Mary Kay’s “Sometimes” Success Scam

Written by Raisinberry

How do I explain what I did when I was a director? My unit trusted me. Just like I trusted those above me. And even though I didn’t buy into all the hype, “hook, line and sinker”… I did say the things I was taught to say.

Truth is, I did know that what consultants ordered was not what they sold. I knew because I saw them sitting every week during scoreboard, or only standing up intermittently for sales. So yes, I knew the orders never ever matched the retail sales results. I didn’t stop consultants from ordering even when they weren’t selling.

I knew I had to get orders so I could make production. I looked the other way. I thought, maybe it will all work out. Maybe we all really could make it to the top! Some women really do make it! Sometimes it really does work!

I believed it because I was taught it…  and also because I saw success happen! I did! I really did! I knew that sometimes, while warm booking, a sharp recruit gets signed who changes everything. I knew that sometimes, lots of boutique booth activity pays off or a great referral comes through and sometimes you get a great customer turned hostess that causes many shows to happen. Since I never knew when the moment would be that you would get that super hostess or super recruit, I had to stay positive and keep encouraging consultants! I have seen this business turn on a dime!

I know that sometimes when you don’t quit, you get a yes on the phone… and a yes leads to more calls and more yeses… sometimes.

And because I know this, I could never say that MK didn’t work… because sometimes IT DOES WORK. What I didn’t realize is that “SOMETIMES” is never enough times to make a viable business… but it is enough times to make uplines sell women on the fact that it could.

The unbee-lievable strategy of Mary Kay is knowing that SOMETIMES it will work, and that you will always wander back in your mind to the “day” when you had the $600 class… the $1,100 week, the signed recruit… and you will overlook your lack of daily, weekly or monthly results… for the prize to be attained…”someday.” After all, if you did it once before, you can do it again!

My job was, to keep hope alive for consultants. My NSD’s job was to keep hope alive for me. Positive attitudes and enthusiasm was what we sold, because enthusiasm will always get a better result than a “neutral” or “dead” frame of mind.. We had a chance if we just stayed positive!

The sad truth is that being “positive” really does not cause the universe to align in your direction, no matter what pop culture tells you. It only makes you FEEL better. When all the believing does not cause “achieving,” if you believe Mary Kay mentors, you are scarred, left with no self esteem, thinking you never measured up, didn’t have faith, or worse, didn’t deserve success.

Once a director comes out of the pink fog, she suddenly realizes how “anti-women” Mary Kay really is! It is astounding! And painful! And utterly contrary to what we were programmed to believe.

A company and system and sales management force that KNOWS consultants are ordering product over and over, by a system of manipulated and contrived benchmarks that they themselves have created, that have nothing to do with retail sales success, is abusive. And worse yet, because it is not an “accident,” it is a planned scheme that operates under the idea that since you are a woman hungry for praise and recognition, you will do just about anything to jump through those hoops. They are counting on it.

We were counting on it and pathetically, never realized we too were being “handled.”

All we had to do was wait for that “sometime,” when a consultant had a great outcome and she would sell herself on the idea that MK works. Then there was the hype and events, and other people’s “sometimes” would testify to the fact that if you just never quit, you would make it. But 340 days of struggle and discouragement, no activity or negative activity never seem to surpass 25 days of “sometimes.”

We lived on, promoted, and celebrated those 10, 15, or 25 times in a year that something decent happened in someone’s business, like a lipstick gloss add-on, an order out of the blue, a good week, a new recruit. We pushed consultants up the career path until they hit the wall, or their credit cards got maxed out, and watched the consultants regroup… and waited for another event where they could get see other people’s “sometimes” and bee-lieve again. And the pink fog truth is that is exactly what we did as well.

How sick it is that we believed in the selling of hope (which sounds so positive and wonderful and noble) only to suppress the truth that we personally exhausted ourselves looking for the magic solution to a sustainable Mary Kay business. It never ends. You will forever lose what you have built. There is no firm foundation under a Mary Kay opportunity unless you are callous to the plight of the masses of recruited women.

With 30,000 new recruits a month in the U.S. and the same number quitting each month, just how many women could be sustained at the NSD level? The consultant IS the customer, and as long as no one knows the truth, Mary Kay can continue to persuade the blind, naïve and hopeful of heart.

I never realized what was under all this and like you, I believed. An occasional “win” should not make us blind to the reality of cumulative severe and sometimes irreversible losses. “Sometimes” is exploited in Mary Kay, and so often every director and DIQ continues on in the hopes that “sometime” in the future they will make enough money to pay down their debt, be able to be with their children, retire their husband, do something good with their resources, all the while drowning in the reality of the opposite! Because SOMETIME, it will all be okay!

How tragic that in Mary Kay, the selling of hope is a destructive ruse that locks women into a perpetual fog, whispering platitudes and sayings and never evaluating the MAJORITY of the days where losses, lies, manipulations, expenditures, denial and doubt rear their ugly heads. It is the extremely rare woman who can build a consistently successful cosmetics business without becoming an annoyance and nuisance to her “circle.” And the ones who prize well-balanced honest approaches and good service will not have consistency or volume. Their business will be hit and miss, all their days. The business model and method is anti-retail. And Mary Kay’s own documents prove it.

Former directors who have left Mary Kay all together are no longer selling “sometime.” They no longer abuse women with “hope,” denying the reality of hundreds and thousands of consultants who have signed on with us over many years. A woman who loves other women and shares their REAL HOPE for themselves and their families would never take advantage of them. Especially when the results we pointed out to you… the “sometimes” that worked for other units and other directors were 9 times out of ten, based on fraud anyway!

