TRAVERSE CITY — Awards and recognition for being at the top of a particular profession vary widely.
For some on sale it can be a crystal trophy. For others, it might be a corporate color blazer.
For Mary Kay independent sales executives, there is one most notable award for a sales milestone: a pink Cadillac.
Traverse City’s Charmaine Lipscomb picked up the keys to a pink 2023 XT5 Cadillac from Serra Traverse City Cadillac on Thursday. A sale of more than $102,000 for a six-month period qualified Lipscomb to drive away from the dealership with a two-year lease, which includes more than 95 percent of the insurance costs covered by the 59-year-old company.
“This is beautiful,” Lipscomb said of the vehicle, Mary Kay on the door and a bouquet of balloons on the windshield wiper in the showroom at 1747 S. Garfield Ave.
It is the third time Lipscomb has qualified to lease the pink Cadillac, but only the first since moving from Alpena to Traverse City in 2008.
“It’s exciting to be the only pink Cadillac driver in northern Michigan,” said Lipscomb, who once hit the sales milestone in Alpena. Another time, Lipscomb said she had taken over the $1,000-a-month cash option from the company.
Serra Traverse City staff were also delighted to present the new pink Cadillac to Lipscomb.
“This was really exciting,” said Serra Traverse City Cadillac Sales Consultant Chrissie Felke, who made brownies with homemade buttercream and pink raspberry lemonade for the occasion. “It was fun talking to her, getting to know her and personalizing the vehicle for her.”
General Sales Manager Mike McFarlan said this is the first time Serra Traverse City has delivered a pink Cadillac to a Mary Kay sales director since the new showroom was built a decade ago.
“It’s been a while, that’s for sure,” McFarlan said.
Lipsomb has been with Mary Kay for 26 years and said business was strong during the pandemic. She said Mary Kay’s virtual presence and free shipping on American-made products resonated with consumers.
The result was $488,000 in sales this “seminar year,” which ended in June. That was $100,000 more than last year.
“It was amazing how much my business exploded making people look beautiful and their skin feel amazing,” said Lipscomb, who wore diamond pins for $450,000 and $350,000 on her lapel.
Feike said the pink XT5 was the result of Lipscomb’s “relentless hard work and success” before handing over the showroom floor and the keys to the recipient.
Even though she drives off with the Cadillac, promising to “drive around more than ever,” Lipscomb said it’s a group effort. Mary Kay Inc. is a private multi-level marketing company that sells health and beauty products. Mary Kay was the sixth largest marketing company in the world in 2018 with a wholesale volume of $325 billion, according to Direct Selling News.
Lipscomb said there are about 110 consultants on her team. Lipscomb said about 80 of the 110 consultants are from Northern Michigan. She said some of those are only consultants for personal use of Mary Kay products, which Lipscomb says have no sales quota.
Eight consultants under Lipscomb attended Thursday’s ceremony in Traverse City. Two were driving from Escanaba the night before and four were from the Alpena area, where Lipscomb worked after moving from the Chicago area in 1997.
“They are the reason we were able to achieve this goal,” said an emotional Lipscomb, pointing to the advisers, family and friends who had gathered around the pink Cadillac.
All those in attendance to support Lipscomb were invited to her home for lunch, if they weren’t filled with pink cookies from Grand Rapids, gummy bears from Germany, or the treats Feike made.
One of those who made the trip from the northeast side of the state was Anita LaFave. She has been a Mary Kay consultant for 2 years and said Lipscomb was a great mentor.
“I love it,” said LaFave, who lives in Hubbard Lake. “She works very hard and she helps everyone below her. She always has time for everyone.
“She is the most giving person I know. Her whole heart and soul is Mary Kay and she is always helping people.
“If anyone deserves this car, it’s her.”
While admiring the pink Cadillac in the showroom, LaFave was asked how long it would take for her to qualify for the iconic vehicle.
“If anyone wants to take me there, she will take me there,” LaFave said of Lipscomb.
Lipscomb started selling Mary Kay when she left a teaching job in the Chicago area to become a stay at home mom. Lipscomb said she drove off with her first pink Cadillac while working in Alpena when her kids were “in diapers and car seats.”
Lipscomb said she took a step back when she first moved to TC, where she worked and volunteered at Traverse City Christian High School. She said about 80 percent of her sales come from customers in the Traverse City and Alpena regions.
Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants who achieve Independent Sales Director status can earn (or cash instead) the use of a Cadillac XT5, according to the company’s website.
Started by Mary Kay Ash, the Cadillac program was started “to reward the best of the best,” according to the website. Approximately 1.5% of Mary Kay Independent Consultants achieve Director of Sales status and approximately 10% of Mary Kay Independent Sales Directors earn the use of the iconic Pink Cadillac.
Since the Mary Kay Career Car Program began in 1969, more than 171,000 members of the sales force have qualified or requalified to earn the use of a company car, according to the website. There are currently more than 3,600 of these career cars on the road in the United States. Of these, more than 1,000 are pink Cadillacs.
Lipscomb drove a commercial vehicle from Chevy Traverse to Serra Traverse City Cadillac on Thursday and left with another. While her blue Chevy may not have stood out, it probably won’t.
“They know,” McFarlan said of the new pink vehicle.