I used to sell Avon. To be honest there is no money to be made in it. Actually it cost me money every month to sell it.
I think the start up cost was something like $20.00 or $25.00. What you got for that was a couple of catalogs and some order forms and a tote bag.
Catalogs are pricey. The samples are pricey!
And when someone wants to return something, you have to give them the refund, including shipping and handling. Then you pay shipping and handling to send the item back and wait for your credit to be applied to your account. So it costs you money out of your pocket to return anything.
I found that people wanted to see "shades" beyond what they see on a page, because the shades on the page are so much different than the actual shade of the lipstick etc. However, as I said, the samples are very pricey. I also found that many people who used to buy Avon decades ago got used to "free samples" in their bags when they got their order (many years ago the samples were actually given to the sales reps free), and still expect to see some. You can easily spend $3.00 or more giving a few free samples to a customer with their order.
Also, you have to sell so much in order to raise your percentage discount. I think that each year the percentage reverts back to the lowest one and you have to work your way up again through sales. There are so many people selling, and they have "areas/territories" that you can't go and canvas someone else's area. For example, when I started selling I was told that my building already had an Avon Representative (I've never seen one) and that I could not canvas my building. So trying to find an area that isn't represented is pretty difficult.
I had a neighbour order about $50.00 worth of jewelry and then changed her mind once it arrived. I didn't want to pay extra shipping and handling to send it back, so I sent it in the envelope with my next order. Avon claimed that they didn't get the stuff back and refused to send me a refund. So not only was I out the cost of the jewelry but also the jewelry itself.
And then there was the time a customer bounced a cheque on me, which resulted in my cheque to Avon bouncing. I got notification from the bank before Avon even knew. I phoned them to let them know and sent them a replacement cheque immediately.
Despite my having sent a replacement cheque, Avon insisted that the replacement cheque that I sent was not adequate and that I needed to send them a certified cheque. Plus they wanted $15.00 NSF fee, PLUS they refused to ship any further orders to me until I provided them with the certified cheque and $15.00 NSF fee.
I refused. The replacement cheque I sent was completely fine and I saw no reason for me to incur even more expense having to get it certified by the bank. I did tell them that I would send the $15.00 with the next payment on the next order. However, while they did cash my cheque, they never did ship my last order. That was effectively when I quit.
They cashed the cheque I sent them. About a year later, they had a lawyer send me a letter demanding payment of that $15.00 NSF fee or they were going to sue me. I sent the lawyer a return letter with an itemized statement of the expenses (long distance, postage, photocopying, and my time billed at Account's rates of $65.00 per hour at that time because I was working in accounting) that I had incurred dealing with the matter. I closed by demanding that they forward a cheque to me in the amount of something like $175.00 and that I would consider the matter closed. I completely turned the tables on them and never heard from them again.
It was a huge hassle.
I still buy Avon, but I buy from a girl at work. I would never sell it again.
I don't know anything about Mary Kay sales. But I'm assuming it's along the same lines. You really need to dedicate many hours per day selling otherwise you really don't make any money at it.
Oh, one more thing about Avon. You as a representative have to call the same customer service number (not toll free) that everyone else uses. As a result it can mean outrageous long distance charges because there were some times that I was on hold for upwards of 20 minutes before anyone took my call.