Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself!

Mary Kay Ash is rightfully called a legend. At 45, with only $ 5,000 in her pocket, she founded her own cosmetics and skin care company. Nobody believed in her, but in the end she made a fortune of $ 98 million, increasing her capital almost 20 thousand times!

Mary Kay

In 2017, with $ 3.5 billion in revenue, Mary Kay Inc. took 5th place in the Global 100 list – a ranking of direct selling companies. In this article we will tell you how a woman managed to create a cosmetic empire practically from scratch.

Difficult childhood: “Mary Kay, you can do it”

Let’s start from afar – from early childhood. Mary Kay Ash was born during the most difficult period of the Wagner family. The baby’s father was seriously ill with tuberculosis. The responsibility to support a newborn daughter and three more older children fell on the shoulders of Mary’s mother.

Mary Kay Ash family

When Ash was 7 years old, her dad became disabled, and her two older sisters and brother left their father’s house. Mom had to work seven days a week, from 5 am to 9 pm. So, from an early age, the girl bought food on her own, cooked, cleaned the house and looked after her sick father.

Of course, such duties were too heavy for the preschool girl. But the little girl did not complain and courageously performed even the most difficult cases. If something was not clear, Kay called her mother – she always helped with advice, saying “Mary Kay, you can do it.” These words were imprinted in the memory of the girl for the rest of her life and taught her to overcome life’s difficulties with her head held high.

New challenges: unsuccessful marriage, war and “male” work

Mary tried not to upset her parents, was an excellent student and an orator, constantly receiving prizes. The girl dreamed of higher education, but she knew that her mother would not be able to pay for her university. So right after school, shortly after his 17th birthday, Kay is getting married and hastily giving birth to three children.

But the marriage was not successful: the spouse turned out to be irresponsible and did not care about his heirs at all. The young mother had to go to neighboring houses and sell children psychology aids.

Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up!

The girl understood that she could only rely on herself. In 1939, the blonde got a job that was considered male – the girl had to advertise household items, carrying them with her all day. Sometimes they weighed a lot, especially Mary’s relatively fragile physique. She developed rheumatoid arthritis, which tormented the girl until the end of her days.

As soon as the Second World War begins and her husband goes to the front, Mary begins to save money. By the end of the war, she finally has enough money to fulfill her dream, and the 28-year-old persistent lady finally enters the University of Houston.

Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up!

But things could not work out so easily. After a month of training, the spouse returns home and demands a divorce. On the one hand, Mary is finally freed from the bonds of marriage, which did not allow her to breathe freely for 11 years. On the other hand, a woman feels “at a broken trough”: lonely, humiliated and depressed. In addition, she started having health problems – she developed rheumatoid arthritis. And also on her alone lay the upbringing of three children, which is unrealistic to combine with study.

Sexism and the creation of a “dream company”

And the single mother goes headlong into work. But no matter how hard she tried, they refused to raise her. Because she is a woman.

Even if Mary did more than any other employee in the company in a month, she will still receive less than a man in the same position. At the hiring, they don’t even want to listen to her: they are expecting a man. The last straw was that Ash increased the company’s turnover by over 50% in a year, and the dream job is still occupied by a man – and the one whom Mary taught at one time! And now he gets paid twice as much.

Mary quits.

Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up!

Do you think this was the end? Of course not! The beginning of my story may seem like the end of my story “, – the “pensioner” admits.

She did not sit idly by and immediately began to think about what she wanted to do. The first thing that came to mind was to draw people’s attention to the problem of sexism, to prove that women are no worse than men and are unworthy to receive half the salary just because of their gender.

So, 45-year-old Mary Kay began writing a book. The work began with a small list of two columns: in the first – the cons of the companies in which she worked, in the second – the pros. Examining a sheet of paper, the girl suddenly imagines an ideal company in which everyone is treated with respect: “If such a company existed, it would, of course, be a ‘dream company’.”

And what, in fact, prevents such a creation? And Mary gets down to business.

“We burned all the bridges behind us”: foundation and formation of the company

Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up!

Kay has only 5 thousand dollars in her arms. She calls a friend whose father developed a cream to soften the skin of her hands. And buys this formula for $ 500! And he invests the rest of the money in a direct sales company.

