Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Making Money as a Mark Girl

(Post: English)
"Kristiauna Mangum, 22, a senior at Ohio State University in Columbus, said she always had a flair for makeup, but never considered it a professional calling. Then she heard about a pilot college program offered by Avon’s little sister brand, Mark, two years ago."

"My mother was an Avon Lady, so I thought, huh, maybe becoming a Mark Girl could really be the way to go," she said.

Now Ms. Mangum is the sales manager for Mark at Ohio State, and manages 155 other Mark Girls who roam the dormitories and sorority houses, selling Mark beauty products and fashion accessories for a commission in the range of 20 to 50 percent.

"It's really a grass-roots kind of thing, hitting the dorms, sororities, Facebook," said Ms. Mangum, who uses her share of the profit, about $800 a month, to help settle her student loans.

"I even rented space at local high school fairs - with 16- and 17-year-olds, you can move a lot of lip gloss," said Ms. Mangum, whose major is marketing.

She is one of more than 40,000 Mark Girls in North America, mainly 18- to 24-year-old women who are changing the nature of direct sales by using the brand's personalized e-boutiques, iPhone app and new Facebook e-shop, one of the beauty industry's first forays into Facebook e-commerce.

"We’ve taken the same DNA of direct selling that has always been a part of Avon's history and applied it to the digital world for our Mark reps to reach their customers," said Claudia Poccia, president of Mark at Avon, which introduced the brand in 2003.

"Now, we're offering our Mark reps the opportunity to sell products not just door to door, but on Facebook, wall to wall."

The Mark brand is evolving. It has its own spokeswoman, Lauren Conrad, the former reality TV star of "The Hills," now a fashion designer and best-selling author of "L.A. Candy."

Its Facebook fan page has over 84,000 fans. According to estimates from Stifel Nicolaus, an investment bank, Mark's revenue last year was about $70 million.

Unlike other companies involved in direct sales - including Amway, which may dedicate a product line or two to a more youth-oriented market, or Mary Kay and Avon, whose products are geared toward middle-aged women - Mark focuses almost exclusively on teenagers and women under 30.

Some experts in the beauty business are fans of Mark. "It really helps that Mark has such low price points," said Elaine D’Farley, beauty director of Self magazine.

"Visually, it's fun. The products hit the trend."

Source: NYTimes

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