My First (and Last!) Mary Kay Party

Written by Maureen

About a month ago, my friend invited me to a “girls night” for pedicures… I questioned the invite because she has a ton of friends she is closer with, but being newer to the area with very few social opportunities I agreed to go. She is a stay at home mom and said she couldn’t trust her other mom friends to not bring kids, as it was strictly for adults. I figured I was the obvious choice because I have none. Okay, I can understand that.

She picked me up on that fateful night and we drove across town to a community building. We walked in to a roomful of polished women who greeted us saying they’ve been “waiting for their special guests of honor.” I looked at my friend who was absolutely horrified. She thought there would be a whole bunch of women… Not the case.

On the drive over she told me it was a Mary Kay event and she usually doesn’t go but her good friend from church–who is totally not pushy– Invited her so she felt like she *had* to go. Despite the fact that we were 20 minutes late, the ladies asked if we minded if they finished up their weekly meeting before getting started on the foot soaking… Of course we said they could wrap up.

So we sat and talked amongst ourselves. And that was when I realized this was all part of the plan. Since we weren’t “eavesdropping” on the meeting they switched to a more direct tactic where they brought us into their discussions of product, sales, asked what items we’d like to see in their giveaways, etc. we exchanged quiet looks of “We’re in this together, stay strong.”

They asked what we did for a living, she’s a SAHM, I work in retail. They loosely alluded that I could make more money “working for myself” than I ever do in retail, *and* I could set my own hours. I wasn’t lured. They were going after my friend, until she told the Barbie-esque director, “We’ve actually met before, my sister won a facial from you at a bridal show.” She told me on the way over that this director had pursued her HARD a few years back, constantly calling, never taking no for an answer, when all she and her sister were interested in was the free facial. After she made it apparent that she wasn’t recruited then and won’t be now, they focused their attention on me. I’m a pretty low maintenance chick, hair thrown in a bun, zero makeup… Not exactly a “Mary Kay Girl.” But my money’s green so I guess that makes me a viable option.

They acted SO interested in me; husband, my work, his work, even pushy questions about our income and vehicle situations. Then we played some fun games. Pull something out of your purse that starts with the given letter! Let me just say, I am not a girl’s girl. Even within this group I could feel the tension and fakeness that has driven me away from groups of female friends in the past. The one in the red jacket looked like this gathering was a TRUE waste of her time as she snuck an eye roll in between refreshing Facebook on her phone, the older consultant was leading the game and stumbling over the explanations of the company’s values, causing the director-zilla to lose all patience and jump in and run her over multiple times. They were like a bunch of turd cupcakes. Beautiful and sweet on the outside, but total crap beyond the frosting.

They called the letter C… I looked in my wallet, silently debating. “Should I really take them for a ride? Concealed carry permit. Or do I play it safe? Credit card.” I pulled out my credit card. I was in it to win it. I didn’t know what the prize was, but every time I beat my friend to the draw I got a raffle ticket. It didn’t matter if it was a coupon for a burrito at Taco Bell, I’m a competitive person.

Sidebar: I ended up winning, and let me tell you, a free burrito would have been a lot more useful than the weird color of discontinued lip gloss I was majestically presented with. My boss, who knows me very well, texted me during the event and asked if I was available to talk on the phone, I said, “I’m at a Mary Kay party, I’ll call you after.” She said, and I quote, “Alright you better cause I wanna hear how you got roped into THAT.”

After the “fun” had ended, the questions began. They attacked from all angles. I could pay off my student loans and have a “real career” with a “faith based company.” They asked about my religious affiliations… I told them I was Catholic, the director asked what church I went to, everyone else was Protestant so this was our “thing.” I picked out a random church from memory and crossed my fingers that she didn’t go there (I didn’t mention I wasn’t the most devout). She gushed about the “up and coming church that everybody who’s anybody” attends, while in my house we tend to spend our Sundays quietly praying to the holy mattress…

They went on and on about the pink Cadillac, which I have always found to be quite obnoxious… Then I dropped a bomb. This was my first Mary Kay event. “HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!” Well ladies, I wasn’t your target audience in high school, had no money in college (besides Mary Kay always seemed to be for “older” ladies), then afterwards we moved around so much I never got to know anybody well enough to get sucked in. Oh and did I mention I’m a fiscally responsible millennial who, in a sea of pampered chef, it works! And other MLMs polluting my Facebook newsfeed, have learned to sidestep many potential “great opportunities.”

