Life and Work of Mary Kay Ash
The corporate world has seen many great entrepreneurs, but May Kay Ash has a unique distinction of founding a company when it was very rare for married women to work outside the home. Mary Kay introduced a new way of life for women and opened up doors of unending opportunities for them.
She spent her 80 years of life which every women in the world could dream off. Born on May 12, 1918, in Houston Texas, she had a promising childhood. Her mother worked at a restaurant, she did chores at home, attended to her sick father, and excelled at school. She brought home straight As and won every competition of public speaking. She outsold every other student from Girl Scout cookies to school-event tickets (“Mary Kay Ash,” 2006).
She wanted to become a doctor until an aptitude test showed her selling ability outranked her science ability. After having decided to get into sales, she joined Stanley Home Products in 1938. Energetic and a quick learner, Ash found that direct sales suited her well. She rose at Stanley to unit manager and served there till 1952. Following a divorce from her husband, Ash moved from her job at Stanley Home Products to a similar sales slot at World Gift Company, where she remained for another 11 years and became National Training Director (“Biography,” 2005).
While working at Stanley Home Products and World Gift Company, she broke every sales record and won numerous awards. She was however frustrated due to the discriminating attitude towards women. Her male colleagues she trained were promoted ahead of her and were getting twice her salary. After having served for 25 years, she finally decided to retire. Soon after her retirement she started writing a book for women. This book eventually turned into a marketing plan for a “dream company,” which Mary decided to implement herself (“Mary Kay Ash,” 2006).
Mary Kay bought a skin care cream formula and enlisted her second husband to handle operations and started recruiting friends as beauty consultants for the venture she called “Beauty by Mary Kay.” Her husband died just before the launch of company but her children helped her to recoup and compose herself, and go ahead with the plan. Mary Kay formally launched her company on Friday, September 13, 1963.
She wrote in her autobiography, “I knew I would never have a second chance to put my dream into action.” She started the company with investment of $5000. In the first calendar year, the sales reached $198,000 and by 1983 Mary Kay, Inc. sales exceeded $300 million. The company at present sells more than 200 products in eight product categories: facial skin care, cosmetics, fragrances, nutritional supplements, sun protection, nail care, body care and men’s skin care (“Mary Kay Ash,” 2006).
Mary Kay Ash worked day and night which contributed badly to her health. In 1996, she survived a stroke. Before her death in 2001, the business which she started with 9 beauty consultants had reached to over 800,000 representatives in more than 30 markets. The sales reported by the company in 2000 was $1.3 billion which even crossed $2.2 billion in 2005. During the period of Mary Kay’s life, there were 151 women who earned more than $1 million in commissions. Also during this period more than 10,000 pink Cadillacs were awarded to employees (“Company Information,” 2006).
Mary Kay Inc. today remains one of the largest privately held firms in the United States. Mary Kay lived her life with simple and solid principles that never wavered. As a committed daughter, wife, mother and an employer, she was always sustained by her deep and abiding faith in God. Through her uncomplicated formula for success – put God first, family second and career third – she made the world a better place specially for women (“Mary Kay,” 2006).
“Biography.” (2005). Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved September 29, 2006, from http://www.bookrags.com/biography/mary-kay-wagner-ash/
“Company Information.” (2006). Mary Kay Website. Retrieved September 29, 2006, from http://www.marykay.com/company/company_companyinformation.aspx?tab=home
“Mary Kay.” (2006). Mary Kay Tribute. Retrieved September 29, 2006, from http://www.marykaytribute.com/
“Mary Kay Ash.” (2006). Mary Kay Website. Retrieved September 29, 2006, from http://www.marykay.com/company/marykayash_herlifeandlegacy.aspx?tab=home