Mary Kay Ash. 1918 – 2001

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Book cover from a book written in 2003

Like each of the women I have mentioned this month, Mary Kay Ash was a trailblazer. This is woman that loved being a woman. She loved pink, her signature color and was well known for awarding Pink Cadillacs to her best producing sales consultants.

Mary Kay is famous for her worldwide cosmetics company, Mary Kay Cosmetics. Before starting this company, she sold books, gifts and Stanley Home Products; this woman was a saleswoman. She knew how to sell.  Time proved that she also knew how to run a large company, a feat that requires multiple skills, not the least of which were people skills.

You have likely heard the phrase “the obstacle is the way.” Surely, obstacles are great motivators. Mary Kay was a successful, but frustrated saleswoman, often being overlooked for promotions and being underpaid, comparing her productivity to her male counterparts. Her frustration was one of the reasons she decided to begin her own company. She purchased formulas to several cosmetic products that she liked. Her investment – a loan from one of her sons – was a mere five thousand dollars, but keep in mind, this investment in 1963 would be closer to fifty thousand dollars today. 

Mary Kay Cosmetics was born and made a profit the very first year; they made over a million dollars the second year, quite a feat for the 60’s. 

I include Mary Kay in the company of women that made American history because she had a part in improving the lives of millions of women and families while maintaining preset priorities. 

God first. Family second and career third. 

Her human relationships were guided with the “Golden Rule.” The standards of Mary Kay, Inc. are being challenged today as are most any decent standards in the workplace, in schools, churches and homes. Mary Kay embraced femininity and womanliness while running a multi-billion dollar company. Her critics felt she “overdid” the femininity thing, but I surmise that we each have our own styles and she dressed in an “uber” feminine way. She never became manly in order to compete in what is often called – albeit incorrectly – a man’s world. 

Mary Kay married young, age 17, and had 3 children. Her husband left to serve in World War 2 and their marriage ended in divorce when he returned.  Her second marriage was to the brother of another female entrepreneur, and friend -Mary Crowley. Their marriage was very brief, leaving her a widow. Her third marriage lasted the longest and ended with the death of this husband 1980. She spent the remaining 30 years of her life as a widow.

Mary Kay gave women a chance to own their own businesses. She offered the products at wholesale rates to her consultants (sales force). She trained them and provided support materials that would help them on their way to being successful. As the women succeeded, they were awarded generous bonuses for their work, including trips, furs, jewelry and cars.  Mary Kay often referred to the women in her sales force as her daughters. While she was not personally involved in all of their lives she did maintain many close relationships within the company. 

While I have never met Mary Kay, I know I would have loved her. She was unabashedly feminine, but strong. She did not try to “fit in.” God gave her a sharp mind and she used it. She learned to remain upbeat through the inevitable trials of life. Her testimony was a deep faith in God. This faith is what she credits to giving her the tenacity to overcome a great many obstacles in her life. She moved mountains without denying The One Who made them. No; I have not met Mary Kay but I will one day. In that day, all radiance will be found in Redeeming Love.

Mary Kay was known for her philanthropies. One of her foundations, known by her name was greatly involved in fighting battles against breast cancer. The Mary Kay Foundation is also involved in helping women that have suffered from violence in the home. 

She won innumerable awards in her lifetime. Perhaps one that is most telling -regarding women – was that Mary Kay Cosmetics was chosen as one of the ten best companies for women to work. 

Ending with Mary Kay Quotes, reflecting her tenacity:

Give yourself something to work toward – constantly!

“The Company bears my name, but it has a life of its own. The true success is the lives that have changed for the better.”

When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.

I end with a quote that reflects her humility, born of faith in God:

God didn’t have time to create a nobody, just a somebody. I believe that each of us has God given talents within us waiting to be brought to fruition. Each person is unique and special.