My Journey as a Mary Kay Consultant (Twice!)
My Journey as an Independent Beauty Consultant: The Pros and Cons
First let me cover the positive good things I learned from being a Mary Kay Cosmetics Consultant:
- I can now cold-call someone on the phone without getting butterflies in my stomach. Prior to joining Mary Kay, I would get sweaty palms if I had to make a phone call to any person that I did not know. I would sit there for 10 minutes rehearsing what I would say, and when the call actually happened, my voice would waver and I would sound nervous. After my Mary Kay training, it’s a piece of cake to call an unknown person, and I can even engage them in a conversation. Also, now I can speak in front of a group of people in meetings and not get butterflies. Before, I would just hyperventilate at the thought.
- I look much cuter. Before Mary Kay, I wore just enough makeup and didn’t pay any attention to my clothes, and I forget about accessorizing. After Mary Kay, I became aware of color coordinating makeup with clothes, shoes with handbags, jewelry, and what colors looked best on me. My hair style became more important. If you look good, then you feel good.
- I learned to find good in everyone I deal with. I had to learn to deal with different personality types in order to establish a customer base. I learned that not everyone was like me and not everyone liked what I liked, but I learned to value the uniqueness of each person.
Let’s Go Over Just a Few Things Your Director/Recruiter Will Tell You
- The product sells itself. Go to eBay or your local Craigslist and see how many MK products are for sale, and that will tell you how easy it was for the consultant to sell to her local surroundings.
- Sell $150 at a skin care class and you just made $75 an hour! Uuuhhh . . . no, it’s not that way at all. First of all, you must calculate the time it takes to find a customer to book the class, call for a reminder, pack up your skincare class supplies, load up your car, drive to the customer's house, unload car, unpack skincare class supplies, do the 2-hour class, take orders if you are lucky to get some orders, pack up skincare supplies, load up car, drive home, unload car, unpack and clean all class supplies. Whew, I’m tired just typing this. It is more like 6 hours of work—minus 50% inventory expense from that $150 plus gas, you make more like $12.00 per hour.
- Customers don't want to wait for their orders. Not true. Customers have to wait on orders from most places they purchase from, like Avon, Tupperware, L.L. Bean, etc. Your recruiter wants you to order a large inventory up front so they can get commission on it. Period.
My Journey Through the Pink Bubble
I was first introduced to the Mary Kay product line when an IBC at my place of employment brought skin care samples for me to try. I just absolutely loved this product and it made my skin look great. This IBC was doing it for personal use and did not harass or try to recruit me. It was great she just let me enjoy the product and I started ordering the product religiously. A few years later I lost my consultant and needed to find another so I looked in the yellow pages under Mary Kay Cosmetics and called the director closest to my house to buy the product from (Director #1 who drove a pink caddie).
My First Stint in Mary Kay
I became interested in all the glitter and glitz and glamour that is so much a part of the Mary Kay world, that it wasn’t difficult for Director #1 to badger me into going to area events and at least 1 unit meeting. I went as her guest to a Glamour Shot party at a local hotel for consultants and their guests, and I got all made up and had my hair all fixed up by a real beautician. I was having a blast and I looked fabulous. Director #1 told me I could get my pictures for free that evening if I signed a contract to become an IBC, otherwise I would have to pay $80 to get the pictures. The cameraman taking my pictures said it would be a better deal to just pay the $80 for the pictures. I signed a contract and became a MK consultant at the Glamour picture festival.
From the start I was very clear with Director #1 several times before I signed the contract that I could only do MK 5-8 hours a week on a part-time basis (I had a full-time 8-5pm job) and could absolutely not order any more than the $180 wholesale because I didn’t have the money and I have rent to pay. I informed her of this 3 times before I signed and she agreed with me and said each time that it wouldn’t be a problem. After I signed the contract, ordered my startup kit, and went to her house for the first training, it was apparent she was not keeping her word because she pretty much shamed me into a $600 order right there in front of everyone. She told me I couldn’t do this business without a $600 wholesale for my first order. This was the first time I heard about this. So I caved in. To add insult to injury she ordered my products for me the first time and said that’s what her job was as a Senior Sales Director. I thought, this is so wrong, because I had an idea who my customers would be and what color palettes I am more likely to sell. She ended up ordering weird colors like orange lipstick that no way could I sell to anyone (nor did I sell it to anyone). This was only the beginning of this nightmare.
