Barbara Jordan
“Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power. ”

Listing of Great Texas Women

Mary Kay Ash (1918 - 2001)

She was born Mary Kathlyn Wagner in Hot Wells, Harris County, Texas, the daughter of Edward Alexander and Lula Vember Hastings Wagner. She attended Reagan High School in Houston, graduating in 1934. Ash attended the University of Houston until 1943 when she married, but despite having three children, the marriage did not last, and after her divorce she went to work for Stanley Home Products a direct sales firm out of Houston. In 1952, she left Stanley and was hired as the national training director for the Dallas a direct sales firm, World Gift Co., where she worked until 1963. Frustrated, however, at being passed over for a promotion in favor of a man that she had trained, she retired in 1963, intending to write a book to assist women in business. The book turned into a business plan for her ideal company, and in September 1963, Ash and her son, Richard Rogers, began Mary Kay Cosmetics with a $5,000 investment. The company originally operated from a storefront in Dallas which opened in 1968, but grew rapidly, particularly after Ash was interviewed for CBS's 60 Minutes in 1979. The pink Cadillacs awarded to top sales people were the most visible sign of the company's success.

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  • "I envisioned a company in which any woman could become just as successful as she wanted to be. The doors would be wide open to opportunity for women who were willing to pay the price and had the courage to dream."