A Journey In Mary Kay: Why I Got Out

Holy cow, yesterday’s post brought a lot of hits to my blog!  I guess my crazy, life-altering decisions are somewhat entertaining.

Warning, this is going to be another long one!  So I left off yesterday in mid-August of 2010, right when I joined.  While the jewelry and cars were great perks, I was more interested in making some extra money and having the flexibility to do it when I wanted to do it.

Upon joining, my new director had me listen to a pre-recorded phone call from my national sales director, going over all the inventory options.  With Mary Kay, you don’t have to purchase an inventory, but it highly encouraged that you do.  And the more inventory you get, the better “deal” you get.  In other words, the more you spend on inventory, the more you get for free.  Based on what I told my director about my goals and time commitment, she recommended that I go in at the diamond level, and so that’s what I did.  It was a lot of money, but I told myself, there was a way out.  If Mary Kay wasn’t for me, there was a 90% buy-back of all my inventory.  I asked my director what the average timeframe was for consultants to break even on their investments.  She reported that on average it takes about three or four months, but that varies for everyone.  Some people can pay the investment off in two weeks, others it takes several months.

The boxes arrived a few days later and I was so overwhelmed, I let them sit in the computer room for a whole week before I opened them.  I was so freaked out about this decision, but my director assured me that everything was going to be okay.  Just give it a year, and if you totally hate it, you can get out, is what she told me.  A month later, I had a “debut” party and from there I was off running my new business.  I went to every weekly training meeting and held parties as often as I could schedule them.

Part of my Mary Kay Inventory on Display

I held parties a few times a month and the cash started to come in.  To keep my inventory balanced, I replaced what was purchased by my customers and had a “profit” of 50% on everything I sold.  Things were going just fine in October and November and the end of the Mary Kay quarter was nearing.  With the end of the quarter in sight and the holiday season coming up, I stocked up my inventory even more to finish the quarter as a star, in other words, finish at a rate of having bought so much from Mary Kay that I earn a prize.  Unfortunately my holiday prep didn’t yield so well as I barely sold a thing and didn’t have a single party.  At the same time, I got it in my head that the only way this would work, was for me to become a Sale Director.  At the time, I had recruited two sales consultants and I needed 24 in order to reach Sales Director.
I earned my Red Jacket in March 2011

January came, and I got another very strong team member.  The commission checks were coming in and I enjoyed seeing money being direct-deposited into my business account.  However, January was another slow month, with one single facial.  I kept my faith and pressed on.  February and March came and went.  Nick and I took a trip to visit my mom and I felt like I was on the phone, taking Mary Kay phone calls the entire time, all the while neglecting Nick, my mom, and being on vacation.  I felt terrible about it, but I had a goal in mind and I needed to keep going.  I had a few more parties here and there, but I always felt like I was leaving Nick behind and while there was flexibility to do Mary Kay when I wanted to, I felt like it was taking over my life.  On the up-side, I had made a bunch of friends through Mary Kay, and I realized that while I joined for the extra income, I really appreciated having the friends I made in the process.

April hit and Nick’s dad passed away.  This event triggered a turning point.  I had spent months and months giving it my all, investing in new products and building my inventory.  I had reached a point that I realized this wasn’t working the way I wanted it to.  I was not getting anywhere near breaking even on my investment and instead, had increased my investment with little return.  On top of that, I felt like I was pestering every friend and acquaintance I’ve ever had, asking them if they could do a Mary Kay facial or listen to a training call for me.  I felt like I was alienating everyone and I was hardly home to spend time with Nick.  (Sorry for those of you who are reading this who I pestered!  If you helped me out by doing a facial or phone call, thank you and I hope you liked your free gift for any inconvenience I put you through!)

I started to distance myself from Mary Kay.  I stopped going to the weekly meetings and I held my last party some time in May or June, which was a total disaster and complete failure.  I continued to sell products to existing customers, but I stopped restocking the inventory I sold.  I needed to actually make money and I had more inventory than I knew what to do with.  Then one afternoon, I ran into one of my Mary Kay consultant friends.  She was having a lot of similar thoughts and feelings that I was having.  We both had been on this huge mission to become Sales Directors that Mary Kay had totally taken over our lives.  She told me she was getting out.  I was so relieved to hear her tell me that.  I was afraid I was the only one who felt like I was in over my head and no longer enjoying this source of employment (if I can even call it that, as I was so far in the hole with my investment).  I wasn’t quite ready to return my inventory, although the thought was definitely in the back of my mind.  I really needed to take some time and think about it.  I’m not the person who typically jumps into huge decisions (although Nick would probably tell you otherwise).

About a month later, the middle of July 2011, I called up my friend who had recently gotten out of Mary Kay.  I asked her what I needed to do and who I needed to call.  She directed me to the right department at the Mary Kay headquarters.  I wasn’t planning on calling that same day to start the return process, but right when I got off the phone with her, I picked up the phone and dialed the return department at Mary Kay.  I was expecting the phone call to be a guilt trip to stay in the company, but that wasn’t the case at all.  The lady I spoke with was very nice and told me exactly what to do.  I was given the choice of returning the inventory via mail at my expense or, since I live in Dallas, where the headquarters of Mary Kay is, I could drive down to the warehouse and return it myself.  A form was being sent to me that I needed to fill out and then I’d be free and clear of Mary Kay, with my returned inventory 90% buy-back  coming my way.

(Okay, almost done… I know this is long, but thanks for sticking with me if you’ve made it this far!)  The form came in the mail a few days later and I jumped into counting my inventory, tabulating it in excel (I love spreadsheets), and filling out the form.  Alas, every thing was packed up and ready to go back to the Mary Kay warehouse!

My Mary Kay inventory, all packed up and ready to be returned

I loaded up my car in the middle of the week and drove down to the Mary Kay warehouse during my lunch break.  As I pulled up, I saw several charter buses in front of the warehouse.  It dawned on me that the Mary Kay annual convention was going on and this was one of several tours that consultants and directors could take!  I filed into the warehouse with all of these women who were all done up for the convention.  Trying not to announce it too loudly since it was so taboo, I told the woman at the front desk that I was there to return my inventory and she directed me on where to do.  I followed her directions, getting back in my car and heading to the rear of the warehouse.  Again, several more charter buses lines the back and more and more women were filing in through the back, exactly where I was supposed to go.  I followed the dolled up women in and again, made the announcement that I was there to return my products.  Nobody seemed to know where I was supposed to go, as the drop-off dock location was moved just for the convention.  I ended up having to call the Mary Kay corporate office as I sat there in the warehouse parking lot, asking for exact directions on where to go.  Finally, I was directed to the right dock (with no done-up ladies) and I finally got rid of those Mary Kay boxes.  What a relief!  I couldn’t have had any worse timing to drop the products off!  I was sp glad to be free and clear of it all!

In the end, I’m glad I got out of Mary Kay.  While I really enjoyed it for most of my time as a consultant, I wasn’t enjoying it at the end and I wasn’t anywhere near reaching my initial priority of making some extra cash.  When my director told me to give it a year, I took it to heart.  I told myself that if I was miserable or if I hadn’t broken even, I needed to get out, and that’s exactly how it ended.  There were several things that I did enjoy about the company and I made a few friends, but in the end, while Mary Kay really does work for some people, it just didn’t work for me.  And that, my friends, is (finally) the end of my Mary Kay journey.

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One response to “A Journey In Mary Kay: Why I Got Out

  1. Pingback: Day 2 Of Official Unemployment: Taxes and Jogging Suits | The Urban Retrofit

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