How one local resident turned an acting career into a six-figure career in direct sales.
Ohio native Kevin Farrell, a Miami University graduate, was building a serious acting career in Los Angeles when he stumbled onto a drag character that changed his life. Farrell became the top-selling Tupperware representative in the United States and Canada after he created Dee W. Ieye and launched a big career as a Tupperware drag queen.
Prior to building his Tupperware business, Farrell's acting credits included spots on Frasier (he's a David Hyde Pierce look-alike), Friends, Boston Legal and others. He and his husband returned to Central Ohio in 2012, and today they reside in the Powell area.
In a nutshell, can you describe your Tupperware business model?
I'm not sure I have a business model. What I have found is that when you are entertaining and making people laugh and having a good time, they buy a great product. It also helps that I know my products inside and out. So knowing features, uses and benefits is very important in sales.
How did your acting experience integrate with home parties?
I found that being a good actor helped me create Dee W. Ieye. And also, my experience with doing so many shows live onstage as Kevin, the actor, gave me the ability to command an audience, project my voice and have stage presence.
Tell us about the moment that Dee was born.
I created her for a fundraiser in Los Angeles called Best in Drag Show in 2004. She competed in a live beauty pageant. I came in second runner-up. And I was never going to be her again—until a friend of mine convinced me to sell Tupperware as Dee.
I've read that it bothers you when people show up at a Tupperware party and then they don't buy anything. What would you like to say to those people?
[Laughing] Well, what do I want to say? What can you put in print? My feeling is I have just entertained you for 45 minutes. I am actually doing a show. It is way more than a Tupperware party. It takes me great effort to be Dee and travel and set up to do my show. People do not realize that. When you are placing an order—it's a way of saying, “Thank you, I had a lovely evening.” I can't be in business to entertain people for free. I don't think people realize Tupperware does not pay me to come to your house and entertain your friends.
Why Tupperware? Did you consider selling other things, such as Longaberger baskets?
Nope, just Tupperware. And now I have been approached by almost every direct-selling company to sell their products. I really only desire to sell Tupperware.
What type of Tupperware would surprise those of us who need the refresher course?
Most people do not know we are more than bowls. We have great cooking systems—great cookware, knives and meal-prep options. [We sell] solutions to make your life more simple.
What containers do parents need for kids' lunches in today's world?
We have great water bottles. We are a completely BPA-free company, by the way, and eco-friendly. That is good to know. My goal is to get people away from disposable baggies and into our product that you will have forever. Reuse. We have a lifetime guarantee not to crack, chip, peel. So that is a good thing. We also have lunch bags with product inserts and kids' travel meal systems.
What is your favorite Tupperware product?
I love our Tupperware Smart Steamer for steam cooking in the microwave. It's revolutionary, because the microwaves do not touch your food. It only boils the water that then steams your food. I also like our Fridgesmart containers that keep your fresh fruits and veggies fresher longer with a patented venting system.
You've mentioned that, due to your own success, you're now training new Tupperware sales people. Who are these people?
Mostly individuals who know me from being Dee and from hosting cooking demos as Kevin. Once I moved back to Ohio from Los Angeles, I started doing Tupperware cooking demos as Chef Kevin. I do recipes with our products. I love doing these demos. [They are] easier on me, for one thing, but when I step out from under the wig, I am more relatable. I meet people who want to take the Tupperware opportunity to make money for their families, either full-time or part-time. Plus we have a great deal on products, as consultants. I have more than tripled the number of people I am helping to make a great income from Tupperware since just a year ago.
Are there other sales people who dress ?as characters?
There are. A few are on my team. Only three to four of us actually are top sellers. I have to say, however, being good in sales in drag is more than putting a wig on your head. I attribute my success to my acting abilities and that Dee is a larger-than-life character. She's not trying to be a girl. My husband, Geoff, and I affectionately call her a clown. And Dee has a big heart. She likes people—and she's kind. I talk as though she is a real person, because she is. Kevin goes away when Dee comes out to play.
Are you still the top-selling Tupperware salesperson?
I am still in the top 10, sometimes the top five. Since I moved back to Ohio, my focus changed a bit. I need to be available as Kevin to help the new people selling on my team. It's pulled me away from my own, personal sales. And I am hired more as Dee now, the celebrity Tupperware drag queen, to emcee fundraisers and charity events and perform at private parties, etc. Those events, I get paid for as an entertainer. I am not selling Tupperware at these events. And that is easier on me—I don't have to count on the sales at a party and I don't have to drag all the Tupperware with me. I just show up and entertain.
What year did you first achieve that top-selling honor?
I was No. 1 in personal retail sales in Tupperware USA and Canada, from 2007 to 2010. My success as Dee—the No. 1 Tupperware lady—has opened so many doors to me outside Tupperware. I have a book, “Confessions of a Tupperware Drag Queen,” and I was also contacted by ABC to be on the revival of the game show To Tell The Truth. I am extremely amazed that putting a wig on my head has completely changed my life. A successful acting career, not as I had originally envisioned, but [this career] has supplied me with everything I had set out to achieve.