Business

Hard work results in a pink Caddy

After years of working in the office equipment and mortgage arena, Sue Wallace was looking for something recession-proof that would allow her to stay at home with her three boys.

She found it with Mary Kay.

In three short years, the “farm girl” has earned the use of the most-coveted incentive award the dual marketing cosmetic company offers – the pink Cadillac.

Wallace earned her Cadillac with her outstanding business and leadership skills. In June, her unit, which she affectionately calls the Best in the West Wallace Unit, finished Unit Club, which means they sold more than $326,000 in retail product in a year, making them a Cadillac Unit.

“We’re mostly cowgirls from Enumclaw,” said Wallace, who has two offspring directors, Bonnie Pfeiffer and Rachelle Halloway, and also runs a 40-acre mule and donkey ranch with her husband.

While other business are seeing a downturn during the country’s recent economic woes, direct-marketing business like Mary Kay and Avon are seeing a boom. Companies are not only witnessing an increase in their independent sales teams as laid off people decide to work for themselves, but more folks are wanting to help out their neighbors by buying the products they’re selling.

During a recessions, Wallace said, folks may not buy cars or clothes, but they will take care of their skin and wear makeup.

“Red lipstick was the top-seller during World War II,” she said. “In 2008, Mary Kay became debt-free while other businesses were closing their doors.”

The Direct Selling Association is the national trade association of the leading firms that manufacture and distribute goods and services sold directly to consumers. Approximately 200 companies are members of the association, including many well-known brand names.

According to DSA statistics, in 2009, direct retail sales was a $28.33 billion business.

That same year, the sales force, which is made up mostly of well-educated, part-time workers, rose to its highest since 2000 with face-to-face selling the preferred method of getting a product to consumers.

Mary Kay is one of the largest direct sellers of skin care and color cosmetics in the world. In 2009, Mary Kay and its international subsidiaries achieved $2.5 billion in wholesale sales worldwide. Mary Kay products are sold in more than 35 markets worldwide, and the global Mary Kay independent sales force exceeds 2 million. 

The company was a distant thought to Wallace until a friend told her about the business she started using the products.

In 2008, Wallace became an Independent Beauty Consultant and an Independent Sales Director a year later. As an Independent Senior Sales Director, she provides education, leadership and motivation to other Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants while still booking and selling to customers.

Providing a service and one-on-one attention, plus the opportunity to work within her family’s schedule are appealing to Wallace.

“Mary Kay said it best when she said, ‘its the best hard work she ever did,’” Wallace said.

The pink Cadillac is not Wallace’s first car with the company. She earned a Pontiac, 3 1/2 months after starting her career. Within eight months, she had earned her second car, a Saturn. The pink Cadillac arrived Dec. 21.

“The Career Car Program provides the independent sales force the opportunity to earn the use of a visible symbol of success,” said Gary Jinks, Mary Kay senior vice president of sales, in a press release. In addition to the pearlized pink Cadillac, Mary Kay also offers an opportunity to earn the use of the other colors, makes and models as part of its Career Car Program. Currently, about 1,200 Mary Kay pink Cadillacs are on the road. “Each car in this exciting incentive program reflects the hard work, determination and professionalism of the independent sales force. The coveted pink Cadillac is the ultimate, most recognizable symbol of achievement.”

“It’s like a driving billboard,” she said. People stop her in the grocery store parking lot and ask if they can take pictures.

Each pink Cadillac is a lease, paid for by the company, but has to qualify again.

“I have to work just as hard every day to keep it as I did to earn it,” Wallace said.

That shouldn’t be a problem since her goal is to be a National Sales Director with the company.

INSET

In 1968, Mary Kay Ash purchased the first Pink Cadillac, where it was repainted on site, by the dealership owner, to match the Mountain Laurel Blush in the compact. It was such a good rolling advertisement that Ash decided to reward her top five producers with one in 1969.

Currently, more than 5,600 Mary Kay career cars are on the road nationwide with more than 1,200 of those being pink Cadillacs. Since the program’s inception in 1969, more than 120,000 independent sales force members have either qualified or re-qualified to earn the use of a Mary Kay career car.

The shade of pink has changed through the years. In 1998, the color was changed to “pearlized pink.” In 2007, top Independent Sales Directors can still earn the coveted pink Cadillac, however the color changed to black for Independent Sales Directors and smoky platinum for Independent Beauty Consultants.

Mary Kay career car qualifiers also have the option of selecting cash compensation in lieu of the car.

Today, the global Career Car program also includes Saturn, Pontiac, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW and Ford models.

When the lease has expired, the cars are repainted, and auctioned.

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