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

The Agony of July 1 in Mary Kay

Written by Frosty Rose

It’s here, a new year in Mary Kay. A clean slate. Time to set new goals. It’s the BEST time of the year!

Or, at least, that’s what they say.

The reality feels like this. You wake up on July 1 with a gnawing sensation of guilt, self-loathing, and maybe a little touch of panic. You stretched in June, you really did! You called all your customers, you “mentored” each of your consultants. You did daily promotions, offered discounts for customers who stocked up, dangled shiny baubles in front of your consultants to get them to order more.

So why weren’t you able to hit your goals? You did everything your national told you to do. But you fell short. Again. There must be something wrong with you. It’s clearly not the opportunity. I mean, all your friends on social media, all the top directors, hit their goals! And even if they didn’t, they’re celebrating their personal growth. So what’s wrong with you that you don’t feel like you grew last year?

Your customer list is stagnant. Your unit is going backward, it seems, with consultants slipping away faster than you can recruit. And those credit card balances? Yeah, that might be the only thing that grew last year.

But Seminar is right around the corner! Surely you can get re-energized there? If only you can find the funds… But you simply have to go! You’re the director! The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang! Ah, there’s that ATM in your office—your inventory! Get out there and hold some parties, girl!

But, wait… All your customers are already stocked up on their needs until at least September—they bought everything at a discount in June. Your contact list is bare because of June’s “stretch” work. And when you go out to warm chatter, it seems like everyone has a consultant already, or they’re so annoyed by last month’s MK enthusiasm that they shut you down before you even have a chance to ask for their number. Well, put it on the credit card. It’s a tax write-off, after all. And all you need is that one tidbit that you’ll gain at Seminar to turn the whole thing around!

So you head off to Dallas to sit at the feet of the nationals and top directors. They’ve all been where you are, walked in your too-high heels on sore feet. Surely they have the secret that will help you measure up. With this insight, next year you definitely won’t be sitting in the nose-bleed section with the other losers! No! Next year, you’ll be teaching a class all about the pivot that changed your entire business.

But you don’t get any new information. You get more of the same. No “meat and potatoes” that you don’t already know, nothing you’re not already doing.

Okay, that’s a good thing! You’ve got the activity down pat, so there must be something about you that you need to fix. And you’re the only one who can change you! Maybe you’re just not thinking big enough! You’re not being positive enough! You’re letting your failures drag you down, focusing too much on the consultants that haven’t caught the vision. So you set a whole new goal, and this one is non-negotiable! There’s no way you’ll allow yourself to fail.

You come home from Dallas, tired but excited, and share your new vision with your husband and family. Wait, did he just roll his eyes at me?? Ugh, he’s such a negative nelly—I can’t tell him anything! I know, we’ve been through the same cycle for ten years in a row, but this year is different! This year is my year! I’ll just have to prove him wrong.
But this year isn’t different. It’s exactly the same as it was last year, and the year before that. Credit card balances grow, your self-confidence continues to slip, and your family is just sad for you.

Know this, my friend. You are not the problem. You are just fine. But the system you are playing in is designed to keep you exactly where you are—spinning your wheels, hoping for more, and never quite measuring up.

If they can convince you that you’re the only one feeling this way, that it’s just some negative mentality that you can pray your way out of, you won’t look deeper to find the real problem. They convince you to only say the positive things and to ignore the negative, so you don’t know your MK girlfriends are dealing with the same issues you are.

You’re told not to read information outside what the company publishes, so you remain unaware that the business model itself is imploding. Your training from the very beginning has been to shut your family off from the flow of “negative” (read: realistic) information about your business, so they just see all the hours you invest in your dream that doesn’t pay the bills, and that starves them of your love and attention.

Take the opportunity of a new year to step back, slow down, and assess your life. Are you where you want to be? Do you have joy? Do you have rich relationships with non-MK friends and family?

Get in touch with what you want, not what your senior or national tells you that you should want.

You are worth more than the constant self-deprecating cycle in which you are trapped. You are worth an opportunity that does not require you to live in constant comparison with those who are doing it “better” than you. A life of excellence is not incompatible with a life of contentment, and you deserve contentment without the taint of guilt for what you didn’t accomplish.


