Over on my public awareness site Pink Truth, we’re often asked about whether someone can make money with Mary Kay Cosmetics. After all, they’ve got a product that you can retail, and you don’t really have to recruit, do you?
In theory, you can make money with Mary Kay. In reality, most women (upwards of 99%) actually put more money into MK than they ever get out of it. There is a tiny fraction of women (something like five one-hundredths of one percent) who make an executive income with Mary Kay. There’s another fraction of one percent that make a little money…. typically in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $25,000 a year.
Most everyone else is spending more money stocking up on inventory that they have little hope of ever selling.
But what about that retail product? Aren’t women buying it? Not in significant enough numbers to generate a real income. The recruiters push big inventory packages, telling you to “think like a retailer.” Except you’re not like a real retailer. You’re one person with tons of restrictions on how and where you can market and sell the products. You have no foot traffic like a real store. You don’t have any window shoppers who can be drawn in.
It’s extremely difficult to build a client base to a size that will offer you a somewhat stable, livable income. “But I’m willing to work hard!” You might be willing to work hard, but you should know that there have been millions of women who came before you who were willing to work hard and couldn’t build that base.
It’s not just hard, it’s next to impossible, for a variety of reasons:
- The common opinion of women outside of Mary Kay is that the products are overpriced for their quality. The products are okay, but they’re about equal to drugstore brands. The quality is not up to the level of department store brands, although the reps want you to think they are.
- Many women are wise to the Mary Kay game. They know if they buy from you, they’re going to have to put up with you asking them to hold skin care classes with their friends, as well as trying to recruit them into MK. They’d simply rather not deal with it. If they need make-up, they’ll pick some up at Sephora, where the employees won’t try to recruit them.
- The home party business model is out-of-date and a turn-off to most professional women. They don’t want to waste time on your sales pitch. If they need girlfriend time, they’d much rather do something fun with their friends instead of getting your hard-sell about “giving their opinion” on the “business opportunity.”
- To generate a real income, you’d have to sell in excess of $1,000 a week every week. That just doesn’t happen in Mary Kay. Oh, they pretend it does. Unfortunately, that one $1,000 week the director had five years ago doesn’t count. I dare you to find anyone in Mary Kay who is selling more than $1,000 a week every week and is willing to provide proof.
- Everyone knows the real money is in recruiting. The product is just the front for the recruiting scheme. Recruiting and frontloading inventory is the name of the game. Get you in, convince you that you need thousands of dollars of inventory, and hope you don’t send it back to the company for a refund. But in reality, most of the women who have recruited aren’t making a whole lot either. Most of them are creating credit card debt for themselves, hoping that “next month will be the month” in which they break out into the “big” income and can pay off the debt they’ve accumulated.
- If you get to the point where you’re making that $20,000 to $25,000 a year that I mentioned above, you should know that you’ll easily be spending 50 to 60 hours a week to do that. That’s less than $10 an hour. Not an executive level income, if you ask me.
The bottom line is that if you want to make a little extra money… say a hundred bucks a month, you could do it by selling Mary Kay. If you want to make a real income, run the other way. Find a real job, with a real salary, and real benefits. With Mary Kay, you’ll be lucky if you even get to that $20k or $25k level. And even then, you’ve got self-employment taxes and no benefits, which make that income look even worse.