Stewart, Martha 1941–
Founding editorial director, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Education: Barnard College, BA, 1963.
Family: Daughter of Edward Kostyra (pharmaceutical salesman) and Martha Ruszkowski (elementary school teacher); married Andrew Stewart (attorney and publisher; divorced, 1989); children: one.
Career: Monness, Williams, and Sidel, 1968–1973, stockbroker; The Uncatered Affair, 1975, caterer (cofounded company with Norma Collier); Market Basket, 1976–1979, gourmet food store manager; Martha Stewart Inc., 1977–1990, caterer; 1982–, author of food, gardening, and decorating books; Martha Stewart Living magazine, 1990–1997, editor-in-chief; Martha Stewart Living television program, 1993–2004, host; Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, 1997–2003, chairman and chief executive officer; 2004–, founding editorial director.
Awards: Daytime Emmy Awards, "Outstanding Service Show Host," 1994–1995 and 1996–1997, and "Outstanding Service Show," 1994–1995, 1998–1999, and 1999–2000; named one of "America's 25 Most Influential People" by Time, 1996; named one of the "50 Most Powerful Women" by Fortune magazine, 1998 and 1999; Edison Achievement Award, American Marketing Association, 1998; National Sales and Marketing Hall of Fame, inducted 1998.
Publications: Entertaining (with Elizabeth Hawes), 1982; Weddings (with Elizabeth Hawes), 1987; Martha Stewart's Christmas, 1989; Martha Stewart's Gardening, Month by Month, 1991; Martha Stewart's Quick Cook: Two Hundred Easy and Elegant Recipes, 1992; Martha Stewart's New Old House: Restoration, Renovation, Decoration, 1992; The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day, 1995.
Address: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, 11 West Forty-second Street, 25th Floor, New York, New York 10036; http://www.marthastewart.com.
■ Martha Stewart transformed a home-based catering business into a multibillion-dollar media franchise centered upon her image as a consummate hostess, food expert, and do-it-yourself decorator. A trusted tastemaker and icon of American domesticity, Stewart skillfully cultivated one of the most recognizable and powerful brands through her award-winning television program, best-selling magazine, and more than 20books on cooking, gardening, and home decor. In 1997 she founded Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, an umbrella company for her diverse publishing, television, online, and merchandising ventures. Stewart's credibility was tarnished in 2002 when she was indicted, and subsequently convicted, on four counts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to government investigators, bringing the future of her company into question.
EARLY LIFE, MODELING, AND MARRIAGE
The second of six children, Stewart was raised by her Polish-Catholic parents in a small, single-family home in Nutley, New Jersey, a working-class suburb near New York City. By all accounts Stewart's father was a strict disciplinarian who instilled in Stewart the value of self-sufficiency as well as a domineering perfectionism. Because of the family's modest means, Stewart and her siblings were required to perform various household chores, through which Stewart became adept at cooking, sewing, and gardening. Though acquiring these skills out of necessity, Stewart later embraced her former chores as hobbies and made a living by showing others how to parlay domestic know-how into evidence of refinement and the good life.
While in high school, Stewart began modeling for upscale department stores in New York City and subsequently appeared in several television commercials and fashion magazines. Intelligent as well as photogenic—traits that would propel her career as a media star—Stewart was offered a full scholarship to New York University but declined in order to attend Barnard College, where she studied art history while supporting herself through modeling. Stewart's modeling career was given a boost in 1961 when she was named by Glamour magazine as one of America's 10 best-dressed college students. Later that year she married Andrew Stewart, a student at Yale Law School. Stewart graduated from Barnard in 1963 and continued modeling in New York while her husband established his law career.
HIGH FINANCE TO HAUTE CUISINE
With the birth of her daughter in 1965, Stewart ceased modeling and decided to pursue an interest in Wall Street trading. Despite her lack of formal training, she landed a position as a stockbroker with Monness, Williams, and Sidel—a small firm at which she excelled and was energized by the sales environment and six-figure salary. Stewart's intuitive business sense and ambition were immediately apparent. However, an economic downturn in 1973 convinced Stewart to abandon high finance, leaving her temporarily unattached as she contemplated alternate career paths.
A year earlier the Stewarts had moved from New York to Westport, Connecticut, a bucolic suburb in which they purchased an old farm house on Turkey Hill Road. Stewart turned her boundless energy to renovating the dilapidated house that would become famous as Stewart's showpiece and base of business operations. During the mid-1970s Stewart began teaching cooking classes out of her home and taking on small catering jobs, through which she quickly established a word-of-mouth reputation for excellence.
