Coming from a close-knit family from Macon, Ga., Maria Claxton-Taylor learned work ethic principles early on.
Charles Claxton and Wadene Prince taught Maria and her older brother, Chuck, that working hard does have its rewards. “Both of my parents were extremely hard working and taught my brother and me, ‘If you’re going to do something - do it right’,” Maria remembers.
She admits to being a hard-headed teenager but Maria learned what it meant to earn something in life.
“McDonalds was my first job,” she states. “My parents said, ‘You will
work’, and, of course, I had the desire to have extra money and be able to shop for clothes to wear the latest fashions that all my girlfriends were wearing.”
Headstrong, Maria had other ideas than to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a Mary Kay independent beauty consultant.
“Growing up I thought I wanted to be in the fashion/marketing industry and that was my major in college.”
Maria attended Georgia College in Milledgeville. During her college years, she worked in retail and eventually in retail management.
“I was approached several times about becoming an independent beauty consultant with Mary Kay, but I always thought, ‘That’s not for me’… ‘I don’t have the time’… ‘I don’t think I could do that’, - just negative thoughts even though my mother was extremely successful,” Maria admits.
She watched her mother excel to become an independent national sales director with Mary Kay. While working in retail, a woman that was Maria’s age told her, “You don’t know what you are saying ‘no’ to. Why don’t you just listen?” her friend encouraged.
“She had made a boat-load of money working in Mary Kay,” Maria exclaimed, “and that’s what made me go, ‘Hmm …maybe I need to look at this for part-time to bring in a little extra money.’ I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was single and everything was all on me. Mary Kay gave me the opportunity to have a part-time job work for me. I could work when I wanted to,” Maria insisted.
Integrating two to four hours a week with Mary Kay with her full-time job, Maria soon learned that she enjoyed being a consultant. “I worked while I had the other job and after seven months I thought, ‘I think I love this’. I decided to go in it with a little more force. I chose to give my notice with my other career and the rest is history,” Maria chimes.
She ended up moving to Chattanooga. “Comfort comes with knowledge,” Maria says, “I became more confident in my skills, I became more confident in the career opportunity that came with Mary Kay and I was literally so excited about the opportunity that I could continue with Mary Kay, the more customers I had,” she insists.
Before Mary Kay, Maria made approximately $30,000.00 annually, working in retail management. After 20 years with Mary Kay she has tripled her income.
“When you figure in the use of a free vehicle, other awards and bonuses, you see your full income and compare it with what you received in your other careers,” Maria states. “My other career never gave me the opportunity to earn the use of a free vehicle.”
How does that work?
“We call it our ‘Trophy on Wheels’ because that’s just what it is. You don’t win a car – it’s not the lottery, but you have the opportunity to lease a free vehicle for two years when the requirements are met. My first car was a red Grand Am about 18 years ago. I was elated,” Maria beamed.
The car earned for consultants today is the Chevy Malibu. “That is the first offered vehicle. When you become a sales director you are eligible for two vehicles. If a higher production requirement is met, you get the beautiful pink Cadillac,” Maria notes.
“When you maintain your vehicle for two years, you are eligible to re-qualify for a brand new one. Mary Kay takes care of 83 percent of car insurance, which is a blessing,” she confides.
The successful business woman has also earned two diamond rings, decorations for her home, dishes and more.
Maria is now an executive senior sales director. But she recalls her initial feelings when she first attended a Mary Kay event. “Everyone was enthusiastic and there was a lot of applause and congratulations going on. I was rolling my eyes. I had a real attitude problem thinking that this was the craziest bunch of people I had ever been around!” Maria laughs.
“That is how my attitude was as a guest being introduced into the Mary Kay world. I really didn’t get the heart of what this business was about. I called myself a ‘Mary Kay snob’. I thought, ‘these are the goofiest women I have been around in my life - they do all this cheering and clapping,” Maria admits.
