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

How to Make $100k as a New Director

It never ceases to amaze me how recruiters, sales directors, and NSDs make up numbers and pretend they’re reality. This piece has circulated for years. It’s from retired NSD Cheryl Warfield, who claims it’s pretty easy to make $100,000 per year as a new Mary Kay sales director.

She doesn’t mention how most directors struggle to make minimum production each month. Minimum production is $4,500 wholesale per month, which gives a director around $1,000 a month in commission income…. or in other words $12k per year!!! Where is this $100k per year as a brand new director???? The reality is almost no directors make $100k a year, much less new ones. Out of the 12,000 or so directors, probably about 25 are making over $100k. But here’s the fiction Cheryl is selling:

Cheryl uses a little Mary Kay math to come up with her $100,000 figure, and of course, she pays no attention to the fact that the sales director has expenses that must be paid out of that fictional income!

She claims that you can earn $113,280 as a sales director if you’re willing to work Mary Kay full-time. Here’s how Cheryl says this works:

  1. Personally sell $1,000 per week, which is 7 to 10 faces and 10 reorders = $2,000 profit per month. She forgets discounts and other expenses, which means the gross profit on your product sales is probably $1,500 or less.
  2. Do 30 faces and 30 interviews each month, and 10 customer calls per week = 2 to 5 recruits per month w/ average initial order of $1,000 = $5,000 production. Yikes! Interview everyone? And continuously pester your customers to recruit? And that average initial order is completely made up.
  3. Get your unit to do 40 interviews per month = 7 to 10 recruits with $1,000 order each = $10,000 production. 15% to 25% of people interviewed will sign up and all will order $1,000? Doubtful.
  4. Work with 5 to 8 key people and the new people to squeeze $8,000 wholesale production out of them each month

Add up all the production $2,000 personal + $5,000 personal recruits + $10,000 unit recruits + $8,000 ongoing unit = $25,000 total wholesale per month.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Add up all the commissions, volume bonuses, and recruiting bonuses and that sales director would have gross income of $9,440 per month (according to the chart) or $113,280 per year.

It doesn’t go unnoticed that the chart uses “best case scenario” numbers. (i.e. 7 to 10 recruits with $1,000 wholesale each equals $10,000 production rather than $7,000 to $10,000.)

Could a new director, in theory, gross $100,000 in her first year? Sure. It is possible, but almost completely unlikely. No matter how hard she works, the numbers and the MLM structure are not in her favor. There are very, very few sales directors in Mary Kay grossing more than six figures. And once you take out business expenses, the personal, spendable income is far below that.

A unit at $25,000 wholesale per month would do the $600,000 unit club. How many units are doing that much or above? Very very few. Do you think it’s because those sales directors don’t work hard enough? I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of sales directors in Mary Kay who put in 40 to 60 hours a week religiously, yet never achieve these levels of success.

I know there are many directors who are using handouts like this to help recruit. This is the type of false income claim that is pervasive in Mary Kay. I say that these claims are false, not because they aren’t real for some. But they are false because they aren’t real for the vast, vast majority of Mary Kay sales directors, and they know it. Yet, recruiters are making their victims believe that this is reality for many.

Let’s make up some numbers with the belief that they could possibly be true someday, and flaunt them as reality. That’s dishonest, and they know it.


  1. BestDecision

    Just like they said Cadillac Directors were making “executive income”. Um, no. A base maintenance Cadillac Director might gross $48,000 if she’s lucky, but her expenses chew a lot of that away. I remember a year where my tax form showed I profited less than $10,000 for the year, and I was in a pink Caddy.

    I keep waiting for these people to wake up and do the numbers. Things sound rosy in theory, but the reality is hidden behind all the pins and strutting.

    1. Mountaineer95

      Lol, I made over $70k selling mattresses, and I was made fun of by a Hun back when I was doing it. Over $70k (I checked, it’s $90k in today’s money) PLUS profit sharing, 401k, health insurance, vacation, work trips FULLY paid for, mileage and wear/tear covered. I just looked at her and said “bless your heart” under my breath. And laughed all the way home.

  2. Kristen

    When I was a child, I decided to have a lemonade stand. I used the same math as described here. In other words, the profit I wanted to be true. I got out my Little Professor calculator and determined that if I charged $1 per cup, I could easily make $100 that day. People drove down our street all the time. At least 100 of them. How easy this would be! 100 x 1 =$100. I would be supporting my family in no time!

    Sadly, I learned a hard lesson that day. I maybe sold a couple orders to neighbors and we drank the rest. Just deciding how many orders you need is not enough to make it come true when you completely ignore reality. I didn’t have a business mind. I wasn’t selling what people wanted. I hadn’t considered how inconvenient it was for people to stop on our somewhat busy street to buy a cup of Country Time Lemonade, even if they felt sorry for me. This “How” column above is missing a column to the left, which is how you get to that “how”. All those faces and interviews and sales are EXTREMELY difficult to come up with. There is NEVER any legit direction from Mary Kay on how to do this other than the stupid scripts about “Help me with my goal” or “You deserve some pampering”.

    1. Data Junkie

      Kristin, I think the “how” column should actually be called “Target”. This would then make it obvious that the “how” column is missing entirely!

      Here’s what the “How” column would say. 10 calls per week will never yield 10 faces. Reps will probably only get one or two shots at F+F before the pity participation dries up. After that, you are on to strangers. Industry cold-calling hit rates for sales are less than 2%. That means to get 30 faces (ostensibly to attend a meeting) per month, your unit needs to call at least 1500 people per month, which is over 375 per week, or 75 per week-day, or just under 10 per work-day hour, which is one person every six minutes, full time!

