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

Sales Directors in Desperate Denial

Written by Raisinberry

What I am about to say causes me the greatest heartache. The life of a current Mary Kay Director is one of desperate denial, and it is the saddest story to tell.

The old timers believe that the Mary Kay life they lived 20 or 30 years ago surely must still exist, and their loyalty to all things Mary Kay blinds them to the reality of who they have become, what they have done, and how far off the road they are from being that “woman of excellence” they pretend to be.

This is the single focus I have had, in my sharing with you, all that I have seen in Mary Kay. I am angry that this business, at its heart, is nothing more than a financial cult that preys upon the deepest longings and deepest insecurities of women. I am angry that those within it clutches can not see it, and are discouraged from getting any neutral opinions because from day one, they are urged to identify who in their life is “negative” and summarily dismiss them.

They are taught that any voice of objectivity is a saboteur, and to be avoided, and that anyone that does not believe in the Mary Kay way is a loser… and you wouldn’t want to hang with losers, would you? This is step one in the “cult” book of divide and conquer.

I was fueled to fight this cult because I watched people who I counted as friends go further into desperate denial, chasing something that they believed in, too afraid to look at the reality all around them. They were held by the fear of shunning, and the breakdown of a life spent pursuing a predatory business model.

What can they possibly do after Mary Kay? They cannot afford to stop for one minute and evaluate the fictional life they lead. They cannot afford to tell the real truth. They cannot face where they are. They cannot risk the repercussions. They cannot face the lie. Anyone who tries to put truth in their face is a demon, and destroyer. They cannot see that to turn and stand and fight a financial predator like Mary Kay is a step into the light.

Proof after proof has been offered. Story after story has been shared. This is a numbers game and numbers don’t lie. Unless of course they do not agree with your cherished beliefs. The number of women, churned through the doors of Mary Kay, who have been emotionally, spiritually, or financially harmed, is staggering; it is indefensible. To continue to defend this marketing scheme is to live in denial. So who chooses to do so?

Those who still want with all their hearts to believe in the people, the story, the potential and culture of the Mary Kay they thought was real.

I wanted corporate and the nationals “fix” Mary Kay. It was always wishful thinking. I  defended directors in the past because I truly did not believe they were doing anything more than what they were taught to do, under a system that robs everyone of independent thinking. They are guilty of trust, and for that I cannot condemn them.

I met members of MK’s corporate staff over the years and cannot for one moment believe they are evil people. I spent hours at the expo listening to the pride that most MK employees have for this company. There is a whole network of corporate staff that cannot fully fathom the manipulative practices of the sales force. They wrongly believe this is a true sales opportunity, rather than a recruiting scam.

When you look at the whole package, you have loyalists that are utterly distraught that we here at Pink Truth promote our particular perspective which they deem is “negative,, and we who are outside the pink bubble looking back in, who are appalled that we tolerated the manipulation for so long!

It is two sides of the same coin, and we never get to the bottom of it because we are not allowed to look. Since sales to the consumer do happen (albeit in very small numbers compared to the amount of product sold at wholesale to consultants and directors), and some women do love the product, there is always that morsel of goodness that helps cement the “con.” People can sell. People do buy. So it really is possible!

What my colleagues fail to acknowledge is that all good cons have some morsel of truth. What they fail to look at is the numbers. The reality. The results for hundreds of thousands of consultants. This company is so frail; it cannot stand the scrutiny of the facts so it squelches that as negativity. It relies instead on platitudes and “founder’s sayings” designed to deflect rational thought! “The cream rises to the top but has to float on a lot of milk.” This is supposed to absolve directors of guilt for frontloading millions of dollars of unsold product on to “milk.”

Do Mary Kay Inc. and the National Sales Directors know that for the most part there are virtually no “skin care classes” being held? The company has said in the past that the average was 1 class a month. This little secret is at the base of the denial, as contest after contest attempts to coax consultants into holding more appointments.

Over the years leadership started making a big deal of “on the go” appointments. And with the circumstances in the last year, we’ve seen virtual appointments dominate. But not of this changes the way production is extracted from the consultants. Inventory packages have not been reduced. There is a whopping $5,400 wholesale “total success package” that Pam Shaw pushed masterfully. We have watched an ever increasing switch from “selling” appointments to rabid “recruiting” appointments and guest events each year.

Why? Because our nationals have trained us that our production is in new recruits. In my opinion, our nationals abandoned the skin care class, (meaning build a selling area – slow and deliberate) long ago, panicked by the meteoric rise of their young NSD competition. Recruiting was always where the fresh meat was, rather than a 15 year veteran red jacket who actually knew something about the business.