Every time I turned around she was calling me and harrassing me to do more than I was able to. I was going to all the training classes and unit meetings and did a booth at the county fair and we split up the names and I booked and held 2 facial appointments in addition to my full-time 8-5 Monday thru Friday job. I was working hard and doing all that I could, but apparently wasn’t good enough for her. One thing I would like to mention is that she held her unit meetings with another Director in the area. The other Director had about 20 consultants show up every week, while Director #1 only had 3: myself and 2 others she recruited the same time as me. So the question was: where were all her recruits that bought her the pink caddy? Why were none of them ever showing up at her unit meetings? This was a big red flag.
She told me many times that since I had such lovely nails it shouldn’t be difficult for me to sell the nail manicure kit. And since I had a full-time job, she says, I am exposed to people that she would never be exposed to so therefore I had a large potential customer base that she didn’t have. I went on vacation one time and she pestered me that I should pack some suntan lotion and other product to get some sales while I was on vacation.
I had a few ladies from church who did me a favor and helped me out and booked a class. My roommate also joined that class to help me out. After the skincare class was completed, Director #1 called and asked me to give her the names and phone numbers of my facial appointments (i.e. my church friends and roommate) and said she was going to contact them and talk with them. I said No I can handle them and can take care of them (after all it’s my business and I am the CEO of my business, right?) Then she got a real attitude problem and snapped at me and said that’s what her job as a Senior Sales Director was, to contact my contacts. In hindsight I’m glad I didn’t cave in because her purpose in contacting MY customers was to recruit them, so she (not me) would get commissions off of their orders. But I still didn’t give her their names and phone numbers because I didn’t want her harassing them as well. At this point I realized I was not going to subject myself to any more emotional abuse from this tyrant. I stopped going to the Success meetings and wouldn’t return her phone calls. In the next year I used about half of my leftover inventory for my personal use and the other half I bartered product with another inactive consultant who had leftover inventory. The rest went to Goodwill (like the orange lipstick) and I got a tax writeoff. So my first stint as an IBC lasted only 4 weeks.
My Second Stint in Mary Kay
Fast forward 5 years. I moved to City #2 and called a Director in the yellow pages since I needed product. I ended up signing an IBC contract again. On the bright side this Director #2 was so much nicer and much better than Director #1. I was so sure-fired convinced that the reason I failed at MK the first time was because I had an evil tyrant Director and no real unit of sister consultants and I wanted another chance at this business, and that with Director #2 I would get more direction and support and training. Well this was true to a certain extent. The only problem was they still didn’t teach you how to sell the product and book classes. The unit meetings were all about recruit, recruit, recruit, warm chatter to book classes with the end goal of recruiting. There was not much teaching the business side of things. Our unit meetings were mostly rah-rahs and upcoming contests.
One bright spot was that Director #2 did not require payment to attend the weekly unit meetings. We met at a restaurant that didn’t charge her anything, so therefore thank goodness we didn’t pay at the door for our unit meetings. My sister consultants in my unit were new just like me, except they had about 6 more months than me, but still relatively new. Once or twice we talked among ourselves, outside the unit meeting, asking each other why is it that we try real hard and work real hard that we can't sell much of the product or get new customers. I even paid $25 to hear Pam Shaw speak at a hotel in my town and all she talked about was stepping out of your box if you want to make it in this business—no business training or how to sell the product. Just, don’t test the water with your big toe, just jump into the water with both feet. Rah Rah You Can Do It!!!!! Well gosh that’s what I thought I was doing.
We were not allowed to say anything negative about the company or the business in general. I tried to tell Director #2 about abusive tyrant Director #1 and she very nicely cut me off and said please nothing negative about anyone. I would like to add that both Director #1 and #2 did not seem to have any other interest in life except MK. No other hobbies or activities they liked to pursue, it was all about skincare, glamour, MK and nothing else. Director #2 had a 13-year old daughter that came to one of our unit meetings. I don’t have any children but I could see plainly that she was the most insecure, timid, shy, intimidated thing I ever saw. Her mother sure was loud and outgoing though.
So there I was letting everyone I knew at work and church know that I was now a MK consultant. I worked a booth at a PTA conference and we split the names and I booked and held 2 facials, no sales from either and I had to give them a free prize just for booking the facial. Some of my coworkers booked and held skincare classes to help me out and of course it was good training for me and we all had fun but I only got small sales.
Once I mailed 40 of the beauty books to new homeowners in my zip code area offering them a “Welcome to Your New Home” gift if they booked a facial to try products (I found their names and address in the newspaper—it’s public knowledge when real estate is transacted). That cost $0.52 each book to mail and all I got was a $12 order for an Extra Emollient Night Cream. Overall in general, of the few orders I did get, I had to place a $180 because I didn’t have one or two small items in inventory, and nobody to trade with.
