Leaving Mary Kay is Painful

Written by SuzyQ

You didn’t think it would ever happen, but as soon as you left Mary Kay, you were shunned… ignored… negative… didn’t work your business… didn’t do it the Mary Kay way….

It doesn’t take as long to get out of the pink bubble as it takes to get fully immersed. It starts with reading a “negative” website and asking a question or discussing one of the daily topics with another director.

I remember calling one of my sister directors to tell her about Pink Truth (then it was Mary Kay Sucks) to talk about what I was reading. She was horrified. I understood, I was horrified initially too. I kept reading though, and learning.

She was indignant. I was scared.

I mentioned “frontloading,” my sister director informed me that we had never frontloaded and furthermore, she had never heard of that term. Of course we frontloaded. Every time we brought in a “hobby” type consultant with a star, we frontloaded. Every time we brought in a $225 order, we used money we were supposed to be using to pay a bill.

I talked to my sister director about the numbers required to actually make it to NSD. She told me I was limiting my thinking and didn’t believe in the opportunity… that I needed to fall in love with Mary Kay again. I mentioned that we charged a room fee for meetings, and the training was supposed to be free. Isn’t that what we said? She reminded me that the room fee was a drop in the bucket in terms of how much our lease payments were, and $3/week wasn’t going to make or break anybody. We furnished all of the supplies, remember?

She finally went to read Pink Truth for herself and called me back. “It’s SO negative!!!! No wonder you are depressed! You must promise me that you will never read that site again!!! It is poison for your soul. It is the enemy, and he’s trying to rob you of your dream. Promise me!”

So my journey to the dark side continued, I just didn’t talk about it much. (Okay, I didn’t talk about it at all to any of my sister directors.)

I changed the way I ran my business and my unit, based on what I was reading on PT. I became the “negative one.” I started asking questions at director meetings. I made observations. I was summoned to a “chat” with my senior director.

Everybody was worried sick about me. I was told that if I spent as much time working my business as I did on a job search or my volunteer work, we wouldn’t be having this chat. I was letting my unit down. I was letting my sister directors down. I was letting Mary Kay down. What was I thinking? What had gotten into me? I remember sitting there with tears streaming down my face, unable to talk.

Gradually, slowly, painfully, I left Mary Kay.

When I didn’t get a job I had applied for, I was told that it was God letting me know I was not honoring His plan for me. When I decided to “step down” I was told that was honorable. When the stepping down changed to letting the whole thing die a natural death, well, it was not so honorable anymore. The decision to send my product back was plain stupid. I had a personal team that was ordering and I would lose those commissions, but more than that, I would lose the opportunity TO EVER BE A MARY KAY CONSULTANT AGAIN! (When I said, “Oh, really? All it would take is a heart-wrenching letter and an $1800 order,” my comment was met with silence and averted eyes.)

And that was that. No phone calls. No emails. No chats. Nothing. From anyone. Going from many phone calls and lots and lots of email to zip.

I understand, I really do. When someone leaves Mary Kay, especially a director, there is a huge reaction from those who are left. I know this because people left before I did. Many phone calls (email is not used for this because it can be saved or passed on accidentally or not-so accidentally).

The call starts with “OMG, did you hear? Jean stepped down! Can you believe it? I knew something was up, but I didn’t know it was that bad. She’s been so negative lately. It was hard for me to talk to her, she brought me down. If she had just worked her business! I can’t imagine not being a director, can you? What can she possibly do now? I used to really like her, but I don’t know anymore. She had so much potential. Oh well, listen, I have to let Sarah know, she will really be upset. I’ll call you back later.”

And life goes on. Except. But. These were women who had spent considerable amounts of time together, sometimes for years. Boundaries were for other people, sister directors shared way too much personal information. We knew more about each other than most people ever would.

We were together through births and deaths and divorces. We loaned each other money. We covered for each other, got each other’s backs. We stuck together. We partied together, did lunch together, spent time at each other’s houses, were Godmothers to our children. We talked on the phone endlessly. Sent notes to each other. Celebrated birthdays, arranged blind dates, bitched about consultants and other directors, had whispered “negative” secret conversations after too much wine in too many hotels in too many cities after events.

They stopped calling me. And I didn’t call them either. I knew that the phone wire went both ways. But what would we talk about? I could ask them how thing are and they would say “great!” They would ask me the same and I would say the same. We would not have talked about Mary Kay, so what was there to say?

