Beauty Entrepreneur Mary-Kay Ash

When she discovered that her prize for being the company’s top salesperson was an underwater flashlight, she saw the light and launched her own empire. The story of a powerful woman with a strong makeup on the next Biography for Radio.

The saleswoman who shattered the glass ceiling and built an empire worth over a billion dollars, Her story next, on Biography for Radio.

Her first sales job was hawking a child-rearing book door to door. Struggling at first, she soon became the company’s top seller. The perks weren’t great, but she stayed with the firm out of loyalty—and to feed her three children. Later, she found a better job selling gifts, and moved up the corporate ladder—until a sexist corporate “efficiency expert” insisted she had too much power.

She resigned, determined to go into business selling her own line of beauty products. With her husband, she bought the rights to market a skin cream originally developed for tanning hides. But in 1963, just a month before the company launched, her husband died. Necessity being the mother of invention, the single mom forged ahead.

With her notion and her potion, she turned a $5,000 investment and a company of 11 into a billion-dollar empire hiring more than 850,000 beauty consultants in 37 countries. Awash in black ink, her company was in the pink. And so were her top sales people…as they drove a fleet of pink Cadillacs, gifts from the Texas tycoon of the Mary Kay cosmetics dynasty—Mary Kay Ash.