Working Hard and Still No Mary Kay Profits

Written by ThinkPinkThinkAgain

The SD who wrote this letter says all the same things my director has for my five years as a consultant, and all the things I parroted and believed. And there is definitely truth to the idea that consultants who do not work do not see earnings. But your point, pinkpeace, is exactly on point: that consultants and directors who DO work–who work hard, who sacrifice time and money and emotional bandwidth–also profit very little, if at all.

It’s entirely possible for a consultant to earn money selling Mary Kay, even if she doesn’t recruit many people. But it’s unlikely the majority, or even a significant fraction, of that money will EVER make its way out of her “business” and back into her personal life.

For example, I worked my butt off earning money to pay the balance on my wedding ring (and my husband’s) a few years ago. It took a lot of time, and also so many discounts, to tempt my clients to buy right when I needed them to (which discouraged them from buying at full price in the future, and of course made it necessary for me to work harder and contact MORE people since I was selling below retail). In retrospect I also wonder how many Facebook friends stopped following me as a result of my constant updates about this project. So, did I earn the money for the rings? Yes. I was so proud! Mary Kay was working!

But…I also went to Seminar that year, and I paid for my plane tickets from my PERSONAL bank account. There just wasn’t enough money in my MK account, you see, because I’d just paid for PCP and bought lots of foundations to replace newly expired ones in my inventory. While in Dallas, I stopped at the vendor booths and bought supplies with my PERSONAL money. A few months later, I had to settle up with my postage supplier and pay about $100 toward postage costs (why I ever started offering free shipping to my customers is beyond me). Did that money come from my MK checking account? No, I had to borrow it from my husband (and couldn’t pay it back until I got a bonus from my real job months and months later).

Poor money management? No effort put into my business? Maybe I didn’t need those supplies, even though every MK order is supposed to be nicely wrapped. Maybe I didn’t need to go to Seminar (sacrilege!). Maybe I should have stopped offering free shipping for orders $50+ (it used to be $25 but I couldn’t sustain it). Maybe if I’d just held “one extra skincare class on top of what I was already doing” every week for the year prior, I could have had “enough money to pay for Seminar and then some.” Never mind that I was already spending two nights a week away from my new husband. Never mind that I was shoving profit from reorders back into more inventory because brand new products had just come out, and I couldn’t NOT buy them.

I did my taxes this spring and WOKE UP. For some reason, looking at the numbers with my new husband was different from looking at them with my dad. I saw, more clearly than ever before, how little income my business was generating after expenses. “It really IS a hobby,” I thought to myself, horrified. “I didn’t make any money at all last year–in fact, I lost money!” Why was I giving up 5-10 hours after work and on weekends for a “business” that didn’t provide what it said it would–money toward my life? Our lives? Our home?

The Mary Kay line is that I wasn’t working enough.

My response, five years in? I’ve already worked too much.


  1. raisinberry

    To the lurkers…
    This post is a slice of reality in a pink hype world. It is a very accurate description of what happens, over and over again. Yes you can and will make sales…that does NOT mean you are experiencing profit.

    When you fail to face the extent of your inventory buying for all the manufactured reasons that your NSD and upline give you, you are living in denial and dreams.
    If you do not sell consistently at a minimum of 350.00 a week, CONSISTENTLY, you are not even breaking even. Do the math. Anything less and you are losing money, but most of all, TIME.

    What has spending huge amounts of time for ultimately nothing, amounting in financial debt, really cost you? Are you really going to invest yet another 3,5,10 years generating production so your Senior and NSD can live the life to which they are accustomed? I guess only if you are willing to try and become the same sort of predators that they are. They are tip-top pyramid dwellers because they do not care about the thousands of women who have been sucked in, sold, and drowned to propel them to fancy trips, squeeling video’s and pink cars…that’s a whole lot of lying, exaggerating, and hiding, isn’t it?

    1. ThinkPinkThinkAgain

      “If you do not sell consistently at a minimum of 350.00 a week, CONSISTENTLY, you are not even breaking even. Do the math. Anything less and you are losing money, but most of all, TIME.”

      Agreed. I know consultants who make money, and they need to sell loads and loads to do it. The effort they invest up front is enormous, and the success they enjoy has a lot of hidden costs–distraction during evenings with family, stress, churning and burning through friends who don’t want to hold an(other) appointment. Most of all….

      The TIME. I put so much time into Mary Kay. Do I regret it? I don’t want to be TOO harsh with myself, because I thought I was doing a good thing and I tried to do it in an honest, straightforward way. I did get things out of being a consultant–more self-confidence, better (although far from perfect) skin, cosmetics know-how, fun trips, and a handful of friends who remain friends despite my decision to ghost my director’s unit meetings. My experience was far better than it could have been…maybe because I never advanced high enough on the ladder to become truly desperate.

      But, did I get money out of it? NO. No, no, and no.

  2. JanRD

    Great article and thank you for sharing your experience! It must be wonderful to have those 5-10 hours per week back!

    “For some reason, looking at the numbers with my new husband was different from looking at them with my dad.”

    I’m certain there are husbands (and ex-husbands) reading this post who wish their wives would realize the toll this MLM is taking on their finances and their marriages.

    1. ThinkPinkThinkAgain

      Thanks so much, JanRD! I really, truly am grateful to have the 5-10 hours back per week. It’s almost insane to think about it now, because there was a time when I could not have imagined my life without Mary Kay. It was THAT important to me. I would plan my vacations around guest events, etc., even as a consultant.

      I used to spend my Saturday mornings rushing out the door to appointments or feeling bad about NOT having appointments lined up. Now, I love getting to eat a late breakfast and maybe watch a TV show before going out to mow the lawn. NO guilt. It’s my weekend, not Mary Kay’s anymore!

