MLM Company: Mary Kay Cosmetics, since 1963
You know the company. You know the name. You or your significant other has most likely attended a Mary Kay beauty party and you've probably even gotten a glimpse of one of the Mary Kay signature cars -- a pink Cadillac awarded to the top consultants in the United States.
But what you may not know is how this direct marketing company has lasted so long, and even made millionaires out of so many, leaving many folks to reconsider their views that Mary Kay is only for older grandmother-types. And even though it may not be for everyone, Mary Kay Cosmetics does offer a good business option if you are into beauty products, socializing, and organizing your own schedule.
"I got into this business by accident. I didn't really think you could make any money doing this, so I started small with the initial investment of $100 and earned the use of my first career car within one year," says Leslie Kane, a Reston, Va.-based Mary Kay independent beauty consultant who has been in the business for 16 years.
Kane had just graduated with a master's in business from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and secured a full-time job as a financial analyst, when she first began selling Mary Kay products on the side as a fun outlet for earning some extra money. Selling Mary Kay Cosmetics "was not something I thought out," she says. "I just liked the products and was looking for something extra. I thought I would be in corporate America forever."
Kane's initial investment was a mere $100, which remains the same to this day. For that $100, Kane received: $300 worth of sample products, mirrors, demos, trays, brushes, training materials, catalogs, and a guide for new consultants about how to host parties.
After five years as a full-time financial analyst and moonlighting as a part-time Mary Kay consultant, Kane left corporate America and the world of finance to build her Mary Kay business full-time. Kane found she could make a decent living through Mary Kay, and that the personal growth that came from her business far outweighed the high-stress life of finance and cubicles.
Kane is currently an independent sales director for the company, which means that she trains other Mary Kay beauty consultants about 50 percent of the time, and spends the rest of her time selling the products to her own customers. In order to be a sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics, you need to personally recruit 10 other beauty consultants and then have those 10 members grow to a team of 24 people.
There are no territories with this company, so Kane can sell to customers anywhere, anytime and she can recruit other consultants from anywhere, which means she can even find new customers while she's on vacation. She can also work as much or as little as she wants. Because of this, Mary Kay is popular with stay-at-home-mothers and the semi-retired.
To become a Mary Kay independent beauty consultant you must be recruited by another consultant. You cannot apply for this position through Mary Kay's corporate offices, because each beauty consultant is an independent contractor who runs her own business.
Mary Kay Cosmetics are not sold in any retail stores or outlets. " We sell our products and teach people how to apply them properly in personal settings, like people's homes, so that people do not feel embarrassed going to the mall for this kind of help," Kane says. "You can also order products online through my website. Everything is guaranteed and backed by the Mary Kay stamp of approval so you won't ever lose money, and I won't lose money if you want to return an item," she adds.
Pros and cons
"My favorite thing is that I am my own boss and I have flexibility," Kane says. "My favorite thing about Mary Kay Cosmetics as a company is that I can help other women be successful. There is no glass ceiling with Mary Kay Cosmetics; there is always another level to reach."
Kane does admit that there can be a learning curve. She also says, "I think the hardest thing is that you work with people and people have lives and things happen. I have to overbook my schedule to keep my appointment list full, because things will always arise that you cannot control."
According to Kane, working for yourself takes discipline and some getting used to, but it also has some great benefits. She still has plenty of time to do volunteer work for her community and church and teach water aerobics each week. She believes that running her own Mary Kay Cosmetics business for the past 16 years has taught her to manage her time wisely. "Being a Mary Kay Consultant made me efficient, because I didn't want to miss out on my other activities -- so I always stayed focused and on task."
Kane has just been awarded the use of her eighth car -- her fourth pink Cadillac. Sixteen years ago, Kane was just looking to pass the time and have a little fun, and she grew her love of helping other women feel good about themselves into a successful business.
"If it seems appealing then give it a try," Kane advises. "It's a great plan B. I was not a makeup girl, I was just bored and looking for something new to do. I didn't have any great plans; but I can say without a doubt that [selling Mary Kay Cosmetics] has changed my life and this is what I will always do."
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