Despite what Google may tell you, Cabi is an MLM company that focuses heavily on fashion and style. As such, the main products on offer are clothing, although the company does also sells some jewelry and accessories.
They're not the only MLM company in this field, but the company is unusual in that it has a strong focus on product quality. I don't just mean that they make decent clothing. Cabi ends up being a somewhat exclusive company, where only some people will be able (and willing) to pay the prices on a regular basis.
The emphasis on exclusivity isn't necessarily a bad thing. It does help Cabi to stand out from other online clothing companies. Cabi even has an edge against physical clothing stores, as their consultants (called Stylists) provide customers with style advice and support.
There is also a natural market for the pieces for Cabi. Many of the items would be ideal in a business environment and the prices could be suitable for such customers as well. Still, while the potential to make sales exists, Cabi also creates significant challenges for stylists. It's a company that's worth carefully looking at before you get involved.
Cabi also has the unfortunate luck of being sometimes confused with the UK’s Center for Biosciences and Agriculture International, which has the initials CABI. Needless to say, despite the similarities in names, there is no connection between the two organizations.
Two Ways To Make Money With Cabi
Cabi is an unusual MLM in many ways, but it does still follow some standard MLM approaches. In particular, Cabi Stylists earn by selling the clothing pieces. There is also a team aspect, where you build a downline and make money from their progress.
There ends up being a greater emphasis on product sales and less on team building than normal, as Cabi is selective about their Stylists. This aspect could be good or bad, depending on your perspective.
Regardless, in this post, I'm taking a look at both ways that you can earn through Cabi, along with whether the company is realistic as a means to earn money.
Cabi has a relatively small collection compared to a physical store. The product selection seems especially tiny as we are considering clothing because people vary so much in what clothing they like and what they are looking for.
However, the company does seem to be going for the concept of being somewhat exclusive, so the relatively limited selection does make sense when you look at it that way. The company does also releases two different collections each year, which offers some variety.
That pattern is also likely to affect how easy it is to make sales.
In particular, it would probably be fairly easy to promote the products when a new collection comes out, especially as current customers would be anticipating the new pieces. In contrast, it would be harder to make sales in the months between collections, especially as some people would choose to save their money for the next collection.
The clothing includes some fairly basic and conventional items, along with others that are a bit more interesting.
There aren't many particularly stunning pieces, but this may be entirely intentional. There seems to be a focus on items that are reliable and versatile. As such, the clothing pieces could be worn in various ways with different outfits.
The clothing prices wouldn't be out of place in an upmarket clothing store and some customers would be willing to pay the prices. Plus, Cabi's approach means that customers are seeing the products before purchase, so they're not buying the items blindly.
Even so, the prices are higher than most other clothing MLMs or online clothing stores. This could be a problem. After all, people have different associations when visiting a physical store, versus buying clothing from an MLM distributor.
From simply looking at the products online, there is little way to get a sense of their quality. Even so, some online comments and reviews suggest that the quality isn't as good as it should be (especially in recent years).
The Products and Sales
Selling clothing is an ambitious goal for any MLM company, which is probably why you don’t see it done all that often. Perhaps the biggest challenge of this approach is that clothing tends to look different from one person to the next. Because of this, people tend to like trying on clothing. That approach simply isn’t realistic with the direct marketing structure.
Cabi tries to get around this by requiring Stylists to purchase a collection from the company every season. This contains all of the clothing and jewelry from the current release. One ex-stylist mentions that most of the pieces come in medium. This makes the most sense, as it means that most potential customers could at least get a sense of how a piece would look on them.
Even so, the approach means that many people will be trying on clothing that doesn't quite fit them. This isn't a great strategy for sales.
You may have extra costs as well if the clothing from the collection doesn't fit you. While you don't technically need to wear the clothing yourself, doing so would be an important way to get people interested in the items.
Thankfully, Stylists don't need to purchase the items for customers themselves. Instead, customers make orders through the Stylist, who can earn from 20% to 33% from sales.
