MLM Success Story: I'm a Top Mary Kay Beauty Consultant

mary kayMLM Company: Mary Kay Cosmetics, since 1963

You know the company. You know the name. You or your significant other has most likely attended a Mary Kay beauty party and you've probably even gotten a glimpse of one of the Mary Kay signature cars -- a pink Cadillac awarded to the top consultants in the United States.

But what you may not know is how this direct marketing company has lasted so long, and even made millionaires out of so many, leaving many folks to reconsider their views that Mary Kay is only for older grandmother-types. And even though it may not be for everyone, Mary Kay Cosmetics does offer a good business option if you are into beauty products, socializing, and organizing your own schedule.

"I got into this business by accident. I didn't really think you could make any money doing this, so I started small with the initial investment of $100 and earned the use of my first career car within one year," says Leslie Kane, a Reston, Va.-based Mary Kay independent beauty consultant who has been in the business for 16 years.

Kane had just graduated with a master's in business from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and secured a full-time job as a financial analyst, when she first began selling Mary Kay products on the side as a fun outlet for earning some extra money. Selling Mary Kay Cosmetics "was not something I thought out," she says. "I just liked the products and was looking for something extra. I thought I would be in corporate America forever."

Start-up costs

Kane's initial investment was a mere $100, which remains the same to this day. For that $100, Kane received: $300 worth of sample products, mirrors, demos, trays, brushes, training materials, catalogs, and a guide for new consultants about how to host parties.

After five years as a full-time financial analyst and moonlighting as a part-time Mary Kay consultant, Kane left corporate America and the world of finance to build her Mary Kay business full-time. Kane found she could make a decent living through Mary Kay, and that the personal growth that came from her business far outweighed the high-stress life of finance and cubicles.

Kane is currently an independent sales director for the company, which means that she trains other Mary Kay beauty consultants about 50 percent of the time, and spends the rest of her time selling the products to her own customers. In order to be a sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics, you need to personally recruit 10 other beauty consultants and then have those 10 members grow to a team of 24 people.

The perks

There are no territories with this company, so Kane can sell to customers anywhere, anytime and she can recruit other consultants from anywhere, which means she can even find new customers while she's on vacation. She can also work as much or as little as she wants. Because of this, Mary Kay is popular with stay-at-home-mothers and the semi-retired.

To become a Mary Kay independent beauty consultant you must be recruited by another consultant. You cannot apply for this position through Mary Kay's corporate offices, because each beauty consultant is an independent contractor who runs her own business.

Mary Kay Cosmetics are not sold in any retail stores or outlets. " We sell our products and teach people how to apply them properly in personal settings, like people's homes, so that people do not feel embarrassed going to the mall for this kind of help," Kane says. "You can also order products online through my website. Everything is guaranteed and backed by the Mary Kay stamp of approval so you won't ever lose money, and I won't lose money if you want to return an item," she adds.

Pros and cons

"My favorite thing is that I am my own boss and I have flexibility," Kane says. "My favorite thing about Mary Kay Cosmetics as a company is that I can help other women be successful. There is no glass ceiling with Mary Kay Cosmetics; there is always another level to reach."

Kane does admit that there can be a learning curve. She also says, "I think the hardest thing is that you work with people and people have lives and things happen. I have to overbook my schedule to keep my appointment list full, because things will always arise that you cannot control."

According to Kane, working for yourself takes discipline and some getting used to, but it also has some great benefits. She still has plenty of time to do volunteer work for her community and church and teach water aerobics each week. She believes that running her own Mary Kay Cosmetics business for the past 16 years has taught her to manage her time wisely. "Being a Mary Kay Consultant made me efficient, because I didn't want to miss out on my other activities -- so I always stayed focused and on task."

Just rewards

Kane has just been awarded the use of her eighth car -- her fourth pink Cadillac. Sixteen years ago, Kane was just looking to pass the time and have a little fun, and she grew her love of helping other women feel good about themselves into a successful business.

"If it seems appealing then give it a try," Kane advises. "It's a great plan B. I was not a makeup girl, I was just bored and looking for something new to do. I didn't have any great plans; but I can say without a doubt that [selling Mary Kay Cosmetics] has changed my life and this is what I will always do."

If you want to learn more about Mary Kay direct sales, visit: If you want to suggest another direct sales business to see featured in our series, e-mail me here.

