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

Making No Money as a Director

This story was submitted by a newer reader. Her story is the story of most of the directors. They make little to no money when you figure in all they spend on products, car co-pays, business expenses, and appearing to live #mymklife. She finally quit and feels free because of it.

I’ve been lurking for awhile. About 5 weeks ago, I started devouring everything on this site. So angry, but not really surprised that I felt like most things could have been written by me. 3 weeks ago, I emailed head office, “stepped down” from Directorship and turned in my car. Since then its been a painful process of stripping away the polished and practiced “little white lies” and realizing what I’d truly become and done in my quest for success. I never set out to become this.. especially when I truly believed I could “change the world one face at a time” and enjoy the flexibility of making money while being home with my girls.

This is my journey out of the fog and it stings.

I signed into Mary Kay 4 years ago. Back then my director seemed like a nice woman. She’s not for the record. I just sold the product part time and I met my to this day best friend. She’s the best thing that came out of MK for me. I did nothing my first year, I starred a few quarters and actually made some profits. The only time in my illustrious career that I would really do so. And then… I went to seminar and stepped into the fog.

It was shiny and sparkly and women wore ball gowns and got diamonds and life was wonderful…. I earned nothing, but wanted nothing more than to be celebrated and recognized. To be on the same level as all these women. I mean that’s part of Mary Kay’s brilliance isn’t it? Most of us are moms or students or wives, who take care of others and never get celebrated, flattered and fawned over that way. I bought it. Hook line and sinker. I would look back on that, and realize how perfectly brilliant it is. Nothing like a subtle shaming to make women feel like they’ll move heaven and earth to have it be different next year.

I went home, went into DIQ, became a director, double starred at seminar and that my friends.. .was the beginning of the end. We debuted 8 area directors and my senior was Queen of Unit sales. (She has been an insufferable diva ever since). In her speech… she never once thanked her offspring. All 8 of us, whose DIQ production and offspring credit got her into that throne.

After that seminar…. the bloom came off the rose. I realized that DIQ is never over. It’s a horrible hamster wheel that never ends. Of stalking women for new leads, facial boxes and lying about “winning” something. It never felt right… but trust your senior. After all she’s a top director. Just listen to her and you’ll go far. But now that I can see clearly, i can recognize that my senior director was the master manipulator. She knew where my weak spots were and exactly how to push on them. She is the epitome of a narcissist and lucky for her never has to accept responsibility for what she’s done, what she’s taught and the lies she continues to knowingly offer to women on a silver platter.

That seminar year we debuted 8 directors into her “national area” not including the DIQs that failed. The cheating. She pushed DIQs through, ordering and recruiting for them just so she could show up at seminar as an elite.

If I went to her with concerns… she flipped it around. Made it about my own insecurities, how I never feel enough and on and on. She planted these ideas of guilt and shame and made herself seem like she was the only one who could save you. She bred the dependence and wouldn’t let her offsprings separate… for the good of the national area. That’s the year I started taking my anti depressants. Behind the scenes, she talked about all of us, pitted us against each other. 1 by 1 and a string of failed DIQs later…she lost 6 of those directors over the span of a year. I….am #7. Fitting isn’t it. Come in a number, go out a number.

Every single one of those directors left with massive debt and a basement full of inventory. I am no different.

I look back and am so embarrassed and ashamed of how badly I got snowed. 8 Mary Kay trips. 4 seminars, 3 leaderships and new director training. We couldn’t afford it but I “couldn’t afford not to go” But sell and pay for it with your profits my nsd and senior director said. Of course, ignoring the very problem that THERE WERE NO PROFITS!! Month after month of rolling my personal sales profits to keep the unit alive, figuring out my break even point where the commission I would make could pay for what I had to put in, just ordering extra because “you can sell it next month”

I remember one day, double up was ending and I hadn’t maxed out. My senior called and said “just order it in mascaras, they’ll sell!” Thank God i said no, because the last thing I need is more products. To this day she says she doesn’t know where this mentality of rolling profits started. ?

In the end I put in over $18,000 just on trips alone. Not even taking into consideration inventory, unit prizes, shit I didn’t need and the other month end purchases.

Finally, I burnt myself out. The hamster wheel was killing me. I actually couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel after 3 years of month ends, stress and constant worrying. And the guilt… MK was always on my mind. I took a weekend off where I did no MK, didn’t even think about it. Celebrated my friends birthday and spent time with my family. It was my best weekend in a long time.

