Home-Based Mary Kay Sales Director Sees Sales Soar Despite Economy

Who: Kelly Hogan, independent sales director at Mary Kay Cosmetics, leads a pink Cadillac unit; the pink Cadillac is the most well-known symbol of a Mary Kay independent sales force member’s success. She has been a director with the company for eight years.

What: Hogan’s primary position is to teach women anti-aging skin care and color application techniques. She also mentors women on how to succeed in their own businesses at their own pace. Hogan says of the range of expertise of all the beauty consultants she works with: “We become like a family. I love to see how they spur each other on to success. This opportunity is so much fun for me.”

Where: Hogan’s home office is the large “bonus” room in her home in Raleigh, N.C. She says it’s close enough to hear what’s going on in the house, but far enough away to provide a boundary so she can also “turn it off” when she chooses to be off work. She says it’s also helps muffle the noise her four children may be making in the rest of the house when she’s on work calls. From her home office, Hogan can hold meetings and appointments, but she also offers the option to visit clients in their homes.

“Whatever they are most comfortable with makes me happy too,” Hogan says.

When: As for what a typical workday is like for Hogan, she says there’s no such thing in her line of work.

“There’s nothing ‘typical’ about it when each person gets to design their own life. That’s the beauty of this business,” she said. “However, because I do get to design my life, I choose to schedule my business around my life instead of the other way around.”

Hogan says that being a mother of four (ages 10 and under) made her realize that her business changes as her schedule demands do. There have been times she worked two to three nights a week, and others where she only works Saturdays, or one night and three part-time days.

“I have always been able to take time off to maintain a healthy balance that reflects my beliefs,” she said.

How: Hogan said she “never in a million years” dreamed she would become an independent sales director driving a pink Cadillac. She was in the revenue management, corporate training and communications fields prior to starting with Mary Kay. She says it was a high-powered career with lots of potential, and she thought she was on the fast track to the top.

“I felt sorry for ‘those Mary Kay ladies’ because I did not fully understand the business and thought it was all about lipstick - you know, the ‘surface stuff,’” she said. “Plus, while I didn’t dislike makeup, I didn’t wear much at all so I just didn’t think it was for me.”

Hogan was first introduced to Mary Kay Cosmetics by a temp worker in the Raleigh, N.C., office of the rental car industry company she worked for at the time. The temp had some lipsticks on her desk and Hogan inquired about them, thinking they were cute writing pens. She says she was drawn to the temp because her personality was far from the “sales-type” she had imagined all direct sales representatives must have. As it turned out, this meeting would change Hogan’s career – and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“At the time, I was [so] extremely busy with traveling and other job responsibilities that it became a stressful job that consumed my life,” Hogan said. “I couldn’t stand the jockeying for positions and the office politics. My co-workers weren’t positive and in fact, they drained me of all my energy. I had no balance … I felt trapped, as I needed the income to pay my bills.”

So, she asked the temp for a Mary Kay brochure on the products, some other company literature and a video. Hogan says she immediately knew this was her new career, and figured she had nothing to lose. Her initial Mary Kay consultant startup kit cost $100. From there, she slowly began to gain clients by introducing the products to people she knew and came in contact with. Once they became clients, they referred her to more of their friends, and so on.

“Because the product is consumable, I have been able to build what I like to call customers for life,” Hogan said. “From there, my enthusiasm for the company and the product became contagious and that’s when my team started to grow.”

Why: Hogan says she initially started out as a part-time beauty consultant so she could earn extra spending money and build up her savings – and eventually leave her stressful corporate job. But when she realized the potential of this new opportunity, she says she worked at it more consistently, treating it like the business it is and since then, she has found it offers so much more than just a paycheck.

Day in the Life: As a mom of four kids under the age of 10 running her own business, there is no regular “day in the life” of Kelly Hogan. Between her “incredibly supportive husband and his work schedule, her work schedule, and their childrens’ activities, she said, “when you have six schedules to mesh together along with managing a household and also volunteering within our church and other organizations, it can get quite hectic to say the least!”

Hogan has learned to adapt her work schedule to her life as it changes. But she says the best part is her “life” comes first.

“I still get to go on dates with my husband, spend one-on-one time with the children, and take the children to basketball practice or tennis lessons or anywhere else in-between,” she said. She even fits time in for the not-so-glamorous jobs like running errands, planning meals, going to the grocery store, etc ... as well as the more fun activities like “Fun Family Fridays.”

As for how she balances everything, Hogan says she has mastered the “art of delegation,” and credits the fact that her Mary Kay career has allowed her to pay for help with household chores, with the children – even office help. Despite the downtrodden economy, Hogan says she is having one of her best sales years out of her 12 years in the business.

Pros and Cons: Hogan says these are one and the same when it comes to being your own boss.“Being your own boss is fabulous, but if you aren’t disciplined nothing happens,” she says.Like some people who venture out on their own, Hogan says she had second thoughts about leaving what seemed like a “safe and secure corporate job.

“I was also extremely worried about what my friends and colleagues would think about my new endeavor,” Hogan says, adding that she had no idea how her new job would fit into her already demanding schedule.

“I think it is very normal to have second thoughts and a little fear of the unknown, but then again, taking a risk on yourself is par for the course when it comes to changing the course of your life the way I chose to,” she says.

FOXBusiness.com regularly features profiles of people doing business from home, and making it work.