JoAnn Kahn loves her job.
And during her 39 years as a beauty consultant/director for Mary Kay products, she’s witnessed every kind of economic situation there is – both good and bad.
But the one constant during all of that time has been the relentless success of her venture. It seems that customers are determined to buy Mary Kay Inc. merchandise, regardless of the economic climate.
And in the current struggling economy, people who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut are looking to Mary Kay for work.
“In the last three or four weeks I’ve had a rash of calls from people calling from the phone book or from my Web site,” Kahn said. “These people have sought me out looking for work.”
Job cuts, shrinking bonuses and scaled-back hours have pushed more people than ever to become direct sales representatives, a phenomenon industry experts say they’ve seen before.
In the 1990-1991 recession, the number of direct sellers increased 8 percent to 5.1 million Americans. In the 2001 recession, the work force increased to 12.2 million.
Rhonda Shasteen, chief marketing director for Mary Kay, said the Addison, Texas-based company saw traffic on its Web site increase by 108 percent in March, when the company began airing television ads to attract new sales reps.
Irma Castellanos, who works as a cook at a Mexican restaurant, was among the callers who recently contacted Kahn in hopes of selling Mary Kay products.
“Business has been slow so they started cutting my hours,” the 45-year-old Whittier resident said. “I went from 40 hours a week to 30. I sold Mary Kay years ago, and it was good for me while I was raising my kids.”
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