Mary Kay Ash



Mary Kay Ash was born May 12 in Dallas, Texas



Ash took a job with Stanley Home Products as a salesperson



Frustrated with her sales job, Ash started Mary Kay Cosmetics with a $5,000 investment



Ash remained active in her cosmetics business until she suffered a stroke 



Mary Kay Ash died on November 22 at age 83



Mary Kay had an estimated 3.5 million consultants at the beginning of the year

Mary Kay Created a Business by Women, for Women!


Passed over for Promotions

In the early 20th Century, there were lots of traveling salesmen, like the Fuller Brush Man, selling products directly door-to-door. That sales approach evolved into women hosting home parties to buy and sell products. May Kay Ash was fantastic at selling at home parties. After a long sales career, Mary Kay noticed that, despite her exceptional sales skills, men she had trained kept getting promoted instead of her.


Selling via Home Parties

She quit and, after some deep thinking, decided to start Mary Kay Cosmetics. As in her previous career, Mary Kay would also sell via home parties. The notion was that saleswomen would buy cosmetics wholesale from the company, then set up parties where they’d encourage their friends to buy products or become representatives for the company themselves (if their friends became salespeople, the recruiter made a percentage off their friends’ sales).


Giving Women a Chance at Success

She said, “Our company was begun with only one objective: that of giving women the chance to succeed, an opportunity that simply did not exist in the early ‘60s... I just couldn’t believe that a woman’s brain was worth 50 cents on the dollar. With all my heart I wanted to change that.”


Working Outside the Old Boys Club

One compelling idea behind Mary Kay Cosmetics was that the women employed as salespeople could set their own hours, which made it ideal for working mothers who had children in schools. Selling a product designed for their female friends meant that they didn’t have to break into the old-boys club of the ‘60s. The notion was that it was a business by women, for women!


The Pink Mansion

All of this worked out fantastically for Mary Kay Ash. By the time she died in 2001, at age 83, Mary Kay Cosmetics was worth $1.6 billion. She also wrote three bestsellers about her success and principles, received numerous recognitions before and after her death, and lived in a thirty-room mansion largely decorated in pink! 


Did You Know?

  • As of the beginning of 2016, Mary Kay Cosmetics has 3.5 million Independent Beauty Consultants.
  • Ash founded her company based on the Golden Rule.
  • Mary Kay was the official beauty sponsor of season 14’s Project Runway.
  • None of the Mary Kay cosmetics are tested on animals.



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