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

“Retail Sales” in Mary Kay

The concept of “retail sales” should be so easy to define. And yet, in Mary Kay it is one of the biggest lies that is repeatedly told at all levels. You would think that a “retail sale” would be a customer selling a product to someone who is not in Mary Kay.

You would be wrong.

In Mary Kay, the retail sales they talk about are the orders consultants place with the company, times 2 (to get to suggested retail) plus various “contest credit” (thing like double credit, where they count every consultant order twice). There is no consideration that orders by consultants do not come close to equaling sales to customers, nor that most sales are made at discounted prices rather than full suggested retail.

The practice of frontloading is getting new consultants/distributors to order inventory packages. These products have not been sold and are unlikely to be sold. The first order a consultant makes is very likely to be the most she will ever order from Mary Kay. For this reason, it’s important to twist her arm and get that order to be as large as possible. Statistics say her future orders will be much smaller, and she’ll drop out before she can even sell the products in the original inventory order.

So when a national sales director like Kristin Sharpe brags about having over $1 million in retail sales, it’s a lie, and she knows it. More accurately, the consultants in her unit spent $400,000 on products that they can’t and won’t sell. If they do sell them, they will be heavily discounted and the profits will be small. And yet they brag about this fake retail number because it sounds great and it’s a recruiting talking point. “If my unit could sell $1 million last year, imagine how much YOU can sell!!?!?!”



  1. Cindylu

    It’s all Make Bee lieve. A facade to conceal a reality that less and less is being sold. Also those new unit members will be gone within a year. Wow giving the glory of this pretend year retail sales to God sure takes audacity. The environment is cluttered with thousands of make up products filling many rooms or basements. Products that are rotting and will soon be thrown into over flowing land fill sites. One line that they used was that MK was for helping other women. In truth women are lied to and end up persuading other women that these products can actually be sold when the reality is the market is horribly saturated. The front loading is truly infuriating.

  2. Mountaineer95

    Anyone, I mean ANYONE in this Sharpe “YES!” unit who reads this, ask yourself: do you have ANY product that: is still sitting on your shelf? That you gave away? That you used for personal use and didn’t sell? When exactly did Kristin Sharpe or anyone on her behalf contact you to CONFIRM that you sold the products “at retail”? If you bought any wholesale during the 12-month period that Sharpe is using to generate that retail sales figure, and nobody actual confirmed that you sold it, that million-dollar “retail” figure is an unverifiable figure and a flat-out LIE.

  3. Enorth

    Wait a minute. You take the $ figure that you ordered, then you multiply it by 2 to come up with a value that you “pretend” you sold, and sometimes you even “pretend” you ordered double the amount?

    This is a joke, right?

  4. raisinberry

    And let’s reiterate, “God gets all the glory.”

    Let that sad sentence really sink in. Can you even fathom the denial a person has to be operating under to think for one minute, that that could ever be true?

  5. raisinberry

    One more point. Never in the history of Mark Kay has ANY sales leader or corporate executive uttered the word, “profitability”. There is ZERO accounting taught or encouraged, as to whether a consultant, or a Director for that matter, is actually making money. They have pulled off this charade for over 50 years, with their sales leaders and IBC’s looking like fools playing makeup, drowning for attention and playing beauty pageant.

    Do you honestly think an outfit that exploits foolish women like this is honoring or empowering them?

    1. Mountaineer95

      That right there is one of the first things I learned about MK…the lack of any actual profit discussion. The first time I was approached by an MK lady (warm chatter, I guess) was when I was only a year out of college and working as a sales person and assistant manager for a furniture store. From day one, my commissions at work were on a sliding scale based on profit margins…and I had leeway to negotiate prices to customers. So, I knew that if I discounted the retail price, I’d literally lose dollars out of my pocket. During that early part of my career, the manager I worked for spent a lot of time educating me about P and L statements and such. So I already had that background when the MLM creeps started coming into my store under the guise of shopping (they never bought anything…hmm…) in order to find recruits.

      The fact (and yes, Kaybots, it is a “fact” rather than a “negative”) that MK people NEVER discuss actual profits might be the biggest red flag there is that exposes the supposed “business opportunity” as a scam. Rule number one in any legit business is determining exactly how profits are made.

  6. numbercruncher

    Even at a $1mm in “retail” sales, assuming all of the production comes directly from her first line unit and she gets 13% commission on wholesale, its still only $65,000 in commission (before you discount for double credit, chargebacks, etc). If you were managing a real business with 20+ people with annual revenues in excess of $1mm, your paycheck would (or should) be far higher than $65,000. In fact, in my company, some secretaries make almost that much

    1. TRACY

      The commission for direct recruits of hers is 26% (13% for direct team members, 13% for unit). She also would get volume bonuses. I use a rule of thumb of 20% commission to account for the fact that some production is from direct recruits, much is from the unit in general, and volume bonuses happen.

    2. BestDecision

      Good point! People working at Hobby Lobby can make $30K/year, which is easily more than Premier Club Directors profit. We always painted that working in corporate America was “The Land of The Broke”, but wages and benefits aren’t bad at all out here!

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