- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

DALLAS (AP) - In 1964, Mary Kay hosted its first seminar at the company’s warehouse in Dallas. Mary Kay Ash cooked chicken for the 200 attendees.

This year, 30,000 people are expected to pack the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center for the cosmetics company’s annual seminar, which began last week.

The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/1x719DJ ) reports for the last 40 years, Mary Kay consultants have gathered at the convention center, making it the building’s longest-running annual event.

In contrast to the meeting’s humble start, the large gathering underscores Mary Kay’s growth as a global powerhouse in the cosmetic industry. Last year, the company reported $3 billion in global wholesale sales and 3 million independent beauty consultants.

Dalene White, a close friend of the late Mary Kay Ash and one of the company’s original consultants, has nothing but fond memories of both the company’s growth and annual seminars.

“I had such joy watching her watch the company’s growth,” White said. “She was unstoppable.”

Scarlett Walker-Simpson, a Dallas-area independent senior national sales director, has attended the seminar for more than two decades. Her two daughters, also Mary Kay consultants, attend the seminar with her.

For them and many other Mary Kay sales associates, attending the company’s highly anticipated annual seminar in Dallas has become a family affair.

The seminar is also a big boon for the convention center as well as for the city.

After outgrowing several local hotels, Mary Kay moved its seminar to the convention center in 1974.

In 2006, the seminar delivered an economic impact equal to four Texas-Oklahoma football game weekends, the company said. Since moving to the convention center, about 1.2 million people have attended the seminar.

The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the seminar will contribute $32.1 million to the Dallas economy. The seminar is in the Top 10 of 2014 Dallas events based on economic impact according to the organization.

Mary Kay hosts five back-to-back events over the course of 18 days, ending Aug. 2.

During the seminar, Mary Kay independent sales associates attend educational seminars, test new cosmetics and mingle with colleagues from as far away as Russia.

Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the organization, says he is glad the company chose the convention center to host their event.

“The seminar is a big deal for the city,” Jones said. “People like to come to Mary Kay Ash’s hometown,” he said.

Mary Kay chief marketing officer Sheryl Adkins-Green says the seminar helps put Dallas on the map as a popular tourist destination.

“We have Mary Kay booked out for the next 10 years at the convention center,” Jones said. “Hopefully, they’ll host their 60th anniversary here.”

This year’s seminar is Walker-Simpson’s 24th. Her two daughters, Kimberly Copeland and Krystal Hunsucker have attended for 14 and 12 years, respectively.

“We have a great time working together as a family,” Kimberly Copeland said.

Copeland and her mother donned bejeweled black jackets. Hunsucker wore a dark blue jacket. Sales consultants who have achieved certain milestones in the company wear different colored jackets as a form of recognition.

“You really see how Mary Kay is changing people’s lives,” said Sha Copeland, Copeland’s husband. “It’s an atmosphere like no other.”

Out of the estimated 30,000 seminar attendees, more than 2,300 husbands are attending the 18-day seminar, according to Mary Kay.

The Copelands’ four children also participate in the seminar’s festivities. Copeland says the company inspires them to set their own goals.

Although it was difficult to pinpoint their favorite part of the seminar, the family agreed that the sense of camaraderie and reconnecting with friends they’ve made across the country is the most enjoyable.

“The energy is contagious and you leave feeling that you can conquer the world,” Hunsucker said.


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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