Tag Archives: Avon

[Inside the Pink Pyramid] Why Mary Kay is Only The Beginning

Investigative Fund Virginia Sole-Smith Mary Kay Direct Sales Industry


Today’s look at why Mary Kay is just the tip of a pyramid-shaped iceberg — is brought to you by the Investigative Fund, who asked me to dig deeper into the direct sales industry as a whole. I’ve been getting so many great emails from folks who have read the Harper’s story or heard one of the NPR interviews last week and one thing everyone asks is: “So what about [Avon, Amway, insert-your-direct-sales-of-choice-here]? Are they as bad as Mary Kay?”


Filed under Career Opportunities, Customer Cult, Government Watch, Mary Kay, Press

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[Inside the Pink Pyramid] But Of Course, Our Products End Up With the Retail Consumer

When I spoke with Laura Beitler, Mary Kay’s Vice President of Compliance, on NPR’s On Point on Monday, she was quick to emphasize that “absolutely, the majority of our products end up with the end consumer.” But when we pressed her, she also had to admit: “We can’t and don’t track retail sales.” 

How can both those things be true? 

To avoid falling into the Federal Trade Commission’s official definition of a pyramid scheme, it’s very important for Mary Kay — and all multi-level marketing companies — to insist that their primary goal is getting their products out to retail consumers. But to avoid being exposed as a business where the vast majority of the sales force is losing money, all of these companies have to claim that they have no idea what those end retail consumers are spending.


Filed under Beauty Labor, Career Opportunities, Customer Cult, Makeup, Mary Kay

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Mary Kay Calling

Mary Kay and Missiles

The first thing I learned from Delores is that Mary Kay ladies don’t drive pink Cadillacs anymore.

Well they can — a shiny pink convertible is still one of the choices if you’ve earned Career Car privileges — but Delores drove up to Beauty U in a silvery-pink Chevy Equinox SUV. She wore a royal blue skirt suit with black fishnets and black knee-high boots plus lots of gold accessories and I later learned that the suit itself was a “Mary Kay Sales Director” suit that she had to qualify (in sales numbers) to wear, but that the accessories were all hers.

Delores carried in a pink tote bag brimming with catalogs, while behind her, Sue wheeled in a the biggest pink polka-dotted suitcase I’d ever seen. Upon closer inspection, the dots revealed themselves to be tiny hair dryers and makeup brushes. There weren’t any clients on the books, so everyone piled into the spa classroom while Sue passed out little plastic-covered cardboard folders. Inside, they held a mirror and a plastic tray, divided into different inch-sized compartments. Mine held the remnants of many prior product applications. The mirror in Blanche’s folder was cracked.


Filed under Beauty Schooled, Career Opportunities, Makeup

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Pretty Price Check (04.02.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday roundup of what we paid for beauty this week.

Photo of Andrea Jung.

Avon CEO Andrea Jung can buy as many ponies as she wants.

  • $7.1 million: How much Avon CEO Andrea Jung earned in 2009. It’s down 64 percent from 2008, when, apparently, she was paid all the money in the whole world. (Via Google News.)
  • $100: The average weekly pay of your local Mary Kay or Avon lady. (Via ABCNews.)


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Pretty Price Check (01.22.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty last week.

  • $735: The price of Clive Christian No. 1 Pure Perfume, which Bella Sugar says is the world’s most expensive fragrance — and continue to sell well, despite the recession and its weirdly Renaissance Faire-inspired packaging.
  • 2013: When Europe bans all cosmetic testing on animals. (Nice one, Europe.) Scientists are developing a chip that can be used for cosmetic allergy testing instead of Fluffy. (Via Jezebel.)


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