Written by Frosty Rose

When I was deep in the Pink Fog, I spent a lot of time at the feet of the “great” Linda Toupin. Her stories of work ethic, of grit and tenacity, and of doing things “the Mary Kay Way” were inspiring. She had built a national area, she knew all the secrets. All I had to do was listen to her and I could do it, too!

I remember one training that she offered for DIQs about how to grow your unit as clearly as if it happened five minutes ago. She said your only job for your entire Mary Kay career is to “build it and give it away, then build it again and give it away.”

As a consultant, you were to have a series of parties, build a customer base from those parties, then recruit someone from that group and give her those customers as a kickstart. As a director, you grew your unit by working with your consultants’ customers, recruiting them under her, and then she would take them as she launched her own unit; that’s how you grew yourself to a national sales director. “Build it and give it away.”

It all sounded so pure, so “go-give,” so simple. But even in that training there were the seeds of Linda’s true mercenary nature that she learned at the feet of Mary Kay Wagner Rogers Eckman Weaver Louis Miller Ash.

“Worst case scenario, the consultant fails and you get to take all those customers back. Or the director ‘chooses to step down’ and you get all those consultants back in your unit.”

Wait, what? Nobody ever fails in this business! It’s the best opportunity out there for women, so how could anyone ever fail? Especially with a ready-made base of customers? And why on earth would any director “choose to step down”? Isn’t that the greatest job conceivable, short of NSD? Ah well, the pink fog is great at blurring out inconvenient rough edges. So I overlooked that part and clung to her advice. Here are two stories from my personal experience about how that worked out.

That time I tanked my customer base

*Disclaimer* I was an outlier when it came to sales in Mary Kay. I made really good part-time money with my sales business, I skilled myself up in that area, and I worked hard at it. My results were not typical, as I could see even then.

I had a really successful sales business as a consultant. I knew my stuff, I knew what women wanted/needed, and I was masterful at the individual close. I had one particular group of customers that had at least 2-3 parties every quarter, loved seeing the new products, and several were using the entire line of skin care. That group typically ordered $600 or more every month. More around the holidays because they all knew I knew what the others liked, so they would buy a bunch of Christmas gifts.

I loved that group of customers, but I was desperate to build a unit and become a director, so I tried relentlessly to recruit one of them—it was an incredible start to a strong business, and I just couldn’t see why none of them wanted to do what I was doing (I see now!). But, finally, one of them recruited. She did a $600 initial order (which I sold for her), and then nothing else. You see, she wasn’t as motivated as I was, she wasn’t as educated on the product line as I was, she didn’t hold parties, she didn’t show them the new products (because she didn’t have them). Instead of earning roughly $700 per quarter from sales before expenses, I earned a one-time payment of roughly $100, including a $50 bonus because her initial order was “qualified.”

While she was a consultant, her friends and family weren’t being exposed to the new products or getting good customer service, so they all moved on to different brands. When she “failed as a consultant” and finally washed out, those customers did not come back to me. The reality was, they probably got used to not being hounded about their purchases on a monthly basis. They discovered better products at a better price that didn’t come with happy, smiling bulldozer me.

“Build it and give it away” had failed me. Even still, it must have been my fault. Linda Toupin wouldn’t lead me astray! So I did it again. And again. And again. With the same results.

That time I tanked two units

Well, surely the concept couldn’t be completely flawed, right? Surely, what didn’t work on the consultant level must work on the director level. My senior director certainly thought so. And so did I.

So I set off on the journey of DIQ to prove it. My director worked hard with me, helping me recruit to get into DIQ, helping me identify the right women to bring into my budding unit as I was going through qualifications. “Training” those new recruits to begin recruiting immediately so the new unit would have enough consultants and production to complete qualifications.

The defining moment of my DIQ process was the end of September. You see, my director hadn’t qualified for a career car yet, despite being a director for over ten years. Clearly, she wasn’t working hard enough and it was all her fault, but I digress. The production and new recruits brought in during my DIQ process actually put her in car qualifications. She finally had enough momentum to get her own trophy on wheels, her own “free” car.

So at the end of September, with just days to finish and a little over $2,000 wholesale to go, she called me. She had me beg my team/developing unit to place orders so she could finish car qualifications. And it worked. My team production was almost $8,000 that month. I was in car qualifications, she earned her car, and the next month I finished DIQ and debuted my own unit. Success, right? Well, in the moment, sure. But what happened in the months following?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that if two units together were barely making the $6,500/month production required to earn a car, when you divide those units, they’re not going to be sustainable.

To no one’s surprise, my unit failed. My director clung to her car long enough for my unit to come back under her umbrella, by which point she was almost making minimum car production again. But the same cycle that I saw with my new recruits and customers happened with the unit.

When I failed as a director, my unit was tied to me. Those consultants no longer felt any loyalty to my senior director. So they quit at the first opportunity. Or they ghosted us both. They saw the reality of this business in a way that their leaders, blinded by the Pink Fog, could not. And they fled.

“Build it and give it away” sounds great. But if you scratch the surface of the “go-give” mentality, what it creates is not sustainable. In fact, what those words really mean is “grind, grind, grind, and it never stops.” Until you do. You pause, take a breath, and it all collapses like the house of cards it is.


  1. Thanks for sharing Frosty. I am curious…were your original customers using Mary Kay products only because of loyalty to you? In other words, if they had the option to buy from Target after you moved up, would they have continued to use MK products?

