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

The Backstage Reality of Mary Kay Sales Directors

Written by SuzyQ

The backstage reality is what the audience does not see.

When the actors are on the stage and the play has begun, you are seeing what you paid to see – a great performance that is designed to touch you emotionally in some way. There is a backstage reality to directorship in Mary Kay too, the part that consultants usually do not see.

In Mary Kay Cosmetics it begins the moment DIQ (director-in-qualification) ends. The verification phone call from the Company with your very own unit number, and the realization that you have made it to the top 2% of the company!

Like most, you didn’t get caught bringing in “mirror foggers” as the last few people to make the 30. You have been told that if being a director was easy, everybody would do it, so the elitist thinking begins. You have proved yourself to be “a find a way make a way kind of woman!” Kudos and high fives all around. There are a couple of days allowed for simply breathing.

So then you get about two weeks into your first month. The production clock starts and the expenses are starting too.

First is the purchase of The Suit (ranging from $350-500 depending on accessories), a trip to Dallas for director training (DIT), the search for a training center for meetings, your director debut, the director pack for the latest limited edition products, supplies ranging from postcards to consultant prizes to stamps for newsletters.

Your printer generally goes on the fritz at this point, or at the very least you will run out of ink. If you had contests to help you finish directorship, those prizes for Queen of Recruiting and Queen of Sales need to be purchased too.

And don’t forget a gift for your senior sales director. And you did remember to order new consultant pins and enhancers didn’t you? And the roses, don’t forget the roses and the red jacket candles. And you need new business cards (yeah!!!) so you might as well get some postcards and note cards too. While you’re at it return address labels and checks with your new title couldn’t hurt.

It gets worse. The backstage reality is that very few new directors make production their first month. That’s okay, the company understands. New directors sucked their units dry trying to finish DIQ.

But did you pay attention to the new director’s expenses that first month?

Many (but not YOU, of course) seasoned directors understand the following regarding backstage realities:

  • It is easier to give birth than raise the dead. Consultants who are not working (ordering) are to be left alone. They don’t get it, and new blood will turn a non-working (ordering) unit around.
  • Production requirements to keep the free car are not discussed.
  • Production requirements to keep your unit may not be addressed.
  • Team Leaders are generally shocked to learn that in order to get the 13% commission check, they must personally order $600 and all five team members must order. (Can you say product-based pyramid scheme?)
  • Director’s meetings. You now belong to the big girl club. It can get nasty. Questions are not welcome. Opinions are not welcome. This is a sorority, and you’re not in charge.
  • Unit members are never ever to discuss inventory with potential recruits.
  • Frontloading inventory is known as an innocent-sounding phrase like “having a full store” or “profit level.”
  • Practice interviews are anything but.
  • Directors are taught to keep new recruits in their hip pockets for at least 2 weeks to ensure they are not bothered by negative people.
  • Meetings are designed for recruiting first. Anything else that may be accomplished is secondary.
  • She with the most unit members at an event wins.
  • She with the most name badge ribbons wins more.
  • Instructors at events are to be fawned over. They are the ones with the most name badge ribbons.
  • If a consultant misses one meeting, she is sick or in the hospital. Two meetings in a row is cause for a note and a call, and after three in a row, the consultant is out.
  • There is to be no negativity in front of consultants EVER. Everything is great. You are to say “I love everything!”
  • Chicken is cheap, it will be served nearly always, sauce adds extra money to the tab. “Nobody is there for the food anyway.”
  • Never tell the consultant you are, in fact, cannibalizing the new consultant’s customer base when you are helping her with her Pearls of Sharing.
  • One should stand when a national is introduced. We will be the next nationals.
  • I stories get better and better with time and audience reaction.
  • This is a numbers game. You will need to run through the numbers.
  • Never distrust the nationals, after all, they have walked in your shoes.
  • Always trust the company, they have our best interests at heart. (Order, order, order!)
  • If you MUST discuss your low month, and your concerns about your ability to pay your bills, this is NEVER to be discussed in front of a consultant. You will be told to hold a skin care class or two.
  • You must sell the sizzle. Your subconscious does not know the difference between reality and dreams, so speak your dreams. Technically, this way it’s not lying.
  • Do what the company does: reward sales (ordering).
  • Do what the company does: reward sharing (recruiting).
  • If asked, you always say your highest check is what you made on your highest check whether it was this month or 10 years ago. It needs to be at least $4,000 or it’s embarrassing.
  • Same thing with your highest skin care class.
  • What we ask of consultants, we rarely do ourselves. Of course, we lie about our results to inspire consultants.
  • Dialing for dollars (or for those with a weak stomach, emailing for dollars) at the end of the month is common practice.
  • More often than not, directors skip leadership classes and shop at the vendors or tour the host cities. Drinking is common.
  • Great= okay
  • Awesome = great
  • Unbelievable= suckier than can be imagined
  • The only part of OUR car YOU get when we finally earn one is the free look.
  • Before and after pictures in our Spring portfolios? Yeah, right. But we do want to see yours along with that person’s phone number.
  • The vendors available to directors sell stuff their at an incredibly cheap price and we buy heavily at Leadership and Seminar to avoid shipping charges.
  • We don’t have many people at our open houses, either.
  • We frequently wish we could skip our own meetings.
  • The rah rah on social media? We make things look better than they are because this could be a tool to get recruits.
  • Our highest check (or any income statement shown by us) does not include chargebacks, gifts or any other expenses.
  • We compare ourselves to others constantly and tell you not to.
  • We don’t tell you what product is going to be discontinued because we don’t want you to “hold” your order. We almost always know 3 months in advance when things are changing.
  • We encourage your attendance at events because we want you to be safely in the fog at all times. Any longer than 3 months, the real world might just sneak in.
  • We charge for meetings because we were charged for meetings and we thought that was just the way it was. We still pretend that training in Mary Kay is free, as it’s only fair to help contribute for the cost of the room (not the training).

