Building Sandcastles in Mary Kay

Written by SadNpink

When I joined Mary Kay, it was to purchase the products at half price and maybe… MAYBE dabble in the business a little to make extra money. I never intended to really go full force into this business.

In fact, my husband told me two things before I plunged in:

  1. Have fun. If you cannot have fun, then don’t do it.
  2. This is a multi-level marketing business like the other two I had been in.

Now, if I had only thought about it more, I would have heeded number 2. However, I was told that Mary Kay was not an MLM, but was dual marketing. My husband insisted they were the same and HE WAS RIGHT. So contrary to the old marketing film “Consider the Possibilities,” this company is no different than any other MLM out there.

I came in with a small inventory but I quickly borrowed money to build it up to business level as I had good success in selling in my area. That was because others had been very active here some years back and then quit. I inherited ready made customers who did not know any other consultant.

With my success, I decided to really dig in and see how far I could go. I dreamed of being an NSD one day, and I hoped to be able to help other women develop their own businesses. DIQ was hell, but I managed to make it in the four month time frame to become a director after just 14 months in MK. I also had the car.

During my first year, I won all of the director awards and managed to complete the Queen’s Court of Sharing. I focused on winning challenges all the way along. My unit was growing and the next year I did the Queen’s Court of Sharing again. However, MK was taking a toll on my home life and my spiritual life as well.

I ate, slept and breathed MK 24/7. Those who knew me worried about me. I did not have lack of work ethic… I worked too much. However, I could see that if I let up my unit would start to crumble. In my second year, I got to Premier Club status. Things were really kicking and I was off to earn that Caddy.

Following Seminar though, I found out about the sandcastle I was building. There was nothing to stop the castle from being washed away in a moment. My unit suddenly crashed. Several key people decided MK was not for them. They returned products and took many team members with them. The economy where I live was not good, so bookings were getting harder to get. I worked harder and harder, being out six nights a week.

When I began to question my involvement in MK, I had NO ONE I could talk with. As a director, we are not to talk with our consultants about our hard times. We are seen as negative if we question, so I began to question God. Is this really where you want me to spend my time Lord? I asked that question for months. Of course, my NSD and others told me this is where I should be to minister to women. What an emotional battle as I saw consultants fall off. I replaced them as fast as I could, but it was getting harder to do the “talk.”

One night, I decided to visit Pink Truth. A consultant of mine had stumbled across the site and asked me about it. I came and read the site. My first reaction was anger. I told myself that these were just angry women. However, something deep inside told me to keep reading. Over several nights, I read more and more. I finally read a director’s story that could have been mine. That did it. Something clicked inside and I knew I had my answer.

I shocked my husband the next day with my announcement that I was leaving MK. I had seen him sit home alone too many nights. I was burned out emotionally and physically. I had been a hands on director for a long time helping my team members to the loss of time with my family and my faith.

I left MK for these reasons:

  1. It is an MLM and you have to continuously recruit forever in order to keep your position or reach a higher one. I had seen consultants leave as fast as they could be replaced. I now see directors lasting about a year (if even that!) then burning out and quickly being replaced by NSDs eager to hold their big checks in place. It is a never ending run on a wheel going nowhere.
  2. I was burned out working 60 hours a week. The lie of full-time pay for part-time hours was so painful. And I never enjoyed a vacation because I was always concerned about production etc. I saw most other directors in the same boat. No peace, no joy. Just lots of work. The joy and peace were fake! They were faking it and I thought they were making it!!!
  3. I could not in good conscience ask another woman to put her money into something that would never pay her well. I had amassed a huge inventory as a result of buying products to make production  a few months when the unit did not quite get to the minimum.  Yes, I could sell it, but it would take a long time to do so.
  4. I wanted to go to church and the grocery store and see women as my friends not as potential customers. You can NEVER relax in MK if you want to move up.
  5. I never saw a six figure income. I worked till I nearly dropped in DIQ. Then I worked like that as a director. But with all the director expenses and meetings to attend and suit to buy etc. any extra money went out as fast as it came in. Did I work hard? Ask my family. I was no slacker so those who come here and lurk – we did give MK our best, but it did not return it’s best to us.
  6. I was tired of seeing spiritual manipulation and lies being used to get women to move up in MK or join. As a Christian, I was offended to see God’s name tacked on to everything as though this was the only thing which could draw you closer to Him.
  7. The last reason I left was simply that this was no longer fun at all. It was total burn-out. I was becoming someone I no longer liked in my quest. I could not live with that. Mary Kay was like trying to build a beautiful sand castle on the seashore only to have it washed away over and over again by the waves. There is nothing more frustrating and heartbreaking.

When I stepped down, I was making production and had even gold medaled. My NSD told me I could just do a few classes on weekends and only work 15 hours a week and still be successful.

REALITY CHECK: You cannot do that and maintain a unit unless you are the daughter of an NSD and can inherit units from other failed directors. I was also told that if I left MK I would lose my opportunity to have a ministry to women. Funny, I thought to myself, I thought God called a person to a ministry not MK. That comment really hurt.

