Tasteless: Mary Kay Directors and NSDs Defending Unethical Business Practices

MKhellWritten by The Scribbler

I’m a big fan of the TV show Kitchen Nightmares.  It’s an entertaining spectacle where restaurant owners contact professional chef Gordon Ramsay for help in turning their sagging businesses around.  One of the first things Chef Ramsay does is evaluate (often loudly, and with plenty of swear words lovingly plucked from the vast garden that is the English language) all the things wrong with the restaurant; the food, the service, the owner’s attitude, and so forth.  Initially, owners get angry and defensive, but once they come to accept Ramsay’s evaluation and realize that his criticism is meant to help, not hurt, the restaurant is well on its way to a fresh start.

I wish the leaders of Mary Kay Cosmetics were more like these restaurant owners:  open to debate despite it being difficult to hear, and humble enough to accept it, correct it, and take steps towards positive change.  Unfortunately, most of Mary Kay’s leaders are leagues away from such a concept and you’re about to see why.

This year I discovered a Facebook community called The Million Dollar Message Listeners (M$M for short).  It’s run by six top directors who are daughters, sisters, or nieces of National Sales Directors (Kristin Rogers, Jordan Helou Eicher, Krystal Walker, Amber Towne, Kali Brigham, and Tiffany Stout). The group encourages consultants to dial a hotline to hear daily motivational speeches and leave comments.

Be warned, though:  M$M has restricted consultants from formulating new posts, and it has been made clear that comments on older posts which contain “personal opinion” or are deemed to be negative in nature will be deleted immediately.

I asked for clarification on what exactly “negative” meant, and one member said that it was debate or criticism of any kind.  Most agreed with her, and this concerned me, because if MK culture doesn’t allow debate or criticism, how do problems within it get fixed, if ever?  If Chef Ramsay didn’t open up discussion regarding a failing restaurant’s issues, the show would be pointless and I’d be finishing out my Netflix broadcast day with a poignant tear-jerker like Two-Headed Shark Attack.

In the 6+ years I have written for Pink Truth, I have encountered a legion of shady practices being promoted by Mary Kay’s leaders:  frontloading, lying, stealing customers, disrespect of husbands, manipulation, and deception in about seven colors and 31 flavors.

When I joined the M$M community, consultants were lamenting issues like getting kicked out of retail stores for toting product-filled “Temptation Baskets” through the aisles and the heartbreak of trying to sell $1,000 in one day but barely selling $50 by sunset.  With such discussion going on, I saw it as the perfect place to get answers from not only Mary Kay’s leaders, but the women they lead as well.  My choice of topic?  The unethical teachings of National Sales Director Dacia Wiegandt.

Dacia Wiegandt gives consultants the impression that she’s a godly sort, slathering bible verses and references to God on everything from training documents to her Facebook page.  However, the fruit that’s dropping off of this pink Pharisee’s tree tells a very different story.  Wiegandt is an advocate of frontloading (“Pull inventory as soon as [prospects] sign,” she advises) and has attempted to guilt consultants into action by threatening them with the prospect of having to face a disappointed God at Seminar.  NSD Wiegandt has even taught consultants that in order to recruit someone, it’s okay to lie to a customer by intentionally leaving product out of her order so you have a reason to get back with her later:

…if [a customer] says to me, “Well, I’ve actually gotta go because I gotta pick up my child,” what am I going to do?  I’m going to leave something out of her product.  So I have a reason to get back with her within 24 hours.  Y’all have to think quick, y’all have to think on your toes.  So how does tomorrow sound?  I have that Miracle Set, but I don’t have the foundation (hint hint, right?)  So tomorrow, I’m going to have lunch with you, bring the foundation, and then I’m going to market her right there and share the opportunity.

Ready to begin, I donned my chef’s jacket, ironed a few dozen wrinkles into my face, practiced saying the word “donkey” with an English accent, and took my first step towards what I hoped would be a constructive dialogue with the M$M community:  “What if I heard something from an NSD that I thought was bad advice?”  I wrote.  “Can we talk about it (and how to handle it) here…I want to get everyone’s opinions if she’s right or wrong…”

Almost immediately my post was deleted and I received a message from one of the board’s Big Six, Executive Senior Sales Director Krystal Walker:  “One thing that I am passionate about is the Mary Kay legacy.  Nationals and sales directors are our legacy…the comment that you posted was negative because it was speaking poorly about an NSD.  I stand behind all the NSDs and they are our Mary Kays!”

Understand that I hadn’t yet named the NSD or her crime, which is funny because I could have witnessed an NSD flying high on meth while performing a Santeria ritual in a Starbucks bathroom (hey, production isn’t going to make itself, people), and yet Walker had already made it clear that her allegiance would be with “our legacy…our Mary Kays!”   

