Investigating Mary Kay

With Wade Goodwyn in for Tom Ashbrook.

We have a disturbing look behind the record sales at Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Mary Kay Tinted Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 15. (AP)

Mary Kay Tinted Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 15. (AP)

What do you think when you think Mary Kay Cosmetics?  Nice ladies in red blazers selling low cost good quality make-up from their home? Pink Cadillacs maybe?

But Harper’s magazine Reporter Virginia Sole Smith writes a heart breaking piece that alleges that for the vast majority of women, Mary Kay costs them money while making them feel bad about themselves to boot.  But in this recession, more women are trying to sell Mary Kay than ever and sales are way up. So how can that be?

This hour, On Point:  Mary Kay, not so pretty in pink.

-Wade Goodwyn


Virginia Sole-Smith, freelance journalist. Her article titled “The Pink Pyramid Scheme: How Mary Kay cosmetics preys on desperate housewives” is in the August issue of Harper’s Magazine.

Douglas Brooks, a practicing attorney, over the last 20 years he has litigated numerous class action suits on behalf of victims of multi-level marketing schemes.  

Lynne,” a former Mary Kay director.

Laura Beitler, vice president who oversees the Mary Kay department of compliance. 

Joseph Mariano, president, Direct Selling Association, a trade association the represents roughly 200 firms that sell products directly to consumers.

From The Reading List

Harper’s “Most of today’s Mary Kay ladies are struggling, though, even as the company flourishes at their expense. Tracy Coenen, a financial-fraud investigator and the founder of the online community Pink Truth, estimates that Mary Kay consultants can hope to clear $25,000 per year, at best. Most who make money earn about minimum wage, while fewer than 300 of the 600,000 Mary Kay ladies in the United States net a six-figure income. The women I interviewed for “The Pink Pyramid Scheme” told me stories about struggling to patch together daycare or to survive high-risk pregnancies while working long hours scouting prospects and hosting parties without any guarantee of a sale.”

Dallas Morning News “Mary Kay independent salespeople flood into downtown Dallas every summer for the company’s annual seminars and leave millions of dollars behind. The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that this year’s Mary Kay convention, which starts Wednesday and ends Aug. 4, will have an economic impact of more than $33.”

Mary Kay You can find the homepage for the cosmetics company here. “Compulsive consultancy brings despair and humiliation into the lives of countless thousands of men, women and children. The compulsive consultant is a person who is dominated by an irresistible urge to participate in Mary Kay. Coupled with this is the obsessive idea that a way will be found to “make it pay” and enjoy it besides. This causes deterioration in almost all areas of the person’s life.”

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