On September 13, 1963, Texas-born entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash launches a cosmetic company in Dallas with her $5,000 life savings and the help of her 20-year-old son Richard Rogers. Mary Kay Inc. would become a cosmetic empire with revenue of more than $3.5 billion and salespeople in dozens of countries.
Ash, a fierce advocate for women, quit a sales job in the early 1960s after a man had been promoted to a position above her at double her salary.
“Those men didn’t believe a woman had brain matter at all. I learned back then that as long as men didn’t believe women could do anything, women were never going to have a chance,” she told Texas Monthly magazine in 1995.
Mary Kay—one of the world’s largest direct-selling companies—became renowned for an award system designed for women, including mink coats, diamond rings and pink Cadillacs. Ash once owned a 19,000-square-foot mansion with a gigantic pink marble bathtub.
On the popular CBS show 60 Minutes, Morley Safer called her a “a pink panther… whose instinct for doing business and making money is as finely tuned as a jungle cat going for the kill.”
Ash relished mentoring her saleswomen and referred to them as her “daughters.” “I want you to become the highest-paid women in America,” she told them in company motivational speeches.
Ash, who became one of the most recognizable businesswomen in America, died in 2001. She was 83.