Mary Kay Sales Director Brandi Zenzel has built a career and life around empowering women. Read on for how she nurtures beauty right in front of her.
My Mary Kay career started in 2002, and it primarily allows me to consider myself a Girlfriend’s Guide. I have great tools and resources to spend time with women. I listen to their pressing needs in addition to skincare, cosmetics, skill training, and confidence-boosting.
But at the heart of everything, my goal is to teach women to ask themselves, “Do I express myself the way I want to? Am I going into a situation where I’m going to feel empowered and reflecting my truest sense of self?
And if there’s something on the outside that we can do to reflect what I see on the inside, then we do that. This has been the most rewarding journey in a career that I’ve ever experienced. It’s more than I could have ever imagined.
Mary Kay Story
Mary Kay has been around since 1963. So we’re coming up on our 60th anniversary here in just a couple of years! The company was started for women of all backgrounds, shapes, and sizes in an era where they didn’t have the freedom to pursue life very far. Women were generally slotted to a few opportunities and very limited career paths and then were expected to stay at home if they chose to get married and have children. And Mary Kay Ash believed, very vocally, in putting God first, families second, and career third. And she was committed to treating others the way she wanted to be treated herself.
So her whole construct was there would be no territories and there would be no quotas. Women had the freedom to explore their own needs and shape their businesses to meet those needs relationally, financially, and spiritually. With personal growth opportunities and unlimited earning potential, some women started businesses to just overcome shyness, while others might join because they needed an income due to being recently widowed or a single parent or leaving a domestic violence situation.
This has been the most rewarding and intoxicating journey that I’ve ever been a part of because I’m able to watch women embrace their dreams and begin to believe that they truly can do it. And I can make sure that they have the tools, resources, and partnerships they need to create something of their own with their own values. That’s priceless.
Mary Kay Family
My family consists of two gorgeous daughters, Jordan and now her husband, Luke. Jordan owns a hair salon, and Luke is a Navy Seal. Our younger daughter and her husband live out in LA, and they are both pursuing arts.
At the home front, we’re empty nesters! Sean and I have been married for almost 31 years, and we have a relatively new guy in the house named Fred. He is our little rescue, and he is an emotional support animal for both of us, especially after Covid.
My kids were eight and eleven when I started. I’ve gotten a chance to observe over almost 20 years now what they have learned. I would say (and they agree) that most of what they do now goes back to watching me fail forward.
They went with me to appointments and did appointments with their friends and their friends’ moms. It was just really special to be able to do this business as a family business. They put product stickers on inventory products, and got paid in lip gloss, and whatever was sparkly at the time. (And they stole an inordinate amount of product from me, I’m sure, and used way more than they needed to.
But they fell in love with good skincare. I could say that for sure, and they’ve really developed skills that allow them to interact with adults and on the phone and make an ask.
Mary Kay Legacy and Lessons
Because I wanted them not to be afraid to try, both of them ended up starting Mary Kay businesses. Jordan started on her 18th birthday. Madison started after she’d gone to college. Now, they’re opposites, so they did it for different reasons. One did it for cash and ownership and glitz and glam and the ability to create something of her own. That was Jordan, and she owns the salon now. It comes right out of what she experimented with before she even knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.
Madison started a business because of what Mary Kay gave others. She saw how it could intersect with women’s lives and meet them in a sweet spot. She wanted to be able to do that for the women she was meeting at college. It was just cool to see them both loving it for different reasons and using it to serve their greater vision.
Most Recent Work Adventure
Working virtually this past year and a half has been a challenging and exhilarating adventure. I say so because the technology piece has never been something I’ve loved.
But I do love to learn, and I love a challenge. I love to connect with people, and I love to problem solve, and we had all of that mixed in there this past year and a half. Not to mention my husband had many medical appointments that took him in and out of the hospital. I needed access to home, and people needed me to be accessible.
I found this past year to be an incredible experience in learning new elements that provide for the needs of women anywhere around the globe, wherever life finds them. That could be on a playground, in a car, in a closet, or on the beach. I could meet them where they needed me to be, and it was an easy yes.
Mentors With Mary Kay
My husband was my first encourager. He said, “I know you love to learn. I know that if you want something, you go after it. And I will stand with you, no matter what. However long you do this, however little you do this, I think you need to give yourself a try.” He was my first encourager and continues to be a major source of support.
My mentors at Mary Kay have been sister consultants, and they’ve been directors. They’ve been national names that may not mean anything to you, but women who sit down with me at a kitchen table who are moms and friends and daughters and they’re just doing life with me at that moment, in that hour, and I get to be a part of their story. It’s incredibly humbling to do of life that way.
When I mentor others, it’s really asking again, “What matters to you?” I ask them, “How can you see yourself in 30 days, 60 days, 90 days? And do I have the privilege of walking with you through this?”
When I mentor, I don’t go on ahead of women and pull them through. And I don’t stand behind and push. I stand alongside women who’ve given me permission to be a friend. They still get to call the shots because I’m not the boss either.
This job is people work, and people work is unending. It is ministry. I have often called it my Makeup Ministry because I walk in, and I don’t know who I’m going to find at that given moment. I might have talked to a woman, and she said, “Oh my gosh, it’s so exciting, and we’re going to do this and that, and it’s so fun…” and I get there, and none of her friends have shown up. That breaks a woman’s heart, right? And I get to be a friend to in that moment.
Just helping people navigate the stuff of life can be challenging. Yet, it’s the most rewarding part, too.
I have the privilege and honor of being there for milestone moments with young ladies wearing makeup for the first time or learning how to wash their faces. They ask a tough question, and I get to give an authentic hope-filled answer.
Sometimes I’m with people when they get the worst news, and I’m right there. Sometimes the kids have the best news when I’m right there, and I love all of that. All of the good stuff and bad stuff. It all makes for the good stuff of life.
Wisdom for Work and Life
Have grace for yourself. Make your best plans, and then be willing to put everything aside for the right reasons. I think we know in our gut when something’s not right with our kiddos or with our spouse, or even with ourselves. Sometimes the best thing you can do is put it all down and know that tomorrow’s another day.
But sometimes it’s the opposite, and you just say, you know what we’re ordering pizza, don’t worry about baths, and we’ll figure this out tomorrow. I’m going.
When you’re tempted not to do something that you know is good for you, you get the most powerful breakthrough. There’s a discernment to knowing when to push yourself at the right time and giving grace to yourself at the right time.
Mary Kay Rest and Recharge
For me, it’s the little moments. I light a candle and take a hot bath and put on a mask turn on some jazz. That’s a great recharge for me. I also love my neighborhood, and I love walking on the beach or going on a trail.
Alone time is really important for me, but also I am a quality time person. I love getting time with people and having great conversations. It could even be a debate. Or, it could just be a time of remembering.
There’s an energy about being in a group, and I love going to Mary Kay events and to church, and to women’s conferences. There’s a place for all of it, right? It’s just knowing the frequency of those things and the infrequency. So for me, on the day-to-day, it’s quiet time, and it’s alone time.
Mary Kay Life
You can follow Brandi on Facebook in the group Positively Pink and on LinkedIn and Instagram @BrandiZenzel. She’s got some podcast guest appearances coming up that she’d love to share with you. Brandi also offers live appointments one-on-one and for any size group.
We love how Brandi nurtures women’s beauty from the inside out and has built a career she believes in. You can read about other family business features here.