In 1975 Stewart and Norma Collier cofounded the Uncatered Affair, a catering business that flourished despite tensions between Stewart and Collier, who resented Stewart's overbearing work style. Over time many of Stewart's business associates and employees would accuse her of being overly demanding, manipulative, and verbally abusive, presenting a seemingly irreconcilable foil to her public persona as a warm and charming hostess. While Stewart's lofty standards and meticulous attention to detail were keys to her success, they also incurred significant personal costs, including the breakup of her marriage in 1989.
After parting ways with Collier, Stewart was hired as the manager of Market Basket, a gourmet food court in a small Westport shopping mall, which she transformed into a booming success. Stewart simultaneously developed her own catering business, Martha Stewart Inc., impressing her celebrity and well-to-do clients with elegant menus and creative presentations that featured her homegrown ingredients and distinctive personal touch. Displaying a knack for self-promotion, Stewart enhanced her reputation by pitching stories about her work and home to local newspapers and by contributing occasional articles on food, gardening, and home decor to such national magazines as Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, and Country Living.
RISE TO NATIONAL PROMINENCE
In 1979 Stewart received a $25,000 advance from Crown Publishing to write her first book, Entertaining, hiring the free-lance writer Elizabeth Hawes to assist her. The finished product, a lavish cookbook and decorating guide embellished with photographs of Stewart's immaculate Turkey Hill home and table settings, was published in 1982. This best-selling book established Stewart's trademark aesthetic—genteel sophistication merged with casual intimacy and everyday practicality—and catapulted her into the media limelight with a national book tour, speaking appearances, and television interviews.
Over the next several years, Stewart published additional food books and a popular wedding planner that extended her name recognition and provided the foundation upon which the Martha Stewart "brand" was built. In 1986 she made her debut as a featured television hostess on "Holiday Entertaining with Martha Stewart," a public television special in which she cheerfully prepared a sumptuous, home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner for her family. The success of the program, which Crown Publishing distributed as a mail-order video, encouraged Stewart to set her sights on additional television opportunities.
In 1987 Stewart signed a lucrative contract with the discount retailer Kmart to serve as the company's lifestyle consultant. While helping Kmart elevate its down-market image by endorsing and promoting an exclusive line of home products, Stewart received valuable national exposure through Kmart's expansive advertising campaign and attracted a growing following of admirers. A long-lasting and highly profitable relationship for Stewart, she continued to sell her popular "Martha Stewart Everyday" products in Kmart stores through 2004.
CREATING A MEDIA FRANCHISE
During the late 1980s Stewart sought to capitalize on her growing fame with a new lifestyle magazine based on the same entertaining and decorating concepts in her best-selling books. In 1990 she convinced Time Warner to publish the magazine Martha Stewart Living, which was an instant success and paved the way for subsequent celebrity-based women's glossies, such as Oprah Winfrey's O and Rosie O'Donnell's Rosie. The next year Stewart signed a 10-year contract with Time Warner for the magazine and spin-off television programs, videos, and books. Stewart's Time Warner deal also included regular appearances on the NBC morning program The Today Show, which enlarged her fan base and provided a prominent cross-promotional platform for her publications.
Stewart's keen entrepreneurial instincts included an ability to understand the advantages of "synergy," a business concept that became popular during the 1990s as such media corporations as Time Warner became increasingly consolidated. Synergy occurs as a product or line of products is marketed cooperatively across multiple advertising and media outlets so that the sum of the various outlets—for example, television, publishing, and retailing—provides greater marketing power than any one medium in isolation. In Stewart's case, her relationships with both Time Warner and Kmart provided opportunities for promoting her publications and products in interrelated news programs, television and magazine features, advertising campaigns, and sponsor tie-ins.
In 1993 Stewart launched a television version of her magazine, also titled Martha Stewart Living, which was produced through a subsidiary of Time and syndicated throughout the country. The program initially aired as a weekly, half-hour series but was soon expanded into a daily, hour-long show as a result of its enormous popularity. With Stewart as the show's wholesome host, the series became one of the most watched morning programs among female viewers and earned several Emmy awards before it was discontinued in 2004.
In 1997 Stewart leveraged her profits from Kmart to buy back her magazine from Time Warner for an estimated $75 million. At the same time, she founded a new company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, over which she presided as chairman and chief executive officer. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia would serve as the parent company of her various media holdings, including Martha Stewart Living magazine and a series of derivative "Best of Martha Stewart Living" books; the spin-off magazines Martha Stewart Weddings, Martha Stewart Kids, and Food Everyday ; her television program, daily radio show, Web site, and syndicated newspaper column called "Ask Martha"; and a mail-order catalog business, Martha by Mail.
