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

Mary Kay Does Not Work For Everyone

A Mary Kay consultant tells us how easy it is to make money in Mary Kay. After all, with minimal effort, she sells $400 to $500 in reorders. And if she worked more, she’d make more. She was told there is no quick and easy way to make money in Mary Kay. Huh, that’s funny. I’ve always heard directors say how easy this “business” is. Here you go, ladies. We all just did it wrong.

Does Mary Kay work for everyone? No. There are plenty of reasons why that might be. You may not enjoy the work, you may not have the time to really focus, you may have trouble selling, you may not have access to customers, you may be at a disadvantage you can’t overcome, etc. But this is true of any sales job. And true for any job really. Haven’t we all seen people be hired at our own jobs and they don’t last? Some people are just not cut out for certain types of work and maybe they have extra hurtles that don’t help. But why blame Mary Kay for something that happens with every career? I love my full time dance teaching job. But you know what? Some people hate it and that’s fine. We’re not all built the same.

I’ve been with Mary Kay for two years now. I came in to make a few extra hundred a month and that’s exactly what I do. I make about $400-$500 a month with minimal parties. I essentially built my customer base at the beginning and now the bulk of my income comes from reorders. And during Christmas time, I pull in almost $1000. One thing is for sure, when I spend more time on it, that’s when I make more money. I know that, at least for me, I could make more money if I had the will power to work it more. But I didn’t get in to make it a full time career and that’s okay. My friend did make it her full time career and she’s doing very well for herself.

Can some women be pushy and desperate? Of course. But haven’t we all met sales people like that? Why the focus on this particular company? I’ve been hounded by car salesmen who don’t stop calling me. But I still go back later when I need to shop for a car. I don’t blame the entire Carmax company for a few desperate individuals.

Do they recommend you buy product? Yes. Right now, if you opened up a jewelry store, for example, guess what you have to invest in? Jewelry to sell. I didn’t start off with product right away. I had to learn that a lot of women will cancel or not buy if you don’t have the product on the spot. So by month three, I invested in a good amount of product. No one had to trick me into doing it. I had to learn it for myself. And my director was still nice enough to pretty much lend me her product when she could. Nothing of what they recommend you do is unlike starting any kind of retail business.

I’m sure there are plenty of bad consultants and directors. Just like you can find bad employees and bosses at almost any job. But that’s not the experience that all women have in Mary Kay. I’m happy with the decision I made. I move my products well and I definitely make way more than my mom did when she sold Avon or my friends selling DoTerra. It’s worked out for me for what I was personally chasing. I was a customer long before becoming a consultant and I and my customers stand by this product. So to me, when I spent $100 on a kit worth more than $400, it was a deal. If I decided to quit, I could either return my starter kit or keep it. I knew I would keep it if I quit because I was accustomed to spending $95 on the Miracle Set anyway and at least this way, I was getting the Miracle Set plus mascara, my foundation I adore, makeup remover and there were a few extra things when I signed up. And I could still give away the stuff I wouldn’t use as gifts to people. I have struggled with acne since I was in 5th grade. I have adult onset acne now. I’ve tried everything under the sun. The ONLY thing that has ever actually improved the pH in my skin is Mary Kay. I still have friends who haven’t seen me in a few years who ask me what I’ve done for my skin. So yes. I’ve been genuinely recommending MK since before I was a consultant.

What I’m reading is a lot of people who had bad experiences with their director or unit. My experience has been wonderful. My director was honest with me. She told me I couldn’t make a few hundred just doing catalog sales. That I’d have to do at least some parties. She told me from before that I’d likely lose sales if I didn’t have product on hand but she didn’t push me into it. I learned on my own that she was right. I’ve done pretty well. I didn’t go in expecting to get rich. The day I went to the studio meeting and signed up, all of the directors said, “There’s no easy quick way to make good money. You have to work for it.” They were pretty honest before we were even given the chance to sign up. If you’re going to really invest in your store, then yeah. You’re going to make somewhere closer to 40% so you can keep up with new products coming out and your demos. But to be fair, they strongly recommend you set no more than 10% of your 50% to that kind of stuff. Why new products? For the same reason Sephora and Macy’s are constantly releasing new products as well. To compete with the market. 40% for me has still proven to be good for me and what I wanted and 40% is still high compared to other direct sales companies. For example, I know DoTerra gives a 25% commission.

I write this only so that people can know that these bad experiences are not representative of all units, all consultants and all directors.

