Mary Kay Ash
Founder, Mary Kay CosmeticsOne of Mary Kay Ash's first ads for her then 5-year-old cosmetics company was on wheels. A custom-painted pink Cadillac the shade of the blush in her compact that she bought for herself in 1968 became the sales incentive for her top five sales directors in 1969, and thus the pink legend was born.
Her direct-marketing sales force of "independent beauty consultants," 2.4 million strong worldwide, are the core of the now $3 billion beauty empire and provide the door-to-door marketing power behind the company. Brochures and advertising, and, more recently, digital and social-media tools have been used through the years, but it was the multilevel salespeople working toward those pink Cadillacs that defined the Mary Kay brand. Ms. Ash's home-based-business model also enabled women to achieve more of a work-life balance. Her motto was: "God first, family second, career third."