Stewart caused a major stir on Wall Street when she took her company public in an initial public offering in October 1999. Stock prices for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia skyrocketed, and Stewart, owner of 60 percent of the company's shares, amassed paper assets worth more than $1 billion almost overnight. In 2000 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia reported profits in excess of $21 million with annual sales of over $285 million. The company continued to grow and prosper over the next two years.
INDICTMENT AND PUBLIC FALL
In 2002 Stewart came under federal investigation for insider stock trading as a result of her suspicious sale of nearly four thousand shares of ImClone stocks on December 27, 2001, the day prior to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement declaring that a promising cancer drug produced by ImClone would not be considered for review. In light of the FDA decision, ImClone's stock price abruptly tumbled. Prosecutors for the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Stewart was acting on a tip from her stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, who reported that ImClone CEO Sam Waksal, one of Stewart's close friends, was dumping his stock in the company. (Waksal subsequently pleaded guilty to six counts of insider trading.)
As a result of the investigation and the intensifying scandal, Stewart relinquished her seat on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange in late 2002. On June 4, 2003, Stewart and Bacanovic were officially indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts of securities fraud, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy—serious criminal charges that carried prison sentences. Though vigorously denying the allegations and defending herself on her Web site and in a paid, full-page editorial in USA Today, Stewart stepped down from her position as chairman and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia on the day of her indictment. She subsequently inserted herself into a newly created position, founding editorial director, from which she continued to head the company.
Amid a media frenzy, Stewart's trial began in a Manhattan courtroom on January 20, 2004. Stewart refused to testify but maintained her innocence throughout the proceedings, despite witness testimony as well as evidence of doctored documents suggesting foul play. Her prior experience as a stockbroker precluded the possibility of arguing that she was ignorant of trading regulations. On March 5, 2004, Stewart was convicted of four counts of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators. On July 16, 2004, Stewart was sentenced to five months in prison, followed by five months of house arrest. She remained free on bail pending an appeal.
IMPACT ON AMERICAN CULTURE AND BUSINESS
Stewart built a media empire and a world-class brand through her superior aesthetic sense and ability to present herself as a living embodiment of simple elegance. During the 1980s and 1990s her quick tips for fine cooking and better decorating appealed to many American women—traditional as well as professional and liberated women—who sought to emulate Stewart's gentrified version of modern homemaking. Instructing her audiences from the staged comfort of her renovated colonial home and beautifully maintained gardens, Stewart showed how sophisticated cuisine and understated home luxury were not the exclusive domain of upper-class New Englanders but were accessible to anyone willing to heed her recommendations. Stewart's judicious taste was encapsulated in her trademark epithet "It's a good thing."
Part of Stewart's business success can be attributed to her realization that she was selling not only products but also information. Her publications and television series were popular because the information Stewart provided was perceived as consistently reliable and useful by her audience. Moreover, she conjured an idealized home life that demonstrated how time-strapped, modern working women could have it all. In contrast to such staid predecessors as Betty Crocker and Julia Child, Stewart represented a thoroughly modern woman—smart, ambitious, and attractive—whose judgments on food, home decor, and style became the unofficial equivalent of the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. By distilling this authority into a powerful brand, Stewart was able to expand into new product lines—from paint to bedding to stationary—on the strength of her name and endorsement alone.
Despite her remarkable business accomplishments and rise as a major player in the male-dominated media industry, Stewart was often the subject of scorn and ridicule. Mocked for her cloying graciousness and condescending explanations of difficult recipes and projects that she performed with effortless perfection, she was also accused in numerous published accounts of displaying a cruel temper and brazen selfishness. It is worth noting, however, that criticism of Stewart's aggressive personality and tendency to micromanage her business suggested a double standard, as these same traits were often deemed praiseworthy in male executives. Stewart's complex identity as a business leader and celebrity had serious implications for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in the wake of her conviction. Because of Stewart's status as the irreplaceable core figure of the company, the fate of her media enterprises—and her own reputation as a pathbreaking entrepreneur—rested heavily upon her continuing popularity in the face of a notoriously fickle public.
See also entry on Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia L.L.C. in International Directory of Company Histories.
sources for further information
Brady, Diane, "Martha Inc.: Inside the Growing Empire of America's Lifestyle Queen," BusinessWeek, January 17, 2000, pp. 62–69.
