A Former Mary Kay Director’s Story and Numbers

Written by TRACY on . Posted in Career Ladder, DIQ (Director in Qualification)

Written by GettingOutOfDebt

Attention: Every person who wants to move up in Mary Kay- please read.

If you’re reading this as a consultant, please know that every word is true and meant to help you learn the other side of the MK story.

I originally started in Mary Kay Cosmetics in April of 1991 in college.  What attracted me most was the dream of earning free cars, diamond rings, the glitz and glamour of Seminar.  I was a very high- I, and my sales director at the time pegged me right away.  She knew showing me the Seminar video tape would get me to sign right away.  I did and a week later I was asking my parents fora $1,000 to get inventory.  I even shared with them the line- “You can’t sell from an empty wagon”  So of course, they sent me the money so I could get started.

I love selling- I absolutely love to help people get what they want.  I have no problem transferring my love of something to someone.  I never felt sorry for myself if someone cancelled an appointment or returned product.  I knew MK products were not for everyone.

I read every book, magazine and I listened to all the tapes and went to the meetings.  I wanted what was “possible”.

I left the college town to pursue a teaching career and to get married.  I tried juggling MK with teaching, a new family, and pursuing my Master’s degree and realized I couldn’t do it all. So around 1994 I gave up MK completely.

In 1997, my Sales Director called me and asked me if I would listen to a tape from Linda Toupin called “Choices.”  I said yes and when I received it, I immediately listened to it at least three times.  I remember vividly, sitting on my bed, deciding right then and there- I was ready to start MK again- because “I was where I was, because of the choices I made or allowed others to make for me.”

So I rejoined in March of 1997. I attended Career Conference that very next weekend.  I knew the lack of money management was one of the reasons I wasn’t successful before and pledged to not get wrapped up in the prizes, recognition, etc.  and to order only when needed.  So I told my director I was only starting with a $400 wholesale- which I did. Then I attended Career Conference and heard once again- “You can’t sell from an empty wagon” and thought “what am I doing- I need product”- so $3000+ went on a credit card that I just paid off two months prior.  The whole time my director would say- “ You can’t sell from an empty wagon”  “ You know you’re going to sell it”  Making me feel that decision was the best for me and my family.

I held parties, asked for referrals, sold tons of product, and then started recruiting.  I wasn’t fast by any means, but I was loyal and consistent.  I loved my teaching career and really felt I had it all.  I was attending every MK meeting and event.  I juggled everything, running my son to every game and practice, teaching full-time, household tasks, MK parties and events, etc.

I recruited approx. 2-4 women every year from 1997-2001.  Many of those women are still on my personal team today!  I truly believe it’s because I recruited them the right way and for the right reasons!  I loved being a consultant when the money I was making was helping with the ‘extras’ I wanted for my family and I.

In January of 2001, I was sitting at my desk and thinking to myself- I am more excited about doing MK then I am teaching.  I think it’s time for me to pursue it full-time.  I made the announcement I was leaving teaching at the end of the school year and started working towards car and directorship.  I was concerned about replacing my income with MK, because my family NEEDED my teaching income to survive. So I asked my SD to sit down with me and REALLY show me the money side of MK — SHE ONLY SHOWED ME THE INCOME POTENTIAL. NO EXPENSES, NO ACTUAL INCOME ADVISORY STATEMENTS, NOTHING BUT ‘WHAT I  CAN MAKE’- BASED ON THE ‘COMPANY AVERAGE’.

By June of 2001, I was on-target for my car and ready to submit for DIQ.  In July of 2001, I was $2,000 away from staying on target for the car and directorship.  This was the start of the end.  I didn’t want to ‘throw away’ two months worth of car production over $2,000 did I?  Of course not. So $2,000 went on a credit card.

I earned the car at the end of September with only putting in $3,000 towards my maximum personal limit and felt great about earning the car.  I really had 12 quality women who wanted the work this business.

Then at the end of October of 2001- I finished Directorship with at least 7 “help me” consultants- personal use people just to get it finished.  I was on top of the world- I earned a car, became a director and now I’m ready for the ‘Big Girls’ Club.  I was able to wear THE SUIT!  I was able to get ‘privileged’ director information early.  I was able to stay in the Director’s suite at Seminar. Now I’m ready to make the money my SD told me about in January.   I had arrived!!!

The chart below will show you what it really takes to be a Sales Director in the Midwest (Kansas City).  I laid out the expenses and the commissions for you that I incurred. This does not include any product sales or expenses, as I just wanted to show you what the director side looks like.


