Inspired Woman Magazine

Kay Elvrum & Kelly Kay Johnsrud, Mary Kay Est. 1991 & 2001

Kay in her Mary Kay Escalade!
Was this business your vision/passion, or did you kind of ‘fall’ into it?
Kay: My husband Chuck and I were both in education on fixed salaries. He in administration, and I was a music teacher K-12. We were passionate about showing American Quarter Horses, which is an expensive venture, so Mary Kay was a potential supplement for added income without any quotas or time requirements. After earning the use of my first Pink Cadillac, while still teaching full-time, I realized it had become much more than a little extra income. I resigned from teaching to pursue my business full-time and my husband resigned 3 years later from his career to be my business manager and coach our daughter, Kelly, with her horses.

Kelly: Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, I always knew I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps and have my own Mary Kay career. Having the flexibility to work all over the USA and globally, if I chose to, fit well with my horse show travel schedule. I learned from both my parents to always expect excellence and be willing to work hard to achieve my dreams. I earned the use of my first pink Cadillac when I was 21 years old, the same year I earned the AQHA National High-Point Championship in Amateur Western Pleasure. I believe these accomplishments were a reflection of my mom’s example of dedication and perseverance, and my dad’s coaching talents, belief and passion for each of us to excel.

How did you finance your business?
Kay: Fortunately this business has the option of keeping product inventory on-hand for immediate delivery, so I invested in full inventory from our savings account.

How many employees do you have?
Kay: My dear husband, Chuck, just passed away unexpectedly in August, so I outsource help in accounting, etc. now. No other employees.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Kay: I have learned to embrace challenge, because that means I am still growing in knowledge and experience. When I adapt that mentality, I use a challenge as a stepping-stone to reach higher heights, eventually. I think we each have to come to that realization in our own way as business owners.

When did you realize you had finally ‘made it’?
Kay: I was personally trained by Mary Kay Ash in Dallas, TX. Until I met her, I didn’t realize what I had stumbled in to. I was not planning on a career change. In a study conducted in
2003 by Baylor University, Mary Kay Ash was named the greatest female entrepreneur in American history. Her influence on me was profound. I wanted her to know who I was and be proud of this North Dakota prairie girl. She specifically asked me to go home and earn the use of a Pink Cadillac. I promised her I would, and 4 months later it became a reality. I have driven 14 so far, currently the Pink Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. In fact the independent beauty consultants in our unit broke a company record during that time and continue to set records. We are currently ranked in the nation’s Top Ten for sales in our division. There is more publicity recently on the fiscal health of our state of ND, and the boom in our economy. I have always believed the work ethic and loyalty to great customer service of the Midwest people are vital keys to sustaining success. Now I teach at our global headquarters and was asked to educate new NSDs from 35 countries. Seeing women from impoverished countries like India, and former communist countries like Russia, now have a business of their own is highly rewarding.

What is your vision for the future of your business?
Kelly: My mom was the first National Sales Director appointed from the state of North Dakota in the company’s 49 year history. Her portrait is displayed in the Keepers of the Flame museum at the MK world headquarters in Dallas, TX. Her mission is to develop many leaders to follow in her footsteps before she retires in 8 years. My vision is to be one of her Independent National Sales directors. The products are innovative, earning the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, and the business opportunity has unlimited earning potential. The complexion of the future of Mary Kay is focused on being highly appealing to the Generation Y audience. This is my generation and I understand what appeals to this market. Valuing our longtime clients and attracting a new generation of customers is exciting to me.

What makes your business different/unique selling proposition?

Kay: As a highly respected DSA (Direct-Sellers Association) member, Mary Kay Cosmetics is not only a home-based business, but also a locally owned business in each community an independent beauty consultant lives in. There is only one transaction of product from the company manufacturing plant at wholesale directly to the home of the independent beauty consultant to sell at retail. ABC Nightline news program recently featured a segment on the reputation and success of our company. Women love to buy cosmetics, but most do not like to be “sold to”. Our satisfaction guarantee and excellent training helps develop repeat business in a highly competitive market.

What is the most fun you have at work? What do you most enjoy….

Kay: I have fun every single day. Girls just wanna have fun, right? Inspiring women is my passion. Also the free Mary Kay trips around the world I earned for my husband and myself for the last 17 years enhanced who we became as people. I have a cruise to Greece this spring and to Bejing, China next year on my agenda.

What is your proudest moment as a business owner?
Kay: I continue to have repeat proudest moments each time I see a family I influence benefit from the free use of a Mary Kay car, and have choices for the financial future of their families.

Kelly: As simple as this may sound, I am proud every time I help transform a woman’s confidence in her appearance.

What advice can you give to someone who wants to start a business?

Kay: Listen to your intuition. It is your greatest business tool. Honesty and integrity never go out of style.
Kelly: Listen to your mom! (Unless she is discouraging you to try. She may have been taught not to get her hopes up, so you aren’t disappointed if something doesn’t work out.)
We say GET YOUR HOPES UP!

marykay.com/kkelvrum

Inspired Woman Magazine

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