Mom Turns $90 Investment into Six-Figure Salary: Non-Cooking Housewife Cashes in Big Time at Culinary House Parties

The concept is very simple, explains the Merrick, N.Y. woman during a recent phone interview. In 1996, she was invited to a home-based party where a cooking demonstration took place.

This event featured culinary equipment and gadgets offered exclusively by Chicago-based company Pampered Chef. Conducting the demonstration was a consultant who showed guests how to use each item in the simple preparation of focaccia bread. At show’s end, guests looked over the array of gadgets, ordering those they wanted. “I got so inspired with everything I saw,” recalls Lerner, “and wanted everything right then and there.”

Making Money at Home Parties

The hostess who threw the party earned $100 to $200 in free and discounted merchandise. The consultant running the demonstration made a commission on all the products sold. Curious about the money-making end, Lerner found out that consultants could get even more by signing up and training others, thus collecting a percentage of their sales. “I said ‘Sign me up,'” notes Lerner.

This process involved ordering a starter kit, then costing $90 and containing about $300 worth of merchandise. (The kit now costs $155, offering $500 in merchandise. By following specified company rules, consultants can acquire additional products at no cost to them for use in demonstrations.)

Housewife Turns Culinary Entrepreneur

Lerner called everyone she knew to inform them of her new venture. She asked them to book a show at their home within the next four weeks. Everyone agreed, and she was ready to take the next step. “Basically it was about learning how to make a recipe and playing with the products,” she says. “I knew I was going to fly with this because it looked so simple, and the recipes were so simple.” Subsequently, two friends hosting shows at their homes become consultants too. That meant Lerner would earn commissions not only from home shows she ran but also from products sold at their shows.

“I didn’t even know what I was doing, I was just beginning,” she adds. Her training included watching a few video tapes and guidance from the woman who signed her up. Running two shows weekly as a consultant in people’s homes, she started off earning $100 to $200 per event. Within a year, Lerner was making $2,000 per month. Now, 14 years later, she earns “way over” $100,000. It’s all about team building, says the culinary entrepreneur, who started with 15 consultants the first year and presently has 500 on her team.

And, of course, since entering the business, the non-cook has become quite the chef. Lerner’s repertoire at home parties includes the preparation of simple appetizers, pasta, pizza, vegetables, chicken and desserts. “With the economy the way it is, people aren’t eating out as much as they used to,” she says. “They love learning budget-friendly recipes, and I love teaching them.”

Secrets to Successful Selling in this Self-Motivational Business

Food makes everyone happy, she adds, noting that’s why her job doesn’t feel like employment. “I’m still out of my mind excited.” Her keys to success?

  • Love what you’re doing; you won’t feel like you’re working a day in your life. Smile and have fun with this.
  • Be consistent in booking two shows a week or 10 shows a month. If cancellations occur (typically there are two monthly), you’ll still be doing 8 shows a month.
  • Reschedule cancellations as quickly as possible.
  • Treat your customers well, and you’re sure to get repeat business.
  • Look for untapped opportunities to sign up consultants: For example, fund-raising events such as temple and church holiday boutiques; stay-at-home moms who can work this business into their schedule; or new brides who want to learn how to cook, need culinary gadgets and can use the extra cash. (Lerner rents a booth at bridal expos. “You meet them all in all shot,” she says.)

One of this job’s best features? “It’s really a part-time job,” notes Lerner, “with full-time pay.”