honest, I rarely spend the $35 to $50 required to get these smaller GWPs, I usually wait for something more substantive to come around.

For example, Benefit often has a GWP available, usually a little makeup bag or a small sample of a product, but rather than make a purchase that day, if I’m in the market for a Benefit product, I tend to wait until an extra GWP is offered like the “Strivectin 3-piece gift with any $40 Ulta purchase,” that way I get both GWPs from one purchase.

Explaining the Points

As I mentioned above, a major reason why I’m writing this post is to let you know how I accumulate tons of points at Ulta. The following is this writer’s best attempt.

How Earning & Redeeming Works

Ultamate Rewards Schedule.png

I found this great graph online showing how the rewards increase as you earn more points. The redemption trend is not linear and affects how much money you get and this graph shows why you should just save your points rather than spending them. I also found this Reddit  pretty useful.

How I Accumulate Tons of Points

Accumulate 2,000 Points

First:

If you can, get to the top level of Ulta’s reward program. It says “$125” after 2,000 points are earned, but you can continue to earn after that. Once you reach the 2000 point level, I recommend spending your points 2000 points at a time. This is the time at which your points will have the greatest per point monetary value. Once you reach the 2000 level, although you can continue earning points, the monetary value of each point begins to decline. As you can see in the table, the value per point comes up from zero, decline at 2000, and go up again until you hit 4000.

Worth Noting: I currently have 4950 points, and I can redeem up to $286 with them, but when I attempt to check out online, Ulta only allows me to redeem $250 (4,000 points) at a time.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-11-37-44-am

Leverage 2x, 3x, and 5x the Points Offers

Second:

As I mentioned above, keep an eye out for special offers in your inbox! A lot of times Ulta will offer 2x, 3x or 5x the points on certain brands, or just any $50 purchase. Use these opportunities to make planned purchases. I won’t even shop at Ulta unless I’m getting a kickback- and neither should you!

One other thing should be mentioned here: Once a year, Ulta has a 10x the points offer active for one day. Let’s say you make a $100 purchase, you’ll earn 100 points, right? But if you’re Platinum you’ll get 125. In addition, you’ll get 900 more points, because the calculation is always based on the “Base Points” and doesn’t include the bonus points you receive for being Platinum. However, 1025 points is still a tidy sum. And, earning $0.0625 per point, you’ve literally earned $64 on that purchase in points. That’s incredible. In 2013, the 10x the points offer took place on August 26th, 2014 was August 25 and in 2015 it took place on August 24th. I hope that 2016 will also see a Platinum member appreciation day with 10x the points! In the case that there is one, it will be either the 22nd or the 29th of August, if this “Monday, late August” trend holds true.

Caveat: Last year the products that were eligible for 10x the points were somewhat, but not egregiously, limited.

Example of how quickly points add up after you get to 2,000- while leveraging other Ulta offers.

So, for instance, recently, I got to the 2,000 level. That entitles me to $125 off my next purchase. However, since Platinum member points don’t expire, I can earn even more points! Fast forward, having only spent about $60, I’m now at the 2300 point level, and am entitled to $134 off my next order. This is an example of how you can leverage a combination of the bonus points offers, and base-level bonus points.

The $60 I spent was on items during a 5x the points event, which means that I earned enough points to get a discount of over $9. In addition, I received an eBates discount of 4%, or about $2.50, bringing my savings to about $11.50. That’s almost 20%! You can save almost 20% at Ulta and receive other perks every single time just by following the advice given here.

Other ways to earn & save

Use the Ulta Salon for hair services. I recently decided to start searching for a new hairdresser, and the next cut I get will be from Ulta. You can accumulate points there too and they also offer Ulta Salon coupons- especially for new clients. Buyer beware: Not all stylists at the Ulta Salon are equally talented. Be sure to ask which level of stylist they are if you’re concerned about quality. Last time I went there, I just got a (glorious!) deep conditioning treatment, so I wasn’t concerned about skill. However, next time I go it will be for a haircut, so I will definitely inquire.

Remember that Ulta also sells fragrance, skincare and hair tools. Don’t forget to think of Ulta for gifts too! These large, often planned, purchases can add up to a lot of points and savings if you remember to buy when there’s a 5x the points offer or a 20% off coupon!

Disclosure:

I mentioned this above, but the deal at Ulta where we both get $10 is a referral link. I just want to make sure that people know that. Ulta didn’t pay me for this post, and my opinions are my own. Secondly, as I also mentioned above, the eBates link is also a referral link, but again, they don’t know who I am and did not pay me to mention them. Maybe one day they will! Again, these are just my positive experiences that I am happy to share. Also: Anyone can get their own referral links once they sign up for these services.

Just one more thing…

Finally, if you made it to the end of this post, I thank you. Please let me know by commenting below. Did I miss anything? Did I make any mistakes? Please correct me! I’m always very appreciative of your feedback! Lastly, if this has helped you, why not share it with your friends?! 😉 Everyone loves a good deal!

Things I Learned About Living in the South

1. Golf Carts are acceptable forms of transportation. Everywhere. This guy down the street from me uses his to visit friends in our neighbourhood. My university uses theirs to take potential students on tours and to provide transportation to sanitation and gardening crews.

2. Hugs are for everyone. Even that guy you just met. If you choose to shake hands, people will think you don’t like them. I learned this the hard way, and still get made fun of by my friend’s girlfriend for not hugging him when we first met.

3. They test the tornado sirens at the same time every week. I was terrified the first time I heard them. As I thought they were dropping the bomb. I hid in the closet until my husband came home and explained that they ‘test’ the sirens as a cruel joke… er, I mean, to make sure they’ll work in an emergency.

4. Barbecue is a subject of much contention. Where the “best” barbecue is sold is quite contested among Southerners and I’ve learned not to ask in group situations. Much in the same way one does not discuss politics and religion, one does not discuss prefered barbecue venue.

5. Fixin’ to. If you’re “Fixin’ to,” you’re ‘preparing to.’ You can be “Fixin’ to take a bath,” “Fixin’ to go grocery shopping,” “Fixin’ to eat,” etc… You can also be “Fixin’ dinner” but you cannot be “Fixin’ the car.” Also: “Fin” is just short for fixin’, because that needed to be shortened. My husband sometimes says that he is “fin’uh order pizza” and I now speak enough of the Southern dialect to understand and tell him that I would like mushrooms on mine.

6. There are no basements. When I first moved here, I was confused by the near total lack of basements. House tours that came without basement vistas seemed incomplete to me, but were the norm to my Southern friends. So, I Googled “Why don’t Southern homes have basements” and found this genius answer on Quora.


In addition to concerns regarding flooding, the original purpose of building a basement was to lower the foundation below the ground’s frost point to prevent frost heaving. Fascinating.

7. You can’t order traditional tea. If you order tea, you’ll receive an iced, sugary beverage. If you ask people if they serve tea, they’ll ask you whether you prefer sweetened or unsweetened and bring you a dark, chilled drink. You must specifically ask whether or not establishments serve hot tea. If they do, you’re in luck and they will likely raise an eyebrow before bringing you a hot cup of water with a Bigelow tea bag on the side.

8. There are bugs everywhere… sometimes that’s not such a bad thing…



but sometimes it is…

With regards to the pics of the bugs, the first two are from around my yard, and the last one is from near my school. I’m glad the gigantic spider was choosing to live near my school, while the butterfly and ladybug preferred to take up residence near my home.

I hope you enjoyed this list of things I learned after moving to the South. Thanks for reading!