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

This post is about THRIVE LIFE, not Thrive Le-Vel.  I know nothing about Thrive Le-Vel.

Thrive Life is a company that sells high quality food storage and emergency supplies.


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 made me more self-reliant, and 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.    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:

Pyramid schemes are illegal.

A pyramid scheme (by the legal definition) does not reward its distributors for selling product, but instead rewards them for recruiting others into the pyramid of distributors.  In many 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: 


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 (or at least what I thought of as a)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!






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

  1. Art August 13, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    I’m interested in what you have to say but why not put your letters in BLACK for easier reading? They are so light in color and small. For my reading some of your paragraphs I needed to copy them and paste into MS Word, and enlarge them and make them in BLACK for easier reading.

    • Misty August 13, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

      Art, I already responded to this once below.

  2. Art July 15, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    PLEASE put your type in black, bolder type so I can read it without having to ruin my eyes. What I must do is to copy your info onto Word, enlarge it and give it a bolder black in order to read it. Why do you put your type in such small, faded, hard-to-read type? I am not trying to be a complainer but it’s irritating to try and read your info.

    And, by the way, I am a valid prospect. Thank you.

    • Misty July 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

      I’m so sorry for your trouble Art. In five years I’ve never had anyone else mention having an issue. The text is very dark grey (one step away from black) so as to be more inviting and less “in yoru face) and the font is 16 pt. You should be able to adjust the color settings on your screen and use cntrl + to make the text bigger!

      • Cedric August 24, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

        Not on mobile!

        • Misty August 24, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

          Working on getting mobile friendly Cedric. It is a bit of time and $$ commitment, but I’m working on it!

  3. Ryan June 9, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    Wow, nice sales pitch. Interesting approach. Good way to try and obtain trust in the consumer. This is still a pyramid schemez in my book. Ive been involved with MANY of these companies, they’re all the same. Love how you say this product is unlike any other MLM product thus not making it just another ‘pyramid scheme’, then pretty much avoid talking about the product, lol. I’ve known a few guys on a corporate level for these comoanies. Even for companies with GREAT PRODUCT, like Cutco knives, and let me tell you, they ALL say the same exact thing. These companies make almost ALL their money off their ’employees” friends and family.

    Just be sure to make an informed decision before you get into any of this. Especially supplements. Everyone and their brother in wants in the supplement business because there are so many gullible people out there that are VERY easy to take advantage of. Good luck!

    • Misty June 13, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

      Thanks for your 2 cents Ryan. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. A few things though. This particular post doesn’t talk about the product, no. That is b/c it is answer a question I was asked. However, if you look around my website. 95% (or more) of the posts / pages that talk about Thrive talk about the food, not the business opportunity. I sell 10-20x in product volume what I do in “new consultant starter kits.” I like it that way! This type of business (MLM) isn’t for everyone. By the legal definition, this is not a pyramid scheme though I understand that many simply think MLM = pyramid scheme period. That is up to how you define it. I’m using the legal definition here. Also, I personally know the owners of this particular company very well and I can tell you that they are far from rich. They invest nearly everything they earn back into the company, consultants and employees. One still lives in a small townhome with his 5 kids. They aren’t out to get rich, but truly to help people. Also, Thrive Life doesn’t sell any supplements at all. They sell food and emergency supplies. That’s it. Nothing fishy. No crazy claims. You may have been thinking about Thrive Le-vel. Have a great weekend!

  4. Eric March 25, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

    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 March 26, 2015 at 10:46 am #

      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.

      • Joseph February 10, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

        Corporate America is a pyramid scheme. Network Marketing is taught in business schools across the country including Ivy League colleges as a viable business model. Normally those who say its a scheme are the ones who wanted a free ticket to riches and glory but didn’t want to do the work to build the business, just like any other regular business. People network market all the time without getting paid a dime for it.

    • Ryan June 9, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

      I agree with Eric. What does that even mean? The guy at the top outgrows the people working for him/her????? That’s a shady definition, sorry.

      • Misty June 13, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

        Sorry, I could have been clearer. What I mean is that there are more people trying to sell than there are wanting to purchase. There isn’t a real product so you can’t build a customer base. It is based on lies. It collapses. In the case of Thrive Life, that isn’t possible b/c of the way it is structured. There is a real (very high quality product) and the vast majority of sales to the public are simply to customers. No on HAS to become a consultant to get the lowest price.

  5. Maria Works February 25, 2014 at 12:24 am #

    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 August 18, 2014 at 4:42 am #

      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 August 18, 2014 at 9:13 am #

        Thanks Carla! I appreciate your help!

        • Carla August 19, 2014 at 4:37 am #

          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 August 19, 2014 at 8:41 am #

            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 September 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      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 September 1, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

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

      • Misty September 1, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

        Thanks Kim!

  6. John Wesley Smith July 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    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.

    • Misty January 26, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

      Kim, I agree with what you have said about Direct sales in general. However, this is a post about Thrive Life, not Thrive Le-Vel.

  7. Francesca July 10, 2013 at 8:05 am #

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