Facts, opinions, and the real story behind Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Mary Kay Moolah: 40 Dollars an Hour, or 40 Hours per Dollar?

Written by The Scribbler

The director flashed me a grin, flicked open her datebook, and ran a plum-colored Lee Press-On Nail down one page. “One booking, one interview and…” She looked up triumphantly, “$200 in sales. After restocking my inventory, that’s $80 profit. Wouldn’t you agree that being paid $40 an hour is pretty appealing? How many women make that in corporate America?”

“Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s top-drawer hookers?” I offered.

“Cancel, Cancel!” As sweet as $40 an hour sounds just for talking women through self-facials, it’d do you good to take that claim with a grain of exfoliating bead. Whenever a recruiter fires off the hollow point round of, “I made $40 an hour just to enrich lives!” remember that she’s only counting the time spent presenting the actual class. The recruiter is not counting the hours she spent on the phone fishing for leads or in Starbucks overcoming womens’ objections.

I recently wrapped up a 6-hour garage sale and made $75 profit. That worked out to $12.50 an hour, which isn’t too shabby considering all I did was sit in the sunshine, accept money, and chat with customers. But was that really all I did? I got to thinking how much preparation I’d done that week for my sale. My taskings included purchasing materials for signs (30 min), assembling and posting signs/ post-sale removal of signs (1 ½ hours), composing and posting ads on craigslist and garagesalehunter.com (30 min), pillaging my home/sorting/pricing sale items (4 hours) and set up and tear-down (45 min apiece). That’s a total of 8 hours of prep work.

Now let’s tack that time onto my 6-hour sale for a total of 14 hours of labor. Divide 75 by 14 and you’ll discover that I didn’t make $12.50 per hour; I actually made $5.36 an hour – $1.19 below my state’s minimum wage. Whose employees made more than I did that day? I’m thinking Arby’s.

Now if openly admitting my sales numbers made me a tad queasy, how many beauty consultants and Directors out there are reaching for an airsick bag right about now?

Let’s go back to a director claiming she did a $200 class/$80 profit. Figure that $80 into time spent warm-chatting, booking, coaching, traveling, holding the class, cleaning trays, repacking the car, replacing product, and paperwork. Don’t forget child care and office assistant expenses, either; your babysitter has bills to pay and she’s learned the hard way that trying to pay the cable company with discontinued nail polish cuts the supply pipeline to her “Man vs. Wild” habit

You know the feeling, right? Of course you do, because even though you wouldn’t be caught dead camping in your backyard, you’d sure as sugar eat a live stingray for the chance to practice body heat conservation techniques on K2 with Bear Grylls.

$40 an hour for a two-hour class? Add in a few more hours of prep time, subtract the cost of expenses, and we’ll call it not-so good.