Getting Pestered by a Mary Kay Lady at a Restaurant

Written by Popinki

Recently my cousin and I met up for a late breakfast at a local restaurant.  The place wasn’t very crowded because it was late for breakfast and too early for lunch.  The closest people to us were a middle-aged couple.  The man was dressed casually but the woman was dressed to a T in a skirt suit, heels, jewelry, perfect hair and makeup.  Kind of odd for a casual place on Saturday but I figured she had an event or job to go to and I was there to catch up on family gossip anyway.

I like to knit and crochet and people have been after me for years to start an Etsy store or something.  I’m not strapped for cash thankfully, but with the rising cost of everything a little extra money would be nice.  I could use up my odds and ends of yarn and build up a stock of basic hats, mittens, cat toys, and other little things that are quick to make and it wouldn’t cost me anything.  However, I don’t rush into anything and I’d have to find out exactly how much creating a shop, shipping, packaging etc would cost and cut into my time before I took the plunge.  My cousin was all over the idea and knows someone who sells on Etsy and was willing to pick their brains.

All the while Madam Suit had been glancing over at us but I work in town government and so unfortunately I either know everyone in town or they know me.  They stood up to go and the man went to pay the check while Madam Suit headed our way.  “Did I hear you say you’re a knitter?”

Knitters love to talk shop.  My cousin got sort of an “oh God” look on her face because she’s been out with me before when I’ve met up with someone from my knitting group.  Crafters also span the spectrum of gender, sexuality, appearance, religion, and income level.  The inclusivity is part of why I like it so much. So I said yes, been crocheting since I was 6 and knitting since 10.

Then she started to gush about how I must be so talented and she could never get the hang of it and my BS meter lit up.  I’ve worked with the public since 1998 and total strangers don’t butter you up like that unless they want something from you.

Then she started asking my cousin if she had any hobbies and if she could use some extra money, and she told us that she had the perfect opportunity where we could make ALL THE MUNNY without having to spend a dime, in our spare time, with all the training and website paid for and she’d just love to give us a call to tell us more about it.  I just kept saying “No thanks” over and over but my cousin tried to argue with her.  Naturally she had a counter for every argument.  I was getting more and more angry until I finally resorted to my angry voice.  It’s very low, very formal, very polite, and it scares the daylights out of people.  I told her neither of us were interested and that was final.  At that point her husband came back and said to leave us alone for God’s sake and let’s go already.  She went but she left a Mary Kay business card and a pamphlet on the table.

The waitress actually apologized to us, saying that woman was a real pest and the manager of the place had had to tell her to quit trying to hustle the staff.

The incident bugged me all day.  I’m against Mary Kay because of animal testing to begin with, but first of all I didn’t even know they were still around, and I’d assumed they were like Avon where someone left the catalog in the break room and people told her what they wanted to order.  I’d recently watched a documentary about LulaRoe showing how predatory and cultlike they were, and heard horror stories about Amway, but I had no idea Mary Kay was the exact same way.

First of all, I haven’t worn makeup for probably 15 years and I use skincare stuff I get at the drugstore.  My cousin does wear makeup but she wasn’t glammed up or anything.  Not really the sort of people someone shilling makeup would go after.  I googled Mary Kay Criticism and this site came up and after binge-reading a heck of a lot of it it made more and more sense.

It’s June, so Madam Suit was probably desperate to recruit a few warm bodies to meet her quota to stay on whatever level of the pyramid she’s on and sucker them into buying hundreds or thousands of dollars in inventory they can’t sell just so SHE can meet her numbers.  No doubt she was hoping my cousin and I would go home and sucker our friends and family into buying and shilling for Mary Kay.  She reminded me of those “pickup artist” guys who will hit on every woman in the bar hoping that just one will be willing to sleep with him.

I’m especially angry on behalf of the waitstaff at the restaurant, and I’m sure every female in a service position Madam Suit encounters on a daily basis because I’m sure she tries to sucker them, too, and when you have to be nice to people in order to keep your job you can’t tell her to take a flying leap.

I also wonder now how much credit card debt she’s hiding from her husband, and how many times he’s had to drag her away from someone when he was hoping for a day off.


  1. Ugh. Did anyone else cringe when they recognized their former MK selves in this? I like to think I wasn’t this pushy, but, yeah, I definitely did that. It’s really impressive the things the Pink Fog convinces us are normal, acceptable behaviors.