If we were to talk like we used to, I would be raining on their parade. I know the drill, the avoidance of negativity (although it still baffles me that the truth is negative. I always believed that truth is neither negative nor positive, it just is) the hope of a new month, a new hot shot recruit, the rejuvenation of spirit after a company event. There will be no honesty, just the preservation of the same.

Perhaps the real shunning in Mary Kay is the avoidance of the truth.

People come and go, but the pursuit of the dream requires rigid adherence to the party line. No negativity, work hard, book another class, gold medal, get the suit, get the car, ask everybody, let the dead reds be, “It’s easier to give birth than to raise the dead,” never give up, “You can’t follow a parked car,” if you can’t afford to go- it means you really need to go, don’t watch TV, don’t read the paper, be dressed to impress and at your desk by 9AM, “no” means “next,” if you think you can’t, you’re right, Mary Kay is NOT an MLM, and “We’re Number 1.”

Call me when it’s over.


  1. Charis

    I’m on the brink of quitting myself. Before I signed up, my director/recruiter was so excited and she made things seem so easy. Once i signed on the dotted line, my business became ‘her business.’ The first red flag was when she made my first order for me and messed it up on three different occasions. To this day I’m still stuck with product I didn’t want, I didn’t order, and no one wants to buy. The second red flag was that every time- no sooner than 5 mins after making an order- she calls me ‘not encouraging me to order more product, BUT it would look good if i rounded the order up to the nearest hundred (i.e. $##00.00). Who am I trying to make IT look good to? The third red flag was over the holidays. My doctor/pediatrician/dentist’s offices already have their own Mary Kay Ladies so I didn’t see any corporate sales in my future. My sister and friend purchased some small products in bulk which made me so proud of myself and thankful they chose me to do business with, but my director told me they could have ordered more and scolded me for cutting MY profit. Granted, she’s already made her commission off my wholesale order, so why is it ‘her business’ how much i discount my stuff? I have recently reached out to other directors and They have encouraged me to think long and hard about my future. I don’t want to quit, I ACTUALLY LOVE selling Mary Kay, but I can’t seem to do anything right in my director’s eyes. My only other option is to go inactive for an entire year, to get out from under her, and resign-up as a free woman in 2020…It’s going to be so tough, since 2019 just got started 🙁

    1. BestDecision

      A lot of this stuff happens, so it’s not just her. Rather than teaching us with real-life examples of how they struggled because of a mistake or bad choice, we were all lectured to and scolded. The only reason she’d want you to “round up” is probably because you’re shy of a specific wholesale number she’s trying to hit. It could be a Director bonus on you being her personal team member. It could be lots of things, but you need to know this: I was a Director chained to one specific recruiter and Director, and it’s miserable. The products are going DOWN in quality (something I predicted about 10 years ago), and the company has way too much competition. Cover Girl, for example, just became Leaping Bunny certified.

      Return what inventory you have, and make a fresh start in 2019 doing business with an ethical company.

    2. MLM Radar

      I’m interested to know what it is about Mary Kay that you love so much. Is it the products? The sister aspect? The recognition? The belief that you’re helping other women?

      If you were to encourage me to join, and tell me what makes the biggest difference for you, what would be the most important thing I should know?

      Now I’ll tell you up front that I would absolutely never again join an MLM, including MK. I’ve already been burned, and worse. So you don’t need to worry about that. What I’m asking about here is what appeals to you, what makes leaving a hard decision.

      Thank you for letting us know.

    3. Caligal

      Hi Claris! You have only been in a very short while, and you still have stars in your eyes. It was exciting for me in the beginning–the first year. By then, I realized I had to order more often than I needed to got maintain mu “discount”. It took awhile for me to realize that I couldn’t make money with Mary Kay. I had too much in inventory that would never sell. The prizes that I worked so hard to ear were not worth what I had to order.

      You might find a director who leaves you alone to order as you wish, but she is likely not one who cares about Mary Kay. All of those trying to make a living at Mary Kay are going to be pushing you. The deeper I got into Mary Kay, the more I saw the unethical behavior of the directors. Of course, you can do what you want to. The sooner you get out, the sooner you will stop bleeding money.

