Mary Kay Creates Debt For Many Who Work Hard

A sales director shows us how easy it is to fall into debt in Mary Kay. Even though she wasn’t making money, she has stayed in for years and tries to live the dream.

I started MK about 8 years ago. I was a stay at home mom with 2 children, who worked part time for extra money. I was a prime candidate for MK. I wanted to be successful and I wanted my husband and HIS family to be proud of me. I had a dysfunctional child hood growing up so all the “surface” support and love I saw hooked me immediately into the Pink Dream.

I was recruited in with $4,000+ in Mary Kay products. I started out strong, but here’s where it comes together. When I was in car qualification for my 1st of 3 cars, I was a little short on production during the 2nd month. My director suggested I just charge the needed amount of $3,000 because she was sure I would be earning that car. I did earn that car and thus began my cycle of credit card debit. It got deeper and worse each month. My credit cards became a stone around my neck.

I hid my debt for a while, but then my husband found out. We took a second mortgage on our first home which we didn’t even have to have a down payment for because our credit score was so good. After we did this I just knew I could start with a clean slate and really make money. Wrong! Before long I was back into the same mess. Why?? Why? Wasn’t I successful? I was driving a “free” car, after all.

Now I know (even though I hate to admit it) I was emotionally manipulated. I heard about how I was a leader in our unit and needed to perform. (Remember the woman inside who was so desperate for someone to love her and see her as someone valuable?) My team was looking to me. To fail at Mary Kay would be to fail them.

I thought my children needed a mother who was stable and successful. Becoming a director was a gift to THEM, in my mind. Being a director was the only way a person like me could ever make a living. How many times did I hear, “What are you going to do, wait tables?” I was convinced that outside of Mary Kay I was nothing, I could never become anything. Mary Kay was the ONLY way.

Because of the emotional abuse I had suffered from my mother growing up and the “abusive” situation I was in with my mother-in-law, I didn’t want to disappoint my senior director whom I thought cared so much about me. So I charged my credit cards and recruited on and on. I repeated everything I was taught.

I went through a divorce (no fault of Mary Kay) and became a single mother trying to survive on my Mary Kay income. I was told that I should NOT get a job outside of Mary Kay. People won’t recruit if they think you can’t make a full time income in Mary Kay. Your unit will fall apart if you start working for someone else.

They convinced me that I was going through a temporary “down time” and I could work my way out of it. I was trying to make a living for me and my children plus absorb all the new director start-up costs.

My husband and I filed bankruptcy when we divorced, so I had no credit available. My children and I lived on CASH only. I thought I was doing so much worse than other directors, but thanks to Pink Truth I now know they just had the credit cards to LOOK successful.

My production came from actual consultants, because I didn’t have the option of charging production on a credit card. I never felt good about getting women started with the big inventory packages. I just saw too many women with no sales and thousands of dollars of Mary Kay debt. But the attitude at all the director meetings was that everyone was sooooooo successful.

In all honesty I should have been getting food stamps for me and my children and some kind of Medicaid. But I was so brainwashed into the idea of looking the part of a successful director. Well successful directors don’t apply for food stamps. (After all how could I warm chatter women who just signed me up for food stamps?)

I felt guilty all the time. I needed to be working. I had to be on the phone in the evenings. Where were my children? Being quiet while Mommy “worked”. I was trying to set up those appointments. During the day, I had to warm chatter to get those new leads. It was an awful endless cycle. My church family prayed for me to be blessed. What I really needed them to know was my gas had been shut off and I needed help getting the rent paid.

Now God didn’t abandon me and my children. He did take care of us, but I am sure it would have been easier other ways. My prayer life and relationship with the Lord became focused on one thing: Me asking Him to help with my Mary Kay business. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

I suffered and so did my children. After a few years of being single, I remarried. My new husband never complained about Mary Kay. He prayed with me that God would bless my efforts and bless the businesses of the women in my unit.

We rejoiced together every month that my unit hit $5,000 in production. But still there was never money. My husband’s income was covering my Mary Kay expenses. I would tell him I just needed to get back on my feet. When the day came that the company was about to pick up my career car and my director status was in jeopardy with the company because I owed them money, I sat down and started doing the math. We should have been able to live on my husband’s income just fine without me even working. Not richly, but just fine.

Slowly the pieces started coming into place. It took several months and then I started asking myself, “Why am I paying so much money to be in Mary Kay?”

I started seriously considering getting out I saw a comment left on a blog with a link to Pink Truth. I peeked at the site and I started to see myself in so many ways—I couldn’t believe it! There were my life and my experiences staring out at me.

I was so ashamed of myself and I felt so much guilt I had been hiding it all these years. I truly thought I was the only one!!! Truly!!! I am hurting so deeply over the choices I have made over the past several years. I was so naive. I just thought I needed to get my act together. I thought I needed to find my superstar. I though I needed to get my personal business up and running. I thought I needed to get right on my thought process. On and on…

I am considering sending back my product. I am scared of what my senior director will say. I am certain it will be the end of our relationship. It is so sad to say, but I think our relationship has been about what I could do for her.

