Treating Mary Kay Like a Real Business

mary-kay-businessWritten by SuzyQ

A summary of the process of manipulating new Mary Kay consultants, and all the ways sales directors treat this like anything but a business, then chastise you when you quit because you didn’t work it like a business.

Dear Mary Kay recruits,

Remember when we were presenting “The Opportunity” to you at meetings or at an individual appointment? We talked at length about how great this “business” was, about how much potential you had to make it big, and really, how easy it was to build a successful business?

That the product sells itself flies off the shelves, you can quit your full time job and take care of your babies, that you are in business for yourself but not by yourself, that you will get your product at 50% off the rest of your life and drive free to boot, you do not need to be the sales type or not really know a lot of people, that you had the potential to make an executive income working part time? Sure you do.

And then, when we had you at a meeting and “trained” you? Did your debut? (of course that may have depended on your level of inventory) “Helped” you with your questions – remember that, too? Okay, we may have said that you will learn some of these details as you go along, but nevertheless, you felt supported and so excited?

In Mary Kay, we tend to have trouble maintaining appropriate boundaries, so if you thought you were really our good friend, we are sorry about that. We tend just to hang with our best friends, our sister directors. We are the elite of MK, the top 2% you know, and if you work a little harder, you will be able to join us!

The first few weeks passed quickly and someone new took your place as our newest best friend, and that happened to be about the time you were becoming just the littlest bit disillusioned, and we reminded you that this WAS a business, and it had to be worked like a business. We may have even said that in our own experience, no one had ever just shown up on our doorstep and wanted to buy MK. And… by the way, did you register for Career Conference?

The point is that the information changes in direct proportion to your time in MK. What starts out being a “business” – ends up being a BUSINESS. Any questions? The tone changes dramatically. You are reminded that Mary Kay is simple but not easy. Another reminder (?) that you are a professional business woman and to complain or cast doubt among your sister consultants is unacceptable.

You will receive phone calls, emails, and texts that seem to address the exact feeling you may be having Weeks 1- 10 of your new business. (Thank you Mary Kay Cosmetics for those, and for doing that research for us… wow, this company really cares about the sales force)

If your questions are not answered by one of the scripts we have on, you will be reminded to go online and watch videos and read some training materials on InTouch. (Wait – we never mentioned reading in the beginning! Didn’t we even have you sign your agreement without giving you time to read it???)

You will be asked if you read all of the material we gave you in your new consultant packet. When you express dismay that you are not making money, or that your classes are not holding, we direct you back to coaching your hostesses, and may “work” with you on your class close and individual consultations or refer you back to our social media accounts for helpful tips and videos

It is not working, and it will always be your fault. We gave you the information, you didn’t read it or didn’t ask the right questions. We have so many other unit members to work with and you knew coming in that this is a BUSINESS, not a hobby – so we aren’t entirely sure what part of that you didn’t get. (We bragged about playing makeup and having girlfriend time and big income to go along with that playing around, didn’t we? Whatever.) We TOLD you that we would match our time with your effort. If you don’t work your business, we aren’t going to work with you. Sorry.

What you don’t know is that this is how your kind, ethical, one of the good ones, really works. We are taught and retaught and retaught to work with those who are working. Replace the dead reds and move on. To release those who “don’t get it.”

If we don’t pull production (i.e. get a large initial inventory order), we don’t get paid. We have our own personal businesses, yes, but we are usually too busy, and there isn’t enough money in it for us to hold our own classes for anything but a recruiting opportunity. Director’s recruit directors, so we aren’t into messing with the masses. We are not social workers. We are not your mom. We are not your therapist. We are trying to pay our bills.

It all falls on you, intrepid consultant, to make our checks worth the paper they are printed on. If you can’t make Mary Kay work, the fault is yours. We trained you (well not really, but we pretend we did), we supported you (if you made a star order), we loved on you (if you kept on making star orders), and it is up to you. We believe in you and we know you can do it.

By the way, the NSDs know everything, and they say you should only listen to them, so I don’t know why you would believe anything on this negative blog. I am not sure that reading poison is an effective use of your time, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. No one will loan you money to start a business without a robust business plan. Folks trying to start an MLM sales business like Mary Kay will notice that no bank will give them a loan for this. Not because they don’t think Mary Kay Corporation is a business. Rather, they won’t loan these folks money because MLM consultants are not running an actual business.

    Before starting a business, you need a business plan. This business plan includes a financial model for how the business works so you can monitor and manage cash flow to the level you can track profit/loss. This requires simple best practices such as keeping an accurate ledger, regular (monthly) tracking of costs and revenue, forecasts and targets for sales to meet revenue and profit goals, and accurately tracking performance against a plan.

    Before signing up with Mary Kay, a consultant should know precisely how much inventory must be sold…the gross sales numbers and the margin, to cover costs and (hopefully) turn a profit. But Mary Kay wont’ reveal this level of detail, since in a saturated market, it is impossible to turn a profit selling product to outside customers while meeting Mary Kay’s ridiculous and arbitrary qualifying minimums.

    So once the consultant discovers that selling retail is not viable, they have three choices: 1) Continue operating at a loss, 2) quit, or 3) transition to the unethical. Yes, a tiny fraction of participants are able to make money in MLMs like Mary Kay. But no one is making money in Mary Kay from individual sales. Rather, the cash flow powering their profits comes from the bonuses paid on individual orders made by the salesforce in the consultant’s own downline. This means, to turn a profit, you must recruit. Why is this unethical? Because it is impossible in endless-chain recruiting schemes like Mary Kay to turn a profit without significant losses in the downline. Someone has to be on the bottom losing money to allow this whole thing to function.

    It is the consultants in the downline operating at a loss that provide the up-line cash flow that allows those at the top to turn a profit, as meager as that is. No down-line in any MLM can be profitable as a whole. They system is designed for this outcome. Without down-line losses, there is no upline profit.

    This reality just happens to be central to the MK corporate business plan. But this is something they will never, ever share with new recruits. Imagine how quickly they’d go out of business if they did?

  2. If I may summarize SuzyQ’s most excellent essay:

    1. “Big money! Free car! It’s EASY!”

    2. “Hey, no one said this was going to be easy.”

    The fact that those two claims can be spoken by the same person in the span of a few weeks shows just how corrupting the Mary Kay scam is.

    • Excellent summary. Let’s not forget the most important part of any Mary Kay indoctrination, I mean… um… training: It’s all your fault and there must be something wrong with you!

      • Remember being in school and thinking you were the only one who didn’t understand what the teacher was saying? So you didn’t want to raise your hand and be embarrassed by everyone else rolling their eyes at your stupidity?

        Well, Mary Kay has made that sense of shame their entire business model. In Mary Kay, you’re constantly made to believe you’re inadequate and the only one having problems.

        Then you get out of school (Mary Kay) and learn every other student (scamee) had the same problems all along.

      • In case a few lurkers don’t know the definition, I looked it up for them:

        Indoctrination (noun): the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

        I agree. They must use indoctrination because Mary Kay, at its core, is opportunity/dream/paradise selling to the willing-victims. Indoctrination is a time-tested, effective cult strategy, and MK uses it to their advantage, unfortunately.


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