In history, there has always been the problem of the lack of women relevant to the world and how their ideas and entrepreneurship have helped millions over the years and continue to do as well.
Thus, it is hard to find details about women that have made history and stand out for more than what was supposed to be the “standard” for them.
However, we’re lucky to have some stories and information from some businesswomen we admire. Among them, Mary Kay Ash is someone you should know about without needing much of an introduction.
If you’re not familiar with the name and have a hard time trying to piece everything together to know what she did or why she was famous and considered an entrepreneur, we will give you a hint for now: The company follows her name.
Don’t worry; we will dive deeper into her life and why she is someone you should look up to after all these decades, and we’re confident that either if you recognized the name or not, we pinched your curiosity enough to read the details.
Mary Kay Ash: Starting Her Life & Career
We will always mention that to understand entrepreneurs, it is important to know their backgrounds to see the entire picture of what took them to where they are or were.
Mary Kay isn’t the exception for this case. Although there aren’t many details or an extensive background compared to other entrepreneurs we have covered, like Giorgio Armani, we sure have lots to share.
First, although she is known as Mary Kay Ash, you will know why later on since her real name is Mary Kathlyn Wagner, born in Hot Wells, Texas, on May 12, 1918.
Her mother, Lula Veber Hastings, was a trained nurse and later a manager of a restaurant in Houston, while his father was Edward Alexander Wagner. Still, there aren’t many details of his profession or occupation.
When it comes to education, Ash doesn’t have a reliable record we can include since she married when she was only 17 years old and had three children with Ben Rogers, who served in World War II while she sold books door-to-door.
When Rogers returned from war, they divorced in 1945 for her to get married to George Hallenbeck years later. However, for the latter, we have to go over some additional details beforehand.
In her career and professionally, Ash was hired by Stanley Home Products in 1939 to be a salesperson.
She hosted parties to encourage people to buy household products and was a great worker in the area. However, she didn’t last for that long in the business.
In 1952, World Gifts hired Ash as a salesperson. She worked for the company for a little over a decade but quit in protest when she saw another man she had trained be promoted and receive a higher salary even when she contributed to the company greatly and didn’t give her a rise, presumptively, because of her gender.
When a Big Business Was Born
After so many issues with the traditional work options and companies because of gender and dissatisfaction in her positions, Ash decided to start her own business after these bad experiences.
Thus, in 1963, she started her business with a $5.000 initial investment and purchased the formulas for skin creams that were created by a family member of a tanner who also worked on hides.
With one of her sons, Richard Rogers, she opened a small Dallas store and hired nine people to work for her, and this is when the successful and international cosmetic and multi-level company, Mary Kay Inc., was born.
Ash’s business acumen and philosophy led to the company turning a profit its first year. It also sold nearly $1 million worth of products during the second year.
With the experience she had from her early career, the concept of the products was similar to the ones she had worked with before.
This means at-home parties were the best way to sell her cosmetics, and she took advantage of her great skills that weren’t valued in the previous companies.
Ash worked hard to make her business stand out by using incentive programs and limiting her sales territory and with a strong belief: “Treat others as you want to be treated.”
She is also known for following a specific motto: God first, family second, and career third, which is something many entrepreneurs should keep in mind today.
Since Mary Kay wanted others to be able to be successful from her business, she developed the MLM (multi-level-marketing) system in it, and it is probably one of the very few companies you can trust with this model.
As a result of this implementation during her early business venture, she called them consultants. They bought May Kay products wholesale and sold them to customers at retail prices. They could also make commissions on new consultants they recruited, just like every multi-level company.
Mary Kay Cosmetics was a highly profitable business thanks to her marketing and people skills.
In 1968, the company was listed on the public. However, Ash and her family bought it back in 1985 after the stock price fell, and to this date and according to the company’s website, they sell over $3 billion in products annually.
Ash’s enthusiasm was the key to this successful organization, and she was well-known for her love for pink; it could be seen everywhere, from product packaging to the Cadillacs she gave to top-earning consultants each year.
Her business approach attracted lots of attention because she continued to grow in entrepreneurship without relying on the so-called “man wisdom” and proved to people they were wrong by not relying more on women alone.
Her strategies and the results she achieved were highly praised. She wrote several books about her experiences, including Mary Kay: The Success Story Of America’s Most Dynamic Businesswoman (1981), Mary Kay on People Management (1984), and Mary Kay: You Can Have it All (1995).