As you can see the net income is next to nothing .  I was working 50+ hours a week for that.  I know it wasn’t all seeing faces and recruiting- it was everything MK related, i.e. Calling and motivating my consultants, informing them of new contests, new promotions, asking who their top 5 customers are, attending every guest event and company events. (Because that’s what a good leader does.)

Regarding propects, I was no longer looking for great customers to purchase the products, I was to find future consultants(that is a director’s job).  I turned into a stalker!  I couldn’t even enjoy eating out with my family or going to a movie, without checking out the crowd.

In 2004, I started realizing I wasn’t able to pay my household bills, so to keep the ‘image’ of a great business, I started opening credit cards.  I was approved for very high limits because of my good credit with little revolving debt.  I even opened cards in my husband’s name without him knowing about it.  I had to charge everything or take out cash advances- all so no one would know how bad my year had been.

I started substitute teaching, because I did miss teaching, but I really needed to make some kind of income!  This was another warning sign!  I was told “NOT TO TELL MY CONSULTANTS OR ANYONE ELSE I WAS WORKING ANOTHER JOB BESIDE MK!”  It would give the appearance that you can’t make money in MK.  When did working become so shameful?

In May of 2005, I made the decision that I was tired of not making money in MK so I “kicked it” into gear.  I convinced myself (with the help of my upline- because you NEVER talk to anyone about your troubles unless you’re talking UP!) to book a 20/20 and talk to EVERYONE!  Travel anywhere I needed to go, help anyone I needed to help- to finish a BIG GOAL- becoming a Grand Prix unit.  Our unit needed over $22,000 wholesale to complete it.  With all the new recruits and my personal 6 team members we did it.

Wow- what a great feeling.  WRONG!

That next month I realized, I became one of those VERY PUSHY, VERY DETERMINED MARY KAY SALES WOMEN WHOM NO ONE WANTED TO BE AROUND!  I sacrificed my time with my family and friends to meet this goal, but most of all I sacrificed my integrity!  I knew some women did NOT need $3,000 worth of product on their shelves, but I convinced them they would lose out on so much FREE product.

I was now on top of the slide- ready to come down!  I knew the way I earned that car was wrong.  AND I was being praised for it!!  I was being rewarded for unethical behavior and my heart and soul knew this was wrong!  I was in true conflict.   I put on a fake smile and faked excitement at my unit meetings, area and company events from June 2005-May 2006.

Finally in May 2006, I couldn’t sleep one night and had the breakdown I so desperately needed.  I let everything get out of hand. I was making NO money, trying to keep it together so my family would not find out.  We were getting close to three months behind on our mortgage, every bill was behind, and every credit card maxed out to a tune of $75,000+.  I wasn’t honest with anyone, especially myself!

I had to come clean.  I sat down with my husband that weekend and revealed EVERYTHING!  He was very disappointed and shocked, but still supportive.  I immediately went around to department stores and applied for jobs.  I started working in the office at a catering company.  I really enjoyed it and was bringing home a paycheck every week.

In September of 2006, I went back to teaching full time.   I still upheld my director status, but changed my focus.  We continued to make production until August 2006.  We missed August and September, and I was NOT going to put in the rest of the production to stay a unit.  My NSD and Sr. Director were SHOCKED that I did not want to ‘Save my unit.”  I was no longer considered the “team player” that I was known as.  I was no longer the “find a way, make a way” gal.

In October of 2006, when my NSD called to see what I can “make up” so she can plead with the company on why I needed an exception, like a death, ill parents, etc. I told her NO.  I was working other jobs and needed to focus on my family.  I know for a fact, my NSD has asked the company for so many exceptions for the directors in my area.  This was my very first time we ever missed production twice in a row.  In fact, out of all 60 months of directorship, we missed production only once for Aug and Sept. 2006.

Finally the call came from my NSD—she informed me that I am no longer a director.  My feelings- MAD- yes… SAD- yes… but most of all- RELIEVED!!    I truly thought I would get back on the wagon and start over, but the more time that passed, the clearer I was beginning to see the truth!

I will NEVER go back to directorship and want to help every consultant out there get ALL OF THE FACTS- BEFORE STARTING UP THE CAREER PATH.

I like selling and still have a handful of loyal customers.  This works for me.  I can actually turn a profit.  I only order what they want.  No meetings, no events, no conference calls, no stalking.