“Then …when I really understood, I had a change of heart and thought, ‘What a joy to be in a room full of women who ARE happy! Women who ARE smiling and who are very complimentary of each other’s accomplishments,’ it’s very hard to find that in other careers,” Maria insists.
“I will not ever say it’s not like that in corporate America because I have not worked for everybody in corporate America… but I can tell you this. I don’t think it’s out there very often.”
“Mary Kay’s philosophy is about ‘enriching women’s lives’, I know it sounds hokey to a lot of people,” Maria attests, “but I cannot stress how that is the truth. When you have a person who joins this business, they may be shy, they may have low self-esteem or they may be single moms.”
“It’s like they come into this like a tight rose bud and then you watch them just blossom. They are happy and they are confident about what they can contribute to their family income - whether it is shoe-shopping money or braces for their children’s teeth,” Maria justifies.
“Even though women are busy, we do love to get together with girlfriends and ‘play in make-up’. It’s just so much fun, if you have had a hard day at work or if you have run around with the children at ball games… that’s what we love to do… just have a party. We play at some glamour,” Maria says.
Currently, Maria’s goal is to earn a trip to Monaco in the French Riviera. “That is something I’m looking toward in the next year,” she says. “I attend Mary Kay seminars every July in Dallas for training and things like that. Mary Kay does offer incredible trips; my mother will be going a trip to Greece this year. I am currently driving my 12th earned Mary Kay vehicle,” Maria declares.
Maria met her husband, David Taylor, through a girlfriend. “He is very supportive of business – it’s a family business; we all work together,” Maria insists.
“My son gets excited and says, ‘Mama, you are gonna earn that Escalade next year’,” Maria laughs, “it may be more like two-to-four years but he is excited about that. When I achieve the next position of national sales director of Mary Kay - we get the Cadillac Escalade,” she says.
With Maria’s son, Slade, and daughter, Santana, attending Silverdale Baptist Academy and involved in soccer, they appreciate the time their mother has for them. “They like that I can schedule my job around their activities. When you are self-employed you can do that!” Maria exclaims.
As far as her husband, Maria jokes, “David retired for about 15 minutes. He is technically retired but he still teaches online criminal justice courses that he teaches through an online college.
“Our hobbies are ‘family’, the beach and traveling. We love to eat out and we also working out, getting exercise, being outdoors - anything we can do to be outside and have fun in the sun. We like the lake, water skiing and anything that has to do with the beach,” she says.
Maria is proud to speak of the charitable foundation supportive of women who have cancer and also supportive of domestic violence-awareness. Mary Kay has helped fund many shelters. “There are people I know, who have been affected by domestic abuse and violence and have been able to be in a safe environment being in a shelter that was provided adequate funds by Mary Kay,” Maria affirms.
“It would bring you to tears to hear the stories of women and what they have gone through and how Mary Kay was a part of their success. We had one girl who brought the house to tears at a seminar. She was a brand new Mary Kay super stars sales director and had earned a free vehicle along with a new life for her and her child,” Maria conveys.
Through the support of Mary Kay Inc., The Mary Kay Foundation has awarded more than $28 million to domestic violence prevention programs and women's shelters in all 50 states and over $15 million to cancer researchers and related causes across the country.
Maria has nicknamed her group of consultants, or her ‘Mary Kay family’ as she describes. “Taylor-Made is what we call my future national area. It’s a fun, catchy name for my unit,” Maria attests.
“We have girl’s night out events just to have fun, kicking our feet up. It’s free, and it’s fun. We had a ‘Bahamas-Mama night’, held at the Hilton Garden Inn with 150 women laughing, having a good time and trying Mary Kay products. We also had the ‘Little Black Dress night’ - now you talk about some killer girls in some pumps and cute little black dresses. We had fun with the smoky eye look and we gave away prizes,” Maria says.
“I don’t ever try to shove it down anyone’s throat. I don’t have to – the success and life-changing endeavor of joining Mary Kay speaks for itself.”