My first job was at a bank when I was 13. It was the summer of 1986. Arcades (remember those) would bring their giant bags of quarters to the bank for deposit. The bags would make their way to a little table that held a sorting machine where I sat waiting. I would stick my finger up a tube to keep the quarters from shooting out. The machine would count out the exact amount of quarters and I would then wrap them up before sticking my finger back up the tube. I did this every morning, five days a week for the entire summer. My finger was black and smelly from the dirty money. Glamorous.
I’ve had 12 jobs over the last 31 years. (This is not counting all of the babysitting jobs that I’ve had, including the one where the kid killed a kitten about 30 minutes before his parents got home.) There’s been a variety: two summers at the bank, a card shop, a preppy clothing store, another bank, two separate teaching jobs, two different jobs at a church, blogging for Disney, and a Sunday columnist. All were great jobs while they lasted. Each job taught me a lot about myself and other people, the earlier jobs helping me to find both my strengths and my weaknesses when it came to employment.
One of the weakness that I quickly discovered was that of Salesperson. During college, I worked at Harold’s, the preppy clothing store on Campus Corner. Like most clothing stores, I earned a base pay plus commissions. The whole nine months that I worked at Harold’s I never earned a commission. Not once.
I was really good at straightening up, saying hello to the customers, taking clothes to and from the dressing rooms. I was especially good at shopping while I was working. I loved having to wear the clothes to work in (most of my closet was already from Harold’s thanks to my father’s charge account) and thought it was cool that I had my own name tag with my name spelled correctly (been reciting “with an ‘e’ not an ‘a'” for my entire life.) I was good at everything EXCEPT actually selling the clothes.
Five months ago I was approached about another sales job. My response was, “No, thank you.” I knew anything that included selling something probably wasn’t a good option for me. My opinion when it came to selling something was, “If you like it, buy it. If you don’t, don’t.” (Hence never earning a commission.) You would think I’d be good about bullshitting people (“You have to have that $150 sweater! It looks fabulous with your coloring!”) but I’m not. Not about that anyway. I told my friend no and moved on.
The thing was, I had been using and loving the products for close to two years. I liked these products so much I found myself telling my friends all about them, selling them, on a girls trip shortly after turning down the job offer. And it was while I was selling my friends on these products that I realized that I was already doing the job that was just offered to me. But the way I was doing it, I wasn’t getting paid. Something was wrong with this picture.
So after the girls trip, I stepped out of my comfort zone and told my friend I was willing to give it a try. I might totally suck but I would have fun trying.
I discovered that it is easy to sell something you love and believe in. I liked Harold’s clothes, but they were just…clothes. Beautycounter is different. Beautycounter is a company that I believe in. It’s not just about the products. It’s about the company’s mission. I wasn’t going to just be selling a product, I was going to be teaching others about the lack of regulation in the beauty industry, about the toxic chemicals that we aren’t even aware of that we are putting on our skin every day. I was going to be helping people choose safer beauty products. Teaching. I had taught before. I could definitely do this.
Switching to safer products was something I had tried to do before Beautycounter was even a company. In 2008, I read a book called Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life. I saw Julia Roberts talking about it on a morning talk show. The book talked a lot about using “greener” beauty products. Going “green” was my thing. And who doesn’t want to be just like Julia Roberts? I had written blogs about it. I was passionate about it. But it was HARD. It was expensive. I was already pretty environmentally friendly, but I hadn’t tackled my bathroom until reading this book. I found myself throwing everything away and heading to Whole Foods. But the “green” replacements didn’t last long. Not only were they expensive, they didn’t work very well. I was back to using my old crap in no time.
Fast forward to 2014 when my friend sent me some samples from a new company called Beautycounter. In her message, she told me that they offered body care, kids and beauty collection that are both safe and effective. She said the line was modern, high performing, and free of any known toxic ingredients. And then she said, “I like to think of the brand as Chanel meets Whole Foods.” That was all I needed to hear.
But there was more. She wrote:
The social mission of the company is to put safe products into the hands of everyone and the long term plan is to change legislation. Beautycounter bans 1500 ingredients from it products. The EU bans 1300. U.S. only 11. Staggering, I know. I am thrilled to be a part of a movement that will bring safety and health for generations to come.
I loved the mission before I even tried the products. Then she sent me Beautycounter’s Cleansing Balm and Rejuvenating Night Cream. Best stuff ever! Slowly but surely over two years, I switched out my products to nothing but Beautycounter, including all of the makeup line that I completely fell in love with.
So I loved the products. Used nothing but Beautycounter. Was telling my friends all about them. And when I was approached about becoming a consultant my answer was…no.
I’m grateful to my friends who told me I should give it a chance. Friends are good that way. Especially the ones who truly love you and want the best for you. They see things sometimes you can’t. And those friends? Well, they are some of my best Beautycounter clients.
I love my new job. When it comes to selling, my opinion has changed. I now tell people the same thing my Mom used to tell me when she wanted me to eat something new: Try it you might like it!
Want to try it? Learn more about Beautycounter and our mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone at beautycounter.com/stepheniefreeman