Ash was still an active participant in the business, even though she had to step down as CEO in 1987.
On November 22, 2001, the cosmetics mogul died. The company she founded was a global enterprise that had representatives in over 30 countries by the time of her death.
Her greatest achievement will be remembered as she built a profitable business that provided new opportunities for women to succeed in their financial lives along with the awards, recognition, and history she earned and made over the years.
Finally, we will clear a doubt we set earlier: Why is her name Mary Kay Ash?
Mary Kay follows her real name being “Kay,” a short version of Kathlyn. Now, the Ash comes from her third marriage to Melville J. Ash, who died in 1980.
Before him, she had married George Hallenbeck, who was the brother of Mary C. Crowley, founder of Home Interiors and Gifts, but he died not long after their marriage of a heart attack.
Money & Net Worth: How Much Did She Earn?
Since it was hard to know the details of an entrepreneur’s net worth back in the 1960s-1990s, there aren’t many details about Mary Kay Ash’s net worth.
However, it isn’t hard to know that she made most of her fortune from Mary Kay Inc.
Actually, it is fair to say she earned all her money from it and what we want to point out the most is the fact that she was one of the most loved and popular entrepreneurs due to her approach.
Also, unlike what many would believe, she was one of the richest at the time and would continue to be if she was still alive.
We don’t want to keep leaving you in suspense, so you can know that her net worth, by the time she died, was about $550 million, though specific details and statistics were never disclosed.
The founder’s net worth is mostly based on how much the company was manufacturing and having in revenues at the time, which doesn’t mean everything belongs to her if we consider the expenses, but it was quite close.
After all, Mary Kay Inc. is more than the cosmetics company you know in the USA. In the UK, China, and other countries, several franchisees have been opened, and as a multi-level marketing company, the business generated lots of income for the later founder.
To this date, David Holl is the company’s CEO. According to Forbes and other sources, to be more precise with the revenue, the business has over $3.5 billion in revenue, including Mary Kay Holding Corporation.
Social Impact: How Mary Kay Ash Helped Others
She was an icon and continues to live in many people’s hearts due to how she followed great work and life ethic.
As we mentioned before, she truly wanted people to be successful, not only her, and encouraged women and men to follow their dreams and find the success everyone is eager about.
But beyond this, did she help in more than encouragement, women’s rights, and similar principles? You bet!
In 1996, she founded the Mary Kay Charitable Foundation, which funds cancer research and domestic violence prevention efforts.
Since it was founded, it has helped millions of women to seek help and get the attention they need without feeling less for the usual hierarchy with men.
Along with this, she always followed the philosophy of the importance of giving back to others, and she always focused on helping not only women but also children worldwide.
During the company’s founding and its operations, she followed the activities and helped to ensure everyone was receiving the help they needed.
To this date, the company stands strong and contributes greatly to several purposes:
- Nearly 40 innovative cancer research and clinical trial projects and researchers are in the Mary Kay Ash Foundation pipeline. Women lead a high percentage of the projects, and they lead 100% of the trials.
- Mary Kay Ash Foundation and Mary Kay Inc. have supported 667 organizations that are dedicated to saving lives and funding organizations that advocate for ending gender-based violence.
- Mary Kay’s Pink Changing Lives global cause empowerment program has impacted over six million women and families since 2008. Mary Kay has partnered with more than 3,000 organizations worldwide, donating more than $16 million, and over $775,000 was donated worldwide in 2020.
The principles of helping others are followed with the founder’s beliefs, and it is something her family has tried to maintain, no matter how much the company grows or not.
Today’s Influence – Ash’s Motivational Figure
People look for positive examples and others who are successful in what they do to inspire them to be motivated to learn, work or finally take the step to do something they have always dreamed about.
Also, to stand up against how unfair some treatment can be due to gender or other circumstances in life.
Mary Kay Ash is one of those people who, even when she isn’t with us anymore, left a huge mark in everyone’s mind with her beliefs and what she fought for.
If you want to start your business, you can do it. If you want to complain about how your workplace is unfair because of your sexual inclination or gender, just complain about it or find a better place. Get something of your own.
You can learn so much from her, be it in the entrepreneurship area or other aspects.
We learned from her to pursue our dreams and ensure that no one tells us what we can’t do.
That being said, entrepreneurs always make us feel we should be investing our time better and aim for new businesses, for opportunities.
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