Byron, Christopher M., Martha Inc.: The Incredible Story of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, New York: John Wiley, 2002.
Crossen, Cynthia, "Martha Stewart Living: Fantasies for $3," Wall Street Journal, March 28, 1991.
Fine, John, "Martha's World," Advertising Age, October 16, 2000, pp. 1–3.
Hales, Linda, "Living Large: Martha Stewart's Global Recipes," Washington Post, January 23, 1997.
Hays, Constance L., "Imagining Business without Stewart," New York Times, March 12, 2004.
——, "Stewart Quits Her Post at Company," New York Times, March 16, 2004.
Henriques, Diana B., "The Cult of Personality vs. Needs of the Market," New York Times, October 12, 1999.
Oppenheimer, Jerry, Martha Stewart—Just Desserts: An Unauthorized Biography, New York: William Morrow, 1997.
Lauer, Josh. "Stewart, Martha 1941–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (May 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3448500549.html
Lauer, Josh. "Stewart, Martha 1941–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Retrieved May 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3448500549.html
Martha Stewart (born 1941) has become more than an author, entertainer, or businesswoman-she is an American icon. She has turned herself into one of the world's strongest brand names and sits atop a $200 million empire built around the ideas of domesticity, style, and elegance.
Born Martha Kostyra on August 3, 1941 into a large Polish-American working class family in Nutley, New Jersey, Stewart's parents raised her to be self-sufficient. Both of her parents were teachers, and they were strict and disciplined at home. These values instilled a strong work ethic in the Kostyra children. At an early age, Stewart helped her three brothers and two sisters trap muskrats and sell the skins for extra money. Stewart's first thoughts about entertaining can be traced to the large Sunday dinners the Kostyras held each week with friends and family. Other chores performed under the watchful eyes of her parents, such as gardening, cooking, and sewing, were necessities to make ends meet in the lean years of her youth.
An excellent student, Stewart began modeling while in high school. In an interview with Morley Safer of 60 Minutes, Stewart recalled those years: "Instead of going to the football games with my friends, I spent my time modeling clothes at Bonwit Teller on 57th Street. I was making, at first, $15 an hour, which was a lot better than the $1 an hour we were getting babysitting." Her girl-next-door appearance and photogenic face made her a favorite with photographers. The money she earned modeling helped Stewart make her way through Barnard College in New York, one of the nations top women's colleges.
While at Barnard, Stewart studied art history. Driven to succeed, she continued modeling, and eventually began appearing in major national and international magazines. Stewart was named one of the ten best-dressed college women in America by Glamour magazine, in 1961. Modeling helped pay her tuition, but she was constantly strapped for money, nonetheless. Stewart took a live-in maid position for two elderly widowed sisters on Fifth Avenue so she could move away from home.
Marriage and Wall Street
Andy Stewart, a young Yale Law School student, entered Stewart's life early in her college years. Described as "love at first sight," the whirlwind courtship ended in marriage on July 1, 1961. They began life as penniless newlyweds living in New York City. Soon, Stewart interrupted her education at Barnard to help support her husband as he finished up at Yale.
By early 1965, Stewart was pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter, Alexis Gilbert, in September. A month later, the Stewarts bought a rundown 19th century schoolhouse in Middlefield, Massachusetts that had no running water or plumbing. Stewart would later recall planting gardens in front of the little house and in Martha Stewart's New Old House, she wrote about "lugging water in large pails from the stream to cook with, wash up with, and drink." It took the Stewarts five years to renovate the house. After her daughter's birth, Stewart's modeling career tapered off. She began looking for other moneymaking ventures.
One evening in 1968, Stewart brought up her career search with some friends and one suggested she call one of his stockbroker friends in New York. Stewart's mix of beauty and brains impressed Andy Monness, a partner in the firm. He hired her on the spot because she was bright, aggressive, and hungry for success. Stewart passed the broker's exam easily and was registered with the New York Stock Exchange in 1968, right after her 27th birthday.
Stewart was successful and soon made a six-figure salary. She traveled to both coasts and led a celebrity lifestyle. Eventually tiring of the city life in New York, the Stewarts bought an old farmhouse in Westport, Connecticut that required more renovation. The house, dubbed Turkey Hill Farm by Stewart, would play a major role in her later career as a caterer and budding lifestyle expert.
Into the early 1970s, Stewart continued her string of successes on Wall Street, while her husband worked as a high-powered corporate attorney. However, the heightening Watergate scandal and uneasiness it caused on Wall Street led to problems for Stewart and the upstart firm where she worked. Unable to deal with the fluctuating market and unhappy that her accounts began losing money, Stewart resigned in 1973.
