The Real Deal About Being a Mary Kay Consultant

I'm sure many of you have seen those shiny, brand new pink cadillacs floating around your town before. They're fresh off of the lot, with the words "Mary Kay" written on the side. You may or may not have wondered how you could get one. I've been a Mary Kay Consultant for over a year now, and I've heard people say the craziest things Mary Kay Consultants and earning a pink cadillac. Below are a few myths that can now be laid to rest.

Starter Kit Contents
Starter Kit Contents

Myth #1: You can't start your business for $100

The Mary Kay starter kit comes with everything that you need to launch your Mary Kay business. The cost? One-hundred dollars. Many websites try to say that Mary Kay Consultants are deceitful because we don't mention the tax and shipping up front (most recruiters do mention it, but if they don't, I'm sure they aren't trying to be deceitful). How about McDonald's? The advertise their McDoubles for only $1. They don't mention that there is eight cents of tax added on. Are they being deceitful as well?

Tax is added to almost everything in this country, and when something is shipped to you, there is usually a shipping charge because the employees at UPS and FedEx don't work for free. So to say that someone is being deceitful because they didn't mention tax and shipping is a little far-fetched. And the tax and shipping combined is usually about $17, more or less. There is no other costs that are required to launch a Mary Kay business, however, there are other things that are recommended, such as inventory, business cards, and a suit. After all, how does anyone expect to run a business without these basic necessities? The starter kit is just that--a kit to start with.

Mary Kay Ash
Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay Ash Wisdom

Myth #2: Mary Kay is a cult.

This myth was hilarious to me when I heard it. People say that Mary Kay is like a cult because the consultants "worship" and "idolize" Mary Kay Ash. The truth is, consultants do admire Mary Kay Ash a lot. We read daily quotes by Mary Kay Ash. We follow her business plans, read her biography, and sometimes even hang pictures of her in our offices. But all major companies have a founder that the employees admire a lot. I once worked for Wal-Mart. During my orientation day, we learned about Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, as well as his family. We learned about the very first day that Wal-Mart was opened. There were pictures of Sam Walton and the Walton family plastered all over the orientation room, human resources, and the break room. As employees, we often had to do computer training, and a lot of that included quotes or business plans/ideas from Sam Walton. Does that make Wal-Mart a cult?

Mary Kay Ash was a phenomenal woman who understood how to make money and was willing to share her plan with other women. She started her company in 1963 at the age of 45, a month after her husband died with only $5000. When Mary Kay Ash died in 2001, the company had over 800,000 consultants in 37 countries with annual sales of over $200 million dollars. This is someone that I definitely want to follow. She was a woman who had a dream, and was willing to share that dream with anyone who would be a part of it.

There are many people who have founded companies and have had the same effect on people: Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Martha Stewart, Berry Gordy, Donald Trump. No one ever called their businesses cults.

Myth #3: Mary Kay Sales Directors "Bash" Corporate America

There are a lot of websites that claim that Mary Kay Sales Directors "bash" Corporate America. What they call bashing is actually the sales director telling the truth. Corporate America has a bad habit of suddenly laying off their faithful employees because the numbers don't look right. For example, do you remember when Radio Shack laid off about 400 employees via email, stating that their positions were being immediately terminated? If you think that's bad, Hewlett-Packard laid off over 24,000 employees in 2008 after merging with an IT company because the CEO thought that they would be "redundant" employees. The United States Postal Service laid off 30,000 people in 2010 because of the rise in email usage. The list could continue on, but I think these examples are enough to make my point. Can you guess how many people Mary Kay, Inc. has ever laid off? Zero. That sounds pretty secure to me, compared to the other companies. So when you hear a Mary Kay Sales Director say that your job in Corporate America isn't stable, she isn't "bashing" your company, she's telling you a fact based on past events.