      And those industry rates are for sales of products without the MLM stigma!

      Time to get busy, huns!

    2. Mountaineer95

      When I worked in/with retail, I used a formula of: traffic/closing ratio/average sale as a very good way to gauge success. Traffic being how many people come in your store, closing rate being how many of those people who come in make purchases, and average sale of course being how much those who did buy actually spent. (Profit margin is the fourth important factor, something Chelsea Atkins should read up about).

      Traffic is of utmost importance; you can close everyone who walks in, and at a very high average sale, but if you only have two people come in a day (meaning, almost nonexistent traffic), the other numbers don’t mean much at all. Traffic drives everything else.

      In Mary Kay speak, “traffic” would be the people you chat/approach/harass I guess. You can recruit every single person you talk to, but if you only talk to one person a month, then that closing rate is meaningless. And it seems that for any of the miraculous Mary Kay averages that directors tout to be successful, one must “traffic” HUNDREDS of women a month.

      How exhausting; a “successful” Kaybot must engage every single person she comes in contact with as a potential customer. At least in legit retail, we only engaged those who CHOSE to come into our stores.

      When I left my store to pick up Chinese for lunch, I never tried to get anyone at the restaurant to come shop at my store. When I closed the store and went to a music club, I never bored the people around me with attempts to sell them mattresses. I can’t imagine how tiring it would be to try and sell my wares at church, at pre school, at the doctor’s office, at the auto shop…my God, ten to twelve hours hustling in a retail store (to people who CHOSE to come in, lol) wore us out and after we locked those doors, we went and ate, drank, and danced our asses off with NO thought of “chatting up” the folks around us. Just so cringy.

      But hey, as a Kaybot, YOU choose your hours! YOU choose when/how/where to work! You look down on retail employees as slaves to a schedule, whilst YOU live the “boss babe” dream!

      Yeah, I’ll take my many successful years as a retail “slave”, over buying more makeup than I can actually sell, any day. I have a lot to show for that hard work, and it doesn’t include dozens of boxes of expired and discontinued mattresses in my basement…lol.

      1. Mountaineer95

        Random fun story: after I worked mattress retail, I became a territory sales manager for a mattress manufacturer (meaning I called on independent furniture and mattress retailers and handled their purchasing of my company’s mattresses…it was a very cool and very lucrative gig).

        I guess a job selling mattresses was considered funny and weird to some people…especially to Larry. Larry was an otherwise attractive guy that I met at a “speed-dating” event (all the rage in the early to mid-2000s). On our first or second date (oh my, I actually went out with this guy who was dumber than a box of rocks for a month or two…he was cute, that’s my excuse…) we talked more about our jobs, and so I said how I was a mattress sales rep…he cocked his head, looked at me with legit curiosity and asked, “so…you drive around door to door with a mattress until you sell it?” FACE. PALM. Years before “facepalm” was even a thing. Yes, Larry, I strapped a f#&(=* mattress to the top of my Honda Accord and drove around until someone bought it, then lather, rinse, and repeat.

        Suffice to say that Larry and I did not last much longer. Haha, like barely a half hour longer.

        He also vehemently proclaimed that Shania Twain is the best singer ever. I understand how guys might really like her for the leather pants and the dance moves, but NOBODY ever says she has the best singing voice ever. Except for Larry.

        1. NayMKWay

          Larry sounds like a real keeper! Thanks for the laugh, Mountaineer95!

          I’m reminded of Charlie the anvil salesman in the movie (and Broadway play) “The Music Man.” Kept dropping his suitcase fulla anvils on his foot. CLANG!!

          “Charlie! You’re an anvil salesman! Your firm give credit?”
          “No, sir!!”
          “Nor will anybody else’s. Cash for the merchandise, cash for the button hooks…”

          I could go on. But I won’t.

          1. Mountaineer95

            I have, probably three or five times in the last several years, wondered what became of Larry. I think he probably found a girl and, bolstered by his successful generational family business (wherein they accept the fact that he’s the dullest bulb in the bunch), is able to provide for her. She must look beyond the idiocy of his Shania Twain beliefs (who, if you haven’t seen lately, looks bizarrely like Rachel Ray) and want to spend her life with him. Everyone deserves someone. For Larry, that person wasn’t me…but that’s okay! (I mean really, REALLY okay). 😉

  3. Margaret Silva

    I’m so used to buying my Mary Kay from friend with a 40% discount, that I would never turn around and pay another Mary Kay representative full price. If my Mary Kay representative ever quits – – then it’s on to eBay for me!

  4. AnonyMouse

    Too bad that $5,000 wholesale “production” is not actually production and being paid commission on that versus actual retail sales is against FTC rules. 😁 But please, tell me again what a Godly, ethical company Mary Kay is.
    Go on. I’ll wait.

  5. coralrose

    Seriously, how many sales directors are even doing ONE of the things in the “how” column consistently? Doing even one seems so unrealistic, let alone all of them.

  6. SadChild

    Is there someone who can anonymously send my mother some info/numbers to finally convince her how MK just doesn’t make any financial sense? She’s been brainwashed for about 20 years and just doesn’t get it. I think she’s in DIQ/car qualification. This would be her second time being a director.

    1. BestDecision

      Simple statement: If Directorship really worked for those willing, it wouldn’t be her second time. If cars, diamonds, and trips were so legit, they wouldn’t all be finished on the last day of qualification. Same with Directorship.

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