It was always obvious when Mary Kay Ash arrived at the party. The pink Cadillac she drove around her hometown of Dallas was as iconic as the line of her namesake beauty products which graced every store shelf in America. With a billion dollar company, a million dollar fortune, and a global beauty business, the Mary Kay who gave out cars and vacations to her top sales reps at lavish Vegas parties in the 90's was a far cry from the young mother who scrimped and saved during World War II.
In 2001, the Times quoted her as saying: ''I've been asked a number of times, 'How did you succeed so quickly?' 'The answer is I was middle-aged, had varicose veins and I didn't have time to fool around. Have you heard the definition of a woman's needs? From 14 to 40, she needs good looks, from 40 to 60, she needs personality, and I'm here to tell you that after 60, she needs cash.''
Ash went into direct sales for the next 25 years, selling child psychology books and then Stanley Home products at private parties. It was at one of those parties where she met Ova Heath Spoonemore, whose father, a tanner, had been experimenting with the oils that made his hands seem less weathered than his face. Spoonemore passed out sample jars of her product to the women at the party. Ash was hooked, and in 1963, the year she started her company, she bought the secret recipe from Spoonemore for $500