Mary Kay Ash was ahead of her time, all the time. She changed the world of business by creating more opportunities for women, built a company guided by her values and empowered women by putting them in control of their own future.


Humble Beginnings

Mary Kay was born in Hot Wells, Texas, at the end of World War I—May 12, 1918.

Growing Up Fast

At the age of seven, Mary Kay was tasked with caring for her ailing father. It was often overwhelming for young Mary Kay, but her mom always assured her with the same four words: You can do it. This phrase went on to inform Mary Kay’s outlook on life.

Early Career

Raising three young children on her own, Mary Kay excelled as a businesswoman. As she advanced in her career, though, she continued to become frustrated with the glass ceiling she encountered. 


Opening Doors for Women

  • Armed with her life savings and a desire to change the future for women, Mary Kay Ash founds Beauty by Mary Kay with her children, Ben, Marilyn and Richard, on September 13, 1963.
  • Along with a new opportunity, Beauty by Mary Kay ushers in a new approach to skin care with the Basic Treatment Set. It includes four skin care products and a foundation. The first glamour products include a pink palette with five eye and lip colors, blush, mascara, and an eyebrow and eyeliner pencil.

An American Icon –The Pink Cadillac

Mary Kay is the first to introduce the "career car" concept in the marketing world, making the pink Cadillac an iconic and synonymous symbol with the Mary Kay brand. The first five Cadillacs (Coupe de Ville) are awarded at the 1969 Seminar. General Motors later named the color Mary Kay Pink Pearl, and the exclusive shade is only available for Mary Kay. This iconic symbol of success continues to inspire women to this day.


MKY on the NYSE

  • Mary Kay Inc. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange as MKY and becomes the first company on the NYSE chaired by a woman.
  • The Direct Selling Association presents Mary Kay Ash with the Hall of Fame Award. The Horatio Alger Distinguished American Citizen Award is presented to Mary Kay Ash to celebrate her achievements and to honor how she overcame adversity early in her career.

Recipient of the Horatio Alger Award

The Horatio Alger Distinguished American Citizen Award is presented to Mary Kay Ash to celebrate her achievements and to honor how she overcame adversity early in her career.

Profiled by 60 Minutes

America took note when "60 Minutes" interviewed Mary Kay Ash in 1979. The nation was taken by the remarkable woman and her visionary business opportunity. Within two years, the Mary Kay independent sales force had more than doubled, and sales almost tripled.


Golden Achievement

Mary Kay received the Golden Plate Award for Business from the American Academy of Achievement. Other recipients include: Steve Jobs, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, William Hewlett, Gloria Vanderbilt, Philip H. Knight, Ralph Lauren, and Charles Schwab.

Cover to Cover

  • Receives the Free Enterprise Award, San Fernando Valley Business and Professional Association and the Free Enterprise Award Committee
  • Mary Kay by Mary Kay is published by Harper and Row.
  • Mary Kay is featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post with a feature story.

Recognized by Ladies’ Home Journal

Named one of the "100 Most Important Women in America" by Ladies' Home Journal.

New York Times Best Seller List

Mary Kay on People Management, Mary Kay Ash's influential first book, published by Warner Books, is featured on The New York Times Best Seller list for 11 weeks and goes on to become a Wall Street Journal best seller.

World Almanac Recognizes Mary Kay Ash

The World Almanac and Book of Facts names Mary Kay Ash as one of “America’s 25 Most Influential Women.”

Greatest of All Time

Mary Kay Ash is the only woman out of 20 profiles to be named one of Forbes Greatest Business Stories of all time, along with Bill Gates, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, Walt Disney and others.


Mary Kay Museum Opens Its Doors

As Mary Kay Ash celebrates her Company’s 30th anniversary, the award-winning Mary Kay Museum opens in Dallas, Texas at the Company's global headquarters, to preserve and honor her journey in business so it may inspire future entrepreneurs.

Putting Her Money Where Her Heart Is

Mary Kay Ash establishes the Mary Kay Ash Charitable FoundationSM, now known as The Mary Ash Kay FoundationSM, to provide funding for cancer research and to prevent domestic violence.

Woman of the Century

Mary Kay Ash is recognized as Texas Woman of the Century.


20th Century Business Woman

Lifetime® Television hails Mary Kay Ash as the most influential woman in business in the 20th century, naming her the "Most Outstanding Woman in Business in the 20th Century."

The Next Generation

Mary Kay Ash, who brought to life her dream of empowering women around the world, passes away on November 22, Thanksgiving Day (her favorite holiday). Her son and co-founder, Richard R. Rogers, continued her dream as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company.

Greatest Female Entrepreneur in American History

Baylor University names Mary Kay Ash the “Greatest Female Entrepreneur in American History” in an academic study. Ash was the only female named among the men highlighted in the study: Henry Ford, Bill Gates, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Sam Walton, J.P. Morgan, Alfred Sloan, Walt Disney and Ray Kroc.

Influential Business Woman

Mary Kay Ash was honored as one of the 25 most influential businesspeople of the past 25 years by PBS and the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. Other honorees included: Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, Steven Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey.

Mary Kay Way Book Release

To celebrate the 45th anniversary, Mary Kay Inc. also re-released Mary Kay On People Management as The Mary Kay Way: Timeless Principles from America's Greatest Woman Entrepreneur. To purchase a copy click here.