Sales Directors in Desperate Denial

Written by Raisinberry

What I am about to say causes me the greatest heartache. The life of a current Mary Kay Director is one of desperate denial, and it is the saddest story to tell.

The old timers believe that the Mary Kay life they lived 20 or 30 years ago surely must still exist, and their loyalty to all things Mary Kay blinds them to the reality of who they have become, what they have done, and how far off the road they are from being that “woman of excellence” they pretend to be.

This is the single focus I have had, in my sharing with you, all that I have seen in Mary Kay. I am angry that this business, at its heart, is nothing more than a financial cult that preys upon the deepest longings and deepest insecurities of women. I am angry that those within it clutches can not see it, and are discouraged from getting any neutral opinions because from day one, they are urged to identify who in their life is “negative” and summarily dismiss them.

They are taught that any voice of objectivity is a saboteur, and to be avoided, and that anyone that does not believe in the Mary Kay way is a loser… and you wouldn’t want to hang with losers, would you? This is step one in the “cult” book of divide and conquer.

I was fueled to fight this cult because I watched people who I counted as friends go further into desperate denial, chasing something that they believed in, too afraid to look at the reality all around them. They were held by the fear of shunning, and the breakdown of a life spent pursuing a predatory business model.

What can they possibly do after Mary Kay? They cannot afford to stop for one minute and evaluate the fictional life they lead. They cannot afford to tell the real truth. They cannot face where they are. They cannot risk the repercussions. They cannot face the lie. Anyone who tries to put truth in their face is a demon, and destroyer. They cannot see that to turn and stand and fight a financial predator like Mary Kay is a step into the light.

Proof after proof has been offered. Story after story has been shared. This is a numbers game and numbers don’t lie. Unless of course they do not agree with your cherished beliefs. The number of women, churned through the doors of Mary Kay, who have been emotionally, spiritually, or financially harmed, is staggering; it is indefensible. To continue to defend this marketing scheme is to live in denial. So who chooses to do so?

Those who still want with all their hearts to believe in the people, the story, the potential and culture of the Mary Kay they thought was real.

I wanted corporate and the nationals “fix” Mary Kay. It was always wishful thinking. I  defended directors in the past because I truly did not believe they were doing anything more than what they were taught to do, under a system that robs everyone of independent thinking. They are guilty of trust, and for that I cannot condemn them.

I met members of MK’s corporate staff over the years and cannot for one moment believe they are evil people. I spent hours at the expo listening to the pride that most MK employees have for this company. There is a whole network of corporate staff that cannot fully fathom the manipulative practices of the sales force. They wrongly believe this is a true sales opportunity, rather than a recruiting scam.

When you look at the whole package, you have loyalists that are utterly distraught that we here at Pink Truth promote our particular perspective which they deem is “negative,, and we who are outside the pink bubble looking back in, who are appalled that we tolerated the manipulation for so long!

It is two sides of the same coin, and we never get to the bottom of it because we are not allowed to look. Since sales to the consumer do happen (albeit in very small numbers compared to the amount of product sold at wholesale to consultants and directors), and some women do love the product, there is always that morsel of goodness that helps cement the “con.” People can sell. People do buy. So it really is possible!

What my colleagues fail to acknowledge is that all good cons have some morsel of truth. What they fail to look at is the numbers. The reality. The results for hundreds of thousands of consultants. This company is so frail; it cannot stand the scrutiny of the facts so it squelches that as negativity. It relies instead on platitudes and “founder’s sayings” designed to deflect rational thought! “The cream rises to the top but has to float on a lot of milk.” This is supposed to absolve directors of guilt for frontloading millions of dollars of unsold product on to “milk.”

Do Mary Kay Inc. and the National Sales Directors know that for the most part there are virtually no “skin care classes” being held? The company has said in the past that the average was 1 class a month. This little secret is at the base of the denial, as contest after contest attempts to coax consultants into holding more appointments.

Over the years leadership started making a big deal of “on the go” appointments. And with the circumstances in the last year, we’ve seen virtual appointments dominate. But not of this changes the way production is extracted from the consultants. Inventory packages have not been reduced. There is a whopping $5,400 wholesale “total success package” that Pam Shaw pushed masterfully. We have watched an ever increasing switch from “selling” appointments to rabid “recruiting” appointments and guest events each year.

Why? Because our nationals have trained us that our production is in new recruits. In my opinion, our nationals abandoned the skin care class, (meaning build a selling area – slow and deliberate) long ago, panicked by the meteoric rise of their young NSD competition. Recruiting was always where the fresh meat was, rather than a 15 year veteran red jacket who actually knew something about the business.

The “do it fast” sales directors and NSDs brought a mentality that has left hundreds if not thousands of women in the wreckage of their wake, while they jet to the top. We, of course, sit back and watch most of these “one month wonders” collapse like a rocket spent in space. For what?