    Popinki, I’m sorry you had this experience. I’m glad you escaped unscathed. The rest of us are over here in recovery.

    • If there’s something I’ve learned about MLMs, it’s that the comparisons to religious cults are very apt. I admire you and the others who have broken away knowing what the fallout would be. That takes guts 🙂

  2. It is cringey to think about being that pushy Mary Kay lady. But we were taught that it was selfish NOT to share the “opportunity” and that we were doing a big favor by telling others about Mary Kay. Interesting that so many women become uncomfortable and angry when someone is merely trying to “enhance their lives”, right? Almost makes you wonder if sharing the opportunity isn’t so selfless after all…

    • Well, Kristin, that’s what cults do. They warp your outlook and sabotage your critical thinking. Looking back, you ask yourself, “How could I have been taken in like that?” But at the time, you felt like you were doing the right thing.

      You are far from alone. And by sharing your story here, you are helping to keep others from being so deceived.

    • As NayMKWay says, Kristen, it’s also the same words that come from abused persons mouths. “How could I not see it?”. Well, cause you are living your life, trusting the people you dared to trust in, and victims do not set out with the intention of being deceived, it is our nature to believe those whom we feel ARE worthy of our trust.

      It’s a fascinating topic, for sure, how I have been able to let a manipulator get hold of my mind, even after everything I think I know and learned. Feels like I learned NOTHING when it happens but that is very much untrue. Be joyful in your freedom and that’s freedom from cringe, too, lololol. xoxoxxoxo

      • And they do the exact same thing abusers do: try to isolate you from your support network , restrict who you can socialize with, blame YOU when things go wrong, make you feel like you’re useless without them so you’re afraid to leave.

    • “You hadn’t shared the opportunity with her” is the refrain I heard when two Directors recruited my customer and co-worker, within about a month of each other. Yes, I was the selfish one for not recruiting a newly-wed with a toddler, or my co-worker who was also a student and a Partylite consultant. Both of these Directors shared meetings with my Director, by the way. I saw them every week, and they could have called to ask me about the status of the potential recruits, but they signed them up immediately. Who’s the selfish one?

  3. “The training is provided and the website is paid for”…Until you sign up & find out the website actually costs consultants money.

    But, I guess it is paid for by consultants.

    • That was another thing that chapped my hiney once I started digging into it more. If I sell knitted/crocheted items, it’s using skills and materials I already have for a hobby I already do. And I’m sure all those marketplace sites take a cut of your sales but it would be spelled out up front without springing hidden fees at ever turn. And only letting you keep your store if you buy $600 worth of yarn every month (but we’ll throw in a stitch marker worth a couple cents for free!)

  4. Story is MK old, meaning this is an old trick on the part of MK peeps. Heard this type before in 1993… Just tell these people to leave you alone. Boundaries!

  5. Was in a parking lot with my wife and kid, headed to the pediatrician’s office. A woman happened to be coming out of one of those pink Mary Kay cars next to us and gushed as to how cute our son was. Oh, here it is, the “warm chat”, I muttered. Thankfully it was raining out and we had a reason to rush into the building (never been so grateful for rain), and thankfully, she was headed to a different medical office. We smiled at her and thanked her for the compliments, then said we were in a rush to get to his doctor.

    I have heard of countless Starbucks locations effectively banning Mary Kay people because they buy one cup of the cheap coffee and try to warm chat people in there all day but don’t know if I’ve actually been to one where somebody was banned for that reason.

  6. Bumping this with an update. My cousin and her family went back to the same restaurant this weekend and she sent me a picture of a sign on their front door: “Anyone recruiting or soliciting anywhere on property will be told to leave immediately. If you do not leave we will call the police.”

    She’s nosy 😀 so she asked around and found out that Suit Lady had been told to leave customers alone inside the restaurant, the week after she’d gone after my cousin and me as it happened, so she started hanging out in the parking lot trying to grab people going in/coming out. Mainly at busy times like the Saturday breakfast rush and Sunday after church. They got so many complaints and apparently someone did call the police from the parking lot that the owner banned her from the premises and told all the staff that if you see her, tell her once that she has to leave or you’ll call the police, then do it.

    That’s a good owner of a REAL business!

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