Joining Mary Kay: The Decision That Cost Me

March 3, 2015


Thought about joining Mary Kay?  One story with selling that may help you make your decision

I call it a bad decision because it didn’t workout for me. But I won’t lie to you and say that I am the only person who it didn’t work out for, or it never works out for anyone. It does! Just not for me. (insert sad face here) I had been a part of this company for several months and I was growing more and more frustrated with the debt I was accumulating to service a business that was established for the reason of paying off my debt. If I was your sister, daughter, mom or friend you would have told me months ago to jump ship and swim to safety. But as stubborn as I am, I would have said “I am fine, don’t worry about me”. (Your hypothetical consideration is noted and appreciated.)

Well, I sold my Mary Kay inventory. Yeah, I was a Mary Kay lady and recently came to the decision to move on and utilize my time and energy in other places. Now, this isn’t an off-with-their-head-post about all women who decide to make a living with Mary Kay or any other direct sales for that matter. It really is profitable for some people (like my director for example). When I decided to first join MK, I was a new girl in town, recently separated from the Navy, and jobless. So naturally anything that could help with money was a welcome sight and I jumped right in, and bought the $1800 inventory, the business cards, stamps, thank you cards, you name it! I was willing and ready to rock n roll.




I’ll admit it, it was more than convenient to have a cosmetics store in my living room, especially since I love stores like Ulta, and Sephora. But I was soon becoming my biggest customer. I had tapped out my family (and frankly, that always made me feel uncomfortable) and close friends. I was struggling to create a new customer base. I watched video after video to hone my skills as a consultant, but when it came down to it, my crippling shyness got in the way.

So, if I have any advice for someone who is looking to join a direct sales that relies on face-to-face contact, you HAVE to have confidence in yourself and the product. Now I had confidence in most of what MK had to offer, but when it came to myself it was a shit-show. Next, I would recommend someone has a lot of friends or acquaintances through PTA, church, day care, school, or pole dancing fitness classes. It helps a lot to have women at your disposal to give you the confidence you need to keep going with your business. Also, I would have to say that you need at least a little experience in sales.

Yeah, I know that many MK peeps repeat that they need the opposite, but I’m going to delightfully disagree. If you are good at sales, you probably have accumulated a lot of helpful traits that can help you with any direct sales. (by the way, its in the name! Direct SALES….come on!)  One of which is being able to detach yourself from anyone turned off from the service or product and not take it personally. I was never able to do that with grace. I’m sure anyone in a 5 block radius and an Intro to Body Language class could tell that I was screaming inside when someone rejected it.

Mary Kay sales, should you do it?

My decision to sell off my MK inventory was pretty clear once I was organizing (yeah, I’m one of those people) my receipts for everything that I had bought to make my business successful.

It was astounding how much I dumped into this business before I was even seeing a slight return….and by return I really mean I broke even for the last two months I was in it.

How much longer would I have to be a part of it before I could actually earn money? Well, call me a quitter, but it was taking too long for me to find out. And I find it a little hypocritical to talk to you about my debt-free journey while pouring money into something that I wasn’t getting a return on. Would you think I was crazy if I had a $225 car payment for a car that didn’t even run ($225 is the minimum amount needed to purchase to stay active in the company).  Of course! Unless I had money to burn, and well, I don’t.

Sigh, it was a lesson for sure.


And here is what I learned:

Don’t jump into anything without proper thought and research.

Do what feels right, but also don’t get in your own way. (if you know that you aren’t willing to do everything and anything to make your business succeed, don’t waste your time.)

Don’t take on anything this big without finding your way first. I jumped in as a new girl in a new state. If I were to do it again, which I most likely wouldn’t, I would wait until I actually found friends that could trust my opinion.

Give yourself some flack. If you wait to be perfect to do something, you waited to long. (and most likely missed opportunities)


So all said and done, I wish anyone that is still in the biz all the luck and money in the world. Truly! I hold no grudges, because after all it was my decision and mine only. Hopefully, none of my previous up-line hates me….but even if they do, who cares!

