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

Former NSD Amie Gamboian on the Evils of Mary Kay

Amie Gamboian is a former national sales director for Mary Kay. She left MK in 2018 after almost 20 years with the company. And while with Mary Kay, she sang its praises all the time. If you can stand to listen to her, check out this video of Amie’s MK story.

She parrots the lie of “#1 selling brand of skin care and color cosmetics in the United States.” Amie was looking for an opportunity to work with women who were goal-oriented and value oriented, and God answered her prayer with MK!  As a “success coach” in Mary Kay, you’re like a professor! A professor of the MK philosophy and a professor of teaching women how to build a business. You’re also a life coach! You help them with goal-setting, time management, spiritual development, and personal growth.

But now that Amie is long gone from Mary Kay, she dishes the dirt!!! (pdf here) Her formerly beloved Mary Kay is now trashed as she seeks to sell her coaching services.

In this article, Amie says her Mary Kay experience was part of her performance addiction. She describes the MK culture, and this is not meant to be a compliment:

“The environment heavily promoted fame, fortune, lifestyles of the rich and famous, unlimited earning, unlimited recognition, stage time in front of thousands of people, prizes, awards, recognition, and all those kinds of things.”

Even “success” in MK, such as earning top director trips, led to feelings of obsession and anxiety:

“There was never a moment to really celebrate because it was a scoreboard-based business and the scoreboard monitored my performance minute by minute, hour by hour, week by week, month by month, year by year. Truly from a realistic standpoint for the outside looking in, I perhaps look like a hamster on a wheel who is continuously running never able to figure out how to get off.

It looked like obsession and anxiety; it looked like a mindset of success at any price. It looked like a life being lived in-harmoniously; it was exhausting; it was challenging. Yet, those fleeting moments of success would very deceptively present themselves at the most opportune times.”

This might be a good time to remind you that in 2009, Amie was spreading vicious lies about Pink Truth. She called us dream stealers, evil wicked, and tearing down MK.  I wonder if her discussion of “fleeting moments of success” in MK, by someone who got to the very top of the pyramid and had what is considered the ultimate success in MK, now makes HER a dream stealer?

Coach Amie had says there was a tremendous pressure around creating an image of perfection in Mary Kay. And she had her epiphany:

“I was standing on a stage in front of 10,000 people where I was being recognized for being #2 in a division out of 4 million people. Worldwide that would have placed me top 4 at that time.”

(Would this be the time to mention that the consultant count has never been 4 million worldwide?)

“Of course, any number of those individuals would have easily traded places with me, everybody except for the person who was #1. It wasn’t good enough for me. #2 wasn’t good enough. Because for years and years I had been going after being #1. What for? It wouldn’t have lasted more than one minute because as soon as the deadline hit, it starts all over again and the scoreboard clears back to zero. At that moment in front of 10,000 people, God just revealed His beautiful grace and love and His truth and I heard Him whisper to me as tears were falling down my face on stage. He said, “This race is over. I have so much more for you.”

I shifted my focus at that time and I began a new ascent within the same career, but with a slightly different focus. I continued in the same old patterns, pouring my all into this new focus.

That was a step into the pinnacle position of the company and I stepped into a position at age 37 falsely believing this minor shift in direction would change the scoreboard focus. In this new role, I would instead be able to have a different key focus than just how the scoreboard was ticking. In reality, it didn’t change at all, it just became a bigger scoreboard.”

So becoming an NSD at age 37 was supposed to change things for Amie. Of course! They teach you that you get to “top director,” and then you become NSD, and then you have it made for life.

Amie goes on:

“I falsely believed that because that’s how the pinnacle position was always promoted throughout the company. So when I reached that position and found that the same race was being run and that there was very little that I changed, and instead there was even more significant pressure for perfection, I began to crumble internally.”

And how did Amie get out of Mary Kay?

“It was extremely terrifying at first–which I believe is normal. Change is difficult and challenging and I had fooled my family and they were also fully caught up in everything thinking my lifestyle was a forever decision. 95% of my career had been invested into all this. So to look at a new picture was really difficult.

