A College Student Gets Reeled Into Mary Kay

Written by Emily

First of all, thank you for creating Pink Truth and helping others discover the truth about Mary Kay and MLM. I’ve always been a generally skeptical person, and even as a child had a strong distaste for MLM sellers preying on their friends and family to come to their “parties” and drop cash on overpriced junk, after seeing my parents having to fend off friends, coworkers, and fellow church members. And even still, I nearly became a Mary Kay victim myself as a young adult.

In my first couple years of college, I dated a guy whose mom was a Mary Kay director (unsure now of her official title, but she had a Mary Kay car at the time, for a while anyway) as well as owning a successful, legitimate small business. She and her husband are warm and intelligent people and respected members of their community. I worked for her during breaks from school while he and I were together, and a good chunk of what I did was related to her Mary Kay stuff: maintaining her website, putting together “rah rah” materials for her downline, upkeep of her inventory, working on many ideas for events that never happened, etc.

It culminated with her eventually trying to recruit me, and while her tactics were not particularly underhanded, they did reek of double-talk and what I now know to be the “pink fog.” She said I would be good at it because I was smart, well-spoken, and maintained a neat appearance (true, but I am extremely introverted, and while I am very good with people when I have to be, it’s unnatural to me and extremely exhausting, and I avoid interacting with people other than my close friends and family as much as I possibly can, because I HATE having to be “on”). I expressed this concern, but was told something to the effect of that I’d never get anywhere in life in general if I didn’t step outside my comfort zone.

I was a full-time student who also worked on campus, and was told that Mary Kay would be the perfect way to earn extra money and eventually replace my part-time job since I could do it in my “free time” and work it around my schedule (but that the more time I put into it, the more successful I would be… “X number of classes a week is Y hours and ANYONE can find Y hours!”).

I was concerned about the money I would need to invest in inventory (I didn’t have a credit card at the time), but was told that it was “only $100” (but that I would do a lot better to step up to the $600 inventory package, because people don’t want to buy what you don’t already have). I expressed concern that there were already a lot of MK sellers in the area (my former roommate being one, and at campus fairs and whatnot there were always several MK tables), but this was also poo-poohed. I was sold the idea of driving a nice new car for “free” (I was assured that I would only be on the hook for the co-pay if I didn’t recruit, and of COURSE recruiting is so easy that I needn’t worry). And so on and so forth.

It was suggested that I carry a basket containing MK product with me to my classes, where my fellow students would SURELY be asking me all about it and would SURELY want to buy the items (instead of looking at me like I was a weirdo, which they likely would have done had I actually gone through with it)! One of the consultant prizes at the time was a pink pashmina (actually really pretty), and I could incorporate it into my outfits every day and when EVERYONE complimented me on it, as they SURELY were going to, that was my cue to recruit: “Oh, you like this? If you want one of your own, ALL you have to do is…” (as if recruiting in a classroom was going to be tolerated).

I was to go out every day with a full face of make-up (did I mention that I usually don’t wear any make-up other than the occasional swipe of mascara and blush if I find myself needing a little boost?), and when EVERYONE told me how amazing I looked as they SURELY were going to (yeah, right), I was to pull out a little make-up bag holding the essentials for a “five-minute face” and show them the product while emphasizing how quick and easy it was. I was encouraged to recruit my mom and my friends and OF COURSE they’ll want to do it because they loved me and would want to help me and once they too saw how easy it was they would be so happy that they had been given the opportunity. I expressed concern that my friends too didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend on pricey cosmetics, but DUH, that’s exactly WHY they need the MK opportunity!

While working for her, there were numerous “happenings” that seemed odd to me for someone as supposedly successful at MK as I thought she, a company car driving director with a pretty considerable downline, was. I just figured that there had to be something going on behind the scenes that I didn’t know… and there was, but I know now that what was really happening was that she was floundering.

  • the amount of product she moved was very skimpy (a Timewise cleanser here or a mascara there a couple times a month, if that)
  • she booked zero parties to my knowledge
  • her inventory was old enough that some of the products looked like they were separating and some of the cleanser/moisturizer tubes cracked when you squeezed them
  • her downline list included family members that I knew were not involved with Mary Kay
  • her downline list included fake names at the addresses of her relatives (well, male names tweaked to pass as feminine, such as Joe becoming Jo)
  • we once drove nearly 180 miles one way to sign up a new consultant
  • out of the blue, she no longer had her MK car (when I asked my then-boyfriend why, he said something really vague about it not working out any more)

The boyfriend and I broke up for unrelated reasons shortly after she gave me some start-up inventory as a gift, which I then returned to her. I am very happy that it didn’t go any further than that, but a lot of people aren’t so lucky.


  1. BestDecision

    It’s true. There’s an enormous push to recruit college girls, and it’s sad they’re being taken advantage of.

    It also reminds me how many times my unit members would try to recruit someone that never wore or DISLIKED makeup. It was all about their Red Jacket or going on target for a car or some little Seminar ribbon. Nothing in MK is sustainable when you only chase after goals.

  2. cindylu

    It’s just sad really. So many young women put into debt by other women. The fact that the market is often saturated is another troubling aspect. Ah yes the driving across many miles to get recruits. What a huge waste of time. Every aspect of the MK scheme is an abysmal huge waste of time. Time away from children, husbands, family and friends. The MK fake opportunity is something to run away from. Any newbies please be wise and quit this mlm before you are in debt, have peeved off family and friends and before you end up with PTSD from having to compromise your ethics etc.

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