Look Before You Leap: Getting a Head Start on Your Mary Kay Business (Part 2)

Written by DupedByPinkFriend

We frequently discuss some of the falsehoods and partial truths in the Mary Kay recruiting spiels that tend to hook women who are only looking to get their products at a discount, or just want to earn a few extra bucks per month, and have loads of fun while they’re at it.  There are many other scripts that you may have heard if someone is trying to recruit you, and these are designed to convince women that they can easily become wealthy and attain financial security with a Mary Kay career. Let’s just look at a few of the typical lines you were probably told; those lines that may be tempting you to jump in head first.

“Mary Kay Cosmetics is a ‘Dual Marketing’ company”

You will hear this line right away, with explanations that as a new Independent Beauty Consultant, you will receive the same 50% discount  on product purchases that  Independent Sales Directors and National Sales Directors enjoy.  It will be further explained that because you buy your products directly from the company, and turn around and sell them directly to your customers, there is no “middleman”.

But very quickly, your recruiter may show you something called “Avenues of Income” which describes all of the ways to earn money in your MK business.  Some of the ways to earn money  are commissions that you would earn on  products that your own recruits  order from the company.  This selling point is sometimes punctuated with “So you can be earning money while you sleep!”

That is pretty exciting to consider, but your recruiter is hoping that you don’t put two and two together and come up with, “Hey, wait a minute!  Doesn’t that make me a middleman?  And won’t all the levels above me be making money on MY orders?”  Since the Career Ladder shows many levels in Mary Kay that you can work towards, and your recruiter and her recruiter and her recruiter all make money from your orders, can we just say it like it is?  Multiple levels will make money on your orders.  You know, as in “Multi”?

MK  really hopes that you won’t make this mental leap and discover that Mary Kay is in fact, a multi-level marketing plan, just like that horrible Amway.  It is a barely legal pyramid scam, where the few at the top profit from the many who fail at the bottom.  Before you go any further, I would suggest that you google “multi-level marketing” and “pyramid scams” and see if you really think this is something that will likely earn you money.

“You can earn an executive income on part-time hours!”

Stop right there, and analyze that for a second.  Can you think of even one example of an entrepreneur or executive who got rich working part time?  This is a blatant lie, but one that is dragged out at every recruiting session, and again, there is no proof to back up this statement.  If you want big money in Mary Kay, expect to be working at a  frenetic level, day in and day out.  You won’t have  time  to be with your family and you will be encouraged to hire a nanny and a maid and an administrative assistant to take care of household duties and keep your business in order.  That means you had better be selling a lot of product to cover these new expenses, so you’ll have time to grow your business!

Previously, we touched on some of the expenses  that you will encounter as an Independent Beauty Consultant.   As we’ve already discussed, there is little profit after expenses in selling the products, so how do these women actually earn money in MK? The money comes from recruiting, and pressuring your recruits to order products.  But, you too will need to gloss over the truth when speaking to potential recruits, because very few women really want to earn their money by repeating the lies and half-truths that you told them, and continually try to coerce women to order products that they don’t need and may never sell.

You will need to “sell the opportunity” to a minimum of 30 women if you want to become an Independent Sales Director.  You will be told to “raise your deserve level”, and “find a way, make a way” to make it happen, and when you do, THEN you will be earning the big bucks!  What you do not find out until after you become an ISD, is that your expenses are going to raise exponentially. In addition to the expenses that are associated with selling the products, now add these expenses that come with directorship:

  • You have to schedule a debut to announce your directorship, and you’ll foot the bill for the room or restaurant including the meal or refreshments, tips, and appreciation gifts for your unit members.
  • Travel to and from Dallas to attend the “free” Director training.  Room, meals, and tips while you’re there for a week
  • Buy the expensive and utterly ugly Director’s designer suit that you must wear.  Factor in the dry cleaning bills.
  • Rent a room in which you will hold your weekly unit training meetings. In some instances, you’ll also be paying utility bills on the room.
  • Pay someone to put together your unit newsletter, because you don’t have time to do that!  You need to be out recruiting more consultants, because some of your unit members have now wised up and quit.  You need those bodies and the production that they bring in!
  • Maintain a website. If you don’t, your unit members will wonder why you don’t.  “The other directors do!”
  • Purchase ribbons and prizes for your consultants to keep them motivated to order more products.

