Hi, everyone!  

My brain has been working overtime lately!  At one time, I “drank the koolaid” and became an “independent beauty consultant” for Mary Kay Cosemetics.  The sales pitch I was given was that I could “own my own business” by investing a meager $100 and purchasing my “Starter Kit”.  Well, ok, sign me up!  After I had my starter kit, my “director” informed me that only by “purchasing inventory” within a very short time would I be successful. Oh, such beautiful pictures of fame and fortune were painted for me!  I was convinced that if I cashed in my 401(k) and “invested” the money into purchasing product, I would be driving a pink Caddy by the end of the year!  What an opportunity!!!  I was SO LUCKY!

So, not knowing what the heck I was doing, I asked my director “what inventory should I buy?”…I should have known that the problems were going to be awful when her answer was “Well, it’s YOUR business, you will just have to choose those items yourself!”  So, I bought a little bit of everything!  Now, mind you, I had never actually BEEN to a Mary Kay party…I’d only bought the product ONE time! Actually…I really don’t even WEAR makeup! (That’s ok, she said, you have SKIN, don’t you?  Everyone takes care of their SKIN!). I admit, I WAS naive…no, actually….I was STUPID!  

So, I placed my order! I spent close to $5000 buying things I THOUGHT I needed!  While I waited for the boxes to be delivered, I started bothering everyone I knew…following the Mary Kay directions for getting bookings.  Nothing.  My friends were busy, or had allergies (especially to Mary Kay, it seemed) or had one of any number of issues!  I really TRIED…I HAD to…because I had lost my job, the economy was bad, and I needed to work NOW!!!’ 

My director called me before my inventory arrived…and she had GREAT news!  Something had happened to one of the other Consultants, and there was room for me to attend the big convention in Dallas!  I could even share a room with 3 other women and just pay 25% of the room bill!!  Wasn’t THAT great?  She assured me that I would learn SO VERY MUCH at seminar!  It would really get my “business off to a GREAT START!!

So, I dug deeper into my retirement funds and bought a flight to Dallas, paid fees to Mary Kay to attend the convention, gave myself some spending money, etcetera, etcetera…do I need to tell you that Convention was just day after day listening to 20-30 year directors telling all of us potential losers that their success could be OURS too? Oh, and of course, the shopping for Mary Kay products that a business just HAS to have to be successful! It was just one big “I Love Mary Kay Ashe” Party!  Oh!  And all the new PACKAGING on the products!  That ugly Mary Kay Pink was OUT and now the packages looked more like the nice expensive brands that ladies buy from Nordstrom!  Oh! I was so EXCITED!!

I returned home pumped up, and ready to fly!!  When I finally got a little rest….I started unpacking all my new inventory…and the more I unpacked, the more I realized I had a BIG PROBLEM!  Every single thing I received was “old packaging”….except all the sales materials and catalogs, which displayed NEW PACKAGING!  I called my director, who told me “oh, no problem! “It’s ONLY a package!” Yes, I suppose it is….

Days turned into weeks…and I wasn’t selling anything…then, just to recover some of my investment, I started discounting…then, I’d discount some more.  I started dreading talking to a client for fear they would ask for something that I DIDNT have, and I’d have to special order.  THIS WAS NOT MAKING ME MONEY!!  I’d follow the instructions, “offering the Mary Kay Opportunity” to others…and they would have a hard time keeping a straight face…I started selling stuff BELOW COST just to get rid of it!  I was giving it away as “gifts”…my “friends” were avoiding me! 

The only time my director would ever call me was to see how much I was going to order (because it directly affected her paycheck)..and then she would tell me what “MY” goal should be!  (What makes me think she was worrying about her OWN commissions?)  Not once was I able to book a real “party”…this all happened back in 1998..maybe 1999…would you believe I STILL have old PINK tubes of lipstick…and old eyeshadow?  The facial cleansers and moisturizers all became stinkey, and I had to throw those away…and there is a shoebox full of stuff still in my closet…its moved with me from Newport Beach to Costa Mesa to San Antonio to Ocala to JAX…Mary Kay is all about getting their “Consultants” to order inventory, moving it from the Mary Kay Warehouse to the Consultants garage.  And, as I understand it, like “MOST” MLMs there’s approximately a 50% turnover in the “sales force” annually. The few people who stay with Mary Kay are the Directors, who are always encouraging their downline to replace new victims, um, I mean “Consultants” to buy the “Star” level inventory so their Directorship and car are safe for another quarter!

