While the direct sales brand has been around for almost 125 years, recent initiatives like the trend-driven mark and Jillian Dempsey for Avon lines as well as fragrance collaborations with celebrities like Fergie have kept Avon's brand image hip and relevant to current beauty trends.
Erin Dixon of Newport Beach, Virginia has been in the beauty biz for 30 years, and runs her own hair salon out of Newport News, Virgina in addition to supplementing her income with Avon sales.
We asked the businesswoman (whose naturally thick cascading curls we envy) for her savviest secrets on making money while playing with makeup as an Avon rep.
StyleList: How old were you when you fell in love with makeup and beauty?
Erin Dixon: For as long as I can remember! I began my career by opening my own salon, and then became a cosmetologist as well. My first salon closed, but after learning everything not to do, I opened my second salon with plenty of life lessons behind me.
SL: How did you turn your love of beauty into a full-time job?
ED: I've always loved beauty products and helping other women look and feel their best. Avon offers products that consumers can't find anywhere else at an amazing value. I leave brochures out at my salon for customers to read through while they're waiting. Many of my customers have begun a relationship with Avon based on that experience.
SL: What are your top five secrets to running a successful beauty business?
1. Consistency. Look at any successful chain as an example. What makes chains successful is that they offer the same wonderful experience to consumers time and time again. Being an Avon representative and unit leader means that I have to provide that same great experience.
2. Work smarter, not harder. Make the most of your time. Face it, you won't get much done in front of the TV! Use the US mail to your benefit by developing a mailing list and mailing brochures to clients who you don't have orders to deliver to this week. Bulk mail is cheap, reliable and the client has a brochure to carry around and look at.
Plan your days. Strategically decide how you plan to spend your time and designate specific days for deliveries, pitching new customers, fulfilling orders, and so on.
3. Record-keeping. Keep details of all your products and sales. Not only will records help you out when tax time rolls around, but it will help you grow your business and keep it organized.
4. Try everything! I think it's important for Avon representatives like myself to try out different brands, so we can speak to the points of difference. Clients will ask, "How is this like such-and-such?" You sound much more authentic when you can honestly say you've tried both of them and can highlight key differences.
5. Use the internet to build your business. I love having my very own Avon eRepresentative website, where customers can order products and have them sent right to their door. How easy is that? And my online e-store lets me take my business with me anywhere I go.
SL: What are your must-have beauty products?
ED: My number one must-have is fragrance! Right now, I'm hooked on Far Away. I can layer the skin softener, body powder and fragrance spray, which makes the scent last all day.
Another favorite is the Perfect Wear Extralasting Lip Gloss. It's always in my bag and I have one in my desk and one in my truck too! I love it because I can wear it alone or over lipstick. It makes my lips feel moisturized and I don't have to reapply frequently. My favorite shade is Eternal Rose because it complements my fair skin, blonde locks and light eyes.
SL: How do you use social media to grow your beauty business?
ED: Facebook and Twitter allow me to see what consumers are talking about online and help prepare me for questions they may have about new launches, products, celebrity alliances and so on. I use Twitter to hold contests and to get my customers even more excited about new Avon products. Who doesn't love to get free goodies in the mail?
SL: Why did you decide to stay with Avon instead of trying out another job, with another beauty brand?
ED: When the recession hit, Avon saved the day. I have a bundle of beauty products that could compete head-to-head with the department store brands. My clients were starting to examine their spending habits and were cutting back where they felt they could.
Avon has a long track history in the industry, brand recognition, a solid research team to keep them current, education that rivals universities and a guarantee that can't be beat. I don't have time to reinvent the wheel.
I need to get in there and do what I do best, which is to make people feel good and look good!