Fashion / Style

How Sheryl Adkins-Green’s Love of Fashion Has Carried Through Her Impressive Career

Mary Kay's CMO Cites Early Inspiration, and How a Teen Pageant Helped Her Believe in Herself

BY // 01.06.21

I wanted to start 2021 on the right foot, so my PaperCity Bomb Girl needed to be a woman filled with hope and optimism — and, most definitely, someone enamored with fashion. In Sheryl Adkins-Green’s case, it’s specifically shoes (a vice we share) and, of course, makeup, given her role as an executive VP and chief marketing officer for Mary Kay. For 12 years, she has been a passionate leader for the multi-billion-dollar company’s marketing and product initiatives, which support their beauty consultants around the globe.

Sheryl’s penchant for fashion began at a young age; she cites magazine coverage of the Ebony Fashion Fair as an early inspiration. Her grandmother gave her a sewing machine and taught her how to make her own clothes, and she even received an honorable mention for the shoe designs she submitted to a competition in Seventeen Magazine. For an evening-shoe entry, “I was inspired by a light bulb,” she says. “The heel started with the taper and went out to the bulb. Picture having an appropriately sized light bulb and then a black suede pump coming off of that.”

Today, Sheryl’s playful fascination with exquisite footwear continues via her weekly posts on Instagram — #tuesdayshoesday and #sherrylovesshoes — which feature covetable selections from her closet, from Jimmy Choo to Chanel. Her love of fashion informed her choice of colleges. “I pictured myself in New York City, but I ended up at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when I learned they had an undergraduate program that combined business and design,” she says. She knew most fashion majors are creative but saw herself more on the business side of the industry. During her senior year, she had another light-bulb moment. “I couldn’t have a wardrobe and afford an apartment on a retail salary,” she says, “so that’s when I broadened my horizons and looked at marketing and advertising and decided an MBA would accelerate my career.” She ended up at the holy grail of colleges with that program: Harvard.

Sheryl met her husband, Geoff Green, while working in the Northeast post- Ivy League. They’ve been married for 30 years and have two grown sons, Landon and Colton. The couple is actively involved in many Dallas charities — particularly the arts, since they are avid contemporary art collectors. Sheryl’s primary philanthropic focus, however, is the Mary Kay Foundation. She cites the difference they’re making in causes that impact women, such as cancer and domestic violence.

As we ended our conversation, I asked her to pick a theme song to lead her through the year ahead. Without hesitation, Sheryl Adkins-Green said, “Jill Scott’s ‘Golden.’” She loves this verse in particular: “I’m taking my own freedom, putting it in my song. Singing loud and strong, groovin’ all day long. I’m taking my own freedom, putting it in my stroll. I’ll be high stepping, y’all, letting the joy unfold.”

Approximate date of the photo?
Spring 1979.

The occasion?
Miss Teen Maryland Pageant.

What you were wearing?
My prom dress, which doubled as my pageant dress. Or perhaps vice-versa.

What price fashion?
Buying fashion is more than buying a look — you’re buying a feeling. So, then the question becomes: How can you put a price tag on feeling confident?

Why this is a picture? 
Growing up in a time when pageants did not embrace diversity, I’d never even considered entering one. With the encouragement of an important mentor, I not only entered, I was first runner-up! This achievement taught me to believe in myself and never limit my aspirations and goals.

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