This includes her own autobiography. But in Ask ME About Mary Kay; The True Story Behind the Bumper Sticker on the Pink Cadillac, Jackie Brown fills in those gaps. She was present during that momentous period in time when women were looking for ways to enhance their lives, both personally and professionally.
Jackie Brown was the consultant who brought in most of the women that went on to help build Mary Kay’s empire. She was the top seller in the organisation, and her promotional talks to prospective consultants went on to be used by Mary Kay as the prototype for how to recruit new people. She was the first person to reach the level of top director in the early years. Mary Kay’s son used the story of Jackie’s meteoric rise to success to recruit other prospects by telling them, “Jackie Brown earns one hundred dollars before she even gets up in the morning,” - strong stuff for women earning minimum wage.
After Ms Brown left Mary Kay, she went on to become a stunning success story on her own, reviving the fledgling Beauticontrol and building it into a national organisation. After leaving Beauticontrol, she founded Jackie Brown, Inc. as President and CEO, she formulated and marketed her own cosmetic line. She studied with image experts in Hollywood, New York, Great Britain and Paris, France. Yet it was from drawing on her own extensive experience from working with thousands of individuals that she was able to create a unique approach to image improvement. She developed a method for evaluating a person’s physical appearance and then perfecting it by a simple process of learning to make the right choices. This technique led to her working with major corporations on an international level.
Ask ME About Mary Kay is the story of the early years of success of Mary Kay and Jackie Brown. Ms Brown was so integral a part of the sensational victory of Mary Kay Cosmetics that their two stories are inextricably bound together. Only Jackie Brown was there through it all: the early challenges, the lawsuit, the rumors about the numerous marriages, as well as the trouble with the owner of the precious formulas, the betrayal and the triumphs and finally, the ultimate tragedy.
Giddy Limits: The excitement of your early days at Mary Kay is tangible. Do you ever consider how different your life would be if you didn't get that ride to the office of Mary Kay to begin your career?
Jackie Brown: Oh, yes, I have thought of it many times. I had the strangest feeling as I sat in her office that afternoon that she was offering me the way to a better life. That is why I stuck to it through all kinds of adversity. There is a good possibility that I would have stayed a secretary for life, had I not met Mary Kay.
Giddy Limits: You were one of the original consultants at Mary Kay and started with them when there were only three employees. Recent numbers suggest that worldwide there are now over 2 million consultants. Did you have any idea in those early days that it would be even remotely as successful as it has been?
Jackie Brown: Although I had a feeling that something spectacular would happen, I never visualized the huge success she became. And at our last meeting in the mid-nineties, Mary Kay said the same. But knowing that Mary Kay is one of the ten best known names in the whole world today boggles my mind. That is a long way from where we started, with just she and I and a few others. And when I said, “I am with Mary Kay.” They said, “Who?”
Giddy Limits: How long did it take for you to write this book?
Answer: If you count the fact that first I had to live it, in a way it has taken my entire life. But literally, after I finished a book proposal which was supposed to help me get an agent (but didn’t) it took me a full year, working at least 8 to 10 hours a day, six days a week to finish it. When I say I ate, slept and breathed it, I am not kidding. That is what it took for me. Surely other people are able to do it much faster.
Giddy Limits: Your mother, having to raise and support ten children on her own, was certainly an inspiration to you and your work ethic, but where do you think you got your savvy for sales and marketing?
Jackie Brown: That is an easy one. From Mary Kay, of course. At first I copied what she did as closely as I could. Gradually, my own style evolved, but she was the pattern I followed. And what I learned from her not only helped in business but all areas of life. Her motto was “praise them to success.” After our disagreements began, I wondered if that was her true belief. And I decided it was, because I suspected she had not received much praise herself. She knew women were starved for it. And by giving it freely, she produced magical results.
Giddy Limits: What female entrepreneurs in today's world do you admire?
Jackie Brown: Times have changed so much. Women today can be almost anything they want to be - doctors, lawyers, scientist etc. I learned recently that there are now more women dentists than men. I did not know of any female dentists in the early sixties. The average wage was 0 a week and women made less than that. There were very few women in executive positions. During that time in addition to Mary Kay, Mary Crowley, President of Home Interiors was a wonderful role model for all of us.
Today my younger friend, Joy Mangano, who sold her wares on QVC at the same time I sold mine, is a super star in sales and marketing. It is still direct sales, but it is done on the Home Shopping Network. I would have to say she is the one I most admire in the younger generation.
Giddy Limits: How did you go about finding a publisher for this book?
Jackie Brown: In desperation, I started searching the Internet for an agent. Ultimately, that is where I found one. He first contacted one of the major publishers in the country, who expressed immediate interest in the book. While he was considering it, we agreed not to present it to other publishers. The book was not complete at the time, and the publisher kept asking for more chapters. Six months passed and there was still no definite answer. My agent then told them that we were going to shop the book around. The next publisher he contacted, Strategic Book Publishing, was willing to take a chance on a first-time author and offered me a contract right away. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Giddy Limits: Are you planning on writing another book?
Jackie Brown: From the beginning, I hoped to write a sequel. The story is not over at the end of this one. However, I am not sure it will happen. Besides the sequel, the other story I would love to write is my Mother’s. It is the one that the world needs to hear. But I waited a little late to start all this. But we shall see. Who knows, I might get a second wind.
Giddy Limits: How do you think direct sales, as a manner of marketing, fits into the business world today?
Jackie Brown: I think this manner of marketing may thrive as never before. The rule for success is “Find a need and fill it.” Direct sales can be the answer for those people who need a part-time job, and for those who want to earn money in direct proportion to the work they do.
In addition, human contact has almost vanished in much of the business world. If you’ve heard one computer message, you’ve heard them all. By offering genuine interest and personal contact with customers, while developing real relationships, there is no doubt sales will soar. An ad for direct sales people could read, “Earn GOOD money in a BAD economy, and have FUN doing it!