What compounded that situation was that I was the first person ever in the history of the company in the position to exit by choice.”

Let’s talk about this. Every NSD who “retired” early did not leave by choice. Remember the former Allison LaMarr (now known as Chaya Ben-Shabat)??? She “retired” from MK in 2010. But according to Amie, this was not voluntary.

What was it like to leave MK?

“In the process of coming to that decision, I had to realize what leaving meant. Leaving meant I am walking away from a retirement plan, all the perks, the privileges, the totally secure six-figure income, a platform of influence that I built for nearly 20 years, and comfort. All those things were the things that were so hard to walk away from initially.”

Note: The six figure income was not “totally secure” and Amie knows it. It was wholly dependent on the performance of the downline and continuously curating new sales directors.

And Amie knew she was going to be shunned when she left:

“The harder part was walking away from the relationships. I began to realize that when you’re in a culture that really struggles to do exits well (because no one leaves, you’re either in or you’re out), there was a likelihood that I would lose relationships that I’ve invested in for a very significant amount of time and very deeply. That was the hardest part, knowing that would most likely become a reality.”

She mentions feeling trapped in Mary Kay, and feeling free once she left.

Oh how I wish for other little birdies (former top directors and NSDs) to sing too. Tell the world about this sham of an opportunity that they call Mary Kay Cosmetics!


  1. BestDecision

    An NSD quits! It isn’t so glorious at the top! So many are living LIES in MK, and this is the very thing most refuse to use critical thinking and accept. I remember listening to her on CDs in my car and thought everything sounded so easy.

    I love how she calls out the scoreboard and the pressure to be perfect as it reminds me of the repetitive scolding and shunning we got at Leadership Conference and Seminar every year. We were never doing enough. And, she’s saying they do that as NSDs!

    Months ago, it was Top Trip Director Kelly Brock. Before that, Million Dollar Director KT Martin. Who else is on the verge of leaving? Who else has a husband and family being held to standards that are based on appearances?

            1. TRACY

              I think you’re right.

              There is no problem with naming the company you were with if it’s true. Mary Kay can’t stop her from saying “I was in MK.”

              Women who come out of the fog (eventually) realize that general public thinks Mary Kay is a joke. They don’t care that you were “NSD.” They’ll nod and smile, and they’ll make a cute comment about “ohhhhh… those pink Cadillacs.” But they certainly aren’t going to recognize you as an accomplished “businesswoman” because of it. At best they’ll be neutral. And in many cases they’ll think you’re a joke.

  2. Wasrings90

    I grew up watching the TV show lifestyles of the rich & famous…. And not one of those rich & famous people ever showed off assembly line made Cadillacs, or purses that only cost about $300 or jewelry made out of spit it diamonds……..I also recognized most if the people on the show no matter what their careers were, I don’t remember any MK NSD’s being featured and I certainly can say I couldn’t name anyone who became extraordinary rich from selling MK other than MK herself. (Which actually if you think about it I still can’t name anyone else that has done so….)

    So maybe I have a way different view of what the lifestyles of the rich & famous actually looks like?….

  3. Lazy Gardens

    Interesting that she mentions “Performance Addiction”, because Mary Kay is a master manipulator of that and “destination addiction” … where you are “on target” for the next level before you can enjoy where you are for a while. The opposite of being “in the moment”.

    “We have always to get to somewhere else first before we can relax and before we can savor the moment. But we never get there.”

  4. Lazy Gardens

    Yes, Amy, we saw the hamster wheel and recognized the manipulation method long before you did.

    “There was never a moment to really celebrate because it was a scoreboard-based business and the scoreboard monitored my performance minute by minute, hour by hour, week by week, month by month, year by year. Truly from a realistic standpoint for the outside looking in, I perhaps look like a hamster on a wheel who is continuously running never able to figure out how to get off.”

  5. Char

    The first sentence in the pdf, “Amie Gamboian is a former executive at a large privately-owned organization.” Can anyone tell me what company she was an executive in? Is she referring to the university she worked at when younger? Did she work for Mary Kay Inc. as an executive?