So I took another week off. It felt like I could breathe. Like I was happy. My husband commented on it. Then, I came here. And it was all true, everything I read. The stages of MK denial, the seminar cycle, the lies and manipulations and that it is virtually impossible to get to the top without selling your soul. I stopped and looked around at the chaos I’d caused my family. I was never home. My husband was so stressed about money, my kids were stressed because I was stressed.

I felt like a failure and a fraud. This was never what I wanted. Ever. And I certainly didn’t want to give away my job to anyone. I looked around at the directors I know. So many stepping down, so many in debt. The idea that I may have caused my consultants even a fraction of what I’ve experienced haunts me. For the first time in my MK years, I’m grateful I didn’t have the “skills” of bringing in people with inventory, promoting them or pushing hard enough for orders.

So… I have collected what was left of my soul and my bank account and I became the quitter they all talk about. The one who will never make a difference in the world and will feel nothing but shame. My senior… well she said “I always wanted a big unit, I guess this is how I’ll get it” and reminded me consistently to call head office right away.

My best friend has supported me every step and my family..well we haven’t been this happy in a long time. I work at a liquor store now. Its not prestigious or glamorous, but its solid work that I feel good about and most importantly… get a paycheck from.


  1. Kristen

    Yay! Thank you for your honest and candid story. Now you can go back to school or pursue a career that actually helps women. You sound like you have integrity, tenacity and intelligence. The world is your oyster. I am sorry about your debt. I had to go through bankruptcy but it is possible to come through it and become financially stable.

  2. Pinkiu

    Thank you so much for sharing! You told your story so well that I’m sure other lurkers here will see themselves in it.

    While I wasn’t a SD, I understand the mental freedom of not having to make phone calls, scouting for women to hold a party or bribing to attend a meeting. I remember so well how light I felt when I donated the last of my product that I couldn’t sell even at 75% off to our church garage sale (and it didn’t even sell there!) and when I trashed the remaining paperwork. Oh, I was FREE! Honestly, I felt like chains were removed and my anxiety left.

    If you come across any MK people in the liquor store, you can now look at them with pity and empathy. Who cares how they view you. Remember, you are OUT of that cage while they are still imprisoned in a business cult. Smile and share your i-story including this website. I guarantee that they will come here like you did. They’ll be angry at first, but just like you, they will see their own experience. I was in MK for 7 years in the early 2000’s. It hasn’t changed.

    I hope you sent back the inventory you bought in the last 12 months to get at least some of it back.

  3. NayMKWay

    To the writer: Thanks so much for sharing your story, and welcome to Pink Truth!

    Reading this first-person account made me both happy and angry. Happy that the writer got out and got her freedom back, yet angry at what was done to her, what has been done to so many like her in the past, and what is still being done to thousands today in this horrible, horrible scheme. And I don’t mean just Mary Kay, I mean the MLM business model.

    For years MLMs have skated under the radar by being largely exempt from the Fair Business Opportunity Rule. Per the FTC’s site:

    “As stated in the Business Opportunity Rule’s Statement of Basis and Purpose, the Commission crafted the Rule to avoid broadly sweeping in MLMs. It did so by tailoring the definition of business opportunity to exclude certain types of business assistance common to MLMs.”

    (Source: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/business-guidance-concerning-multi-level-marketing )

    This was a horrible decision, which they were politically pressured into making by lawmakers in the pocket of the powerful lobby that is the Direct Selling Association.

    Thankfully, the FTC is rethinking that hands-off-MLM policy in light of the AMG Capital Management decision. (AMG is an alleged predatory payday-loan outfit. More info can be had here: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/u-s-supreme-court-significantly-9723120/ )

    AMG TL;DR: the Supreme Court, in a 9-0 decision, said the FTC was seeking monetary recovery against AMG under a law which did not give them that authority. The FTC’s monetary-redress action against AMG was tossed out. A lot of chaos has ensued in cases regarding financial schemes of all kinds, including MLM.

    As a result of the AMG decision, the FTC is looking for where it would have the necessary legal authority, and the Fair Business Opportunity Act seems to be the ticket. They’re thinking of dropping the MLM exclusion policy because of the recent proliferation of outright pyramid/Ponzi schemes calling themselves MLM. No decision on that yet, but I sure hope the FTC does the needful thing and cracks down on MLMs more than just on a chosen few like Vemma and Advocare. I’ve read enough stories like today’s for one lifetime already, thankyouverymuch.


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