  3. Pinkiu

    Yeah, I paid for my husband’s used truck from my “earning”s from MK. But that’s because I didn’t go to Seminar, or Fall Advance, or Spring Forward, or Career Conference, or Weekly Meetings. AND…it took 3 years to show a profit on my taxes. I did things that I am not proud of in order to cut corners in order to cut costs. But MK taught us to find a way to make a way. So, I did.

    I loved doing classes. I loved doing makeovers. It ended when I realized how much I hated having to call past customers to make a $10 sale and then drive it to their house. How stupid.

    I ended up as a real makeup artist with Dior and later Chanel. What a difference. If you love doing makeup but hate the customer follow-up, you can make a good income as a traveling artist with prestige lines.

    1. ThinkPinkThinkAgain

      I loved doing classes, too. It was meaningful seeing a woman light up when she looked in the mirror and realized she had done her own makeup so well. And laughing with new acquaintances was great. Oh, there was so much I enjoyed. But I simply don’t feel I can support Mary Kay any longer, especially after hearing stories of stress and heartbreak from friends who were struggling directors. For all of the positive messages, there was also twisted religion, greed, materialism, and deception.

  4. PinkJedi

    I had to sell everything at a discount in orser to sell something. My dirctor told me I needed to do free PRIORITY shipping. I had a huge loss that year. I the Postal Service made a killer off of me!

  5. Weekended

    No matter how much product I sold when I was in Weekenders, my profit didn’t increase. If anything, I lost more money the more “successful” I was. My sales, which were very good, never compensated me for my expenses. The profit margin was too low to cover the costs.

    1. nomoremlm4me

      I was also in Weekenders. I was a great salesperson, mostly because I bought a ton of samples for women to try on. All those amazing sales numbers, and very little profit. Definitely NOT worth the time. The best thing that happened to me was that they went out of business.

  6. Lazy Gardens

    I did this research a decade ago, and the income potential has – if anything – dropped because expenses are higher. Minimum wage is now higher – and in some states far higher than the wage I used.

    I can’t repeat it, because soon after this was published (at Yahoo’s now vanished wirting site) SDs were order to password protect their sites.

    I used the unit’s own sales data from SD newsletters, and assumed that they sold 100% of their purchases at full price and had the business expense breakdown several NSDs recommended.

    It still doesn’t make much money.

    I compared Mary Kay IBCs’ incomes to the 2006 federal minimum wage: $5.15 an hour. Minimum wage in some states is higher than that, but I’m trying to make Mary Kay look as good as possible.

    10 hours a week @ minimum wage = $200 a month take-home pay. To make that much money in MK sales, you have to consistently sell $600 a month (only 1/3 is spendable, remember?). How many do that? Only 3178 of the 26,279 consultants (12.1%) were selling enough to equal or exceed the take-home pay of a teenager working 10 hours a week as a minimum-wage burger flipper after school.

    32 hours a week @ minimum wage = $600 a month take-home pay. To make that in MK sales, you have to consistently sell $1800 a month. How many do that? Only 428 of the 26,279 consultants (1.63%) are selling enough to equal or exceed the take-home pay of someone who works 4 days a week as a minimum-wage Wal-Mart greeter.

    40 hours a week @ minimum wage = $825 a month take-home pay. With this kind of job, you might even get paid vacation, health insurance and other benefits, which you do not get from Mary Kay until you reach exalted rank. To make that in MK sales, you have to consistently sell $2400 a month. How many do that? Only 119 of the 26,279 consultants (0.45%).

    1. ThinkPinkThinkAgain

      I know, I have SO many Star prizes. I was a star 17 times and got 18 prizes (because once the lamps I earned arrived broken…sad. To MK’s credit, they did send me a new different prize even though the lamps were all gone). Some prizes I have already sold or given away. One of them, a bench, makes me feel guilty because I know the person who bumped me up a level should never have bought inventory–she was dead broke when she joined, thinking she’d make money. Less than a year later she was begging me to buy her inventory from her, and I had to tell her no because I didn’t a) have the money or b) have the ability, since MK puts it in their contracts that consultants can’t purchase from other consultants.

      1. BestDecision

        We used to give ribbons out for $300 weeks, which didn’t go majority there and was always a stretch for many to reach, so can you picture a $500 week after week and how tough that is?

        Then there’s the ONE giving her speech at Seminar on how she “sold” that amount or more. Like the lady that was Queen of Sales at Seminar for years but could never explain to anyone how she did it. Is it possible? Yes. Probable? No.

        So, unlikely to win a $100 prize after all that work and devotion.

  7. Jacirene Costa

    Hello! My name is Jacirene Costa and I live in Brazil. I am grateful to God for releasing me from this nightmare called Mary Kay. I spent 4 years in the company and sacrifice a lot to “do what few do to lead the life that few have.” And it destroyed me in many ways. During my qualification for DIQ in 2016 I had tuberculosis. Even with the disease, I did not stop doing Mary Kay. I felt exactly as described here: if I stopped, I would be a failure. Today I am happy with my job in the financial area. I thank all of you who are willing to help people like me who are trapped in the pink bubble and are afraid to reveal the truth to the world.

    1. ThinkPinkThinkAgain

      Jacirene, I am so sorry to hear you had a terrible experience with Mary Kay in Brazil. The sacrifices seemed so necessary at the time, didn’t they? We are taught that they will lead to success! And sometimes, perhaps, they do. But no job is worth being “destroyed,” as you say you were.

      Congratulations on holding a job you like and escaping from that pernicious lie that “the only way to fail is to quit.”

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