The Dark Side of Mary Kay Cosmetics?

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Sun, Mar 4 - 3:35 am EDT | 12 years ago by
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Franchise Pick reader Laura has a lot to say about whether or not the Mary Kay cosmetics sales organization is a “Cult of Greed” as some have alleged. She contends that there is a “dark side” to the Mary Kay organization, and a dirty little secret not shared with the outside world. Here are her comments:

…I believe there are very good women in Mary Kay who are enjoying selling the product and NOT scamming women. There are those who can glorify God by being honest about what to expect about the opportunity. Friendships can surely enrich women’s lives. In Mary Kay, as well as other MLM’s, their “training coaches” teach “positivity” and those teachings can also elevate one’s self-esteem thus enriching their lives.

HOWEVER, and that’s a BIG HOWEVER, there IS the dark side of Mary Kay. I have seen it first hand. Manipulation, both emotional and financial; deceit in the form of pressuring to purchase unnecessary inventory before the consultant is given her alotted time to make that decision; withholding common known facts such as retention rates which would give the consultant a better picture of the possibility of success (or effort required) before taking a plunge to directorship and on and on – the list is long.

In the last 4 years, I have read hundreds of similar stories whereby the stress involved in perpetual recruiting, telling half-truths, being suppressed to tell the truth crushes the spirit. Not only are their spirit and enthusiasm diminished, the stress takes it’s toll physically. As a former director myself, I can attest to the stress involved in worrying about production (if we will make it this month or not….seemingly watching the month tick away. I’ve seen women pray to God for their next “Emerald Star” ( a recruit who will come in with a $3600 inventory) and use God and scripture to manipulate women into purchases, going on trips they really couldn’t afford, staying with MK even though they don’t want to (God brought you here, he’ll see you thru it type responses) and on and on…THAT is not enriching a woman’s life.

Many a consultant are driven away by abusive members. I’ve also witnessed good people become caught up in the recognition and praise aspect of the MLM and make poor choices about finances and family in pursuit of materialism (mansions, cars, jewelry, money).

MLM’s are very scary. Scary because they preach about God, yet pursue materialism. God said you cannot worship two Gods. Someone is going to lose.

In response to another commenters assertion that there are no consultant-to-consultant sales within Mary Kay, Laura writes:

Regarding your comment about “no sales from consultant to consultant,” not legally, no, but it does happen and very often. In fact, there are plenty of sales from consultant to consultant and even more from director to consultant which, as most of us know, crosses the pyramid line where an MLM is concerned. The company strongly discourages sales from within, but many in the salesforce ignore those requests and actually encourage consultants to lie to the company about whose money was used to purchase inventory.

Desperate recruiters and directors who NEED production to sustain their unit or achieve another level oftentimes “sell” inventory to their consultants/recruits by using their own credit cards requiring consultants to “pay them back” and that is totally against company policy. Others simply use the consultant ID to order product (for production) but keep it for themselves.

Many a happy consultant are convinced that these dark practices only involve a minority in Mary Kay, but I am convinced otherwise.



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  • Meow

    http://WWW.PINKLIGHTHOUSE.COM: The original Mary Kay recovery website & forum.

    Lots of great info and a fantastic discussion forum on Mary Kay and other MLMs.

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  • Djuana Turner

    I read your article with an open mind and have also seen and heard about the horror stories you mention. However, the unit I am in is awesome! Everyone is sooo supportive, sharing and caring. I love it. For me, it brings in extra money into the household which is always a plus. We are encouraged to work at our own pace in our comfort zone. I am a firm believer that the National, directors and other unit members greatly influence the culture within that unit. I love mine! I love it, love it, love it! lol.

  • Joyce Quinn-Nichols

    I too was a Mary kay Sales Director and I left about 3 years ago to persue a career in Real Estate. I strongly feel that my training in Mary Kay brought out the person the was inside of me. I learned a great deal from my experience with Mary Kay and since then. It has made my career in Real Estate very successful. I often get comments as to why my business is so successful. I always say that “I was trained in Mary Kay” If you can be a success in Mary Kay you can be sucessful in anything!

  • sean

    Joyce Quinn-Nichols said If you can be a success in Mary Kay you can be sucessful in anything!

    Joyce: Am I correct that you would recommend Mary Kay as a sales training program, sort of a sales “baptism of fire” but not as a way to make money in itself? This seems to be kind of a common occurence. Shouldn’t Mary Kay be clear about the sales skills required and not recruit so many women who do not have the aptitude or character traits to be a rigorous, aggressive salesperson?

    Mary Kay professes to be on a mission to empower women. However, don’t they actually recruit women who will never be successful… and in doing so dealing one more blow to their self-esteem? There seem to be many who do not have your affinity to sales and who fail to do more than buy a bunch of product they end up with. Shouldn’t there be a screening process of some sort… or is this too valuable of a revenue stream for them to give up?

  • Joyce Quinn-Nichols

    Well I am an example of a person who was shy and could not and did not want to envision myself selling anything at the start of my Mary Kay business. Actually I signed up strictly for the tax deductions. However after I went to meetings and seen women selling $1200 or more in products in a week I became interested. I have personally had a $1800-$4000 sales weekends.

  • Penny

    I sold MK for about a year. I loved the products. The problems came when MKAsh passed away and others started running the company….men! The packaging went from pink to silver. The products changed to be more cost effective, yet they were not appealing. Some products were dropped all together. The glass foundations went to tubes of disgusting foundation that is NOT the same “recipe” as the former foundations. Needless to say, I switched all products to other brands that were valued quality and tradition of fame of a product.

  • http://n/a Crystal

    Mary Kay does NOT require you to purchase inventory! They RECOMMEND you get inventory so you have the items on your shelves if you have an order from someone and so they don’t have to wait, but they DON’T require it. It’s all up to the person on how they want to run their business, as they are INDEPENDENT business owners.

  • Deborah

    In fact you get your $129 dollar started kit for samples on how to throw a “party with a purpose” only to have a 2 month period hanging over your head for which you will need to make a purchase of product as high as 1800 bucks and as low as 600 bucks! Who has that much money sitting idly!? Then the director calls constantly telling you about all these bullshit incentives; like you have to sale $1800 worth of product to get a seat at seminar! That doesn’t include your lodging or flights! Then you have to turn around and place an average order of 200 bucks per month to stay a consultant! Now, here’s my question is why can’t we generate orders with out a deadline and submit them as they come? Because MK needs her over head and pockets greased just like your director! So while their eating off of you, you’re trying to build clientele which most women don’t care for the product which any product will work if you use it regimentally! Lastly as a last ditch effort if you don’t have the money the recruiter (director) tries to get you to sign up for the Mary Kay credit card or any other company that you qualify with to get this order in so you can get (free product) which is all so bullshit! I am a consultant but I dont have that saleman personality thus I probably won’t be interested in trying to succeed at this too much longer!

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