Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Mary Kay’s Rise to Success
When we think of Mary Kay, we immediately consider the cosmetic company, direct sales and at-home parties. This is true, but what about the woman behind the brand? How did she cultivate a billion dollar company?
This organization’s hugely successful multi-level marketing model began with one woman and her name was Mary Kay Ash; entrepreneur and inspirational leader among millions of women.
In 1963, Mary Kay opened her first brick and mortar location in Dallas, Texas. With only $5,000 of her life’s savings and with the help of her son, Richard Rogers, she began to pave the way for women everywhere as she had a plan.
In a speech, Mary boldly stated “you have to know where you’re going or, you’ll never make it to your destination.” And that plan has proven itself.
By the 1970s, the term “the glass ceiling effect” was coined in the United States to describe the invisible barriers women faced, which inhibited women to progress to executive roles. For thousands of years, women have faced adversity and this was the era in which Mary Kay decided to push the boundaries and change attitudinal prejudices.
By 1979, the company celebrated the surpassing of $1M of lifetime commissions for its original 9 independent consultants. A feat that was unheard of for its time. From there, the company grew ten-fold, advancing at a rapid rate. Because of her affluent professional achievements, Mary Kay received honours of one of “America’s 25 Most Influential Women” (The World Almanac of Facts) and “Greatest Female Entrepreneur in History” (Baylor University), just to name a couple.
But how did one woman accelerate financial growth so quickly and earn a loyal following? It was her goal to create not just a lasting impact, but a legacy of ongoing opportunities for personal development for women. Making everyone feel important and recognising accomplishments of others was a true principle adopted by her corporate sales staff and independent sales force.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was her Golden Rule. Known as a “visionary” and “ahead of her time”, Mary Kay’s lifetime success was due to her tenacity to dream big.