The Martha Timeline: The Story of Our Founder's Life from Childhood to Present Day
When you hear the name Martha Stewart, you probably think of her in relation to the empire she's built: magazines, homewares, TV shows, books, and everything else she's created to help people live a more beautiful, inspiring life. But long before she was a lifestyle expert and a household name, Martha was one of six children who would pursue modeling and a career as a stockbroker before realizing her true calling.
Martha's rise from New Jersey girl to the most trusted expert in home, entertaining, and food is as inspiring as her current life as a successful entrepreneur. Growing up, her mother, Big Martha, was her "greatest teacher." She instilled in her a love of cooking, among many other things, which would go on to serve her well, along with the fanbase she'd build with her cookbooks, cooking show, and beyond.
Martha left her home state of New Jersey to attend Barnard College in New York City, where she majored in history and architectural history and did modeling on the side to earn some extra money, something she'd been doing since high school. After college, Martha became an institutional stockbroker. "The job taught me so much about what it takes to build a real business, a real company—a meaningful and useful enterprise," she has said of the experience.
So, how did she go from being a twenty-something model and stockbroker to an international icon? Read on to learn more about Martha Stewart's fascinating history and her path to success.
Martha was born Martha Kostyra in New Jersey in 1941. She was the second of Edward and Martha's six children. Here, Martha poses with her whole family—her parents and all five of her siblings (from left, Frank, Kathryn, Martha, Laura, Erik, and George).
Growing up in Nutley, New Jersey, Martha was close with her mother, who was often called Big Martha. Both of Martha's parents were do-it-yourselfers from whom she learned countless lessons, but she calls her mother, who taught her many of her classic recipes, her greatest teacher—and not just because they share a name!
Here's the Kostyra family home at 86 Elm Place in New Jersey around 1950. Martha has made many homes beautiful throughout her life, but this is where it all started.
In high school, the five-foot-nine-inch tall Martha turned to modeling to make some extra money. Not only was she in advertisements and magazines, she also appeared in television commercials in the '50s and '60s!
Martha left New Jersey to attend university at Barnard College in New York City. There, she studied History and Architectural History, majors that would serve her well in her future career. To help pay for her tuition, she continued modeling, appearing on fashion runways and in ads for brands like Breck, Clairol, and Lifebuoy Soap.
Martha didn't just study and model in college. She also married Andrew Stewart while she was in school. He was a student at Yale Law School when they tied the knot in 1961, and Martha wore—what else?!—a dress she made with her mother.
After graduating from college and getting married, Martha took up a career as an institutional stockbroker. Here, you can see her on her daily commute from her apartment on the Upper West Side to work on lower Broadway.
The Stewarts bought their first home, Turkey Hill, in Westport, Connecticut, in 1970. The historic farmhouse was just $46,750 when they bought it, and by the time Martha moved out in 2007, she'd bought the surrounding four acres and turned it into a full-on farmstead, complete with renovations of the house, a barn, and more.
Martha's daughter, Alexis, was born in 1965. Here, you can see an eight-year-old Alexis helping her mother in a classic Martha pursuit—painting the clapboard of the Turkey Hill house.
Martha eventually left Wall Street and decided to open a catering company from her kitchen. She made everything from scratch, and the recipes she used eventually became the basis for her famous cookbooks.
In 1982, Martha published her first book, Entertaining, which is now in its 30th printing.
The first preview issue of
Martha Stewart Living
was published in winter 1990. In 1991, Martha Stewart and Time Publishing Ventures launched
Martha Stewart Living
as a quarterly magazine.
Martha Stewart Living
In 1992, Martha Stewart Living TV launched as a weekly half-hour syndicated show.
In 1994, Martha Stewart Weddings magazine launched as an annual publication.
In 1997, Martha Stewart Everyday bed, bath, and paint collections launched exclusively at Kmart.
In 1998, Martha Stewart Everyday kitchen textiles, window treatments, and bath accessories launched at Kmart.
In 1999, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia went public on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 2000, the Martha Stewart Everyday Kitchen collection launched at Kmart.
In 2003, MSLO published the first issue of Everyday Food magazine.
In 2003, MSLO also launched the Martha Stewart furniture line with Bernhardt.
In 2004, MSLO acquires Body+Soul magazine and Dr. Andrew Weil's Self Healing newsletter.
Following the success of its namesake magazine, the Everyday Food television program launched on PBS in 2005.
In 2005, Martha Stewart Living Radio launched on Sirius Satellite Radio's channel 112.
In 2005, NBC began airing
The Martha Stewart Show
, a nationally syndicated lifestyle series hosted by Martha.
Martha shares the secrets to her success in her 2005 book, The Martha Rules: 10 Essentials for Achieving Success as You Start, Build, or Manage a Business.
MSLO and KB Home unveiled their first co-branded community near Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2006.
In 2006, Clarkson Potter published the best-selling book
In 2007, the Martha Stewart Collection exclusively at Macy's launched nationwide.
MSLO and Generation Brands launched Martha Stewart-branded lighting in 2007.