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

Directorship is Harder Than They Make It Look

Mary Kay Sales DirectorWritten by SuzyQ

“If it was that easy, everybody would be a director.”

I heard this so many times from my upline and my sister directors. Being a sales director in MK is many things, and the “fake it ‘til you make it” pretty much covers all of the facets.

There are some fun things, and some good money occasionally, and some perks of course. The recognition is fun, especially when we are around newbies who think directors are sort of mythic creatures. We are taught and we practice elitism. Top 2%, don’t you know. The SUIT. The bling. Hangin’ with the “Big Girls” and wearing our big girl panties. Knowing what the new products are before the consultants do.

Having special meetings at events, and even having our own special three day Leadership Conference. Making 13% to 26% on our orders. Recruiting bonuses, unit volume bonuses, free cars, flexibility, eating lunch and talking on the phone and getting paid for that! Shopping! Security. Advancing up the career path or earning more money whenever we choose. What is not to like?

Well, for starters, it’s not exactly true. Parts are true, and for some, more parts are truer. When a director “stumbles onto Pink Truth,” it is read with horror and anger. And immediately, a personal inventory starts forming in the director’s head:

  • I do not frontload
  • I have never lied to my unit
  • I trust Mary Kay Cosmetics to keep my best interests in mind
  • I would never bring someone in with more inventory than she needs
  • I train well at my meetings, I train on sales and customer service
  • I give recognition at my meetings for sales
  • I do not manipulate
  • God is continually blessing my business
  • I am glad these losers are out of MK, we don’t need people like that

It’s hard to maintain unit size. People come and go without any regard to unit goals. We are told repeatedly that the trick is to increase unit size. “When you get to 100, you can breathe.”

The company recruiting ratio is 5:1. Ten interviews gives you two new consultants. One hundred unit members gives you two offspring directors. When you have a DIQ, you are only losing eight unit members when she finishes DIQ. The other twenty two were “on loan.”

It is, however, hard to ignore the difference an offspring makes in monthly production. Especially hard if you met Cadillac production during this time. It’s hard to work your own business when you are helping your DIQ with hers, and it’s also hard to recruit along behind her, so you can maintain your unit size when she offsprings.

The expenses associated with being a director are breath-taking. There’s a lot of “faking” that needs to be done in order to attract quality recruits into the unit. Appearance of success counts. Period. If we don’t have a Cadillac, the response is “They are making it for me in Detroit as we speak!” Or “I’m on target for Cadillac!”

If we do have a Cadillac and someone comments on the color, the response is “What color is the free car you get from your employer?” Regardless, the cars are free. Except for the part when they aren’t and co-pays have to be made. Never had to make a copay? Good for you!

And the part about recruiting. 20% unit growth each month will get you to wherever you want to be. Sounds so easy, especially with a smaller unit only needing 3 to 5 newbies to achieve 20%. We even have a choice of tracking sheets we can use to monitor our success! It’s just that the recruits are harder and harder to find. And when we recruit for our unit members, they lose their best customers and their sales drop and they get discouraged. And how many times have we pored over our own preferred customer lists for potential personal recruits? How many times have we encouraged unit members to do the same?

And the part about inventory “talks.” We all know you can’t sell from an empty wagon, so no inventory is not an option, but it’s hard to gauge what’s appropriate. We use the hand dandy form in the inventory options brochure, because the newbie is directed by her own answers to the best inventory package size based on her “potential” activity level. It really takes us out of that decision. All we really need to do is stress the amount of free product she will be receiving and the recognition she will earn at the different levels. It’s a no-brainer.

In a perfect MK world, all recruits would come in with at least a $600 so they are qualified, all would have ready access to credit, all would be worker bees out there selling and recruiting, no one would “disappear” and go to “consultant heaven,” we would have no “dead reds,” our base production would be at least $10K per month, we would have a unit within a unit of 30 personals and earn the 26% commissions, we would have more than enough personal sales to order a $600 each month without fail so we can earn higher commissions (and have at least 5 personals order each month along with us), our recruiting average would be 2 to 5 and we would do at least 10 personal and 20 unit interviews in a month, we could keep expenses to a minimum, our meetings would be riveting “Don’t miss this” weekly events, there would be no co-pays, ever, and we would approach the re-qualification period without a hint of “what it,” we could pay our bills with money left over, and we could see our families, put God first, and sleep at night.

The reality for many of us is that when we learned what not to do and did MK the “right way”, production dropped, income dropped, recruiting numbers dropped and we were dropped—by choice or by Mary Kay. The notion of going up the down escalator is such a perfect description for directors.

I do think there are some women, who are happy with the results their activities produce with their MK businesses, and I respect that. I simply could not continue in MK knowing what I know now. Too much drama, too much pressure, moral erosion and not enough income. Directors are expendable and easily be replaced with those who do it the MK way.

When you look around you at your next event, and see some of the “Seasoned” directors, those who have been in for 10,15, 20, 25, 30+ years and are still SSDs, FESDs or ESDs, send them a hug and a prayer. They are the ones who are the standard bearers for consistently excellent customer service, work well with their consultants, have huge loyal customer bases, and did things the right way. They are what MK used to be, what we all thought MK still was…

They also can be terminated with or without cause, with or without 30 days notice, have no benefits, no company matched IRA’s, no retirement to look forward to, and a company that sends out dollar tree gifts to its representatives. Makes that J.O.B. look pretty good, eh?


  1. Char

    MLM summarized:

    – In order to be a successful MLMer, you must recruit.
    – In order to recruit, you must lie or repeat lies.
    – If you are a recruit, you’ve been lied to.

    Note: Mary Kay is 100% an MLM company. They are lying if they say otherwise.

  2. coralrose

    Excellent writing, Suzy Q!
    Is there ever a point in MK where someone’s downline gets so big you don’t need to focus on silly benchmarks like $600 in personal orders, having a certain number of personal recruits, etc? I mean, is there a point where one’s downline is so big, those targets are hit naturally, or is it calculating MK math every single month for one’s commission?

    1. BestDecision

      Yes. At 100 unit members, you can feel pretty comfortable with things. However, it’s hard to just stick with that. There’s always the next carrot dangled and pressure to be like that group of people, so you keep chasing it.

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