If you are reading this then I want to tell you something. You are great and you can be successful outside of Mary Kay. We hear so much about how bad the JOB world is. Be proud of what you do and the contribution you make to your family and your community. Please do not base your self-esteem on what the pink ladies around you are saying. I have a new focus on my relationship with Christ. He is the center NOT Mary Kay. God sent his son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for you. That is all the assurance you will ever need about your worth and value.


Smarter Now


  1. Tracy, Mary Kay is a ruthless operation that has committed a slew of racketeering and illegal corporate espionage crimes against a former MK Executive National Sales Director, her family, Mary Kay employees, and a Pennsylvania judge. Tons of evidence to prove all this, and a whole lot more – now under very tight security – will soon be released…

    1. TRACY

      John – This website is not the place for your materials. I have a very hard time feeling sorry for Gayle Gaston when I think of the thousands of women under her who were duped out of their hard earned money. You’ll have to post your things elsewhere.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Smarter Now. You’ve come to a good community who can help you move on out of the pink fog. Now you can begin to live your life with a new, fresh start away from those nasty hustlers.

  3. What a sad story, but a happy ending. If you can’t afford the “Pink Hobby” w/o charging on a credit card, then you can’t afford to be in MK! period! .I was in MK for abt. 3 1/2 yrs; this was abt. 22 yrs ago. (my story is under discussion boards) Send back your inventory. May God bless you and your family.

  4. Iescaped

    Thank you for sharing the true I Stories that no one can tell when they are in MK. I for one have found more and more people (consultants, former DIQs, and SDs) in my former Area that felt just like I did and got out.

    I really wonder how many still in MK feel this way, but are still to afraid to act.

    Thank you Smarter Now. Digging out of the Pink Fog is the most challenging and rewarding thing anyone can do!!

  5. MIchiganGal

    Oh my goodness send that product back!!! When I got out I sent my product back. My director meekly told me I would never be able to be a Mary Kay Rep again. I said “why would I want to do that anyway? Also, I’m not willing to spend $900 just to maybe be a rep again”. I sent it back, got my $900.

    Why would you want your family to pay x dollars just so someone wouldn’t be mad at you? What is your first priority? Your family or your Mary Kay Director?

    Send it back and do something super fun with your kids! Enjoy it.

    1. IfItSoundsTooGoodToBeTrue

      Completely agree, MichiganGal! When I sent my stuff back, never heard a single word again from my director. This, after listening in on so many interviews with her where she said that the buy back guarantee was there for you to use after a year (it’s actually for longer than that of course but she didn’t say that lol) if you decided that Mary Kay was just for a season in your life instead of forever. Nope. Definitely not ok if you quit…and send back your stuff…giving the SD a chargeback. To them, you are a number. That’s it. Don’t make any decisions to withhold sending your products back on account of people who won’t give you the time of day once you are out. Can we say cult, anyone? From the shunning all the way to the creepy larger than life portrait of MK it seems that all directors are required to have up in their homes…this MLM screams cult to me.

      p.s. I’ve always been dying to know….was it really a requirement for directors to have a picture of MK up????

  6. cindlylu

    Thank you for sharing your story. I regret those times when I took my kids to my SD’s silly meetings in her home. They were so good and played on a blanket quietly. Going to the mall with a child in a stroller trying to kid myself that warm stalking worked or even was good. In the end the many costs for meetings, gas and even the danger of going into a strangers home took their toll. The useless training with horrible glamour tips were a joke. I once left a beautiful coat at a stupid party I gave and couldn’t get it back. I made virtually no sales and it was my director’s fake party. My SD didn’t even try to get the coat back and that party was quite a distance away. My husband and children agonized over trying to get me to quit. Finally my health failed and I had no choice but to send product back. Corporate does not care about failing health, the SD who is a narcissistic predator or the corrupt way directors do business. What a horrible, fake mean spirited business. Women dream about being a stay at home mom contributing to the finances. Instead this company steals money, time and preys on our Christian beliefs. Please send the products back. You deserve better. You won’t regret it.

  7. Pauline

    I don’t know if this blog site has already discovered the article “Deception and Delusion: How Pyramid Schemes Maintain the “Direct Selling Disguise” but it’s a page right out of the pyramid scheme that is Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc., in that the company has to provide a delusion in order to sell the participants on the scheme in order to perpetuate their scheme. This article was posted 3/25/14, and it’s interesting. In the case of Mary Kay Cosmetics it’s joint: that you will either make a lot of money, or you can receive a discount on your own products that you so dearly love. I wonder if Mary Kay knowingly created a pyramid for all of us suckers out here to be sucked into back in the ’60’s?

    1. MLM Radar

      I’m sure someone here attended Seminar while MKA was still alive. And I’d be willing to bet a Star inventory order that during those days MKA was applauding women for “estimated” retail sales instead of real sales.

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