    Another “ME” story even if from a former “leader” dishing the dirt. We recently had a “top director” complaining of burnout. Unless I missed it, WHERE IS THE APOLOGY FOR SCAMMING SO MANY WOMEN OUT OF THEIR MONEY?!!!!!!!

    Lots of religion in the pdf. And even if you are religious, surely you can recognize the convenience factor of using God when it suits you. “God led me to Mary Kay.” “God directed me away from Mary Kay”. Which is it? He wished ill will for you then, or now? I’m not actually saying that, but I’m pointing out the contradiction and asking people to be cognizant of it. You can’t have it both ways unless ‘what YOU are saying’ is bunk. Don’t put words in God’s mouth, okay? It makes you look like a charlatan using religion to further you own agenda, and pocket.

    1. NayMKWay

      Like Char, I was struck by how “ME”-centric the whole thing read, to the point of being somewhat sickened by it. She regrets that SHE suffered; well, what about the suffering she caused to others? Few of them were earning ANYthing, let alone six figures, and virtually every penny she made came at someone else’s loss.

      Until Amie issues a public apology to her victims and to Pink Truth, I remain unconvinced she’s hearing God’s voice at all. I think she’s just ascribing divine leading to her own ambitions, and the fact that she’s pumping her own new life-coaching gig just paints the whole landscape with the broad brush of profit motive. Ugh.

      1. J

        Yes to all of this! She completely paints herself in a cheeky “it’s not you (mk), it’s me (I have an addiction to the hamster wheel). It just serves to undermine all the women she left on the hamster wheel; she speaks like the wheel is good in nature and not harming anyone who stays on.

        But I guess that’s the typical mk way, don’t share your enlightenment, complain up not to those below, etc. One more lie to live on to those she left in the fog. “Oh she didn’t quit because it was bad, she quit because she had problems that made it unsafe for her to stay.” It’s self-serving and damage control.

    2. rdr

      “Most recently she is the Chair of Omahaleaders.com and the City Strategist for the
      Global Leadership Summit for Lifegate Church.”

      “Lots of religion in the pdf. And even if you are religious, surely you can recognize the convenience factor of using God when it suits you. ”

      The whole entire pdf is hosted by citygospelmovements.org. Of course there’s religion in it.

      Complaining about too much religion in something secular is one thing, complaining about too much religion in an article about starting to work for a church is another.

      1. KayNotMary

        Regardless of whether her new job is with a church, she’s still using religion for her own convenience. She claims her god told her to join MK (and hurt others as a result), then told her to leave it (without apologizing to those she hurt). What a coincidence her god supports her own personal whims.

      2. Char

        “The whole entire pdf is hosted by citygospelmovements.org. Of course there’s religion in it.“

        Well, duh. The reason I said “lots of religion in the pdf” was in case people didn’t read the PDF. I wanted readers to know why my God comment was relevant and not out of left field.

  6. BestDecision

    Candace Doverspike was the #1 Director nationwide in 2017 and has left, too! She was an Executive Sr. Sales Director and earned Top Director Trips. As of Dec, she is now a Financial Advisor.

    MK is NOT the dream job or dream life, and she’s another to prove it!

    1. EyesWideShutNoMore

      That’s really interesting she’s now a Financial Advisor. Wonder if she uses MK math with her clients LOL.

      Most who leave don’t seem to do “serious jobs” like being a financial advisor, so I’m curious if she had that job before MK.

      1. BestDecision

        I’d never heard of Candace Doverspike, so she made a quick ascent and then left while still doing well. Maybe she’s got experience as an Advisor, but, knowing what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t ask a Director for financial advice for anything!

