Monday, January 25, 2010

Martha 101, It's a Good Thing!

Welcome to Martha Stewart 101, It's a Good Thing.

As the final project for my business communications class, we were tasked with doing a power point presentation of either a famous person or a successful business. I figured Martha Stewart would take care of two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Yes, that's me presenting Martha 101

If you felt you knew Martha, perhaps you might learn a little something new. Here's my presentation:

The old axiom, from little acorns mighty oaks do grow, could be applied to a girl who grew up in the working class neighborhood of Nutley, New Jersey. Born August 3, 1941, one of five siblings, Martha Stewart‘s net worth today is valued at 638 million dollars by Forbes magazine. Stewart has had more influence on how Americans eat, entertain and decorate their homes and gardens than any one person in our history.

Gorgeous photo of Martha and her mom by Annie Leibowitz

Stewart is more than a domestic diva; she is a media mogul with a publicly traded company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO). Stewart oversees an empire that includes publishing (magazines and books), broadcasting (TV programs, satellite radio), Internet, and merchandising. She controls about 50% of MSLO's stock and about 90% of voting stock.

A lot of unflattering things have been said about Stewart through the years but here are the basics of how this young girl managed to elevate the domestic arts to a 638 million dollar business.

9-year old Martha

While still in high school, Martha Stewart began a successful modeling career while continuing to excel in extracurricular activities like the school newspaper and art club. With straight A’s, Stewart was awarded a partial scholarship to Barnard College in New York. Stewart left Barnard briefly but returned to graduate with a double major in History and Architectural History. It was while she was in New York that she met and married Andrew Stewart in 1961 and in 1965 their daughter Alexis was born.

Model Martha

In 1967, she became a successful stockbroker but left the profession in 1973 to spend more time with her daughter and restore her new home in Connecticut. Stewart and her husband undertook a massive restoration of the historic 1805 farmhouse on Turkey Hill Road which would eventually serve as the set of the Martha Stewart Living television program.

With Norma Collier, a friend from her modeling days, Stewart began a successful catering business in her basement on Turkey Hill in 1976. Although their catering enterprise flourished, their business and personal relationship soured and Stewart bought out Collier’s portion of the business.

Martha in her Turkey Hill kitchen during her catering days

Meanwhile, through her husband who had become the president of a prominent New York City publisher, Stewart catered a book release party. It was there she was introduced to Alan Mirken head of Crown Publishing. Impressed by Stewart’s talent, Mirken contacted her to develop a cookbook which eventually became Entertaining, a New York Times best seller and the first of many books by Stewart.

Martha's first book and first best seller, Entertaining

It’s at this point that Stewart’s star begins its rise to stellar heights as she starts attracting a national audience. Unfortunately, Stewart’s marriage was not able to survive her growing celebrity and the couple divorced in 1989. Business opportunities happened in quick succession:

· 1990 Stewart begins a weekly half hour television show
· 1993 debuts Martha Stewart Living magazine to coincide with her show
· 1997 Martha Stewart Everyday begins selling products in Kmart
· 1999 MSLO goes public on the NY Stock Exchange
· 2004 finds Stewart convicted of insider stock trading
· 2005 launches the return of Stewart’s highly publicized comeback and return to television
· 2006 Stewart’s daily show is nominated for six emmys
· 2007 Stewart launches an upscale line of housewares for Macy’s
· 2010 MSLO begins its alignment with Home Depot

Emeril Lagasse and Martha on the Martha Stewart Show

Stewart has shown persistence and good humor over the years in the face of the criticism and satire that are the inevitable with public figures. She showed extreme fortitude with the investigation into insider trading in 2003. She has maintained her innocence of all charges but a jury found her guilty of misleading federal investigators and obstructing an investigation. Stewart appealed the conviction but spent five months in prison and five months under house arrest.

