On September 13, 1964, Mary Kay Ash celebrated the one-year anniversary of her company, Beauty by Mary Kay (now Mary Kay Cosmetics). Recognized today as one of America’s greatest entrepreneurs, Ash stepped into a man’s world in the 1960s to blaze a new path for women. After retiring from a successful career in direct sales, her dream was to provide women with an open-ended, unparalleled business opportunity. She founded “Beauty by Mary Kay” on Sept. 13, 1963 with her life savings of $5,000, the support of her family and nine Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants.
Sales for the first year totaled $198,000 – about $1,584,000 in today’s economy. Today, Mary Kay Cosmetics is worth $3.8 billion and boasts a global sales force of more than 3,000,000 women.
For the one-year anniversary celebration, the company’s 200 employees gathered in a warehouse-like, newly built facility in Dallas. Mary Kay prepared and served chicken and Jell-O salad, and awarded the top salespeople with wigs.
In 1976 the company became the first with a female chairperson to be listed on the NYSE; by then her top salespeople were being awarded the company’s trademark pink Cadillacs. By “praising people to success” and “sandwiching every bit of criticism between two heavy layers of praise,” the energetic Texan opened new opportunities for women around the world and built a multibillion-dollar corporation.