Written by Amy

Are you a hypocrite? That is the same question I recently had to ask myself. Since resigning my sales director position and returning all my products, I have had to do quite a bit of soul searching.

I believe it takes time to fully POP your pink bubble. Accepting the whole truth about your Mary Kay career and about Mary Kay Inc. is a lot to swallow.

Imagine that you are like me: Hundreds of consultants have been in your unit, numerous DIQs, Queen’s Court of Sales, Queen’s Court of Sharing, several “free” cars. For me to accept the truth that I quit a successful career for a fake one, that five years of my life were wasted with no retirement, that all my up-line was lying to me, that my friends were not really friends, that Mary Kay Cosmetics didn’t care about their sales force, and that I HAD BEEN LYING TO WOMEN FOR YEARS was too much to handle all at once.

I had invested my heart and SOUL in this business. Not to mention money. Without MK, I didn’t know who I was. I thought I was a failure.

When I quit Mary Kay, consultants and directors I knew were bewildered. I was a successful director. Why would I quit? I explained that as a new mom, I just didn’t have the time to take care of everyone in my unit. Nor did I have the time it takes to be a “Top Director.”

The truth is that I really didn’t have more than 20 hours a week for my MK business. I didn’t want to put my children in daycare just so I could work full time. (Thank God I didn’t compromise on that.) I wanted so badly to be a “Top Director” and knew that it took a commitment of 40+ hours a week. I also believed that Top Directors were the ones “making the real money.” This is what I truly believed at the time. I had full intentions of one day becoming a sales director again. I loved Mary Kay and believed in it with all my heart.

Then one day, I crunched the numbers. I was amazed when I realized the truth. On average, a sales director spends approximately 40% of her commissions on expenses. Add that to the 30% for taxes when you include both income taxes and self-employment taxes. That means that 70% of a director’s commission check is gone. The percentage spent on expenses goes down as you go up in the ranks, but it still costs money to be a director, and the amount the pretend the directors are making isn’t close to the reality.

And these “Mary Kay Millionaires”???? I would hope that after being with the company for 20 or 30 years that their cumulative commissions would be over a million dollars. But think about it: It would only take $50,000 a year for 20 years to get to a million dollars, and that’s BEFORE factoring in any expenses. Any way you slice it, no one is making as much money as they want you to believe.

What about my awesome Senior Director (a “Top Trip Director”) and other upline I admired? Well, it suddenly became crystal clear that they loved me only when I was a part of Mary Kay. Once I was no longer in MK, I was an outcast and lied about. They did “damage control” which was more vicious lies and stories so no one would talk to me. (They actually did me a favor because I found out who my true friends really are.)

But, what about all their “successes?” With a little investigation, I found more lies including: Divorce, Children in counseling, $900 Cadillac co-pays EVERY month, ideas of suicide, and Bankruptcy. This is not what I would consider a successful life.

Once you realize that even the Top Directors and NSDs aren’t making money or living the “dream life,” it becomes apparent that MK is a dream that will never come true. OMG!!! I had been telling everyone to invest their money, be a Star consultant no matter what, spend time away from their family, quit their J.O.B.s, go out and warm chatter, and eat/breathe MK. All for what?!

Now it is clear to me that not only was I never making much money, but no one under me made ANY money. If I am really honest with myself, I lost money every year I was in MK. I could have been making legitimate money at another job with money contributed to my retirement. Now I have nothing to show for the last 5 years. I was living a lie!

This brings me back to my original question. Are you a hypocrite? The definition of a Hypocrite is “a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.” Now I ask you: Do you dislike what Mary Kay Cosmetics does to women, but continue to support the company?

I’m not sure if that makes you a hypocrite or not. You have to be the judge of that for yourself.

At first, I didn’t think that I was doing anything wrong by placing orders after I resigned my directorship. I have been justifying my orders by saying at least my dishonest former senior director wasn’t making money off of me. But suddenly I realize that it doesn’t really matter which director or recruiter makes commission from my orders. Bottom line is that Mary Kay Inc. makes the profit.

Some former directors continue to be consultants and service customers. Sure it can be justified that they worked hard to get their customers. Sure they might justify that they aren’t recruiting anymore. Sure they can justify it is just for personal use. We can all justify our actions today just as we did when we were consultants and directors.

But I ask them: is it really worth perpetuating a company that devastates so many lives? Only they can decide how they feel about MK. As for me, knowing what I know now, I simply cannot continue to support Mary Kay Cosmetics.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Well said Amy. I wonder how many woman would join Mary Kay if they knew up front that their downline would never (and could never) be profitable as a whole. Then the question becomes. “How much downline money loss (per consultant and in total) are you willing to accept to meet your personal MK goals?”

    If the answer is “none”, then MLMs like Mary Kay are not right for you, since the MK/MLM model is incapable of producing even a single profitable downline in any MLM.

