Stories of Wonder Women: Mira and Susan

Dear Readers,

I am thrilled to share a story of a woman who has impacted the world in significant ways by living a life of adventure in "risking herself by leaving a little piece behind in all those she meets along the way."  She was an answer to prayer in my life before I even knew I needed her to be . . . She is a mentor, an inspiration, and her encouragement and challenging words stuck with me through many seasons of my own life.  I know I am not the only one who is blessed enough to receive of her generosity, although I like to believe that God sent her into my life at the right time, just for me!

Susan has shared a letter to her Wonder Women, and I have the privilege of sharing it with you.  This is one way we spread the word of women building one another up, helping others live their dreams through the ups and downs of life,  and seeing real stories of success when forces join together in a mission that serves people & business.




Dear Wonder Women:

It is important that you have a history of our Unit and our Area.  National Sales Director Emeritus (deceased) Marilyn Welle-Villella was your Sr. National Sales Director; National Sales Director Emeritus Shirley Hutton was your National Sales Director (and our Sr. Director) until she retired in January 1996.  Marilyn recruited Shirley Hutton (who broke the Million Dollar in Unit retail sales record first and many more records.)  And, NSD Anita Mallory is currently our National Sales Director until she retires at the end of this year.  And she was the first who recruited all of these ladies on down the line.

I began building my business on June 24, 1980...the last day of a quarter!  My Recruiter/ Director was so happy that I came into Mary Kay as a Star Consultant.  I want to take you back to August, 1979 when I arrived in Columbia, SC from California with two children, and pregnant with the third.  I had worked up the ladder of success in corporate America in California and was looking forward to a peaceful life in SC as a wife and stay-at-home mother.  In October, David was born and a couple of weeks later, as I watched television, Mary Kay Inc. was featured on 60 Minutes.  As you know, 60 Minutes discovers and uncovers everything about everyone (good or bad) and they could find nothing wrong with Mary Kay Inc., the Company or Mary Kay, the person.  I was impressed, but not moved to action.

 In January, 1980 I received a call from my husband announcing he was never coming to join me in SC; he had met someone else and he was "in love".  He said I could have the kids and the house, and I should not count on him.  It happens every day to women everywhere.  I had a dilemma.  How was I going to support my family?  How was I going to feed my kids and keep our home?  After a lot of soul searching and prayer, Mary Kay kept cropping up.  The thought would not go away.  I had to travel to California to sell that house and go through the divorce.  While I was there, three days before I left permanently, I looked up Mary Kay, Inc. in the phone book.  I called every Director listed and Janet Barnhill called me back pretty quickly.  Before I realized it, I found myself getting in the car and driving to her home to have that famous Mary Kay facial.  I loved the product and was impressed with her and the marketing plan.  It was a great opportunity.  I knew I could learn how to do this.  So, with butterflies in my stomach, I purchased a beauty case and inventory on the same day and set off to conquer South Carolina. 

 My first skin care class consisted of 3 women and was $90 in sales.  I sold two basic skin care sets.  The hostess had me promise I would not try to sell anything.  I honored that, but her sister and her friend asked me how they could buy the product.  I was thrilled and surprised.  Debra, the hostess' sister is still in my customer file today.  Within 18 months I became a Director and six months later our Unit earned its first pink car, a Buick Regal.  Three months later we were in a CADILLAC!  In our first complete year as a Unit we reached the $367,000 level in retail sales, which was June 1983.  In June 1984 we reached $300,000.  In December 1985, I married David Weeks and took some time off.... one year to be exact.  I don't know of any corporation that would allow me one year off and still permit me to drive a company pink car! 

