The Mary Kay Black and Pink World: My Own Experience

Up to now in the series, I discussed The Approach of Mary Kay and How it Operates in 15 Points. It’s now time to have a look at My Own Experience as a Mary Kay Independent Consultant from July 2009 to November 2009. I’ve seen enough during these four months to evaluate it properly and formulate opinions towards this “business opportunity”.

How I got Approached


My aunt is the one who first contacted me to participate in one of the girl’s parties – parties? My second name was Party Animal! – in which I would learn how to put on make-up. Yes, you read well. Party Animal – me – had no clue how to put on make-up the smart way! I wasn’t the make-up type at all and was washing my face with water and soft soap – don’t judge me, at least it smelled well!

I told myself I didn’t have much to lose – I brought my girly sister-in-law with me just in case! – I was near mid-twenties and felt like looking more a woman than a girl. I learned some very helpful tips that night and enjoyed it… up until the Mary Kay Opportunity speech. I thought: “What the hell is that all about?” But, as a generous person who values family a lot, I did make an order for my aunt. She didn’t have all products with her so she ended up delivering it about a week after.

That’s when she said I could be of some help. She was unhappy in her actual job and really wanted to make a living out of her Mary Kay project. She needed sales of a certain amount to get some sort of freebie or promotion – can’t remember exactly, probably the wine 😉 – that would really help her start the right way. She was missing about $500 to reach it. So she asked if there would be more products I would be interested in. Since I had about nothing make-up and skin care related, there was of course a couple.

She proposed me something that made sense to me back then but now look very sneaky – question is, is she still my aunt? Stay tuned! 😉 – She said I could buy a starter kit just like a consultant would do and simply pay for the products I wanted in it and she would sell what’s left. She insisted on the fact that it didn’t come with an obligation for me to sell products. It was also a lot cheaper for me to buy it that way as I paid the cost price.

–>Really, what did I have to lose?


How and Why I ended up Getting In?

A month or two passed by and I have to say that I was satisfied with the Mary Kay Products I had. Actually, I even turned out to be a real word of mouth preacher! When I got compliments on my make-up or my clear skin, I preached about all the shimmering gloss colours, the long-stay mascara, the miraculous eyes remover and the natural ingredients used in the skin care line – I think you’re starting to get the picture. Some of my friends and colleagues then bought from my aunt.

No doubt that’s when I started looking like a successful consultant for her own team – I would recruit myself if I could! 😉 – I didn’t know much about the recruitment concepts Mary Kay used at the time. So when she said “Why don’t you become a consultant? You clearly have what it takes, you made them buy! That money could be yours”, I didn’t realize that she’d make more money that way too.

That’s why I got in! I thought I was losing money not to! I thought my own products would be cheaper that way and I thought I wouldn’t have to put many hours in it. That’s what they – the consultants and director – all preached.

Another thing was going through my mind. I was about to get married and we were planning on having babies right after – goodbye Party Animal, you’ll be missed! – I was happy with my job mainly because I loved – also read was good at – what I was doing. I didn’t like the long hours, and the common melting pot: ordinary pay check with big pressure on shoulders and little appreciation. I didn’t think it was the perfect job for a young mother. Although I can surely be the hard-working type with a solid career, I wanted something different as a mother. I thought that Mary Kay could be a perfect – part-time – opportunity to make my family to come my #1 priority in a year or two.

Mary Kay’s Cult and Me

All that being said and done, what about my own experience once in it? Getting there, honey! 😉 One of the first things my “team manager” – my aunt, yes, still that one! – told me is to show up in the next meeting, professionally dressed up – skirt, no jeans, and a blouse or nice shirt. She explained that our image was a part of our products credibility and that we have to inspire trust and beauty. We, of course, had to use Mary Kay products in all meetings, reunions, parties (also called classes) or any business related occasions. No need to mention that smiling was not an option!

