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By ELINE de BRUIJN
After five decades peddling Mary Kay cosmetics, 92-year-old Ouida Caldwell knows how to get the most out of products like the anti-aging cream.
“You just smear it all over!” said Caldwell, who was honored Friday as the Addison company’s longest-tenured consultant.
Besides the obvious places, “all over” included baseball gloves and the back seat of her pink Cadillac, which children would often slide across whenever she turned a corner.
“We joke that we’re going to put her ashes in a Mary Kay jar,” her daughter Julia Bales said. “She was made for this.”
Caldwell joined Mary Kay in 1966 after being impressed with a facial her friend gave her. A mother and housewife in her 40s at the time, she credits company founder Mary Kay Ash for transforming her into a saleswoman.
“She turned her into a professional woman who could do anything,” Caldwell’s granddaughter Lisa Vogel said. “Everything that Mary Kay said about the enthusiasm, self-esteem … she is the epitome of those lessons. It’s so much a part of her identity.”
Several family members were among the well-wishers who feted Caldwell at the company’s headquarters Friday.
Three of her Mary Kay friends around the same age were there, too, but Caldwell is the only one still selling products, to about 60 clients.
“We always say, ‘You get into Mary Kay at first, but Mary Kay gets into you,’” said Peggy Davidson, the company’s vice president of U.S. sales. “She was a wise woman to know in 1963 that women needed an opportunity.”
Caldwell said she learned etiquette, confidence and grace from Ash, who “could talk to anybody.”
“It didn’t matter if they got out of the gutter or if they had a crown on their head,” she said.