Customers loved this Tupperware superstar, until she changed her gender

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Her name is Jennifer Bobbi Suchan, but according to this great story in Narratively by Angelina Chapin she likes to be called Aunt Barbara – at least while she’s selling. She started her Tupperware business in 2006 and by 2008 she was North America’s top personal seller of the popular plastic containers and home devices. She kept this title through 2014. She sold $275,000 of products in one year alone and has done more than 3,000 house parties and fundraisers across Long Island. She’s been featured in many media outlets, including regular appearances on ABC news, and frequently posts YouTube videos to her almost 3,000 subscribers on unique ways to use Tupperware products.

She appears in drag and puts on a show that her customers love. Using an exaggerated Long Island accent, Suchan enthusiastically screams out jokes and in a shrill, Elmo-like voice while encouraging her customers to buy more Tupperware. She likes to call her audience “a group of attractive, alcoholic wives,” and “hot messes” and likes to joke that the products she sells “could mince anything, including margarita ice or crystal meth on the go.” With that act, it’s easy to see why she’s so popular – and such a great salesperson.

Aunt Barbara was born a man named Robert Suchan. Back in April she publicly came out as a trans woman. Transitioning to a female was a major personal step.  Unfortunately, it was bad for business.

Drag queens are hilarious, writes Chapin, but a trans woman in drag? “Too real.”

After the announcement was made, people unfriended her on Facebook. Clients cancelled without explanation. Her nightly Tupperware parties are now down to a handful a week. Her father broke off relations, even though he once bragged about her business accomplishments. Suchan has been forced to take a day job to supplement her declining Tupperware income and help pay for her future sex-change procedure. Sadly, Tupperware will next month take away her company car as she’s been falling below her sales quota.

Sometimes doing what’s right for oneself may not be what’s right for one’s business.  That’s a difficult choice some are forced to make. The brave ones, like Suchan, understand that there’s more to personal happiness than just selling a lot of Tupperware.

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