Written by Cat Ballou

Hi! I signed up for MK just about a year ago because I went to a party, liked the product, and who doesn’t love a 50% discount? Like you, I thought I knew all the pros and cons of MK. I was clear with my recruiter that I was signing up for personal use only, and I would not be recruiting and I would not ever go to Seminar.

My starter kit arrived, and the manipulation started. My director pressured me to buy a $600 inventory package, even though I had already said I was doing this for personal use only. I declined, so she pressured me to apply for a MK credit card. It did not go over well when I said no to both of those things.

Then my director invited me to “new consultant training.” I joined the Zoom meeting, expecting an overview of product lines and help navigating In Touch. Nope, I got an hour of discussion on “how to sell the opportunity and turn no into yes.” Remember, I signed up for personal use only, and was up front that I was not interested in recruiting.

I agreed to let my recruiter host my “grand opening” party. I figured, even if I’m doing this for personal use only what would it hurt to sell a little? Of course, I had to pay for a website and ProPay then, two expenses I had not anticipated. My recruiter of course got a couple of my friends to join “practice interviews” to help with my training, so I had to spend time sitting in on those. Remember, I’m not interested in recruiting.

Then my recruiter who was in DIQ got her directorship. Her first training offered was on “layering.” I thought, I’d be so annoyed if someone did that to me. What’s that about MK and the Golden Rule?

Then my sweet cousin booked a Facebook party, so there went more expenses in section 2 products, free shipping, prizes, and hostess gifts. She convinced two of her friends to book parties, but neither one of them held. One bailed on me at the last minute, after I’d spent time setting up her party. The other one just politely avoided me. After that, I sat down and put every dollar in and every dollar out into a spreadsheet. After two parties and other friends/family sales of about $1800 retail, I had made a whole $30 in profit after expenses.

It was pretty easy for me to just fade away from MK because I didn’t have inventory I needed to liquidate or return. In the end, I spent a lot of time and made next to no money. What happened to that full time pay in just a few hours a week that we were all promised?


    • Nope, because on top of the $225 minimum order to activate the 50% discount, you pay tax on the “retail” amount and another $9.95 for shipping. It feels to me that in every interaction I have with MK, I end up spending more than I intended to. Now there’s an Ulta in my local Target store.

  1. Question – sorry if this is a silly question to ask – when this person “joined” Mary Kay to buy products for personal usage only and get the 50% discount, did the person who recruited her get any commission or benefit from that? Or would she have to sell at least some product at retail for her recruiter to derive any benefit from recruiting her?

    I can only guess that the Mary Kay philosophy is to pressure anyone you can get into your circle (even if they’ve clearly indicated they are only joining to buy products for personal usage at a discount) to sell and recruit other people, and load up on inventory to do it, as that gets you (the recruiter) that much closer to DIQ and the pink cadillac. Typically stupid MLM.

    • When a new consultant places a $250 order she becomes “active” status. You must place the $250 to unlock the 50% discount. And yes, your upline/director does benefit from it. In order to rank up in Mary Kay you must have certain numbers of “active” consultants (the $250 initial order) and “qualified” consultants ($600 initial order) so the pressure to spend that money is huge.

    • Yes, because “My director pressured me to buy a $600 inventory package”, that $600 purchase made the director eligible for bonuses and prizes. And the commission on the purchase.

  2. Yes, my recruiter got a commission on everything I purchased from MK. I was never asked to report any sales to consumers. If I had placed an initial inventory order of $600+, she would have received an additional bonus for that. That’s why she and her director pushed me so hard to get an MK credit card. She wasn’t happy at all when I told her that I have plenty of credit, but I have no interest in inventory.

    • You did it right, Cat Ballou. You didn’t let them bully you into doing something that wasn’t in your best interest, and better yet, you did the math. You toik a step back, did some steely-eyed analysis, realized you were getting screwed, and noped out.

      MLMs like Mary Kay try very hard to keep their victims starry-eyed instead of clear-thinking. When they do talk numbers, it’s all warped math toward convincing you to buy more inventory. Keeping some profit instead of buying the latest limited-edition unguent being flogged by Corporate somehow becomes “embezzling from your business.” Say, what?

      • Thank you. That steely-eyed analysis wasn’t easy. I found that while you can see orders in In Touch, you can’t see which products were free or discounted, or which orders you gave free shipping to. You can’t see what you paid in credit card fees unless you go to ProPay. If the MK business was actually about product sales, you’d want to track all of this information. But I had no clear idea what I was making or spending until I sat down and crunched the numbers.

        • ^^^^^^^ This!

          “If the MK business was actually about product sales, you’d want to track all of this information.”

          Plus, before you even signed up period, you’d want to know how many other consultants already exist in your market, and the total sales of MK in that market.

  3. Thank you for stating up front you had boundaries and you stuck to them. You know your truth, the one you walk every day. It becomes very difficult to be heard when they want your money.
    I really think it is part of wearing you down,,,,,,to ignore YOUR boundaries, but you HAVE TO worship their lack of them in the meantime of you are a loser.

    We all know the truth, at Pink Truth!

    • Thank you. In addition to boundaries, I didn’t have great expectations for my MK “business.” I never expected to make enough to quit my full-time job, nor do I want to. That manipulation tactic fell flat for me. MK doesn’t want consultants to start small, build a customer base, and grow their business. Instead, MK incentivizes huge initial inventory orders. Having a lot of product on hand before you know who your customers are and what they are buying doesn’t make sense. It was a lot easier for me to step away from MK because I didn’t have boxes full of products that I needed to sell, and I’m sure that MK knows it.

  4. I spent over 3,000 back in the early 2000s. I kept rejoining on and off, hoping to live the American so called dream with Mary Kay, Not realizing …….

    I already was living a decent life! I was just trying to fit in the status quo in Mary fake Kay! I know now and believe that it was just a scam preying on specific demographics.

    l Never got red jacket! Too much stress and pressure to buy a full store! I knew I couldn’t live up to their standards. I know my director at the time, from the Puget Sound area, made millions preying on women’s purses! I’m sure she’s not the only one!

    I also wonder if these Directors ever get charged with fraud or reported for false claims and misleading information?

    Hopefully one day, there will be strict consequences for such bad behavior!

    My hope is one day there can be a refund to all the people who believed such crap and that was psychologically brainwashed in their heads that this would actually lead them to financial freedom!

    It’s a hidden financial drainage and cult from my experience and please beware if a pink car pulls up at your doorstep!

    Mary Kay needs to change their practice and ethics and focus on modern day technology, multi cultural awareness, current trends, real life training and mentorship that can actually change someone’s life organically without the glitter and glam!

  5. Supposedly, I got my director into a red jacket…and then failed to actually order inventory, so not sure what happened there. I was shunned pretty quickly and that was the end of it…assuming she didn’t order in my name. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did.

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