  1. Dorothy G

    Even though I wasn’t in Mary Kay I had basically the same experience in “the doctors’ new skincare business”. Month after month you zeroed out and had to start over again. It was exhausting; instead of ” warm chatting” they called it “lifestyle marketing” but it was the very same thing.
    In a real business a good month will sustain you financially through a slow month. Vendors don’t insist that you buy their products each and every month in order to stay in business. When you think about the number of businesses that are successful AND operate on a seasonal basis you realize that MLMs have rules that profit the MLM corporation.
    If you are offered any of these “amazing opportunities” just say no. Don’t think about it just walk away. If you’re actually interested in starting a business there are so many alternatives to MLMs.

      1. NayMKWay

        “Lifestyle Marketing” calls to my mind the flogging of a pretend lifestyle to lure others into your scam. Of course, that’s not what Mary Kay does at all (cough, cough).

  2. AnonyMouse

    Dear MK consultants,
    You claim this is “such an amazing business model”, but it is not. Running a retail business like this in the real world would be disastrous. You max out your customer base by the end of June every year so that you can meet your goals, and now they’re all “stocked up” for months and months. Now what? Where is the steady flow of orders? That is not how real business works. You’re shooting yourself in the foot. “I’ll just go find more customers! Women want what we are selling!” So you can repeat this pattern again? And again? And again? Where does the madness stop? You haven’t been trained to actually run a business, you have been trained to make Mary Kay Inc. profitable. You’ve been duped. But it’s not so bleak. You can choose to end the madness. You don’t have to live like this.

    1. Mountaineer95

      “ so that you can meet your goals”

      …but they’re not really YOUR goals. As a legit business owner, you should be able to define your goals as you see fit. Instead, MKC and your upline decide what your goals are and by when you should meet them. So much for being your own CEO.

  3. Heather

    “Get in touch with what you want, not what your senior or national tells you that you should want.”

    This statement is incredibly powerful. Neither your senior nor your NSD have YOUR interests in mind. What they want is for you to do X so it benefits them financially and moves THEM up the pyramid.

    When you finally step back and take inventory of yourself, your situation, your true life goals, and how each piece impacts your life and your family, you will find that MK is a horrid rat race that leaves devastation in its wake.

  4. lulutoo

    The whole MK cycle reminds me of the cycle of someone who is a compulsive gambler, who leaves the casino with empty pockets, goes to the bank and withdraws more money because “NEXT time I hit the casino, I will win!” (Rinse and repeat until bankruptcy hits and family leaves you…) The house ALWAYS wins…and so does MK Corporate.

  5. NayMKWay

    I doff my virtual cap to Frosty Rose for another excellent essay. Very well done!

    This hit home for me:

    “Know this, my friend. You are not the problem. You are just fine.”

    Fairly early in the pandemic, someone wrote an article warning others not to try to make up for lost income by joining an MLM, as she had. She said she lost money and learned her experience was not at all unusual.

    The comments section lit up with roars of protests from the cult faithful. One rather long-winded guy prattled on about how people who fail at MLM want to blame MLM instead of themselves. One parallel he tried to draw was: “When a soccer goalie misses a save, he doesn’t blame the ball; he blames himself.” (Um, what?) There were other examples, equally inane, along the same lines.

    My response, had I bothered engaging, would have been, “If a soccer goalie misses a save because someone moved the goal on him, he should not blame himself.”

    I didn’t engage because I was angry at this moron, because he was lying. Almost everyone who fails at MLM thinks they are the failure, and he bloody well knew it. He painted this fantasy canvas for himself and called it reality. He was probably proud of himself for his nonsensical blatherings. Frankly, he wasn’t worth the blood pressure, and I closed the window and looked at pictures of kittens for awhile. (I may need to do so again. I’m reliving it.)

    MLM deserves the blame, because MLM is the problem.

    1. Brainwashednomore

      “MLM deserves the blame, because MLM is the problem.”

      Yeeeessss!!! The lies include that MK blames the consultant for not working hard enough. The truth is that the business model is set up to help MK corp make money and be able to pay their real employees well. Consultants are their customers who they’ve convinced that they can sell others the products. And the accountability has moved from mk Corp to their real customers the consultants. Then they blame the consultants for not succeeding even though the system is not set up for the consultants to earn a profile. It is set up for corporate to make a profit off of their real customers the consultants. Then they blame their own customers for not being able to sell.

      This article was great and I could really relate to the journey of the consultants. Lots of brain washing.

  6. morningstar

    To anyone in the real world this is very trite of a company to command this explosive year end at the expense of all this human energy that takes a huge toll. Cosmetics is not supposed to be like this game MK corporate plays. June 30 is about corporate their accounting year end. Exploitation of the whole thing at the June crunch is left up to their peeps who sign up. Work harder lazy losers* MK corporate depends on YOU.

    *mantra endorsed by corporate

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