Taking Charge of Her Destiny
Shirley Ekblad combines direct selling with retail to build a thriving business.
Shirley Ekblad, a 22-year Avon veteran, is the proud owner of a Licensed Avon Beauty Center (LABC) at the Yorktown Mall in Lombard, Illinois. “This is a dream come true,” she says. “I’ve always wanted my own business.”
An Advanced Unit Leader and President’s Council member, Shirley studied business management in college. But eager to explore the real business world, she left after two years and worked as a gift shop manager for nine years before gravitating toward Avon. “Everyone knows the Avon name. You can’t ask for a more renowned product line,” she says.
Shirley, 50, started growing her business by doing a lot of home shows, and school and church fairs. One year, the budding entrepreneur bought herself a cash register as a birthday present. “It was a sign. I was destined for retail,” she laughs.
Five years ago, Shirley was working as a sales associate at the one-time Avon-owned Beauty Center at the mall. “I enjoyed the work very much but never imagined that the Center would someday be mine,” she says. “Then in 2001, LABCs – mall stores owned and operated by Avon Representatives – became the newest Avon career option. I had gotten a divorce and decided to take over the Center myself.”
After a slow start, Shirley’s sales began to skyrocket. They now average $15,000 per month. With the help of three employees, Shirley serves over 10,000 Customers a year at the LABC. (She has an additional 100 Customers she serves door-to-door.) While Shirley has been very successful with her LABC, she cautions that you must be very self-motivated. “I was fortunate because my LABC was up and running when I took it over and I had retail experience,” she says. “But I work seven days a week. When I’m not at the mall, I’m at home on the computer. In retail, you have to be ready for busy days—and slow ones too.”
Since taking over the LABC, Shirley has been able to splurge on her kids—John Michael, 23, and Suzanne, 19. She recently paid off two car loans, one for herself and one for her son, and purchased a townhouse. “When I was married, we rented a house from my mother-in-law. This is the first home I’ve owned,” she says. “Without Avon, none of this would be possible.”
Shirley is now in charge of her own destiny—and loves it. “Every day is a challenge,” she says. “After 12 hours at the mall, my feet may hurt, but I’m never bored.”