An article published in Harper’s goes behind the scenes at Mary Kay, revealing that joining the company’s sales force may not be all that you’d hoped. Customers might be satisfied with Mary Kay products. But for those women hoping to make extra money, or even earn a living, by selling the products, it’s a different story.
According to the author, Virginia Sole-Smith, the company does its very best to maximize its profits and foster a (false) sense of sisterhood among saleswomen. This success may come at the expense of its workforce’s income. While the company sold $3 billion worth of beauty items and makeup in 2011, the average saleswoman is struggling to make $25,000 per year, the magazine says.
The problem is much of the purchasing is done by the saleswomen themselves who are encouraged to make an “initial inventory investment” than can total more than $1,500 and to stay stocked up. Moreover, Sole-Smith says she was encouraged to make these purchases on a Chase Mary Kay Rewards Visa, which her mentor told her “is not a debt.” OK, but it is. Some women in the story say they got into huge financial trouble with the company and even had personal problems with their marriage over the issue.
So the moral of the story is do your homework and be prepared to make an “investment” if you intend to sell Mary Kay products. And get ready for some Stepford Wives-style weirdo behavior. Beauty consultants who are promoted to sales director get to take a trip to founder Mary Kay Ash’s Dallas home to snap a picture in her “heart-shaped pink bathtub, which originally occupied one of the eleven bathrooms in her thirty room pink mansion.”
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