The 20% rate applies until the Stylist hits their monthly sales goal. After that, the rate increases to 25%. The monthly sales goal is $2,500 in your first season and $3,500 from then on (which could be tough to hit).
There is an additional 8% available as a bonus if you (and your direct recruits) can hit $24,000 in sales in a month. That's an even more difficult target. Most stylists probably wouldn't meet the goal early on in their Cabi career.
Selling Through Parties
Cabi strongly encourages sales through parties and Stylists are meant to book many of them throughout the season. There is a strong emphasis on booking these far ahead of time, using an accountability program that the company promotes.
This approach can be frustrating if your life isn't predictable. It's also a bit frustrating, as flexibility is often one of the reasons that people get involved in direct marketing. As previous Stylists have found, the people hosting your shows may not want to commit either.
Parties tend to require a considerable investment of time and energy. There can be costs involved too, especially if you end up providing snacks. There's also no guarantee that you'll even make sales from an event.
These factors add extra complexities to the idea of earning through Cabi. They're not impossible to surmount, but any challenge is worth seriously considering.
Cabi has a simplified approach to team building. You don't need to develop a very complex team or follow a specific structure.
Based on the information that the company provides, it doesn’t look like there is a rank-based structure where your bonuses increase in ranks. Instead, the bonuses seem to simply be tied into your team. To me, this is a nice change. MLMs tend to have a complex commission plan that is hard to understand and follow.
Here, the commission plan is simpler and there seem to be just the two main sales requirements. That makes it easier for people to understand what they are supposed to be doing and to get ahead.
In particular, you get a 25% commission if you sell $2,500/$3,500 per month of product. You also get the 8% bonus commission for hitting the $24,000 sales target. Honestly, that’s a huge amount of sales to try and make consistently. Yet, if you want to be successful in the company, that’s precisely what you have to do.
The full breakdown of bonuses can be seen in the table below.
Costs and Requirements with Cabi
Most of the time, MLMs seem to place a huge amount of emphasis on the money-making side of their venture and much less on the actual products. Cabi is an exception to this rule and the company instead has a strong focus on the products. This is appealing, to some degree, but it also comes with its issues.
One of the biggest is that representatives have to buy inventory at the beginning of the season, which costs $2,570 (plus shipping and tax). Stylists make a profit if they sell that product but if they don’t, they can end up majorly out of pocket.
Former Cabi members mention that there are other costs too, such as attending conferences and buying extra clothing during the season. These all add up. You would have to consistently sell a large amount of clothing just to break even, let alone turn a profit.
Beyond all this, distributors also have to agree that they won’t sell products on sites like eBay or Amazon – although the products do still turn up on there, like these:
The point of these various restrictions seems to be to get marketers who are passionate about Cabi and about fashion.
That sounds like a great concept in some senses but it also makes the process of making money that much more difficult. Realistically, making money with an MLM isn’t easy at the best of times. The model means that people have to focus on both sales and recruitment, and each of those tasks comes with its own considerable challenges.
One outcome of this is that Cabi has a higher retention rate than most other MLMs, simply because people don’t get involved unless they really are serious about the company. Likewise, the company is one of the few MLMs that is actually doing well in the current market (according to my research for this article).
The heavy restrictions that Cabi places on distributors also serve to keep distributor numbers down. This may mean there are less competition and more chance to make sales.
Even with this, the potential to make money with Cabi is lower than it might seem. After all, you have to pay a lot of money to get started and stay active in the company. Imagine trying to convince someone else to spend that type of money, especially if you're not turning a large profit yourself.
At the same time, you are selling clothing through a direct marketing structure. Your business is battling on three fronts: A new way to buy clothing, an unfamiliar brand, and the need to have a large network of friends to make sales.
Personally, I would recommend taking a step back and looking at whether you have the connections to start making sales. After all, this company involves considerable investment and it’s certainly not a decision to rush into.