-- YoUr Turn! Have an interesting story to tell? Submit it to AOL Jobs.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Are Mary Kay Directors allowed to have full time jobs (specifically sales for another company) while they are directors?

March 25 2012 at 2:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to printsky's comment

yes, many directors keep their FT jobs. As long as it is not another direct sales company.

March 26 2013 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Poor Scrib


For those thinking this article said she has been in business since 1963 then saying 16 years. You did not read right. Mary Kay was founded in 1963. This woman in the article has been in business 16years. Just a FYI

November 23 2011 at 8:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Poor Scrib

Scrib, get a life. All you are is a dark cloud hanging over anyone and anything that doesn't see your "pink truth" close minded, whish you had been smarter at running a business, probably thinks elf makeup and skincare is great expensive stuff, sitting in a chair behind a desk, lame-o A%*.

You think because you seem educated while typing that you have the only and right opinion. I think you need a hug because dang you have a heck of a grudge on Mary Kay for no real reason. You seek out websites, forums, blogs just so you can talk about hating Mary Kay , its pretty sad.

I'm sorry if you did in fact have a recruiter who sold you a dream and you thought everything from all start up costs, marketing, actually putting in some of your own work, meetings, etc was going to be in your starter kit. buuut, thats not how it works.

I do not know if you ever tried google-ing oh idk, "starting your own business", "owning a franchise", etc ALL of them REQUIRE the same things as Mary Kay does.

You do not seem destined for anything but working under someone so how about this, ask whatever bank, clinic, supermarket, department store you work for what are all the steps in becoming successful and how long til legit spending money came back around after becoming more established. Im pretty sure it'll all be similar to the hard work that Mary Kay requires to be successful.

Were all adults, its up to us to get 100% aware of what were getting prepared for when entering Mary Kay. So if your so mad cause you didn't ask the right questions then boo hoo. Stop crying. If you think weekly meeting and weekly conference calls and random songs here and there are stupid. Then by all means think that. It is not mandatory to attend any of those things, but it is FACT that with any business and life in general we get unmotivated, life happens, or we run into ugly people like you who are making people who actually have a dream and are determined feel like its not possible. That is why those steps are in place to keep us on track to be surrounded by other spiritual, upbeat, determined WOMAN, mothers, wives etc whatever it may be.

I have came here to say shutup cause you sound like a 13y.o girl who didn't get her way. Please stop hating on mary Kay and come to terms that there are those who will be successful at things and others (like you) who will not.

I hope you have fun writing out and spell checking your response. til we meet again.

November 23 2011 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There's a lot of information missing in this article. Allow me to fill in a few gaps!

1. The initial investment is indeed $100, but you will be strongly encouraged to purchase makeup packages (called "inventory") that can spike as high as $4800. MK directors glean commissions off these inventory orders, and these orders count towards a monthly quota directors must meet or else they get demoted. Directors will make it sound like it's in your best interests to have your shelves groaning with inventory (and maybe even guilt you into it), but in reality, it's in THEIR best interests. They cannot make the big bucks if you don't order, and they will not get promoted unless you join, period.

2. The pink Cadillac is not "won" by someone selling a lot of makeup. The Caddy is awarded based on the amount of product ORDERED by a director's unit (a group of consultants led by the director). This is not an accurate portrayal of what has actually been SOLD by these women, as Mary Kay does not require any proof of retail sales to customers to be provided by consultants. So if you see a Caddy on the road, it's accurate to state that its driver knew how to get her women to order boxes of makeup, even if those women hadn't sold what's currently on their shelves. Check out the Craiglist ads in your area and see how many women are desperately trying to unload thousands of dollars of Mary Kay makeup. Bonus challenge: Count how many times you find the phrase, "I just want the stuff out of my house!"

3. If you join this business to stay at home or be with your kids more, BE WARNED that it is more accurate to state that you will be BASED at home in MK, but you will not actually BE at home. MK culture teaches that you can't meet new faces when you're at home and your parties need to be held in the homes of others. As such, many MK directors and top leaders recommend that you get child care, which completely myth-busts the lie that you'll be with your kids more. So if you don't mind having your kids raised by someone else, join Mary Kay.