Greed. Get rich quick. But this only exacerbated by an already weak and destructive business model. Ask any CPA in the world. “Dual marketing” is a creative figment of some savvy director’s imagination. It is a phrase whose meaning is not at all an answer to the question, “Is this a multi-level?” Mary Kay is a multi-level who hates the moniker, and would rather not be likened to an AMWAY. There is frankly not much difference between them.

I committed the cardinal Mary Kay sin. I attempted to unravel the complex conditions by which a person gets pulled in, succumbs and then perpetrates the continuing fraud of Mary Kay, in happy denial.

I was characterized as “negative” when nothing could be further from the truth. A negative person would not have spent all the time I have at Pink Truth attempting to expose, rebuke and convict women to stop the madness.

My goal was always to hold up the mirror so that women involved in MK could see the face they once knew. Before they hardened themselves to the fact that these women are people… not “milk”… not a means to an end.

None of us ever wanted to hurt anybody. All of us loved the fun and camaraderie. We believed in the pink bubble. We just didn’t want to face the fact that it didn’t exist anymore, and what took its place was a system of self preservation that required us to do whatever it took to maintain appearances.

How ironic is it that adherence to “positive mental attitude – never be negative” is really designed to hide the truth. How frail this system must be that it can not have an honest discussion of where the pitfalls and failings have been. A sales organization that must prop up its sales force continually to maintain production, while failing to address the cause of its decline, afraid that the slightest addressing of a true negative condition would scatter the worker bees, is perched on a slippery slope.

Before the internet, nobody knew any of this. Nobody except the women in Dallas hotel rooms who shared with their roommates how sick they were inside from all the debt… and even then, fearful that it would get back to their NSD, how “negative” they were. Now add all the other cult-like manipulations of spirituality, speaking for God, disallowing rational thought, “sayings and quips” designed to shut down real concerns, “us versus them” mentality, disrespect of husbands, repetitious sayings, chanting affirmations, conformity, absolute loyalty, love bombing, mega communication, peer pressure and unquestioning submission and you see where dependence on the organization takes over… and objective thought is gone.

I urge directors and consultants to stay home from seminar, career conference, or whatever the next big event is. Surely if Mary Kay is all it is said to be, your enthusiasm could not possibly wane from such a great opportunity.

Count your inventory. Add and total all your sales from the last 90 days to 6 months. Look at your time spent at meetings. Look at and total all your expenses. Make no excuses. Make no rationalizations. (“ well I only did the other $2,400 because I wanted to qualify for the —)

Evaluate what kind of pressure you are receiving to either be a star, a senior, a red jacket, on the courts, top ten in any category, on target, DIQ, and whatever else. SEE if your business is profitable. DETERMINE IT.

Mary Kay will likely never change its marketing plan in any meaningful way. In many ways they are trapped by their own business model as well. They can hope to downsize as units collapse, reevaluate and restructure and come back a leaner operation, without levels of commissioned personnel. They can raise minimum orders to $600, eliminate personal use consultants, hope to build real sales ability, or go totally to an order-as-needed model that would stop predatorial frontloading.

They won’t. They can’t face the reality of low consumer sales. Why should they? The executives salivate over newer markets overseas that are completely oblivious to the predatory nature of pyramids. They just want the wealth they see in the United States and MK is the way to get there. Who needs customers when you have consultants?

There is a group of women hurt the most by all this. The group is very small. The women in the group are the ones who have been honest and forthright, and have struggled to hold appointments, struggled to be all things to their units, stopped frontloading and doing bogus contests designed to manipulate production, continued to teach real sales technique in terms of listening well and filling a need, they do not use fanfare and quips and sayings to shut down their consultants concerns and they can not get real help from their upline because no one will admit that something’s wrong. These ladies will blame themselves. For these women I grieve the most.

But… we were supposed to “Sell the DREAM”. It was a DREAM, alright. Something you invent that plays out only in your mind, until the sun comes up, and you open your eyes.


  1. Dang!!! Great article, excellent writing. Your second to last paragraph is where I was. Peeling away all the layers is work.

    Cue the Journey music… “Don’t stop .. believin.. hold onto that feelin..”

    Thank you, Raisinberry!

  2. Thank you Raisinberry! A comment on this…

    “They can’t face the reality of low consumer sales.”

    MLMs like Mary Kay depend almost entirely on purchases made by the sales force. Why would they change this? Any “fix” will ruin the business plan! For the sales force, it is not just denial, but “magical thinking” that allows them to stick with MLM.

    Consumers don’t buy MLM products from strangers…these products are grossly over-priced. But attach an elusive “dream”, and some folks will pay many times market rate for a product in quantities they can never hope to use or sell. This is the MLM business plan.