Best of all, I have my evenings and weekends with my family and nothing MK related unless it’s dropping off product- which now only takes two minutes since I’m not trying to recruit them anymore.

My husband and I enrolled in Dave Ramsey “Financial University”  and have paid off tens of thousands of dollars in debt and have not used a credit card since May 2006!

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Comments (20)

  • Trigger


    Wow. I’d like to print this out and show it to every MK cons. I know. This is a ‘keeper.’


    • everladylynlo




  • Kinzie


    This is a really good article. I’m sure you will have the standard knee-jerk responses such as, “MK doesn’t work for everyone”; “No one held a gun to your head”; blah blah blah. But at least they can’t call you a lazy looser.

    Anyway, here is a comment I would like to make keeping in mind the “God first” principle:

    Luke 14:28
    New International Version (NIV)
    28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?

    Notice that the verse says to count the COSTS! Your SD was absolutely remiss in showing you only the income potential and not all of the expenses you would be incurring. It isn’t negative to explore these things….IT IS WISE and will save you from the destruction of foolish decisions down the road:

    Proverbs 14:15
    New International Version (NIV)
    15 The simple believe anything,
    but the prudent give thought to their steps.

    Proverbs 1:7
    New International Version (NIV)
    7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.


    • Tracy


      I, too, am a former Mary Kay Sales Director, and MK is a terrific product, no doubt, however, putting “God first” is not something I personally witnessed among many of the “successful” Directors and NSDs. It makes people feel good to say that while they are dangling the carrot, but an altogether different thing to put that into practice. Everyone does have a choice as to whether they will follow God or those who claim to.




    You perfectly presented the MK roadmap to Hell.

    Our stories are nearly identical until you qualified for Directorship.

    Posting your Income & EXPENSES in the way you did reveals the TRUTH very simply.

    Sadly, it’s even WORSE when you also include all your expenses as a consultant, too.

    Thank you so much for sharing all this info.

    I will use it to discourage anyone I know who gets caught in the web of ANY MLM/PYRAMID.


  • MLM Radar Detector


    Five years as a Director with a spotless record making production. Miss two consecutive months, and GONE! Your entire downline below your personal recruits simply “reassigned” without any compensation to you. No buy-out. No termination pay. They get the gold mine. You keep the debt.

    No probationary period to get back on track. No sabbatical period to rest and heal burnout. No family leave. No chance to have your team, or any part of it, restored to you, ever. The team you worked so hard to build for over five years just casually handed over to someone else who had no part in building it. Permanently.

    No consideration for how consistent a performer you were. You were not a marginal performer who only made production quotas every other month; that didn’t matter. Consistency, or lack of it, matters in the rest of the world. Not in Mary Kay. Not in any other MLM.

    What mattered to the company was that you missed for two consecutive months, and you weren’t willing to lie about a non-existent emergency so you could plead for reconsideration. Because those two months were back-to-back, you lost everything.


    • freshoutofpink


      It was the end of the month of April that year and my mom was dying. I called corporate and told them the situation and that I was stressed I Wouldn’t be able to make production as I had been out of state for two weeks. Guess what they told me? They told me “so sad, too bad”. I would still have to finish production that month! So I’m pacing back and forth on the front lawn of the place where my mom was staying trying to scare up the month’s production from my faithful unit members. Well, we made it and my mom passed two days later but it was the beginning of the end for me.

      MLM you are so right. Corp doesn’t give a literal damn about their sales force. As a matter of fact, the woman I talked to actually told me, “you’ll have quite an I Story”. THE NERVE!

      So not only will you lose money, you will also be abused as a MK Sales Director. That’s just the truth!


  • Shanice


    WOW! I am so glad you shared this information. I knew that the lies that I was being told by my SD were nothing but lies and trickery! Mire works of the devil! What tiggered my suspision was when my SD said, help our unit to win a FREE CAR! It’s not OUR car it’s HER CAR! That’s when I started to google and ran across this site! Boy I’m SO glad that I found PT!


  • Jodi


    Wow awesome article! YOu’re a great writer…:)


  • Oney


    Been there. Done that. Our stories differ in that I didn’t have a REAL career to fall back on like your teaching. I am thankful that you’ve shared your story and the facts about the expenses and your true income.


  • Gettingoutofdebt


    Wow! Thank you Tracey for running this article again. I originally wrote it 2008-2009 and this is the third time it has been chosen as the front page article.
    2012 Update: I have completely left MK a few years ago and have no customers left. The only MK in my life now is keeping people informed of the truth behind the phrases thanks to Pink Truth.
    Regarding our debt- you can read more about our debt reduction plan progress on the discussion board- I’ll be updating again in June.