I went back to work and by Seminar 1988 we reached $300,000 again.  In June 1989 we jumped to the $550,000 Circle of Achievement for the first time and instead of the 4-karat diamond ring, I chose to take the business package.  In 1990 we earned our first trip to Rome, Italy by reaching the $600,000 Circle of Excellence.  In 1992 and 1993 we consistently remained at $500,000 and in 1993 we once again earned a trip by reaching $650,000…toBermuda.  1994 brought yet another trip; this time to Munich, Germany as we reached the $600,000 level.  1995 became our 7th year in a row to be one of the top units in Mary Kay, earning our 7th 4-karat diamond ring (or the equivalent of), reaching $500,000.  Most of you know I take cash; this year was no different, however, I bought a beautiful mink coat!  1996 earned us a fabulous trip to Paris, and the position of No. 1 Unit in South Carolina for the fourth year reaching $667,000, our highest production to date.   I, again, took cash and bought another coat…two was probably enough, but you never know.  

1997 brought tragedy--my step-dad passed away--and in the process of moving my mom to live in South Carolina, I once again took time off.  I continue to be amazed that nobody fired me.  Nobody reprimanded me for not working very hard.  Instead, the Company overwhelmed me with love.  We reached $400,000 for the next three years and enjoyed life with mom near by.  In July 1999, we were ready to soar again, especially since the children were pretty much grown up.   We reached the $650,000 Circle of Excellence one more time, our highest production ever, earning us yet another trip to Vancouver, Canada and Alaska, and another 4-karat diamond ring (I took the cash again).   And then in the 2000-01 Seminar year we broke a record not only for our Unit, but also in the State of South Carolina by achieving the level of the first Million Dollar Unit in South Carolina!  We jumped from 150 unit members to 300 in about two months with Mary Kay’s 50% showcase offer in August that year.  We recruited 75+ people in one month!  This, combined with huge momentum propelled us into the #22 position in the entire Company (out of 11,000+ Directors) for the year.  And, once again, another Director trip to Scotland and Ireland was earned, including the Million Dollar Mingle in Dallas, Texas.  In 2015 at our Leadership, Mary Kay announced that there are only 140 Million Dollar Directors in the entire history of the Company.  Our Unit is in the Mary Kay Hall of Fame!

 In 2001-02 the $650,000 unit club earned us a trip to Vienna.  2003-2010 we consistently reached the $500,000-$600,000 Circles while enjoying life traveling everywhere.

 As a Unit we have earned the use of pink cars since 1982--two Buick Regals, the rest Cadillacs, and one Jimmy.  As of January, 2015 we are on target for our next Cadillac.   My highest check in one month has been in excess of $19,000.  We have been honored to be #1 in South Carolina 12 times.  It’s hard to believe that a $100 beauty case would have ALL these benefits inside of it.  Indeed, these benefits are all there for you also as you steadily and consistently build your business.    We are proud to be WONDER WOMEN! 

 When I remarried (in 1985) we blended five children ranging in age from 6 to 14 and we had a very busy household over the years.  I have chosen God first, Family second and Career third.  Those children are all on their own now and it's a different time in my life.  I find that as a single woman I have many choices. I am thankful for the choice I made to build this business over these 34+ years, one step at a time.   I am blessed to have all of you in my life and to have the best career in the world with an opportunity to continue to grow into the next direction it may take me.  Mary Kay affords us choices every day and is here for all of you as you make YOUR own choices for success.

 YOU CAN DO IT!  Choose to realize all your hopes and dreams by doing something you enjoy as much as I have these many years.  How many can say they truly love what they do and get paid well to do it?   There is one secret to success that I would pass on to YOU as you build your business and that is: BOOK, SELL AND RECRUIT with GOD's help every week! And YOU will reach the top! 




Mira: Her story reminds us to believe in ourselves


People are the core of a business. There are plans and finances, strategies, frameworks. None of those can be executed without amazing people. Today, I honor all of you for the work you do in your organizations, households, and communities while you manage life. You are the reason I chose my field of study. Thank you. Your stories are my life's work.

Mira shares from her heart as our next guest writer.  We met while we were both studying at Case Western Reserve University.  Her story offers us an inside view into immigration and the journey of a refugee.  Mira is a treasured friend and colleague, and I am grateful our paths crossed.  We can learn from her hope and belief, not only through her own eyes, but also from the eyes of a 92-year-old woman who further opened her heart to "what's around the corner."


I thank all those who laughed at my dreams;

You have inspired my imagination.