    I personally know ladies in my neighborhood who use MLM products from a lady up the street out of personal, not brand, loyalty. I am curious if your experience was similar.

    • 100% personal loyalty. Brand loyalty is not encouraged. Brand loyalty will move people to order the products at the cheapest price. So the average consultant who relies on sales for (paltry) income can’t compete with top directors who run a BOGO sale every other day (I’m looking at you, Princess Chels!). And they certainly can’t compete with Ebay, Amazon, yard sales, or regular “going out of business” sales. You’re taught to bind your customers to you with a personal relationship and trust that will supersede cost concerns. Customer service, free shipping, personal consultations and recommendations, all these things build personal loyalty to the consultant (supposedly) and create an environment where customers won’t leave you. It also creates an environment where consultants inevitably get deeply personally hurt/offended when their customers do leave. They’ve poured so much into this relationship, they just don’t see why anyone would leave them like that! It’s not till after the Pink Fog ™ clears that you can see how utterly transactional every relationship in MK really is.

      • I can’t believe how Chelsea can recruit consultants by telling them they will always make 50% on everything they sell when that’s blatantly not what she herself does. Seriously, how can any potential recruit who sees her BOGOs all over her SM ever believe that? It boggles my mind.

  2. Yikes, Linda’s a dead ringer for C. Montgomery Burns, Homer Simpson’s evil boss.


    Great article, Frosty. It really highlights how these trite little sayings that MK just loves are nothing but hot air. You can do everything exactly as they tell you, and yet when (not if) you fail, it’s your fault somehow. Somehow, their pat little schemes never take the human factor into account: humans really don’t like being nagged or forced to be human piggy banks.

    Because you will fail, because, as the wannabe car driver proves, you might pull it off one time, but the system is set up so that it’s impossible to sustain that level of “success” for any length of time. The MLM director, for all her ugly suits and “free” cars, is really nothing without the bank accounts of her underlings paying for her success. And those underlings really need to eat and wear clothes and pay the water bill with that money that they have a finite amount of.

  3. Linda believes her own BS so much that she gave away her unit to her daughter. And when Katie won Queen of Sales at Seminar, she gave away her crown to Linda. (Surely that was out of Go-Give spirit, and not pure apathy to the whole MK song & dance.)

  4. Ouch. Best not to mix business/money with friendship, as the risks are too high. This remains my go-to response to MLM pitches coming from someone close. I find it so ironic that these “transactional” relationships are built on exploiting personal loyalty in only one direction. Only those deep in the fog can possibly believe this loyalty comes across as bi-directional.

    • Oops…that was a reply to Frosty’s reply to my comment. Not sure why this was placed down here. Oh well.

  5. I promise you all in Mexico you can get better business advice LOL.

    This is the silliest thing I think I’ve heard in a long time and the worst business advice ever. I swear every time when I think that MK ratchets can’t go dumber they do.

    🚨 ALERT 🚨
    I am not insulting anyone. I am actually being polite because there’s other words for this.

  6. “beg my team/developing unit to place orders so she could finish car qualifications.”

    Those car programs are goldmines for MLMs. Buy buy buy recruit recruit recruit to earn the car. Continue buying and recruiting to keep it. The money just keeps r-o-l-l-i-n-g in to the company’s coffers.

    All the while, the company is touted as being “generous” for offering such a wonderful program.

    • MK Corp has an entire department devoted solely to “driving” the career car business. They deal with the thousands of car drivers in MK, and their department is categorized as a “customer service” department…hmmm…yet they don’t have anything to do with end CONSUMERS. They only work with MK career car drivers. So who exactly is the “customer” in this scenario…lol

  7. Great post Frosty. Is your director still in MK?

    I would love to hear from people in Linda’s former area how they really feel about Katie coming in and zooming to the top of the leader boards.

    • She is, but I was an adopted consultant. My director was in a different geographical and national area.

      To answer the question, though, the directors are… not happy. A big part of the allure of MK has always been that everyone starts on a level playing field. AND, all sales leaders in the company had to climb the same ladder you’re currently on. The theory is that they experienced first hand all the things they’re teaching about. The whole Linda/Katie situation proved that whole concept a total fraud. It’s caused a lot of hurt feelings and ruffled feathers.

      • I always wondered how the money situation played out – how much does Linda keep and how much goes to Katie and the support staff.

  8. What a great read! Thank you. 😊

    It is interesting how those cute, neat little mottos get developed and refined and how they work so well. I remember listening to a director during a unit meeting explaining, “The average customer will buy $100 at a skin care class. The average class has four ladies attend. The class lasts for two hours. That’s $200 per hour for playing with makeup!”

    I thought, wow! Stupid, naïve me.

    Then she said, “At least 80% (or some made up number) of guests who buy at your class will be repeat customers and their product gets washed down the sink every night! So you’ll continue to earn that $100 every three months for doing nothing!”

    Okay, whoa. Slow down. $200 per hour? What about the drive time? The prep time? The hours spent hounding people to hold parties which then get cancelled? I could go on and on. My point is, they get so good at waving these numbers and saying around that it’s magical. Also, most guests at skin care classes only bought pity purchases and never bought again. So, it was back to the drawing board.

    I remember the utter feeling of defeat when I did NOT hold parties that sold $400 (ever), sometimes not selling anything! Of course, I blamed myself. What else would a brainwashed Mary Kay consultant do?


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