A Mary Kay Sales Director Faces Failure After 30 Years

This is the story of a senior director who has been with Mary Kay for almost 30 years. And what does she have to show for it? No retirement savings.

I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I think it’s time I tell you all my story. I may alter a few dates to protect my identity since I’m still in Mary Kay.  I am a Senior Sales Director and have been in Mary Kay close to 30 years.

When I joined Mary Kay I was a depressed wife of a professional man who didn’t want me to go back to work.  I wasn’t very good at the housework thing but I did enjoy spending the time at home with my two small children.  I decided to join Mary Kay against my husbands advice.  He was worried that people would think he was failing if I had to go peddle cosmetics.

I think it was his doubts that made me want to succeed. I was so desperate for some approval and I think that is what lures a lot of women into this company. Getting all that praise for even small amounts of accomplishment made me feel great. It also made the distance between my husband and I grow larger.  He resented the fact that I loved going to Mary Kay events and I loved my work.  I became a director within my first two years and even though he acted proud of my out in public, he reinforced his doubts about this company at home.

Right from the beginning I started to borrow money and I was not telling my husband how much I was spending.  There were no credit cards for orders back then but I had worked in a bank before so I was able to get money loaned to me.  I wanted to build up my inventory and I was doing 3 classes a week so I was turning over the product really fast.

After I became a director I was really hooked.  I was not ever pushy and never brought in consultants with any more than they could afford.  I worked hard to teach them to sell and actually I still have a few of those ladies with me after all these years.  My unit has never missed production in all these years but I can’t say that I’m making money.

For years I traveled all over our state holding meetings for out of town groups and actually developed up to three offspring (I only have one now)  What I found out was that everyone thought I was a super success because I drove a pink car (they had pink cars that were not Caddys back then)  My unit never got over 90 people so I never really made it to that Caddy level. I attribute that to not frontloading consultants with a ton of product.

I truthfully believe I was a good director.  I gave prizes, didn’t charge for meeting rooms, sent newsletters and worked long hours.  As long as I was married and had someone else paying the mortgage, taxes, utilities, etc., I could spend all that money on my business expenses and it didn’t matter that I didn’t really make much.  I actually have been in the queen’s court of sales for the past 20 years running.  Wow, it sounds like I should be a success.

Well, about 15 years ago I left my husband since we had grown so far apart.  I was a Mary Kay Senior Sales Director so of course I could make it on my own.  Well, that is where I was so very wrong.  No one knows how many expenses there are to being a director.

The checks look good but that is before taxes.  Then you have all your gas, office supplies, postage, phone calls, prizes, insurance, directors suit, seminar, career conference, leadership conference, and on and on.  When you get done paying all the expenses there isn’t much left of that commission check.  The money from my personal sales pays for the mortgage, utilities, health insurance, cloths, food, taxes etc.  Wow, when it’s time to place an order it goes on the credit card.  There isn’t any money left from those sales to order inventory because there are so many bills.

I have slowly gone in debt about $8,000 a year for the first ten years that I was on my own.  These past 5 years I have tried to work part time jobs and even full time jobs to try to get out of this huge hole.  I’m in my late 50’s so I am not at the age to be starting a new career.  I have a good client base so I don’t want to dump Mary Kay but my pink bubble has burst and I see just how so many people go into debt and how so many marriages break up over this business.

I don’t have a lot of choices right now.  I must keep this business going in hopes that I can someday retire but I also have to work other jobs to try to get out of debt.  I was told that I should go bankrupt when I went for financial advice but I don’t want to do that.  With interest rates eating up so much of my payments, it is almost impossible to get out from under this weight.

I currently have around 70 consultants and we average over $8,000 a month in production, but since the company hasn’t given us any substantial raise in many years, my income has not kept up with inflation.  I have cut out the prizes, except for year end. I cut out the newsletter and I don’t travel much any more because I am working all the time.  This is the time of my life when I should be looking forward to retirement like all my friends.  Actually I will probably never be able to retire and I am working more now than I ever have.

So for those of you who want to be a director, my advice is to stay married because no matter how successful this looks, there isn’t much profit.  That’s why the ones making the real money are tricking consultants into frontloading and continuing to order even if they aren’t selling.  I could never feel good about being successful on the losses of others.

It makes me sick when I hear the horror stories and then consultants are also persuaded not to send the product back because they might want to get in again.  Actually directors do that to save themselves from lost commissions and production.  So the director keeps winning while the consultants keep losing.  I am proud to say that it has been so many years since I had anyone send back product that I can’t remember.  It doesn’t happen when you don’t buy production with cheap prizes and just keep rewarding ordering and not caring about selling.

So, in my community I have am looked on as being a success.  I tell everyone I am working another job just for the health insurance, but I am barely making all my payments and I worry every day that I will go under. My children are grown and married and I have a granddaughter now, but I don’t have the money or time to see her very often.  (she’s hours away from me)

My advice to anyone who has gotten out is to send back your product right away and don’t fall for the guilt trips.  Don’t feel that you failed, because failure is staying in and not seeing what it is doing to you and your family.

For anyone reading this who is in the company, be honest about what money you are really making and don’t lie to others in order to line your own pockets with commissions or prizes. It is a fun business but the marketing plan  rewards only a small percentage of people with big money and funds that with the ordering done by the large percentage of people.

Well, that’s my story.  I will keep reading yours and hope no one ever gets in the situation that I have found myself in.  Thank you for letting me get it all out.  I hid these facts for so many years because I didn’t want to believe it and I was in that Pink Bubble.  It feels good to be truthful and let it all out.  I hope it is helpful to someone out there.

Getting old and broke. (but I look great–ha ha)