Things I Wish I Knew About Mary Kay Inventory

When I first started Mary Kay, oh so long ago, I bought into the hype. I heard about inventory, was told I NEEDED it in order to be successful, so I bought a bunch. After all, who in their right mind starts Mary Kay with the intent to fail? We all start with the intent to succeed, and if that’s what we NEED, then we’ll do it!

Back then, I was given a sheet from my sales director that outlined how many classes per week you needed to earn so much, how much the supposed average sales per class were, how much the supposed average reorders were… Little did I know, all of that was total fiction. Made up.

These days, Mary Kay Inc. has an official inventory worksheet. It has looked like this or this in the past. I read those sheets, and I realize that just about everyone “needs” $2,400 or $3,600. Heck… You even give yourself extra points on your worksheet if you plan to attend weekly “success meetings”. What? You need more inventory because you’re going to waste your Monday nights at rah-rah sessions? At a minimum, the company “recommends” $600 for everyone. Wow!

Give yourself more points depending upon how many appointments you’re going to hold each week. Don’t forget that you’ve been lied to about how long an appointment will take, and you don’t yet realize that no one wants to have classes. No big deal. If you don’t know these things right away, you’ll give yourself a zillion points and you’ll “need” more inventory.

Now look at the “goals” toward the bottom. I think a lot of women get involved in Mary Kay and have those goals up front, because they have no idea what it will take to get there. (i.e. They’ve been mislead in the recruiting process like 95% of the recruits are.) But if they have those goals… voila!… they automatically have 8 points and “need” $1,800 wholesale.

So what do I wish I would have known then?

  • All the guidelines about how much inventory you “need” are inflated. No, Mary Kay Cosmetics and your sales director are not looking out for YOUR best interest. They are looking out for their own, and that means pushing you to buy as much as possible.
  • $600 is the magic number for inventory, and will the be the lowest option that your recruiter offers to you. This is because the contests run by Mary Kay Cosmetics all depend upon “qualified” recruits, and qualified means that they have ordered at least $600 wholesale.
  • The company changes the products on a regular basis. Products are discontinued, formulations are changed, and packaging is changed. They do anything they can to change the product so that yours is outdated and no longer listed in the catalogs (and therefore harder to sell). You’ll need to “invest” in the new products because that’s what’s in the catalog.
  • Your sales director will try to convince you to stock inventory because women won’t buy if you don’t have it on hand. That is not true. Those who have inventory do not get significantly higher sales. They might have a few extra items sold here and there because they have it on hand, but it’s not enough to justify sticking thousands of dollars into inventory.
  • Your sales director will try to convince you to stock inventory because it will cost you $9(ish) for shipping each time you order from the company. It is not that big of a deal. Even if you placed an order with Mary Kay Inc. every single week, in a year you would spend less than $500 on shipping. That is still less than the interest on a credit card or loan. Do you want a few thousand dollars out of your pocket and into inventory, or would you rather pay a little shipping fee when you need something? Oh, and they always forget to tell you that even if you have inventory, someone always seems to order something you don’t have on hand. You need to place and order and pay shipping for that too. So why not avoid inventory and order on an as-needed basis so you don’t get stuck with any outdated products?
  • In order to receive your products at wholesale (50% discount off suggested retail), you must be “active”. Active status is achieved in the month you place a minimum $225 wholesale order (A1) and the following 2 months (A2 and A3). Example: You order $225 wholesale on April 6. You are considered active in April, May, and June. After June, you must place another minimum $225 wholesale order to receive your discount.
  • Your consultant agreement prohibits you from buying products from anyone other than Mary Kay Inc. Why? To force additional purchases from corporate. If you were free to buy products from another consultant, you would both benefit when you need a couple of products to fill an order. By forcing you to buy only from corporate, Mary Kay Inc. profits from another wholesale purchase, especially if you must purchase the minimum $225 wholesale.
  • Your director may tell you that it’s against the rules to trade products with other consultants. That’s not true.  The consultant agreement only specifies that purchases of products must be made from Mary Kay Inc. It does not address trading between consultants. Your director has told you it’s against the rules in order to try to force you to order from the company and pad her commission check. You should ignore her, and trade products if you can find a consultant with what you need.
  • The lure of  “free products” when you first sign up is available during your first AND second month as a consultant. Sales directors try to get you to purchase an inventory package of $600 wholesale or more during your first month in order to get product bonuses from Mary Kay Inc. Those bonuses are available when you make an inventory purchase in month one or two. Example: You sign up on September 20. If you purchase an inventory package of $600 wholesale or more in September or October, you can receive free products. If you wait until November, you will not receive free products, no matter how much you purchase.
  • You can use Mary Kay’s product repurchase” option at ANY TIME. Mary Kay will buy back from you an amount of products equal to your wholesale purchases from them for the last 12 months. (Many recruiters and directors will lead you to believe that the repurchase option is available ONLY in your FIRST 12 months with the company. This is not true. It can be done at any time.)
  • In the U.S., the amount you receive back for your products in the product repurchase will be based upon the most recent wholesale price of the products, which could be lower than what you paid for them. Example: You purchased a limited edition item for $10 wholesale. Mary Kay has put it on the “pink sale” at a reduced price of $7 wholesale. You will only get credit for a return of $7 wholesale. (Some consultants have successfully gotten their actual purchase price back on items that went pink sale, however, by providing copies of their purchase receipts.)
  • Limited edition items almost never “run out”. If they do, it is only because the sales directors scared everyone into thinking they’d run out, so everyone bought more than they needed. This tactic is often used on the Christmas items. Sales directors want you to buy, buy, buy to help pump up their commission checks. The bottom line is that limited edition products do not sell as well as they’d have you believe. And if MK really does run out, you’ll be able to find plenty of limited edition products on eBay!