My next door neighbor is some fancy Director…she has the Mary Kay car….and she’s been a director now for 27 years.  Sure, there are SOME women who DO have success, like she did (hell, she was probably right there with that old Mary Kay herself when the first vat of leather tanning juice was mixed up and then she helped her pour it into those ugly pink jars!) She owns TWO homes, has the Mary Kay car…do you think she is planning on EVER giving up being the Diamond Director?  (I know that if I were next in her down-line, I’d be wishing the old bat would either retire (or wither away) so I could get a chance to be at the top of the pyramid!) I’m guessing that much like PPL, when a customer pays his bill, EIGHT people up-line are paid commissions!  But, UNLIKE PPL, MK doesn’t pay commissions in advance….so your paycheck won’t ever be a negative number due to charge-backs!  With MK, if you don’t sell product, you don’t eat….and the money you are paid for product must be put aside to buy more product!  (There are just too many potholes in that road to success!)

I’m convinced of one thing, tho…only ONE person can be at the top of the pyramid…in either a Corporation or a small business.  There’s only ONE boss, one director of West Coast, one director of East Coast…and it never will be you or me!  WE will always be at the bottom of the pyramid!

The following was written by TRACY COENEN at SEQUENCEINC.COM. You can see other articles on FRAUD there!


Over the weekend, posted an insightful article about the realities of multi-level marketing. Simply put, MLM is the same thing as pyramid scheme. It’s not a business. Almost everyone loses money. The behaviors are cult-like. And you will NOT be successful with MLM, so don’t bother trying to recruit your friends and family.

Author Kathy Benjamin calls pyramid schemes the world’s fastest growing industry, and she is right. You see the evidence all over Facebook. Several of you friends are inviting you to their party, or they’re posting staged before and after pictures and leaving cryptic messages that say “ask me how!” They often will not mention the name of the product they’re pushing, because they know they’ll lose you as a potential victim if you Google the product before they can fill your head with lies about how good the product is.

Which companies are we talking about? Some of the most common names heard are Amway, Mary Kay, Herbalife, Usana, Avon, Isasgenix, Legal Shield, Forever Living, Advocare, and Shaklee. But there are literally hundreds of these companies around. Basically any company that shows you a product and then offers you an “opportunity” to buy the product and wholesale and/or make some money selling to family and friends is a MLM. Look for keywords like opportunity, compensation plan, sharing (“we don’t sell, we share!”), independent, and recruiting.

How prevalent is MLM? In the United States, between $15 billion and $30 billion is sucked out of the economy by multi-level marketing predators each year. You’ll hear MLM pushers say that this is an inaccurate characterization, as the money was used to buy products. Yes, some of the money went toward the products – – over priced products that aren’t any better quality than you could get at Wal-Mart. So consumers are wasting money on these products, likely buying more than they can ever sell or consume because they must meet certain minimums to qualify for paltry commissions in the schemes.

Pyramid schemes have been around forever, and our government allows them to operate. Promoters will tell you that MLM is perfectly legal, so there is nothing wrong with getting involved. Just because the law doesn’t stop these companies from operating doesn’t mean they’re any good. Even though 99% of participants lose money in multi-level marketing, consumers still get sucked in by the millions. Kathy writes:

One of the reasons people have been taken in, over and over, decade after decade, is the recruitment practices these companies use. When you get right down to the way that most of these MLMs recruit people, you can’t help but start thinking that they sound like cults. The companies draw people in with a sense of community and the bonds of personal relationships, but when you decide you want to get out, they use those same things against you. People will choose to keep losing money over losing friends and their support structure. Some families of MLM members get so desperate they actually hire people to get their loved ones out of the programs, just like with cults.