The more production we have in and the more stars we bring in means higher bonuses and more money for us.

We are taught to follow the money, work the numbers, and attain fame and fortune that is there for anyone who works her business. Faster is better, slow is hard.

We didn’t mean to hurt you, we were just doing as we were taught. And for those of you who did nothing wrong and followed all the rules, this obviously doesn’t apply to you. (Sarcasm. No one follows all the rules. When you say “my director doesn’t do this,” we understand that you just don’t KNOW she does it. That’s why it’s backstage, dear.)

Having made a resolution to do this Mary Kay thing the right way, we look forward to reading your posts when you finally figure out it can’t be done.


  1. BestDecision

    Nowhere is there a place with more egos, lies, and comparison than backstage. Comparing suits, jewelry, shoes all while acting like you’ve got superstars waiting for you when you get home. Instead, it’s swatches of the new suit’s fabric to dangle in front of people you hope will wake up and start working their businesses (and keep their word). It’s acting like MK fed you caviar when you didn’t even earn the luncheon or banquet (and they don’t even serve that at those).

    It’s all an act. It’s who can strut like they’re the most confident and with the most going on at home while at Leadership.

    And it was exhausting.

  2. Heather

    “More often than not, directors skip leadership classes and shop at the vendors or tour the host cities. Drinking is common.”

    *raises hand* I can attest to this. I would skip out on a lot of Seminar stuff, put on shorts and a top, and go tour parts of Dallas (the schoolbook depository was very moving). There were usually margaritas. At my last Seminar, I grabbed a few unit members, and off we went.

    1. AnonyMouse

      Maybe not outright making stuff up, but at the very least accomplishments were inflated. Some probably do make stuff up. But most of them at least tell “big fish” stories about how “successful” they are.

    2. BestDecision

      I did! When they’d quote scripture and pray, I couldn’t imagine them lying while living a life like that.

      I wasted years that I’ll never recoup. Many promotions, many raises. When I returned back to my career, it was jarring to see how that lapse in time pushed me way back from where I should be now.

  3. AnonyMouse

    I was very close friends with my recruiter who became my director. I saw all the stuff behind the scenes. It wasn’t long before I began questioning if that was what I really wanted.

    1. Brainwashednomore

      Yes. I also saw red flags but I ignored them. Noted them and then rationalized them for reasons. I even saw pink truth but looked away because it wasn’t positive. I was taught to ignore my intuition and look only at the positive. The negative was ignored and rationalized.
      “It’s not all directors. It’s a few bad apples. ”
      “I’m sure Mary kay cares when directors are not honest and will take away their directorship. It takes time for them to do that. I’m sure they’re looking into whether that director is being honest.”

  4. Data Junkie

    If read “Merchants of Deception” by Eric Scheibeler, you will see what happens when the upper ranking folks in Amway decided to break the rules and share what they are really making. Eric was a Diamond at Amway and was netting less than $35K/year. His fellow Diamonds were making a similar pittance. He was told from the beginning that “diamonds” make well into the six figures. Eric had over $100K in debt before leaving Amway (ouch!).

    I hope it’s okay to post a link to the book here. You guys might find many similarities between Amway and Mary Kay. Beware, this book will make your stomach turn.


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