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

Real Entrepreneurs vs Mary Kay

I love it when Mary Kay sales directors and national sales directors admit that the scam they’re running has nothing to do with the real business world! They just prove my point for me!

What???? I’m saying that being a Mary Kay consultant isn’t a real business? No kidding! Of course that’s what I’m saying.

And in this document from a Mary Kay NSD, my point is proven for me. The document even goes so far as to call this “Mary Kay vs. Real Life.” Here are a few of my favorite excerpts, with my comments in italics…

Entrepreneurs need a team of people that they pay for various services: advertising department, graphic artists, website administrators, etc.

Mary Kay provides us with all the tools: PCP, our Personal Web Site, Research & Development, Marketing Placement, Medical Relations, etc.

Mary Kay consultants pay for PCP and the websites. MK doesn’t “provide” these things, they’re paid for by consultants. They’re also encouraged to pay for office help. Mary Kay does some advertising and marketing, but the market is so saturated with desperate consultants, that you’re unlikely to receive any tangible benefits from these.

Entrepreneurs have to go to the bank and borrow anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 or more to get their business off the ground. And if their business doesn’t work out, they lose everything they put in.

We borrow a maximum of $5,000 to start our business,including stocking our “store.” And if it doesn’t work out, Mary Kay gives us a 90% buy-back guarantee!

Consultants and Directors routinely put more than $5,000 into Mary Kay, and I’ve seen plenty of women NOT get their 90% back because of time limits. Your director will lie and mislead in the hope that you won’t return your inventory, and once your time is up, that inventory is stuck on your shelf no matter what. Consultants incur plenty of costs that can never be recovered (postage, travel, event fees, supplies, etc), and billing MK as a “no risk” or “low risk” venture is beyond dishonest.

Entrepreneurs pay for every piece of training they get – to the tune of $1500 to $5000 per “must attend” event or conference.

Mary Kay consultants get weekly training for free. Company events such as Career Conference and Seminar cost less than $250 (and we get brand new product to cover part of the cost!)

No Mary Kay events are free. Ever. Consultants pay for meetings, guest events, and any sort of “training” events you can think of. MK conferences and Seminar are a waste of time and money. There is very little real training, unless you count recycling the same tired scripts and stalking suggestions. These events are not for your benefit… they are for the benefit of MK and your upline who want you to recruit. Stay home and shake your pom-poms for free!

Entrepreneurs often work on an “Accounts Receivable” model where they get paid 30 to 90 days after delivering their products.

We have no Accounts Receivable – we get paid the moment we deliver our product (and we have an instant 50% profit)!

You have virtually no sales, so there is nothing to receive. And even when Mary Kay consultants do sell a little, they do NOT have a 50% profit. Not even close.

Entrepreneurs work extremely long hours to get their businesses started up – and have no weekends, no days off, no vacation and no breaks. They need to understand that they will not see very much of their family during start-up.

We hold three classes a week (approximately 10 hours per week) to have a very profitable business. We work our business around our family and can still take vacations and days off.

Ha! Mary Kay hours can be just as long, and time away from the family is just as bad if you are trying to “move up” in MK. And exactly who is holding those three classes? Most everyone is too busy stalking people who don’t want to hold classes, and recruiting those few who do, so in the end there are no product sales and the only income is from recruiting women who buy inventory.The reality is that sales directors work 40 to 60 hours per week to earn $15,000 to $25,000 per year. That’s minimum wage (or less).

Most entrepreneurs will not see a profit for 2 to 4 years (if their business survives). They may have to work a full-time job while starting their own business (which equals carrying two fulltime jobs).

With correct money management, a new consultant can see a profit her first month in business and definitely in her first year.

More than 99% of Mary Kay consultants will never profit one thin dime from Mary Kay. Ever.

Misrepresentations in recruiting literature…. how they abound in Mary Kay.


  1. Lazy Gardens

    LIES! “Entrepreneurs pay for every piece of training they get – to the tune of $1500 to $5000 per “must attend” event or conference.” There is a TON of free business training at the Small Business Administration website (sba.gov), on YouTube, from your state or county or city, and even your local community college.