Multi-level marketing companies are based on endless chain recruitment. They live or die based on the ability of distributors constantly recruiting more people. They make you think the MLM is really about selling products, but that’s a complete lie. The products are used to make the schemes look like legitimate businesses, when the bottom line is that it is all about recruiting. Kathy explains that saturation from this recruiting can happen faster than you think:

This progression works wonderfully when only a handful of people are making all the money from it. If everyone in your town uses one shampoo, no one loses out and you all have fabulous hair. But MLM programs mean that instead of just recommending your friends try a new nail polish or jewelry or essential oil, you actually need to encourage them to sell these things as well in order to make money from them. And they need to encourage more people. And so on and so on and so on.

Soon, way too many people in one area, or with the same group of friends, are selling the same thing. How soon? Well, if one person starts out and recruits two people, and they each recruit two people, etc., it would only take 28 recruitment cycles for virtually EVERYONE IN THE USA to be selling the same product.

But maybe the biggest problem is that no matter how hard you work, you are almost guaranteed to lose money. MLM supporters will claim that those who lose money just didn’t work hard enough. That’s not true. It’s simple mathematics that guarantee almost everyone will lose money. You can only make money if large numbers of people are recruited below you. That necessarily precludes almost everyone from making money, because they can’t recruit into infinity. As the pyramid below you gets wider, the new participants added have an even smaller chance of making money because there aren’t enough people in the world for everyone to make money.

Kathy writes:

Herbalife, the company getting lawsuited all over the place that we discussed above? Of all their sellers, 99.92 percent lose money. And that is just when you are a part of the scheme. When I asked friends about their experiences working for these types of businesses, most of them said they had hundreds, even thousands of dollars’ worth of stock left after they finally got out. The companies were not about to buy that back — they just had to add the loss to their other ones.

No matter what your recruiter tells you, you aren’t going to make money. 99% of people lose money in multi-level marketing. Those people bragging that they make money? Almost all of them are lying. They inflate their gross income, leave out business expenses, and otherwise flat out lie to you about making money. Of course they’re going to say that they are making money. They are trying to suck you into doing what they’re doing. If they told you they were losing money, you wouldn’t join.

Here’s the bottom line: Recruiting others to recruit others in not a business. You are almost guaranteed to lose money. It’s not fun, and your friends and family don’t want to participate. Since our government won’t stop MLMs from operating, the only answer is to educate consumers so they avoid these scams.


Hope you enjoyed this article!

Love and hugs to all!  MamaVia 


  1. TL says:

    Well that’s that then, no Pre-Paid Legal pyramid for me. lol

    • Mama Via says:

      Yes, me either! I read in Audicity that for the year that #281129 was with PPL, she made less than $3200!! But, then again…she wasn’t known for being able to get a job and keep it, either!!

      #281129 stated that Travis was borrowing money from her…and as outrageous as that sounds…it might be one of those “kernels of truth”…and she might have been really disrupting his ability to make money too…with MLm you have to ALWAYS be working and recruiting! Who knows!

      Thanks for the comment, TL!!

    • Mama Via says:

      The OTHER thing that I was thinking about…was, since I’m from a small town of only 750 people…well, let’s say 1000…

      Reduce by 50% women, 50% men…takes me down to 500 women…

      20% are less than 18 (minus 100)
      20% are over 60. (Minus 100)
      10% don’t work/don’t want to work (Minus 50)
      10% are disabled or already have 2 jobs (minus 50)
      10% only use “MAC”. (Minus 50)
      10% are “allergic”. (Minus 50)
      10% are already customers or “can’t afford MK” (minus 50)
      5% use soap & water (minus 25)
      5% have a sister, cousin, aunt, etc that sells MK (minus 25)

      For a total of 500…leaving absolutely NO ONE to recruit!

      But…those are just SWAGs (Silly Wild Ass Guesses!)

  2. spellbound4 says:

    A good report of this, Mama. These things a.ways make me wary.

    • Mama Via says:

      Yes…I’m cynical now too! I learned the hard way! That’s ok…I call it “Tuition”…paid to The School of Life! Thank you, a Spellbound!

      • renaes24 says:

        Tuition! A very good choice of words here. I like EXPERIENCE. It is what you get when you don’t get what you want.

