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

Mary Kay Events to Keep You in the Pink Fog

Written by SuzyQ

The Mary Kay consultant is continually told that if she wants to go up, she has to show up. In addition to the weekly meetings, there is an infusion of carefully calculated MK events. All of these events are designed to keep you EXCITED about Mary Kay. If anyone in your personal life is trying to use logic and reason (i.e. they point out that you’re not making any money; you’re actually losing money), a Mary Kay even is sure to help you block out those “negative” thoughts. Here’s the rundown….

There are local or area events at the beginning of the new calendar year commonly called January Jump Starts. These are usually held by several directors and their units in a location away from home over a weekend.

In March, you will be told that you MUST go to Career Conference. Even if you live in the city where it is held, you are encouraged to join the unit in a hotel so you won’t be distracted. If Career Conference is in a city where you do not live, you will need to drive, check into the MK approved hotel and get to conference site (without dinner).

It will be so exciting! So many excited people. So many hungry and tired people. There is a lot of recognition for Cadillac units and new directors and so many overly excited nationals. All the way home, consultants will talk about how they will become directors and directors talk about how they will become nationals.

Seminar. Seminar has generated so many posts on Pink Truth. It is the be all and end all of Mary Kay. God help the consultant who tells a director she is not going. The only reasons accepted for missing seminar are dying or dilation. Those who say they cannot afford it are told that is why they need to go. Those who say they need to be home for their families are told that is what fathers are for. Those who are told that they can’t miss work on their day jobs are told they need to burn those bridges and focus on MK.  This is not emotional abuse? This is not manipulation?

Seminar is seminar. Three days of intense heat, boring classes, many expenses, much competition, some winners, many losers, not enough sleep, and major cult indoctrination. Most consultants are forced to room in hotels that their nationals select with women they don’t know.

There is generally a unit banquet (additional cost, hopefully they get some recognition), a national sales director event the next night (additional cost, many people they do not know, maybe their director gets an award), and in my case, a national breakfast the morning of the last day (additional expense, starts way too early).

The classes are the same every year. New consultants don’t know this until they come back the next year. One of the biggest tells is when someone on the stage asks the audience “Who is here for the first time?” The response is overwhelming and very telling.

All the way home, consultants will talk about how they will become directors and directors talk about how they will become nationals. Um. This is also when the summer “pilot program” will be mentioned. Just try MK for just 3 months and see what happens!

Fall means the fall retreats. This is the push for Christmas. So many new products and they are pushed heavily. Many “top directors” will be enlisted to showcase the fall/winter line and some even go so far to have vendors available to offer bows, baskets, shred and cello wrap for sale to package the product for Holiday Open Houses. (At my last “Holiday Showcase Event”, Amie Gamboian (soon to be nsd and then, ahem, “retired” after the obligatory 5 years, nsd) also had a banker ready to open new credit cards for those interested.)

The Open Houses. Ack. All the prep work, the displays, the trips to the Dollar Store to buy $1 mugs to put shred and a satin hands in, the baskets in cello wrap, and the “12 Days of Christmas” tower? Ugh. The only semi-successful open house I had was the one was when I showcased the products from the soon to be discontinued “Embrace Life” collection. It was really good stuff, gift items and such, and we purchased them and showed them and made less of a profit on them than regular MK stuff. But they sold!

I still have this Embrace Life leaf plate. It hangs on my wall. It is the only Mary Kay thing left in my house, except my tableware that only cost me $3,600. Although to be honest, it was good stuff, too. I sold my MK pink china at my garage sale years ago for $100. It cost me so much more than that. All the other “gifts” and “prizes” not so much. I am thinking of the director Christmas gift my last year in, the famous asparagus. Damn I wish I had saved a picture of that!

The whole point of these conferences and retreats is to keep consultants engaged. Period. The new consultant, if she continues to order and goes to meetings will get her director’s attention. Many times the director will call her leaving a heartfelt message, when she knows the consultant will not be home. This is not necessarily malicious, it is just that there are so many other consultants who need attention, especially those who are new. The only way to continue getting attention is to order more, to add team members or move up the career path.

The Mary Kay events and love-bombing are carefully crafted to emotionally manipulate women. They say Mary Kay wouldn’t still be around after almost 60 years if it wasn’t legit. No. It’s more like…. after 60 years they have perfect the scam, and this is what sustains them. Doubting your participation in MK? There’s sure to be an event soon to help reel you back in.


  1. Kristen

    Seminar. The hours of clapping til my palms were sore, and arm muscles weak. That’s what I took away from it. MK took away thousands of dollars from me.

    I feel so foolish. I fell for these tactics. I got roped into Seminar. But I also wonder about everything we talk about on Pink Truth like those manipulative scripts: “which kit will you be ordering?” Huh? I thought we were just meeting for coffee? They seem so trite to me now that I wonder how they could possibly work. Then I remember how old I was. There is always a fresh crop of young women who haven’t heard it yet. The whole, “I’m just so EXCITED!!!!” bit, etc. I literally did not have the life experience to think critically about anything in MK, just a gut reaction that something wasn’t right. I’d been to college so I think that helped me get out. But many (okay 99%) of these PT critics can barely spell or use punctuation (although they can get credit) so I guess that’s why they can’t see past the hype to see what is being done to them. Please. If you are reading this and in Mary Kay, ALWAYS think to yourself, “What does this woman stand to gain from me? What is her motivation?”

