This story was submitted by a reader of Pink Truth. If you think the part of the story about cheating is unusual, think again. Mary Kay supporters will tell you the cheaters are few and far between, and they weren’t following the Mary Kay Way. Wrong! Cheating is the rule, not the exception. I have yet to find a sales director who made it to that position without signing up friends or family who didn’t really want to be a part of Mary Kay. They all do it so they can move up the pyramid.

I thought perhaps now is the best time to tell my story as I am still sorting out the end of my MK world. I won’t lie. I have moments where I still think about being an awesome Director, and through being a good, honest person, winning that caddy, the jewelry, the huge checks. I still find myself checking out the star consultant catalog thinking, well, maybe… I even have to admit, I love this year’s Court jewelry.

It started for me years ago. I joined the unit of a woman that many adore. She’s been a million dollar sales director multiple times in her over 20 years. But those of us in her unit found out really quickly how just absolutely selfish she is. My inventory call came pretty fast, right behind the agreement where I was told NOTHING about inventory. I didn’t buy any.

But I found myself soon wanting the praise and adoration. I was dishonest, I admit it. I wanted to be liked, and move up fast, and have people notice me. So I signed up my friends and bought their starter kits and purchased their $225 activating order. I sold it all online at cost. I even stretched to make Star Consultant! LOL!

The night I was finally fed up was the last day of the seminar year when I got about 50 emails telling me each hour where we were in wholesale, and could we stretch, just for the team, you need it don’t you, you want to support us, you want me to walk on stage, you want me to get that trip, you want me, me, me, to get all that cash? So I faded.

Then I came back thinking she won’t ruin my business! I will just do it without her. But that doesn’t happen so easily, so I faded again.

Then I signed up again years later down the road with someone new, young, and vivacious! She was hot to trot, and the entire seminar knew it. As I went through MK again I became more and more disillusioned. I wasn’t built to sell makeup. Some people are and they love it. I don’t. I feel that I am built for something different. I was buying stuff just to make goals, I was recruiting ghosts, and those who weren’t ghosts weren’t working.

It all started to dawn on me when my best and brightest recruit wouldn’t quit buying inventory and I just let her keep buying, knowing full well that it was helping my DIQ and car totals, but she wasn’t selling one bit of it. She bought around $8,000 wholesale and I was letting her. And as she hit her one year mark all I did was pray that she didn’t sell back because God forbid she did, I was going to be cut out from that much commission. How terrible, I valued her money over her friendship. I did it with all my recruits who purchased big.

The moment it really hit me was personally watching reports and firsthand stories coming across in our area where it was coming to light all the corruption among the people who want to be just like my director.

I was nearing the end of MK career when it came to light a director was paying for her own DIQ’s recruits (all of them at $600 a pop). Which effectively bought this person’s way to the Court of Sharing. Funny though – the person made Court of Sales half way through the year, but never had another single qualified recruit all year, and only ONE of those recruits was over $600 in wholesale. She kept doing this with more and more directors, and in the end I am sure her Court of Excellence matches her Court of Credit Card Debt. Shortly after this I just checked out mentally watching these people ruin themselves for clapping, and then ruin others to get ahead.

Mind you this isn’t the only case. Plenty of them have done the same, plenty are paying for their cars, purchased their court of sales, or bought their Court of Sharing at $600 a pop. But the one thing I can tell you from what I know – they are all paying the price for their inequities.

All that wrong that just gets me. I can believe MK was once a company where they valued your sales and not your inventory. They valued you truly wanting to pass on a good opportunity for the right reasons, and not to make some Court. I can’t possibly believe MK herself is looking down thinking, WOW, I’m so happy I put all these women into debt!

So what happened? Mary Kay died. I think the true transformation of greed in these directors happened when a male took over her company and shoved everything but the Go Give Spirit into this company. I’m not saying MK is perfect, but you have to admit, these problems weren’t around to this degree before about 2000 while MK was still running the show. It was there, but she at least could make you lather it in love and friendship and you felt forced to be good.