      • Mama Via says:

        I got me a PHD from “School of Life”…PHD= Piled Higher & Deeper

      • TrulyUSA says:

        I’ve got one of those, too, Mama. I tried to sell two different products through an MLM before I finally decided it was all a big scam

  3. SteffKnits says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this experience. I’ve seen so many ladies in my community sign on for both Avon and MK only to abandon their pursuits. What angers me most are the local recruiters know that many of these women are in dire economic straits and will ultimately fail. Thanks so much for the article and sharing your experience with us.

    • Mama Via says:

      Yes, Steff, these MLMs prey on those who can least afford to to get involved. (like #281129). Those Directors do NOT care that you are emptying your savings, robbing your 401k, etc…and they tell you how much you’ll be PAID…they don’t tell you what you have to pay them to stay in business! If you have product, like MK, or Avon…you have to buy catalogs, order forms, pay for a web page, business cards, convention expenses, training films, etc, etc…if you sell a $12 lipstick, you might get $6…but…you still have to make a car payment, insurance, fuel, oil changes…the list goes on forever…and you are always in the red…

      You make more money asking “you want fries with that?”

  4. Sandra says:

    OH, I am glad you wrote this. The multi-level marketing gurus suck the life out of anyone who breathes with their mumbo jumbo. I once sold Shaklee nutritional products in college. I really liked their products and still do. But to sell them, nope. OH, this reminds me of Legal Shield….where Chris Hughes seems to be big dawg there….I feel bad for Travis that he got caught up in that…I believe it contributed in some way to his demise, either mental or physical.

    • Mama Via says:

      Oh, yea, he’s a big dawg…his FaceBook page shows him standing in front of what I THINK is a new jaguar…he’s just so proud of himself! Maybe I would be impressed with myself too, if I were him…it took him 3 attempts to finish his senior year and dropped out of college…and he is in “the millionaires club” (of course, they never tell you exactly what that means!) just because he was paid (or sold) a million doesn’t mean he’s WORTH a million…(and…I’m old enough to remember three periods in my life where times were tough…)

      And…2008 isn’t so far back in history that I don’t remember how folks who were riding high one day, lost their homes not long after! Like #281129 lost her house….so did many other folks!

      One of the inherent issues with being a “top producer” is that to convince your potential targets, you must APPEAR to be a top producer…that means you have to live in the right part of town, have an expensive car, and buy custom suits (like Travis did)…”if you LOOK successful, you’ll BE successful”…

      I used to live in the middle of “that group”…the ones who looked down their (reconstructed) noses at anyone not on the Society Pages…living with them and having a few friends in the group,n I’ve learned two important things about truly successful (and wealthy) people….most of them owe much more money than they will ever earn (one bad decision can put them in bankruptcy court, and everything they “own” is co-owned with the bank) (you can see some if the houses those over-paid athletes have lost when they got hurt on the field)….and TRULY successful and truly wealthy people don’t brag to everyone about how much money they have…(can you imagine Bill Gates writing a book and boasting that he is a college dropout and then telling you how much money he earned last year?)

      Personally…I wasn’t fond of Hughes before I read his book…and his book just confirmed my suspicions that he successful only because he is lucky, not because of his innate intelligence or business acumen. He is rude, arrogant, pretentious and smug…when PPL finally fails (and it will because of Legal Zoom) I see him selling used cars at the local Ford dealership…

      I also read one of his rebuttals to a 1 or 2 star review of his book, and he raved about how much it cost him to publish that book…and he would be “lucky if it paid expenses”…the problem that fibbers have is that they never know if the person they are talking to knows more than they do about something! In this case, there were so many errors in spelling, grammar and syntax in that book that it was obvious that no editor or proofreader was hired. Amazon has a program that charges NOTHING to publish an e-book, and he didn’t even opt to have the book “Printed when ordered”…so, assuming that he & his wife typed the book himself, he HAS NO EXPENSES…and Amazon gives a 70% commission…so, he was being less than completely candid.

      Sorry I went on a rant, Sandra!

      • Sandra says:

        Oh, I’m happy to read this! I know you and I disagree on other parts of the whole Jodi and Travis tragedy, but on this, it seems like many more are coming around to see what Cash Hughes is really like. I said it from the beginning, though….and I must win a prize or something for that, right? Ha! I made several youtube videos of him early on, and I need to go back and edit and post them again on youtube. I have all kinds of goodies left in my bag. A lot got taken down though, because of false reports by haters….Funniest one is when my IT page red flower got taken down by facebook, for…get this…PORN!!! LOL!