Re-runs of Martha can be seen on the Fine Living channel

Through hard work and determination, Stewart went about the business of rebuilding her brand to profitability. She did not shy away from the limelight and instead embraced it. Stewart and her company continue to inspire and engage consumers with unique lifestyle content and high-quality products.

Francesca and Sharkey, Martha's French Bulldogs

Say what you will about Martha Stewart but this gutsy girl from Nutley, New Jersey rose from relative obscurity to command a multi media empire. Martha Stewart is an instinctual survivor with a firm grasp on what it takes to be successful in life and in business.


  1. Bonnie, this is an exquisite "article" on Martha Stewart; I personally love her in spite of what others have said about her. Her style and influence have left a permanent mark on our society and you have presented her career here in such a polished and professional way. YOU BELONG IN A MAGAZINE COMPANY!! Really, I am rooting for ya! If I had connections in the business, I would have you hired as a reporter, editor, writer for a huge magazine!!! Bisous ma chère, Anita

  2. Unlike a lot of people, I really admire M.S. This must have been a very interesting presentation to prepare! I'm glad you included the picture of you DOING the presentation. I think you even look a little like her!

    And re. not visiting me for awhile, please don't worry! (I really DO love the "back and forth" of blog conversations and friendships, though!)

  3. This was a great article. I've never been a huge Martha Stewart fan, but I did admire the way she handled herself during the trial and all the ugly publicity. And I do think she has a wonderful sense of humor. And now that I know she has Frenchies, I may just have to completely change my opinion! Kathy

  4. Bonnie - what a fantastic presentation, I absolutely loved reading it!! I am a huge MS fan, but did not know a lot about her background. Reading this has made my day, thank you for sharing your presentation. I am certain you must have done brilliantly!! Happy day to you - Tina x

  5. Hi there-a very interesting post, she certainly has done very well for herself and I can see how she is an inspiration to a lot of people. Hope you're having a good week too!

  6. Bonnie~~

    I really enjoyed reading this powerful presentation. Martha is a woman I have long admired, especially for her business savvy. My niece worked for her magazine and enjoyed her time there very much before moving on.

    Great post, Bonnie!


  7. Hi Bonnie,
    This is really an interestng post, great job, you deserve an A! I admire Martha too, even in prison she was busy creating and helping women. A lot of people pick on her but she really is a talented lady! Cindy

  8. Oh Bonnie dearest! You found my new blog....I love miniatures and I have been thinking about carving out yet another space to display these lovely things. Thanks for coming by!! Anita

  9. I love Martha Stewart! I may not do everything that she does (who could) but I love her creativity and her business sense! Looks like you gave a wonderful presentation! No doubt, Martha would be proud!



  10. Bonnie dearest, I will come back via email for the details, but I just wanted to thank you for coming by with your congrats! It means the world to me....Anita

  11. Hi Bonnie,

    I think you did Martha proud! That photo of her when she was modeling-wow.
    That woman can do anything!

    Wonderful post, wonderful presentation.

    big hugs,

  12. Hi Bonnie! I love this post! You are've got to admire Martha, no matter what you think of her. I also happen to think she has excellent taste! I don't know that she really does all she showed us on her replace the screens in her doors herself...but I am still a fan! I hope you are staying dry and having pretty weather so that you can go for walks with Sadie! Happy week!...hugs...Debbie

  13. Dear Bonnie,
    This was an excellent presentation. Very interesting. And you are right. Whatever one thinks of Martha Stewart personally, especially through the filter of Saturday Night Live skits and media ambulance chasers, she has always been and still is a remarkable woman.

    I also think that you are very smart to take advantage of continuing your education in the face of this severe economic recession. You have not let the lack of available work keep you from trying to do what you can to improve your chances for good employment when things start to turn around.

    That's a story worth noting too.

    Your friend

  14. Bonnie, I came back today to find out what you're up to! Are you taking another class? How did you come out on the Business Communications one?

  15. Well done! I've always admired Martha. She has exquisite taste and the courage to do what ever she sets her mind to. Thanks for sharing this interesting article.