I got so desperate for customers and to sell/move my inventory that once I wrote down all the “spammer emails” filling my mailbox, (you know how we all get spammed in our email) well, I spammed them right back with a really beautiful, nice, colorful pretty email about MK, with my website listed so they could order products. I got blasted by 2 of the spammers saying don’t ever send us this stuff again. One of them even threatened to “turn me in” to the authorities. So I spammed the spammers with my Mary Kay business and I got blasted by the spammers because they didn’t want any MK emails. Darn-it all, I was just trying to get new customers and sell some product!!
The Beginning of the Final End of the Pink Bubble
Two years later I decided to move to City #3 (where I currently reside) and became inactive because I didn’t place another product order to corporate using my credit card. I absolutely refused to use my credit card one more time to order inventory (just to stay active) when I couldn’t even sell my current inventory!! Good for me!! I think some of the pink fog started to lift at this point. All of my energy needed to go into finding a new full-time job and getting settled into my new city where I didn’t know a soul. I did visit an adoptive unit one Monday evening and had to pay $4 at the door. There were between 45-50 consultants at this unit meeting, with about 5 Red Jackets walking around (you become a Red Jacket when you recruit 3 people and they are active consultants under you). The whole evening consisted of a Red Jacket getting in front of the room and telling us which product she sold that week and then the whole room would break out in clapping and screeching, every 45 seconds. Yes screeching—it was so loud it hurt my ears, and Yes every 45 seconds. I worked all day at 8-5 job before this point and was tired and didn’t want my ears to hurt. I ended up leaving ½ hour early because I couldn’t take it anymore. That’s great that the Red Jacket sold product that week, but she failed to mention how she sold the product. Once again no real solid business training. I had to pay $4 of my cash to hear a bunch of women screeching and clapping. This turned me off the business for good. I never tried to get into another unit after that.
So here I sat in my new city with $1200 retail collecting dust in my closet. I was getting orders from coworkers for products I didn’t have in my inventory. Fortunately I found a website that allows MK consultants to “barter” product between each other. The majority of these IBCs are Active consultants with MK. No selling is allowed. Thank the Lord I found this website because it enabled me to move $400 retail off my shelf (unfortunately I don't have the website link anymore). I bartered with active MK consultants all over the country and had good trades with all of them. They even have a listing of good traders and the bad traders to stay away from. I traded so many times that my name ended up on the Good Trader list. Still, when my coworkers had everything they needed, and didn’t order any more, I had $800 Retail that I just went ahead and donated to charity and took an $800 tax write-off. Yes, the IRS accepted it because I didn’t get audited over it. I calculated that during these 2 stints as an IBC, I ran up a couple thousand just in MK credit card debt and have since paid it off.
I love glitter and glamour and dressing up and looking good and all that but I can do that without MK taking my money. Even at the height of my belief and enthusiasm with the company, there was just no way I was going to stalk and approach a total stranger at the mall and try to sell product and book an appointment with her. I love the fish bowl idea but I just absolutely could not bring myself to beg a store owner to let me put a fish bowl in their store. It’s been almost 8 years since I placed my very last credit card order with corporate. Since then I have paid off my credit card debt and have many other interests in life that make me happy like walking on the nature trails, water aerobics, church activities, volunteer work, a full-time job with a steady paycheck, my circle of friends that are my extended family. I even bought my first house. The MK things always stressed me out because I felt I wasn’t doing enough and that I wasn’t good enough. But, however, see the first paragraph – there were the good things I learned while being an IBC.
In general, based on my experiences and that of other IBCs that I have spoken with – my advice to anyone who is thinking about joining MK would be: RUN. If you adamantly love the product and can’t live without it, then join as a “personal use” consultant and get the product at 50% discount. Do not attend any events and do not attend the weekly unit meetings so you don't get brainwashed into buying more product or spending more money. Better yet, check out ebay and see how many Mary Kay products are for sale. This will give you an indication how fast the product sells itself.
More Information on Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc.
- Pink Truth
Welcome to the world of Mary Kay Cosmetics. I have been a consultant with Mary Kay for 9 years and a director for over 8 years. I was one of those consultants who moved up fast.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Is it your belief that others should expect the same results you had as a Mary Kay consultant?
Yes, that is correct, because there is a very high turnover in this business and not many succeed without accumulating a lot of debt.Helpful 25
© 2012 Michelle Dee