    But also know (I was in the dark): women are taught to lie about their successes. Nobody else at Seminar is making money either, except Mary Kay who is putting on an elaborate, boring Broadway production meant to brainwash the audience. The other consultants won’t admit they are also failing.

    1. BestDecision

      Well said! I was in my 20s, too, and also swayed by people touting how religious they were and how much money they made. Gullible! But, I’ve given myself slack because, although college educated, I inherently trust people until they prove me wrong. Then, it’s game over.

      By the time I realized I was being bamboozled, I’d spent too much time and had built a team I didn’t want to forfeit if I got out. Then, it became a unit. And offspring units.

      I hope they each reap karma for betraying so many people. Sickening!

      1. Not a Bot

        True, also 20 somethings have less life experience. They are often ‘fresh meat’ to the MLM and have never experienced the reality that it is darn near impossible to make money with an MLM. 20 something often don’t have spouses or kids which would give them more free time for the MLM. In my 20’s, I was recruited for an MLM and was skeptical, but wanted to give it a try. Family members tried to tell me about what it was, but I didn’t want to be the type to turn down something without giving it a try. It didn’t take me long to quit when nobody was interested in the products or opportunity and I hated acting like something I was skeptical about was the best thing in the world. That was about 20 years ago for me, before there was a plethora of internet info on the subject.

        1. Destiny Angel

          A couple of Christmas’s ago my younger 2 children (DD 20, 17 and DS14) came charging into my room before 6 am demanding my attention. I negotiated a later time of 8 am. They wanted to show me the John Oliver video because they were worried I might fall into one of the “businesses” my SIL’s friends were trying to get them to persuade me to join. My SIL had been very good at gatekeeping so they were looking for a backdoor.

          However, they had done their homework and decided to explain to me how MLMs didn’t work. Both my daughters realize how easy it is to fall into these mockotunities if you are not careful.

    2. Peggy Hicks

      Now that you’ve brought this up, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head about not having enough life experience to see the forest for the trees. There’s lots of truth to that because my ability to make sound judgments about some things wasn’t developed enough in my 20’s. It got better in my 30’s & 40’s & has gotten progressively better the older I’ve gotten. I believe that’s true of all of us as we accrue more life experience.

      I was 32 years old when a friend of mine tried to recruit me into Tupperware & asked me to go to a rally (aka unit meeting). What I witnessed there was a bunch of grown women behaving like middle & high school kids with the cheering, clapping, & silly songs they sang. Needless to say, I wanted nothing to do with that sort of behavior & that was the end of that.

      I was 44 years old when I got into MK in early 1992 & got out about 9 months later. It didn’t take me long to see the handwriting on the wall & I decided to cut my losses, sell my inventory back to MK, & get out. Like you, I was misled about the costs. I didn’t know that I needed to buy inventory, that I had to pay to attend unit meetings, & that I would be pressured to attend Career Conference, Seminar, & other MK events (at my expense, of course). I bought inventory but told my director that I couldn’t afford to attend these events. I was adamant about not incurring any debt that I couldn’t repay in 6 months & I stuck to my guns. The market was saturated where I was living, & trying to book classes was an exercise in futility. I had only 4 classes that held, & sold product at 2 of them. Rather than being energizing & enthusiastic, the unit meetings left me feeling depressed to the point of tears & my husband suggested that I quit. I’ve never looked back & have never signed on with another MLM.

  2. The Patient Whisperer

    Because the “God” angle plays so heavily into pimping the MK “opportunity,” I’ve always been curious as to how they present this scam to an atheist…?

    1. Destiny Angel

      I’ve been an atheist for 40 years, I was brought and confirmed into the Church of England. I find the reliance on Prosperity Gospel that MK and many MLMs is horrible. They quote verses out of context and blatantly twist the underlaying message of the Gospels.

      I became interested in MLMs since some of American fundamental quiverful families and Mormon families sell these products . Jill Rodrigues sells Plexus, a couple of the Bates daughters(Bringing Up Bates, United Bates of America) sell oils. They push a “You can have it all, a SAHM helping the family financially while being with your children”. A Proverbs 31 woman.

      I certainly would not want to be another trophy shown off to the adoring crowds on the off-chance I did actually return to the fold. Not only is Ms Director a “good” saleswoman but she’s a “good” Godly Christian who is making my private decision all about her.

    2. Neverpink

      I often wonder about that too! As an atheist myself, I’m probably not the target audience. If an MK woman tried the “God first” script on me, that’d be the first and last thing she’d say to me. It rings so hollow and disingenuous.

    3. Char

      Gosh, I hope it’s not this:

      “You do you, but just know that I am a superior human because I’m going to be “saved”, and you’re not. Attending a weekly worship meeting makes all the difference – just ask Mary Kay!

