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CCU Atheneum: Hannah Parrish, left, and her friend Kara Cushman traveled to Sundance.
Hannah Parrish, left, and her friend Kara Cushman traveled to Sundance.

Campus 'mark girl' wins trip to Sundance

by Mona Prufer
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Hannah Parrish represents the new generation of direct online marketing.

The 20-year-old Coastal Carolina University senior won a free trip to the recent Sundance Film Festival as a reward for her success as a top national seller of Mark cosmetics.

Parrish was one of the three top sellers of Mark, which is the little sister of Avon that targets the 18-24 age demographic. For an avid film buff like Hannah, going to Sundance was a dream come true. (She was also included in a New York Times article on the new face of direct selling via e-commerce.)

“I’ve had Sundance posters hanging in my room, and suddenly, there I am at Sundance!” says Parrish, an English major with a minor in dramatic arts who plans a career in public relations or screenwriting. “It was everything I ever dreamed and more.”

It was only fitting that Hannah Parrish started selling cosmetics.

After all, her great-grandmother sold Avon, and mom Gwen Parrish recently signed up, at Hannah’s cajoling, to sell Avon as well. “There were some moisturizing products I needed,” explains Hannah.

For two years now, she’s been selling Mark cosmetics to friends, family and strangers, mostly online through her Facebook page, through Twitter and through her iPhone apps. “It is really handy to be able to show a customer some of our best products right from the iPhone,” she says. Other sales come about through parties and just by people noticing her accessories – a trendy shirt, sunglasses, a funky bracelet or earrings.

“People are always saying what a cute purse or whatever, and I’m like, ‘You can have one, too, let me show you!’” as she whips out her Mark “magalog,” or product catalog on her iPhone.

To win the Sundance trip, Parrish sold $6,000 in cosmetics. But she put in extra effort via digital marketing. She invited her 600+ Facebook friends to “Send Hannah To Sundance” and offered a bribe – her best client would accompany her on the trip. Turns out her best friend, Kara Cushman, who also lives in Myrtle Beach, bought over $600 in products from Hannah – and got to go with her.

Parrish, who admits to being “hyper organized,” spends an average of 12 hours a week on Mark business, selling, delivering products, updating her iboutique. She makes 30 percent commission on what she sells and uses her “Mark money” to pay her cell phone bill. She has to carefully balance her selling with studying and socializing.

Product loyalty helps the student to sell her line of beauty products – that, and a low price point that averages $9 per product. How can you go wrong marketing a product called “Hook Ups” to the college crowd? It’s a cosmetic stick that can be customized with two or three products – lipstick, eyeliner, mascara combinations.

Hannah first bought a Speedway big concealer stick and became so obsessed that she decided to purchase the $20 starter kit and become a Mark rep.

In addition to extra cash flow, Parrish says the experience is a great resumé builder – after all, she’s managed her own business already, and she interned last summer at the Mark headquarters in New York City where she worked in the public relations office.

“It wasn’t the usual go-get-coffee experience,” says Parrish. “I was actually planning celebrity events and product launches. I had never even been to New York before, and I hope to go back after I graduate.”

Parrish, who graduated from Myrtle Beach High School, says the company philosophy – Make your Mark – also appeals to her. “There are so many opportunities with this company. Mark is all about empowering women to make their mark in the world. I know now that I can do anything in the world that I want to do.”

Parrish’s personalized boutique site is www.mymarkstore/hparrish.

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