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Dallas Morning News: “Mary Kay … 200,000, or 10%, Increase In Sales Force”

August 5, 2009

Have some more.  I include these stories about other companies because we offer identical benefits as they do to independent reps, especially in bad economic times.  Red highlights are mine.

In economic slump, Mary Kay reps stick by lipstick

12:10 AM CDT on Saturday, July 18, 2009

By JOHN COLEMAN / The Dallas Morning News

Paula Steele, 37, had quit her job managing apartments in the Washington area to be a stay-at-home mom with her new baby.Unfortunately, her maternity leave was cut short when her husband lost his job last November. Needing to find supplemental income for her family, she turned to one thing she knew well: makeup.

“Women have to wear lipstick; it is probably the one thing women are not willing to do without,” Steele said.

Addison-based Mary Kay has seen a 200,000, or 10 percent, increase in its independent sales force since this time last year, breaking the 2 million mark worldwide.

Some of the new faces to Mary Kay, like Steele, are attending the cosmetics company’s annual seminar, whose sessions began Thursday and end Aug. 1. The event will bring more than 35,000 sales consultants to Dallas.

Steele, whose family relocated to Pittsburgh, is attending her first seminar, wearing a Queen of Sales ribbon. She said she works 20 to 25 hours per week, and the flexible hours are a boon to the family.

“I love being at home with my daughter,” Steele said. “I can work around library time or play group time or whatever it is for my family.”

Many high-end department stores and makeup retailers are hurting in this economy, but the direct sales of the Mary Kay sales associates are still fairly strong.

According to data compiled by the Direct Selling Association, direct sales can remain strong and even grow during recessions. In the contracting economies of the early 1990s and 2001, direct sales actually increased an average of 4.5 percent.

“It is beauty on a budget,” said independent sales director Lillian Buss, 45, of San Antonio. She said some high-end shoppers could be turning to Mary Kay products because a “recession doesn’t change the fact that women still want to look and feel great.”

Women clad in red and blue “corporate wear” business suits are in town to attend training sessions and pep talks but are also bringing with them an estimated $80 million economic impact from hotel stays, dining out, car rentals and gift purchases.

The event, which has not seen declining attendance figures from last year’s seminar, will include the rewarding of top sales consultants with the traditional Mary Kay pink Cadillacs.

Rhonda Shasteen, chief marketing officer for Mary Kay, said the cosmetics company is seeing primarily three groups of new sales associates: recent college graduates having difficulty finding a job, women who have experienced job loss in the family and women closer to retirement who are trying to make up for savings they saw wiped out in the stock market.

Jamie Titus, 36, fits into the second category. She was working as a contracts manager for a company undergoing layoffs when she decided to make the leap to cosmetics sales.

I was, of course, worried about layoffs; how could you not worry?” Titus said. “I thought about Mary Kay, and then I thought, ‘Women are going to buy cosmetics; why not buy them from me?’ ”

Titus, mother of three daughters, said the best part about working for Mary Kay is being her own boss.

I can set my own hours and spend time with my daughters,” Titus said. “It’s amazing to know there really is no glass ceiling.”

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