Myth #4: The Pink Cadillac Isn't Really Free

It's funny that people think that because a Mary Kay Consultant has to meet certain "sales requirements" to get the pink Cadillac, this means that the car isn't free. If I were an Avon Consultant, it wouldn't matter how much sales I made, Avon wouldn't give me a car. If I work for Best Buy and sold $100,000 worth of electronics in a month, they wouldn't give me a car. Best Buy doesn't even pay commission (I know because I used to work there also). When you do a good job, they reward you with prizes like gift cards and goodie bags. Sometimes they throw a pizza party for the employees. But they don't give cars. Many law firms give their attorneys company cars, but if those attorneys don't bring in some money, that car, as well as that position, will be revoked fast.

What makes Mary Kay so much different from any of these companies? As I've stated before, there are no quotas in Mary Kay, so trying to earn the car is completely optional. However, if you are making these sales anyway and building your bank account and your business, wouldn't getting a car just be an added bonus? And there are lower levels with different cars. The pink Cadillac just happens to be the top of the line. And when you get the car, there are no car payments. The car is always brand new, fresh off the lot. Mary Kay even takes care of the car insurance. So you're basically getting a free car for doing something that you already plan to do anyway. Still don't get it? Go to any small business owner and ask them if anyone gave them a free car for running their business successfully.

If you were considering your own home-based business, would you be interested in being a Mary Kay Consultant?

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Yes, there are crazy myths about being a Mary Kay Consultant. There are websites that bash the company and the process. But the truth is, this business is only going to be as good as you make it. If you spend your time making a website to bash the company instead of going out and building your business, of course you're not going to make any money. Being a Mary Kay Consultant is an opportunity, not a lottery ticket. As with any opportunity, you have to put in effort to make it work. So if you're looking to start your own business with a minimal investment, maybe Mary Kay would be right for you.

Orignal photo of me with National Sales Director Candy Lewis, in Carteret NJ
Orignal photo of me with National Sales Director Candy Lewis, in Carteret NJ
Original photo of me at a Mary Kay meeting at the Pink Cadillac Event Center in Charlotte, NC
Original photo of me at a Mary Kay meeting at the Pink Cadillac Event Center in Charlotte, NC

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Comments 37 comments

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 3 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

@CaliforniaGal actually, I have been a consultant for a year and a half. I signed up, paid my $100 plus shipping and tax for my starter kit. So YES you can START your business for $100. As far as the inventory is concerned, so you have to start with a minimum of $200. You don't have to do that up front. You can take orders or whatever you want, but if you are running a business, why wouldn't you start with some inventory?

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 3 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

and as far as the ordering every three months is concerned, if you are running a business, of course you need to be ordering supplies every three months. That's only four times a year. It amazes me how people bash Mary Kay because they have to spend money to make it work. It's not a job, it's a business. Business require investments and if you aren't willing to invest some time, and a little money, then don't bash it, just don't sign up for it.

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 3 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

and as far as is concerned, it's full of people complaining about the fact that they had to "spend money" to make their Mary Kay business work and that sales directors are fake because they try to "motivate" their consultants. Crazy. Again, it's a business, not a job.

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 3 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

as far as being presented with inventory options, of course the sales director tells you about the options. Some people actually understand the importance of an investment, so they might want to start with a few thousand dollars worth of inventory. Others don't have that option. I started with only $400 worth, and I've now built my inventory value up to over $4000 with a little hard work and determination.

Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 3 years ago from Brazil

It is like you say, you only get out what you put into it. Working from home, whether it is writing, selling cosmetics, or ironing for people, they all take a certain type of mentality. The people that are driven are those that will make a success of it. I have seen many people who think that self-employed people have it easy. This is so far from the truth. We work longer hours, face lots of rejection, and often have to make our market. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well but it isn't for everyone. The ones that aren't willing to take the chance should step aside and make room for those of us who do.

I think Mary Kay is a wonderful brand and have used their products in the past. I too was a seller for a short time. Selling it wasn't for me but I know the product wasn't the problem, it just wasn't the right avenue for me at the time. Good hub.

