Feeling the Love Mary Kay Ash greets throngs of admirers at one of her beauty conferences, where consultants would learn about new products and tricks of the trade. Courtesy of Mary Kay Ash

Business

Early Influencers: Mary Kay Ash

The founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics became one of the country’s most influential female entrepreneurs.

Mary Kay Ash May 12, 1918 – November 22, 2001

Born in Hot Wells, Texas, Mary Kay Ash began her career selling books door to door during World War II.

She saw too many underqualified men get promoted over her and decided to do something about it. In 1963, at the age of 45, she founded Mary Kay Cosmetics with $5,000, a handful of beauty products, and a Dallas storefront. Within three years, the company surpassed $1 million in sales.

Ash provided a path for women to enter the workforce, keep a flexible schedule, and make a living. When she asked a Cadillac dealer to paint her car pink to match her products, she created an iconic company trademark that is awarded to top sellers to this day. Ash is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most influential female entrepreneurs. At the time of her death in 2001, her Addison-based company was generating more than $2 billion in annual sales.

Today, Mary Kay Cosmetics has 3 million independent consultants who sell more than 200 products in about 35 countries around the world.

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