Written by Leslie
If I had to do DIQ all over again, there are things I would do differently. I did 8 years in Mary Kay and I really think I had a good unit.
- I wish my director would have been more understanding when I chose to go to college (why do that if you’re dedicated to MK was her response).
- Same thing when I ultimately had to get a job. I know they call it Journey Of the Broke, but this lead to so many mixed emotions because I’d never been so broke until I did MK. I just didn’t understand, I was often queen of sales for my unit and felt like I was hiding a huge secret. Try as I might, I never made 50%.
- Shark Tank, of all things, really put into perspective for me. A 50% margin is what you need to break EVEN (oh shoot). Profit comes at 65-90% profit margin depending on what you’re selling. One item to keep in stock you’ll need a 65% margin, over a hundred like in MK and you’re going to need more in the 80-90% range. If a consultant made a pitch on shark tank the two critiques they’d likely make would be: you need to increase your margins significantly, and that inventory is a nightmare and will bleed your business.
- Don’t encourage taking out debt to fund an inventory. Because the company measures success based on what you buy not what you sell (minus cheap bracelets at weekly meetings), it just makes that jump into debt rewarding for superficial reasons like recognition and prizes. A small business should not be taking on debt, especially in the first month. Normal business owners would get investors, start a campaign to raise capitol, take preorders.
- Not make me feel dirty when I left. This was the most saddening and surprising thing I experienced, and again I was in a pretty good unit. It was the right decision for me. My mom, whose an executive of a business says “as hard as it is for the company to lose an employee and train a new one, I never want someone to feel held back or like they owe it to us to stay.”
By comparison of my time in MK versus now: Now I’m in a company that was named one of the top companies to work for in its industry. I thought MKwas a company that valued me by giving me opportunities to prove myself. But where I am now, the tone is totally different in a positive way.
Day 1 the new place said “please don’t pay for anything out of pocket; it should never cost you to work here” (that was a culture shock to say the least!) And please don’t do any work, including checking emails, without being paid for it. (No zero sales parties)
Do I think MK is a terrible company? No. Do I think they either intentionally or unintentionally mislead people? Yes. Do I think they’re a good place for women to work? It depends.
A therapist once told me that you’ll find the jobs/hobbies/relationships that feed your top 3 “wants/desires”. When I was in MK I wanted to feel pretty, classy, and have a reason to travel. It fed all of those. But now my desires have changed, and MK would be a horrid match for me.
I think that’s why this site can be feel so outrageously taboo to each “side”. If you felt your desires were being starved in MK, you want to convince everyone to jump ship and become saddened when people won’t. I try to embrace the grey–that nothing’s ever black or white–and ultimately people who are feeling nourished by MK will stay because the jump doesn’t make sense.
“I think that’s why this site can be feel so outrageously taboo to each “side”. If you felt your desires were being starved in MK, you want to convince everyone to jump ship and become saddened when people won’t. I try to embrace the grey–that nothing’s ever black or white–and ultimately people who are feeling nourished by MK will stay because the jump doesn’t make sense.”
I remember years ago reading a dumb fantasy book where women have the magical power to create anything they want out of thin air, but it vanishes 24 hours later. The main character was very poor to the point where she has to create clothing every morning and a bed every night, and all she can afford is moldy bread and rotten fruit. So she creates fancy stuff to make the lousy food more palatable, but she has to eat the nasty real food because the magical food will vanish just like the other stuff and if you try to live on it you will starve to death.
Here, the bracelets and trinkets and thought-terminating cliches are the magical items that vanish a day later, the ones meant to give the impression of success and support and distract you from the fact that you’re making peanuts and will never make a profit. You yourself went to college and got a real job and saw the numbers and acknowledged the truth of them, in spite of your director’s attempts and companywide scorn of “J O Bs) to put you off. So well done, you, on that at least.
But I’m curious to know what your three desires are now and why they’d be such a horrible fit for MK. Are they anything in the neighborhood of financial stability, security in retirement, need for health benefits, security for your family, to be recognized as superior in your field, to be rewarded in tangible ways for your work? Because any MLM sucks as a means to deliver any of those.
