Where Did the Debt Come From?

Written by Pinkpeace

How many times have we heard it or read it? “No one put a gun to your head to make you go into debt.” Well, technically Ms. Kaybot, that is a true statement. Years ago when I was given the inventory talk, I don’t recall my sales director pulling out her .45, placing it at my temple, and removing the safety.

But I do recall her insistence that the very best way to run a Mary Kay business was with a “full store.” That was a $3,600 wholesale order, and with tax and shipping, it was around $4,000.

Now, I had studied all the materials my director had given me about Mary Kay, and there was a lot. I started with the new consultant’s guide and perused dozens of back issues of Applause. I read the equivalent of today’s Advance brochure and I read ad slicks of testimonials by top MKers such as Gloria Mayfield (no “Banks” back then).

I really thought I was doing due diligence before I made a decision to start selling Mary Kay part-time. Back then, I had no Internet access (also there were no sites like Pink Truth back then to help women discover the other side.), and as far as I knew, Mary Kay was just another cosmetics business, not a multi-level company.

I also respected my sales director and truly believed she had my best interests at heart. She told me that the most successful consultants in Mary Kay start off with a $3,600 order or more. She directed women at her sales meeting to tell me that they all wished they had started with the $3,600 order. She told me that I would sell through that in probably a month, since I already had about 8 skin care classes lined up.

She told me that she personally started with a $3,600 order and never regretted it. I was a smart woman, wasn’t I? Wouldn’t I take advice from someone who has been in the business a long time, was driving a Cadillac and was wearing Queen’s Court rings? Obviously she was doing something right, and I would be foolish not to listen to her.

So I went into debt for $4,000 to start my business. Yay! But I was sure I would sell it, and my director told me I would get a free lipstick from her for getting my order postmarked before the end of the month. What a deal!

I was all set to start selling these boxes and boxes of products, then realized that I didn’t have any business cards. I didn’t have any product labels. I only had 25 Styrofoam trays and sales tickets. It would not be good to run out of business supplies in the middle of my first month! So I ordered business cards, labels, a stamper, a beauty coat, trays, profiles, sales tickets, etc.

Oh, and look at all the cute things on Section 2! I should definitely have a Mary Kay money bag – that’s great. All my hostesses will want the brush set – better get 5 or 6 of those. Oh, and acrylic nail caddies! I love them! I’ll get a couple for me and a couple for my hostesses who will have follow-up manicure classes. And what if my customers want to try colors? I need at least two packs each of all the lipsticks, eye shadows, cheek colors, eye liners, lip liners, and eyebrow pencils. Whoops – almost forgot the fragrances. There, that should do it.

So those purchases added another $400 or so to my credit card, and I couldn’t turn around and sell them to recoup any of that money. I could only write them off as business expenses, but as my director kept saying, “You have to spend money to make money.”

I was selling products and replenishing my inventory, but it was never as simple as always having 6 cleansers on-hand or 3 of each color. Invariably there would be a week when 4 people wanted a Dusty Rose lipstick, and I’d have to place an order for them. Or I would book a skin care class for African-American women (I’m Caucasian) and would want one of each foundation in darker shades, so I would have whatever they would need.

This was back before the days of the Earned Discount Privilege. You had to make a minimum $200 wholesale order to get a 50% discount EACH TIME you placed an order, no matter how many times you ordered in the month or what size your previous order was. So I ended up ordering products I didn’t need, just to get the ones I did. And I ended up adding to my credit card bill to make that happen.

But the real credit crunch began when I went into car production, then into DIQ. Any time there is a contest or a commission involved in your business, there is a potential to run up your credit card bill. Read the following scenarios that I experienced and see if any apply to you:

  1. In a given month, 5 of my team members ordered, and I personally ordered $400. In order to get the maximum 13% commission check, I would have to order another $200. According to my director, if the difference between a 9% commission check and a 13% commission check is more than the $200, it would be foolish NOT to place the $200 order. Of products I don’t need or want.
  2. I am only $400 away from the Queen’s Court of Sales at my very first Seminar!! Oh my gosh, can I picture the ring on my finger, the walk across Seminar stage, the envious looks from everyone who sees my Queen’s Court sash? Obviously, I’m good at selling the product, or I wouldn’t have gotten this close in the first place. What’s another $400, especially when I can sell those products later on? When I get to Seminar, if I didn’t dig deep and go for that Queen’s Court, I would just kick myself the entire time I was there. Hey – I can have a 50% off sale and make sure I go across that stage with that ring.
  3. Yowza!! The company has just started a new program where you can earn the first car in 3 months instead of 4! And I’ve already broken unit records in months 1 and 2! I can go across stage at Career Conference and have that car all wrapped up if I only put in $300 more this month. For Pete’s sake, I’m going to have a free car and insurance. What’s $300 when I’ll recoup that and more when I sell my non-Mary Kay car.
  4. It’s. The. Last. Month. Of. DIQ……….. This has been harder than childbirth, and I never want to go through it again! I need two more bodies and $800 in production and I’LL BE DONE. I’m sure my sister-in-law and my cousin will let me use their names and I’ll just keep their $200 minimum orders. So that’s $400 in production, $200 in starter kits, and I just need to kick in another $400 in orders myself. What’s $1000, when I will be making those big director commissions starting next month?

There was no gun to my head. But there was the expectation that I would recoup money spent through future sales and big director checks. I also was expected to be “the speed of the leader” so that my team, and eventually my unit, would have a role model in this business. It’s so easy to think that a couple of hundred here and there don’t mean much, but they add up quickly for trouble down the road.


  1. BestDecision

    “Everybody does it.” Those 3 words said by my Director made me choose unwisely and then heard it more as a Director.

    If MK worked as a legit business, “everybody” wouldn’t have to make choices like those.

  2. Cindylu

    Nice that this selfish greedy company shuffles many expenses onto struggling women. They don’t even properly advertise this moronic concept. This fairy tale of a woman who cared about women. Just like Jim Bakker, Hare Krishna, Amway, Airbonne these predatory businesses are about profit for themselves. Thousands of women are simply numbers. Numbers really how sad. We aren’t breathing, hurting, caring, warm, empathic human beings. We are reduced to servants to be exploited anyway possible. Thousands of women used and discarded so a few materialistic liars profit. All those fake accolades, sales, flashy dresses, fake meetings, pink cars, books, slogans etc designed specifically to pull at our heart strings or convince us that this company cares. They don’t. Thank goodness for the brave former MK women on PT who have had the courage and concern to warn good decent women that NO one can afford this scam.

      1. PurpleH

        I was told to just buy a full size of everything for demos. Scrape a little lipstick off with an applicator, hand them a sponge-tip with eyeshadow on it, swipe a cotton ball over the blush. At a first appointment everyone gets the same look, except the hostess gets a custom look. That was supposed to entice the guests to host their own party and get personalized glamour. ?

      2. Ruby Slippers

        Oh and if you are a newbie here… Don’t let your director talk you into buying full size demos.
        I wasted thousands of dollars over 20 years buying full size and demo’ing. I wasted thousands of $ dollars ‘expensing’ demos and gifts ( you know the gifts you have to strong arm someone into booking or interviewing) . Don’t do it!!!!!
        The return on investment is low. The company also changes products so much that the new full size demos you buy may be obsolete within a year. You end up throwing them out or trying to use them up yourself. It’s a waste of $ .
        The Mary Kay corporate claim of “Zero Landfill” waste only applies to corporate.
        I guarantee there are millions of obsolete and expired MK products in the landfill from IBC’s and Directors.

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