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She’s driving a pink Cadillac

Antrim woman has made a career in Mary Kay sales and recruiting

On her walls are plaques chronicling the sales her team has achieved that year. On her blazer, diamond bumblebee pins earned for recruiting sales representatives. And in her garage, a pink Cadillac, the eleventh car she’s earned in her 18 years selling Mary Kay products.

Kathleen Holmberg-Botelho of Antrim spent the first part of her life working in the food industry, as a waitress and a cook. She burned out of that line of work, she said, and wanted to try something new. First, she tried real estate, but didn’t like the atmosphere that came with the business. Then in 1995 when she moved to New Hampshire, she and her husband moved into a log cabin with a wood stove. The stove was drying out her skin, so she put in an order for some Mary Kay skin care products. What had first been a skin issue led her to what would become her full-time career. She invested in the $100 startup kit to become a sales representative, and has been going full-tilt ever since, she said in an interview at her Antrim home Wednesday.

“With no stamped paper for education, I was running my own business,” she said. “To be able to pull out of that showcase 11 free cars, plus the freedom of not having a boss or being forced to punch in and out every day, is still amazing to me,” she said.

Mary Kay sales representatives keep 50 percent of whatever money they make selling products, explained Holmberg-Botelho, plus earn commissions paid by Mary Kay for any other representatives they recruit to the company, based on the business the recruits do. After 18 years in the game, Holmberg-Botelho said she has 110 active sales members she’s recruited, living and working all over the United States. Her commission checks range from $4,000 to $8,000 in any given month, she said, aside from the money she makes selling product. But like any home business, it’s the hard work she’s put in, which she credits for her success.

“When I started, I didn’t have any idea what I was doing,” she said.

She began by giving free facials to a lot of the girls in the junior and senior classes of ConVal. Through them, she gained a lot of their mothers as clients, she said. And when the girls graduated or came back from college, they too became customers or even joined her sales team, she said. And it just grew from there. In 2001, after six years, she had amassed enough sales representatives under her to qualify for her first company car: a Pontiac Grand Am. Mary Kay paid for the lease payments on the car, the registration and 80 percent of the insurance, according to Holmberg-Botelho.

“It was the first new car I’d ever had,” she said. “In my old car, the air conditioning and cassette player weren’t working. When I got in the new car and pulled out in traffic and looked around the car, I could smell that new car smell. I just thought, ‘Wow.’”

Now, she said she mostly takes her car for granted, after six years of driving a Mary Kay pink Cadillac — the highest level of vehicle Mary Kay offers. But every once in awhile, when she gets her registration costs reimbursed, she’s reminded that not everyone enjoys that perk, she said.

“To me, Mary Kay is the American dream,” she said. “You can start with nothing but a $100 showcase and, as long as you’re willing to put in the work, you can get anything you want out of it. And it’s about helping people. I like to earn a free car, but there’s no greater thrill than helping someone else get one. It’s truly enriching helping someone else start a business, and be able to earn enough money to do what they want to do.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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