The former MK people here have all seen the magical feast disappear and leave behind the moldy bread. It’s all fluff and wishes and nothing to sustain you. They want to get the word out so that others in the fog will start to look for the truth behind the pink sparkles. The pro-MK people hate it because they don’t want their people to see that their illusions are just that – window dressing for a truth that’s kind of a bummer.
No matter how MK might scratch someone’s itch to dress up pretty and play makeup, eventually they’re going to need something more fulfilling than fog and trinkets. The point of this site is to help them make the transition at the time and place of their choosing and to help them weather the fallout.
Sometimes, things really are black or white. Sometimes they’re even a big fat DUHHHHH!
MLM businesses are the latter, full stop.
“Profit comes at 65-90% profit margin depending on what you’re selling.”
You should see the huge margin Mary Kay charges, over their cost, for the cheap items they sell to their own consultants at “wholesale”. It is likely well over 100%, and in some cases closer to 1000%. MKC is doing just fine by Shark Tank standards.
But with millions of Mary Kay consultants worldwide, individual consultants have little control over the retail margin…the market sets it for you since you are competing with so many consultants selling the same things to the same people. Once a market gets saturated, the retail margin trends negative. This is why it is so difficult to sell Mary Kay products even at “wholesale”. There are simply too many consultants, some of whom are trying to minimize their losses and are willing to sell below wholesale just to move an item.
Think about this: What is Mary Kay’s “cost” on that lipstick they charge the consultant $25 for? It is as high as $5? I am guessing it is even even less.
I looked into it at one point. Cosmetic products usually cost somewhere between $2-$3 to produce and standard wholesale markup for cosmestics is 2-2.5*manufacturing cost. So if it costs $2.50 to make, wholesale cost would be between $5.00 and $6.25.
And they sell lipsticks on the website for $18.00 so yeah, as long as someone buys it they’re making back around twice their cost so it’s no skin off their nose who buys it or what they do with it, as long as someone does.
Two favorite lipsticks in my stash at the moment are a Wet&Wild ($3.00) and an elf ($4.00). Creamy, long-lasting color.
A Mary Kay consultant would have no fun with me. I’m not paying $18 for a tube of wax, oil, and pigment when I can get the same thing (minus the fancy MK packaging) for three or four dollars.
“Sometimes, things really are black or white. Sometimes they’re even a big fat DUHHHHH!
MLM businesses are the latter, full stop.”
True, Popinki, but the keyword in your statement is “businesses.” I have absolutely no problem with MLMs being pitched as a hobby to fulfill your three wants/desires. Hobbies, as MK leaders will consistently remind you, cost money, while businesses are designed to make money.
I personally despise beauty pageants, but I can kind of see why they appeal to women who want to feel pretty and be in the spotlight. BUT, they are very clear that this is something that’s going to be VERY expensive with no chance of tangible ROI.
MLMs including Mary Kay? Not so much. They hide data on the real income you can hope to earn and present themselves as a real business that can fix your financial woes, instead of the very expensive hobby that they really are. And what’s worse is when you start seeing behind the smokescreen, they claim it’s all your fault that you’re not making money (it’s not!) to keep you from really examining the “business” model that enriches corporate at the expense of the masses of consultants.
If you want to be a hobby consultant and cheap trinkets and plastic tiaras scratch your itch, fine. But that’s the only grey area I see in what, otherwise, is a very black-and-white proposition.
“I have absolutely no problem with MLMs being pitched as a hobby to fulfill your three wants/desires.”—
Well, I sure do. Yeah, let’s all help contribute to the MLM scam company’s existence by having people buy their products, even as a hobby. And we know that those hobby people will be pitched, pressured, and dangled the “business opportunity”. Is it that, as long as desires are fulfilled, screw the big picture and the harm it causes to the world?
“If you want to be a hobby consultant and cheap trinkets and plastic tiaras scratch your itch, fine.”—
Not fine. That’s like saying: If you want to do drugs as recreation to scratch your itch, fine. Never mind that it helps support the major drug dealer selling, in bulk for resale, to some kids next to the middle school.
