Texan born business entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash began her own skin care and cosmetics company 53 years ago today.

A young Mary Kay Ash
A young MaryKay Ash

During the 1950’s Ash succeeded as an executive in the corporate arena (rare for a woman at that time) but was consistently overlooked for the top roles in preference for men, despite equally matching them in performance. Fed up with what she deemed unfair treatment purely due to her gender and armed with only $5K, a financial endowment from her son and a product range of 5 items, the 45-year-old started her own company – Mark Kay Inc. The products included a skin care range that are said to be based on ingredients her grandfather created and used to tan leather, that provided equally similar care and preservation benefits to the human skin.

Aside from the miraculous nature of the skin care range, the organisational structure of the company allowed women to join as sales and beauty consultants, enabling them to get out into the work force at a time when women were still expected to be simply home-makers. They were rewarded for their hard work through promotion and gifts including the now iconic pink Cadillac; the ideal being that the sky was the limit.

Pink Cadillacs in procession at the 50th anniversary celebrations in Dallas, Texas.
Pink Cadillacs in procession at the 50th anniversary celebrations in Dallas, Texas.

For Mary Kay Ash her personal success saw no limits as both a business entrepreneur and an avid change-maker, bestowed with a multitude of entrepreneurial awards until her death in 2001, aged 83.

The company now has wholesale sales exceeding $4 billion with products available in 35 countries and over 3.5 million sales consultants worldwide.