Color Me… Courageous Pink!

Mary Kay Cosmetics operates in more than 40 markets on five continents. With $4 billion in annual sales, through 3.5 million Independent Beauty Consultants.

Mary Kay Ash, founder and leader of this economic powerhouse, didn’t set out to become a trailblazer for women. Perhaps it was her destiny?

Mary Kay’s dad was afflicted with tuberculosis. Becoming an invalid when Mary Kay was only three. Her mom, Lula, worked as a restaurant manager sixteen hours/day, seven days/week. Mary Kay, the youngest of four children, took on the household responsibilities.

How many 7-year-olds are charged with running the household, cleaning, shopping, and cooking for herself and her ailing father? Her mother’s constant encouragement — “You can do it, Mary Kay, you can do it” — became second nature.

With three young children and an unhappy marriage, Mary Kay took care of her family. In 1939, she joined Stanley Home Products. Their sales strategy? Product demonstrations in parties organized in private homes.

Her husband returned from WWII, determined to divorce. Mary Kay immersed herself in work. Despite her many prizes for outstanding sales, her boss refused to consider her for promotion. No women. Period.

Disgusted, Mary Kay went to World Gift. Where she also excelled. Where she was also passed over for promotion… in favor of a man she’d trained. They paid him twice her salary.

Determined to write a book to help women in business, Mary Kay envisioned providing women with equal opportunity for personal and financial success. With her remaining life savings, $5,000, she founded Beauty by Mary Kay at the age of 45.

Sadly, her second husband died one month after their wedding. Just weeks before her business launch.

Mary Kay combined a few products with an innovative delivery system — private parties hosted by highly-incentivized beauty consultants. She mentored consultants like beloved daughters. The company, profitable in year one, hit sales of almost $1 million in year two.

The rest is history.

Her business philosophy was based on her strong Christian faith. She wanted to help women not only better their financial position, but also live in proper balance. “God first, family second, career third.”

Even so, Mary Kay claims to have produced more wealthy women than any other company. A spokesman said more than 150 women have made more than $1 million with the company.

Awards abounded. Horatio Alger Distinguished American Citizen Award (1978). Dale Carnegie Leadership Award (2977).  Golden Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement (1980). Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame (1980). “Most Outstanding Woman in Business in the 20th Century,” Lifetime Television (1999).,

Her books are bestsellers. Mary Kay (autobiography), Mary Kay on People Management (taught in Harvard business courses), and You Can Have It All.

Despite overcoming gender discrimination and achieving entrepreneurial success, Mary Kay came under feminist fire. Did her promotion of the nuclear family, capitalism, Christianity and women as family caretakers suggest a mutual exclusivity of feminism and femininity?

Which Mary Kay Success Secrets would you emulate?

Please post your comments below.

Diana Furr, a.k.a. Abba’s Girl

This blog may have raised questions for you. If you’d like to connect, engage, or get further help from me, you can… EMAIL me at [email protected]; CALL me at 863-446-1660; or request a complimentary initial CONSULT with me at



  • Pam Jordan Wolf says:

    I have never read her books, Diana – but plan to now.
    I believer her’s was a destiny calling…and such a good reminder of the kind of perseverance and trials that produce sustainable – highly fruitful – destiny’s to which we are called.
    Praise God for women like Mary Kay who have blazed the trail for the rest of us!

    • Diana Furr says:

      Amen! What a blessing it is to discover how the Lord has used His servants to advance His kingdom on earth! Let us walk boldly through the doors others have opened… and, by God’s grace, blaze new trails for those who will follow us! All for His glory!


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