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.
The Martha Stewart Crafts line, featuring a wide array of materials for paper crafting and scrapbooking, debuted at Michael's stores in the U.S. and Canada in 2007.
. Hosts Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer join Martha to toast Jessica and Cody Helgeson with Moet and Chandon Champagne from a personalized bottle.
MSLO launched Martha Stewart-branded area rugs with Safavieh in 2007.
In 2007, MSLO and Flor launched Martha Stewart-branded carpet tiles.
In 2007, Kirkland Signature Martha Stewart Favorite Holiday Ham launched at Costco Wholesale warehouses nationwide. It's the first in a series of food products that launched at the retailer throughout 2008.
In 2007, Clarkson Potter/Publishers and MSLO announced a 10-book collaboration over five years, which later expands to 12 books. A best-seller from 2008:
In 2008, MSLO acquired the Emeril Lagasse franchise, including television programming, cookbooks, digital, licensed kitchen products, and food products.
In 2008, MSLO and 1800flowers.com launched a new co-branded flowers program. Here, Martha and 1800flowers.com CEO, Jim McCann, announce their new collaboration at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York's Times Square.
In November 2008,
, a book filled with lessons, techniques, and recipes for the home cook, debuted on The New York Times Best-Seller List in the Advice/How-To category.
In 2008, MSLO invested in Pingg, a stylish and functional online invitation and event-planning company, and in 2009, unveiled Martha Stewart-designed online invitations and entertaining ideas on pingg.com.
In 2009, MSLO launched a multiplatform pets initiative, starting with the Pets channel on marthastewart.com, providing fresh ideas and information related to pet care and the joys of animal companionship, plus a blog from the perspective of Martha's French Bulldogs, Francesca and Sharkey, called The Daily Wag.
In April, Martha was also awarded the ASPCA Presidential Service Award.
Published in March 2009:
contains complete instructions and brief histories for more than 30 techniques, projects, and templates for crafters of all skill levels.
In 2009, MSLO partnered with Crane & Co. to release a line of stationery products, beginning with Martha Stewart Weddings Stationery.
On July 9, 2009, the number of Martha's followers on Twitter hit the one million mark, making her one of the most popular figures on the social networking site.
In 2011, Martha became a grandmother when her daughter Alexis had a daughter named Jude. A grandson, Truman, joined the family a year later.
Martha's a welcome guest in people's homes several times a week, thanks to her two PBS shows, Martha Bakes and Martha Stewart Cooking School, which started in 2011 and 2012, respectively. On her shows, she shares her personal techniques and favorite recipes so viewers can also feel like a master of the kitchen.
2011 was an extra-special year for Martha—she was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame that year!
Martha joined fellow celebs and comedians for Comedy Central's roast of Justin Bieber and proved to be the star of the show with her hilarious advice.
Martha's dream of having her own café finally became a reality in 2015 when she opened up the Martha Stewart Café in New York City. The coffee shop sells Martha's favorite hot drinks, pastries, and more.
Martha and pal Snoop Dogg started their own cooking show, Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party, in 2016, where they cook delicious recipes, chat with friends and have a whole lot of fun.
Since 2018, Martha's been a recurring judge on the Food Network show Chopped. Her extensive knowledge of food and recipes has made her a fan favorite! She's also served as a judge on Masterchef Junior.
In February, Martha announced a partnership with Canopy Growth, one of the largest marijuana producers in North America. In the advisory role, Martha plans to help the company develop a new line of hemp-based, cannabidiol-infused products aimed at improving the holistic health of pets.