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

Just Say No to MLM

 Written by Black Nova

Just keep saying “no.” I have learned when my friends invite me to MLM engagements of any sort to tell them that I have a personal rule of not supporting any form of MLM because I don’t believe in the business model.

Regardless of the quality of the product, if it is a direct selling business, I will not buy product or attend any parties or meetings. This was hard at first because it went against the code of being nice. But Mary Kay and MLMs like it count on this. This is why they still push parties. They know women will be guilted into “supporting” their friend’s new “business.” Real businesses have Grand Openings and don’t need to beg people to support them.

I just got hit up by a good friend to attend a meeting for StemEnhance (a blue-green algae supplement). I was partly angry that my friend had been duped, but on the other hand, they are an adult. Why get angry? I simply sent them a friendly email telling them about my personal rule and recommending some strategies to protect their finances as they experiment with the business.

I didn’t tell them to stop what they were doing, I simply said no and told them why. I didn’t say I was busy. I didn’t say I had a conflict. I said I don’t support the business model of direct selling.

I think this is more powerful than we realize. Nothing will throw cold water on the Mary Kay (or any MLM opportunity) like getting rejected right away. Just simply tell them “No, and here’s why.” The more of us who do that when asked, the more the message gets out that we won’t support this model. A simple no will suffice—nothing states more clearly that the majority of people do not want this kind of selling in their face. And when others see and hear us say no, they will be emboldened to do the same. Be friendly, be easy-going, give advice if you feel like it and then move on.

Here’s my email to my friend, in case you’re curious (names changed to protect the innocent):

Hi, Eric,

Thanks for the invite from Julie to the meeting regarding StemEnhance. I appreciate you thinking of me and my health and well being.

I have a personal rule that I won’t support any form of direct marketing (multi-level marketing) despite how good the product. I simply don’t agree with the business model and I’ve been involved with two in the past (Mary Kay and Tupperware).

The best advice I have for Julie is to only buy inventory when someone orders the product (we never mind waiting for stuff—consumers are used to ordering online and waiting for stuff), that way she never has to invest more than she is taking in. Secondly, don’t recruit other “members/wholesalers.” This only takes away from your profit because you’re usually recruiting your own customers, who would normally be buying from you. Lastly, a venture like this should be treated as a hobby to bring in a little extra money. It can’t beat a part time or full time job for the money and benefits—I speak from experience. Also, Julie should do a little online research into the naysayers about her product, if only to be informed—she can bet her customers will be.

Just a few thoughts to help protect your finances in these turbulent times. Thanks again for thinking of me. Love ya!

Black Nova


  1. Laura

    This is a tricky topic… I haven’t been to a party in a while, but I feel like I would be a hypocrite for saying no now, since I’ve hosted 2 in the past few years. Still, I don’t have a problem with casually mentioning my concerns to some people. I guess my biggest worry is that a friend won’t understand… and friendship is very important. But, I do agree with the way you put it, that all we’re trying to do is be “nice,” and if a business model is preying on that kind of emotional assumption, then it’s pretty dirty. It’s just that there are some people who may never understand that, and I wouldn’t want to risk losing a friendship over something that I’m not even involved in.

    Still, that is good advice, and I think there are many different ways to write an e-mail like that that can apply to different people, relationships, and personality types. And for some people, even if I wouldn’t want to write the above e-mail, just saying something like “be careful,” or “watch your money,” will be enough to get them thinking about why someone would say that to them, and maybe plant a seed of skepticism. I think the tone of your e-mail is the most important part – you weren’t judging or faulting them, you were simply looking out for them… really, that’s the key… don’t judge, don’t try too hard to prove that you’re *right* (that’s a surefire way to damage a friendship, as I’ve learned :-/ ), and overall, love them regardless.

  2. MamaFl

    I am involved in DS and actually already follow your above advice. This company doesn’t promote stocking inventory at all. We just enter the customers’ orders and the company ships to them and I make 25% plus incentives if I happen to hit a certain amount in sales. I have no desire to recruit. I have one person who has approached me about signing up but she lives about 200 miles away.. All products I use to show I have earned free outside the initial $100 sign up. I avg. about $200 in commission per month and spend maybe $10 on my hobby. I figure I will ride it as long as I can and when it fizzles out that’s fine….made some fairly easy pocket change and got some products I love free. I agree that MK is wacko…I did lose several hundred dollars on that mistake over a few years. But I don’t believe all MLM are created equal…not even close. Just my 2 cents 🙂

  3. exibc78

    I keep reading these articles because I have a friend who does MK and I might be seeing her next month and I want to not freeze up like the last time. I feel really lucky that my recruiter was starting to get sick of the pink hamster wheel when I got recruited and discouraged me getting too much in debt. I know on the outside she NEEDED me to put in those orders, but her heart just couldn’t ask that of me. He directer tried and I think when everyone saw my reaction to the pressure, I was kinda let go. I need to see the secret hell that the lucky never see. I need to see how you guys handle these invites so I can talk to her, find out where she is on the ladder down to hell, and then know what approach will work best. So thank you for posting this. It really is helping me prepare.