And in the off chance you are thinking of returning your inventory, ask for the repurchase department at 1-800-627-9529. It was a fairly painless process, and they will send you a form to fill out and give you a hard number of wholesale of what you are able to return. It would be anything you have purchased in the last year. Fill out the form, send it in according to the easy instructions and play the waiting game.

My refund took about 1 month or so. You WILL receive your full tax amount paid, they are not allowed to keep that. Honestly the hardest part of the whole process was having to tell my director. Queue the guilt trip. But we are still friends, but we were also friends prior to the whole Mary Kay stuff. Like I said, I wish her all the luck in everything. Love you Cally!


Oh and if one of your friends comes up to you and asks you to do a facial or makeover, PLEASE DO IT!!! Pay it forward, people. Just because I had a bad experience means that you shouldn’t help a friend out.


38 comments so far.

38 responses to “Joining Mary Kay: The Decision That Cost Me”

  1. Beks says:

    I sold Mary Kay back in college, and it was fun for the first couple of months, but honestly, it became the biggest hassle in training, because my recruiter just wanted to recruit. She didn’t teach anything about sales, didn’t direct me to anyone who did know anything about sales, and giving up was the only thing I could think about to do. I vowed never to do MK again, or any DS program, because it just didn’t work for me.
    Flash forward ten years, when my sister hosted a Jamberry party, and I started researching the hell out of the company (you’re right. Research research research!), because I wanted some mad money to help pay off debt. From the start of my sister’s party in October, I spent five month researching before finally signing up as a consultant in February. And to my utter shock, I’ve been on fire. I NEVER thought this would happen. I have to attribute my fabulous uplines and Facebook groups for giving me answers to questions that my recruiter doesn’t know, but it’s been a lot of fun.

    • Shannyn says:

      Glad you found a company that works for you, and thanks for detailing your experiences and tips as well!

    • Mary Garr says:

      Totally agree, a great upline can really be the difference in the motivation you have to put towards your business. I have also heard great things about Jamberry, and I am excited to hear it worked out for you. And also, you weren’t too burned from the MK experience to try again!

  2. Sheri says:

    I agree and understand, for the longest time I tried to sell Tupperware and Epicure Spices, but I too am very shy and always felt like I was bothering people trying to sell them my product. I now have drawers full of spices (because when I ordered for shows I had to open and smell them, not I can’t resell them), I was able to sell off most of my Tupperware, that was a blessing. But after all that I came to the conclusion that I am not a direct selling person. My sister on the other hand is awesome at it and has a huge business as a financial planner and has no problem approaching people she doesn’t know to sell her products. I am always in awe. People really need to think about themselves as a person if this suits their personality. It wasn’t for me.

    • Shannyn says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Sheri! Not everyone is confident enough to talk to strangers and pitch them products, and there’s nothing wrong with that-you just need to know yourself.

    • Mary Garr says:

      Yeah direct sales isn’t for everyone, and it’s more than a little frustrating to see it pushed on people that don’t have the personality traits that are required to make it a successful calling. TEAM INTROVERTS!!! haha

  3. Whitney says:

    I could have written this word for word! Love the product, just not for me.

  4. Chonce says:

    I love Mary Kay and Avon’s products a lot. I just can’t sell it. I wasted quite a bit of money investing in the kits but I just didn’t have a network of people to sell to so unfortunately I still have some of the product and samples on hand. I agree that it’s important to do the proper research and develop a strategy and identify any set backs before you get jump into any new gig. Lesson learned.

    • Mary Garr says:

      What’s life without lessons, am I right? I also have more hand scrubs then I know what to do with, don’t get me started on samples. But I was fortunate to get back a bulk of what I put in, not counting time and embarrassment of asking someone to buy from me. The more you know.

