Not a lot of people can boast of the achievements and accolades that Martha Stewart has gained over the years. She is a shining example of a Jack-of-all-trades as she has practically done it all from entertainment to business. She is known for being a former model, television personality, lifestyle guru, writer and columnist, retail businesswoman, and all-round entrepreneur. To crown it all, she is the founder of a conglomerate known as Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
The Biography of Martha Stewart
From her early days, Martha proved to be an enterprising woman with strong creative abilities and she poured her talents into assorted ventures spanning the e-commerce, publishing, merchandising, and broadcasting industry. Over the course of her distinguished professional journey, she has published the widely circulated Martha Stewart Living Magazine, written several bestselling books, launched her own brand of cookware and kitchenware and served as the Emmy-winning host of two syndicated television shows: Martha Stewart Living and Martha.
Despite the challenges that have come her way, including several legal troubles, insider trading scandal, and a five-month prison sentence for conspiracy, making false statements to federal investigators and obstruction of justice, Martha has always managed to come out on top. Today, she is one of the richest and most influential people in America.
The business tycoon was born on August 3, 1942, to Martha Ruszkowski Kostyra and Edward Kostyra in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is the second of six children born to her working-class parents, so her family didn’t have plenty.
At the age of 10, Martha began working as an occasional babysitter for some New York Yankees players, and she also helped with planning and organizing parties for their children. Around this time, she also tried her hand at modeling, and by the time she was 15, Martha was being featured in TV commercials for Unilever and a host of other brands.
Martha learned some valuable life skills from her mother and grandmother which proved to be instrumental to her success later on. She learned how to sew, cook, can and preserve food. She also picked up a great deal of knowledge about gardening from her father. Martha attended Nutley High School before proceeding to Barnard College of Columbia University where she majored in history and architectural history. She continued modeling to help pay for her schooling and even managed to work for brands like Chanel. While there she met and married Yale law graduate Andrew Stewart.
What Is She Best Known For?
Martha Stewart is more popularly known for her career as a culinary, lifestyle expert, and talk show host. She wrote dozens of cookbooks and lifestyle guides that millions of people all over the world took as gospel, and she expanded that brand through culinary and talk shows she hosted. However, her career journey didn’t start there.
Inspired by her father-in-law, Martha began pursuing a career as a stockbroker in 1967. She left the profession years later and started a catering business with Norma Collier, a friend from her modeling days. The business became prosperous very quickly, but Martha was forced to part ways with her partner after disagreements arose. Moving on, she went to work as a manager at a gourmet food store and opened her own store after she was fired from the job.
Her catering business was hired for a book release party where Martha was introduced to the publisher, Alan Mirken. He was thoroughly impressed by her cooking and hostessing abilities that he helped her develop her first cookbook, Entertaining, published in 1982. The success and acclaim it gained spurred her to release several other books including Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres, Weddings, Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook, Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Menus, The Wedding Planner, Martha Stewart’s Christmas, and Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts.
With her popularity on the rise, Martha wrote dozens of magazine articles and newspaper columns on lifestyle and homemaking topics. In 1990, she signed a publishing contract that birthed Martha Stewart Living, her very own magazine. Three years later, she was given a weekly 30-minute slot for her TV program Martha Stewart Living, which went on to win an Emmy. In 1997, the program was expanded to a full hour on weekdays. Martha also began regularly contributing to other network programs like The Early Show and the Today Show.
How She Created Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Looking to gain more business and creative control over her numerous ventures, Martha secured funding to help her buy television, print, and merchandising rights related to her brand. She then consolidated them to form one big company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in 1997. The company went public in October 1999 and sold its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. With that, Martha became a billionaire on paper, making her the first female self-made billionaire in America.
In 2002, Martha was accused of committing securities fraud, which led to heavy investigation and her being charged with nine counts of offenses on June 4, 2003. She went to trial in January 2004 and was sentenced in July to serve a five-month prison sentence, and pay a fine of $30,000.
After being released from prison, Martha picked up where she left off. She launched a campaign to restore her image and even returned to television as the host of two daytime shows: The Apprentice: Martha Stewart and The Martha Stewart Show. Since then, she has continued expanding her business empire and authoring more bestselling books.