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Making money the Mary Kay way

The Union photo/Eileen JoyceKimberly Bratton poses with the car she received after one year of selling Mary Kay products.
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Kimberly Bratton went shopping for mascara and got a new career.

She went to a co-worker’s “business debut” as a Mary Kay “independent beauty consultant” a year ago. Twenty minutes later, “I was ready to start a Mary Kay business,” Bratton said.

“She spoke about the company being built on the highest values, keeping God, family and career in perspective,” Bratton said, referring to independent sales director Terri Price’s presentation about selling cosmetics for the Dallas-based company.



Bratton also saw an opportunity to leave a repetitive, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job for one where she could “make my own hours, write my own paycheck and have the free use of a car for two years.”

Price signed her up as an “independent beauty consultant” on her sales team. Bratton, like Price, sold the cosmetics and signed on her sisters and friends as consultants while still working at her regular job.




“After one year on my regular job, I got a balloon,” Bratton recalled. “After one year of selling Mary Kay, I got a car.”

She estimates she’ll make $35,000 this year.

A red Pontiac Grand Am, with most of the insurance paid, is her reward for her Mary Kay job.

Bratton earned the car because she made $16,000 worth of sales within four months and convinced 12 women to become one of 950,000 independent beauty consultants, the entry level position for Mary Kay saleswomen.

When Bratton became an independent sales director, one of 13,000 nationwide, Price became a senior sales director.

In the Mary Kay culture – and there is one – Bratton is Price’s “offspring.”

“Within our culture, 13 is a lucky number,” explained Kathrina McAfee, assistant manager for Global Corporate Communications for Mary Kay Inc.

May Kay Ash established her company on Sept. 13, 1963. The corporate offices McAfee called from have 13 floors with 13 elevators, she said. Mary Kay Ash’s personal plane had the number 13 emblazoned on it, McAfee said. Many subsidiaries of the company were opened on the 13th of the month.

Mary Kay’s trademark pink jars were replaced in 2001 by new white jars and bottles with pink caps – and platinum caps for the men’s skin care line.

But another of the company’s icons are out in force: There are about 1,600 pink Cadillacs on the road, said McAfee.

As of March, independent sales directors can also earn the use of a 2004 model platinum Grand Prix Pontiac.

The highest position in the sales force – held by 250 women worldwide – is independent national sales director.

The average tenure of saleswomen “is not something we chart,” said McAfee, but “there are more than 150 women – most independent national sales directors – who have earned a $1 million annual income.”

Recurring words are “independent” and “sales,” the women note.

“We embrace the idea of improving lives of women across the world,” McAfee said. “Mary Kay had a vision of women’s lives with unlimited income, being their own boss and bringing people they want to bring into the organization.”

Price, Bratton’s senior independent sales director, left her post as a Bay Area police sergeant to be home with her two young daughters, intending to go back three years later.

“God had other plans for me,” Price said.” On my way home I got hit by a car.”

Price had to have her neck rebuilt, and police work was out of the question.

She signed up to be a consultant so she could get Mary Kay products at a discount. Once she sold “$864 and it only took me an hour to do it,” she felt sure she’d found her new career.

“It was pretty ignorant of me, because there are so many women in America who do that,” Price said about making Mary Kay a career.

She gave herself six months and earned a car, thereby putting $536 a month in car payments and insurance “back into the family budget,” which Price called “a huge pay raise.”

In December, when the stock market took another dip, Mary Kay experienced tremendous growth, as much as for the entire year of 1993, Price said.

Price said she thought that Mary Kay prospers because women “have come full circle.”

“‘Having it all’ means spending time at home with kids,” Price said. “Mary Kay is not just about lipstick.”

“Having a home-based business is the way to go, and the money rocks,” Price said. She earns about $5,000 to $7,000 a month working about 30 hours a week with 600 clients in the Bay Area.

The appeal to women is that the company’s values are “God first, family second and career third,” Price said.


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