Look Before You Leap: Getting a Head Start on Your Mary Kay Business (Part 1)

Written by DupedByPinkFriend

If you are here at Pink Truth today for the first time, and you are reading this because you want to know all the facts before you sign up, you are already ahead of the game!  You are doing exactly what an astute businessperson must do before beginning a new venture:  you are researching the product, the market, and your competition.  You are attempting to gather information to help you make an informed decision.

However, as you are attempting to reduce your risk by researching the Mary Kay “opportunity”, you are going to hit a brick wall, and here’s why:  Mary Kay Cosmetics is a privately held company.  It has no public investors who require the reporting of real numbers with legitimate proof.

MK does not track retail sales, so the numbers that are published are skewed.  When you read that MK does billions of dollars per year in retail sales, understand that these numbers refer to the amount of sales in products to their own sales force!  They really have no idea how much is actually sold to real customers, nor do they care.  In order for MK to make money, they must continue to attract new recruits and pressure them to buy.

So, what does all of this mean to you?  It simply means that what you are told about this company is very likely not the whole truth, and if you are starting a business based on falsehoods or partial truths, you are dooming yourself to failure at the onset.

What’s worse, because recruiting fresh meat is vital to their own prosperity, MK allows their sales force to “stretch” the truth, imply benefits that don’t materialize, use manipulation tactics that encourage you to make emotional decisions, and do everything in their power to keep you from seeing the reality of their flawed business plan.

Whether it is a really “sharp” woman who looks to be successful, or an excited friend or relative who is telling you how wonderful the Mary Kay opportunity is, just know that they may be either lying, or unknowingly repeating the lies that they were told.  Here are a few “selling points” that you may hear, and the realities behind them.

“Be the boss and CEO of your own business!”

No, you will not “own a business”.  You will merely be a representative of MK with many restrictions on who you may sell to, and how and where you may conduct your “business”.  You will be told how you may advertise, also with many restrictions. You can be  terminated at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

If you decide to quit working, you can’t “sell your business”.  You will give up all of your customers, and lose all of the time and effort it took to build your customer base.   There is only one thing that you will get to keep:  the debt that you likely will have incurred in building your “business”!

“We are a sisterhood – we don’t compete against each other.”

Unfortunately, there is huge competition.  First of all, you will be pushing products in an already saturated skin care and cosmetics market flooded with other good brands at more reasonable prices.  Secondly, another thing that MK is not required to publish is the number of MK consultants that are in your area. It is not until you start  trying to get customers that you will hear, “My mom is a MK consultant,” or “My sister in law just signed up, and I’m buying from her,” or “My neighbor is a personal use consultant and everyone in our neighborhood gets together a couple times a  year  to put in an order,” or ” I buy my products super cheap at Touch of Pink Cosmetics.com or eBay or Craiglist.”

The truth is, MK consultants are everywhere, and they are going to be going after those same few women who haven’t yet been accosted by a desperate MK consultant, with a sour taste in their mouths for the whole MK agenda.

So, yeah, it sounds good on paper, but it does not represent the huge obstacles you will face.

“The products just fly off the shelf!”

Uh, three words:  no, they don’t.  When compared to other products, MK falls short.  The quality is not as good as many other, cheaper products.  Women enjoy trying many different brands, and they appreciate the fact that they can walk into a store and buy whatever they want without being hounded to buy more, or listen to recruiting scripts.  More and more women just buy online from a company that, again, doesn’t pressure them to join their salesforce.  And many women have serious reactions to the ingredients in MK products.

“Our products are on trend.”

Wrong again.  MK seems to come out with their versions of the latest must-haves much later than other companies.  When they finally introduce their version, women have already found another brand that they love.  If you have loaded up on the new products just knowing your customers will adore them, they will likely sit on your shelves, gathering dust, while your cash is tied up in those products just sitting there, not flying anywhere.  If you used your credit card to buy those products, your credit is tied up, and you are paying interest on that gathering dust.

“Work when you want to.”

Nope.  You will be working when your customers want you to.  When you sign up, you may have visions of being able to stay at home to raise your kids, with customers dropping by to buy products, and you being there to welcome your husband when he comes home, in a clean house with a great dinner prepared.  The fact is, daytime usually involves hours and hours of phone work, trying to get bookings for skin care classes and facials.  You will be hearing lots and lots of, “No, I’m sorry, I’m just too busy,”  or “My friends are too busy,” or “I just don’t have the money – don’t call me, I’ll call you.”  Or you’ll be leaving messages, because most women are at work.  You’ll hear yourself pleading with them to return your phone call, many times over.

And when, oh joy! You finally get a booking, guess when it will typically be?  During working hours?  No, it will be on a school night, or the weekend.  So when you are told that this is a perfect opportunity for women who want to stay home with their kids, don’t believe it!  This party plan worked “back when”, but today, when so many families must rely on two incomes, it is plainly outdated.