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 3 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

@Blond Logic thank you for your comment! I'm glad you can see the business for what it is!

Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 3 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

I sold Lia Sophia jewelry for a time. I just wasn't good at it, so it was a very short time indeed. But, the products and the company weren't the problem. Great hub about Mary Kay--I've never tried their products, but I will now next time I am in need of something. Great that it helps pay your tuition!! Best of luck with your business and getting your own pink Cadillac someday! Though, hopefully by the time you finish school you'll have other ambitions that outweigh selling cosmetics forever--not that that's bad, just that you'll have more skills to put to use in new and different ways... Most people change careers a bunch of times in their lives. Kudos to you for your past successes and for your practical outlook on it all!

Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 3 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Thanks, madscientist12! I'll do that someday soon!

P.S. Love the inspiring video starring Mary Kay Ash! Great quotes and much truth in them!

regddsfcds 2 years ago

It's so nice to read something POSITIVE! I just signed up and was looking for tips and stuff to help me start out and ALL i see is NEGATIVITY. If your negative in this business you won't survive. Apparently people forget that ALL OTHER BUSINESS' take lots of TIME and MONEY invested to get it to START OUT! Hello?!

Purplepassion 2 years ago

I have been a consultant for a year. You make one order a year for $200 and get $400 of product to use or sell. I win my intro kit so didn't pay $100 for starter kit just like any other sales you can work it or not. I know me personally I spend at least $300 a year on make up face creams etc so to get my personal stuff 50% off seems like a no brainer.

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 2 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

You're absolutely right--$200 every three months to stay active but you don't have to do that. You can just order $200 per year to remain a consultant. And you get out of it what you put in to it. Thanks for your comment!

Masters2814 2 years ago

Great article! I've been a MK consultant for almost two years. This BUSINESS is exactly what you make of it and what you put into it. I started out with the $100 kit (plus tax/shipping) and was able to start doing facials but had no product on hand so I had to send orders to the company each time, which cost shipping each time. I found after about 6 months that it would be better business to have product on hand so I wouldn't have to pay shipping for each order, so I ordered $2000.00 in product and my business not only flourished but has given me about $600.00 a month in extra income since. After calculating in my taxes, shipping, etc. my hourly wage is around $60.00 an hour. I would say that is EXCELLENT pay for not a lot of time. Great company, great passion for others and I am very proud to be a MK consultant.

ashley 2 years ago

While I enjoy mk products,I will say that you can lose your directorship,cars etc,for not meeting production requirements,so unless you build a strong unit/with a good clientele base,MK can demote you.I enjoy my products at the 50% off,the actual opportunity part is not for me.I think the cult mentality comes into play because a lot of women use Christianity and often twist scripture to lure women in.....just my opinion.

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 2 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

This is very true about building a strong unit and a good clientele base. However, it is the same way with any job. Attorneys have to build a good practice with solid partners and a a strong clientele. So do doctors, police officers, and CEOs. And I can't really comment on Christianity because I don't know enough about it, but I would guess that it may be along the lines of that.

Dana 2 years ago

Hi! I signed up in April and don't plan to work it as a business but just to get a discount with the possibility of selling it here and there. So does that mean if I put in a $200 order now I would be active and then start getting my discount after that?

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 2 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

No what that means is that when you place the minimum order (which has now gone up to $225) you will get $450 worth of products. So you are getting your discount with your first order. If you place less than the for your FIRST order, then you will not get the discount. Once you have placed that first minimum order, then you can orders as much or as little as you'd like and get your discount.

Sharon shaw 9 months ago

I have been with Mary Kay for 5 years I'm from the Uk and never heard of MK till I moved here I love their products and for me it's the sister hood the way we treat others yes it's a business that you do have to work at. An yes you can loose the car etc its not taken from you just like that you lost the privilege because you didn't meet the requirements you agreed to.

The kit is $75 in Canada which is a tax deduction .