Whew! Now consider the expenses and time commitment for the never ending “MK pow-wows” that you will be expected to attend:

  • Seminar
  • Career Conference
  • Leadership Conference
  • Area Conference
  • Monthly Directors’ Meetings
  • Other Director’s and National’s Debuts
  • Recruiting events:  Muffins and Makeovers, Pizza and Possibilities, etc.

There are many other requirements for you to keep your directorship status, including maintaining a minimum unit production each and every month, even though you’ve been told that there are no quotas in Mary Kay.  And if you don’t meet the production, you’ll need to personally purchase the necessary amount of products to make up the difference, even though you don’t have time to get out and sell the products anymore!

Your production (and resulting commission check) can take a huge hit when one or more of your recruits quit, and return their inventories to the company.  When that happens (and it happens a lot), you will receive a “chargeback”.  This means that you have to pay back the commissions that you earned on your recruits orders.  You are on the hook for potential chargebacks for a full year after an order is placed by someone in your unit.

“Short term loss for long term gain!”

By now, I hope you are getting a clear picture of the losses that you will be experiencing:  more time away from your family, huge credit card debts from trying to make it all work, living with continual immense stress, and a slow erosion of your integrity.   Is it any wonder that very few women can tolerate a life such as this, and weather the financial juggling long enough to make it to National Sales Director status?

You will be living with an undercurrent of peer pressure.  You need to maintain an image of wealth, happiness, success.  Just look around at your sister directors!  If they can do it, so can you!  And this pressure can never be discussed. You will be labeled “negative” if you let on that all is not well.  You must carry that weight alone.

It is also important to note that you will never be living in the moment.  You will always be hanging on to the promise of a better life “when I get to the next level…” You may never feel like you “have arrived”.  You are missing out on “now”.  You can never be really “there” for your children, because that elusive destination has you scurrying to and fro, and if you let up for even a short time, it will all crumble around you.  Most importantly, your children may likely “catch how you live”.  Your kids might never feel like they have arrived, either.

“You can  ‘Achieve Success’ and ‘Earn Rewards’ and enjoy ‘Life on Your Terms’ while you are ‘Enriching Womens Lives’ by ‘Sharing the Opportunity’!”

Goodness!  This sounds like the best thing since sliced bread!  While all of these claims are “kind of” possible, please understand that the reality is glossed over:  This is a very hard business in which to achieve that success.  These blanket statements are designed to appeal to your emotions, to get you excited about the possibilities of wealth, glamour, and respect that can be yours if you just want it badly enough.  In short, these pretty words are intended to allow your emotions to overcome your rational thought, to make you ACT NOW, to entice you to leap before you look.


  1. Lazy Gardens

    A real “Dual Marketing” campaign is when two companies pool their resources and promote complementary products, often at a discounted price:

    A beer company and a Pretzel company
    A tent company and a 4WD vehicle company
    A ski resort and a local restaurant

    You will hear this line right away, with explanations that as a new Independent Beauty Consultant, you will receive the same 50% discount on product purchases that Independent Sales Directors and National Sales Directors enjoy.

    That is also a misleading mistruth … although everyone pays the same price to Mary Kay, directors are paid the commission on their purchases, and IBCs aren’t. That gives the directors a refund (a kickback?) on the purchase price that the IBC doesn’t get, lowering the cost to the director compared to the cost to the IBC. Directors also get cash for “production” … bonuses for recruits who order quickly, bonuses for having a unit that orders more than $$$ amounts.

    In fact, a director could place a “qualifying order” in the name of ghost consultants, get the product, sell it at wholesale price and make a tidy little profit. Because not only do they get their commission which is like getting it at an extra % off wholesale, they get the cash ordering bonuses and prize qualifications and the car credit from those orders. IBCs get none of it.

