Building Sandcastles in Mary Kay

Written by Sad In Pink

When I joined Mary Kay, it was to purchase the products at half price and maybe… MAYBE dabble in the business a little to make extra money. I never intended to really go full force into this business.

In fact, my husband told me two things before I plunged in:

  1. Have fun. If you cannot have fun, then don’t do it.
  2. This is a multi-level marketing business like the other two I had been in.

Now, if I had only thought about it more, I would have heeded number 2. However, I was told that Mary Kay was not an MLM, but was dual marketing. My husband insisted they were the same and HE WAS RIGHT. So contrary to the old marketing film “Consider the Possibilities,” this company is no different than any other MLM out there.

I came in with a small inventory but I quickly borrowed money to build it up to business level as I had good success in selling in my area. That was because others had been very active here some years back and then quit. I inherited ready made customers who did not know any other consultant.

With my success, I decided to really dig in and see how far I could go. I dreamed of being an NSD one day, and I hoped to be able to help other women develop their own businesses. DIQ was hell, but I managed to make it in the four month time frame to become a director after just 14 months in MK. I also had the car.

During my first year, I won all of the director awards and managed to complete the Queen’s Court of Sharing. I focused on winning challenges all the way along. My unit was growing and the next year I did the Queen’s Court of Sharing again. However, MK was taking a toll on my home life and my spiritual life as well.

I ate, slept and breathed MK 24/7. Those who knew me worried about me. I did not have lack of work ethic… I worked too much. However, I could see that if I let up my unit would start to crumble. In my second year, I got to Premier Club status. Things were really kicking and I was off to earn that Caddy.

Following Seminar though, I found out about the sandcastle I was building. There was nothing to stop the castle from being washed away in a moment. My unit suddenly crashed. Several key people decided MK was not for them. They returned products and took many team members with them. The economy where I live was not good, so bookings were getting harder to get. I worked harder and harder, being out six nights a week.

When I began to question my involvement in MK, I had NO ONE I could talk with. As a director, we are not to talk with our consultants about our hard times. We are seen as negative if we question, so I began to question God. Is this really where you want me to spend my time Lord? I asked that question for months. Of course, my NSD and others told me this is where I should be to minister to women. What an emotional battle as I saw consultants fall off. I replaced them as fast as I could, but it was getting harder to do the “talk.”

One night, I decided to visit Pink Truth. A consultant of mine had stumbled across the site and asked me about it. I came and read the site. My first reaction was anger. I told myself that these were just angry women. However, something deep inside told me to keep reading. Over several nights, I read more and more. I finally read a director’s story that could have been mine. That did it. Something clicked inside and I knew I had my answer.

I shocked my husband the next day with my announcement that I was leaving MK. I had seen him sit home alone too many nights. I was burned out emotionally and physically. I had been a hands on director for a long time helping my team members to the loss of time with my family and my faith.

I left MK for these reasons:

  1. It is an MLM and you have to continuously recruit forever in order to keep your position or reach a higher one. I had seen consultants leave as fast as they could be replaced. I now see directors lasting about a year (if even that!) then burning out and quickly being replaced by NSDs eager to hold their big checks in place. It is a never ending run on a wheel going nowhere.
  2. I was burned out working 60 hours a week. The lie of full-time pay for part-time hours was so painful. And I never enjoyed a vacation because I was always concerned about production etc. I saw most other directors in the same boat. No peace, no joy. Just lots of work. The joy and peace were fake! They were faking it and I thought they were making it!!!
  3. I could not in good conscience ask another woman to put her money into something that would never pay her well. I had amassed a huge inventory as a result of buying products to make production  a few months when the unit did not quite get to the minimum.  Yes, I could sell it, but it would take a long time to do so.
  4. I wanted to go to church and the grocery store and see women as my friends not as potential customers. You can NEVER relax in MK if you want to move up.
  5. I never saw a six figure income. I worked till I nearly dropped in DIQ. Then I worked like that as a director. But with all the director expenses and meetings to attend and suit to buy etc. any extra money went out as fast as it came in. Did I work hard? Ask my family. I was no slacker so those who come here and lurk – we did give MK our best, but it did not return it’s best to us.
  6. I was tired of seeing spiritual manipulation and lies being used to get women to move up in MK or join. As a Christian, I was offended to see God’s name tacked on to everything as though this was the only thing which could draw you closer to Him.
  7. The last reason I left was simply that this was no longer fun at all. It was total burn-out. I was becoming someone I no longer liked in my quest. I could not live with that. Mary Kay was like trying to build a beautiful sand castle on the seashore only to have it washed away over and over again by the waves. There is nothing more frustrating and heartbreaking.

