What's it like to be a rep for Avon or Mary Kay cosmetics?

Working for Avon or Mary Kay

by Deb Killion

(editor's note: The Dollar Stretcher and Deborah Killion have no financial arrangement with Avon or Mary Kay. We are not compensated in any way if you choose to join them.)

Two great standard work-at-home opportunities that are still good job options are working as a sale representative for either Avon or Mary Kay. Both Avon and Mary Kay are companies that understand the lives of women and their need to spend time with family and friends. With either work-at-home opportunity, you set your own hours, work from home, and see potential customers whenever you and they are available. Also, with both opportunities, you have a chance to make as much money as you want, depending upon how much time you devote to it. With the internet, direct selling, and social networking, you now have the potential to make a lot more money than in the past with both Mary Kay and Avon.

Avon is a 127-year-old company founded by David H. McConnell, who developed the Avon brand when he noticed how interested women were in trying perfume samples. Even back then, he saw the value in recruiting women as sales representatives to sell his products. He believed that no one understood what women want more than women themselves. Avon still believes in this today and has an open registration for anyone seeking to become an Avon representative.

I worked with Avon in the early 80s, as a young college student. I was able to secure about a $400 per month extra income with Avon from these efforts, working only a couple of hours a week in my territory. Now, in most cases, there are no territories, so the capacity for bigger sales is now possible. An Avon rep now gets her own website where customers can contact her directly. This allows people searching for Avon products to have a personal Avon representative come to their house or place of business, or they can order online through the Avon site, and the Avon representative gets a commission on the sale.

Since it has been awhile since I worked with Avon, I looked up their rates on their sales site. Avon representatives make around 25% for sales up to around $150 and commission is based on performance. The more you sell, the more you can make.

Avon has a saying on their website that says, "You're in business for yourself....but not BY yourself." This means that there is always help to ensure your business is a success and special incentives and meetings to help you reach your goals.

The biggest advantage to Avon (besides the fact that it's fun,) is the ability to set your own hours and work from home, seeing clients on your own terms. There's also the potential to move up to a managerial position as a reward for hard work, for even more potential earnings.

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I had a good experience with Avon, making some extra money as a young college student to pay for a few extra things. I have actually sold Avon twice since then but did not stay with it, due to the need for higher income and the desire to work outside of the direct sales market and cosmetic industries.

If someone were to work the Avon opportunity and discipline themselves to make it a priority, significant money can be made. Like anything else, it all depends on how much you put into it!

Mary Kay Cosmetics, founded by Mary Kay Ash, is a similar company with similar opportunities. Unlike Avon, Mary Kay offers a whopping 50% commission on all sales, no matter how much you sell. The drawback with Mary Kay is that you need to invest in a lot of inventory, since Mary Kay customers have come to expect their sales rep to have product "on hand" when they need it.

This has been one of the worst criticisms of Mary Kay and why some choose Avon instead. However, in general, Mary Kay offers the biggest earning potential, and in anything, there is always some sort of investment of either money or time before you can expect a return.

Mary Kay also offers a number of incentives for increased sales, and they are a fun-loving group of people with an optimistic attitude toward life. You can attend their national sales meetings, win prizes and trips, and generally have a network of thousands of friends in the Mary Kay family.

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With Mary Kay, you will only get back what you put into it. They do give away pink Cadillacs, but these are reserved for the few that make it to the upper sales tiers through living and breathing Mary Kay, day in and day out.

With either opportunity, you can make a little money or a lot. Some Mary Kay agents have reported earnings in the six figures, but I never saw close to that. These are usually manager level reps that generally work their businesses like a full-time job and have bumper stickers that say, "I love Mary Kay!" In any business, I have found that the ones who hit the top of the heap are working the opportunity like it was their only source of income, not as a side thought. Mary Kay, like Avon, has opportunities for "direct sales" through a personalized website.

I sold Mary Kay for a while about three years ago, but I did not want to hold the "cosmetic parties" that seem to be expected to generate the income, so I moved on.

I like Mary Kay a little better as a consumer and do use Mary Kay products, because I think their facial care products and cosmetics are of higher quality and appeal to the elite consumer, who usually also has more money to spend on cosmetics.

Payment for Avon is received when you deliver their orders. You put the money you collect in an envelope to send to the company and keep your commissions. With Mary Kay, you usually purchase the products beforehand at half price and then make 50% commission once the product is sold. This allows you to create your own stock of Mary Kay products in your house and then you keep all of what the customer gives you, according to retail prices, because you have already paid Mary Kay their half when you purchased your inventory.

The only requirement for selling for either Avon or Mary Kay is that you need to love sales and direct face-to-face communication. If you do not like sales, then neither of these opportunities would be a good choice for you.

The cosmetic industry is one work-at-home opportunity that is here to stay. Studies show this industry has continued to flourish, despite the recessive economic condition of the country. People cannot afford to buy a new flat screen TV, but they can still make room in their budgets for a $13 tube of lipstick. So whether you choose Avon or Mary Kay, they are both very reputable business opportunities.

For more information on either work-at-home opportunity, visit these sites Avon.com and MaryKay.com.

"There is gold in the clouds....you just gotta know where to dig!" -Deborah L Killion, Entrepreneur

Watch this interview with the author on the pros and cons of working for Avon and Mary Kay:

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • Could what you know make you money?
  • What's it like selling Avon products? Here's things you might want to know before becoming a sales representative.
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Deborah Killion has tried many work-at-home opportunities to supplement her growing technology business and has worked for LiveOps before and still has an active contract. She offers advice to others looking for work-at-home jobs as a good supplemental income and helps you to avoid scams.

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