17 Comments

  1. CarolAnne

    I can see a lot of people getting hooked into MK on the idea that they can work part time and easily make an extra $500-$1000/month. But the thing I always want to know when these ladies chirp about their easy $500 is did that include your cost of the product, your time in making it all happen, or did a couple of high school friends drop $200 on skin care and you are crowing about how you just “made” an easy $400. And this is all sold at retail (Ha!) the 50% number we worship which is so much better than that evil eo company only giving 25.

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  2. Popinki

    See CarolAnne’s excellent point about “how much of that money is actually yours?” above. Beyond that, think about the differences between retail and MLM. Do you ever wonder how retail stores can afford to offer 75% end of season sales, BOGO sales, product giveaways, etc? It’s because most consumer goods are actually quite cheap to produce and large chains like Macy’s buy up a kazillion items at a time, so the producing company makes a tidy profit selling to them even at a small markup. Let’s say a skin cream costs $1 to make and Macy’s buys them for $2 each, a 100% markup. Sounds a lot like MK’s “buy it for a dollar, sell it for two, make a dollar” doesn’t it? It works for the manufacturer because Macy’s is buying tens of thousands of them, so they’re making their money back on the cost of manufacturing.

    The retail markup on makeup/skin care usually runs 800-1200% (manufacturer’s suggested retail is 8-12 times the store’s cost) so let’s go with 1000% because the math is easy. That $2 skin cream is now on the shelf marked at $20 and if someone buys it at that price the store gets 10 times the amount it spent on that product.

    Yes, retail brands do come out with new packaging, New & Improved formulas, and other malarkey, but unlike Mary Kay they will either have the retail stores return it to the manufacturer (who will then resell it to a liquidator, outlet store, discard it, whatever they do) or else have the store sell it at a discount. Because that skin cream priced at $20, even if they sell it 75% off for $5, is still 2.5 times what the store bought it for, so they’re still making a profit.

    What happens when Mary Kay changes packaging or formulas? You’re stuck with it. And if you sell it for a 50% discount, you’re only making back what you paid for it (less the costs of Working Your Business, Boss Babe) and any deeper discount and you’re losing money on the deal. You COULD use the buyback option and return it, but then you’re locked out of the company, and if you try to sell your leftovers elsewhere MK Legal will be sending you nasty letters.

    Why, then, does Macy’s get to buy skin cream for $2 and still make a profit even on clearance when you have to buy a similar product from MKorporate for $10 and hope you can sell it for $20? Because your $10 is paying for the commissions of everyone above you on the pyramid. Because that’s how your upline is making their money. That’s the only reason you “need” inventory. Think about it. If you don’t carry an inventory, a customer who doesn’t want to wait is a lost sale, but you’re not any worse off than before you met her. If you do have an inventory, but you’ve got every shade of foundation but hers and she doesn’t want to wait, you’re losing a sale AND you’re still stuck with a bunch of inventory people aren’t buying. And MKorporate doesn’t care because they’ve gotten what they wanted out of you.

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  3. Popinki

    Another thing, since she mentioned jewelry, is that stores don’t keep a lot of inventory of high-priced goods. The fine jewelry dept. of the store I worked at had maybe one ring in one or two sizes, especially in diamonds over about 1/4 of a carat, and ditto for heavy gold chains. They aren’t frequent sellers and are targets for thieves so the store carries insurance on them, and to keep the cost of insurance down they don’t keep many in stock. A customer who needed a different size had the option to either wait while one was special ordered, or take it to their own jeweler for resizing.

    It was the same with appliances. There might be one super-duper bells and whistles all the latest features refrigerator in the warehouse, while there were a dozen more basic models because those were what we sold most often.

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  4. Destiny Angel

    Does Mary Kay work for everyone? No.

    At last, a sentiment we can all agree on, shame that it’s touted as a profession anyone can make money doing.

    There are plenty of reasons why that might be. You may not enjoy the work,

    Which is a valid reason for leaving any job. I left a job I hated when I found one that ignited my passion for science. Though I still have bad dreams about being in that job, I also still have contact with some of my co-workers nearly 40 years later.

    you may not have the time to really focus,

    I thought you could work this in pockets of time, I’ve been told if I’m scrolling my social media in the bathroom , I could be making money instead.

    you may have trouble selling,

    but I thought these products are flying off the shelves.

    you may not have access to customers,

    I was told over-saturation was a myth.

    you may be at a disadvantage you can’t overcome, etc.

    But still, find a way, make a way.

    But this is true of any sales job.

    I’ve been shopping for a bed with my son going into his first apartment. We’ve researched on-line and know the size he needs and the budget, he now has to find the mattress he wants. Once I’ve bought the bed, I know I’m not going to be bothered about buying another bed at the end of the month, end of the quarter. No-one is going to be asking me if I want to open a bed shop. I doubt that the sale-assistant is going to give me much more thought after I exit stage left.