The “do it fast” sales directors and NSDs brought a mentality that has left hundreds if not thousands of women in the wreckage of their wake, while they jet to the top. We, of course, sit back and watch most of these “one month wonders” collapse like a rocket spent in space. For what?

Greed. Get rich quick. But this only exacerbated by an already weak and destructive business model. Ask any CPA in the world. “Dual marketing” is a creative figment of some savvy director’s imagination. It is a phrase whose meaning is not at all an answer to the question, “Is this a multi-level?” Mary Kay is a multi-level who hates the moniker, and would rather not be likened to an AMWAY. There is frankly not much difference between them.

I committed the cardinal Mary Kay sin. I attempted to unravel the complex conditions by which a person gets pulled in, succumbs and then perpetrates the continuing fraud of Mary Kay, in happy denial.

I was characterized as “negative” when nothing could be further from the truth. A negative person would not have spent all the time I have at Pink Truth attempting to expose, rebuke and convict women to stop the madness.

My goal was always to hold up the mirror so that women involved in MK could see the face they once knew. Before they hardened themselves to the fact that these women are people… not “milk”… not a means to an end.

None of us ever wanted to hurt anybody. All of us loved the fun and camaraderie. We believed in the pink bubble. We just didn’t want to face the fact that it didn’t exist anymore, and what took its place was a system of self preservation that required us to do whatever it took to maintain appearances.

How ironic is it that adherence to “positive mental attitude – never be negative” is really designed to hide the truth. How frail this system must be that it can not have an honest discussion of where the pitfalls and failings have been. A sales organization that must prop up its sales force continually to maintain production, while failing to address the cause of its decline, afraid that the slightest addressing of a true negative condition would scatter the worker bees, is perched on a slippery slope.

Before the internet, nobody knew any of this. Nobody except the women in Dallas hotel rooms who shared with their roommates how sick they were inside from all the debt… and even then, fearful that it would get back to their NSD, how “negative” they were. Now add all the other cult-like manipulations of spirituality, speaking for God, disallowing rational thought, “sayings and quips” designed to shut down real concerns, “us versus them” mentality, disrespect of husbands, repetitious sayings, chanting affirmations, conformity, absolute loyalty, love bombing, mega communication, peer pressure and unquestioning submission and you see where dependence on the organization takes over… and objective thought is gone.

I urge directors and consultants to stay home from seminar, career conference, or whatever the next big event is. Surely if Mary Kay is all it is said to be, your enthusiasm could not possibly wane from such a great opportunity.

Count your inventory. Add and total all your sales from the last 90 days to 6 months. Look at your time spent at meetings. Look at and total all your expenses. Make no excuses. Make no rationalizations. (“ well I only did the other $2,400 because I wanted to qualify for the —)

Evaluate what kind of pressure you are receiving to either be a star, a senior, a red jacket, on the courts, top ten in any category, on target, DIQ, and whatever else. SEE if your business is profitable. DETERMINE IT.

Mary Kay will likely never change its marketing plan in any meaningful way. In many ways they are trapped by their own business model as well. They can hope to downsize as units collapse, reevaluate and restructure and come back a leaner operation, without levels of commissioned personnel. They can raise minimum orders to $600, eliminate personal use consultants, hope to build real sales ability, or go totally to an order-as-needed model that would stop predatorial frontloading.

They won’t. They can’t face the reality of low consumer sales. Why should they? The executives salivate over newer markets overseas that are completely oblivious to the predatory nature of pyramids. They just want the wealth they see in the United States and MK is the way to get there. Who needs customers when you have consultants?

There is a group of women hurt the most by all this. The group is very small. The women in the group are the ones who have been honest and forthright, and have struggled to hold appointments, struggled to be all things to their units, stopped frontloading and doing bogus contests designed to manipulate production, continued to teach real sales technique in terms of listening well and filling a need, they do not use fanfare and quips and sayings to shut down their consultants concerns and they can not get real help from their upline because no one will admit that something’s wrong. These ladies will blame themselves. For these women I grieve the most.

But… we were supposed to “Sell the DREAM”. It was a DREAM, alright. Something you invent that plays out only in your mind, until the sun comes up, and you open your eyes.


  1. enorth

    End of the month is coming up. Watch for the posts and videos from sobbing women begging everyone and anyone to “help them earn” the MK car, the suit, the trip, the title, the earrings, the handbag. It’s unprofessional and degrading.

    1. Wild Collards

      It’s always about EARNING, not maintaining. MK can take away what it “gives” you. That’s one of the saddest parts. These women gush about how they are their own boss and MK gives cars away for free, yet can take that same car right back if production isn’t met. Now, how is that being your own boss?

