Martha Stewart has become an iconic American businesswoman. The founder of Martha Stewart Living, she’s found amazing success in a variety of business endeavors. Stewart has written several bestselling books, is involved in broadcasting, merchandising, and has branched into e-commerce. In addition to her best-selling line of products, her popular Martha Stewart Living magazine, and syndicated television shows have made hers a household name.
Born in New Jersey into a middle-class family, Stewart is of Polish-American heritage. Always in possession of a strong work ethic, she began babysitting when she was only ten years old for the children of team members of the New York Yankees, including Gil McDougald, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra. At fifteen, she started modelling and doing television commercials. She continued to model while attending Barnard College, majoring in European History and Architectural History.
Following her marriage, Stewart began her career as a stockbroker. She and her husband purchased and completely renovated an 1805 farmhouse. Her meticulous attention to detail during this project revealed her natural aptitude for restoration and decoration. She went on to start a catering company and to serve as manager of a gourmet food store. These experiences led Martha to write her first book, Entertaining. Following its success, she published seven more books, each aimed at homemaking, home décor, wedding planning, and holidays.
The success of these books led to the development of her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, with its namesake serving as editor-in-chief. At its peak, the magazine boasted over two million subscribers. She followed this success with a weekly, half-hour television program. It soon expanded to an hour-long format. Stewart then formed Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The Martha Stewart brand is housed here with additional ventures into television, print, and merchandising. In her role of CEO, she led the company to a place on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol MSO.
In 2004, Stewart was convicted of securities fraud and obstruction of justice. These charges stemmed from her decision to sell some stocks on the advice of other executives and advisors. Despite pleading not guilty, she was convicted and served a term of five-months in federal prison. Although she was advised to resign her positions in the company she created, Stewart declined. Upon her release, she returned to Martha Stewart Omnimedia and continued to lead the company to greater and greater success. She did, however, resign her seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
Stewart has gone on to launch a series of homes bearing her name and signature style, and was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. She is an animal lover and supporter of the anti-fur movement. Dubbed a Lifestyle Guru, Martha Stewart is an example of what determination and perseverance can accomplish. She has overcome setbacks and emerged as the leader she knew she could be. “I always thought I would be a teacher. And I think I actually lived up to my initial dreams, because what I do now is teach millions and millions of people many different kinds of things.”