Most of us think of an “itinerant seller” as an encyclopedia salesman, Fuller Brush man, tinker, peddler, drummer or other transitory vendor of goods. But in the 21st century, the term can also describe the “independent beauty consultants” of Mary Kay Inc., who buy a reported $2.2 billion worth of skin care products and cosmetics and resell them at “Mary Kay parties.”
The Folklife Archives of WKU’s Special Collections Library holds tapes of 3 interviews conducted in 1985 with Brenda Venable, a Mary Kay consultant. She talks in detail about the company, its products and distribution system, her sales strategies, and what her work is like. Transcripts of the interviews are also available. “Mary Kay’s company structure shouldn’t work according to accountants, lawyers and finance,” Venable observed. “So she took the bumble bee as her symbol because aerodynamically speaking the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly. But it does fly and so does Mary Kay.”
A finding aid for the collection can be downloaded by clicking here.