Mary Kay Creates Debt For Many Who Work Hard

A sales director shows us how easy it is to fall into debt in Mary Kay. Even though she wasn’t making money, she has stayed in for years and tries to live the dream.

I started MK about 8 years ago. I was a stay at home mom with 2 children, who worked part time for extra money. I was a prime candidate for MK. I wanted to be successful and I wanted my husband and HIS family to be proud of me. I had a dysfunctional child hood growing up so all the “surface” support and love I saw hooked me immediately into the Pink Dream.

I was recruited in with $4,000+ in Mary Kay products. I started out strong, but here’s where it comes together. When I was in car qualification for my 1st of 3 cars, I was a little short on production during the 2nd month. My director suggested I just charge the needed amount of $3,000 because she was sure I would be earning that car. I did earn that car and thus began my cycle of credit card debit. It got deeper and worse each month. My credit cards became a stone around my neck.

I hid my debt for a while, but then my husband found out. We took a second mortgage on our first home which we didn’t even have to have a down payment for because our credit score was so good. After we did this I just knew I could start with a clean slate and really make money. Wrong! Before long I was back into the same mess. Why?? Why? Wasn’t I successful? I was driving a “free” car, after all.

Now I know (even though I hate to admit it) I was emotionally manipulated. I heard about how I was a leader in our unit and needed to perform. (Remember the woman inside who was so desperate for someone to love her and see her as someone valuable?) My team was looking to me. To fail at Mary Kay would be to fail them.

I thought my children needed a mother who was stable and successful. Becoming a director was a gift to THEM, in my mind. Being a director was the only way a person like me could ever make a living. How many times did I hear, “What are you going to do, wait tables?” I was convinced that outside of Mary Kay I was nothing, I could never become anything. Mary Kay was the ONLY way.

Because of the emotional abuse I had suffered from my mother growing up and the “abusive” situation I was in with my mother-in-law, I didn’t want to disappoint my senior director whom I thought cared so much about me. So I charged my credit cards and recruited on and on. I repeated everything I was taught.

I went through a divorce (no fault of Mary Kay) and became a single mother trying to survive on my Mary Kay income. I was told that I should NOT get a job outside of Mary Kay. People won’t recruit if they think you can’t make a full time income in Mary Kay. Your unit will fall apart if you start working for someone else.

They convinced me that I was going through a temporary “down time” and I could work my way out of it. I was trying to make a living for me and my children plus absorb all the new director start-up costs.

My husband and I filed bankruptcy when we divorced, so I had no credit available. My children and I lived on CASH only. I thought I was doing so much worse than other directors, but thanks to Pink Truth I now know they just had the credit cards to LOOK successful.

My production came from actual consultants, because I didn’t have the option of charging production on a credit card. I never felt good about getting women started with the big inventory packages. I just saw too many women with no sales and thousands of dollars of Mary Kay debt. But the attitude at all the director meetings was that everyone was sooooooo successful.

In all honesty I should have been getting food stamps for me and my children and some kind of Medicaid. But I was so brainwashed into the idea of looking the part of a successful director. Well successful directors don’t apply for food stamps. (After all how could I warm chatter women who just signed me up for food stamps?)

I felt guilty all the time. I needed to be working. I had to be on the phone in the evenings. Where were my children? Being quiet while Mommy “worked”. I was trying to set up those appointments. During the day, I had to warm chatter to get those new leads. It was an awful endless cycle. My church family prayed for me to be blessed. What I really needed them to know was my gas had been shut off and I needed help getting the rent paid.

Now God didn’t abandon me and my children. He did take care of us, but I am sure it would have been easier other ways. My prayer life and relationship with the Lord became focused on one thing: Me asking Him to help with my Mary Kay business. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

I suffered and so did my children. After a few years of being single, I remarried. My new husband never complained about Mary Kay. He prayed with me that God would bless my efforts and bless the businesses of the women in my unit.

We rejoiced together every month that my unit hit $5,000 in production. But still there was never money. My husband’s income was covering my Mary Kay expenses. I would tell him I just needed to get back on my feet. When the day came that the company was about to pick up my career car and my director status was in jeopardy with the company because I owed them money, I sat down and started doing the math. We should have been able to live on my husband’s income just fine without me even working. Not richly, but just fine.

Slowly the pieces started coming into place. It took several months and then I started asking myself, “Why am I paying so much money to be in Mary Kay?”

I started seriously considering getting out I saw a comment left on a blog with a link to Pink Truth. I peeked at the site and I started to see myself in so many ways—I couldn’t believe it! There were my life and my experiences staring out at me.

I was so ashamed of myself and I felt so much guilt I had been hiding it all these years. I truly thought I was the only one!!! Truly!!! I am hurting so deeply over the choices I have made over the past several years. I was so naive. I just thought I needed to get my act together. I thought I needed to find my superstar. I though I needed to get my personal business up and running. I thought I needed to get right on my thought process. On and on…

I am considering sending back my product. I am scared of what my senior director will say. I am certain it will be the end of our relationship. It is so sad to say, but I think our relationship has been about what I could do for her.

If you are reading this then I want to tell you something. You are great and you can be successful outside of Mary Kay. We hear so much about how bad the JOB world is. Be proud of what you do and the contribution you make to your family and your community. Please do not base your self-esteem on what the pink ladies around you are saying. I have a new focus on my relationship with Christ. He is the center NOT Mary Kay. God sent his son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for you. That is all the assurance you will ever need about your worth and value.


Smarter Now


  1. BestDecision

    If you’re scared you won’t have a relationship with your Sr after you leave, that’s the sign of a trouble relationship as is. My Sr and every single person I thought were real friends are not now. It makes them appear negative to associate with a “quitter”, so they don’t. We, as Directors, we’re all taught to do that.