There is also commissions and extra bounces you can earn which are paid from MK straight to you. I love my MK and could never see myself doing anything else. The beautiful people I meet everyday the smile on the ladies faces when they see their skin come alive is a blessing .


Dee Dee 9 months ago

I singed up a new consultant. She got her starter kit (100 plus tax) her first week in business got $1300 in orders. Then ordered products with the customers money. She's retired didn't have money to invest but knew how to call people to advertise her new business.

Pammy 9 months ago

I am a consultant for many years and you DO NOT need to order every 3 month. You can become 'inactive' and draw it out to a year. If you go past a year - you can rejoin for a very low fee ($25 maybe, not sure).

Emily 9 months ago

Technically Mary Kay does actually lay people off... They just word it a lot more nicely and say they're "asking a Sales Director to step down." I've been in Mary Kay for almost 3 years now (2 of which as a sales director and car driver). 2 months ago I was asked to step down (aka laid off) and my sales director position was taken from me because my unit didn't make the minimum production requirement 2 months in a row.

Michelle 9 months ago

Emily, I don't think that is the same as being laid off, because you can re-earn directorship- they didn't ask you to leave the company or anything like that. However like with any other job or company when you are not fulfilling your position's requirements you are "demoted".

Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier 9 months ago from Georgia

This was a wonderful hub and very informative. Good for you on being a successful business woman with Mary Kay. You may find that this is the company you want to stay with for the rest of your life, even after getting your degree, and I think that's great. One of the nice things about running a business from home is that you can create your work schedule around your life, which includes being home with your children. I used to sell Avon and loved it, but stayed away from Mary Kay because I didn't want to do the home party type of business, and didn't have a place to keep inventory. But good for you. I hope it continues to be successful for you.

Karen Howard 9 months ago

It will be 20 years in February since I joined MK. I only work it part-time as I have a full-time job I really enjoy. One thing that wasn't mentioned was being able to claim this business as tax deductions. If you think about an average of $3000/year in rebates off my salary times 20 you can see another very strong advantage of running a home-based business. And NO car payments (meaning no interest on them) is another awesome advantage. And my business has grown as I now service the families of my original clients--smile. Happy to have this part-time business, and having been laid off a couple of times from my corporate jobs in the past, it was nice that I could ramp up my income through sales while searching for a new job.

Maggie 9 months ago

How can you say there are no quotas in MK? You have to maintain a certain level of production, or else you have to pay a co-pay on your "free" car or send it back.

Walley 8 months ago

There are no quotas in Mary Kay!! As a Sales Director or a consultant who has EARNED a car, you and your team maintain a certain level of production. If your team doesn't make that production, the co-op payment is deducted from your commission. You do NOT have to 'send' the car back. How many companies can you think of that allow a consultant to EARN a car simply because she/ he worked and earned it!!

Val 8 months ago

Maggie the car is a choice. As a regular consultant you have no quotas (there's no one demanding you sell a certain amount each month/quarter ) unless you're going for something. If you want to be a star consultant then it's your choice to get to there and put in the time and effort and orders. But it's not REQUIRED. Just like someone mentioned before, if another company gave their employee a car based on their work performance and then that employee started to not perform well they would take the car back. It's a perk/bonus/reward (whatever word you want to use) of the work you do. It's a CHOICE to build a team and earn a car. It's laid out on the consultant website what you have to do to earn the car if you CHOOSE to earn it and what you have to do to keep/maintain the car program. Black and white. If you don't do the work or work your business like a business then of course you won't get the perks.

Barbara 8 months ago

Mary Kay is not for everyone, but is is for me. I've been recovering from

cancer for two years, but I still run my Mary Kay business from home. Mary Kay stated in a quote once, "If you think you can, you can, if you think you can't you are probably right". Go for it.

Joke 8 months ago

Mary Kay is a joke, I own a business and its successful and I do not have to put in as much effort as the bullshit that I had to put in with mary kay..

