Mary Kay Ash - Business Women, Facts and Personal Life

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Mary Kay Ash's Personal Details

Mary Kay Ash was a famous American businesswoman and the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc

InformationDetail
BirthdayMay 12, 1918
Died onNovember 22, 2001
NationalityAmerican
FamousBusiness Women, Business People
City/StateTexas
SpousesBen Rogers (m. 1935–1946), George Hallenbeck (m. 1963–1963), Melville Jerome (m. 1966–1980)
Childrens Ben Rogers Jr. And Marylin Reed, Richard Rogers
Universities
  • Heights High School
  • University of Houston
Founder / Co-Founder
  • Mary Kay Cosmetics
  • Inc.
Birth PlaceHot Wells, Texas, United States
GenderFemale
FatherEdward Alexander Wagner
MotherLula Vember Hastings Wagner
Net Worth$3 billion
Sun SignTaurus
Born inHot Wells, Texas, United States
Famous asBusinesswoman
Died at Age83

// Famous Business Women

Mary Kay Ash's photo

Who is Mary Kay Ash?

Mary Kay Ash was a famous American businesswoman and the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. Her strategy of the business was based on Christian philosophy. She asked her employees to give preference, first to God, then family and finally to work. She encouraged women to discover their good sides as mother and wives, while simultaneously also succeed in work. From the age of seven, she not only had to take care of her ailing father, but also had to undertake all household chores like shopping, cooking and cleaning. Her mother always encouraged her by saying, “You can do it, Mary Kay, you can do it”. Later, she made the impossible possible when at the age of 45, after being repeatedly passed over for promotion by male employees, she opened her own company. It started in 1963, with a capital of $5,000, five foundation products and nine sales personnel. Clocking profit within just few months, it continued to grow each year, opening manufacturing units in USA, Switzerland and China. By the time Mrs Ash died at the turn of the century, the company employed more than 800,000 ‘consultants’, who sold $1.2 billion worth of products across the world. Being listed under "The 100 best companies to work for in America” by Forbes Magazine, was another feather in her cap for she actually started the mission to provide equal opportunity for women in world dominated by men.

// Famous Business People

Childhood & Early Life

Mary Kay was born on May 12, 1918 in Hot Wells, Harris County, Texas as Mary Kathlyn Wagner. Within two years of her birth, the family moved to the Sixth Ward, Houston and it was there that she spent her growing up years

Her father, Edward Alexander Wagner, was afflicted with tuberculosis. When Mary Kay was around three years old, he was sent away to a tuberculosis sanatorium, where he lived for four years. However, in spite of the treatment, he remained invalid throughout his life.

It was her mother, Lula Vember Hastings, who mostly took care of them. A trained nurse, she later became a manager at a restaurant, working there from 5 am to 9 pm, seven days a week. In spite of that, she, as a female worker, was never adequately paid.

Mary Kay was born youngest of her parents’ four children. Her two sisters, Dealia Koch and Daisy Wagner, and brother, Cecil Dewitt Wagner, left home by the time their father returned from sanatorium. Therefore, it fell upon seven year old Mary Kay to take care of him.

She was also entrusted with running the household; cleaning, shopping and cooking for herself and her ailing father. When she found something unmanageable, she would call her mother and receive instruction over the phone.

Her mother, while telling her what to do, would always add, “You can do it, Mary Kay, you can do it”. That particular statement remained with her for rest of her life and she would later repeat it endlessly to motivate her subordinates.

Mary Kay began her education at Dow Elementary School, later moving to Reagan High School, graduating from there in 1934. She was a good student and won many prizes as an orator. Although she longed for university education, she knew her family could never afford that.

Marriage & Early Career

In 1935, Mary Kay married J. Ben Roger, with whom she had three children. The marriage was not a happy one and Roger was not a responsible father. To support her family, Mary Kay began selling child psychology books, moving from door to door and earning commission from the sales.

In 1939, after a few job changes, she ultimately joined the Stanley Home Products. Here she was required to demonstrate the company’s products at parties organized in private homes. She was a small woman and it was not easy for her lug heavy household products; yet she did not flinch.

When the USA joined the Second World War, Roger joined the army and left. Mary Kay now continued to support her family with her sales job. By the end of the war, she had saved enough to enroll at the University of Houston.

In 1946, while Mary Kay was in her first semester, Roger returned home to ask for a divorce. Although the marriage was not at all happy, Mary Kay felt humiliated and depressed.

In spite of growing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, Mary Kay immersed herself in her job, earning many prizes. However, when it came to promotion, Stanley refused to entertain her name, simply because she was a woman. Disgusted, she left her job in 1952, moving to Dallas to join World Gift.

Here too, she excelled in her job. One year, she single-handedly increased company’s turnover by over 50 percent. Over the time, she became the national training director of the company. But very soon, she was forced to leave.

In 1963, when it was time for further promotion, a man she had trained was promoted over her at twice her salary. Realizing that she had once more become victim of gender discrimination, Mary Kay left the job in disgust, intending to write a book to help women in business.

Businesswoman

Mary Kay now began to work on her new book. Sitting at her kitchen desk, she first set out to create two lists; one would contain the good things that she had seen in the companies she had worked for and the other would contain the features that needed to be improved.

While reviewing the list, she realized that she had just created the foundation of a successful venture that would provide women employees with equal opportunity to achieve personal as well as financial success. She now decided to open her own company.

Mary Kay had only $5,000 as her life savings and she realized that she would have to tread very carefully. She now contacted Ova Spoonemore, whom she had met at one of the Stanley Home Products parties.

Ova’s father, J. W. Heath, was an Arkansas tanner. He had developed a skin care formula that kept his hands soft and wrinkle-free. Mary Kay bought the formula from Ova with $500 and invested rest of her savings to create a direct-selling company.

It was also decided that while Mary Kay looked after sales, her fiancé, George Hallenbeck, would look after the financial aspect of the business. But he died of heart attack only a month after the wedding; the company was to be launched in next month.

Mary Kay went ahead with her schedule, persuading her 20 year old son, Richard, to take up the financial responsibility. Finally on Friday, 13 September 1963, ‘Beauty By Mary Kay’ opened its door in a 500 square foot Dallas storefront. Within eight months, her elder son too joined the venture.

Initially, there were only nine salespersons and five foundation products; Cleansing Cream at $2, Nite Cream at $4.95, Skin Freshener at $3.50, Day Radiance at $1.50, and Magic Masque at $4. Following Stanley’s house-party mode, the saleswomen invited their friends for free beauty treatment and then pitched in for sales.

What made ‘Beauty By Mary Kay’ different from others was her involvement in the administration. In other companies like Avon, women, who made up the sales team, were nearly absent in administration. But here, Mary Kay was not only the chairman of the company, but was active in every sphere.

More importantly, she was feminine to the core. She chose pink as her product color. People saw her as a God-fearing mother of three children and at the same time, determined to see other women, who were until then underpaid and miserable, rise in their life.

Mary Kay followed equal-pay-for-equal-work policy and called her saleswomen ‘consultants’. If any of them recruited other consultants, she also received a commission on their sales and went one step up the ladder. All of them were her ‘daughters’ and she mentored them lovingly.

Within few months, the company clocked profit and by the end of the financial year it had sold $198,000 worth of cosmetics. In 1964, Mary Kay held her first sales convention, which she called ‘seminar’.

Held in a warehouse decorated with balloons, the seminar was more of a celebration. Here she fed her ‘daughters’ with chicken and Jell-O salad that she had made herself. Eventually, it became an annual event with three-days of extravaganza, comparable almost to Academy Awards celebrations.

For the first decade, the company, now known as Mary Kay Cosmetics, continued to experience double-digit growth. In 1968, it went public; first listing its share in the over the counter market and later from 1976, on the New York Stock Exchange.

By 1979, the turnover reached $100 million. Continuing to grow, it doubled that amount within the next ten years. Meanwhile in 1985, when the stock price took a hit, Mary Kay bought back her company through a $450 million leveraged buyout.

Along with guiding the company, Mary Kay, by then Mrs. Ash, started writing her autobiography, entitled, ‘Mary Kay: The Success Story of America's Most Dynamic Businesswoman’. First published in 1981, it sold over a million copies and was translated in several languages.

Other than ‘Mary Kay’, Mrs. Ash had three more titles to her credit. They are ‘Mary Kay on People Management’ (1984), ‘Mary Kay: You can Have It All’ (1995) and ‘Miracle Happens’ (2003).

Mrs. Ash served as Mary Kay Cosmetics' chairman until 1987. Thereafter, she stepped down to become its Chairman Emeritus and remained active in the company until 1996, when she suffered a stroke. By that time, the company had become big enough to be listed on the Forbes 500.

Awards & Achievements

Mary Kay Ash had received numerous awards and honors. Most significant of them were Horatio Alger Distinguished American Citizen Award (1978), Dale Carnegie Leadership Award (1977), Golden Plate Award by American Academy of Achievement (1980) etc.

In 1996, she was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame.

In 1999, she was honored as the "Most Outstanding Woman in Business in the 20th Century" by Lifetime Television.

In 2001, she received the "Equal Justice Award" from Legal Services of North Texas.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1935, Mary Kay married J. Ben Rogers, a gas station attended, who also played with a local band. The marriage ended in a divorce in 1946. The couple had three children, who later joined the family business.

While her youngest son, Richard Raymond Rogers, joined the company at its very inception, eldest son J. Ben Rogers Jr. joined it eight months later. In 1981, her daughter, Marylyn Reed, also joined Mary Kay Cosmetics as one of the directors.

In 1963, two months before Mary Kay Cosmetics was launched, she married George Arthur Hallenbeck, a chemist. But he died from heart attack within one month of the wedding.

In 1966, she married Melville Jerome Ash, a retired salesman. The marriage was a happy one and they remained married until his death from lung cancer on July 7, 1980.

In February, 1996, Mary Kay had a stroke, which left her house bound, unable to speak. She lived like this for more than five years, before she died on November 22, 2001 from natural causes at her home in Dallas, Texas. She was buried in the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery.

In 1996, she established the Mary Kay Charitable Foundation. Bearing her legacy, it continues to support cancer research and work towards eradicating domestic violence.

Net Worth

At the time of her death, Mary Kay Ash had an estimated personal fortune of $98 million, more than two-thirds of which was in company stock.

Trivia

Mary Kay Ash held a strong belief in God, who was her life’s priority. All her life, she went by the rule, ‘God first, family second and career third’.

She loved pink. She not only chose the color for product packaging, but lived in a huge pink mansion and drove a pink Cadillac. Later, she leased out pink Cadillac, Toyotas and Mercedes to the company’s top performers.

// Famous People From Texas

Mary Kay Ash biography timelines

  • // 12th May 1918
    Mary Kay was born on May 12, 1918 in Hot Wells, Harris County, Texas as Mary Kathlyn Wagner. Within two years of her birth, the family moved to the Sixth Ward, Houston and it was there that she spent her growing up years
  • // 1934
    Mary Kay began her education at Dow Elementary School, later moving to Reagan High School, graduating from there in 1934. She was a good student and won many prizes as an orator. Although she longed for university education, she knew her family could never afford that.
  • // 1935
    In 1935, Mary Kay married J. Ben Roger, with whom she had three children. The marriage was not a happy one and Roger was not a responsible father. To support her family, Mary Kay began selling child psychology books, moving from door to door and earning commission from the sales.
  • // 1935 To 1946
    In 1935, Mary Kay married J. Ben Rogers, a gas station attended, who also played with a local band. The marriage ended in a divorce in 1946. The couple had three children, who later joined the family business.
  • // 1939
    In 1939, after a few job changes, she ultimately joined the Stanley Home Products. Here she was required to demonstrate the company’s products at parties organized in private homes. She was a small woman and it was not easy for her lug heavy household products; yet she did not flinch.
  • // 1946
    In 1946, while Mary Kay was in her first semester, Roger returned home to ask for a divorce. Although the marriage was not at all happy, Mary Kay felt humiliated and depressed.
  • // 1952
    In spite of growing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, Mary Kay immersed herself in her job, earning many prizes. However, when it came to promotion, Stanley refused to entertain her name, simply because she was a woman. Disgusted, she left her job in 1952, moving to Dallas to join World Gift.
  • // 1963
    In 1963, when it was time for further promotion, a man she had trained was promoted over her at twice her salary. Realizing that she had once more become victim of gender discrimination, Mary Kay left the job in disgust, intending to write a book to help women in business.
  • // 1963
    In 1963, two months before Mary Kay Cosmetics was launched, she married George Arthur Hallenbeck, a chemist. But he died from heart attack within one month of the wedding.
  • // 13th Sep 1963
    Mary Kay went ahead with her schedule, persuading her 20 year old son, Richard, to take up the financial responsibility. Finally on Friday, 13 September 1963, ‘Beauty By Mary Kay’ opened its door in a 500 square foot Dallas storefront. Within eight months, her elder son too joined the venture.
  • // 1964
    Within few months, the company clocked profit and by the end of the financial year it had sold $198,000 worth of cosmetics. In 1964, Mary Kay held her first sales convention, which she called ‘seminar’.
  • // 1966 To 7th Jul 1980
    In 1966, she married Melville Jerome Ash, a retired salesman. The marriage was a happy one and they remained married until his death from lung cancer on July 7, 1980.
  • // 1968 To 1976
    For the first decade, the company, now known as Mary Kay Cosmetics, continued to experience double-digit growth. In 1968, it went public; first listing its share in the over the counter market and later from 1976, on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • // 1979 To 1985
    By 1979, the turnover reached $100 million. Continuing to grow, it doubled that amount within the next ten years. Meanwhile in 1985, when the stock price took a hit, Mary Kay bought back her company through a $450 million leveraged buyout.
  • // 1981
    Along with guiding the company, Mary Kay, by then Mrs. Ash, started writing her autobiography, entitled, ‘Mary Kay: The Success Story of America's Most Dynamic Businesswoman’. First published in 1981, it sold over a million copies and was translated in several languages.
  • // 1981
    While her youngest son, Richard Raymond Rogers, joined the company at its very inception, eldest son J. Ben Rogers Jr. joined it eight months later. In 1981, her daughter, Marylyn Reed, also joined Mary Kay Cosmetics as one of the directors.
  • // 1987 To 1996
    Mrs. Ash served as Mary Kay Cosmetics' chairman until 1987. Thereafter, she stepped down to become its Chairman Emeritus and remained active in the company until 1996, when she suffered a stroke. By that time, the company had become big enough to be listed on the Forbes 500.
  • // 1996
    In 1996, she was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame.
  • // 1996
    In 1996, she established the Mary Kay Charitable Foundation. Bearing her legacy, it continues to support cancer research and work towards eradicating domestic violence.
  • // Feb 1996 To 22nd Nov 2001
    In February, 1996, Mary Kay had a stroke, which left her house bound, unable to speak. She lived like this for more than five years, before she died on November 22, 2001 from natural causes at her home in Dallas, Texas. She was buried in the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery.
  • // 1999
    In 1999, she was honored as the "Most Outstanding Woman in Business in the 20th Century" by Lifetime Television.
  • // 2001
    In 2001, she received the "Equal Justice Award" from Legal Services of North Texas.

// Taurus Celebrities

Mary Kay Ash's FAQ

  • What is Mary Kay Ash birthday?

    Mary Kay Ash was born at 1918-05-12

  • When was Mary Kay Ash died?

    Mary Kay Ash was died at 2001-11-22

  • Where was Mary Kay Ash died?

    Mary Kay Ash was died in Dallas

  • Which age was Mary Kay Ash died?

    Mary Kay Ash was died at age 83

  • Where is Mary Kay Ash's birth place?

    Mary Kay Ash was born in Hot Wells, Texas, United States

  • What is Mary Kay Ash nationalities?

    Mary Kay Ash's nationalities is American

  • Who is Mary Kay Ash spouses?

    Mary Kay Ash's spouses is Ben Rogers (m. 1935–1946), George Hallenbeck (m. 1963–1963), Melville Jerome (m. 1966–1980)

  • Who is Mary Kay Ash childrens?

    Mary Kay Ash's childrens is Ben Rogers Jr. And Marylin Reed, Richard Rogers

  • What was Mary Kay Ash universities?

    Mary Kay Ash studied at Heights High School, University of Houston

  • Which company or organization was founded by Mary Kay Ash?

    Mary Kay Ash was the founder/co-founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc.

  • Who is Mary Kay Ash's father?

    Mary Kay Ash's father is Edward Alexander Wagner

  • Who is Mary Kay Ash's mother?

    Mary Kay Ash's mother is Lula Vember Hastings Wagner

  • What is Mary Kay Ash's sun sign?

    Mary Kay Ash is Taurus

  • How famous is Mary Kay Ash?

    Mary Kay Ash is famouse as Businesswoman