Mary kay

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  • Publicado : 13 de enero de 2011
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c. 1915-2002 Cosmetics company founder

With innovative sales techniques and programs aimed at boosting the self-esteem of her employees, Mary Kay Ash has built the largest direct-sales cosmetic empire in the United States. Mary Kay Cosmetics is a Fortune 500 company with more than $1.5 billion in retail sales annually. Its work force is almost exclusively female and includes several ofAmerica's self-made women millionaires. Ash, a businesswoman worth an estimated $320 million, founded her world-famous company with an investment of $5,000 and a vision of how to manage a product and work force based on her often bitter experiences in male-dominated business culture. Her company's success rests nearly as much on her dynamic personality and personal sales ability as it does on the qualityof the merchandise. "For Mary Kay the Pollyanna principle has always paid dividends," noted a People magazine reporter. "Her modus operandi is a shrewd blend of business savvy and maternal warmth." Ash began her company at a time when she could have retired. A veteran of both direct sales and the corporate boardroom, she felt challenged to offer energetic women business opportunities they mightnot find anywhere else. "I'm like a mother who wants to give her children the things she didn't have," she admitted in People. "I wanted to start a company where being a woman wasn't a liability." The perky executive succeeded even beyond her wildest dreams. As Alan Farnham put it in Fortune, "Women who never led anything more demanding than the family dog for a walk have been transformed intosales managers leading up to 20,000 people each. You could do worse than emulate this ... company. How does Mary Kay do it? By giving people recognition, not just cash." Works Hard for the Money The founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics is no stranger to hard work herself. Ash's own life story is both poignant and inspirational. The youngest child of Edward Alexander and Lula Vember Wagner, she was born inHot Wells, Texas some time between 1910 and 1915. Prodded by People to reveal her true age, Ash replied: "A woman who will tell her age will tell anything." What Ash is willing to talk about is her long struggle for success, a story that began in early childhood. By the time she entered school, her father had been permanently disabled by tuberculosis. Her mother worked 14-hour days as a restaurantmanager to support the family, so Ash did the housework, cooked meals, and cared for her father as best as she could. Her older siblings had already left home. Far from resenting the burdens placed upon her, Ash viewed her many responsibilities as challenges. Despite her busy schedule at home, she was an honors student with a keen competitive streak. "If there was a contest, I had to win it," shetold People. One of her favorite hobbies was extemporaneous speaking - she placed second in a statewide speech contest while still in junior high and was an honors member of her high school's debate team. She completed high school in just three years. Any dreams Ash had for a college education were soon dashed. Her family could not afford the tuition. Instead of continuing her studies, she marrieda local radio star, Ben Rogers, and started a family. Money was tight for the family during the Great Depression, so Ash decided to try to help by selling products door-to-door. She began her sales career peddling a set of books called the Child Psychology Bookshelf, and within nine months she had earned $7,500 commission on sales of $25,000 worth of books. In the process she alienated some of herfriends, who accused her of selling them something they seldom used. Taking their wrath to heart, she was determined to find a line of useful products to sell. The answer seemed to be Stanley Home Products, a direct sales company for housewares and cleaning

solvents. Soon after signing on as a Stanley consultant prior to World War II, Ash borrowed $12 to travel to the company's annual...
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