    Now if that answer is some number greater than zero, it is time to check your moral compass.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Amy. I think it’s important that the doubting Thomasinas out there hear from former directors that yes, it’s really that bad, It’s too easy to blow off consultants with “you didn’t work your business the right way” or #notalldirectors or “it’s your fault you were dumb enough to buy inventory”. But the directors are the “successful” ones who by definition did everything right.

    “Then one day, I crunched the numbers. I was amazed when I realized the truth. On average, a sales director spends approximately 40% of her commissions on expenses. Add that to the 30% for taxes when you include both income taxes and self-employment taxes. That means that 70% of a director’s commission check is gone. The percentage spent on expenses goes down as you go up in the ranks, but it still costs money to be a director, and the amount the pretend the directors are making isn’t close to the reality.”

    So assuming the director gets $1000 commission for a given month, and the conventional wisdom is to reinvest 60% of your profits in your business and keep 40%, which sure sounds like she gets to keep $400 free and clear. However, if 40% goes to expenses, that $400 is gone right then and there, leaving her with nothing. Spend the $400 she thinks she’s got and she’s $400 in the hole. This is ignoring the taxes, which are hard and intimidating and can safely be ignored until next April 14th.

    However, the IRS doesn’t care if you think taxes are icky, and she owes them $300 out of that original thou so she really only has $700. Reinvest $600, squander $400, pay another $400 in expenses, and she’s actually $700 in the hole, not including other expenses, chargebacks, etc.

    And that’s just for one month. $700 a month is $8400 a year, including $3600 for the taxman. Is she selling enough makeup at full retail to cover that? Of course not; no one is when they’re bragging on Facebook about selling $98.27 worth of stuff at a party.

    THere’s no way to come out ahead, unless you’re MK Corporate.

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  3. “I lost money every year I was in MK. I could have been making legitimate money at another job with money contributed to my retirement.”

    When one employer I worked for had a BIG anniversary, we asked HR to calculate what someone hired at the founding as a young production line worker would have coming when they retired with 40 years, getting the average promotions and pay raises. We assumed they put the legal maximum into 401k and pensions, kept all the stock bonuses … stashed it like a squirrel. It was well over a million dollars in assets.

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    • Lazy Gardens, I get in trouble with young adults when I make this same point. For starter jobs, maxing out 401K contributions is a huge challenge. But anyone who does this for 40 years is guaranteed to retire a millionaire. But to do this, you need to be miserly in your early earning years…driving “used” cars instead of new, brewing your coffee at home instead of Starbucks, living with roommates (or parents) until/unless you are married, pack a lunch instead of eating out every day. It all adds up.

      Young adults hate the above message, but a simple “future value” calculation in Excel on a 401K account shows the reality. Putting $20K (pre-tax dollars) per year into your 401K at 5% return for 40 years yields $2.5M nest-egg at retirement. $15K/year yields $1.9M. Long term (growth) investments likely exceed 5% return in the long run, so results are actually much better than this. If your growth investments yield more like 7% over the long haul, your retirement nest-egg will be $4.3M/$3.2M (at $20K/$15K in 401K contribution per year, respectively).

      Save early, save often. But saving when you are just starting out is a real bear. However, a $10 contribution in year 1 is like a $100 contribution in year 10.

      To drive the point home, let’s look at that Starbucks coffee. Let’s say you save, instead of spend, $5 per work-day for 40 years. What happens at the end of 40 years? That $5 per work-day coffee turns into $262K in retirement savings (at 7% growth yield). That $15 lunch? $787K in retirement savings. A million bucks, just by skipping Starbucks and packing a lunch (so you can save $20/day). And that’s assuming “saving” in today’s dollars. Surely 10 years from now that coffee will be $10, and that lunch $25. Your nest-egg will grow commensurate to inflation, so long as your savings contributions grow with inflation.

      It is so tempting to spend that money now instead of saving it in the early earning years. To get a feel for all of this, read the book, “The Millionaire Next Door”. This book shows that most folks who retire as millionaires do not have the lifestyle you normally associate with millionaires. And that’s exactly why they are millionaires.

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  4. I wanted so badly to be a “Top Director” and knew that it took a commitment of 40+ hours a week. I also believed that Top Directors were the ones “making the real money.”

    This really blows away the lie that “it’s part-time work for executive pay”. Ladies, gents, this is a full-time workload. It’s a full-time job for a few cents return. No, you cannot support your family in small pockets of time while scrolling on your phone.

    Then one day, I crunched the numbers. I was amazed when I realized the truth. On average, a sales director spends approximately 40% of her commissions on expenses. Add that to the 30% for taxes when you include both income taxes and self-employment taxes. That means that 70% of a director’s commission check is gone.

    “All we wants are the facts, ma’am.”

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