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

Why Can’t We Trade MK Products?

mary-kay-productsYour Mary Kay sales director encourages you to NOT trade products with other consultants. Why?

Mary Kay Inc. makes less money and your director gets a smaller commission check!

Of course the company and the sales directors are going to “discourage” trading Mary Kay products among consultants. It is far better for their wallets if you have to place an order to get that one lipstick or eye color that your customer orders and you don’t have. And it’s even better for them if you don’t have your “earned discount privilege” and you have to order $225 wholesale that you don’t need (instead of just the one or two items that you need).

Now naturally, they’re not going to tell Mary Kay consultants that the reason they don’t want you to trade is for their own selfish reasons. Nope. They have to make up other plausible-sounding reasons. Yeah… they actually try to convince you that making you place a too-big order that has lots of items you don’t need is actually GOOD for you!

Here’s one handout on this:

In the early years of my business, we needed to place a minimum $600. order to receive 50% discount. It also could take 2 or 3 weeks to receive an order. As a result, we did a lot of trading and even borrowing from each other. Unfortunately, that did not aid in each Consultant becoming an independent business woman who had great money management skills. Some actually became dependent on their sister Consultants inventory and never built their product level.

Women who would never call another person and ask to borrow $200. in cash did not think about doing the same thing asking for product.

In our effort to be go-give, we created some really bad habits. By the time I moved from New Castle in 1992, my front door had become a revolving door with Consultants wanting to trade. I took full responsibility for creating that monster even by the way I was recruiting. I actually said in interviews, “The consultants all help each other out if we run out of certain colors, etc.” ๐Ÿ™ Of course, we get what we talk about.

Side note: I could tell a lot about someone’s integrity by the condition of the products that they wanted me to take. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, the good news!!! Our business opportunity has continued to get better and better. We can now order as little as $225. and receive 50% discount. We can place an order and have it in a few days. The Earned Discount Privilege is available for those emergencies that we run out of something right after we order.

Therefore, we can run our businesses independently of other Consultants. It is not their responsibility to supply product for us to service our customers. Here are some things that I would like for you to consider for the new Year.

1. Build your product level up to the point that you can deliver to your customers anything they need when they need it. If you are not there yet, focus on skincare first because customers need that immediately. If they have to wait a few days for color, they probably will.

2. Place an order instead of calling another Consultant. It is always best to place at least $225. A larger order allows you to take advantage of bonus products. If you must order less, why not call a few more customers and get the order up so that your profit is not reduced by the cost of shipping.

3. If you get an order for something that you don’t have and your customer needs it right now, call another Consultant and give her the sale. If it is her product that is being sold, then the profit should be hers.

4. If a Consultant calls you to trade (I think everyone is passed asking to borrow)…it is O.K. to say No. One of my top selling Directors shared with me that someone called for a product, she went to look for it and came back and said, “oooooh, I only have 15 of those on my shelf and I fear if I give one to you, I won’t have what I need for my customers this week”.

5. Remember time is money. Time spent one way takes time away from something else. Any time spent trying to find product, going to get it, etc. is wasting both the person’s time that is asking for the trade and the person who is trying to accommodate. Everyone just needs to order and manage our own products.

I’ve often heard directors use a “quality” scare tactic to try to get you to not trade products. You know…. gosh, you never know how that consultant stored her products and it would be so much better to get fresh products from the company…

Sorry, but trading is a great way to help one another out, especially when your recruiter placed your first (large) inventory order for you and happened to get you odd things you’ll never sell.


  1. Popinki

    You’d have a hard time convincing me that the average consultant sells 15 items total a week, nevermind 15 of the same thing ๐Ÿคฏ

    And why exactly is it better, if you need some random thing for $25, is it better to place an order for 10 times as much just for free shipping and some bonus items that aren’t what you’re going to need, either?

    Oh, right. Your director’s commission and maybe a dollar store prize. Makes perfect sense ๐Ÿ™„

    1. Frosty Rose

      You don’t get free shipping at any amount, unfortunately. But it’s a fixed shipping amount, say $10. (I’m sure it’s more than that by now.) So if you order $5,000, you pay $10 shipping, and if you order $7.50, you still pay $10. And bonus items don’t kick it until you order more than $600 wholesale. So…. Same story, different day, it’s all a scam.

  2. Data Junkie

    If you don’t meet the minimums in Mary Kay, you don’t get commissions from down-line
    orders, and you don’t get the 50% off on your own orders. To stay qualified for one full year in Mary Kay requires ~$1000 commitment.

    Nothing in Mary Kay is about selling. All the rules, incentives, training, coaching etc. are around buying and recruiting.. The $225 (more like $250 after double retail tax) minimum order per quarter is totally arbitrary. They could easily say, “For orders under $225, the consultant needs to pay shipping but still get the discount.” But they don’t. Getting a $1000/yr commitment from consultants to stay active is just too quite lucrative for Mary Kay and the upline.

    Qualifying minimums in MLMs are a very simple way to keep the money flowing from the consultant upward. Notice how the qualifying minimums are always more than any single consultant can use or sell? Even if the upline can’t convince the consultant to “front-load” with a huge initial order, the qualifying minimums will make sure they pay if they want to play, leading to the same outcome for 99% of participants: financial losses and a garage/house full of unsold inventory.

    The entire “plan” is designed to create exactly this outcome…to the benefit of Mary Kay, not the consultants.

  3. NayMKWay

    This Director has taken a perfectly cromulent trade-and-barter system and couched it as sabotaging your independence. What horse flop.

    Can someone please explain to me how placing a large order, plus shipping and 2x sales tax, to a faceless corporation is somehow superior to helping one another?

    Do I hear crickets?

  4. Fogfree

    My unit was known for trading. I was asked by customer to do a foot spa party. Customer asked for an older foot cream that I had never heard of ( must have been discontinued before my time) mentioned it to director said she would trade with me. I asked her what she wanted she said sheโ€™d get back to me then sent me an invoice for the product plus tax and shipping. (She lived out of town).

  5. Popinki

    Upon rereading, the “if you don’t have something in stock, give the sale to the consultant who does” thing is downright sinister.

    Sure, give someone else the sale, meaning you don’t make any money. Someone else does, and if she’s doing things the MK way (you know, sly and mercenary) she’s going to poach that customer for herself (“don’t worry, I’ll always have this in stock for you along with this other stuff you’re buying”) and more than likely try to recruit her. So not only are you losing a customer, you’re liable to end up in competition with her while another competitor gets commission on her orders.

    And if you dare to complain, it will be all YOUR fault for not having every single MK product ever made in inventory at all times, and/or not recruiting her yourself already.


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