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

The Truth Behind the “Avenues of Income”

Written by Raisinberry

If you were paying attention at your “practice” recruiting interview or guest event, you’ll recall your recruiter or Future Director telling you about all the ways that you can make money in Mary Kay. Ultimately it came down to 3 “avenues of income.”. One way was selling your own product to consumers, one was recruiting for commissions on their “sales”, and then you had the last obscure method called dovetailing that happened when you got a percentage of a class you booked but didn’t hold.

Then of course there were reorders, but that is really just you selling to end customers again. Three income streams seemed to be the key to success and would lead to being “paid what you are worth”…not what some “job is worth.”

If you recruit someone and they order $3,000 in wholesale product, and you have 5 on your team, and you also order $600 wholesale yourself, you will get a 13% commission. That’s $390 on their first order. It would take you selling them $780 retail to make the same commission on product sales, and of course it would take a year or more to realize it. If you want quick money, you don’t want a customer, you want a frontloaded recruit.

What ends up happening for the vast majority of savvy consultants is that they hold the facial, do marketing, sell skin care once and recruit for the fast commission- trusting their director to “maximize” the purchasing power of the recruit. Mary Kay wants us to get that order quickly and gives consultants short deadlines to get product bonuses so they take action right away. The recruiter knows that the director needs to maximize the purchasing power of the new recruit also. So even though three avenues of income are mentioned, the “real” source of big fast dough is the frontloaded recruit. Sales of the product will always be a means to an end and will never be where the “big money” is at.

There’s a parallel in these three avenues that resurface at the unit level. Three “avenues of income” become apparent for the director as well. First there is the new recruit who drives the monthly production and affords the biggest pop in commission for the director. The recruiter will get 4%, 9%, or 13% depending on her team, right? But the director gets 13% and then 10% again as her bonus. So the same $3,000 gets the Director $390 plus $300 or $690.

Imagine this for a second. The recruiter gets $390, the director gets $690, the senior director gets 5% or $150, and the NSD gets 2% or $60. Add it up and $1,290 of the recruit’s order goes to the commissions of the upline.

Now, she has over $6,000 in retail on her shelf… close to $6,700 with all her freebies, so she makes the biggest commission of all—if she can sell it! The upline HAS their commission already. Miss consultant will have to grunt out the classes and sell to end users to realize her “profit.”

Secondly, the director has the career path consultant (lets call her “reorders”), who, while attempting to chase the car or the suit, will be over ordering more than she ever hopes to sell to maintain qualifications, under the opinion that when she makes it, she will have much bigger checks that will offset these expenditures. The career path consultant is encouraged by the NSD, or GoGive’s need for more Leadership, simply because like customers who fall off the radar, directors and DIQs will also fall off the radar and need to be replaced. The new recruit and the career path consultant drive the unit production, because both are placing more orders than they have sold, one for start up, one for maintenance.

The third avenue of income for consultants, which was the dovetail, is rarely ever experienced. No one likes the idea of double booking and handing a hostess off to a replacement consultant, as if she were the step sister appointment of the evening. Yet, Mary Kay still promotes it as if anyone was really using it, as a viable income producer. Likewise, the personal use consultant becomes the third avenue of income that barely registers on the unit production meter.

You can see how minimum orders by personal use consultants aren’t getting a director anywhere. The $225 order produces $29 in commission and if the unit breaks $5,000, another 10% provides $22 more. Without new recruit production and career path consultants, a unit dissolves faster than a New York minute. Personal use consultants do not order every month. If they order every 6 months you are lucky, so they are about as rare as a dovetail for producing real income.

So real income comes down to the two major contributing factors; new recruits and director wannabees. Director wannabees can only be directors if they find the new recruits. A director, who can get multiple streams of income as in pushing many women up the career path, will accomplish all her goals. She will be more secure on the career path than most. If she can get 5 women chasing car and DIQ, she guarantees $4,000 coming in from each “profit center” that these women represent. This is how first Cadillacs are often won.

If you think this through, there is very little dependence on actual sales to consumers. That is not an avenue of income that produces fast big money. If I have 5 team leaders attempting to go on target this month—they will drive the production, forget about driving the car! Even if they fail, they will have team members drawn in to the promotions and pursuing the establishment of their “full stores,” which will produce the commission.

Now most consultants know all this, but they may have never really considered how foolish selling product is, and how little work is involved with just being a recruiter. All the strategies of the upline are designed to get you to move up so you will drive the search for new recruits that produce the biggest portion of unit production. And when that magic number of production falls short…WHO will put in the needed amount? Why you will, Miss Career Path consultant! When your team pulls $2,800 and you need just $1,200 more to finish car, will you let it go?

No, you won’t. And your unit just did $1,200 more, which benefited everyone in the upline because now you have to “keep” that car. Speed of the leader is the speed of the gang, don’t ya know.