Oh, how I know that the Kaybots are seething because we’re telling their potential recruits about this. They are able to frontload much more when the whole story isn’t out there!


  1. Lazy Gardens

    … the contests run by Mary Kay Cosmetics all depend upon “qualified” recruits, and qualified means that they have ordered at least $600 wholesale.

    Qualified: the RECRUIT has ordered enough for the RECRUITER to qualify for bonuses (paid for by the recruit’s order) and prizes.

    The recruit gets nothing for this, just the director and upline.

  2. Pinkfreesince2015

    Just this past weekend a picture was being posted around Facebook of two eye makeup removers. One was purchased from a consultant and the other was purchased on Ebay (probably from another consultant who wants to get rid of her inventory and MK corp wouldn’t take it back.) There were a few hashtags attached to the picture that had to do with it being illegal selling online. I love how MK bots just fall in line.

    There is no need for inventory! Do not waste your money. Better yet, don’t even do MK! Go get a job with benefits and a great legit retirement plan.

  3. morningstar

    Good post! Spending 500.00 a year for shipping to get stuff as you need it is MUCH better than holding rotting inventory of several thousand dollars.

    Place and order with MK and have your customer recoup some of the shipping cost. That way you can hone your selling skills and see IF you can make it in MK sales.

    This also again sheds light on the fact that directors, NSDs, are not about sales it is about warm bodies spending 600.00 plus to keep them elevated in that position.
    It drove me nutz in MK, who am I working for? Myself or the director/NSD who begs for end of month orders?

    If you focus on sales and are good at it, you will see that MK is not a viable mainstream product. Remember you are competing with amazon and ebay for a piece of the pie.

  4. BestDecision

    Trying to keep up with the product changes was insane. MK re-formulated TimeWise without preparing for us, and that’s when the shoe began to drop for a lot of people. I personally saw a Top Trip Director return her inventory after that. She had BOXES of TimeWise shed bought at year-end and was stuck with it while our websites and MK promoted the new and improved formula.

    We were all stunned that MK would treat us that way, and that memory stuck with me throughout this very day. I still won’t wear MK, even if it helped another person or was discounted. Beyond the fact that it’s technologically behind other brands, I don’t have any desire to support a company that shoved so many of us down overnight with poor judgement on how to change into a new formulation.

    Also, MK doesn’t own up to it, but they test on animals. They are heavily trying to build up markets like China, so they have to follow their laws that require animals to be used for testing. In this day and age, it’s not necessary to do so. This is another example of how deep MK’s roots run in doing what is best for them and not their sales force. All they care about is the potential revenue they get from China, not the people here that built the MK brand.

    1. morningstar

      Ah- Who can sell the MOST timewise sets aka product dumping on the sales force.

      I remember this was a contest for seminar and much hype for the winner and I felt like such a loser as to why I could not sell xzy timewise sets. As I recall someone from Nevada won and it affected me deeply at seminar (added to all the other ills of seminar). I was in the fog not getting that this person purchased 200 + sets (without the customer base).

      The real losers were people who entered and the person who won, as the NEW improved timewise sets rolled out to the sales force. Ugh!

  5. Joelyn

    I just saw two Mary Kay represents attempting to sell their inventory near a CVS store in my neighborhood. At least it was a nice day to be outside but it didn’t look like they were doing any business. I feel empathy for them.

  6. Lily in NYC

    I am cracking up at the inventory worksheets – the lowest order would be if you totaled your answers and got 2 – 4 points. But there’s no way to get fewer than 4 points on the worksheet even if you answer the lowest possible number for each question. And the questions are so loaded – they might as well have this as a question: “give yourself 4 points if you want to be awesome and 1 point if you are a lazy loser”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *