By Amber Middleton
Mary Kay Ash worked for 25 years as a salesperson and training director. She retired in 1963, but found “the boredom of retirement caused a deepening sense of discontent.” Disappointed with the way she had been treated in the male-dominated business world, Mary Kay Ash began to make a list of all the positive and negative things she’d experienced with her previous employers. After completing the list, she discovered that she had an excellent plan for a successful company.
With her life savings of $5,000 and the help of her 20-year-old son, Mary Kay Ash opened her first store in Dallas in 1963. Mary Kay, Inc. started with just nine independent beauty consultants. She based the company’s philosophy strongly on her Christian faith, and taught her consultants to prioritize their life with God first, family second, and work third.
Ash believed she had a better sales strategy than others peddling cosmetics door-to-door. Instead of talking to prospective customers on their doorsteps, Mary Kay consultants offered skin care classes in customers’ homes. Ash believed that although many women were not comfortable trying on lipstick or eye shadow at a department store counter, they would be willing to sample makeup in the privacy of their homes. The company’s success proved her right. Mary Kay Cosmetics are now sold in 35 markets worldwide, and the company’s sales force exceeds 2 million people.