  • thedaysofswineandmarykay


    Excellent, eye-opening article! Thank you, GettingOutOfDebt and Tracy for sharing it with us. I will definitively show it to other people in order to warn everybody about the dangerous lies of Mary Kay and all the MLM’s.


  • Aimee Graham


    I had a very brief and unfortunate stint with Mary Kay in the early Nineties… It was a situation where I was pressured into it and I never did anything with it. Back then, I didn’t even really understand how it worked. Now, years and years later, I am with another company and I have to say I don’t understand some of the comments above…. why did she lose her downline? How did that happen? That seems so outrageous that I can hardly believe it’s true. Could she not have retained her title with the MK minimum order (200 every 3 months or something like that) Or could she not go back active and pick up her place and her downline again? This is so foreign to how my company operates that I’m not entirely sure I believe it…


    • Lazy Gardens


      Aimee … In Mary Kay and some other MLMs, if your downline (your “unit”) doesn’t purchase enough, you lose your title as “Director” or “Poohbah” or whatever.

      Her recruits were still her recruits, but she lost the higher director commissions on their purchases and just got “recruiter” commissions. She lost team bonuses, and all kinds of other financial benefits for being a director

      She could still stay active with the minimum order, and she could have gone back into qualifications and regained her title … she chose not to.


  • NeverWasPink


    Hmmm what company do you mean Aimee?


  • enorth


    Aimee is only here to promote her MLM where she is a “Diamond Distributor.”


  • Tigger


    The only mlm I know of that uses the title ‘Diamond’ something is amway (spinoffs include Life, Team, etc.)


  • Les


    This story is very similar to my former spouse’s I story. The big difference is that the X never stopped the use of credit cards to fool everybody. I came home from work one day and got to the mail box first. I found a credit card bill with my name on it that I did not know I had. She then got a Post Office box to avoid this in the future.

    A few nights later my Mary Kay Senior Sales Director spouse dropped $47,000 of credit card bills on the table in front of me. She claimed to have no idea what she had spent the money on, could not deal with the bills and needed my help. I immediately put the family of four on a strict Dave Ramsey budget, even though I did not who Dave Ramsey was, and spent the next several years paying the debt off.

    It was very clear that she was not making money as a Senior Sales Director.

    Since my former Senior Sales Director spouse continued with the credit card abuse I eventually had no choice but to file for divorce after 26 years of marriage and three children. She would not stop using credit cards. I eventually got credit card records for the last $38,000 of credit card debt. The majority of the charges were for Mary Kay product and traveling expenses.

    Now this Senior Sales Director claims to earn $5,200 per year, but drives a Toyota Camry compliments of Mary Kay.

    Stay with the Dave Ramsey plan. His plan is simple mathematically, but hard from a behavior stand point. It can save your marriage. As Dave says; “I would like to be rich and thin, but the diet part is not working”.


  • Mrs Michaels


    I was working for a Mary Kay lady who just got director. Until she came to my house to deliver a lipstick my Mother ordered and fired me in front of my son. She was looking for excuses to why she was firing me. She was slow, I swore to much, I made mistakes, etc. If I was making mistakes don’t you think that a “good boss” would point them out so they wouldn’t be made again? If I swore to much, wouldn’t a good boss, “say something?”. If it was that slow, why would you hire someone anyways to help you out? All a bunch of crock. And to come to my home and fire me in front of my son??? So unprofessional. I’m sure her Mary Kay zombies would love to hear that story? She would tell me in the time I was there about how she had to order more supplies to make director. And how people who put their names into the boxes to “win” a free makeover were all suckers and everyone won. She tried to tell me that MK wasn’t a pyramid scheme. Your article is correct, because, I did not see many orders. Not nearly enough to keep her going. And as far as the car goes, sure it’s “free”, but only if your sales meet up to the amount they request you make. If not enough sales then yes, you have to pay for it out of pocket. And the suit? That suit jacket costs $200.00 plus the dress and alternating dresses or skirts/shirts. For the small amount of time I was there I found her spending more money than making it. She also said I should become a sales rep. I was like, “um, no. I don’t push people to buy stuff”. ” You either want it or you don’t”.


  • enorth


    “as far as the car goes, sure it’s “free”, but only if your sales meet up to the amount they request you make”

    No, it’s only if your ORDERS meet the required amount.


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