It was horrible. The director said she used to be a teacher, earned her masters degree and loved the profession, but didn’t feel like the career path allowed her to be the wife and mother her family deserved. So she focused on growing her Mary Kay business and “Look at me now!” It should be noted that she profusely apologized for her young son being there, unfortunately his grandparents had the AUDACITY to make plans for the evening and she got “stuck” with him. God first family second, huh? She feverishly checked her phone most of the event to see “just exactly when the husband plans on picking him up.” What should also be noted is the fact that she didn’t just walk away from a successful career as a teacher, burn her bra and start her own “career” in Mary Kay. Her husband has a pretty impressive job which I’m sure funds much of her “business.”

Every polite decline I made had a back door. Every statement I made was used against me. They sure did turn my “Why’s” into “Why not’s,” but not in the way they intended. It was more like I was silently screaming “WHY are these robo-women NOT taking the hint?!” I filled out the feedback card, “On a scale of 1 to 10, no 5’s!!” How interested are you in being your own boss? ONE. How interested are you in coming together with a group of like-minded, strong women for coffee? It felt rude but ONE! I wrote down the phone number of a pizza joint from back home, just in case they STILL didn’t get the picture.

I gotta give it to my friend, her consultant friend was silent throughout. Didn’t push anything on me at all. I flipped through her book and bought a few products out of pity, which I still have yet to receive… She apologized for only bringing one look book and the LOOK the director gave at that announcement made me wanna BOOK it right outta there. So when I got home, I called my boss back, told her how they tried to get me to quit my job. She swore if I ever left her to sell that crap she would key every “stupid pink car” she ever came into contact with. It’s nice to be appreciated. She likened my experience to a scene out of Stepford Wives, where I was the unsuspecting Nicole Kidman. If nothing else we got a good laugh out of it.

Becoming a consultant was never an option for me. I remember how my mother would hide out in the kitty litter aisle of the grocery store because she saw one of her friends that sold Mary Kay and just didn’t feel like coming up with a reason to not host a party. When I got home I did a little Googling because I was interested on what info was out there, was there any research that said this was a sham or was everyone drinking the pink koolaid? That’s how I came across your site.

I knew MK was a pyramid scheme, but I didn’t know how deep it went. Women tens of thousands of dollars in debt, self esteem shattered by mafia tactics, relationships with friends, family members, even spouses destroyed. Moreover, I realized from reading the posts (see:lurking) that most likely my “friend” that brought me to the party was asked if she knew any “bright young women” interested in selling, and she picked me. That bothers me, the fake women with their fake success stories I can handle, that’s pretty easy to navigate. Being offered up as a sacrificial lamb by someone I had thought was my friend cuts way deeper than anything the “Kay Bots” could ever say. Since then she hasn’t really talked to me much, her consultant friend dropped MY order off at HER house about two weeks after I placed the order, she just doesn’t have the time to drive it .5 miles up the road to my house, and is never home for me to swing by to pick it up. So I made a pity purchase and I don’t even have anything to show for it!

I have really enjoyed reading these post, even if I cannot relate first hand. I have been fortunate enough to have not ever been sucked into a MLM. I wished I had read these stories sooner so I could fire back with all the wrong questions that would haunt them on the drive home, the debt that won’t stop, the inventory that won’t move… Living life in a pretty pink cloud of delusion constantly chasing a nonexistent “executive salary” they were promised.


  1. cindylu

    These fake make over parties are so sleazy. It’s sad that this mlm exploits women. Now being asked by a friend or neighbor to a gathering of women somehow has become circumspect. I shudder at remembering inviting innocent struggling women to these innocuous make overs. Next thing I knew my SD swooped down like a vulture. It is revolting that we were taught to take grocery money from those barely making ends meet. Thank goodness I got out well before becoming a director. I just could not take advantage of other women anymore. I also couldn’t financially harm my family on this gimmicky con.

