Pretty in pink? Men take jobs at female-dominated Mary Kay




Posted on July 19, 2012 at 7:38 PM

DALLAS – The company famous for empowering women has an intruder of sorts among its ranks.

Men are learning to love the pink of Mary Kay; it’s a potentially tectonic shift in a company culture deeply rooted in feminism.

“I sell Mary Kay,” said Will Hamilton, 37. “I make people beautiful.”

The father of three has been selling cosmetics for the company for nearly three years. He got the idea from his ex-wife.

But he says the job truly grew out of a love for Mary Kay’s lotions and soaps that began when he was just a teenager.

“I loved it," he said. "I knew what it could do for me, and to have that extra petty cash in your pocket is always great!”

He sells makeup as a side job to his regular duties as an office manager at a Dallas clinic. He’s quick to point out the Mary Kay connection during introductions. Even his Facebook profile lists him as “WillHamilton Mary Kay.”

“It sticks,” he said. “People know me as,‘Hey, you’re the Mary Kay guy!’”

Much has changed since Mary Kay Ash founded the company in 1963, at a time when there weren’t many opportunities for women. Over the years, it’s grown to more than $3 billion in annual sales worldwide and offers hundreds of products -- including those targeted to men.

Yet, the company’s motto firmly remains “Enriching Women’s Lives,” and executives say that’s still the point.

“It’s a brand for women,” insisted Sheryl Adkins-Green, the company’s chief marketing officer. “It’s a very feminine brand.”

As Mary Kay’s annual convention kicks off in downtown Dallas, women far outnumber the men. The company boasts a sales force of 2.4 million people, yet fewer than 1 percent are men. While the Addison-based company said it doesn’t seek out males, it also doesn’t exclude them.

“I would say we have stayed fairly true to the legacy of offering opportunities for women,” Adkins-Green carefully said. “Even in this - quote - 'modern era,' there still have not been enough opportunities for women.”

The company certainly embraces the husband’s role. The company holds seminars during its convention for husbands that offer pointers to help them manage their wives’ businesses.

Tim James, 35, has carved out a small career helping his wife, September, 34, sell cosmetics. As one of the company’s top sellers, she’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of product.

“It’s a business," she said. "It is a full-blown career."

Her husband has an MBA, but works as an elementary teacher, affording more time to help her manage the bookkeeping.

“September is the face of the business,” he said. “I’m behind the scenes… I’ll come up with some ideas and we’ll see how they work for our business.”

Indeed, many husbands have no problem enjoying the fruits of their wives’ labor. The company is famous for rewarding its top sellers with pink Cadillacs, and some consultants’ husbands have started calling themselves “Caddy Daddies.”

Two of them even posted a music video on YouTube where they rap in front of a pink SUV and brag about being a “Caddy Daddy.”

“I love being seen in it,” said Kris Nickell, 25, whose wife also has a pink Cadillac.

Although he hasn’t yet bragged about the car on YouTube, he has no problem showing it off.
“It’s advertisement right there," Nickell said. "It’s a pink car that says Mary Kay on the side!”

Hamilton hopes to one day earn a pink car himself. He only has 53 customers, but loves how the company allows him to grow at his own pace.

“It’s not just a woman’s world selling Mary Kay. Men can do it, as well,” he said. “I’m just a male doing a woman’s job.”