The Real Truth Behind Mary Kay’s “Avenues of Income”

Written by Raisinberry

If you were paying attention at your “practice” recruiting interview or guest event, you’ll recall your recruiter or Future Director telling you about all the ways that you can make money in Mary Kay. Ultimately it came down to 3 “avenues of income”. One way was selling your own product to consumers, one was recruiting for commissions on their “sales”, and then you had the last obscure method called dovetailing that happened when you got a percentage of a class you booked but didn’t hold.

Then of course there were reorders, but that is really just you selling to end customers again. Three income streams seemed to be the key to success and would lead to being “paid what you are worth”…not what some “job is worth”.

If you recruit someone and they order $3,000 in wholesale product, and you have 5 on your team, and you also order $600 wholesale yourself, you will get a 13% commission. That’s $390 on their first order. It would take you selling them $780 retail to make the same commission on product sales, and of course it would take a year or more to realize it. If you want quick money, you don’t want a customer, you want a frontloaded recruit.

What ends up happening for the vast majority of savvy consultants is that they hold the facial, do marketing, sell skin care once and recruit for the fast commission- trusting their Director to “maximize” the purchasing power of the recruit. Mary Kay assures us of attempting to motivate the fast commission by the 15 day “free color 101” look that presses upon the IBC to take action right away. The recruiter knows that the Director will have this in her mind because the Director needs to maximize the purchasing power of the new recruit also. So even though three avenues of income are mentioned, the “real” source of big fast dough is the frontloaded recruit. Sales of the product will always be a means to an end and will never be where the “big money” is at.

There’s a parallel in these three avenues that resurface at the Unit level. Three “avenues of income” become apparent for the Director as well. First there is the new recruit who drives the monthly production and affords the biggest pop in commission for the Director. The recruiter will get 4%, 9%, or 13% depending on her team, right? But the Director gets 13% and then 10% again as her bonus. So the same $3,000 gets the Director $390 plus $300 or $690.

Imagine this for a second. The recruiter gets $390, the Director gets $690, the Senior Director gets 4-5% or let’s say $150.00 and the National gets a small percentage too. Who knows what the rates are now, but let’s say another $150. So $1,380 of that recruit’s order is going to commissions of the upline.

Now, she has over $6,000 in retail on her shelf…close to $6,700 with all her freebies, so she makes the biggest commission of all—if she can sell it! The upline HAS their commission already. Miss IBC will have to grunt out the classes and sell to end users to realize her “profit”.

Secondly, the Director has the career path consultant, (lets call her “reorders”) Who, while attempting to chase the car or the suit, will be over ordering more than she ever hopes to sell, to maintain qualifications, under the opinion that when she makes it, she will have much bigger checks that will balance off these expenditures. The career path consultant is encouraged by the NSD, or GoGive’s need for more Leadership, simply because like customers who fall off the radar, thus also Directors and DIQ’s will also fall off the radar and need to be replaced. The New recruit and the career path consultant drive the unit production, because both are outlaying more in orders than they have sold, one for start up, one for maintenance.

The third avenue of income for consultants, which was the dovetail, is rarely ever experienced. No one likes the idea of double booking and handing a hostess off to a replacement consultant, as if she were the step sister appointment of the evening. Yet, Mary Kay still promotes it as if anyone was really using it, as a viable income producer. Likewise, the personal use consultant becomes the third avenue of income that barely registers on the Unit production meter.

That $200 order produces $26 in commission and if the unit breaks $5,000, another 10% provides $20 more. Without New recruit production and career path consultants, a unit dissolves faster than a New York minute. Personal use consultants do not order every month. If they order every 6 months you are lucky, so they are about as rare as a dovetail for producing real income.

So real income comes down to the two major contributing factors; new recruits and Director wannabees. Director wannabees can only be Directors if they find the new recruits. A Director, who can get multiple streams of income as in pushing many women up the career path, will accomplish all her goals. She will be more secure on the career path than most. If she can get 5 women chasing car and DIQ, she guarantees $4,000 coming in from each “profit center” that these women represent.