  2. JW

    I’m going to summarize most of the above by saying that Mary Kay is killing women financially with “toxic positivity”. Perhaps an article about why toxic positivity is bad and how it applies to MK might be a good future topic. If it’s already been covered here and I missed it, my apologies.

  3. Cindylu

    MK seems to promote many fallacies including: Empowerment, Go Give, Being your own boss etc. Instead there is: Performance Addiction and “The Sunk Cost Fallacy. Performance addiction; which is the belief that perfecting appearance and achieving status will secure love, respect and happiness. It is born out of an unsupportive story about the past. PA is the most common characteristic of the curse given the reinforcement of non-stop performance in today’s day and age. It is an irrational, inaccurate belief system, hardwired from earlier experiences, reinforced by cultural expectations. It is often rewarded and usually leads to over-doing and over achievement. MK also plays on the competitive Spirit. Contest after contest and the lure of winning prizes, phony titles and a Pink Car. We are told we are an independent business person and could make our own decisions and set my own hours.” Instead we are expected to give our whole life to MK. Sunk Cost Fallacy: describes our tendency to follow through on an endeavor if we have already invested time, effort or money into it, whether or not the current costs outweigh the benefits. Far too many Directors and NSD’s have given their heart and soul to MK for years. How do you walk away? How do you admit this hasn’t worked? How will you get out of debt? Who will you hang around with? Where will you get those accolades? Who will you be without being a Director or NSD standing at Unit Meetings, Conferences and on Stage at Seminar? How can you give up the prestige of driving that pink car or having women fawning over you?

  4. Juliet

    I do realize there is a wide swath of women in MK, plenty of whom may not have had any business education in school or through life, but the image promoted is always a savvy businesswoman who has chosen to do MK fulltime, and so on. It just rankles me horribly, and has from when I first heard it, that MK spews out that they don’t track consultant sales because it would be too much trouble, something along those lines.

    It rankles because ……. that just sounds so opposite of what even the most non-business oriented person’s impression is of business. Not an impression that businesses ever DON’T work harder to count every anything. And yet there are all these consultants, of whom a good number I would think, who should rear back in shock upon hearing such a notion coming from CORPORATE.

    I just cannot process this. To harm a business, I would allege sloppy bookkeeping, and here MK offers it as a reason to make the business seem friendier to consultants or something? It would be too much work…..or too hard…..a lot of women never question that? Cult is not up for discussion, cult is the absolute plain fact.

    1. BestDecision

      In my years in MK, I never had one person teach to monitor net profits. It was always that we weren’t doing enough and our fault. Sadly, there are still thousands of Directors and NSDs in and faking their net income. Many don’t track it.

      So, you’re right. It’s not a normal business!

      1. Juliet

        Just operating my “home business” of home budgeting, yeah, it is freaking scary to face up and learn about that black ink and red ink but it does empower me to know what’s going on financially even if it is bad. I am so surprised that so many womens curiosity doesn’t drive them to figure out these things at some point. I expect its my Gladys Kravitz level of nosiness that spurs me on, just gotta know!

    2. Char

      Great post Juliet. It reinforces that MK is a “direct selling” company.

      “It just rankles me horribly, and has from when I first heard it, that MK spews out that they don’t track consultant sales because it would be too much trouble, something along those lines.” —

      Yep. They don’t track consultant sales, but they do track sales to consultomers.

      The whole fantasy conversation of sales force, entrepreneur, business owner, etc., is simply Mary Kay’s own sales and marketing strategy as a direct selling company. To get women to order their crap, and to believe they are entrepreneurs and special, MK uses CULT TACTICS: blind belief, worship, prayer, chants, sayings, rumor, weekly meetings, a sense of belonging, banishment, hierarchy, and so on. Math and science are purposely avoided; and anyone who exposes their lack of facts and calls out their cult is deemed negative, or even evil. (Or given a thumbs down)

  5. NayMKWay

    When yiu’re veing recruited, it’s:

    “Join up! Make lots of money! Get rich quick!”

    Then, when you wise up and drop out, it’s:

    “You were just greedy! You treated this great opportunity like a get-rich-quick scheme! Your fault!”

    When you fail, it’s your fault. If you work your butt off, get lucky, and do well, it’s because the company is so wonderful and generous.

  6. Ruby Slippers

    MK is downsizing in a way. MK National area is growing larger and larger every year because it’s hard to move onto NSD status.
    Now with the 30 DIQ unit change it will be more difficult. So it’s a Win Win for Corp.
    The pandemic plus the $30 entry level served many directors well. Mass hysteria of losing jobs and a cheap price to “start your own business “ created mass recruiting.
    High volume low initial orders, but it equals out to more production. Now I think we will see it level off in recruiting numbers since everyone is sick of virtual and wanting normal life back.

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