By Chris McCarthy
For a textbook example of self-made business, look no further than Gadsden’s own Paula Martinez.
Over the space of just three years as a Mark’s Cosmetics representative, the 2004 Litchfield High graduate has earned the distinction of being one of the top 100 salespeople in the United States.
“I’m a very motivated person, and success is defined on how you view it,” she said in a recent interview. “You can be just as successful doing well at something you love as you can in earning a million dollars.”
As a result of her high sales figures, Mark’s recently promoted Martinez as a Senior Mentor to 300 Mark’s Junior Mentors and sales representatives in Alabama and the Panhandle section of Florida.
“I share with them things that have worked for me, and I try to help and motivate them through webcasts and conferences. I also help reps with their first parties, but I usually don’t drive more than two or three hours away. The best thing about Marks is that you don’t have set hours or sales goals or schedules. You’re in business for yourself, but you’re not by yourself.”
According to Mark regional manager Kelly Gainer, Martinez has the top selling team in her region, exceeding 100 percent of sales versus prior years.
“Paula is one of our top sellers and recruiters,” said Gainer. “She is very successful and driven and inspires her sister Mentors to be the best they can be.”
Born in El Salvador, Martinez moved with her family to Alabama when she was two years old. Martinez learned the value of hard work at an early age. Her father is the owner of Villa Fiesta Restaurant on Rainbow Drive in Gadsden. The family, who arrived in Gadsden in 1993, recently opened a second location in Sardis.
“I saw first-hand how awesome it is to have your own hours while running a business and to be able to make decisions for yourself,” said Martinez. “I remember when I was around seven years old when my dad told me that I had to decide just exactly what I wanted to do to earn money when I was working at the restaurant, whether it was setting tables or seating people. He wanted me to make a decision and stick to it.
Hard Work Paying Off – page 7A
Martinez also learned through her parents not to back down from a challenge.
“When they were planning on the restaurant on Rainbow Drive, people told them that several other business in the building closed soon after they opened. They didn’t listen, and look where they’re at now.”
Looking to supplement her income from her full-time job at Villa Fiesta, Martinez started selling Marks products three years ago. She found out about the business through a cousin that sold Avon products. She signed up for a $20 starter kit.
Martinez admitted that her career in cosmetic sales did not get off quick start at his first party in 2009.
“I invited seven people, and three showed up,” she recalled with a laugh. “It kind of hurts your ego, and there’s moments when I wanted to scream, but I was determined to succeed.”
Succeed she did, as Martinez now pulls in an average of $1,000 for an hour and a half sales party. Martinez said that it took around six months to realize that she made the right decision in joining up with Marks.
“It’s a lot of work, but unlike some other types of sales jobs, it’s not a high-pressure job,” she said. “Plus, I use the products that I’m selling and I really believe in them, so it’s not like I’m selling something just to get it off my hands. I tell my customers that I want them to love a product as much as I do. It’s something I’m passionate about, and I think that my customers can tell that when they talk to me.”
Being that she has a 19-moth old son, Eros, Martinez puts in a lot of late-night hours.
“A lot of times I’m up after midnight drinking coffee sending e-mails and looking at facebook and twitter pages. So I do have a full schedule, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s good to bring money to the table doting something that you love.”
Although she makes some money form her Mark website, Martinez said that the majority of her income is a result of face-to face meet-and-greets.
“There’s only so much you can do on facebook and twitter,” she said. “If you really want to be successful, you have to make your presence felt in the community, and in the world of beauty products, women aren’t going to invest in something that they can’t sample. Social media is a big help, but you’d like to have a final sale face-to-face, if at all possible.”
As one of the few Latino reps in the area, Martinez found that bi-lingual sales parties were a great way to reach the Hispanic community of Gadsden and the northeast part of the state.
Although approximately 90 percent of Martinez’ customers are Latino, she does not like to hold separate parties in regard to language.
“A of reps hold parties for just English-speaking customers and ones for just Spanish-speaking customers, but I like to mix them together,” she said. “Beauty itself is very universal. You have to know your product, but sometimes you sell more with your confidence. If you can’t sell the product to yourself, you can’t sell it to somebody else, and that’s true in any business.”
Along with encouraging her reps, Martinez also dishes out some tough love when necessary.
“I’m very honest and straight forward with my reps. This is not a get-rich quick type of thing, and sales isn’t meant for everybody. There’s people who want to make a lot of money but don’t want to put in a lot of work, and there are people who put in a lot of work and don’t see the results. As a mentor I tell my reps to decide on how far they want to go in this business. When they do that, I step in and help them achieve that goal.”
For more information about Marks Cosmetics and to view Martinez’s line of products, visit http://privas.mymarkstore.com.