I didn’t think it was prudent to give unquestioning loyalty to anyone with skin, so I replied, “I would never intentionally leave something out of a customer’s order or lie to them.  While the NSDs may be MK’s legacy, don’t they make mistakes just like any of us would?  Only Jesus walked on water, after all. I only want to do the right thing, and I want to help others do the right thing, too.”  I attached the full text of Wiegandt’s quote so ESSD Walker could see what I was talking about.

Krystal Walker wrote back, “If you ever hear or see a training that you feel is unethical, please contact your director.  I appreciate your heart to want to do the right thing, but our page is not the place to do that.”   

Wow.  Can you imagine the owner of a crumbling café telling a 15-star Michelin chef, “Look, I realize you want to help us function better, but my restaurant isn’t the place for that?”  While I don’t have any Michelin Stars under my belt, having never been in Mary Kay gives me a perspective that’s not influenced by MK’s militant “No negativity!” mindset.  That’s useful because it’s easier for one to recognize (and call out) Mary Kay’s ethical issues if one is outside the pink bubble.

I strongly feel that even if most sales directors and NSDs wanted to recognize and decry MK’s ethical issues, they’d have a difficult time doing so because they’re trapped inside the pink bubble by fear:  fear of losing recruits, fear of losing orders, fear of losing rank, and the fear of being reprimanded, labeled, criticized, or shunned by their peers.  And that’s a shame because such a mentality goes against everything our mothers told us about the importance of standing up for what is right, no matter how unpopular doing so may be.

{TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW}

20 Comments

  1. Gooberoon

    First off, great article Scribbler! Secondly, I know first hand what happens when you stop ignoring the voices in your head telling you something is not right and question the unethical behaviors of my NSD. I truly believed in MK and its mission at the time. I went to the top at corporate, including the legal department. I thought that there was NO WAY that MK would let a woman who held one of their top positions get away with this behavior.

    What I found out was….yup, indeed they would. They “sympathized” with me and what this NSD was putting me through and the rest of her National area. BUT….there was nothing they could do about it! I was told “we need to support our NSD’s and will encourage you to do that also”, WHAT?? They wanted me to support a woman who was verbally and emotionally abusing me? Yes they did. “Put your blinders on and get back to work, we need our Cadillac driving SD”.

    Well that did it for me. I’m glad I spoke up, because it allowed me to see the true colors of Mary Kay. June 30th will mark my one year anniversary out of the pink fog!

    1. Anne Marie

      I am part of this unit, joining in December of 2013. Krystal was just on Conan recently because he did a spoof of a Mary Kay class. It was funny, but that doesn’t mean anything. Krystal and her sister Kimberly directly use their pastor’s sermons in their motivational calls and on the M$M calls. I am so upset and sickened by what I have learned from this website. I’ve been reading it for a few weeks now because I’m directly under Kimberly Copeland’s National Area, who is Krystal Walker’s sister, and both are daughters or Scarlet Walker-Simpson. Kerri Farrar is my director. I started having some inconsistency doubts at the end of March, and then when I started reading this website just became so upset because I felt so deceived and used, and have a couple credit cards with inventory purchases I still have in boxes!!!! I have been part of Kimberly’s Breakthrough Babes group since January and she does daily motivational calls to keep us going, and that’s where I was getting my indepth training – at her home twice a month and the daily calls — (brainwashing in the name of Jesus) because I truly believed with all my heart this was the business for me — God First of course is an excellent start, isn’t it?! But it’s not, I quickly learned. I have extremely good notes on every call through April — thousands of typed words per day!!! I lived for her calls of motivation and inspiration! I don’t want to make my comment slanderous in any way because I truly did grow personally in areas, so that’s a huge plus that I don’t regret!!! I am grateful for that part. Everything after that I cannot participate in. I tried really hard to find something on this website that wasn’t true, and I tried really really hard, but I absolutely found nothing false on this website, anywhere!!! I’m still kind of raw emotionally from having my dreams exploited to get me to order every quarter with the promise of those limited edition items just flying off my shelves, so I’m sure I’ll add more later. I can’t possibly write everything here in this comment section. I’m considering writing an article to submit to you for this website. I have more!!!! Thank you for posting this website!!!!

      1. MK Taints the Color Pink

        Hello Anne Marie! Welcome to PT! You may find it therapeutic to share your story on the discussion board. You can also read many other testimonies on the boads. Best wishes to you as you heal from this experience!

      2. MLM Radar

        Welcome Anne Marie,

        You have taken hundreds and hundreds of hours to listen to all the motivational calls, gotten all the motivational training, and you have been motivated…

        Motivated to buy more inventory. Selling it is a problem.

        They gave you lots and lots of ideas on how to book, sell, recruit, but few of those ideas produced results. You have been finding out the heard way that those ideas are mostly worthless.

        As long as you continue to listen to their “motivation” they will continue to feed you more worthless ideas on how to book, sell, recruit. And they will continue giving you reasons to hope that maybe, just maybe, tomorrow it will all get better.

        It won’t.