    And true for any job really. Haven’t we all seen people be hired at our own jobs and they don’t last?

    This is true. Some people leave school and bounce from job to job until something clicks while others leave their education knowing what they want to do. And still others find that their passion and education doesn’t get them a job with a living wage and so they are forced to work somewhere that doesn’t fulfil them.

    Some people are just not cut out for certain types of work and maybe they have extra hurtles(sic) that don’t help.

    And yet, Mk and other MLMs claim that any-one can make money, regardless of circumstances.

    But why blame Mary Kay for something that happens with every career?

    Because it doesn’t. If 99% of teachers, nurses, shop assistants didn’t make any money, then the school, hospital, store wouldn’t have enough staff to operate because people would be leaving in droves. They certainly wouldn’t be pushing their friends, relatives, random strangers to join up in the hopes of being the elusive 1% who is just making minimum wages.

    I love my full time dance teaching job.

    Ding! Ding! Ding!!! Here we find the money that really supports you. And the customer base.

    But you know what? Some people hate it and that’s fine. We’re not all built the same.

    I would be a bad dance teacher. I don’t have the skills or the patience. But MK tell me that I don’t need those, that parroting their decades old scripts will have me swimming in gold coins a la Scrooge McDuck.

    I’ve been with Mary Kay for two years now. I came in to make a few extra hundred a month and that’s exactly what I do. I make about $400-$500 a month with minimal parties.

    I’m wondering how much of that is pure profit.

    I essentially built my customer base at the beginning and now the bulk of my income comes from reorders.

    How many of your repeat customers are from your income producing job as a dance teacher? or their parents? Because I’m sure that you don’t leverage that interaction for your own use…./s.

    And during Christmas time, I pull in almost $1000.

    Cool beans. My daughter has pulled in over $500 in commissions on Black Friday as well as a similar amount for Boxing Day sales. On top of her salary. And customers were coming to the shop she works in rather than her asking people to purchase something.

    One thing is for sure, when I spend more time on it, that’s when I make more money.

    See above, my daughter didn’t need to work extra time, that was during her shifts for the week.

    I know that, at least for me, I could make more money if I had the will power to work it more.

    Sure Jan.

    But I didn’t get in to make it a full time career and that’s okay. My friend did make it her full time career and she’s doing very well for herself.

    Well, that what she tells you.

    Can some women be pushy and desperate? Of course. But haven’t we all met sales people like that?

    No, guess I don’t look like the sort of person who is easily bullied.

    Why the focus on this particular company?

    Because we can, we want to. Because many of the commentators here have personal experiences of MK. If you don’t want to read here, there’s r/antimlm or there’s a host of youtubers who expose the underbelly of MLMs, CCSuarez, Kiki Chanel, Hannah Alonzo, illuminaughii, etc.

    I’ve been hounded by car salesmen who don’t stop calling me. But I still go back later when I need to shop for a car. I don’t blame the entire Carmax company for a few desperate individuals.

    Guess you look like some-one easily intimidated but I’d be calling back and blasting the manager for allowing this. Then I’d block them on my phone. And I certainly wouldn’t be returning for that kind of abuse.

    Do they recommend you buy product? Yes. Right now, if you opened up a jewelry store, for example, guess what you have to invest in? Jewelry to sell.

    well, if I was going to open a jewelry shop, I’d be looking at the market first. Is there enough potential customers in my hinterland to provide a sustainable profit ? Will I be able to compete against the two well established jewelry shops in my town? Then I’d be looking at buying several tens of thousand dollars worth of stock.

    I didn’t start off with product right away. I had to learn that a lot of women will cancel or not buy if you don’t have the product on the spot. So by month three, I invested in a good amount of product.

    We live in an age of on-line shopping, of Amazon Prime, if some-one really wants the product, they will wait. But you were pushed into buying products you didn’t need.

    No one had to trick me into doing it. I had to learn it for myself.

    No, you were conned. If you were unprepared to stop a car salesperson bothering you, MK predation would be easy.

    And my director was still nice enough to pretty much lend me her product when she could.

    She wasn’t doing that out of the kindness of her heart. She was enriching herself by getting rid of her stockpile.

    Nothing of what they recommend you do is unlike starting any kind of retail business.

    it’s very unlike starting a business. No legit business operates on recruiting your customers as competition. Legit businesses check the local area for potential conflicts. There’s no point in opening a MacDonalds in a town where there is one on every corner.

    I’m sure there are plenty of bad consultants and directors.