When I stepped down, I was making production and had even gold medaled. My NSD told me I could just do a few classes on weekends and only work 15 hours a week and still be successful.

REALITY CHECK: You cannot do that and maintain a unit unless you are the daughter of an NSD and can inherit units from other failed directors. I was also told that if I left MK I would lose my opportunity to have a ministry to women. Funny, I thought to myself, I thought God called a person to a ministry not MK. That comment really hurt.

I cried often after I stepped down. Not because MK was being left behind, but because I truly loved my consultants. They were my friends. I told them the truth about Mary Kay after I have left and I was able to breathe free air again.

I have no regrets at leaving and I will NEVER again have anything to do with an MLM. My prayer for each of you reading is that you will get free from this sandcastle/dream-destroying scam. Do not be afraid to take a stand. Don’t let the waves continue to wash over you and break down all your work.

My favorite quote is from Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We can make a difference and truly enrich women’s lives by exposing the lies of MLMs and leave these organizations.


  1. Bravo! My guess is it’s hard to convey, in words, the full depth of the relief you feel from getting all that (manufactured) MK stress out of your life. I am so happy for you and your relationships!

  2. “I was also told that if I left MK I would lose my opportunity to have a ministry to women. Funny, I thought to myself, I thought God called a person to a ministry not MK. That comment really hurt.”

    Gosh, Ms Director, ma’am, it’s so sad to know that volunteering at a women’s homeless shelter, domestic violence victims shelter, doing hair and nails at a nursing home, watching your friend’s kids so she can have an afternoon to herself for once, breast cancer support groups, Cinderella’s Closet or similar, escorting women past the protesters at Planned Parenthood clinics, campaigning for women’s rights, and of course all the stuff that benefits humanity as a whole, don’t count as “ministry to women”.

  3. What a beautiful, coherent, informative report from the inside of the Director suit. I am so happy you are relieved of the MLM illusion, you sound like you have a lot to tell and likely don’t fuss with illusions. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience, I am sure it will have wide reaching effect!

  4. “unless you are the daughter of an NSD and can inherit units from other failed directors.”

    Have it handed to you and zoom up the ladder! Meanwhile, the rest of the schmucks are trudging from office building to office building…from diner to diner…from big-box store to big-box store…handing out Charcoal Mask samples and begging for names.

  5. “I was also told that if I left MK I would lose my opportunity to have a ministry to women. Funny, I thought to myself, I thought God called a person to a ministry not MK.”

    That just ticks me off so much. By saying that, the MK has put itself up there equal with God. And that’s a load of crap.

    Business and ministry are not the same thing, and they shouldn’t mix. I’ll fight people on that.

    • “Business and ministry are not the same thing, and they shouldn’t mix.”—

      Absolutely for real businesses. But “MLM business” and ministry are basically the same thing.

        • Wow, this is a complicated one! To me, a true ministry follows the “One leads by serving, not dictating” school of thought. You do right by another because it is what should be done, not to get a response. There are plenty of ungrateful people among the homeless but they do still need to eat, to be protected from the elements, etc. So even when you know the person is going to complain about whatever you are providing, and MEAN IT, you do it anyway cause if you don’t, who will? But in my mind, “Ministry” in popular culture is designed to draw people into your world of thought, to do as you feel should be done, to adopt and follow your beliefs, and if they do not, the person needs to be left aside. Replace “Ministry” with MLM and the sentences still work.


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