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Emilie Rawlings, Mary Kay CosmeticsMany people think of simply looking good, or Andie MacDowell in those television commercials when they think of makeup.  For Emilie Rawlings it is about much more than that.  Rawlings is the Director of the Empowered Unit that sells Mary Kay Cosmetics.  She worked her way up to the position of Director in a very short time since she decided to sell Mary Kay products full time last August.

"The reason I got back into Mary Kay was that I knew that I had a passion for empowering women," she says.  "I sort of made empowering women my mission statement.  In September I decided to phase out my fitness management position, and decided that Mary Kay was a natural place for me to go where I could still help empower women, but in a different way.  I feel like people connect to the fact that I am genuinely sincere about not just the products, but also the company itself.  It was founded with the idea of enriching women's lives, not just with the products, but with the business opportunity.  I'm very passionate about it and I think people sense that."

Rawlings has used the products herself for over 23 years, and has been selling them on and off for 20.  In seeming contrast to her rapid success, she uses a low-key approach to selling the products, relying more on the contagious nature of her enthusiasm of the Mary Kay line.  Most of her business in in her home or in potential customers' homes, meeting with a few people at a time.  She guides potential clients on how best to apply free samples, and offers free makeovers to demonstrate the products.

"I believe in the product, so I want to share it with other people," Rawlings says.  "Right away I liked the quality of the skin care products.  They did a good job of what they were supposed to do.  I have consistently used them now for over 20 years.  Whatever they say they do, I know they do, so I have confidence in the products.  I also feel the price point is reasonable.  it's a high quality product with a reasonable price-point."

A typical meeting starts with skin care products.  Moisturizer is applied, and if the customer wants, she will follow that with a makeover, using eye shadow, lipstick and mascara, finding the right colors for the right look.  Consultants are trained online and in person.  Rawlings says the company does a good job of assembling looks with colors that look good together depending on eye shade and other facial characteristics.

"A lot of times someone I know has me come to their home, and they have one or two friends come over.  I meet new people that way.  I get phone calls from people who know someone who is looking for a Mary Kay consultant or is looking for a new skin care product or something else I provide.  I'm not a complete extrovert, but I definitely like connecting to people.  The thing I liked the most was that I was helping women take care of themselves and have healthy skin.  And also feel good about themselves and look good.  I find that really rewarding."

Emilie RawlingsEmilie Rawlings

A Seattle native, Rawlings decided to become a Mary Kay consultant after using the skin care line for about three years.

"I liked the way they made my skin feel," she says.  "And the way my skin looked.  I was a stay-at-home mom at the time.  I thought that as a consultant I could get the products at cost, and maybe make a little money.  And being a stay-at-home mom at the time, having that connection with other adults was valuable to me."

She moved to Ithaca with her husband and kids in 1998.  For the past 20 years she has taught group fitness classes and managed group fitness, and she and her husband have a construction company in Ithaca.   She continued to sell Mary Kay products on and off while working as a fitness manager until last August, when she took the plunge and made Mary Kay her full time business.

"The reason I got back into Mary Kay in August was that I knew that I had a passion for empowering women," she says.  "I sort of made empowering women my mission statement.  In September I decided to phase out my fitness management position, and decided that Mary kay was a natural place for me to go where I could still help empower women, but in a different way.  I can't believe it took me this long to do it.  It is just such a natural, perfect fit for me."

Anybody who knows at least two facts about Mary Kay knows that it is a cosmetics business, and that top performers can win a pink Cadillac branded with the company logo.  It turns out that there are various levels of achievement that reap car rewards.  Rawlings reached the first level in January, a Chevy Cruise.  If her unit produces various levels of sales there are three more car levels, the famous pink Cadillac being the top reward.  All the cars have Mary Kay branding on them, but only the Cadillac is pink.  Rawlings says that earning a car creates a buzz that helps business.

There are 3.5 million Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants worldwide. Rawlings is one of more than 39,000 Independent Sales Directors.  She grew her team from five people to 14 people in four months, and reaching a certain level of sales in that period.  She qualified as a Director a month later, growing from 10 people to 24 in a four month period.  When someone decides that they want to pursue it as a business opportunity they join her team, starting their own path in the company and yielding commissions for Rawlings.

Sales people get a starter kit that includes all the supplies they need to perform a facial in a home.  Rawlings also brings a variety of products  to customers' homes for women to sample.  If you meet at her home she has a more expansive display.  But the starter kit is all you need to become a consultant, and Rawlings says that makes it possible for just about anyone to dip their toe in and see whether they are a good fit for the business.

"The starter kit only costs $100, a very modest entry into a new business," she notes.  "So it's very accessible to most people."

Rawlings talked to people she knew, sent emails, and called people to let them know she had decided to go full time last summer.  That led to sales to friends, and then friends of friends, and friends or friends of friends.

"One of Mary Kay's quotes is 'The most important connection is personal connection.'  So it's making connections with people in our lives, that we're around in every day life," Rawlings says.  "I offer them a complimentary facial, so they can try the products that way.  We also have samples, and a Web site that they can go to.  But it always starts with that personal connection between me and another person."

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