      I became a director thinking that was the way to make money, but I bleed more money. You have to buy those cheap prizes for your gals. You HAVE to go to all of the Mary Kay events in your area. You are pressured more than you can imagine to make production. Desperate people do desperate things; hence the cause of those unethical behaviors.

      I wish you well, I stayed in 12 years to get rid of all of that product that I couldn’t sell. I tried using it as gift to my customers, then I just gave it away to charities. When I read Pink Truth, I realized that I could no long be associate with a company that pushes the consultants so hard to make the company money. I was about to have to make an order to stay active. Instead I quit and my dear honey took a vacation to a neighboring state. We had an awesome time. I have never looked back or regretted my decision. If fact, it was the best business decision I have made.

  2. Charis

    I apologize for the late reply. What do I like so much about Mary Kay? It’s a way to make income while staying at home with my baby. My husband job is our only income and he refuses to pay for daycare so that I could actually go back to work. He constantly tells me, “there’ll always be food on the table even if you don’t sell MK,’ but there’s an undescribable feeling of making your own money. A sense of purpose and success. My husband knows this feeling all to well. Because he makes all the money, he has all the power and control over the family. I’ve suffered (and still suffer) with depression for so many years, the only thing that makes me feel good is being around other people. My long term friends have since ghosted me after I practiced my first MK facials on them. I told them they don’t have to buy a thing, but they did, and now it all feels like they were all pity purchases. The weekly meetings are the only times I get to be around other people. I’m tired of going to head shrinks, just to listen to my problems and do nothing to solve them. So, yeah, I’m a sad case searching for one solution to fix all my problems. I have no intentions of ever recruiting (I don’t want anyone blaming me for their failed MK business), I just want to sell stuff.

    1. Emma

      If it helps, there are other ways to get your needs met. Other places to meet people include parents/mums groups, church (if you’re religious), library story time, the park/playground etc. And there are ways to earn cash from home – this can be anything from filling out surveys online, to making *something* and selling it (soaps and clothes are popular), to babysitting the neighbours kid after school

    2. MLM Radar

      Hi Charis. Thanks for replying. I really understand the feeling of being boxed in, not having any money you can call your own.

      The sad thing, which you’ve already discovered, is that when you’re selling for a so-called network marketing company, you do get ghosted by your friends. No one likes to be treated like a sales target, but that’s what these companies tell you to do. Once your friends disappear you’re supposed to look at everyone within 3 feet as a target. Your friends didn’t like that. Strangers like it even less.

      If you want to get out of the house and do something fulfilling, may I suggest something other than rah-rah weekly MK meetings that have Phoney dripping off the walls? You’re looking for uplifting reinforcement, but you walked into a twisted carnival fun house nightmare. Once the Director gives up trying to place unnecessary orders, your MK friends will treat you like an unwelcome odor.

      Perhaps you could reach out to the ladies group at your church instead. They understand being a Mom. They might have a Thrift Shop that needs help. Or you could see if your local library needs a Children’s Room reader. You’ll be able to keep your child with you, and interact with other adults who appreciate you. Even better, you’ll be building a network that can help you find a good part time job when your baby starts school.

      My mother found a local arts boutique that needs a craft maker. She learned how to make stained glass ornaments, which sold surprisingly fast all year long, and taught us how to make them too. Happy times!

      In my own way I envy you. I wanted to stay home with my children, but was forced to go to work, crappy night shifts, to keep them fed, clothed and housed. I was home during the day, but totally exhausted. I finally got a day job instead but I wasn’t ever in a position to quit work. So my kids totally missed out on what my mother was able to give me: swimming lessons, music lessons, school band, scouts, sports, summer day camp, arts and crafts, science fair project help, afternoons at the library, volunteer projects organized by the church…

      If I could go back and be a stay at home mom like you, I’d do that in a second. But no MK or any other Direct Sales. The arts and crafts shop was so much better.

    3. BestDecision

      You’ve made it clear you’d only want MK as a hobby, so why not make your “purpose” fitness or something similar? It’s scientifically proven to help depression, and it can help you meet friends, too. I couldn’t live without my time at our fitness center, and I’ve met some of my dearest, authentic friends there. The sense of achievement will happen every day for you, and then you’ll start to develop a new purpose as your baby gets older. Most men just want us to be happy, no matter the income, so take that gift and use it to better yourself. Your baby, as a child and then later as an adult, will be so happy you modeled that for her/him.

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