Avon calling

Three years ago, Carrie Twining was facing one of the biggest challenges of her life. She couldn’t envisage going back to her high-powered job full time, but local opportunities were thin on the ground and she was getting turned down even for low skilled jobs.

But a chance encounter with an Avon representative changed her life and she is now facing her second pregnancy in a much more buoyant mood, having carved out a career which works for her family and uses her training and experience.

Carrie was a junior buyer for toiletries and cosmetics for Claire’s Accessories for six years before she became pregnant with her first child. Her job was full on with long 12-hour days – she was sometimes at work till 11pm – and it also involved a lot of international travel. Her husband is a senior manager and also works long hours.

She fully intended to return to her job after a short maternity leave, but realised she wasn’t happy about leaving her son so the family made cutbacks and she managed to carve a year off. She investigated a part-time return, but it would have involved a large pay cut and a lot of commuting and she would have made a loss going to work.

Carrie, who is based in Warwickshire, started looking around at other local part-time jobs which required the beauty qualifications she had. Local shops turned her down because they said she could not be flexible enough if she had a young child. The experience was fairly soul-destroying after she had had such a high-powered job, handling a multi-million pound budget. She took an evening bar job for £44 a week. “I had always worked since I was 16,” she says.

Then one day when she was out with her son a total stranger chased her down the road and asked if she would consider being an Avon representative. Her name was Louise Carter.  “I am so grateful that Louise approached me. It changed our lives,” says Carrie. “It meant I could have a career and be a mum.”

Carrie now does the same to other mums she sees on her travels. “I really believe in that way of finding people. I find fantastic people all the time,” she says.

Sales representative

Her first concern with Avon was whether she could make enough money, but because she wasn’t doing anything at the time she thought she might as well deliver a few catalogues while she was out and about with her son. She was soon earning £50 a week. After six weeks, she wondered what she could do if she really focused on the Avon job and explored the sales leadership side of the business.

She put out feelers online and got 10 appointments with people who were looking to be sales reps. She taught them how to be reps and has built her sales team from there.

That was three years ago and now she has a team of 180 reps and sales leaders who she meets three times a year for ongoing training and development. She uses a lot of online tools to stay in touch, such as Facebook team pages, which she says are invaluable since they are live and interactive.

Carrie earns a percentage of her rep sales and her sales leader team sales. She originally worked very close to home when her son was tiny, but she now goes further afield, as much as an hour’s drive away. She likes to be fairly near so she can meet people face to face.

Carrie says she built the business slowly over the first 18 months while her son was very little and has been able to put in more hours since he turned three and started nursery on the 15 free hours a week. Before he started at nursery she earned around £200 a month. The year after he started nursery the business grew by 135%. “I invested time because it was the right time for me. I have trained sales leaders who have built their own teams. It has really snowballed,” says Carrie. “I am earning a full-time salary now although I work part time and I feel I have not even started. There is a lot more I could be doing.”

Second pregnancy

However, she is going to take it easy for the next few months since she is now pregnant with her second child. “I plan to step back a little bit, but will keep everything running along,” she says. Eventually she believes she will earn as much as she did as a buyer. “Several of the people up the line from me are earning treble what I earn because they have been doing it for longer,” she states. “I have chosen to do it slowly as that is what is right for my family.”

She plans to have a little time off with the new baby, but will go with what feels right at the time. “There is no pressure on me to be at work or not to be at work. I work from home and if I want to put in the hours I can. If something happens and I can’t do that it doesn’t matter,” she states.

Carrie says her house is a much happier place due to her ability to work flexibly with Avon. “It has given us such a balance. Leaving my full-time job was the most challenging time in my life and that can take away from your enjoyment of having children. I was so frightened about what I would be able to do work wise. My husband was worried when I started working for myself because it takes time to earn money, but I’m glad I stuck it out. I don’t think I could go back to my old life now. With this pregnancy I am enjoying things much more and I will enjoy the baby more as I don’t have those worries.”

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