Ironton resident reaches pinnacle of Mary Kay business

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2005

A visit to the dentist is something most people dread, but for Sharilyn Phillips of Ironton, her 1992 appointment was the start of something life-changing.

While in the waiting room, Phillips started reading a 'Fortune' magazine article about Mary Kay cosmetics and the earning potential for its beauty consultants.

"I thought it was the best kept secret I had ever seen. It just seemed too good to be true," she said.

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As soon as Phillips arrived home, she called the company for more information.

More than 12 years and 10 Cadillacs later, she has achieved the status of Mary Kay independent national sales director, ranking among the top 1 percentile of the nearly 1.3 million independent beauty consultants worldwide.

So what does this position mean to Phillips, who is currently driving around town in a 2005 pearlized pink Cadillac STS?

"It could mean a whole lot," she said. "It's the top position in the company and there's a lot of perks that go with it. It allows me to expandŠand train directors so they can reach their goals."

Her business has grown to nearly 1,500 independent beauty consultants and 18 independent sales directors: A network that brought in $2.3 million retail sales in 2004 (her personal unit sold $800,000 in products two years in a row.

Her two daughters, Lori Hankins and Megan Rice, are both senior sales directors.

Rice said she couldn't be happier for her mother who has encouraged the two sisters to pursue their dreams.

"I think it's pretty exciting," Rice said. "This area is thought to be such a low economic area, but Mom has been able to do amazingly well."

Rice said she loved being a part of the Mary Kay family because it allows her more time to spend with her own. She stays home with her 2-year-old daughter McKinley and encourages other mothers or any woman dissatisfied with her current job to consider the possibilities such a career could offer.

"One thing is for sure-you can have a lot of success, so I say go for it," Rice said. "It's just a great opportunity, especially for women in this area."

Despite her huge success, Phillips credits her advancement to a little faith and light reading.

"I think the Lord puts you somewhere, somewhere you're supposed to be," she said. "Just think, if I had picked up 'Good Housekeeping,' instead of 'Fortune,' none of this would have ever happened."

Now Phillips is determined to help it happen for other women in this area. She is in the process of opening a Mary Kay University located along Third Street in downtown Ironton next to Staley's Pharmacy.

"We're just now getting it off the ground, but it's going to be tremendous," she said. "It will be a training center where they can come in for training. We've had women from Cincinnati and all over come in and ask about it.

"It will bring a lot of activity to the downtown and I'm just really looking forward to it. We've had a couple of training sessions, but it will be great once we get it going."

Such a facility seems an ideal fit for Phillips, a former curriculum supervisor for Lawrence County.

While a career in education wasn't nearly as lucrative as one with Mary Kay, Phillips said she has put that training and work ethic to good use.

After all, it wasn't making the transition from her former day job to Mary Kay that proved the most difficult for Phillips. It was convincing other women they could do the same.

"The only challenge I've had is that I want (this success) for every woman," she said. "It's the number one opportunity for women in the United States. I just want it for so badly for them. I really want to show them how to make money. I think I can prove to them that you can really do this anywhere."