    That’s not the flex you think it is.

    Just like you can find bad employees and bosses at almost any job. But that’s not the experience that all women have in Mary Kay.

    And?? That’s not a selling point. Bad employees tend to either leave or are sacked. Sadly, bad managers are much harder to dislodge.

    I’m happy with the decision I made. I move my products well and I definitely make way more than my mom did when she sold Avon or my friends selling DoTerra.

    You’ve already admitted to having a captive audience for your products.

    It’s worked out for me for what I was personally chasing. I was a customer long before becoming a consultant and I and my customers stand by this product.

    So you just became a different sort of customer. One of the few things my daughters disagree on is their preferred make-up brands. They get very passionate about defending them.

    So to me, when I spent $100 on a kit worth more than $400, it was a deal.

    But you said you didn’t buy inventory at first.

    If I decided to quit, I could either return my starter kit or keep it.

    Be prepared for the stalling tactics because your up-line wants to keep her sweet, sweet commission on that.

    I knew I would keep it if I quit because I was accustomed to spending $95 on the Miracle Set anyway and at least this way, I was getting the Miracle Set plus mascara, my foundation I adore, makeup remover and there were a few extra things when I signed up.

    Personally, I think $95 is too much to spend on make-up. But that’s just me.

    And I could still give away the stuff I wouldn’t use as gifts to people.

    Or you could send it back for 90% buy back. That makes more sense to me than fobbing it off.

    I have struggled with acne since I was in 5th grade. I have adult onset acne now. I’ve tried everything under the sun. The ONLY thing that has ever actually improved the pH in my skin is Mary Kay.

    I doubt that you have tried everything. I have been told that Korean skin care is very good for adult onset acne.

    I still have friends who haven’t seen me in a few years who ask me what I’ve done for my skin. So yes. I’ve been genuinely recommending MK since before I was a consultant.

    Anecdote doesn’t trump data.

    What I’m reading is a lot of people who had bad experiences with their director or unit.

    That’s a huge red flag. Lot of people having bad experiences. Got to be a common denominator. Wonder what it could be??

    My experience has been wonderful. My director was honest with me. She told me I couldn’t make a few hundred just doing catalog sales.

    I guess I should be happy for you.

    That I’d have to do at least some parties. She told me from before that I’d likely lose sales if I didn’t have product on hand but she didn’t push me into it. I learned on my own that she was right.

    You really have fallen into fear of missing out propaganda. Unless I’ve messed up, I’m happy to wait for delivery from Amazon. People not buying at the party isn’t because you don’t have the item at hand, it’s just they don’t want to buy but are being polite.

    I’ve done pretty well. I didn’t go in expecting to get rich. The day I went to the studio meeting and signed up, all of the directors said, “There’s no easy quick way to make good money. You have to work for it.”

    And setting you up for failure, from the start. You haven’t realised it yet. Unless you are very lucky , you are not going to be making mega-bucks.

    They were pretty honest before we were even given the chance to sign up. If you’re going to really invest in your store, then yeah. You’re going to make somewhere closer to 40% so you can keep up with new products coming out and your demos.

    They are only honest to cast the blame back on general you, later. And they are pushing you to buy extra inventory that you most likely can’t re-sell.

    But to be fair, they strongly recommend you set no more than 10% of your 50% to that kind of stuff.

    But, but , but it flies of your shelves..

    Why new products? For the same reason Sephora and Macy’s are constantly releasing new products as well. To compete with the market.

    Sephora and Macy’s and the like, don’t release new lines. They look at what people are buying and adjust what they order from the manufacturers. The buying team knows what sells better in a Canadian winter and make sure that those products are available in the store at the right time.

    40% for me has still proven to be good for me and what I wanted and 40% is still high compared to other direct sales companies. For example, I know DoTerra gives a 25% commission.

    And what is your actual profit?? Probably a lot less than 40% . A lot, lot less.

    I write this only so that people can know that these bad experiences are not representative of all units, all consultants and all directors.

    And? that doesn’t prove anything. Data shows that over 95% of MK consultants make less than a living wage. And those are figures straight from MK Corporate.

    That’s a huge chunk of my time wasted on this. I need a venti in a grande latte for this.

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  5. Frosty Rose

    If this consultant is truly running a profitable part-time business, good for her. But I would be curious to know if she’s running an actual p&l and calculating her real time spent on the business (not just “face time” spent face to face with customers). I’d be willing to bet she’s not making $400-$500 profit on a real p&l. I’d be willing to bet she’s making less than minimum wage once she factors in expenses, mileage, travel, weekly meeting fees, etc. But if she is truly earning $400/month, she still needs to realize she is the exception, not the rule.

