Mary Kay Ash
Born in 1918, Mary Kay Ash, born Mary Kathlyn Wagner, was the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, a direct-selling, multi-level marketing cosmetics company based in Addison, Texas. After marrying early on in life, in 1935, at the age of 17-years old, she became a housewife, had two children, and would later go on to sell books door-to-door when her husband was fighting in the war.
However, in 1945, she divorced, and eventually went to work for a company called Stanley Home Products. Yet in 1963, at the age of 45-years old, she retired. She had been passed up for a promotion and instead of continuing what she felt to be a dead-end career, she decided to write a book instead. That book turned into what would be her business plan for the business she intended to start with her new husband, Mel Ash.
However, Mel died just a month before the new business was set to start. One month after he died, she took the plunge by taking a $5,000 investment from her eldest son, Richard Rogers. She opened up her first storefront in Dallas and created the company to help empower women to succeed in a marketplace that was very much in favor of men.
Mary Kay Cosmetics grew beyond her wildest dreams. Today, the company has over 3 million consultants around the world with sales topping $3 billion annually. By 1968, the company had gone public, but was later taken private again after 17 years as a public company.