If you think this through, there is very little dependence or need to depend on sales to consumers. That is not an avenue of income that produces fast big money. If I have 5 team leaders, attempting to go on target this month—they will drive the production, forget about driving the car! Even if they fail, they will have team members drawn in to the promotions and pursuing the establishment of their “full stores”, which will produce the commissionable production.

Now most consultants know all this, but they may have never really considered how foolish selling product is, and how little work is involved with just being a recruiter. All the strategies of the upline are designed to get you to move up—SO THAT, you drive the search for new recruits that produce the biggest portion of unit production. And when that magic number of production falls short…WHO will put in the needed amount? Why you will Miss Career Path consultant! When your team pulls $2,800 and you need just $1,200 more to finish car, will you let it go?

No, you won’t. And your Unit just did $1,200 more, which benefited everyone in the upline because now you have to “keep” that car. Speed of the leader is the speed of the gang, don’t ya know.

The entire system is a set up for recruiting to produce (and reproduce) the big money leaving product sales as the pin money disguise. Your initial start up sales will trick you into believing those orders will return, if you can just get the right show line started, and Mary Kay depends on that belief along with your Director’s stroking and recognition, to keep you invested in the dream until you poop out with no more resources or make it to the Suit. If and when you poop out, it will make no difference at all, because your personal orders once or twice a year forms a baseline safety net that dupes the Director into thinking she has a big unit, (of mostly non-producers) and that it is growing.

But women who mentally quit from not getting results or not making money from product sales are not “growing” the unit. Recruiters replace the ones who wash out, and all anyone needs to do to prove that Mary Kay Cosmetics is not a viable business for consultants or Directors is to stop recruiting. Stop recruiting. You think you run a viable cosmetics business? Stop recruiting. You think you run a ½ million dollar retail Selling Unit? Stop recruiting. Gee if you stopped turning customers into consultants, wouldn’t you have even higher sales? Wouldn’t you be a gen-u-wine Half Million Dollar Unit much faster?

If your business really had “avenues of income” that relied on product sales to consumers, you could keep going, without recruiting. There isn’t a Director reading this now that could even RISK this suggestion, and the fact that she knows it, belies her personal level of self deception.

Trapping women into career path aspirations, riding them for new recruit procurement, and equally manipulating them for additional “stretch orders” as they go for arbitrary benchmarks and leadership recognition is nothing more than pimping them out so you can get your “cut”.

When I realized the overwhelming truth that 300+ women had come and gone out of my Unit—98% with inventory purchases, and only 3 career path consultants left to speak of, with over $10,000 to $20,000 in “on the shelf” merchandise each…trying to reach “the Dream”…I couldn’t lie to myself any longer.

I was taught to “rationalize” these women away in “turnover”, but traditional turnover doesn’t put women in thousands of dollars of debt and trashed self esteem…like MK does. Mary Kay sifts women to find the golden-est of nuggets who will work the business without a conscience. With year after year of proof that the avenue of income known as the skin care class or beauty show no longer fits the purchasing model of the modern woman, Mary Kay still sells its viability-like the dove tail- with total knowledge that this “avenue of income” is nothing but a detour on the road to financial success.


  1. AutumnMoonfire

    As soon as I read what dovetailing was I was astonished! Who in their right mind, playing this con, is going to hand a room full of marks to another consultant, or worse, to an SD who’ll recruit them right out from under you?

    What a scam!

  2. morningstar

    Fantastic post!

    The cloudy thinking that prevails in the guise of excitement, deception, moving upward quickly, all wrapped up in intense emotion to keep this train on the track for the director/NSD.
    Wow just wow, In some form or another everyone has product laying around that is gathering moss. At the director level the incoming down line orders compensate for the product purchases somewhat and is in the back of the minds of the recruiter, however the inertia is never overcome and the director unless a machine to recruit every breathing soul on earth is left to top off production (mk corporate loves this I am sure).
    Product is product and the money invested unless it is all sold is a loss. This is important to remember. Directors I knew gave the “extra” and outdated product to charities. Then it seems with less product lining the shelves, it give permission in a psychological sense to keep the cycle going, the cloudy thinking mk corporate counts on folks!
    And then the admonishment of not working the business hard enough is added to the insult.
    I accept and declare that I am a lazy looser according to MK – in that way I can justify jumping off the train that never really left the station. And be free of the mental manipulation.

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