I don’t think sales is bad. Heck, if you think of it, franchises are pyramid schemes. You have to pay someone who pays someone who pays someone. It’s the nature of business to some degree when you are in a franchise type business model. But MK stopped believing in building women, having a product that was better than the competition, letting women truly run their own business, and started pushing money, products that don’t deliver expecting the name will sell it, and tightened up on women to the point that legal is suffocating them.

What happened to meetings in your living room? Products that were quality? Directors that didn’t care if you bought one thing wholesale, they enjoyed your company? Nationals who talked more about how they hope they helped you, not about their commissions checks and diamonds? What happened to girls night out being about spending time with nice women, and not those who did big wholesale? And what happened to MK being part time around my schedule, and you not mocking me for having a job I love and not wanting to leave it for MK?

So until I can enjoy MK for what it was intended to be, an opportunity to have a little something for myself where women didn’t judge me based on my wholesale order or recruiting totals, then count me out. I’m sure selling back my MK counts me out anyhow. I’d rather watch women who brag more about their money than their good friends crash and burn.

And for you that think you’re too hot to trot reading this, I don’t care how much money you have or what jewelry you wear. Show me a job that really means something. That stay at home mom you make fun of is giving constant love to her kids. That job I took over your lipstick is providing national security to you here at home and needed information to the troops overseas. That job that many took after MK is paying off the debt you helped them build and giving them medical care they didn’t have while you filled their heads up with air.

Go ahead and compare your houses with each other, while I compare how good I feel about myself and my job and my contribution to the US, while you drown your offspring and consultants in more debt.

And for those of you who aren’t NSDs laughing at us here on PT who have JOBS – at least we have medical, dental, retirement, 401K matching, vacation and sick time. When I add up everything my company gives me and what I earn for work (the 401K matching, the medical, the dental, the social security and medicare matching that employers are required to do, and retirement contributions they make to my retirement account), I make over $11,000 per month at my worst. Tons of NSDs make less than $10,000 per month and therefore aren’t listed in Applause.

So you can keep your HIGHEST CHECK IN ONE MONTH kudos and your I make six figures bull. Because I do, too.


  1. Heck, if you think of it, franchises are pyramid schemes. You have to pay someone who pays someone who pays someone. It’s the nature of business to some degree when you are in a franchise type business model.

    Nope, sorry. If I buy a franchise I am dealing with the corporation only, no intermediates. I need to have a substantial amount of assets to buy the franchise and property, the fittings and the food and to train my staff their way.

    I need to have a pre-determined number of potential customers in my hinterland and in return the franchiser makes sure I have no direct competition from another franchisee.

    Also and more importantly, I am NOT recruiting other people for a share in the limited market. I am not getting money by encouraging other people to open up the same burger/coffee/sandwich shop in my locale.

  2. I’m glad this person wised up, got out, and shared her story, but…

    No no no no no no no no, franchises are NOT the same as MLM.

    The franchise system is set up to prevent too many of the same business from opening up in an area, because they know that results in reduced profits for all locations. They also sell desirable products that people seek out, at a price point they are willing to pay. They make their profits off the sale of goods to end users. There is a chain of sales from the cow on the farm to the meat sold to the burger factory to the distributor to the franchisee to the customer, but it’s actual goods being sold to an actual customer.

    MLM makes money by getting you to recruit everything that moves, resulting in a saturated market, and frontloading them with inventory at wholesale. The company makes its money off the sale of inventory to its consultants. The company doesn’t care what happens to the stuff once the consultant purchases it; they don’t track retail sales to end users. The products are overpriced and no better than tons of cheaper, more readily available products, so they’re nearly impossible to sell without lowering the price over and over. The chain is manufacturer > MLM > consultant > who cares? The company has its money.

    Also, don’t blame the change in the company on Mary Kay’s son. That’s just misogyny in another form. Mary Kay was just as cutthroat and calculating as any male executive. She cared about her bottom line and her image, not her people. She was just better at coating it with a layer of pink fluff, like cotton candy full of razor blades.

    • “Mary Kay was just as cutthroat and calculating as any male executive.” Definitely. She was PROUD of the competition for trivial ranks – she DESIGNED the ranks to do that. Read her books, read the magazine articles about her from around the time of their selling stock … it’s enlightening.

