BELDING — For Mike Bazzle and his wife and business partner, Amy Jo, there’s no place like home, particularly when it comes to work. For the past 11 years, the Belding couple has managed their own direct sales business from home, allowing them the flexibility to set their own hours and spend more time with their four young children.
As distributors of Premier Designs jewelry, the Bazzles have managed to carve out full-time careers while maintaining their independence from the time clock. They are so happy with their success that, in fact, Mike recently went to Washington to share his story with local members of Congress.
The trip was sponsored by the Direct Sellers Association (DSA), of which Premier Designs is a member. The visit, according to Mike, was not intended to push any particular agenda or influence votes.
“I just went in and told them I’m not here to complain or anything,” Bazzle said. “I just want to build a relationship so you know the importance of direct sales not only to individuals, but to our state. I’m just one of millions of people that represent the DSA nationwide.”
Last year, there were 546,000 independent contractors in the state of Michigan alone, generating $926 million in sales.
“It’s a huge industry for our state,” Bazzle said. “The sales tax alone is a huge benefit for Michigan.”
Though Bazzle originally hoped to meet with senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Representative Justin Amash, R-Cascade, Washington being what it is, he met with their senior aides instead. Bazzle’s enthusiasm, however, remained undiminished.
This is the first time, he said, that the DSA has brought in independent contractors to simply “knock on the doors” of legislators in an effort to promote the direct sales industry.
More than 80 direct selling reps from across the nation took part in the initiative, according to DSA representative Amy Robinson.
“The participants came from every corner of the country — from Florida to California — to tell their representatives how direct selling has given them access to flexible, entrepreneurial opportunities that enable them to set and achieve a variety of personal goals,” Robinson said.
“These direct sellers want their elected officials to know how their small businesses have helped them create a better life for themselves and their families,” said DSA President Joseph Mariano. “With sales increasing year over year since 2009, direct selling has remained strong even in the face of an uncertain economic climate.”
Bazzle admits there was a certain Capra-esque, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” quality to the trip. Before this, Bazzle said, he — like many Americans — felt disconnected from life in the capital and skeptical that legislators were paying much attention to the average voter.
“It was an amazing experience,” Bazzle said. “I’m just a a country boy from Ohio, but it was very rewarding to see the democratic process in action and realize we really do have a voice.”
More information about the Bazzles’ business is available online at amyjobazzle.mypremierdesigns.com.