“You can earn a little or a  lot – YOU make the choice!  And Mary Kay is all about choices!”

Not true.  It doesn’t happen just because  you choose it to be.  If you want to make a little money on the side, here is what you will face.  Products are overpriced.  The use up rate is different for each product, so if you sell the whole skin care line the first time, as she runs out of each product your customer will probably just make do with what she has, your products and others, until she finally uses up that last drop.  By then, she will have realized that she doesn’t see much difference in her skin without those specialty products.  IF she reorders, she’ll just get the basics next go around.

You are going to have to carry samples of every product that Mary Kay has to offer.  Get out your Look Book, and just see how many products there are!  Now multiply that vast number of products times about ten samples of everything.  Wow!  That’s a lot of samples.  And wait till you see how much those samples cost!

Oops, sorry, you won’t get to lay eyes on those exorbitant prices until AFTER you become a consultant.  Oh, and by the way, you’ll be buying those Look Books too.  And take a look at all  of the supplies that your consultant used when she did your facial.  And the cosmetic carriers.  And the free gifts she gave you.  And the pretty plastic bags that it all came in.  And how about the sales slips she wrote your order on? The delicate tissue paper that made you feel so special?  The thank you notes that meant you were getting personalized service? Those are just the some of the expenses that you can see.

There are so many more that you can’t see, but they all add up to VERY little profit.  So yeah, you might be able to earn a “little” extra spending cash, but it will take a long time until any of that “profit” is yours.  And in the mean time, you are spinning your wheels, losing valuable family time, and becoming stressed out to the max.  So, yes, you make the choice.

Today we looked at some of the aspects of the “Mary Kay Opportunity hype” as it pertains to women who want a small business, and intend to make some extra cash while having some fun girl time.  If you are interested in knowing what a recruiter might tell you if you let her know that you really want to be wildly successful, like those fabulous women in the recruiting brochures and CDs that she gave you, stay tuned for Part 2.


  1. Jamming Berry

    The cost of the samples and the “gift with purchase” is what did me in. Plus, yes, all the supplies listed here and more. I recall being just shocked when I had to pay for the Look Books the first time. And then when three people took one each! And then the price of the website that’s supposed to get you some customers? I got one real customer AFTER I placed a $300 order and then all I got was a bunch of SPAM. I didn’t realize, of course, that you ONLY get a potential new customer if you place a large order. What a scam!!

  2. enorth

    “there is huge competition”

    And more every day. Try as it might, Mary Kay can’t shake the “older woman makeup” stigma. More Direct Sales makeup/skincare companies are being born, and their reps are quick to brand the company as “social media-based.” Whether or not that’s true doesn’t matter, because younger women WANT to hear/believe that.

    Look at clothing-seller LuLaRoe. Garish leggings aside, it took off big-time with young moms who wanted to wear “cute and comfy” clothing, and to sell it from their homes and on-line.

    Mary Kay, on the other hand, still expects gals to get dressed in skirts and hose to attend weekly meetings, arrive early to help set, bring guests (or be shamed!), help clean up, and PAY for the privilege of attending. I’m all for looking like a lady. But, let’s face it: after a while, it gets tiring and expensive, it’s more time away from home, and it just doesn’t appeal to most of today’s women.

  3. Notateamplayer

    I was finished with sales when I couldn’t even sell at my cost, due to all the product being dumped on the internet. My friends went there to make purchases instead. I can no longer justify the 225 plus tax and shipping once a year to stay personal use.

  4. BestDecision

    If the product really does fly off the shelf, why are there fewer Court of Sales winners now? And why is it RARE for any unit to ever have a winner? Yet, the Director Court of Sales is INCREASING in numbers. Longer stage walks, more names being called out.

    All because the products don’t sell. But, there’s still cars to maintain, units to keep, and special luncheons to not miss.

  5. MLM Radar

    1. I’m an “older woman” approaching 60 and Mary Kay is old and stale for me too.

    2. The increasing number of Directors walking the stage for Court of Sales means that fewer and fewer of their downlines are buying enough products to meet unit “production” quotas. The Directors have to make up the difference by buying more. But they’re not selling the stuff either. If they WERE able to find those customers it would be easy enough to refer them to the consultants, which would put the unit members on stage. But it’s not happening.

    3. The inability to sell this junk doesn’t stop with Mary Kay. Most would-be targets for any MLM have heard enough MLM sales and recruiting pitches that they’re fed up with the whole business model. They don’t care what the product is anymore. If it comes with an MLM pitch they reject the pitch and the pushy sales rep.

  6. enorth

    I watched a video where the MK rep talks about products being discontinued:

    “Most of the time, MK would say, ‘This product is being phased out due to low sales. But, now, they say it’s due to strategic changes.’ I thought that was good news!”

    So sad.

Comments are closed.