At the same time, Mary is going to remarry – her husband is just offering to help control finances. But the groom died a month after the wedding. And the role of the financier in the family business is bravely taken on by the 20-year-old heir to the entrepreneur: “My son Richard quit his job, where he was receiving $ 480 a month, to help me implement this crazy idea, agreeing to a salary of only $ 250.”

Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up!

Experts predict the company’s failure, the accountant declares that “the business is not worth the candle,” and the Californian cosmetics manufacturer offers to buy the formula for a penny, “Because you will never succeed on your own.” But this only provoked the businesswoman more: “I was determined to prove them wrong.” And her other children also joined her.

Already in 1963, the first Beauty By Mary Kay opened in Dallas. It employed only 9 saleswomen offering 5 types of goods. The most expensive was $ 4.

And even the first financial year the company ended with a profit, selling cosmetics for 198 thousand dollars. And in 2015, the family took the 149th place in the ranking of the “Richest Families in the United States”!

The secret to success is nursing

But what happened? Why did it happen? Success came very quickly!

Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up!

Experts say that the whole secret was in the sisterhood that reigned in the company. The discriminated women reached out to Kay. They were surprised at the entrepreneur’s new approach and were eager to try to work in such an environment. And it was worth it!

First, Mary had a policy “Equal pay for equal work” and treated both directors and cleaners alike. And she called the sellers “independent consultants”!

Secondly, Mary acted according to the principle “A great company is made up of great people.” She was looking for the best specialists, and she was generous in giving out generous salaries to talented ones.

“By generously paying our employees, we have created a hardworking, successful team.”

It was the employees, and not the numbers in the accounting reports, that Mary Kay called the firm’s main asset.

Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up!

And thirdly, Mary said: “Do with others as you want to be treated with you” She respected the self-worth of employees, rewarded them for their success, gave out awards, treated them at workshops, and hosted parties. Kay has proven that positive team relationships can significantly increase productivity.

Mary Kay has proven that good team relationships can dramatically improve productivity.

Successful consultants are well rewarded with pink Cadillacs and travel abroad.


In 1968, Mrs. Ash began rewarding agents with diamond bumblebee pins, a token of the highest recognition. Why did the founder of the business choose bumblebee as a symbol of victory?


Mary Kay was interested in the results of studies of scientists in the aerodynamic field, who found that this insect is not capable of flying, because it has weak wings and a heavy body.

“Fortunately, the bumblebee doesn’t know anything about this,” smiles Mary Kay. “At Mary Kay we teach people how to spread their wings and fly themselves.”

Of course, employees receive criticism as well, but comments are served in a “sandwich”: between two layers of praise. This leads to employee loyalty.

8 principles of leadership from Mary Kay

  1. Praise people for success.
  2. Focus on sales.
  3. Learn to solve problems.
  4. Don’t put up walls between yourself and people.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
  6. Create a stress-free work environment.
  7. Develop and promote people within the company.
  8. Don’t let your work play too much of a role in your life.

Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up!

According to their experience, the national leaders of the company called the first three points the most valuable and effective, as for the last point – it is generally fundamental. Mary Kay has repeatedly emphasized the distribution of prizes among her priorities:

God comes first, family comes second, and career comes third.


A sense of gratitude is inherent in all successful people. Many people know that sometimes simple human gratitude can bring unexpected results. The richest woman in China, Zhou Qunfei, quitting her first job, thanked the manager for the job and impressed the “boss” so much that she was promoted.

The activities of the company and the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, founded in 1996, are permeated with gratitude. The foundation invests in cancer research and works to eradicate domestic violence.

Selected quotes and tips from Mary Kay

“The world is full of people who gush with ideas, but never put them into practice. Only by bringing what has been planned to the end, you can achieve success. “

“I have always believed that any job should be done as well as possible and enjoy it.”

“You can put on rose-colored glasses and live in a pink world, or you can take a brush and decorate this world yourself.”

“Opportunities have always been and will be. You just have to use them. “

Tips from Mary Kay if you want to fix a problem

  • admit the problem;

  • analyze the problem;

  • find alternative solutions

  • choose the best option;

  • apply the selected solution;

  • observe and evaluate the results.

Mary Kay Ash Success Story: Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up!

The name Mary Kay has become a global brand, however, her grandson believes that the best thing she did was “Managed to penetrate the minds and hearts of women.” She showed by her own example that if a retired woman with grandchildren was able to succeed, then so can they.

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