I was searching for something about Mary Kay Inc., and came upon this article from 2010. The article is about how fabulous Mary Kay is and the company got a “makeover,” but the THIRD paragraph of the article is about Pink Truth.

I love the language used. We’re just “disenchanted” and we came up with a silly little idea that Mary Kay is a pyramid scheme.

David Holl’s goal, per the article, was to hit $5 billion in worldwide sales by 2013. Sales to consultants were $2.5 billion in 2009, and MK wanted to double that by 2014.

Apparently they just didn’t work hard enough. The best they ever got to was $4 billion and 2014, and the numbers have been in freefall since. In 2023, Mary Kay had sales to consultants of $2.5 billion, a number they haven’t seen since 2010.

I wonder if anyone feels like they’re on a sinking ship. Obviously, $2.5 billion is a lot of money. But at what point do people say that this is a failing business model?


  1. Mary Kay is supposed to be a company that celebrates and empowers all women, yet all the corporate talking heads are all white guys in suits who are all like “oh, those silly gals and their feelings!”

    It still amuses me, in an “it’s better to laugh than to cry” kind of way.

  2. Oh, and Dave? Saying you have a lot of inactive people isn’t really a great way to tout how active your business is.

  3. In the words of The Wizard, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

    To keep consultants from peering under the hood and discovering the hamster wheel, the consultants are burdened with busy work and contests, love bombing, and MK’s own business vocabulary (“production”). A focus on “positivity” and disdain for “negativity”, along with frequent meetings, stifles curiousity, keeping the subjects from asking any tough questions. Consultants are encouraged to see every aspect of their lives through a Mary Kay lens…no questions asked!

    An elaborate, fabricated reality is presented and reinforced to maintain the illusion. The smoke and mirrors can hardly be detected from inside the pink bubble…participants want so much to bee-lieve! Meanwhile, the true engine of Mary Kay chugs away, effectively sucking money from a seemingly endless stream of new recruits, and pumping it upstream, with only those in the highest ranks able to see the true inner workings.

    Only a break from the non-stop reinforcement of this elaborate farce gives consultants any hope of recognizing their role as a cog in the MK machinery. The messaging is so strong that most consultants blame themselves, not the machine, when the machine is actually performing it’s task perfectly, pushing out and replacing stale consultants once their ability to order and recruit has been exhausted.

    Churn is this machine’s primary purpose…yet the illusion fools tens or hundreds of thousands of new recruits annually into thinking MK is in the business of retailing beauty products. A deep inspection of the MK machinery tells a very different story: There is nothing at all in the MK machinery to support product retailing.

    Pink Truth becomes Toto…pulling back the curtain to reveal the MK wizard’s true nature.

  4. “But at what point do people say that this is a failing business model?” When they are no longer making billions of dollars…

  5. It’s now $10 to start your MK e”business.”

    This is a really interesting article. How was I so snowed to think that we were to actually be selling to people, “growing our businesses,” and just ignore the part how everything is a drive to get you to order more product? Court of Sales, Star Consultant (48 quarters here, baby!), Cars, Director, blah blah blah.

    So I can load it up on a day like today and drop it off at Goodwill? (I already took a boatload of it to a DV shelter… still had more left.) I also tossed a portion into the dumpster! {{how much of that $2.5 billion wholesale has met these similar fates?? do they have ANY idea how much actually makes it to the “customer” ??}}

    I could have done an “inventory reduction” sale, but I didn’t want to reach out to people about any of it. I just want it gone.

    • “How was I so snowed to think that we were to actually be selling to people, “growing our businesses,” and just ignore the part how everything is a drive to get you to order more product?”—

      This statement reminds me of something the recruit should be questioning:

      Why are you recruiting me to sell products to people, isn’t that what you’re supposed to be doing? Why are you willing to lose me as a customer? We know many of the same people, won’t we be in competition for them? Do you make commission on the package I’m about to order? If I order more, is your commission bigger? Is this about me, or you?

  6. What is this exit interview he speaks of? Is that the one where your director hounds you not to send your inventory back?

    • It’s the one where the director promises to help you sell your inventory, and tries to delay you past the return date for that FAT initial order.

  7. “Obviously, $2.5 billion is a lot of money.” EXCEPT it’s divided among the “more than 2 million consultants” worldwide. It’s $1250 per consultant if you slice that pie evenly.

  8. In the $10 e- sign up. Everyone here knows you cannot do a Mary Kay business strictly from the internet. This is just the hook to get you in so the recruiter/director can “help” you decide how much inventory to order. After all you will need some products to demo and products to sell right? It’s a ridiculous way to start a consultant. It is my understanding that a consultant doesn’t even show up on the search algorithm unless she is a star consultant. In my opinion it just reeks of desperation by the company to get recruits.


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