      • Mama Via says:

        Well, I’ve said several times that there were areas where we agreed…and others that we don’t…maybe it’s the age difference…at my age your brains are so full of a lifetime of experiences that you don’t have anymore room for alternative theories! We called it the “generation gap” when I was younger, and could not understand my dad’s republicanism!

        Yea, you win a prize! Do you want some Mary Kay eye shadow? Or 30 days of pre-paid pre-paid legal? (Ohohoh what a CHOICE!)

        Let us know when you get the YouTube stuff up again!

      • Sandra says:

        Yes, you have him pegged, as many others do. Now, the next step is to realize and perhaps start considering that this is the person who led Det. Flores directly to Jodi rather firmly, as well as leading many, many others to Jodi as well. He is also the one who allegedly threatened Gus Searcy. I think we’ve determined Hughes is at least a compulsive liar, if not pathological. Where one lie began, I believe many followed…and I’m not talking from a woman with zero violent history (don’t tell me about the dog, or a door kicked, please, she’s human) who was scared literally out of her mind over what happened….whatever it was that actually happened.

        I can’t stand braggarts. It’s one of my pet peeves!!!

      • Sandra says:

        This is the kind of stuff that makes me angry…..another victim thinking they can make a fortune…for Chris. Reminds me of slavery….and CASH is the master…sick….

  5. Bazzethound says:

    Hey Mama! Its a better day, but yesterday was a freakin’ doozy. Still trying to avoid calls from my mom checking on me- I’m texting her though. If it made me cry yesterday, it’ll probably make me cry to talk about it today, and I don’t WANNA CRY TODAY.

    Changing the subject…
    I have an old friend, a guy in his 40s, with a great job in healthcare caught up in this (he should have been my brother in law). He just “earned” a luxury sports car that he keeps showing on Facebook. Here’s the catch- if he doesn’t make his quota, he has to make the $1,000/month car payment. I’m worried about him, but I guess in the big picture, he’s an adult, and it’s only money, right??
    ~ Bazzethound (feeling better but don’t make me do a psychological autopsy on my crappy Friday, Mother & Husband)

    • Mama Via says:

      Hi Gwen! Don’t cry today honey! If nothing else, be happy cuz YOU aren’t at Perryville! Nope, only do psychological autopsy on those who volunteer for it…or people who pet my fur backward! Haha! (So you ain’t feeling lucky for still having a mom today? I can relate…as much as I wish I DID have a mom…sometimes I REALLY glad that I am an ORPHAN!!!

      Yea, that’s tough when they “give” you a car…but if you don’t make quota, you get slammed for the payment!

      I got the impression from things I’ve read that Travis was having a tough time financially before he died…gotta wonder if he wasn’t being back-charged or something?? The other thing that makes me suspicious…I actually LOVE living ALONE! The only way I would have roomies would be if I REALLY HAD TO just to make the mortgage payment! (ESPECIALLY considering that he was having “exploits” with a certain inmate!) And he had AT LEAST TWO roomies! I’m wondering how much the inmate was affecting his “business”!

      • Bazzethound says:

        Mama- haven’t cried since my terrible, awful, no good, very bad Friday. What I have to keep gently explaining to Dear Husband and Dear Mother is that if I’m in the midst of an anxiety- depression funk, talking about what has caused it JUST MAKES ME CRY. I understand that they love me and want to help, but if they could have helped I’d have asked them for help long before I got to the weepy, low down, crawling under a rock stage.
        At that point the best things for me are 1- snuggling a sleepy child, 2- snuggling a fat beagle (sleepy is a given), or 3- taking the dang medicine which will just knock me out and make me a zombie the next day.
        I’ve learned that I have to tell my husband the basics, otherwise he’ll assume he’s done something wrong- I swear I’m married to an eighty year old lady, not a 43 year old ex-Marine.