  5. Dawn says:

    I have been in some type of direct sales since 2006. I still had my full time job (I am a construction electrician turned locomotive electrician) but wanted to find something different where I didn’t have to do such physical work. I have been with a total of 7 (the 7th now) companies and actually had MK on my radar because of the commissions even though I don’t use their products. Not knowing much about the skin care industry I was going to have to rely on my up line and the support from the company but after doing much research I found that even this multi billion dollar company that has been in business for many years was lacking something. About two months after I thought about MK I was out of work because of a surgery and was able to go to a friend’s house for a little get together about Nerium. This has changed my life. I don’t consider this as direct sales, because it is sharing the product. I use it, my husband uses it and we tell people and they see the differences in our skin. The biggest difference between Nerium and other companies that I have been involved in is the support you get from the company. This is relationship marketing. They give you the tools to do the marketing and all of our sales are from word of mouth. Not trying to hard sell. If it was, my husband would not be out there talking aboutbit. Plus it is an easy one step system. Just because one company may not be for you, another may be but I do agree that this type of business is not for everyone. You have to have confidence in yourself. And I am confident that my husband has grown tremendously since we have joined this record breaking company because of the different culture and their leadership. Thank you for being honest in your post here. Sometimes it is you and most people don’t want to admit that. But also, sometimes you are the right jockey on the wrong horse. 😉 Have a HAPPY day!

  6. Gina says:

    I feel like your talking directly to me and I’m sure my husband would agree. I’ve been in for about a year and a half now and all I have is an expensive hobby. I love the products and use them but I’m not making a profit. I think I’ve lost a few friends in the process too!

    • Anne says:

      If you are losing money AND friends, why are you still in it? BTW – it’s not you…it’s the system. MK, like all direct sales, is a recruitment based pyramid cleverly disguised as a business. Do you think you own your MK business? You don’t have any rights to ownership. You can’t advertise. You can’t sell or will your business to anyone. You have no idea how saturated the market is! You are nothing but a customer of MK. Even MK corporate admits that the IBC is their only customer. They have no idea how much (or how little) of their product actually is sold to people as retail sales. If you love the product, quit MK and buy off eBay or Craigslist. There are tens of thousands of MK products deeply discounted on those sites.
      And if you think other consultants ARE making money, just ask them to show you their Schedule C from their tax forms. That’s the form that you fill out to show your profit and loss. You will see that few if any are making real money. Most are losing money. They just keep faking it, hoping someday they will make it. Unfortunately, hope doesn’t pay the bills.

      • Jeanette says:

        I’m a very happy IBC of Mary Kay since 2013. Money isn’t the only benefit consultants receive with Mary Kay. Friendship, Confidence, & my favorite part- getting to bless people who never have/take time for themselves- even if it’s just an hour.
        Go ahead & purchase items off EBay or Craigslist, I’m sure those consultants have kept their products out of the sun/freezing weather, in sanitary conditions & are not out of date. They will definitely be safe for your skin & wont cause infections 😊Best of luck !

        • Jules says:

          I sell mk on ebay and my items are all less than 2 months old, and are kept in my house in a spare bedroom. Aka the same conditions as any mk rep. Are there some bad sellers on ebay, yes. But not all.

          • Jeanette says:

            So … If products are less than 2 months old, MK products are being sold to you or a Mary Kay Contract is being broken- Either way, it is making it HARDER & HARDER for Consultants who are trying to sell the products correctly… “ Well I seen that on EBay for much cheaper “…& I have no idea what prices your MK products are sold for… but EBay, Craigslist & other online sites is not how they are intended to be sold.

  7. Lee Ann says:

    i love the colors in that compact. Do you know the name of it?

  8. Phillip says:

    My wife had a very similar experience. She was really excited when she got her huge inventory shipment, and had a great time doing makeovers and presentations for friends. But after tapping family, friends, and a few friends of friends, she hit the same wall you did: she just wasn’t jazzed about relentlessly hunting down new clients. She enjoys the product and has nothing bad to say about the company itself, but it’s definitely not right for everyone.

  9. Vanessa says:

    Great write up. Sometimes direct sales is just not for a person. it does take a certain type of person to make a living selling to strangers and convincing them to buy from you. I am guessing you made the right move to get out.

  10. Liz says:

    Please refer to and its forums if you haven’t already. MK may be advertised as a direct selling company but it’s still a multi-level marketing scheme in the first place. It’s designed to fail.

