Mary Kay Career Center to open downtown

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Pressed powder, blush, mascara and eyeshadow are many women's everyday make-up foundation, but Sharilyn Phillips wants to turn those same products into many women's financial foundation, too.

Phillips first thought about selling Mary Kay after reading an article in "Fortune" magazine in 1992 while waiting for a dental appointment. Phillips contacted the Mary Kay organization as soon as she got home so she, too, could get involved in the make-up empire.

Twelve years later, Phillips is a national sales director with Mary Kay and will be opening up her very own Mary Kay Career Center and gourmet coffee shop in Ironton, teaching the techniques necessary to succeed in the field.

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"I couldn't find a good training program around here. I came back and set up what I call my Mary Kay University," she said.

The career center will be located on Third Street in downtown Ironton, next to Staley's. It will be mainly a training facility, teaching part- and full-time sellers the fundamentals of the business. Trainees will be taught the Mary Kay curriculum and learn selling techniques. Senior directors will be teaching the classes.

Not only will the Ironton location be more convenient for locals, but the location could help add downtown customers.

"There will be a lot of new traffic down there because of the center and it will bring more than just local (Mary Kay) consultants. I have consultants in Portsmouth, Gallipolis and Ashland. It won't just be Lawrence County coming in," said Lori Hankins, a senior sales director for Mary Kay.

Hankins will also help teach some of the classes at the center.

Phillips also thinks the added traffic will help other downtown businesses.

"I'm hoping this is going to pull a lot of women, 100 maybe 200, into the downtown," Phillips said. "I really do feel like it'll be good for the downtown, because they'll look across the street and see Unger's, Toro Loco and McCauley's Furniture. It's going to be a lot of stimulation for the downtown."

Phillips has the opportunity to open her own career center in part due to her division's success. For two years in a row, her personal unit sold $800,000 worth of products. Phillips said that Mary Kay has produced many ways for her to advance and incentives for her to do well.

"There was no glass ceiling in Mary Kay - they have a great way of compensating people for everything they do," she said. "(Women from this area) settle because there's nothing else offered to them, but when this came along, I could just see there was no end to what you could do with it."

Some of the perks Phillips has received are trips to Switzerland, Bermuda and Rome and her 10th Mary Kay Cadillac.

Another side benefit to Phillips' make-up maven status, however, is her ability to raise awareness of Ironton and the surrounding area.

Phillips recently had the opportunity to have a film crew at her home to make a video about how she conducts her business. The film was then shown at the national Mary Kay conference in Texas.

"The last thing on my video that they showed in front of thousands and thousands of people was the Ironton city sign. It's sort of like a Cinderella story, small town beats big cities," she said.