        In conclusion, all is well in Bazzetville. Little sweet cuteness will be getting off the school bus in ten minutes, so I guess I need to go find a bra and a hairbrush.
        Thanks for the support 😅
        ~ Gwen, aka Bazzethound

      • renaes24 says:

        Mama is more supporting than MAIDENFORM.

  6. Mags Vazquez says:

    Wow! I never would of thought of such a scheme with Mary Kay and Avon . I don’t buy their products and for sure never will . Thanks for the heads up !! 🙂

    • Mama Via says:

      Hi Mags! I’ve never bought Avon…and I only used MK when I was “selling” it…I just don’t lije pushy sales people! I read on the blog that I quoted above that MK has gone lawsuit crazy! Serving people who try to sell the product online, or at flea markets…as far as I’m concerned…one the consultant buys that stuff, it’s hers to sell it wherever she can get rid of it! Mary Kay doesn’t share my view! :).

      Thanks for your comment!

  7. renaes24 says:

    GREAT post. Very informative. Chris Hughes has rubbed me the wrong way from the start. If you followed his tweets at all, he slammed/blocked etc anyone who dared to criticize anything. I also don’t like people who actually ‘brag’ about being ‘best friends’ with victims….at least when they try to imply they were closer than family etc.

    • Mama Via says:

      Yes, he actually supported a certain blog post when it first was posted..,re-tweeted…and then blocked anyone who tried to tell him that maybe he should be a little more cynical…it took him several days to get a grip about that!

      He gets really defensive about reviews of his book…and accuses people of reviewing the book without buying it, or implies that the reviewers are arias supporters…but…he doesn’t say anything but “thank you” to unverified purchases who give 5 stars!

      He is a pompous braggart! (Like an elementary school in summer…NO class!)

      • TrulyUSA says:

        That guy has always made my skin crawl. He just looks like a shyster. I hope the book fails miserably and Legal Shield is exposed for the sham it most likely is. I don’t think his superiors are going to like this light that he is shining on Legal Shield (just the fact they changed their name shows they are trying disassociate with all of this, and now he is putting them out there again!).

  8. Connie Rust says:

    I had an Amway business for a few years when I was married. We did ok but certainly didn’t get rich or make enough to quit the day job. One thing I will say is that they did not encourage people below the director level to stock anything…so there wasn’t a big investment to get started. We were recruited by directors who were doing pretty well so we were exposed to a lot of people who had the cars, nice homes, etc. right from the start. I met many people who were great motivational speakers like Travis was. One thing I did see was those people worked their butts off to stay at that level. It’s not easy to do. You may make money from the success of your down line but you have to work that down line to ensure their success. No one just sits back and reaps the benefits of someone else’s hard work. Maybe that’s true when you reach the millionaire level (I met a few of those too) but not for the average person. I firmly believe Travis did well with PPL until he met the skank. My bet is she monopolized his time so much it hurt his business. If he was spending that much time with her when was he working his business? You pretty much have to live and breathe your business 24×7 to make it work. I don’t believe for a second that he borrowed money from her…I think it was other way around; and I don’t know if he took on roommates to help with the mortgage or if he was just trying to help them get on their feet. Do we even know if they paid him any rent money? Travis had the personality to do well in a business like that…she did not. I’m sure a lot of his money went to helping her build her business.
    Mama. I used to buy this eye cream from MK that has been discontinued. If u have some in u’r basement let me know…..

  9. Constance says:

    You exposed MLM brilliantly, Mama Vie! Clear, concise and accurate!
    It really is such a scam. akin to publisher’s clearing house!

    It doesn’t matter at all to me if chris hughes is mercenary – who cares?
    His purpose as a friend was to show Travis as he was and Stabby as she was. Period.

    • renaes24 says:

      Connie, I think that is where Chris Hughes’s book is lacking. Only about 1/4 to 1/3 of it is (all) about Travis & Stabby. The rest is propaganda for MLM and or the Mormon thing. That is NOT mentioned in any of his shout-outs for the sale of this book and THAT I totally resent.

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Varmt News Network

It's the Internet.


Just another site

Asleep in Left Field-My Life

4 out of 5 Friends recommend this site

Out in left field

(Totally fictional) Drama Queen Stories


sometimes, there are monsters walking amongst us

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