    How else, besides elaborate deception, can you convince hundreds of thousands of people to over-order and over-pay for a product in this way? I can’t think of any other scenario where folks would stock up on overpriced products. Sale items or closeouts? Sure. But large quantities of overpriced items of little or no value to the purchaser?

    This is the real magic of MLM.

  3. Bravo! Bravo!!

    Like you, any of the corporate employees I ever met were kind and appeared to love working for MKC. I believe they were completely shielded from what was actually happening on the ground—not ignorant, per se, but more kept in a bubble and insulated from what had been transpiring. The women and men they saw at the Expos were enthusiastic and happy, presenting themselves like NOTHING was wrong in the real world. Nothing was there to make them think all of this was a house of cards. They didn’t know any better.

    • One of the questions that some-times comes up on r/antiMLM asks about the morality of taking a corporate job in an MLM. The consensus is “Yes but”. Since most of the time the position is entry level, the but was use this job to pivot into a better one elsewhere and emphasise that fact that it is a corporate job on your CV.

  4. “Since sales to the consumer do happen (albeit in very small numbers compared to the amount of product sold at wholesale to consultants and directors), and some women do love the product, there is always that morsel of goodness that helps cement the “con.” People can sell. People do buy. So it really is possible!”—

    (Continuing with the info above) But everyone should be asking, “Do you HAVE to sell to non-affiliates?” This is a key question that separates a true product sales business from a product-based pyramid scheme, aka a con/scam.

    Going back to my two pyramids explanation (the corporate and the associated MLM one), consultants in the MLM pyramid never need to sell/retail product to a non-affiliate to make commission and climb the ladder. Otoh, the Mary Kay Corporate pyramid must sell their products to consultomers in the MLM pyramid (MK’s customer pool) to stay in business.

    Mary Kay Corp. is a “direct selling” company. That actually means that MKC sells directly to their customers using a sales and marketing strategy called the MLM pyramid scam system. That pyramid is their collection of customers. Within that pyramid, there is competition among the participants for incentives offered by the company. Some of the competitive activities include: buying/ordering the most products, finding new direct ordering consultomers, and building the biggest team of direct ordering consultomers.

    Raisinberry’s article thoughtfully explains why people even consider joining the MLM pyramid pool of customers, and the willingness to perpetuate the con game by “sharing the opportunity”.

    When something is built on lies and half-truths, you must resort to cult tactics to keep the lie alive. Tactics like dream/paradise selling, and convincing the member that beliefs, instead of facts, put them in a privileged group of people.

    • “But everyone should be asking, ‘Do you HAVE to sell to non-affiliates?'”

      Brilliant. Here are some follow-on questions:

      “Of all the money coming into Mary Kay, what percentage comes from the pockets of the sales force vs. outside customers?

      “What percentage of Mary Kay product ordered by consultants is ultimately purchased by folks outside the downline?”

      Please, folks, lean in to your curiosity and ask all of these questions!

  5. “Mary Kay will likely never change its marketing plan in any meaningful way. In many ways they are trapped by their own business model as well.”

    I did think of one way it has changed in the last few years (how meaningful, I’m not sure, but it seems like it might “help” more people finish DIQ). When that change took place, I thought, huh, long time coming for that. It was the rule of a DIQ keeping her 2nd line and beyond, even if she did not meet the qualifications. Previously, if you put in your card, recruited 295 people but still did not make the qualification, all the folks that you loaded into the cart who weren’t your personal recruits got swept into the Senior Directors unit. This happened to me many, many times. Of course, if those folks eventually did activate, that would be helpful to the Sr, but not at all to the DIQ/Future Director. How kind of me to help my Sr grow her unit!

    It always irritated me, but I was a good little girl and kept my mouth shut. My day would come. God’s timing isn’t always our timing. A setback is a set up for a comeback. :::insert other pink gaslighting rubbish here::: Blah Blah Blah

    Then it got changed so that your 2nd line and beyond stayed with you, and even those people that were on downline teams got to come into DIQ with you. Wow! I thought. Now I **actually could** debut as a Sales Director. (This is how my current Sales Director was able to “finish” DIQ – my team was big enough and she got enough to activate to help her finish the 24 needed unit members in January 2023.)

    But it was not to be. I finally had the watershed moment where I went, ya know, I don’t think there’s actually anything “wrong” with me… I think there might be something wrong with THIS!

  6. Worked in the MK corporate building in Addison for six years. Beautiful building and many nice people- actual employees with a real job, regular paycheck, retirement and other very good benefits. So obviously it isn’t shameful to have a J O B.

    If becoming a consultant for MK was the path to riches and success, why didn’t David, Nathan and the others in charge at corporate encourage their family members and friends to sell MK? I can’t think of one employee who thought signing up to sell these products was remotely worthwhile to anyone or anything except MK.



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