These meetings were, in our case, separated in two: one with customers coming for a free make-up class; one for training, questions, news and exchanges. One thing that shocked me quite fast was the positivity that surrounded every story, every sale and every gesture. I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or not – no kidding, it was almost like being in The Secret – but as I was enthusiastic about this new project, I didn’t put much focus on it. It was as if Mary Kay could be nothing but perfect. As if there were no problems, no issues and that every difficulty was only a challenge. At some point, I think I saw some unicorns and a rainbow in the room – now, I’m kidding! 😉 I started to wonder what was fake and what wasn’t…

Negativity in all sort was just not tolerate. Actually, if we had a problem, we were told to discuss it one on one with our manager. I agree with the concept, but a good talk once in a while never hurt and others could learn from it as well. It’s not because a problem is hidden that it doesn’t exist anymore. Besides, are we not supposed to be our own boss?? This could be discussed largely.

Before being our own boss, we were pink ladies! Not P!nk, the colour pink. Pink was everywhere! It was the dominant colour on most products containers, business sheets, bags, suitcases, etc. Even the cars Mary Kay was giving away were pink! – Ever saw a big pink Cadillac? Yes, a Mary Kay Pink Lady hides in it! You better love pink big time! 😉 – The reason behind is that Mary Kay Ash, the founder, truly believed that pink was THE colour that represents femininity. She thought the more pink there would be out there, the more women would get respect for their work. It probably made sense in 1963… Most consultants found it somehow funny but pink really is a symbol of success in this business. What shocks me with it is I don’t understand why consultants are not encouraged to choose their own symbols, rather than sticking to someone else’s idea.

This leads me to the biggest part of what I call Mary Kay’s Cult: rewards! Pins, rings, suitcases, products of all sort, trips, cars and even homes! Every little step forward is worth a reward. The thing is, you’ll get stuck to pins, jewels and products a long time before you get to the home! Why? They quantify your achievements with the sales you make or the number of active Independent Consultants you recruited. Mary Kay is a business, not Santa Claus! You will always bring the business more money than what they give you! – Keep that in mind Pinky Lady (no offense, that’s my sense of humour!) when you’re dreaming about your free house or the free trip… in which you’ll hear about Mary Kay once more!!

Why do I consider this as a cult? It’s almost as if Mary Kay was a God giving you all you need if you simply follow one rule: bringing in money! I guess I’ll be seen as a pretty pessimistic one here. I already here consultants saying: “I don’t know of any company who gives back to their employees as much”. But, wait a minute! “Employees?” I thought you were your own boss? Then be proud of yourself, reward yourself with money aside for your retirement and move on! 😉

To prove my words, here’s a definition of cult

“an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers” or “a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.”

Consultants and even directors could be considered as the « body of admirers » bounded together by the veneration of Mary Kay’s ideal, values, concept. The company also makes sure to “control” the objectives and opinions of their consultants with their rewards and seminars. Everybody works for the benefits of Mary Kay, not the other way around.

The Truth about Training and Products

I often got asked if the products were really that good. The answer is, from my experience: some products were awesome, others were okay – but sexy mamas deserve more than okay, don’t you? 😉 – For example, many women liked the eye remover and have trouble changing brand once they tried it – my case actually! – I really enjoyed most of the skin care line products and still use many. Their make-up seems to be a little less appreciated considering their high cost. I also can’t deny that Mary Kay does put lots of money into research, just like any other trustworthy cosmetics company.

What I had a bigger issue with was the training. We were trained by Mary Kay consultants and directors, who are trained by other Mary Kay directors or employees. What we know about the products is what the company tells us. Since most Mary Kay consultants have about no background in esthetic cares or cosmetics and solely sell Mary Kay products, it becomes hard to objectively judge a product – It’s like asking Tom Cruise to evaluate Scientology…

Recruitment Difficulties

I also got little training on the recruiting part. It’s one thing to have a sales pitch, it’s another to know how to judge which person could be a great candidate. As I didn’t like pressure to be put on me, I didn’t want to put pressure on someone to get in or buy – I guess that makes me a very poor recruit seeker! – Unfortunately, there is A LOT of pressure on consultants to recruit other. Why? Your team manager makes more money when there are more consultants after her, as well as her team manager, and the team manager on top of her, and the regional director, as well as the national director on top and so on and so forth.

