THRIVE Life: Is it a pyramid scheme, MLM or something else?

All the Facts…

Like I mentioned on facebook last week, I often avoid posting or writing in detail about the business opportunity associated with THRIVE Life (formerly Shelf Reliance).  Yes, I’ve mentioned it occasionally (you can read about it here: Is becoming a THRIVE Life Consultant Right For You?), and I always let you know when there is a discount on starter kits (like this current deal), but to be honest, I shy away from the topic.  My reason is that I don’t want anyone to feel pressured into selling anything.

But I had a conversation recently that changed my view a bit.  I realized that by not giving you all the facts, I was taking away your opportunity to make a sound decision for yourself.  This business opportunity has changed my life.  It has made me more self-reliant, “prosperous” and better able to be charitable.  It may be able to do the same for you, but only you should decide that after you have all the facts, not me.  So, over the next month or two, I will be writing out answers to commonly asked questions that people have about becoming a THRIVE Life consultant (meaning selling THRIVE Life products).  I hope you consider if this opportunity might be right for you and find these posts helpful.  Please leave any questions you have in the comments!

Today I’d like to answer two of the most common questions I get about becoming a consultant:



Question #1: Is THRIVE Life (formerly Shelf Reliance) a Pyramid Scheme?

Simple Answer: 

No.  Not At All.  Absolutely Not.

More Detailed Answer:

A pyramid scheme by definition does not reward its distributors for selling product, but instead rewards them for recruiting others into the pyramid of distributors.  In most cases there is no real product being sold at all.  If they do have a product, it is typically sub-par and / or it is only sold to those within the pyramid, not the general public.  In other words, there is a “fee” that you must pay to “join” before you can purchase the product (if there is a product at all).  This fee is typically quite substantial.

So, if you were to join a pyramid scheme, you are not rewarded for selling product, but are instead rewarded for getting others to “join” the selling pyramid.  Once people realize that the promises of a great product are untrue, they quit.  There is no sustainability in a pyramid scheme and they are absolutely illegal.

THRIVE Life has hundreds of high quality products that their consultants sell to the general public.  In fact, the vast majority of those who purchase THRIVE Life products are not consultants.  This one fact alone means they are absolutely not a pyramid scheme.

So that question is very simple to answer.  The next one is a bit more complicated.


Question #2: Is THRIVE Life (formerly Shelf Reliance) an MLM?


Simple Answer: 

Yes, but not a typical one.

More Detailed Answer:

To give you a complete answer to this question, I’d like to take you through the process I went through when becoming a consultant.  But first, you need to know what an MLM is!

What is an MLM?

MLM stands for “Multi-Level-Marketing.”  Basically if you are a distributor / consultant for a MLM company, you are rewarded for (1) selling product AND (2) for recruiting others to sell the product.  The compensation you earn from your “team,” or “downline” (those you recruit to sell the product with you) can come in two forms.  Some MLMs reward you in both ways, while others only reward you in one way or the other.  The two ways are:  (1) A reward simply for having a certain number of people on your team or (2) a percentage of the product your team sells.

My Background

When I first learned of THRIVE Life in July 2010 (it was actually called Shelf Reliance then), I was very interested in their THRIVE food, but had NO interest in becoming a consultant.  My reason?  I had a fear of all Multi-level-marketing companies (aka MLMs).  Before attending law school, my husband had worked for a different MLM for nearly 8 years.  He did not sell their products as an independent consultant / distributor.  He actually worked for the company.  His job was to monitor all the independent distributors in the United States and parts of Asia to make sure they were selling the products legally and according to company policy.  He saw first hand how very difficult it can be to become successful in an MLM. I also had friends who were distributors for various MLMs and I watched them struggle with their businesses.

For those two reasons, there were a LOT of things that concerned me about joining an MLM.  In fact, it took me nearly 4 months to decide to join THRIVE Life as my husband and I worked through our concerns.  I’d like to take a minute to share with you the concerns I had (and the answers I found).


Before I list out all my concerns about MLMs, I’d like to insert a little disclaimer.  There are many, many good and legitimate companies out there that market their products through some sort of MLM plan.  For various reasons, none of those companies worked for me in my life and circumstances and with my personality.  But that does not mean that they haven’t or can’t work for others.  Some of my concerns may not bother you and that is okay.  I simply want to tell my story and why this particular opportunity worked best for me!