      If you happen to change your mind and join our magnificent and privileged group, it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are as a person. All you have to do is enter my religious cult, start idolizing *our* idol, and proclaim an affiliation; then poof, your destiny is secured. Yes, it’s your choice to go to the fires of hell if you want, but please reconsider walking the streets of gold where I will no doubt be. And no, it doesn’t matter if you volunteer at the orphanage or help the homeless, etc.. Actions don’t matter as much as faith ultimately will.

      Heads up: I’m sure I will climb higher on the MK ladder of successful con artists because I have a Jesus that helps me, and I always thank him for it. He likes to help us scammers and ignore starving children, those dying with cancer, and covid patients who can’t breathe. He just does.

      Again, you do you. Everyone is welcome as long as you place orders. All I ask is that you not request proof of net profit from the resale of products, the amount of sales to non-affiliate customers recorded by the company, and/or require any math or science-based evidence of any kind. We don’t like that kind of negativity. Now, let’s get you started on a kit.”

  3. AnonyMouse

    I wonder how much impact not being able to hold live events over the past year has had on their numbers. I’d like to see a statistic. Not that they’d ever reveal even a hint of any information that could make them look bad. ?

    1. G

      Interesting enough, business has skyrocketed with virtual. You get out of Mary Kay what you put into it. Many of us are blessed to still work a business and be able to connect with others virtually.

      1. TRACY

        LOLOLOLOL – Mary Kay is not a business. It is an elaborate scam. Mary Kay’s number of directors and car drivers is still dropping. So I’m not sure what is “skyrocketing”.

      2. BestDecision

        Hey, G, I guess that “skyrocketing” isn’t reflected smaller number of Career Conference locations. Or, that MK is now using HOTELS as their venues and not just convention centers.

        Please. I was a Director with offspring, and we all could see the numbers starting to drop beginning in the late 2000s.

        You will never have loyal customers doing things solely online. You will never know if they get a perfect foundation match online. They will never feel pampered online. Your costs will continue to climb doing things online.

        Enjoy the free fall!

  4. VAgirl

    I joined MK a few months before my first Seminar. I went and regretted it almost immediately. First of all, I couldn’t figure out WHY we were staying in a hotel with so many people and such lousy elevator service. Sheesh!! When I finally went to a rally — err, I mean classes — I wondered why they NEVER spoke about products! I mean, if we are supposed to be selling them, shouldn’t we know about them? The huge meetings with all the hype, lines of ladies strolling across the stage, bright lights flashing an LOUD music was the end of it for me. I had a killer migraine and could not stand it at all. I thought, “What a load of crap!” On the way home I just so happened to sit next to a NSD on the plane (I know, right? How special is that?!) I said hello to her and asked if she enjoyed Seminar. She looked at her husband and said, “I just can’t with her” and made him change places. Yeah, I wanna be like her.
    If anyone not out of MK is reading this, save your money. Lots and lots of your money and get out now. It’s not what it says it is. Not even close.

    1. coralrose

      Yes, to the classes not teaching you anything!! My director touted Seminar as “your Mary Kay University” or some such nonsense.
      I didn’t learn anything, except that I had to BUY extra books to learn more about the products & how to apply color. So much for free training!

      I’m glad I only went to only one Seminar in my time in MK. Seminar did it’s job for the company, though… I came home motivated & ordered extra products that I was determined to sell. (Spoiler alert: They didn’t sell.) 🙁

    2. Kristen

      “She looked at her husband and said, “I just can’t with her” and made him change places.”

      WTF??? What an arrogant jerk. Way to practice that go-give spirit, lady. Just demonstrates how little concern for other humans one must have to be an NSD.

  5. Amy Walton

    I look back now and marvel at what I put up with.

    Share a hotel room with 3 other women, one of whom I sort of knew and 2 others I didn’t know at all? What??? It’s just “the way it is done”. Didn’t occur to me then that if everyone was making so much money, they wouldn’t be sharing and sure as heck wouldn’t be sharing with so many people, if any.

    Eat crap food after waiting in a long line and sitting at long tables with benches and no control over who you sat with (until you figured it out and made sure to be in line right next to whoever you knew).

    Climbing way up into the nosebleed seats for the big finale in ball gowns and heels, just to sit and clap and clap and clap and listen to the same boring speeches…

    It was horrible. The one thing I didn’t find in my own director’s group was the extreme religious abuse. Had that been the case, I never would have stayed – even at that young age.

    We can all be glad we are out and so much wiser.

  6. enorth

    I miss seeing the pictures from Seminar and other conferences. Packed into a hotel room with strangers, sitting on the floor in the room eating from styrofoam containers. Everyone pretending to be having a good time.
    I especially recall the photo of four women in a dark, dreary hotel room at the Jersey Shore at Fall Retreat; they had dragged along large coolers with food/drinks to help them save money. Sounds like a real blast.

      1. BestDecision

        I don’t miss those dried up breakfast burritos and then faking bliss like I was grateful to have just that. Or, the immense fatigue that made us ridiculed if we even opened our mouth once to voice it. I came away every Seminar exhausted and feeling like I couldn’t keep up the glamorous life like Trip Directors and NSDs did.

        And the nasty, hot, smelly bathrooms.

        Not missing any of it!

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