Fiona Wilkinson started selling Avon 13 weeks after her son was born. When he was six months old she developed post-natal depression. She says working for Avon helped her through the depression and has since provided her with a good income as a sales leader with a team of 75 reps.
Fiona worked for 17 years for BT and was a manager on the property side of the business when she went on maternity leave, having worked the last five years from home. She was offered voluntary redundancy and decided to take it so she could stay at home with her son for a couple of years. The local Avon rep suggested Fiona do a few hours a week to get her out and meeting people in her village in Kent. “I felt quite isolated and didn’t know many people as I had been working from home so I decided to start selling Avon,” she says. A bonus was that she got a big discount on Avon products.
Soon after taking redundancy she had a hysterectomy. Over the next few weeks she began to slip into depression and says a feeling of losing her old identity was a big factor. “When you become a mum it’s like you’re no longer your own person. You don’t get to be you any more. You always put yourself at the bottom of the list,” she says. She gradually realised that something wasn’t right and started seeing a counsellor. She says being able to do the Avon repping helped her over the next few years, getting her out and meeting people. It also helped to build her confidence as initially she felt she would be too introverted to do direct selling.
Her son was able to come with her. “Everyone knows him. He understands how it has helped me and how it pays for treats for him,” says Fiona. He has become a bit of an entrepreneur himself. “He comes up with ideas about where to target and wears things like watches to school to get people interested. He has already seen the Minions watch in the catalogue and said people at school will want it. He delivers my Avon catalogues and charges me for it and he wants to be an Avon sales leader when he is 18. We work together as a team,” she says.
When her son started school Fiona took on a part-time administrative job and ran that alongside her Avon work for a while. She says: “It wasn’t what I wanted to do. When you want part-time work you have to go back to what you were doing when you left school. People think you can’t do anything else.”
Three years ago Fiona received a text to come to a meeting to find out about being a sales leader at Avon. She has since built up a team of 75 reps called Fiona’s Make-up Fairies and has been able to leave her part-time job and focus solely on Avon. She works five days a week, mainly 10am-2pm, but she also does fairs at weekends. She says she earns around £200 a week, but that that money is growing all the time. Her salary increases every three weeks as her team expands.
She sees members of her team who all live locally in Kent and Sussex every three to four weeks, mainly in the evening. Most of her working day involves trying to find new reps either by knocking on people’s doors, handing out cards on the high street or driving around to see if she can see people who would be interested in becoming reps. Many of her reps are mums, but her team is very diverse, ranging in age from 18 to 68. She also advises her team and gives them training and updates on products. And she runs a Facebook page for her team.
Fiona, who plans to continue climbing the career ladder in Avon, is a member of the company’s sales leader council and says that a third of the members are men. “It’s a good way of starting a business,” she says. “There’s a minimum cost to join and you can start making money from the start.”
Fiona feels people tend not to see it as a proper business. “That is an old-fashioned view. People are coming in to earn rather than to play. You can fit it around your family life as you can work when you want to. It’s very satisfying and I enjoy it. I like to see my reps changing their lives. Some people use it as a stepping stone to get their confidence back and some like me stay in the business and build it up,” she says.
*If you live in the Kent or Sussex area and are interested in becoming an Avon sales rep, contact Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org.