By Aidan Quigley The Dallas Morning News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Nearly 30,000 attendees from 16 international markets have flocked to Dallas for the 44th annual Mary Kay Seminar.
The Dallas Morning News
Every summer for the last four decades, pink-clad attendees have flocked to Dallas for the Mary Kay Seminar.
Early seminars featured founder Mary Kay showing off her iconic Cadillacs and entertainment that rivaled "anything ever produced in Las Vegas," as The Dallas Morning News described in 1983. The seminars have also featured training on sales methods, which have evolved in the digital age.
At this year's convention, attendees artfully laid out products on shareable backgrounds, learned the ideal dimensions for photos on different social media platforms and discussed apps that can help them keep track of sales and customers.
Nearly 30,000 attendees, including from 16 international markets, have flocked to Dallas for the 44th annual Mary Kay Seminar. This year's convention kicked off at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
The seminar is a Dallas staple, contributing about $37 million to the Dallas economy and supporting more than 4,222 jobs in the area. It's the "pinnacle" of the company's year, said Regena Pipkin, Mary Kay's director of U.S. marketing.
Tanya King of Miami, who has sold Mary Kay products for 13 years, said she's been to the seminar every one of those years.
"It helps to reconnect you to what you're doing, your passions are reignited, your vision's reignited," she said. "The camaraderie, the girlfriend time, the fun, all of it, it's all encompassing."
King's seen how the company has adjusted to technology over time. When she started, she kept track of customers and inventory on an Excel spreadsheet, a task which has been made much easier by an app.
The company has also increased online training, which King said was very helpful.
"From a sales director's standpoint, it definitely does help with new people, keeping us all on the same focus, learning the same things," she said.
Mary Kay will give out approximately $6 million in recognition prizes to sales members, including the renowned Mary Kay career cars like the pink Cadillacs, during the two-week event. The company added two new cars to the career car fleet, a MINI Hardtop 4 Door and a Chevrolet Traverse 1LT.
There are currently 4,100 Mary Kay career cars on roads across the country.
Katie Jordan, who worked as an aide to Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Richard Burr of North Carolina, was looking to make extra income while working on Capitol Hill when she started with Mary Kay.
When she was pregnant with her daughter, she decided she no longer wanted the long hours in Washington and started focusing on her work with Mary Kay.
Jordan of Winchester, Va., said Mary Kay has several apps that allow her and other consultants to do business on the go by tracking customers and inventory and sending invoices.
"Mary Kay is really great at coming up with innovative ways for us to use technology in our business," she said. "I love that I can work on the go because of all of these tools that they've given us."
She added that Mary Kay is good at seeking feedback from its contractors, which the company uses to add services and products to make their lives easier.
Mary Kay's community makes it stand apart from other opportunities in the gig economy, Jordan said.
"We have this huge support system of other entrepreneurs who are doing the same thing, and we are an amazing culture of women who uplift each other," she said.
Heather Vickers of Panama City, Fla., was an engineer for the U.S. Navy when she started working with Mary Kay 12 years ago. She wanted to have a back-up plan so she could stay home with her her kids if she wanted.
She's had three kids in the last five years, and said she enjoys the flexibility Mary Kay offers.
"My kids don't understand the concept of me working," she said. "They think I have play dates with my girlfriends just like they have play dates with the kids. We just do it in mommy's office, and they do it in their playroom." Pipkin said for all that has changed, the heart of the company has stayed the same.
"As the world evolves digitally, we've evolved as well," she said. "But the beautiful thing is Mary Kay's vision from almost 55 years ago to offer women an amazing opportunity still is alive and well."