“Sometimes,” your only hope, is solely based on truth.


  1. MLM Radar

    Intermittent and unpredictable rewards are what Kees casinos in business. You just KNOW the slot machine is going to pay off. It HAS to pay off soon. Just one more spin. And one more. And one more.

    Ding ding. Small win. That means the big one is about to break. Right? Right? Just one more spin.

    Make sure you play all the pay lines, because if you don’t the gold sevens will line up on the one pay line you didn’t play. You’ve saw it happen to that lady last week. She wasn’t all in and she lost the big payoff.

    Just one more spin.

    1. Char

      Great analogy Radar. Can we take it one step further?

      Where is the money coming from to even play these slots? What must she DO to get the money? Does she lie to others, maybe misrepresent her winnings to get new investors for her to keep playing? Does she steal the money? Max out her credit card? Borrow money?

      It’s not only the crappy MLM odds, it’s what the 1% does to win. If she misrepresents the “opportunity” to enough people, and is “successful” at duping them, she can be a “winner”.

      In the words of Raisinberry,

      “I knew I had to get orders so I could make production. I looked the other way. I thought, maybe it will all work out. Maybe we all really could make it to the top! Some women really do make it! Sometimes it really does work!”

      Translation: Successful MLMer = Successful Fraudster/Liar…….And yes, that success only happens “sometimes”.

      It is time for people to evaluate what they are DOING to achieve success, or not. Think of it as the difference between robbery and “attempted” robbery.

      Thank you Raisinberry for fessing up.

  2. morninstar

    Your proved your leadership skills in the midst of a model set up for mass failure. Give yourself credit for trying to survive in the business model. The tactics are insidious meaning when ethical people are caught up in the midst of cheaters, liars, and persons (MK corporate, NSD, etc) who withhold business info (from the directors) you are left walking the walk kinda wondering WTH, because it depends on directors to push the house of cards. MK is a business built in the sand and propped up with popsicle sticks and rubber bands to support execs (98% male) – eating pate and sipping cognac. It is part of all our life’s journey those caught up in the sham to see the light.

    “There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in – Leonard Cohen

  3. Shay

    A MK worshiper told a friend of mine that you never have to pay the government tax because you just pay yourself all the profit from your business. I’m scratching my head here.. kind of make sense but in a way it doesn’t. You are literally a bad ass with taxes and numbers so your feedback is important. What do you say?

    1. BestDecision

      I can’t wait to read Tracy’s response, but can anyone say ILLEGAL?

      Just as we always asked about our highest commission checks, the very response people should give is, “But, what is your AVERAGE check?”

      You may have had $25,000 in production in June, but that does NOT make you a Cadillac Director. Nor does it mean you’re profiting $6,000 in commissions from it.

      1. Shay

        Yes.. Yes.. sorry..
        “You pay all yourself all the profit and don’t have to pay any business taxes”
        that’s what i was asking. but.. if all companies did that, that wouldn’t be good. Lularoe gets around paying taxes b/c the city they are in— they conned them said saying you’ll make a ton of taxes from our employees.

    2. Lazy Gardens

      OK … “you never have to pay the government tax because you just pay yourself all the profit from your business” and then that is your salary or something and you have to pay social security (15%) and income tax on it.

      There may be tax benefits to having an LLC or other formal business, but getting out of paying taxes is not one of them.

    3. Data Junkie

      Sadly, Mary Kay reps are taught to use the term “profit” when referring to gross commission revenue. Business terms are an early casualty in MLMs. So long as aggregate commissions (and any margin gained from retailing product) do not exceed allowable business expenses, the Mary Kay rep does not have to pay any taxes. This would be the case for 99+% of MK reps. The only way to know for certain whether or not you have to report, is to actually keep a detailed ledger and go through the motions of filing a Sched C every year. All reps would be wise to prepare a Sched C in any case…the mere act of collecting and calculating for the Sched C would be very illuminating for every rep. Not only would it teach them the value of keeping a detailed ledger, it will also give them a very clear indicator of the health of their “business”. Just don’t show it to your spouse!

      For the the very rare MK rep who manages to have aggregate commissions (and mark-up margin from retail product sales) that exceed aggregate allowable costs by $400 for the tax year, the difference becomes taxable income indeed, requiring a Sched C to report that business income properly. And yes, self employment income does also involve FICA taxes, which are a bit complicated.

  4. Cindylu

    It’s just a sad humiliating battle to try and peddle inferior products. The 1960’s party system is laughable. What women would be foolhardy enough to mislead other women just for a pushy MK Director? Women today aren’t impressed with frivolous prizes to con them into joining this mlm. All of the embarrassing add ons just aren’t worth it. The costs for training, conferences, gas, advertising etc. become tiresome. Worst is the constant betrayal within the company: the cost to consultants of constant product changes, misleading statements about a sales system that hasn’t worked in decades. Also googling dual marketing means women immediately know how bogus this all is. With a saturated market and product front loading MK has ensured its own eventual end.

    1. MLM Radar

      Real dual marketing is the marketing of two compatible products. You have a coupon which gives you a discount on one product if you buy a companion product.
      Laundry detergent and softener
      Shampoo and crème rinse
      Hot dogs and buns
      Milk and cereal

      Mary Kay was able to abuse the term “dual marketing” because a lot of people have heard the term, but haven’t connected the words “dual marketing” with the “milk and cereal” idea. Mary Kaw saw this and redefined the words “dual marketing” to make what she did seem legitimate.

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