    1. Michelle M

      Regarding the Director’s ability to place “ghost” orders, collect the bonus, and sell at wholesale, does anyone think that this is being done en masse on Ebay? Now THAT sounds like a business plan!

      1. Lazy Gardens

        Michelle M :
        It reportedly WAS a business plan for a couple of SDs with family ties in a foreign country where there is no Mary Kay and lots of corruption.

        They reportedly had huge units, many ghosts, and sent the orders via middlemen overseas to be sold. So they were collecting the commissions, bonuses and prizes and then recovering the cost of the goods by selling them overseas.

        They were found out and it was so blatant that even Mary Kay’s legal department was inclined to kick them out.

      2. enorth

        You can bet there are MANY interesting “business plans” and “avenues of income” in use. And none of them involve selling a TimeWise Miracle Set here and there.

      3. Michelle M Murphy

        Just that fact alone, that it is possible to use the compensation plan in this manner, paints MK as a joke. A real business would have a rock-solid plan that benefits hard work, prohibits this kind of monkey-business, and MAKES SENSE! 🙂

  2. raisinberry

    I was watching Leah Remini’s piece on Scientology and couldn’t help but notice the parallels to Mary Kay. Though not as extreme, the “Pink Bubble” uses much of the same tactics, group think, shunning, excessive “training” that is for no other reason than reinforcing no negativity, no criticism of Mary Kay. The training events are always the same…same content, same hoopla, same message. We’re the best thing in the world and you would be an ass to quit us. And if you have doubts? Well, you are marked…targeted…stay away from SuzyQ!

    If you have to lie about or hide the inner workings of your organization in order to rope people into joining, you already KNOW you are a fraud.

    1. Cindylu

      raisinberry…I was thinking the same thing after watching Leah and reading her book. The MK endless repetitive meetings and conferences. (All with the same focus of keeping recruits in the pink bubble). The focus on MK being to help other women. (when it benefits mostly Corp, the NSD’s who joined in the 70’s and the heirs). The idolizing and never questioning of MK herself (like RL Hubbard). The eventual shunning and litigation fears of those who leave. The extreme financial, psychological abuse of the members. The half truths and out right lies. The cost of training which never stops. This includes: meetings, conferences, products, business cards, videos, books etc. The different levels with the secrets that aren’t revealed to Directors, SD’s, NSD’s till they sign the contract. The avoidance of critical thinking. Not addressing real concerns and attacking any web sites that bring forward the many stories of abuse or the real stories about the company or the founder of this cult/mlm. A cult does use repetitive techniques, exploits the followers financially etc, and has many layers to continue to financially gauge the followers. Keep changing the product so IBC’s spend more. Scientology runs the same courses over again so the followers spend more too. In both organizations, it is all about the money. (Those at the top of the scheme profit and the others go into debt). Scientology has encouraged huge borrowing and so does MK. Enough similarities to warrant a series (documentary) on mlm including MK.

      1. enorth

        And never question the company or its owners. Everything they do is good. They never knowingly do harm. They know what’s best for us. They always have our best interests at heart. Trust them.

      2. enorth

        And don’t forget the “God wants you to do this” hook that is prevalent in MLMs.
        A consultant posted this following her January event:

        “…was exactly what I needed to help me refocus on my business. God called me to this and he will see me through it. Time to stop ignoring him… I know it would not have been placed on my heart if he didn’t think I was good or capable… ”

        No. You were mesmerized by a woman in a shiny suit with rhinestones who told you that God called you to MK. You were told you were ignoring God by not pursuing MK. You were told God “placed it on your heart.”

        Don’t fall for it. The Rhinestone Lady is hugging you with one arm while her other arm is reaching for your wallet.

  3. Jamming Berry

    I was so glad I lived out in Never-Never-Land waaaay far away from my unit. I didn’t have to attend the weekly meetings (don’t even know if they cost, but I’m sure they did in some format) and I wore what I wanted to the parties. I did dress professionally, but most of the time it didn’t involve a skirt, nylons, or heels. UGH!

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