Born in Hot Wells, Harris County, Texas in 1918, Mary Kathlyn Wagner was to grow up to become one of the top female entrepreneurs in American history. Her path to success began when she resigned her director-level position at a sales company after repeatedly being passed over for promotion in favor of less-qualified men. In response, she set out to write a book to help women advance in business. The result was not a book but a business plan; Mary Kay Cosmetics was founded in Dallas in 1963.
Mary Kay, Inc. is a multi-level marketing company based in Addison, Texas that manufactures and distributes cosmetics products directly to consumers. The company was founded by Texas native Mary Kay Ash in 1963 on her $5,000 life savings and the help of her son, Richard Rogers. Mary wrote her direct sales business plan before she had a product and subsequently purchased the formulas for five skin care products derived from tanning solutions from a Texas hide tanner’s daughter. Mary Kay uses independent businesswomen that recruit their own sales force. Mary Kay sells its products at wholesales prices to independent Mary Kay consultants, who then markup the products and sell them directly through personal networks. The company encourages each of its consultants to “consider herself Mary Kay” and remember that “you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself.” Mary Kay is known for its trademark Mary Kay Pink and corporate appreciation rewards, earned through sales, such as pink Cadillacs, vacations, and jewelry. Today, Mary Kay employs approximately 250,000 independent beauty consultants, and in 2011 had net sales of $2.9 billion.