Mary Kay Ash

business executive
Born: 1915
Birthplace: Hot Wells, Texas

Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, one of the largest beauty products firms in the United States, Ash sold a child psychology book door to door in the late 1930s and then was a sales representative and manager at the Stanley Home Products Co. from 1939 to 1952. Later, she was national training director at the World Gift Co. In 1963, with $5,000, she founded Mary Kay Cosmetics in a Dallas storefront. The firm sold products door to door using nine saleswomen, called “beauty consultants.” The business grew steadily, helped by Ash's positive philosophy and her generous use of incentives, such as free pink Cadillacs and diamond jewelry, for successful sales people. With over 1.5 salespeople in 32 countries, the firm remains a major presence in the competitive beauty market. She was married three times and had a daughter and two sons.

Died: 2001