  7. Cindylu

    I remember Barbara Sunden and Anne Newbury. They were the first to be part of MK’s frenzied never ending contest winners. I’m sure most NSD’s have rooms full of products and tacky cheap prizes. (Not to mention the ribbons, cheap pins, ladders etc) The original NSD’s had entire countries or states to exploit. Back then women actually trusted those silly skin care classes. Even with that the early NSD’s lost pink Cadillacs and entire units. (Over and over again). I remember at one seminar where MK herself was giving her top original directors heck for not doing enough. Talk about dangling the carrot and also constantly moving the goal posts. I think MK took the Stanleys products ill will, manipulation, constantly changing the rules and was abusive right from the start. (Changing products at the IBC’s expense, the constant conferences, the phony accolades etc). The hard sell tactics: Make the client feel important, Use Spiritual Slogans, never take No for an answer, three foot rule, mention the prizes, travel, six figured income and use emotional manipulation. MK wrote those horrid books reprimanding everyone. Taking the bullying tactics she learned at Stanley’s products and using them in her own company against her original top directors. MK constantly pitted her directors against each other for her own benefit. The whole company is based on the lie that MK cares about women and is a faith based company. MK simply is an oppressive, pyramid scheme designed for MK and her heirs to profit on the backs of everyone else.

    1. Heather

      All of this! ^^ The original directors and NSDs (I’m talking Dalene White, Nancy Tietjen, Alrene Lenarz, and more) often got called out for not doing more, being #1, or beating last year’s records. These women were pitted against each other in the rat race, and no one won. Everyone in the downline was scolded and made to feel inferior. MK herself was the master bully and the master manipulator, and she taught her children and grandchildren how to do it with a smile.

      1. BestDecision

        There was always a “What’s next” after every achievement. We could never enjoy the moment because the clock started ticking on a new month, new car quarter, or new Seminar year. If we did, we were told we were “resting on our laurels”.

        In MK, we were only as good as our last accomplishment. Once that chime rang, it was the next, the next, and the next. No one cared if you did Unit Club 5 years ago. No one cared if you had an Offspring debut 3 years ago. If you weren’t catapulting, you were nothing. Sean Key was masterful at that because you didn’t get his attention if you weren’t breaking records.

        It’s month-end, and I don’t have a calculator by my side anymore.
        I don’t have to coach a Consultant on finding production or reactivating her team to keep her title/Red Jacket.
        I don’t have to hope my T Consultants place orders to increase my unit size.
        I don’t have to brainstorm a promotion or contest to get September recruits or production numbers I need.
        I don’t have to mail postcards to get people to finish their Star.
        I won’t use a calculator on Tuesday morning to see what my commission check is going to be…or not be.
        I don’t have to feel the pain of chargebacks hitting.
        I don’t have to CONVINCE people anymore.

        I’ve worked crappy jobs in my life, but MK was the most unhealthy, toxic, and defeating of all. Sure, there are people doing big numbers, but they’re the minority. Even Amie talks about how it’s not so rosy even as an NSD. So glad to be out, free, and happier than ever!

    2. EyesWideShutNoMore

      Anne Newbury is revered here in Canada by the OG NSDs and directors. She “opened” Canada and pulled directors into being an NSD. I think my director was jealous she didn’t have her as her NSD, it sounded like Anne really did a lot to get someone to NSD but who knows what nefarious methods she used.

      1. Char

        I don’t dislike it, but I wonder how many lurkers and former offenders still in the fog can dislike the comments? Perhaps a “like only” option? Or a dislike subtracts from the “like” count without knowing how many dislikes?

        Recorded dislikes might imply to readers that the information isn’t accurate. You certainly don’t have to like the delivery or the information, but I fear too many dislikes could send the wrong message that what is written is false. Suffice it to say, I think a post that is well-liked and acknowledged would be just enough. IMHO.

        P.S. As it stands, I can’t wait for all the dislikes when the comparison of MLM and religion is made for it’s commonality of cult strategies to gain followers/recruits. Hoo-hah

      2. BestDecision

        They have a new Holiday Selling Guide. They’re starting to use the word “potentially” making cash to recruit people. (Page 2) The Legal Department strikes again! Constant swerving to avoid promising things that can’t be kept.

  8. Joan W. (tealrun52)

    At the bottom part of the article, she called her income with the company “six figure totally secure”. Seriously? How secure is an income where you are constantly measured for your performance “minute by minute, month by month, year by year” etc.??


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