Damsel in Defense, a direct selling company specializing in fashionable personal safety products for women was featured in Pennsylania newspaper The Intelligencer.
The half-dozen women gathered at Got Wine? in Bristol on Saturday weren’t there for the refreshments. They were there for empowerment. That empowerment came in colors like pink, teal and purple — and carried a 7.5-million volt punch.
In front of the group was Dana Ebel, a consultant with Damsel in Defense, a direct seller of personal safety products, such as pepper spray and stun guns, all geared toward women.
“There’s something for everyone,” said Ebel.
For Ebel, being involved in the organization has not only brought financial success, but her own sense of empowerment.
“They have a very powerful mission,” Ebel said.
Founded in 2011 by Bethany Hughes and Mindy Lin to “equip, empower and educate” women, the organization has sold more than $19.5 million worth of products and has nearly 10,000 consultants nationwide.
Direct sales organizations are those that sell directly to consumers, often through in-home parties. There’s often a startup fee to cover product samples (for Damsel, it’s $149), and consultants earn a portion of sales. Participants stand to earn more if they sign up other salespeople under them.
More than 18 million people — three-quarters of them women — were involved in direct sales organizations last year, an 8.3 percent increase over 2013, according to the Direct Selling Association, an industry trade group. The industry generated an estimated $34.5 million in sales, up 5.5 percent.
Ebel, who works as a legal assistant, said she was attracted to direct sales as a way to make extra money to cover a car payment.
At first, she was selling jewelry for a company that’s no longer in business. She was at a vendor show when she learned of Damsel in Defense.
“My table was dead,” she said. From across the room, “I was hearing all this buzzing. The table was packed.”
The buzzing was a stun gun. Ebel held it in her hand, and was hooked.
“I felt so empowered,” she said. She signed on immediately to become a consultant.
Damsel in Defense not only sells pepper spray and stun guns — which are legal in Pennsylvania, but illegal in neighboring New Jersey — but also other safety devices such as personal alarms, a “Junk in the Trunk” car safety kit and a faux hair spray can with a false bottom to store valuables.
Rhonda Wampler drove all the way to Bristol from Chesapeake City, Maryland, on Saturday to check it out.
“I’m not a froufrou girl,” she said. “I like jewelry and makeup, but I don’t like going to those parties. This is something that can save a life, and make a difference.”
That’s the point behind the company, Ebel said: to help women avoid becoming a statistic. She said she often hears from women who share their own stories of victimization — stories that echo assaults she says she suffered as an adolescent.
“I always pushed it to the back of my mind,” she said. “This has been the best therapy for me.”
Along the way, Ebel, 40, has achieved her financial goal. Recently, she got rid of her 1999 Volkswagen Passat in favor of a 2015 Jetta. Her earnings cover her car payments and sometimes even her rent, as well. Today, she’s considered a director, and has 50 people within her organization. The more people, the more she stands to earn.
“Hopefully, as we’re growing, I’d like to make a career of it,” she said. “There’s significant potential, it’s just a matter of working your business.”
Get more information, facts and figures about Damsel in Defense, click here for the Damsel in Defense overview.