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Recently, my wife signed up to be a consultant with Mary Kay Cosmetics and, as with any other project, we planned to do it together. The only experience I’ve had with pyramid schemes…I mean “multi-level marketing companies” (or MLMs)…came when my mom dabbled in Amway and Avon in the 90’s. Those experiences were fleeting and I had little insight into the inner workings of these businesses because I was so young. I thought that times and changed and modern day MLMs had a model similar to the relationship companies have with their affiliates on the internet. I thought that the people who were doing all the work (the consultants) to sell the products got to set the tempo and Mary Kay stood back, empowering them every step of the way. I’m a fool.
With MLMs, there’s always a catch. When I say catch, I mean the part of an MLM’s business model that tips the scales in their favor and creates a relationship that feeds off the person who’s caught and only benefits the MLM. Some of them reveal their catch sooner than others. Some of them hide their catch under all sorts of industry language and sales gibberish to soften the blow and pretend there isn’t a catch. I’m here to tell you there’s always a catch. If you decide that going into business with an MLM is the right thing for you, keep an eye out for it.
I thought that my wife and I could create a scenario where she pitched products to people while directing people to the online portal I managed. While she was covering things in our area, I would take to the internet and act like an ambassador to the brand, singing their praises and slinging their products. We wouldn’t have to dump all sorts of money into it and, when each product was sold, Mary Kay and my wife and I would benefit. Win-win, right? Wrong!
My delusion came crashing down when the person that signed up the person who introduced my wife to Mary Kay started talking about inventory. Apparently, Mary Kay practically requires all their clients to invest thousands in inventory. And there was the catch. Mary Kay does not care about their consultants. How much an individual consultant sells is irrelevant to them because they’ve already gotten paid. A consultant could strike out and sell nothing and Mary Kay would still line their pockets. The whole thing made me feel gross.
We decided that Mary Kay was not for us the moment they started to twist our arm to buy inventory. It made no sense for me to invest tons of money into something when I had zero clients. I would have not been able to recoup my investment for a long time. Who buys stuff from people who are embroiled in an MLM’s nonsense? Chances are that group of individuals is already being served by other people who are stuck with an MLM. I would have zero chance getting their business unless I started to get unethical and take business away from other consultants. As the reality of my bad investment would become more apparent, desperation would set in. My sales pitch would turn dishonest and my support system would get tired of it.
Are you thinking of doing business with Mary Kay? If you are, stop it.
There are so many better ways to spend your time and money.