  11. Emily says:

    I agree with several of the other commenters. It’s not just you. It truly IS the company. I was a MK consultant in college and wasn’t successful with it. I had a lot of unanswered questions and spent years just assuming it was my fault I didn’t succeed. Then I learned my experience wasn’t unique – not by a long shot!! MLMs only work if you’re willing to buy your way to the top and recruit like crazy. Ironic, isn’t it, since companies like MK target women who often need extra income, not a way to go deeply in debt. It’s important for you to know this – no one succeeds in these businesses. The ladies at the “top” have sold their souls (not product!!) to get there.

  12. Laura says:

    I know so many women who have tried MK and failed. As others have stated, it’s the company! These women are hard working and passionate and given the right support and training, would have been extremely successful. I never joined MK (though I have been dragged to a number of recruiting meetings) , but I did join a clothing company called Modbe. They were a fairly new company so there wasn’t a ton of training or support there either. I spent a ton of money on inventory! When the company went out of business a couple years after I joined, I had to eat all of my losses. It was very frustrating! About six years later, I joined a different direct sales company, something I swore I would never do again, and it has been amazing!!! I don’t have any product inventory, I have very little overhead, I own my business so I can give it to my children or sell it should I so choose and my upline is fantastic!! I am a financial advisor to middle class America, so my entire job is helping people and I get paid for it!! Starting this business is one of the best decisions I ever made! 🙂

  13. Steph says:

    Thank you for writing this post and being honest. You should pat yourself on the back for jumping ship when you did. I am sure it wasn’t easy… But you did it. Good for u!!!!!! Seriously.
    I feel bad for Mk consultants…they buy so much and it seems there is this huge pressure on them. I am soooooooo grateful that I found something to sell that is low pressure. Helps people get healthy. Is not a big investment at all. And u don’t have to carry stock. I have been in it for a year an am making a nice check and I still don’t even have business cards. My team is awesome and we all have promo materials at our fingertips .. I have made a nice profit from day 1. I am blessed. And grateful to sell a product that sells itself.

  14. Charlotte says:

    I have been a MK consultant for a couple years. I am shy, but I have tried to learn different ways to approach potential clients without feeling fake, mostly on social media. For some reason MK does not sell this way at all. Everyone says its their Grandmas makeup, etc.. I have been observing a girl who is with “Younique” a newer, social media driven, cosmetic company. They do all their business online, they can do in home parties, but they work mostly online. People are buying it like nothing I have ever seen. They don’t try it first either. They love it. Reps don’t carry inventory, which with Mary Kay I don’t know when you EVER have enough because it seems any time someone wants product, it’s always something that I DON’T have in stock-very frustrating to say the least. So I think you are right about it in so many ways. I need an alternative way to make money but MK is not working for me. I need to actually see an income. They also draw you in with the 50% profit but if you aren’t able to make sales you are making -0% because you have an investment but no return at all. I don’t mean to knock MK, I love the company and the products, but I really do think only a certain few make any real money and the rest just buy it until they get tired of all of the foolishness and just quit.

    • Dawn says:

      MK’s ways are old and antiquated. Plus there are so many people that would sell at their price just to stay active. That is why my husband and I decided to get into business with Nerium. If you would ever like to try a sample for free, we ship to anywhere. 🙂 I wish you much luck with your business but if you ever want a different way of doing it, we would love to talk to you about Nerium’s opportunities.

      • sheri says:

        I’d love to learn more about nerium. I’ve actually never heard of it.

  15. Anne says:

    I love MK products. Sorry the experience of sales didn’t make you a GAZILLIONAIRE! Thanks for sharing your story. There are up and downs in all things I suppose. A woman in my neighborhood was able to save her home (and pay if off (:o ) Through MK after her husband lost his job and was unable to find work. It is pretty amazing how one woman can make such an impact on the world though. Good luck in life from here on and I hope we can all learn from ours and others experiences. God Bless.

    • Jeanette says:

      Thank you for sharing a POSITIVE and common story about some MK Consultants. With MK, it’s a lot about mangement of money & inventory. There is NO LAW in MK that you must carry inventory… I had a director that was all about the $$… I left her because that wasn’t Mary Kay Ashe’s way… stayed out 1 year because I found a Director that followed Mary Kay’s Way & being blessed daily… Thank you Again for your post!

