Friday, December 2, 2011

A Mary Kay consultant walks into a bar...

A while back I watched a TED presentation (and I don't remember who the presenter was) on marketing. He talked about marketing businesses from the inside out, that is, start with the WHY you're working toward a particular goal, then how you'll do it, and then focus on the what.

In my business, the what is fashion, the how beauty, and the why is wisdom.

"Uhm... what?"

Fashion is the strategic application of potions, acids, razors, tweezers, waxes, pigments, and fabrics.

Beauty is a desire to present one's best and most authentic self.

Wisdom is the knowledge that each person's best, most authentic self is different.

I have chosen a job in the fashion industry because I know that everyone's best self is a little different, and that we each have an innate beauty that should be expressed and I make it my business to help everyone I know to have greater access to their own authentic beauty. See, it's not about the potions and the pigments that I happen to sell and give great advice about, it's about knowing who each one of my clients is and telling her that she's amazing and deserves to be expressed.

I realize that most of the rest of the fashion industry is not like this, and that more people focus on decoration rather than beauty, but that's never been my why. The decorations don't matter. A woman who never shaves and just wants to take care of her skin and let it age gracefully is just as beautiful to me as someone who uses the entire age-fighting line, has as many eye shadows and lipsticks as I do, and always updates her colors with the season.

If I was driven by profit, (which, capitalism, yay; but I'm not), one of these women would hold more value, and it would be the one who spends more money. If I was driven by fashion (which, decoration, yay; but I'm not), one of these women would hold more value: the one that uses more makeup. My drive is beauty, though. No one that I've consulted in my career holds more value than anyone else, because each has thought, "well, she seems kinda crazy, but not in a bad way... and I do have skin," then agreed to be consulted by me, tried product, liked or hated it, and gotten one step closer to the expression of her most authentic self. (At least I hope she did.)

The other thing is, (as you can tell by reading anything else I've ever written), I'm not your typical fashionista, your typical Mary Kay consultant, or even your typical direct-sales-force member. I'm a little different. I recognize that everyone has their own individual flare, and some will reach people that I can't, but that I will be able to reach people that others can't. And I'm okay with that because there are people who are turned off by my industry because of the cookie-cutter ideals: every woman must wear makeup, women who don't are [whatever] and need help, every woman needs to be decorated.

I don't agree with the prevailing (that's the word I was looking for!) ideas of the fashion industry that "beauty" is interchangeable with "fashion" or "decoration". It's not. Beauty is innate. Fashion takes work and effort. All you have to do to be beautiful is treat yourself with kindness, be healthy, and have a good attitude. No one needs makeup or high heels; no one needs to be trendy to be beautiful.

I hear "I don't use makeup" all the time as an excuse of why someone doesn't want to try something new. It doesn't bother me that these women don't use makeup, and most of the time I'll say, "but you've got skin, don't you?" Liven things up a little. The fact of the matter is, it doesn't affect me at all how any other person chooses to decorate her- or him- or hirself. I only ever ask people to try my product if I think they're cool and might be receptive to me helping to access their own already existing beauty. I couldn't make anyone beautiful if I tried, like the pyschologist's lightbulb, a person must want to be beautiful.

So, if you ever find yourself in a conversation with a Mary Kay consultant, remember this: she thinks you're great and wants you to think it too. That's why.

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