    MORE LIES! This is NOT a good thing! “Entrepreneurs often work on an “Accounts Receivable” model where they get paid 30 to 90 days after delivering their products.” Entrepreneurs usually pay for things 30-90 days AFTER they get them, so they have that time to sell the products. “We have no Accounts Receivable – we get paid the moment we deliver our product” … an IBC has to pay up front BEFORE they receive product, so they are immediately in debt until it is sold.

    MORE LIES!! “Entrepreneurs have to go to the bank and borrow anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 or more to get their business off the ground.” It depends on the business … I’ve seen people start businesses less than a hundred dollars for business cards.

  2. AnonyMouse

    They like to use scary big numbers in regards to starting an actual business. We have made a profit and been cash positive since day ONE of starting ours. It’s possible. Calm down, Mary Kay.

  3. Kristen

    Profit within the first month: making back $200 is not profit when you still have $3600 of inventory debt.

    “Free” seminar: I paid well over $1000 once I factored in plane tickets and hotel room, etc. Also, I think the tickets to the stupid seminar cost me several hundred dollars.

    Mary Kay sure does play fast and loose with the word “free” and “profit”. Here’s a vocabulary lesson, Mary Kay:

    Free: This means “without charge” $0
    Profit: This means you EARN more money than you have SPENT. According to Oxford dictionary: “a financial gain, especially the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent in buying, operating, or producing something.”

    1. Data Junkie

      Well put Kristen. And I think folks will find that all MLMers misuse the word “income” to hide reality. They use the term when referring to bonus/commission checks, which is not analogous to “compensation” (which they know their audience is thinking, as in, “what is your income?”). In this context, those payments fall into the “revenue” or “receivables” category on the ledger, not compensation.

      And as you stated, Mary Kay also misuses the word “profit” by applying it in a transaction context, not a ledger context. A real business would use a term like “sales margin” (the result of a “mark-up”) to refer to sale price over cost. But a transaction “margin” is not the same thing as profit. Selling a $10 MKay item to a customer for $20 does not yield a $10 “profit”. That’s a $10 margin. If you spent $3000 on your inventory kit, and get $20 for a $10 item, you have not yet turned a profit. Add in your costs, and your operating bottom line remains $2980 in the red. That’s known (loosely) as an operating loss, which is quite the opposite of a profit.

      Selling all of that inventory at full margin sounds good on paper, but never happens, because Mary Kay “cost” is well above prevailing market retail for products of this type. In fact, the majority is never sold at all, due to market saturation of consultants. Even if a consultant were to sell 1/3rd of her inventory (a tall order), all of it at 100% margin, she’d still be in the red. But good luck selling any Mary Kay product with a margin…it is nearly impossible to sell these items at consultant cost.

      Bottom line: This misuse of business terms by MLMers simply serves to demonstrate their childish view of running a business.

  4. Mountaineer95

    The following is a comment I left on a PT post a few weeks ago. I’m copying it here for any new visitors who didn’t see it then. The post was:


    If you’re new here, please read that post, and this post, and think about the following:

    If your Mary Kay business is truly a “business”, and you’re truly an entrepreneur, how is your “business” incorporated…S Corp, C Corp, Sole Proprietorship? Do you pay self employment and business taxes?

    If you decided, for whatever reason, to retire or to leave your “business”, what would you do? If it’s a “real” business, you could do what tons of other business owners do, which is SELL their business.

    Okay, so you don’t have a brick and mortar to sell; that’s not uncommon in modern times. You could sell your business/brand name though, right? Oh wait, they’re not yours.

    You could at least sell your businesses website, right? Oh, nope.

    What about your unit…can’t you choose which other MK person will receive “your” unit, and what they’ll pay you for this? Well at least you could sell your client list and info, right? The list you’ve worked so hard to grow? Wait…you can’t sell THAT either?

    It seems the only thing you OWN is the MK product sitting in your garage. That, you do own…but you still technically can’t sell it in any way you’d like (MK will totally go after your eBay listings).

    Do you understand now how you DO NOT OWN A BUSINESS?

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