  16. sheri says:

    I am a consultant. I thought I could do it but i’m now having second thoughts. I was kinda pushed into doing a mothers day basket and putting it at my work to get names for leads. I was awake half of the night stressing over it but I did put it there and donated the gift. Now I have the names and DO NOT want to use them. So basically this morning I’m thinking I will call the woman who won the basket and give it to her and send the other names to my Director and just quit. I love MK products and will continue to use them but I think (i know) it isn’t for me. I also do another company which I love but I hate bugging people to buy. So I think once my orders are delivered I’m out . Good luck to all

  17. Akua Hinds says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I especially loved what you wrote at the end of your post when you encouraged people to help their friends out by loaning them their faces. Being a direct seller can be challenging, but there are also many rewards, and the personal growth is wonderful because there is always something to learn through direct sales. The fact that you realized that direct sales isn’t for you is also part of the personal growth process. I like a lot of Mary Kay’s products and I joined for personal use so that I could get the products I like on discount. I respect the late great Mary Kay Ash and her company a lot, but I’m not focused on selling the products to consumers because I have an independent Pure Romance direct sales business and I don’t want to represent more than one company at a time. I think that MK is a good business for someone who has a true passion for sales, cosmetics, skin care, and fashion. If a person isn’t interested in the beauty industry AND or they don’t feel comfortable with sales, they are going to have a difficult time with MK. I’ve read many posts on Pink Truth as well as on Pink Lighthouse, but I still feel that Mary Kay is a very good company. There are people who’ve had unfortunate experiences with MK, but there are many people who’ve had wonderful life changing experiences with MK too. Each person’s destiny is different.

  18. Melissa says:

    This post said everything that is currently on my mind as I consider quitting MK… I’ve only been in it for a couple of months, but it’s already been such a huge source of anxiety. I’m the type of person who gets stressed over having more than a couple hundred dollars on my credit card… Now I have a SECOND card (just for MK) and it is over $1000! Can you say stressed out?!
    I wish it would’ve worked out for me. My upline has been successful with it, but she is super outgoing and positive, and it just works for her. It makes my skin crawl everytime I talk to a friend or family member about buying products or having a party or something. It’s just clearly not for me. I’m dreading having that conversation with her though… I feel like she’s going to try everything under the sun to keep me in it.

  19. Jessi says:

    I tried it this summer and its just not me. I feel like I have a great personality; friendly, personable, I’m just not comfortable putting myself out there. I am wanting to sell it back, but even that process is intimidating me. Has anyone tried just selling it on Ebay with any luck? Would it be in my best interest to just sell it back to MK? Thanks in advance! I loved reading what you had to say!

  20. Joan says:

    I am a Mary Kay lady since 2011 and I love everything in Mary Kay <3

  21. Angelina says:

    Wake up ladies, MK is a scam! Go to the PINKTRUTH website.

  22. pinkvictim says:

    Don’t waste your time and money. MK is a product-based pyramid scheme – a MLM cult of greed.

    99% of recruits never make any money. If you think you will be in the 1% who do, keep in mind that your climb to the top of the pyramid will be on the backs of millions of women who lost money. The money in your commission check comes from them.

    NSD commission checks come from 10’s of thousands of women each year who will never make a dime of profit. They enrich themselves at the expense of other women’s lives.

    • Alexandrea says:

      Just wanted to correctly inform that the commission checks don’t come out of anyone else’s pocket/profit but the company’s. The consultants don’t get a chunk taken out of their sales. That would be shady. Overall, if MK isn’t for you, that’s totally okay. It’s not for everyone and there’s nothing wrong with you or the company. It just wasn’t the right fit. I feel bad for those who have tried MK and have had negative experiences though. Your director/leaders weren’t doing there job correctly if you have a negative impression on MK. I am blessed to have a NSD that cares about every one of us and doesn’t just have $$$ in her eyes. She is the true image of what Mary Kay envisioned when she founded the company. Mary Kay Ash designed the company so you are successful when you truly want to help others succeed. I hope this clears the air a little with some misunderstandings. God bless and have a wonderful day💕

  23. Glenda D Johnson says:

    When i returning the products for repurchase can i combine them for make the bundles? Or the code numbers all have to match


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