Is it pyramidal? Since everyone makes a 50% profit on their sales, Mary Kay can’t be called a pyramidal company. The organization chart though makes it look like it. Team manager’s commission – I think it was 5% back then – is calculated only on the sales made by the active Independent Consultant. An active independent consultant is one that bought for $200+ in the MONTH! So it comes with a pressure to sell as well… $200 x 12 months = $2,400 just to stay active. It doesn’t matter if you bought $600 the month before. That means that to start making money, you need to sale at least $400 per month. Otherwise, you work for nothing.

Anyway, I faced many recruitment difficulties, whether it was to getting new clients or candidates for my “team”. The $400 per month is sometimes had to reach when you sale a couple hours per week only.

Once you started with your family and friends, you’re left with draw boxes, word of mouth and public places you go to. It’s like you’re always on duty, always trying to recruit, seeking for the next one. You go to a restaurant and think about recruiting the waitress, you’re at your friends’ house for what is supposed to be a relaxing night and end up talking – selling – about the new products you heard about. What was supposed to be a side business slowly built up soon turned out to be a source of stress.

And what about these draw boxes? It surely can help, but it has a high refusal or cancellation ratio, not to mention that many only want the freebie and get away! You therefore end up working long hours on calls and recruitment meetings that often end up to nothing – don’t judge my persuasion talent here, I can be a hard one! 😉

5 Hours Week?

I was told that only 5 hours per week was enough at first – that’s total BS… sorry! – If you want to take a whole year before starting making money – out of your already paid products – then 5 hours surely is enough. But, even if I already had a 40 hours/week job, I soon ended up doing more than 15 hours a week to have some results.

I was a good student and really tried to make it work. My manager told me that if I wanted to learn fast, I simply had to show up in as much meetings as possible. The truth is that these meetings’ objective is to keep you in a high level of motivation. I’m not saying this is all negative, but there were mostly tips exchanged to stay motivated than really learn about the products or how to become a successful salesperson.

To get answers on products or sales pitch techniques, we had to ask – we did get answers. Though I remember how it could be intimidating to admit that we had no clue how to do it in front of these ready to roll women – shiny ones too with their bracelets, scarf and pink rings – all speaking about how Mary Kay is fabulous!

…Tick-tock, tick-tock, hours add up…

On top of showing to as many meetings as I could, I was there for the phone training hour too – that really helped to know more about the products – and took my customer service seriously by delivering personally each order, packaging them in a cute way, giving samples to my best clients and always dressed up in skirts, wearing Mary Kay make-ups and the smile of success. I didn’t calculate the amount of gas that cost me. I should have, because it clearly has an impact on your profits.

The classes – girl’s parties – that I organized as an Independent Consultant asked for some preparation. You have to communicate with your host so she knows what to do and what not to do, clean make-up tools, bowls, mirrors, have enough samples or products and know your stuff a little!

… Tick-tock, tick tock, and the hours add up again!

Important note: when do you think women are available for such an event? During nights and weekends. Is that a flexible hours job? Does it make you a present mom? What do you think?

Did I Make Money?

Here’s THE question you wanted to hear about, didn’t you? 😉 You’ll have to keep reading Fabulously Broke to know it all as this will be part of the last but not least piece on The Mary Kay Black and Pink World series! Will I recommend Mary Kay? Don’t assume you got the answer! Might have little surprise! 😉 Feel free to share your thoughts – or bets – on it!

Image/photo credit: Black and Pink Make up, Party Animal, Mary Kay Heart, Mary Kay Pin, Draw Box, Mary Kay Facials via Pinterest, Mary Kay Girl, Mary Kay Ring and Pink Changing Lives via Mary Kay,

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