Mary Kay is Not a Business

pyramid-scheme-mlmWe get the same comments from Mary Kay supporters over and over: Mary Kay works when you do, don’t steal someone’s dream, it’s not a get rich quick scheme, it is a business and you have to treat it like one…

The sad fact, however, is that Mary Kay is NOT a business opportunity. Even those who are making money at the very top of the company are not doing so because they are running a business. They are “making money” because a scheme (often called a pyramid scheme) takes money from those at the bottom and transfers it to those at the top.

Those hugely successful women (and a couple of men) are “succeeding” only at duping people into joining Mary Kay Cosmetics and spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on products they have almost no chance of actually selling for a profit. More than 99% of people who participate in multi-level marketing lose money. So all these “successful” women are doing is luring others into an “opportunity” to part with their family’s hard earned money.

Are you hoping that you can join Mary Kay to earn a little extra money in your free time? Or are you praying that you will be one of the lucky ones who will go on to make the big bucks? Either way, your chances are almost zero.

And what do you have to do to earn money?

  1. Try to sell overpriced products (for the level of quality) to friends and family. You’ll have to heavily discount the products in the hope of making some sales. That cuts into any potential profit you may earn.
  2. Build up your inventory, because you’re taught to believe that you “can’t sell from an empty wagon.” You will be told that women won’t buy if you don’t have products on hand, because they want their stuff immediately. Not true! Have you ever heard of shopping on the internet? People order products online by the millions, and *GASP*… they wait for the products to arrive. You don’t have to stock Mary Kay products to get women to buy. And chances are that even when you do have inventory, you’ll constantly need to place additional orders for items you don’t have on hand. While stocking that [largely unsellable] inventory, you’ll incur interest charges on the credit card used to buy it and you’ll tie up your family’s money in products that are regularly discontinued or revamped (so you’ll need to order the new stuff!).
  3. Spend hundreds or thousands of dollars trying to sell the products and recruit people, including paying for: samples, supplies, gas and auto expenses, events,etc.
  4. Try to recruit new marks into the Mary Kay scheme using deception. You will be taught to omit certain important information from the recruiting talk. You will be asked to claim you’re successful and making money, even when that’s not true. Your potential recruits will be shown your director’s “high check,” but not given important information like the amount of that commission that had to be paid back to the company when recruits returned products, or all the business expenses that deplete that check to almost nothing. You will be asked to claim that women in Mary Kay earn a full-time income with part-time hours.

So if Mary Kay is not a business, then what is it?

It’s not a social activity. I know, I know. When those opposed to multi-level marketing point out that 99% of people lose money, a common response is that “women join MK to have fun!” Wrong! There are plenty of free or low-cost social and volunteer opportunities. If women need or want to have fun, they don’t have to join Mary Kay to do it.

So what does that make Mary Kay?

It’s a very cleverly crafted scheme that has been perpetrated for 50 years. It is a company that convinced the general public that it “helps women.” While promoting that fantasy, it actually harms women and their families. It uses a product that appears to be legitimate as the front for the scheme…. Mary Kay can claim they’re not a “pyramid scheme” because they have a legitimate product that can be sold for a profit. They don’t tell you that your chances of profiting from product sales are extremely low.

The executives and owners of Mary Kay Inc. are getting rich, as are a tiny handful at the top of the pyramid. And everyone else is losing money in a sham that they thought was a chance to own their own business.


  1. Peaches

    Basically you pay for the privilege of going in debt.

    You do things you really don’t want to do. And you end up getting hurt and hurting others in the process.

    How is this fun. And how is this a business. If men used half the tactics people are taught in MK, they would be up on charges of Sexual Harassment.

    When will people learn?

  2. BestDecision

    “I would not be the women I am today with out Jesus dieing on the cross for me and guiding & directing my life.”

    These are NSD Dacia Wiegandt’s words on her blog. She got her degree in education. That alone is scary and appalling.

    Why on earth would I want to follow someone that clearly isn’t bright enough to spell simple words correctly? If she can’t do that, would she really be able to guide me in business?

    One of the biggest reasons I grew sick of being in MK was the hypocrisy of using the bible, God, and scripture to woo people into the web with trust. Surely anyone who is so open about her love of God would be ethical and truthful!

    Wrong! I’ve met Dacia, and she, along with many, many others, came across as full of herself, bossy, condescending, and snobby. I kept being stunned by how fake they were, so kind and loving in their fonts but horrible when I met them. Conversations with them at Leadership and elsewhere showed me they lied on their taxes, stabbs their DIQs in the back and talked badly about them, and had marriages that were awkward and falling apart.

    Whomever paid for your education, Dacia, has to be sad. While you might make good money as an NSD, you’re poor in character and intelligence.

    1. Jason Houston

      People who claim to love God are rarely ethical or truthful. That’s why we have churches. The moment they crack their lips about religion, that’s the time to run for your life. You won’t get out alive.

    1. BestDecision

      I completely forgot that idea of turning our pins upside down to get attention! Again I say, if the product and brand are reputable, no ploys or crazy ideas are necessary to gain customers or recruits. People will come TO you if it’s that great!

  3. enorth

    Mallory James is debuting as a Sales Director. At age 18, she is the youngest woman to make SD in GA and she has only been in MK for one year.

    Her mom is NSD Cecilia James.

  4. Jamie Wilson

    Mary Kay doesn’t do this….
    pry·a·mid scheme
    a form of investment (illegal in the US and elsewhere) in which each paying participant recruits two further participants, with returns being given to early participants using money contributed by later ones.

    1. TRACY

      Actually, yes they do. You see, the way MLMs “stay legal” is by using a product. With the product as the “thing” they’re selling, they can look like they’re not a pyramid scheme.

      You pay to play in MK. Then you recruit people and get them to buy inventory. The money they spent on inventory pays the “commissions” of the upline.

      So you see the “returns” given to the upline (the early participants) are really must money contributed by later ones (their recruits).

    2. Char

      Example: $5 product with a $50 price tag. $45 worth of Ponzi money to pay Peter after robbing Paul.

      The difference between normal retailing and MLMing is you are willing to pay that $50 for the opportunity – even though the product is worth $5. The cheap product is just a cover.

      If you want to argue the product is worth $50, you must have the “majority” of buyers who are non-affiliates to prove its market value. In MLM-ing, the whole goal is to recruit and keep the chain going. Why buy the product retail, end the chain, when you can sign up and make it an opportunity. See the inherent flaw?

      A few retail purchases here and there will not keep the MLMing company going and afloat. They must recruit and make it about the opportunity. Don’t believe me? Just look at what they teach and focus on.

      MK and all MLMing companies can’t help but be a product based pyramid/Ponzi scheme. MLM-ing is what it is.

  5. Marie

    I never understood why Mary Kay consultants said they were “running their own business”…. they’re not. They’re sales consultants selling a product for someone else’s business. I’ve had a lot of friends get sucked into Mary Kay or other makeup and pyramid schemes and all they start to do is try to sell to their friends and Facebook friends. Really turns people off to being their friend or wanting to buy something. One friend was in May Kay but slowly stopped selling because she wasn’t actually making anything-she started out wanting an office in her home to handle Mary Kay business (as if she owned a business). I’m sorry but in my college class of building a basic business, I learned the steps to starting your own business, and it was nothing like what you do for Mary Kay-because MK is not your own business, it’s the head of Mary Kay’s business.

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