Now, on to my concerns / answers.  Each one is rather long, so rather than put them ALL in this post, I will just link to each one individually and you can click on those that you are wondering about:


Eventually, (over about 4 months), I resolved all my concerns.  I realized that THRIVE Life (Shelf Reliance) was not a typical MLM.  None of the concerns I had about MLMs were an issue with THRIVE Life.  I decided it was “safe” to join.  But I was still cautious.  I was really only hoping to earn $50-$100 in free product each month.  I didn’t even worry about “building a team” at first.  But things went really well.  I held 3 parties in my first week and a half as a consultant and completely paid for the cost of my starter kit and my THRIVE Q.  I used the food I got in my Q for samples at my next parties.  Within about 6 months, I still hadn’t added anyone to my “team,” but I made around $800 from just my own personal sales.  And I had 4 kids ages 0-3 so I didn’t have an enormous amount of time to invest.  It was at that point (about 6 months in) that I truly became converted that this was a “work from home” opportunity that would really work for me. 


Check back soon for a post that answers the following questions:

  • How much can I make as a THRIVE Life consultant and how long will it take?
  • How much time should I expect to invest in my business in order to be successful?

More Questions?

Your concerns about pyramid schemes and MLMs may be different than mine, or you may have a question I’ve not addressed here.  Leave me a comment and I will get back to you asap!







    It’s Your Turn:

    What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and encourage you to share your experience and insights in the comments box below.


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  1. Eric says:

    Pyramid scheme: You sign up other members and make a commission off their sales. That is a pyramid scheme. MLM no matter how you spin it is a pyramid scheme. There is nothing wrong with that but don’t mislead yourself or others into thinking there is a difference.

    • Misty says:

      I guess that all depends on your definition of “pyramid scheme.” The legal definition is one where eventually the beneficiaries outgrown the contributors so there is no opportunity for long term success and is completely illegal. I am trying to clarify that Thrive Life does NOT fall into that category at all. But if you go by your definition of signing up others and making commission on what they sell, then yes, it is.

  2. Maria Works says:

    I’ve been trying to find out what’s in Thrive for medical reasons. I’ve been asked to try it and recommend it. I can’t do that without first knowing what’s in the product. I, and many of my friends, have medical conditions that make it imperative to know what it is we are taking. Either because of the conditions themselves or because of possible interactions with meds we may take. I’ve been to the Le-Vel site several times and also did a search on the internet and I can’t find info anywhere about what’s in it, other than the generic list of “Vitamins, Minerals, Plant Extracts, Anti-Oxidants, Enzymes, Pro-Biotics, and Amino Acids”. That is not enough information to make an informed choice. Please, can you direct me in the right direction?

    • Carla says:

      Maria did you find this information? If not I have the ingredient list for all products. Let me know if you would like it.

      • Misty says:

        Thanks Carla! I appreciate your help!

        • Carla says:

          No problem! Send me your email and I will send it to you….they are pdf documents and it won’t let me attach them here. :)

          • Misty says:

            Sorry Carla. That was me (Misty) saying thanks, not Maria. I actually did email her a link to the price list when she first commented, but never heard back. I just wanted you to know I appreciate you reaching out to my readers and helping me out!

    • Kim says:

      Misty and Carla, Maria is confusing this with Thrive by Le-Vel, they do supplements. Maria if you’re receiving the replies via email, this is a completely different company and product. It’s THRIVE Foods and consists of freeze-dried food and emergency preparedness items. To be honest I’m starting to hate the name because of all the products, books, companies named Thrive.

    • Kim says:

      p.s. Misty this is a great article, I enjoyed your perspective!

  3. John Wesley Smith says:

    Thanks for doing this series. Your answers are clear and helpful.
    I’ve been in MLM’s in the past, but only to buy product at a discount. Even then, product is usually too high priced. I also dislike the emphasis on recruiting others. Sure, some may buy product or even become distributors, but the numbers game puts me off. Plus, it always rubbed me the wrong way when conference calls were heavily promoted, and they often featured somebody who’d just come back from a Hawaiian vacation, seemingly to flaunt the possibilities for success.

  4. Francesca says:

    Very well stated! Thank you for explaining in a way that we can all understand.