  2. enorth

    “The one in the red jacket looked like this gathering was a TRUE waste of her time”
    My favorite line from the post.

    Being allowed to sit in on the business meeting? Yes, but only the part where you were to hear gushing stories of success, free cars, and prizes. All a well-rehearsed skit just for guests like yourself.

  3. Not a Bot

    I’ve been where the OP is before. I’ve moved to an area with established friendships and felt like I was on the outer circle, but somehow managed to get the invite to MK and sales party events. I’m not worth spending with with as a person, but only when I can get them ahead. I had one push the an expensive skin care system because it would have been $100 extra in her pocket. It does make me feel used and knowing they have lines and scripts to convince women to join and then drop money in the company. It makes me glad I am not quick to part with my money and would choose being lonely over being used. I had the interview of how much I would want to do MK on a 1 to 10 and I gave a 2 (should have said a 1). I’d rather get my teeth pulled than do that.

  4. TRACY

    At what point do women stop falling for this promise of a “pampering session” with their friends? I thought it was nonsense 20 years ago when I was a consultant, and women are still falling for it. No it’s not a fun girls night. It is harassment from the get go with the obligation to buy overpriced, mediocre products that you don’t really want. And yet, women are still saying yes.

  5. MLM Radar

    You placed an order on the spot (and paid for it too?) but it took TWO WEEKS for your order to arrive and it still hasn’t been delivered.

    If this was a real business, your order would have been delivered within 2 days from the local warehouse (the Director’s MK room), which the consultant would replenish when the items arrived from corporate.

    But MK isn’t a real business.

    It’s just sad that MK tries to get you to stock a warehouse of your own, based on the “can’t sell from an empty wagon” quip, but ships products slower than Amazon and eBay.

    1. Former Consultant

      This is so true. I think for legal reasons, companies give the 7-10 or sometimes 14 business day ship time, but depending on where you live it can be much quicker. My friend was shopping at Ulta, getting a lipstick, and Clinique had a lipgloss that i liked. Of course, it was sold out because it was such a popular color. No worries, though, the sales girl ordered it, and I kid you not, it was at my house in like 3 days. I didn’t mind waiting for it, and the lipgloss that I was currently wearing was running low, but I could wear it for a couple more days. It was great. No hassles, just the product that I needed, and at a reasonable price.
      I would love for a consultant to fight and say that MK is a real business… The time we would have with them… Thank goodness for PT.

  6. SW

    I actually found Pink Truth years ago through the link on the Etiquette Hell message board in a thread on being invited to MLM parties under false pretenses. I confess, I was never even approached by anyone about joining any MLM (though my mother was). It is probably a wrong thing to do, but I read Pink Truth for the amusement of seeing MK people embarras themselves and satisfaction of seeing people see through it.

  7. jms

    Last week, I saw a man and woman trying to sell Mark Kay from a vending table in the Bronx. They looked stressed and depressed. Having been a street vendor as a visual artist, I know that direct selling on the sidewalks in NYC is not easy. I walked past the couple twice; they were holding out flyers that no one took. I wondered how long it will take them to cut their losses before they spent much more money on their “business.”

  8. Maia Jay

    A not-very-close friend of mine tried to recruit me once about 15 years ago. Every reason I gave for not wanting to sign up under her (I never wear makeup, I’m not good at selling) she tried to undermine. Luckily I doubled down on the “I just don’t want to” and she still had some ethics and didn’t push after that. Even though I didn’t know MK was an MLM at that time, I knew I would suck at selling it. My group of friends/acquaintances is too small and too overlapping with hers and that best I knew I could do would be a few pity purchases from my mom. Thank goodness!

    1. BestDecision

      Yeah, we were schooled on overcoming objections and doing so quickly. No one could get past unless they said they were lazy. Good for you to avoid what we went through!

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