Local sales rep entered business after adopting kids with partner
Avon and lesbian: Not two words you’d usually expect to hear in the same sentence.
But that’s only if you don’t know Daryn DeZengotita.
DeZengotita, of Dallas, is one of five Avon sales representatives chosen about two years ago to serve as the "faces of Avon" around the world in an advertising and marketing campaign. Now that commercial is going to get one of the largest television audiences of the year when it airs Sunday, Feb. 1, during the Super Bowl.
"It was about two years ago that I was selected to audition for — and got a part in — some national TV commercials for Avon," DeZengotita said this week. "There are a million Avon representatives in the United States. Fifty of those were chosen to audition, and 10 were selected to be in the commercials."
That’s a pretty exclusive club. But DeZengotita got to take it one step further.
Of the 10 women chosen for the commercials, five were selected to appear in Avon’s global marketing campaign aimed at recruiting new sales reps. DeZengotita was one of the five.
Then last fall, she and one other woman were asked to return to the studio to shoot some extra scenes for a new launch of the commercial and the recruiting effort.
"It was right before Thanksgiving that they called and said they were recutting the commercial to specifically target the issues with the economy right now," she explained. "They wanted to tell people that if you’re worried about [the downturn] in the economy and are looking for a way to make extra money, now is the perfect time to become an Avon representative," DeZengotita said.
The recruitment campaign turned out to be "wildly successful," she said, prompting the cosmetics company to purchase advertising time during the Super Bowl this weekend. It will be the second commercial spot after Jennifer Hudson — "who is also a spokeswoman for Avon" — sings the National Anthem.
"It’s been rumored that it will also run during the halftime show. But I have been told that isn’t true," DeZengotita noted.
DeZengotita said she is starting her eighth year as an Avon sales representative, and that she started working with the company as a way to maintain income while at the same time spending more time at home with her partner, Celia Barshop, and their two adopted sons, who are now ages 7 and 8.
"It’s the typical Avon story," she said. "I had my own business in the IT industry.
But then my partner and I adopted our children, and I realized I needed something much more flexible. In my old business, if my customer’s e-mail went down and I wasn’t immediately available because I had a sick kid at home, they were not very happy about it. Now, if I can’t deliver a customer’s lipstick right away because I need to be at home with a sick child, my customers understand that. They are OK with that."
For some Avon reps, selling cosmetics is a part-time job; for some it’s less of a job, really, and more of a hobby.
But DeZengotita, it’s a full-time business that she takes very seriously. She even operates her own retail Avon store — "which is unusual in our business" — and she "runs herd on about 100 other Avon ladies."
And with her part in the advertising and recruitment campaign, DeZengotita is a very prominent "face" for the company. So, has her sexual orientation been any kind of stumbling block to her advancement within the Avon ranks? Absolutely not, she said.
"When I went in for the initial auditions, they had us all in this big holding room, waiting our turn. When people would finish and come back out, everyone would ask, ‘What kind of questions are they asking you? What do they want to know?’ And they would say, ‘Oh, they asked me a lot of questions about my family, things like what my husband does and how he is involved in my Avon business.’
"I heard that, and I immediately thought, ‘Uh-oh.’ So when it was my turn to go in, first thing I said was, ‘I am gay, and I am not careful with my pronouns.’ They busted out laughing. They asked me all kinds of questions about my family and my partner and our children," DeZengotita said. "It [her sexual orientation] has been the biggest non-issue, and they have shown absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in promoting me as the face of Avon around the world."
DeZengotita said she hasn’t made much of a big deal over being such a visible part of Avon’s global marketing campaign so far. But with the ad set to air during the Super Bowl on Sunday, she decided to speak up.
"I think it is kind of a big deal," she said. "It shows that we [as LGBT people] really are everywhere. We are even the face of Avon."
Darn DeZengotita operats Avon the Store at Preston Trail Village, located at Campbell Road and Preston Trail. Her Web site is www.avonbeauty.biz.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 30, 2009.