    Although it hurt a bit to have people treat you that way, especially when we’ve been innundated with the Golden Rule philosophy and the same people quoting the bible everywhere, I don’t need fake people in my life. Neither do you.

    Think of the freedom you’ll feel when you get your refund in a couple of weeks. And then think of how you can start fresh, building new and sincere friendships, and never having to stress over the calendar dates or warm chatting again. The life outside MK is so, so good!

    1. Colleen

      “It makes them appear negative to associate with a “quitter”, so they don’t. We, as Directors, we’re all taught to do that.”

      Sounds a lot like Scientology. J/S

  2. Did Pink

    Welcome, do yourself a favor, return your inventory. If you have to worry about what it would do to you and your Sr Director, well you answered your own question. Cut the strings. If she is as wonderful as you think, this will not matter. That alone should tell you something.

  3. BartheDoor

    Send every bit of that inventory back. Your director will tell you to just “have a sale” or something insipid like that. Don’t do it. My friend who brought me to this site was told the same thing. Her husband made her send her products back. Her sales director has not spoken to her since.

    You don’t have to have an exit interview, and you don’t have to explain your decisions to anyone. I think you owe yourself the pride that will come when you tell someone what selling MK is really like and how much debt you’ve carried, that you never made real money and your living expenses were being paid by your husband, not MK. It will ease your conscience.

  4. If you are afraid of sending your inventory back because someone won’t be your friend, it’s like spending thousands of dollars to buy a friend. I sent my inventory back and was glad that I did. The whole thing that you can’t be in Mary Kay ever again is bologna anyway. Why would I want to do this again?

  5. Don’t Miss MK

    I wholeheartedly agree! Sending product back will empower you to move forward with your life. I was in Mary Kay for 10 Years, and was in Queen’s Court of Sales one time; never made enough money for the time I put into it. I left a secure job with benefits and a retirement plan. Fortunately my husband had a good paying job, but when I think of the money I wasted on MK I cringe. I had one of the top Directors in the company who became a top NSD. I decided to get out when she called to pressure me to place an order to help our unit qualify for Inner Circle that seminar year. I wasn’t working much due to having 3 very young children and didn’t need the inventory. When I declined to place an order she told me I was not a team player. That was when I knew it was time to get out. I wasn’t interested in recruiting and training, and felt lucky to be able to stay home with my children. It was such a relief to be out!

    1. BestDecision

      Exact sentiment I feel about wasting time and money from my career for a hope that MK would work! I lost a decade. A decade! It’s embarrassing to even utter the words that I was once a part of the company, and then it’s worse to think how much money we lost because I wasn’t getting paid retirement or leaning on healthcare, vision, and dental benefits as I once was. All because there was “hope” I could become an NSD and then have “paid retirement for 15 years”. I can’t believe I believed that!

  6. raisinberry

    Sadly, much of this story is everyone’s story. They have used hiding the truth from new consultants, and each other to keep the machine running. The entire career path scam is a woven interdependence of women tied to each other up and down, so as to be perfectly manipulated to “help the team”, reach the goal, don’t disappoint, set the example, etc.

    I promise you, your upline does not give a CRAP about you and what you have done to yourself, building “their dreams”. Each National knows for sure, what the downline orders, and knows exactly who is buying production to keep units afloat. They will never dissuade the practice, they encourage it. They are some of the most despicable “godly women” in the world. Oscar performances one and all.

  7. onelessSD

    Congratulations for seeing the light! Welcome!! The women here give excellent advice… and we receive nothing for it, except for the satisfaction of passing on truth. I wish I would have sent back my products when I first left directorship. I had a lot on my shelves.. but my Sr. Director was my MIL. Just by me leaving directorship and virtually stopped purchasing to sell off all that I had as quick as I could … damaged our relationship for quite awhile. I was her cash cow. I sold a lot of product. But I could have gotten out of the $22K in cc debt a lot faster if I had returned product and received the 90% back. But I didn’t. I’ve eventually paid off that cc.. but it took me 6 -7 yrs. So, don’t look back- but do what is financially beneficial for you.. not for anyone else…. she will not offer to pay any of your bills, so why should you feel obligated to her?

    Happy for you that you’ve started a new life.. it’s totally freeing to leave the pink cult! Welcome to our sisterhood!

  8. enorth

    A summary of the Mary Kay opportunity:

    > “The entire career path scam is a woven interdependence of women tied to each other up and down.”
    > “I think our relationship has been about what I could do for her.”
    > “When I declined to place an order she told me I was not a team player.”
    > “I am scared of what my senior director will say.”
    > “You never made real money and your living expenses were being paid by your husband, not MK.”
    > “your upline does not give a CRAP about you”
    > “Oscar performances one and all.”

  9. I’m so glad your ok…I too was easily influenced. I’m a recovery drug addict and I had severe low self esteem…I had no money or credit to begin with so the only thing they got over on me for was the 100$ starter pack, but they tried…then I shared my background with them! My director tried to have me open a cc, but I told her I just got done filing bankruptcy. I saw right thru her bs afyer she conned me into buying that starter pack…if those.products sell themselves then why couldn’t I just order and then give to my customers? Bc they don’t sell themselves!!! I’m 35, no women I know are wearing MK!!! I go to sephora st least 2 a month, I know that latest trends and MK is old school! Such bs! Makes me angry just thinking ab the lines she tried to sell me…my moral compass was off, I was 1 year sober (now 3) trying to find my way in the world…I didn’t care ab the golden rule, I needed money! I’m so glad u got out…don’t feel bad and don’t let them manipulate u anymore

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