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Makeup Mogul

The keys to success: How Mary Kay's company became the Cadillac of cosmetics

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This story appears in the April 1996 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Most companies wouldn't consider Friday the 13th an auspicious day. Yet Mary Kay Cosmetics Inc. opened its doors on Friday, September 13, 1963. Today, more than 30 years later, Mary Kay Cosmetics has shown that Friday the 13th can be a lucky day to start a business, by becoming the largest direct selling skin care company in the nation, boasting more than 400,000 representatives worldwide, who generate annual retail sales in excess of $2 billion.

Mary Kay Ash, founder and chairman emeritus, never intended to start a cosmetics business. When she retired in 1963, after a 25-year career in the direct selling industry, her goal was to combine her experiences into a guidebook for career women.

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