    1. Deflated Pink Bubble

      If you want some more information and ammunition, register for this site and go into the discussion threads and read. Pick topics like Mary Kay Blackmail and Making Money in Mary Kay and just read and read.. ask any questions you have, we are all more than willing to help out!

      1. exibc78

        oh I am registered with the same name. Due to my personality and how I met her, I am looking for the right angle. I don’t want to be too harsh sounding, but I was very weak the last time. I had just had the most devastating news and went through something very difficult and the trip I met her on was the first get away after all of that. So I was understandably not myself and didn’t want any thing uncomfortable around her or our mutual friends. So when she had her roll up and I said “Oh you are T’s friend that does Mary Kay (first mistake, I know)” she turned and her eyes light up and I only said that I have extremely sensitive skin and Mary Kay discontinued my foundation color anyways (all very true but I had been on pinktruth.com for over 6 months by then so I knew better).
        That was then end of it then, but it had been brought up a couple different times. Like when someone else mentioned her multi colored nails with the new colors she went into sales mood (obviously she is stocking up on inventory if she has EVERY color) and she mentioned some other products. Funny we were all showing our favorite make up we brought and no one but her had MK and everyone else used multiple brands. I need to find out what her motivation I think and then I will have the right tack to take, as to not upset our mutual friend but also get the seed in her brain.

        1. Dana

          Why are we so worried about hurting the feelings of the MLM pushers. By making statements, writing texts/emails, we are clearly saying that we do not agree with the business model. I wouldnt include the last paragraph as that sounds a bit condescending. We are not bad people for refusing to be manipulated and buy stuff out of guilt. I think Pink Truth has it right, just say no and don’t make up excuses. More of us need to be honest! if a friend chooses to drop you cause you won’t buy her crap then she wasn’t really a friend!

          1. exibc78

            Dana I do understand. When I wrote that and met her I was fragile…not even good for an mlm fragile…my story is on the discussion board and I did say no and told her how I feel and she said everything that every mlm participants says. But the difference is we are still friends better now then then. But at the time I was unable to truly function properly so I did say noand now she knows the real deal and how I feel. Now I say no all the time

      2. Avis J. Johnson (scentless)

        Say no to MLM,especially MK and hang on to thst full time job where you get a check wiyout having to share with your up-line ands her car.Also, you are entitled to vent about having a lousy day wihtout bein ostracizedfrom the pink poop pep talks!

  4. MLM Radar Detector

    I’ve been roped into far too many MLM presentations. Each time I left angrier for having my time wasted. The last one I got stuck attending was because a friend wanted me to try some new diet foods she liked, but when I got to her place I found myself in a recruiting/training meeting run by her “upline” supervisor.

    OK, let’s fight fire with fire. Now if I suspect the social is an MLM pitch I come armed for bear, and you can too. Below are three articles you can print out and bring with you to pass around. Make sure you print at least five copies of each, to prevent them from “disappearing” into the meeting leader’s box.

    1. Twelve Tests for Evaluating a Network Marketing (MLM) Opportunity: http://pyramidschemealert.org/PSAMain/resources/12tests1.pdf

    2. The Ten Big Lies of Multi-Level Marketing: http://www.falseprofits.com/MLM%20Lies.html

    3. Proof That 99% Lose Money in MLMs: http://www.pinktruth.com/2011/07/proof-that-99-lose-money-in-mlms/

    You could be doing your friends and family a favor by sharing this information with at least five of them. Then ask each of them to share it with five more persons, and suggest they tell each of them to share it with five more, and . . . .

  5. DivaDove

    Ooo! This came just in time, as a serial-MLM-addict friend of mine has just sent me a Facebook invite to an Arbonne party that she’s hosting for HER serial-MLM-addict friend. Time to send a little tactfully stated info in their direction…

  6. Katie

    I have one question, and I apologize if this isn’t the right thread:

    What about the Norwex craze? I have one “friend” (VERY casual friend) who has pushed me to join this 1-2 times. Casual means that we have never gotten together personally for anything, but she has suggested that we get lunch together to discuss this business.

    When I told her that I wasn’t comfortable with MLMs, something like that, she told me that that wasn’t what this was.

    I’m all for being her friend if she’d like us to get to know each other better, but both times she messaged me on FB out of the blue, it was regarding her business. I guess that’s how these things generally go down…

    I was just curious about whether anyone else had more insight into the Norwex business model. I did see someone post somewhere online that his wife wanted to buy a $90 mop. He had his hesitations, and I think one person actually lambasted him for not letting his wife get such a simple thing without question! I can’t believe the nerve…if it had been the other way around, his wife would’ve been within her rights to question him, right? How does one actually start saving money if not by questioning and being nitpicky about purchases?

    Thanks for any help!

    1. Lazy Gardens

      Katie – It’s an MLM


      “By sharing our mission and products with others you can begin to grow a team and progress through theNorwex Career Plan.” That means – RECRUIT!

      Check out their “career plan”. It’s all about recruiting and getting commissions based on your recruits’ activity. That’s what an MLM is – recruiting others and getting a cut of what they order.

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