I thank all who wanted to squeeze me into their scheme;

They have taught me the value of freedom


I thank all who have lied to me;

You have shown me the power of truth.

I thank all those who have not believed in me;

You have expected me to move mountains.

I thank all those who have written me off;

You have aroused my courage.


I thank all those who have left me;

They gave me room to create.

I thank all those who have betrayed me and abused;

You have let me be vigilant.

I thank all those who have hurt me;

They have taught me to grow in pain.


More importantly, I thank all

Who love me as I am;

They give me the strength to live.


~Paulo Coelho


I start this story with the P. Coelho poem because it deeply describes my life.  About 19 years ago, my family and I were refugees from Ukraine and we established a new life here in Cleveland. I felt blessed by God and destiny to begin a new life in this multi-cultural country were tolerance and liberty offer an opportunity for everyone to make their wishes and hopes come to life.  With a hungry passion, I started to learn English, look for a job, and attend all the courses and seminars possible for an easy and smooth transition.

My first job was at a Home Health agency as an aid. Icared for a 92-year-old woman, and I learned one of the biggest lessons: life is too short and every person’s life has difficulties; try to be strong and never give up.

This woman was born at the beginning of the last century in independent Romania and lived a wealthy life in a Jewish banker family until part of the country was annexed by the Soviet Union.  The formal language in the family was Romanian and Yiddish, but they had to begin learning the Russian language immediately.  Before Russian communism came into the country, she had a chef, nanny and cleaner in her home.  When communism came into effect, everyone had to be equal and all of her luxuries were lost.  The poor and rich were all the same.

However, a few years later at the start of World War II, at 38 weeks pregnant, she had to escape with a five-year-old child.  At that moment, her husband was at the front line in the war for four years and she had to evacuate by train to Uzbekistan.  Somewhere in the middle of a desert in Kazakhstan, she went into labor and a random Kazakh woman, who only spoke her native language, helped her with delivery and she was able to give birth to a healthy baby girl.  She learned how to survive without her spouse with two young children in a different environment.  Later on, after WWII, during the assimilation of the hungry war years in Uzbekistan, she was reunited with her husband.

In the beginning of the 90's, after the Soviet Union collapsed, her family had to immigrate to the United States by refugee status.  It was unsafe to stay there, so that resulted in a new beginning.

One day, when I walked into her room, she said:

"My whole life went by very quickly and I can compare it to opening a door, stepping out then closing the door. Be patient and get rid of anxiety. If destiny sends you through tough and tricky times, look for the positive side of this challenge and keep going. Be open-minded because you never know what waits for you around the corner."

I will remember her forever and every day I try to follow her lessons. 

My own career has continued on as a result of my pursuits and determination to learn.  At the Cleveland Clinic, I started as a phlebotomist, and then pursued research, becoming a senior research technologist at LRI, a molecular cardiology department.  I love what I am doing and enjoy our diverse community inside of the department.  Every day gives me new challenges and knowledge.  I am proud to learn from others and share my own experiences and skills.

My life, like everyone's of course, was not always delightful and easy.  I went through betrayal and pain; I fell down so many times that I don’t remember how many times it happened. However, I will always remember to rise out of the deep pit, stand and give all I have.

I leave you with these final thoughts:

  • Try to avoid negative and pessimistic outlooks; everything that can distract my encouraging viewpoint should be subsided immediately.
  • Look back only if it accomplished knowledge appreciation.
  • Be grateful, for every day’s prosperous, even if it’s not looking that bright, explore new experiences from the current situation and learn.
  • A smile is the best weapon ever; it always healed my heart and helped others feel comfortable and happy.

I’m grateful every single day for what I have: my family, my relatives and friends.  Living through immigration is hard for everyone, no matter what country you came from.  It’s difficult to learn the language and customs while embracing the new culture. I was always and still am hopeful that everything will be okay because this woman’s story reminds me to never give up. Even when horizons look like mirages, I still keep on moving to achieve my goals.  Everything in the beginning can look like an illusion, but self-belief can turn things around.