Book by FHSU grad shares the makeup of an entrepreneur

Elizabeth Dumas

By Randy Gonzales
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. -- Out of a job and needing money, Elizabeth Demas turned to selling Avon, something she did for fun while attending Fort Hays State University. She was so successful, she wrote a book to help other direct sellers.

Demas, who lives in Independence, Mo., graduated from FHSU in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in informatics. She was laid off in 2003 from her position with a major telecommunications company in the Kansas City area. In her first six months selling Avon, she reached more than $10,000 in sales. She eventually grew her Avon business to the point where she now has 100 members in her team and owns two licensed Avon Beauty Centers in the Kansas City metro area. Her Overland Park store has sold more Avon products than any other location in the country. In 13 years, Demas has sold more than $5 million of her company's products.

The decision to write a book came from Demas' desire to share her success story with others -- and hopefully help them succeed. Demas' self-published book, "From Knocking on Doors to Making Millions," is available for purchase on

"I realized, 'Why not pass on that knowledge, help other people be successful,' " Demas said.

While conducting research for the book, Demas consulted other sales experts and found a common denominator for success.

"I interviewed 23 other direct sales experts in the industry," she said. "The interesting thing, they're all successful in different areas, but they're passionate about it."

Demas' advice for recent college graduates is to realize they are unlikely to have just one career, one job, in their lifetime.

"I think just knowing that in this day and age a career is more fluid," she said. "Everyone knows you don't just get a job and get a gold watch 30 or 40 years later. Just know it's fluid, and you're at your starting point."

Demas, 42, is constantly reinventing herself. From the telecommunications industry to selling Avon to writing a book -- and now she recently was certified in Verbal Aikido, which is the philosophy of managing and transforming verbal attacks effectively and peacefully.

"It's advanced communication skills with emotional intelligence," Demas said.

Dr. Mark Bannister, dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship at FHSU, had Demas in several of his classes. He remembered her as a bright and enthusiastic student.

"I hope being an informatics major, she learned to innovate and become a lifelong learner," Bannister said.

Demas' son, Rahasya, just completed his first year in the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science program at FHSU this spring semester. KAMS is the state's premier academic high school program for the best and brightest high school students.

"He was so bored, just sleeping through high school," Demas said. "He was worried about leaving all of his friends, but I think he has a deeper bond with the kids in KAMS."

"I think it's very exciting when we have multiple generations of a family who attend Fort Hays State and believe this is a university that serves them well and opens doors for them," Bannister said.

Opening doors is the key to direct selling. In her book, Demas details different ways to get a foot in the door -- sometimes literally. The first part of the book is devoted toward determining what a person's goals are. After that, it's different sales techniques.

"The rest of the book is all the different ways you can sell (with) direct selling," Demas said. "You kind of take the one (approach) that speaks to you. Everyone is looking for that magic bullet, that magic pill that is going to make them successful."

It all goes back to finding your passion.

"What I did isn't necessarily someone else's path," Demas said. "Everyone has to find their own path to success."

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