        It’s time to think about returning that inventory. Go through your MK materials and get those original order forms together. Some of them may be still taped to your unopened boxes.

        You can return it anytime up to 12 months after inventory was ordered. But don’t wait until the last minute. Mary Kay Corporate likes to drag their feet providing you the return authorization. They also like to try to stick you with a discounted refund price on the “Limited Edition” items, so you’ll need time to fight that battle. DO NOT let MK Corporate get away with cheating you on your repurchase refund. Your consultant agreement says they agree to repurchase at 90% of your original cost, not 90% of some recent markdown price.

  2. LaVonne Carter

    If Ms. Walker danced any harder around that question she might hurt herself.

    Anyone else notice it’s never the right place to voice your concerns?

  3. MKloonybin

    Tomorrow? I have to wait til TOMORROW? **sigh** You’re probably doing something stupid like picking your kid up on time….

    (Great article, Scrib!)

    1. MK Taints the Color Pink

      My thoughts exactly, MKloonybin! I can’t wait for the rest!

      Scrib, I have to ask…are you getting paid by Gordon Ramsay? You seem to mention him a lot… 😉 I’ve never watched his Kitchen Nightmares show, but now I am curious. Anyway, great article as usual!

      1. Scrib

        MKTaintstheColorPink, Heh, I wish. I love to cook, but I wanted to really dig in and learn actual cooking techniques instead of tossing something in a pan and stirring. I picked up one of his cookbooks and now I’m geeking out over learning stuff like making a decent pan-fried strip steak. 🙂

        I happened upon Kitchen Nightmares a few months ago, but it was one episode in particular that really got me thinking “Dang, this is exactly what goes down in MK culture!” The episode featured an Arizona bistro, Amy’s Baking Company, where the owners firmly believed that any negative opinion about them was wrong and they were right, despite their weak cuisine. They even played the God Card a few times while they penned all-caps curse-packed rants on their Facebook page. “Hot mess” is not a strong enough phrase for what was going down in their bubble.

        Most MK directors and NSDs are a lot like the owners over at Amy’s; when good-hearted people try to call attention to MK’s numerous ethical problems, they scream, “There’s nothing wrong with Mary Kay, you’re negative, God is with us and Satan is on your side and we are all Mary Kay Ash’s precious desert jewels and I will pray for you, meow meow meow meow…”

        For as much as MK culture brags about imparting power, confidence, and boldness to women, it appears that it mostly imparts a sense of fear; fear that makes grown women scream like banshees and run the second someone whispers, “That pink car isn’t “free.”

        1. Rkcanada

          Excellent article Scrib!!! I have a huge crush on mr Ramsey and watch all of his shows– I saw that episode with Amy’s baking and also thought she was insane. I loved your article and can’t wait until tomorrow for more!!

    2. Scrib

      MKLoonybin, LOL!! It’s more like, “This article ran a bit long because of all the quotes, so hey, let’s chop it in half so Tracy’s server doesn’t blow up.” 😀

  4. doneshowingup

    i am now out of mary kay for 3 months…i def came out of the pink bubble pretty soon….when i first came out of it …i hit my mary kay ladies pretty hard about the god first …because i know its so untrue..and i hurt some feelings but i was in shock and hurt about the truth god revealed to me…just yesterday i was talking to my recruiter who left mary kay do to her life going in a different direction says i understand your view but i totally disagree…well its said some many are sucked in the lies….i think about jesus and how sad he must feel for all the deceit in this world

  5. MLM Radar

    “Nationals and sales directors are our legacy…the comment that you posted was negative because it was speaking poorly about an NSD. I stand behind all the NSDs and they are our Mary Kays!”

    Rules of the game:
    1. The NSD is always right.
    2. If the NSD is ever wrong, see Rule #1.

    Everywhere else this is a joke. In Mary Kay they take it seriously. Sad.

  6. raisinberry

    Great article Scrib!

    Could any business thrive when the leadership refuses to address legitimate concerns, blocks any discussion except in secrecy, and fosters pretense and fantasy in all its communication?

    What more proof would a person need to figure out that Mary Kay is not an opportunity to develop a personal business, under any conditions? Blind allegiance is found where cult leaders and dictators rule…and we all known how well that works out.

  7. CaliforniaGal

    Hi ladies! I remember the NSD coming into our meeting room and being required to stand and applaud. Why? Because these ladies were going to lead up to greater deeds for our Mary Kay! What a scam! These people are just people and not special and have earned that applaud.

    When I asked honest questions, all I got was deception. No one wants to give straight answers. So very sad!

    1. Scrib

      I’d have kept my hind-end right there in the seat. What could they do, fire an independent business owner for not clapping for some manipulative Jezebel parked at the top of the pyramid? Please.

      If anything, NSDs need to stand and applaud for every last active and former consultant that is/wsa in Mary Kay, because without the credit cards and orders of all those consultants, those NSDs would still be living honest lives and doing ethical work as teachers and nurses.

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