I cried often after I stepped down. Not because MK was being left behind, but because I truly loved my consultants. They were my friends. I told them the truth about Mary Kay after I have left and I was able to breathe free air again.

I have no regrets at leaving and I will NEVER again have anything to do with an MLM. My prayer for each of you reading is that you will get free from this sandcastle/dream-destroying scam. Do not be afraid to take a stand. Don’t let the waves continue to wash over you and break down all your work.

My favorite quote is from Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We can make a difference and truly enrich women’s lives by exposing the lies of MLMs and leave these organizations.


  1. Cindylu

    I had a great well paid career with time for my children. I sacrificed promotions to have more time with my babies. When I left quite young I was able to be a stay home mom with a small pension and savings. I needed something to keep busy. A former co worker I trusted conned me into joining MK. I didn’t like the SD. I soon found out that my instincts were right. Instead of having time to be with my kids I now seemed focused on MK. My husband was very worried. MK is indeed an mlm.

  2. AnonyMouse

    “Dual marketing”. Hah. An MLM by any other name STILL STINKS. And who, by definition of what dual marketing actually is, benefits from the dual marketing model? The actual company. Mary Kay corporate. All MLM companies. It’s gross.

    You touched on EXACTLY the issue I have with Mary Kay or any other MLM blurring the lines between business and religion. You are not “ministering to women”, all you are doing is teaching them toxic positivity and trying to motivate them to sell more under the guise of building their confidence. AND THEN, when they finally have had enough and decide to stop doing Mary Kay, they are made to feel as if it’s all their fault that their business didn’t work. How is that “ministering to women”? “God first, family second, career third” is used as a huge selling point, but when you blur the lines of business and faith so much, it becomes career first. That is the reality. And I know there are a host of Mary Kay reps out there who are ready to jump up and give a defense of how that’s not how it is for them, but honey, take a step back. Look at it objectively. They’re using God-speak to make money. How would God feel about that?

    I’ll tell you how God would feel about that. Remember that story in the Bible where Jesus saw the temple turned into a marketplace, and he went off and made a whip (braiding a whip takes a long time so he was committed!), and then went into a rage and drove everyone out of the temple? Flipping tables and shouting and using that whip? MLM reps who use God as a way to get you into their business are no different than those vendors and moneychangers.

    The good news, though, is that unlike your upline, God isn’t going to make you feel like a failure if you realize you were in the wrong and leave your MLM.

  3. Pinkiu

    This was me:

    “I wanted to go to church and the grocery store and see women as my friends not as potential customers. You can NEVER relax in MK if you want to move up.”

    Even though I was only an IBC who came into MK just to cover the payment of a truck I bought my husband, I could NEVER go anywhere where I didn’t look at every woman as a potential hostess or customer. I hated the cold calling. I hated when new products came out and I felt pressured to call all of my customers about it even when I knew they were just the one-time pity purchase because of their friend. I hated that MK caused me so much stress.

    There was one thing I enjoyed. I liked putting makeup on women and helping them feel good about themselves. So..after 7 years of that misery, I quit MK and eventually became an artist for Dior. I made a LOT more money. Even more than my teaching job. And while there was an expectation of sales, when I went home at night, I didn’t take stress home with me. Do you want to know the best part? I didn’t have to buy Dior in order to take home a paycheck. I didn’t have to recruit women to become my competitor in the store. I was given FREE Dior products and real training because of my job.

    I didn’t regret quitting one bit. When I got rid of all of my product and threw out the paperwork and donated everything else, I was FREE! Not having to call anyone to book a party or lie about a promotion or shade the truth about being a model for me ended. Oh, did that feel good.

  4. NayMKWay

    So many lies. Mary Kay layers one lie atop another.

    “We’re not MLM, we’re dual marketing.” Their model is exactly the same as every other MLM company out there. Is there unlimited recruiting? Are there uplines and downlines? Then it’s MLM.

    “Executive pay for part-time work.” Yeah, right. SadNPink learned that was a lie, and STILL her NSD tried to tell her 15 hours a week was enough to be successful. Wow.

    “God first.” Well, if your god is Mary Kay Corp, I suppose you could argue for that.

    “Products fly off the shelves!” Only if the shelves collapse under the weight of all that unsold crap. Or there’s an earthquake.

    “Be your own boss!” But dress the way we tell you to, do what your director says, do not advertise, do not sell from a store counter, no ebay, no negative speech…

    But Mary Kay’s lies aren’t enough; they want everyone else to lie also. I mean, what does “fake it till you make it” mean other than “put on a façade and lie to everyone, including yourself”? Here you have 99% losing money, pretending they’re doing as well as the lucky 1%. How is that healthy? It’s called toxic positivity for a reason.

    SadNPink, I’m glad you saw the truth and got out. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. BestDecision

    I drove Cadillacs, wore bar pins, and had offspring and NEVER made 100K. Few make it to any of those things, so that means the majority make pennies in comparison to the “executive income” of which we boasted.

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