Mart Kay Ash was an American business woman and founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. The company nets an annual revenue of $3 billion and has 3 million salespeople across the globe.
At 20, Ash went to work for Stanley Home Products.Frustrated when passed over for a promotion in favor of a man that she had trained, Ash retired in 1963 and intended to write a book to assist women in business. The book turned into a business plan for her ideal company, and in the summer of 1963, Mary Kay Ash and her new husband, George Hellenbeck, planned to start Mary Kay Cosmetics. However, one month before Mary Kay and George started Beauty by Mary Kay, as the company was then called, George died of a heart attack One month after George’s death on September 13, 1963 when she was 45 years old with a $5,000 investment from her oldest son, Ben Rogers, Jr. and with her young son, Richard Rogers taking her late husband’s place, Ash started Mary Kay Cosmetics.The company started its original storefront operation in Dallas.
Fortune magazine recognized Mary Kay Inc. with inclusion in “The 100 best companies to work for in America.” The company was also named one of the best 10 companies for women to work. Her most recent acknowledgements were the “Equal Justice Award” from Legal Services of North Texas in 2001, and “Most Outstanding Woman in Business in the 20th Century” from Lifetime Television in 1999.
Ash and her partners, which included her son, Richard, took the company public in 1968.. Ash remained active in Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. until suffering a stroke in 1996. Richard Rogers was named CEO of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. in 2001. At the time of Ash’s death, Mary Kay Cosmetics had over 800,000 representatives in 37 countries, with total annual sales over $200 million. As of 2014, Mary Kay Cosmetics has more than 3 million consultants worldwide and wholesale volume in excess of 3 billion. Mary Kay herself was honored as a leading female entrepreneur in American history.