Mary Kay empire marks 40 years of growth

STAR-TELEGRAM/PAUL MOSELEY Arlene Lenarz, Mary Kay's top sales force member, gets a touch-up from makeup artist Lydia Duron with the Kim Dawson Agency before filming promo spots Wednesday. Lenarz earned more than $1 million in sales commissions last year.

Mary Kay empire marks 40 years of growth

Posted on Thu, Jul. 17, 2003
By Eva-Marie Ayala
Star-Telegram Dallas Bureau

DALLAS – Cynthia Kirven is the kind of woman that would have made Mary Kay Ash pink with pride.

Wednesday, Kirven’s pink Cadillac was one of 70 parked at Dallas City Hall, signaling the beginning of the company’s annual conventions, which start today.

Company representatives lined the cars along the front plaza of the building while videotaping clips to be shown during the conventions.

While crews were working, Kirven, a Dallas resident, slipped inside City Hall to pay a water bill. She returned waving a check and frantically searching for a form so she could sign up a woman she just met to join the cosmetic company’s legion of independent beauty consultants.

Although the company’s namesake died almost two years ago, Ash’s philosophy that women could achieve great things is still the foundation of the business, said Tom Whatley, president of global sales.

This year, Kirven and 53,000 others will attend Seminar, the annual meeting held at the Dallas Convention Center, and celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary.

The five three-day conventions, held back-to-back through Aug. 2, will include motivational speakers and recognize accomplishments of independent sellers.

“The most important thing Mary Kay brought to women is helping them find out, as Mary Kay would say it, ‘How great they really are,’ ” Whatley said. “In the Mary Kay program, women develop self-esteem, self-confidence and learn to dream.”

Ash began Mary Kay in 1963 with $5,000 and the help of her son Richard Rogers, who is now the company’s chief executive. The company quickly grew and top sellers were rewarded with mink coats, diamond rings and the highly visible pink Cadillacs, which go to independent sales directors whose teams average monthly retail sales of $32,000 for six consecutive months.

Last year, the company reached nearly $1.6 billion in sales and has more than 1 million independent beauty consultants in 34 countries.

Arlene Lenarz, the company’s top saleswoman, will be a featured speaker at the conventions. Last year, Lenarz generated more than $1 million in commissions and has earned more than $11 million during her 31 years with Mary Kay.

She said she has learned through the company not to give up before the miracle happens.

“I think the most important thing is persistence and determination and having a huge, big goal that even scares you, but just never give up,” she said.

Kirven, who has been an independent seller for 10 years, said she continually built on her successes in selling Mary Kay products and finally earned the coveted pink Cadillac four months ago.

And, of course, Kirven was dressed in the company’s signature color.

“Everything is pink,” she said. “My bathroom is pink. My bedspread is pink. My blood runs pink.”

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