Do you see how this problem multiplies itself across the downline?

The entire system is a set up for recruiting to produce (and reproduce) the big money leaving product sales as the small time money disguise. Your initial start up sales will trick you into believing those orders will return, if you can just get the right show line started, and Mary Kay depends on that belief along with your director’s stroking and recognition, to keep you invested in the dream until you poop out with no more resources or make it to the suit. If and when you poop out, it will make no difference at all, because your personal orders once or twice a year still go toward the baseline safety net that dupes the director into thinking she has a big unit (of mostly non-producers) and that it is growing.

But women who mentally quit because they are not getting results or not making money from product sales are not “growing” the unit. Recruiters replace the ones who wash out, and all anyone needs to do to prove that Mary Kay Cosmetics is not a viable business for consultants or directors is to stop recruiting.

Stop recruiting. You think you run a viable cosmetics business? Stop recruiting. You think you run a ½ million dollar retail selling unit? Stop recruiting. Gee if you stopped turning customers into consultants, wouldn’t you have even higher sales? Wouldn’t you be a gen-u-wine Half Million Dollar Unit much faster? (Of course not, because it’s not about retail sales.)

If your business really had “avenues of income” that relied on product sales to consumers, you could keep going, without recruiting. There isn’t a director reading this now that could even RISK this suggestion, and the fact that she knows it, belies her personal level of self deception.

Trapping women into career path aspirations, riding them for new recruit procurement, and equally manipulating them for additional “stretch orders” as they go for arbitrary benchmarks and leadership recognition is nothing more than pimping them out so you can get your “cut.”

When I realized the overwhelming truth that 300+ women had come and gone out of my Unit—98% with inventory purchases, and only 3 career path consultants left to speak of, with over $10,000 to $20,000 in “on the shelf” merchandise each… trying to reach “the Dream”… I couldn’t lie to myself any longer.

I was taught to “rationalize” these women away in “turnover,” but traditional turnover doesn’t put women in thousands of dollars of debt and trashed self esteem like MK does. Mary Kay sifts women to find the golden-est of nuggets who will work the business without a conscience. With year after year of proof that the avenue of income known as the skin care class or beauty show no longer fits the purchasing model of the modern woman, Mary Kay still sells its viability (like the dovetail) with total knowledge that this “avenue of income” is nothing but a detour on the road to financial success.


  1. Shay

    How many levels can a directer have? Or heck even an average consultant?
    Say.. someone recruits me… then I recruit someone.. would my directer get the credit or would I? Also, say this scenario..
    i recruit someone and that person recruits and goes down 5 levels… who gets the “credits”?

    1. MLM Radar

      When you’re a consultant you only get a percentage of what your direct recruits purchase. You’re not allowed to have granddaughter and great granddaughter recruits. All commissions from anyone recruited by your recruits go straight to your Director and skip you. Permanently.

      You’re only allowed to build a down line past the first level if you’re a Director or in DIQ. And if you’re in DIQ but can’t finish, your granddaughter recruits (whom you worked so hard to sign) get reassigned to your Director. Permanently.

      If a consultant recruits someone who becomes a Director, she can kiss goodbye any cut of the new Director’s purchases. You can’t have someone in your down line who outranks you.

      Yes, I know the pretty diagrams make you think you’re quickly growing deep roots from Day One. It’s another lie. You’re not allowed to have any roots until you’ve built horizontally and become a Director yourself.

      1. Shay

        i wonder what would happen if let’s say.. someone signs me up or i get suckered in to a “spa” party.. then they attempt to recruit me and also want friends numbers.. so they recruit me and then i bring a friend.. would the consultant recruit her under me or her? probably her, huh?

        1. MLM Radar

          if Connie Consultant recruits both of you, you’re both her direct recruits. Connie collects the 4% commission on the inventory that both of you buy.

          In theory, anyway.

          The Director can manipulate the stacking order. Maybe she sees that you’ll just be a Personal Use $225 consultant, but your face-model friend is acting excited and the Director thinks she’ll spring for the $3,600 package.

          So before anyone knows what’s happening the Director says “Because I helped you with the party I’ll take one of the recruits.” She fills out the forms to make you ($225 order) Connie’s recruit. Connie gets 4% of $225, which is $9. But she makes your face-model friend her personal recruit. She gets 3% X 2 (Director’s personal recruits bonus ) x $3,600. She gets $936 plus signing and star bonuses.

          Sound fair?

        2. BestDecision

          Depends on how unethical your Consultant is because there are many documented cases where they’re unknowingly signed under her. Everybody is desperate to move ahead and get an invitation to the Career Conference luncheon, so she could easily sign her.

  2. Lazy Gardens

    So 43% of the wholesale price of the products goes to the upline?

    No wonder they are expensive, with that much added on to the basic manufacturing and profit for the corporation.

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