Martha Stewart, considered by many to be the deity of dried floral arrangements
, is often viewed as a quiet, elegant woman who has a wonderful knack for interior design
. Others, however, know her as her own apparent foil
; an arrogant, foul-mouthed individual with a temper that can shame the most Latin
of men. Undisputed, though, is her shrewdness as a business woman, and her seemingly limitless drive.
Martha, despite her demeanor of sheer elegance
, was actually born to quite a humble family on August 3rd, 1941 in Jersey City, New Jersey
. Their parents, Martha and Edward Kostyra, a schoolteacher and pharmaceuticals salesman, respectively, were characterized by an unrelenting ambition for their children. Edward began teacher Martha gardening
at the age of 3, roughly the same age her mother began giving her the skills cooking, baking, and sewing. This rubbed off on Martha, apparently, as she was a very hard-working person, both at home, and in her studies, which eventually earned a partial scholarship to Barnard College
in New York City
. Off shooting some of the costs of college by working as a part-time model, Martha originally intended on studying chemistry, but shortly changed her major to art, European history and architectural history.
After graduating and marrying her husband, Andrew Stewart, Martha continued a successful modeling career until she had her first child in 1965. Shortly afterward, she followed in her father-in-law's path and became a professional stockbroker until the crash of 1973 when she left to move to Westport, Connecticut
. In 1976, she began a catering business with a college friend, who was eventually bought out. After 10 years of running this operation out of the basement of her farmhouse, it became a $1 million dollar enterprise
. Throughout the 1980s, Martha's business boomed and she wrote columns for magazines and papers such as the New York Times
, House Beautiful
, Family Circle
, and her own Martha Stewart Living
. She also increased her product line through television appearances, seminars (which usually earned her $10,000 each), books, and consulting contracts with companies such as K-Mart.
In 1990, Martha got what she long considered her dream; a half-hour show dedicated to teaching everyday women how to entertain and decorate, cook and bake, garden and craft, named Martha Stewart Living, after her magazine. Seeking further control and consolidation over the multitude of branches of her business, Martha established Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
. By the end of 1999, her company was doing well over $240 million dollars in sales a year. Even further good news came at the IPO
in October of 2000, where in a day's time, she made over one billion dollars.
However, not all is good in Marthaville. On May 21st, 1997, in an action that many people close to her say is typical, allegedly tried to run over and pin down a neighbor who she was having a dispute over a shared fence with. Although no charges were ever filed, many give this as one of the most blatant examples of the anger she possesses.
The biggest threat remains questions involving shady business practices she has engaged in. On December 27th, 2001, Stewart sold almost 4000 shares of pharmaceutical
company ImClone Systems, Inc
. whose CEO is a friend of Stewart's. The very next day, the FDA announces that it will not be approving ImClone's chief drug Erbitux
, a cancer-fighter, sending stock prices plunging. Martha denies any involvement in the situation and says that the sale was a preconditioned sale negotiated with her broker before hand. The problem is, the investigators cannot find any conclusive proof that this agreement was ever made. On June 4th, a federal grand jury
indicted her for 9 counts, including perjury, obstruction of justice, and securities
fraud, which were plead Not Guilty. Later the same day, Stewart stepped down as CEO of OmniMedia.
The outcome of Martha Stewart's legal problems remains to be seen, but no matter what, Martha Stewart, in her incredible entrepreneurship and massive fortune
, will remain steadfast.