      • Definitely. Mary Kay Ash was as shrewd as you could get. My uncle is a retired corporate accountant who lives in Dallas. He didn’t know MKA personally, but he knew the company and how cutthroat she was. He told me when the Cowboys wanted a new stadium to be built by the city, the city said they would raise hotel taxes to help fund it. MKA said she would take Seminar and other events outside of Dallas then. She said something that her salesforce wasn’t all Cowboys fans and they shouldn’t have to pay for the new stadium. This is partially why the stadium is in Arlington.

  3. It wasn’t better when Mary Kay lived, it was just newer and far less understood. The makeup hasn’t ever been superior in quality, not in my recollection and that IS going back to the 70s. There isn’t any ethical MLM, that is an oxymoronic phrase. If it’s ethical, it isn’t MLM. If it’s MLM, it cannot be ethical.

    • Plus, when Mary Kay was alive, the internet and social media we have today didn’t exist. People critical of Mary Kay and other MLM were limited to how far they could spread their stories. Now it’s easy to spread the word and meet others who have had bad experiences with MLM no matter where you are.

      The bad stuff was there from the very beginning. There was just no way to tell everyone about it.

      • In 1992 I was passing an advert that had a website as part of the contact info and being geeked out by it. I never imagined just how ubiquitous the internet would become in 30 years.

  4. “What happened to meetings in your living room?” — Amazon Prime in my bedroom, propped up on my headboard and pillow, in sweats, comparing prices and reading reviews.

    “Products that were quality?” — Were they? Maybe the bar was lower back then.

    “Directors that didn’t care if you bought one thing wholesale, they enjoyed your company?” — How did they become Directors then….if they didn’t care?

    “Nationals who talked more about how they hope they helped you, not about their commissions checks and diamonds?” — Except they only helped themselves get to NSD.

    “So until I can enjoy MK for what it was intended to be, an opportunity to have a little something for myself where women didn’t judge me based on my wholesale order or recruiting totals, then count me out.” —

    Have you considered that you might be wrong about the intentions? You are a customer of MKI, and that made her and her descendants extremely wealthy. I’d say, “Intentions accomplished.”

    Please know that I’m glad you’re out, and that deserves a lot of credit. But you need to let it go and realize it was always not going to be about you. In MLM, it’s about them. You know Mary Kay is an MLM company, right? And that’s not even remotely close to being a franchise.

    • As so frequently happens, Char, you mirror my own thoughts and 100% comparing prices across EVERYTHING. That levels the playing field for me, for sure.

      I am glad the writer is out of MK – again – I hope it will stick, but as long as she holds onto the pink dream….delusion, really….she is vulnerable. Ma’am, please let the scales fall from your eyes. MK has never been what you WANTED IT to be. And surely never will be. Direct your passion and concerns towards volunteerism and you would be rewarded with all you are looking for except financially but that doesn’t appear to be your main motivator. Your heart and compassion are greatly needed.

    • “MK for what it was intended to be,” – It was intended to be an MLM where Mary Kay was at the top, in charge. She and her husband (George Hallenbeck) had the business plan all figured out before they selected a product to push.

  5. There are several big differences between being in an MLM and owning a franchise. The one that stands out to me the most is that there is a substantial list of disclosures the parent company is required by law to make to the potential franchisee before any contracts are signed. As it stands right now, MLM companies are not legally required in the US to give potential recruits full disclosure. That is a big problem. It allows for deceptive recruiting.

    • Another huge difference between franchises and MLMs: the vetting, or lack thereof. To join an MLM, all you need is a pulse and the fee for the starter kit. In contrast, let’s say you wanted to be a McDonald’s franchise owner. There’s a multistep process to be eligible. Once you’ve been accepted as a potential franchisee, you go through an extremely thorough training program that takes at least 1 year to complete before you can even look at potential franchise locations.

      • “…a pulse and the fee for the starter kit.”

        Pulse optional, considering all the deceased relatives and pets who are signed up by desperate DIQ-ers.

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