    40% profit is not a realistic target. Why? Because you’re paying MK Inc 50% of the retail cost, just to get the product on your shelf. Plus shipping. That 10% overhead that they “strongly recommend” you stick to? It’s impossible. We’ve heard all week how Seminar alone is a $1,000+ annual expense for consultants and directors. Even with her pie-in-the-sky profit number, that’s TWO MONTHS’ worth of profit!

    As sweet as she sounds, she’s still delusional and lost in the pink fog.

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  6. Heather

    Schedule C or it isn’t happening.

    I have a story about inventory and ordering merchandise. We are in the middle of remodeling our master bathroom, and the budget is quite sizable. We’re spending money on some marble tile for the shower pan, and a few dollars went to some gorgeous glass tile for the shower niches. Was any of this in stock, right there for pick-up at the store? Nope. It took about 4 days for the boxes of tile to arrive from the company’s main warehouse. How about the amazing whirlpool tub we ordered because the company does not keep them in stock? Sure, it’s a fairly standard size, so you would THINK we would be able to go to the store and bring it home THAT same day. Nope again. The tub is going to take about 3 weeks. Faucets, shower heads, hand-held sprayers — SURELY all of that is right there, ready to take home!! Nope! All had to be ordered (minus the sink faucets — the showroom actually had two in stock of what we ordered — that was sheer luck) and will take 2-4 weeks to arrive. The floor tile and wall tile have been the only items available right then and there for us to take home the same day.

    I tell this story because retailers are not always keeping an inventory, and the price point of the items doesn’t matter. We have had to order 97% of the items and fixtures for our bathroom, despite shopping at major retailers/big-box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. In fact, many major retailers (Walmart, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, etc.) actually have TOO much inventory right now, because discretionary spending is way down. The problem with MLMs is they do not teach you how to be a good salesperson, which includes tracking your inventory and monitoring your finances (including all of your time spent and products sold at retail v discount).

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    1. Destiny Angel

      I went to take my saucepan off the stove, well the handle only came. Kind of sad at that, my MiL gave it to me as a present sometime in the mid 1980’s. I just ordered a new set of pans off Amazon and I will get them tomorrow.

      I suppose I could have driven to the nearest Wal*Mart or Canadian Tire but I’d rather finish the chores I wanted to do today and I hate shopping on a week-end. In the short term I don’t need them urgently so I could have waited until I went to a bigger town and bought them then. But I’m lazy and ordering on-line is easy.

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    2. Char

      “The problem with MLMs is they do not teach you how to be a good salesperson”—

      That’s because MLM isn’t about being a good product salesperson. It’s about selling a dream and getting that dreamer to order products. Those products are the duffle bags and attaché cases that deliver money throughout the con game network.

      *Not my downvote.

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  7. MultiLevelMoneylosing

    “you may not have access to customers”
    What happened to “warm chatter” and “you don’t need to know people, you need to meet people?”

    And, yet another letter from someone who doesn’t understand that Mary Kay is about RECRUITING. If that $100 a month makes a big difference in your budget good for you, but it sounds like she’s never tried DIQ.

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  8. Not a Bot

    “Does Mary Kay work for everyone? No. There are plenty of reasons why that might be. You may not enjoy the work, you may not have the time to really focus, you may have trouble selling, you may not have access to customers, you may be at a disadvantage you can’t overcome, etc.”

    Many people gives these exact reasons as to why they do not want to do Mary Kay, yet I have read scripts from MK that were posted on this site to overcome these very objections. The scripts say that you don’t have to have a lot of connections or not being a ‘sales type’ is an advantage because the products sells itself. Of course having more connections and being good at selling is a huge advantage (although MK parties and over priced make-up are still a tough sell for those who have these advantages). Also wouldn’t most companies want a sales force who is good at sales? When people interview for a real job, the person going for the job has to explain why they will be a good fit for the company and what skills they bring to the table. In MK, the recruiter has to convince the potential recruit that the company is wonderful and overcome objections about why the recruit doesn’t want to join the company. It is all about selling the dream (and the product) to the consultant.

  9. marren1961

    “Right now, if you opened up a jewelry store, for example, guess what you have to invest in? Jewelry to sell.”

    That’s the thing – we aren’t opening up a store. We are starting a small business that most people who order from realize and understand that those items have to be ordered.

    I never expected my Tupperware person to have everything I wanted in stock. And when I previously purchased Mary Kay, I knew I’d have to WAIT for what I wanted. If I needed mascara immediately, I would have walked into a retail establishment!

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