I warmly invite you to stop by PINKTRUTH.COM and check out the enlightening articles, thought-provoking testimonies, and humorous commentary on Mary Kay Cosmetics. I promise you'll come away with an education about the business that will be stronger than anything a Mary Kay recruiter will tell you, and your good credit will thank you! WARNING: Have a Swiffer WetJet handy, as you'll need it to mop up the drool on the floor that your jaw will leave behind! :)

August 29 2011 at 11:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Melinda Crivello

This is a new jewelry start-up that I have been blessed with getting in on ground floor. This is a jewelry line by famous designers JudeFrances that starts at $25.00 retail. The business can be done all online by offering "virtual" trunk shows. The world is your sales territory!!!! Sign up through my site and receive daily help and weekly conference calls! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to join a direct sales team that you can make big money in! Remember, sign-up is free so you can check it out at no cost to you!!! Email me for more information or call me direct at 972-523-5599.

Melinda Crivello

March 26 2011 at 9:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jackie Brown

I am the author of the newly released book Ask ME About MaryKay. I agree with the comments about the great things MaryKay has dnne. However,
the story of the sacrifices that were made by so many people in order for that success to be possible has not been told - until now. Type in the title and check out the book - you will be surprised!

October 27 2010 at 9:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Jackie Brown's comment

I love Mary Kay products. I had acne as a teenager & young adult, and Mary Kay did wonders to my skin. People always compliment me on how great my skin looks now. I think it's a great company that would have the opportunity to get a new car & my consultant is so sweet & never pushes anything on me. It's just like with any company, you will find bad employees along with the good.

October 25 2010 at 8:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have been an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay for over 11 years, and I love it. I love everything about the Company, the products and the women I've met throughout the years. This is not a pyramid company. If you tried it and it wasn't for you... Great! At least, you tried. For those stating they lost money, then you weren't working your business. Yes, we receive a commission for introducing other women to a great business opportunity. However, that is just the bonus. The real "paychecks" are what Mary Kay Ash always referred to as,"Paychecks of the Heart". Thanks to Mary Kay and this incredible business opportunity I've gotten some of those "Paychecks of the Heart"... They are worth more than any dollar amount I will ever make. Mary Kay Ash created this company to empower women and give them the opportunity to keep their priorities in line with, "God first, Family second and Career third." I am blessed to have been given this opportunity.

October 25 2010 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MellieJoy's comment

"For those stating they lost money, then you weren't working your business."

So how much money have YOU lost so far, Mellie? Care to share? Don't spit out such a silly catchphrase until you're willing to use it as a yardstick for YOUR Mary Kay business.

Also, you ever try paying the cable bill with a "paycheck of the heart?" Comcast, Brighthouse, and Cox Communications all have squads of 350-lb men in black suits and sunglasses on their payroll, and they WILL ring your doorbell with a sledgehammer until you answer.


August 29 2011 at 12:22 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Scrib's comment
Poor Scrib

So your saying Scrib you were sooo bad at selling Mary Kay that you never even made enough to pay a cable bill? Ouch, good thing you got out of the business!

Ill apologize now, but I wanted to stoop down to your level of cattyness.

November 23 2011 at 8:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

sounds like this is similar to another "MLM' cosmetic company... Beauty Control. With BC you have to buy a certain dollar amount each/every month (from the company) to maintain your consultant status. The more you buy, the larger your discount. If you did not purchase $xx.xx per month you lose your consultant status. You sell from YOUR stock (your monthly purchase) of cosmetics and then place orders with the company if you client wants something you do not have on hand. If you do not sell what you have on hand, you cannot sell it back to the company. They also prohibit selling on eBay or any other online auction site. They encourage you to "convince" your friends or relatives to sell and you get a small percentage of their purchases, not their sales... in turn, your "recruiter" gets a percentage of your monthly purchase(s), and so on up the chain. so the more people/representatives you have under you the more you can make.

October 25 2010 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stephanie B.

As for breaking out, did you know that Mary Kay has both the TimeWise brand, which is anti-aging, and the Classic Basic brand, which is totally fine for most skin types? If you're breaking out, you might be using the wrong brand for your skin. Most skin allergies are caused by Vitamin A, Vitamin D or the SPF used in sunscreen.

My dermatologist actually recommends Mary Kay Classic Basic brand to customers with skin problems.

October 25 2010 at 9:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web