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Case Study of Starting Mary Kay Inc.

by Ron Kurtus (6 April 2018)

Mary Kay Inc. is a business where female associates sell beauty products through events in people's homes. The creation of Mary Kay is a good case study of entrepreneurship.

Mary Kay Ash had been a top sales director. Her business was started after Ash became frustrated by being held back while men she had trained were advanced. While preparing a book on how women can advance, Ash developed an idea and plan for a new business. She then started her new business with the help of her son.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Background in sales

Mary Kay Ash married Ben Rogers at age 17. While her husband served in World War II, she sold books door-to-door. After her husband's return in 1945, they divorced.

Ash then went to work for Stanley Home Products. She became one of their top sales directors, but she was repeatedly refused promotions and pay raises that the men were getting. However she also became frustrated when passed over for a promotion in favor of a man that she had trained. So Ash retired in 1963 at age 45.

Her experience showed she had skill in direct sales, as well as in training sales personnel.

Idea and business plan

After Mary Kay Ash left her successful career in direct sales, she decided to write a book to help women survive in the male-dominated business world.

In preparing the book, she made a list of things the companies for which she had worked had done right. She also made another list that included the things she felt they could have done better. After she reviewed the lists, Mary Kay realized that she had inadvertently created a business plan for an ideal company that could provide women with potential to achieve personal and financial success.

In the summer of 1963, Mary Kay Ash and her new husband, George Hellenbeck, planned to start Mary Kay Cosmetics. However, one month before starting the company George died of a heart attack.

Started business

One month after George's death, Ash started Mary Kay Cosmetics with her life savings of $5,000 and the help of her 20-year-old son. The company started its original storefront operation in Dallas in 1963.

Mary Kay Inc. started with just nine independent beauty consultants who sell cosmetics through a multi-level marketing model. Mary Kay distributors can make income by directly selling to people in their community, as well as receiving a commission on wholesale purchases made by people they recruit.

Mary Kay has a philosophy where women should prioritize their life with God first, family second, and work third. These guiding principles encourages women for their own personal and financial success


Mary Kay Ash had show skills in sales and in training sales personnel. After being held held back while men she had trained were advanced, she quit her job and prepared a book on how women can advance, Ash developed an idea and plan for a new business. She then started her new business with the help of her son.

Lay out a solid plan for your new business

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Mary Kay Ash: Top Entrepreneur - The Balance

Mary Kay Ash - Wikipedia

Mary Kay Inc. - Wikipedia

Mary Kay Ash - Biography

About Mary Kay Ash -

Entrepreneur Resources


(Notice: The School for Champions may earn commissions from book purchases)

Top-rated books by Mary Kay Ash

Top-rated books on Starting a Business

Top-rated books on being an Entrepreneur

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