Past consultant 4 months ago

Mary Kay is a total waste of time and money. I was in it for 2 years, had a good amount of inventory, attended the meetings, did trade shows, parties and even went to most of the events and saw nothing out of it. I'm now in debt over my head because of it and still have product I can't get rid of. Don't waste your time.

Consultant 2 months ago

Why would someone put themselves into debt if the products are not selling. If you buy your first inventory and it's not selling why buy more? Every business is not suited for everyone because something does not work for you it does not mean it wouldn't be a great opportunity for someone else. If you put in the effort, learn the business and work on your approach and dress the part you cannot fail. Success does not happen overnight.

Betty 6 weeks ago

I'm think about becoming a consultant for Mary Kay. Just can't decide to or not....

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 4 weeks ago from Columbia, SC Author

Betty, figure out why you want to be a consultant. Don't say because you want money. It has to be more than that. Once you figure that out, see how strong that desire is and this will help you to realize if you want to be a consultant. And keep in mind that it's not easy, and there is no overnight success. If you are willing to put in the work, then go for it. Contact me if you need more info.

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 4 weeks ago from Columbia, SC Author

It may not have worked out for you, but it doesn't mean that it won't work out for other people. There are thousands of women earning six figure incomes from Mary Kay. As far as your inventory is concerned, Mary Kay has a 90% buy back policy, which, if you are a consultant you are aware of. If you truly feel that Mary Kay isn't for you, the company will give you 90% of your money back. However, you will never be able to be a consultant again if you opt to participate in the buy-back program.

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 4 weeks ago from Columbia, SC Author

Yes you have to maintain a certain level of production to keep the car for free, but that isn't any different with any other company. If you give results, you don't get the perks. As far as the co-pay, if you don't maintain the level of production to keep your car for free, it comes from your commission check, not out of your pocket. And also, having a quota means that you are REQUIRED to meet a certain amount of sales. There aren't any requirements in Mary Kay. Earning the car is optional.

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 4 weeks ago from Columbia, SC Author

It may not have been for you and that is okay. I am glad to hear that you have a successful business. Congratulations on that. There are many women who are finding success with Mary Kay, so just because it wasn't for you doesn't mean that it is a joke.

Laurie Fors 3 weeks ago

I was thinking about becoming a consultant but after reading the reviews I'm having second thoughts. I realize you have to spend money to make money . If someone doesn't have the disposable cash it's hard to get started which is discouraging . I understand you have to work at your company to succeed.Then you would have to sell hundreds every three month to stay active. I love the products but I hear women join just to get the discount .

madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 3 weeks ago from Columbia, SC Author

Hello Laurie. I appreciate your comment. A lot of reviews are from people who didn't work to succeed in Mary Kay, and then they blame Mary Kay for their downfall. Yes, you do have to invest money because it is a business, not a job. When I started, I only had enough for a starter kit and $400 for inventory. I didn't have a lot either, but I worked to build my business. In order to stay active, you have to order at least $225 in inventory every three months, but this does not mean that you won't be a Mary Kay consultant if you don't order this every three months. You can stretch this out to a whole year before your agreement is terminated, and even then you can rejoin for like $35. The idea behind Mary Kay is not to continuously use your own money to invest, but to make money so you have money flowing in to invest and to put in your pocket. This is where your sales director comes in. She can help you find the best ways to run your business if you allow her to help you. Even if you don't have any money at all to invest in inventory, you can book a few parties to get started. As far as it being hard--any business is hard to get started. If you were to open up a clothing shop, it would be hard to get started. But don't give up before you start. The starter kit is only $100 plus shipping and tax. In it, you get over $400 worth of full sized products. You could sell some of those to get your $100 back. And Mary Kay offers a 90% buy back guarantee on the inventory you order if you decide down the line that Mary Kay isn't for you, so you are really only taking a 10% risk. I hope that you don't let a few negative people stop you from achieving your goals. Give it a shot before you dismiss it, and I wish you much success. If you would like to talk about it more, please feel free to send me a message.

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