The article author is still in denial about Mary Kay. Perhaps it’s self-soothing denial because she wasted 8 years of her life believing in MK. Or still doesn’t even fully understand MLM? Case in point, the reference to Shark Tank. They would not have discussed “margins”. They would’ve been like Canada’s Shark Tank, the Lion’s Den, and laughed her off the stage – just like they did the Lyoness MLM guy. It went something like this: “So let me get this straight? I recruit someone, and they recruit someone, and they recruit someone, etc.. Are you seeing the shape I’m making?”
Nowhere does the author discuss MLM and the big umbrella of dream selling. Unfortunately, the author seems to be experiencing a form of denialism. “In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth.” The author wrote, “Do I think MK is a terrible company? No. Do I think they either intentionally or unintentionally mislead people? Yes. Do I think they’re a good place for women to work? It depends.”
She is still defending the Mary Kay scam. Why? Perhaps she’s not ready to accept she’s been duped? I’m not even blaming her; this is a normal process. She’ll get there if she bothers to research and truly understand the core tactics of MLM.
2+2 definitely doesn’t equal 5, but nor does it equal 4 1/2.
Char, you are my hero in your tenacity when it comes to keeping the “scam” front and center in any MLM discussion. What I think OP is missing is the business objective of Mary Kay Corporation, which is to, “Convince consultants to order way more product than they can ever sell or use. Next, convince them to recruit others to do the same. Finally, get them to quit without returning any merchandise.”
Mary Kay does not depend on any actual retailing of their products. It is nowhere in their business plan. This is simply not the business they are in.
If we can just get this message through to Mary Kay recruits so they can see how they are being used.
Edit: My apologies to Canadians as I had Lyoness on my mind and wrote Lion’s Den. It’s “Dragons’ Den”. Anyone interested can put the words into Google and find the cringe-worthy video clip. Mary Kay is no different than this poor man’s “business”.
Note that Lyoness was promoting a cash back app membership, but it was/is still an MLM company. MLM is a system using endless-chain recruiting via opportunity/dream selling, and that’s regardless of what product or service or promise is attached to it. It does not have to be makeup, oil, or soap. It’s an international scam system that targets both men and women, probably equally. Did you all know that Dubai is the MLM capital of the world? How many thought it was Utah? Not sarcasm, genuinely asking.
I remember that episode! Saw it on YouTube or something and it was hilarious. That guy could barely talk and was sweating like pig. You knew his whole idea was dead on arrival because most of the hosts could detect a pyramid scheme a mile away and I loved it when Kevin totally crushed him. The real punch line, however, that was then he told them about his ex-wife making money at it and when they asked how much he said “well, it’s hard to say because its in Hungarian forints”. It’s always “hard to say” when you ask someone in MLM how much money they’ve made but I burst out laughing when he said that. I couldn’t even believe that Dragons Den even allowed him on the show – besides being nothing more than a scam and not really an investment, it wasn’t really his business to show in the first place. Just like Shark Tank, I guess Dragons Den brings some ideas on that are deliberately bad to make the show more entertaining (probably even more so than Shark Tank). Search “Dragons Den Lyoness” on YouTube and you can find this guy’s hilarious pitch on the show.
True dat, Frosty, and well said 🙂
“Do I think MK is a terrible company? No. Do I think they either intentionally or unintentionally mislead people? Yes. Do I think they’re a good place for women to work? It depends.”
I think as you gain a little more petspective, you’ll change your answers to
“Absolutely and intentionally” and
Mary Kay is running a scam. Because MLM is a scam, just as much as any Ponzi scheme or street hustle. The only way to succeed in MLM is off the backs of others. The majority of your “good unit” were losing money ordering stuff they couldn’t sell. You yourself made that clear: 50% margin is too low to make a profit, and no one can consistently make 50%. QED.
All MLMs have this same model:
1. Company makes money selling to reps.
2. Reps recruit more reps, because without a “team” under you, you’ll never profit.
3. Company benefits from point #2, while team members get screwed.
4. Many wise up and drop out, in spite of massive pressure to stay in and keep losing money. Churn rate is very high.
5. Because of #s 1 and 4, recruiting is constantly flogged by Company. It becomes a never-ending, exhausting chore for anyone trying to keep their team from dissolving away.
So I must disagree: there is no “it depends.” MLM is rotten to the core, and in that game, the only winning move is not to play.
“If I had to do DIQ all over again, there are things I would do differently.”
Like what? She didn’t say.