At age 32, Stewart once again found herself without a career. She retreated to Turkey Hill to decide what she should do next. Turkey Hill proved to be her inspiration. She threw herself into remodeling efforts and ways to improve the old farmhouse. Obsessive cleaning and home improvement projects served as a therapeutic escape for Stewart after the wild years spent on Wall Street.
No one had any idea at the time that Stewart's next move would launch her into the living rooms of millions of people and land her atop a $200 million multimedia empire. The accounts differ regarding Stewart's entry into the catering business: she has said that it grew out of cooking classes held for Alexis and her school friends, while others said it happened after long discussions with friends from Westport. Regardless, catering was an ideal choice for Stewart, ever the perfectionist and very concerned with details.
With partner Norma Collier, the catering company named "Uncatered Affair" was born. For several years, the two friends catered parties and taught cooking classes around Westport. The relationship soured, however, when Stewart's controlling instincts dominated the business. Her need to reign over everything around her proved the old adage about too many cooks in the kitchen.
Stewart's next effort was at the Westport Common Market, which combined an upscale mall and food court. Stewart approached the owners of the mall about running the area and serving freshly prepared food. After charming the owners over lunch at Turkey Hill, Stewart was given the job and a $250 a week salary. She renamed the food area the "Market Basket," and turned the store into a moneymaker. She hired women to cook the food at home and then resold it at the store. Stewart went too far, however, when she told a New York Times reporter that she was the "proprietor" of the shop. The owners fired her shortly after the story ran. Stewart kept this a secret and let people believe she left on her own to spend more time running her catering business.
Stewart got her first taste of national media exposure when People magazine ran a story on her and Andy, who had left legal work to become a publishing executive. The article mentioned how she catered parties for famous Westport residents like Robert Redford and Paul Newman. As her reputation spread, Stewart began getting further national press from Mademoiselle, Bon Appetit, Good Housekeeping, and Country Living. Stewart was hired to be the free-lance food editor for House Beautiful, a national magazine that helped solidify her growing reputation.
Alan Mirken, president of Crown Publishing Group, attended several parties Stewart arranged and was taken by her style, good looks, and talent. After several attempts, Mirken convinced Stewart to write a book and paid her an advance of $35,000, a sum her husband negotiated using his knowledge of the book industry. The resulting book, Entertaining, became a bestseller and propelled Stewart to dizzying heights.
No longer just a successful caterer, she was on her way to becoming a national symbol of good taste and style. With the publication of her second book, Quick Cook, Jerry Oppenheimer wrote in his unauthorized biography Just Desserts, her publisher's goal "was to make her as recognizable as Betty Crocker." Putting out a book a year, Stewart's reputation spread across the nation.
Stewart's first national television appearances were with Willard Scott on the Today show. Scott visited Turkey Hill and viewers saw the Stewarts as they prepared for Thanksgiving. Stewart's true goal, however, was to have her own television show, like her idol, Julia Child. Her first television special and mail-order video appeared in 1986, called Holiday Entertaining with Martha Stewart. Several years later, Stewart would have her own television show, estimated to reach 97 percent of the country.
Stewart's seemingly perfect life has included some sour moments. In early 1987, Andy left her and began divorce proceedings. Years later, recalling the painful split on 60 Minutes, Stewart said, "I know a lot of successful women who are not, at the present time, married. I hope that we could all find a balance, that you could balance a career, you can balance success, you can balance having a garden and having a husband at the same time."
Regardless of her personal situation, Stewart continued to build her business empire. She made a deal with media conglomerate Time Warner to produce her own magazine, Martha Stewart Living, which first appeared in late 1990. The company tied in appearances on the highly popular Today show. Stewart stayed with the program until January 1997 when she left to join CBS's This Morning as part of a package deal with CBS.
Martha Stewart Omnimedia
Always demanding to take full control of her own destiny, Stewart left Time Warner in 1997 to form her own multimedia company. As a result, Stewart was Chairman and CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, a $200 million dollar company. The cornerstone of the company was Stewart herself. Her television show, which appeared on 185 stations, and her radio show, which was carried on 260 stations, were both produced by Omnimedia.
Stewart achieved every goal she has set. Arguably, she was more recognizable than Betty Crocker. Martha Stewart Living magazine had a circulation of 2.1 million. She got 925,000 visitors to her web site every week. Revenues for her K-Mart-sponsored Martha Stewart Everyday collection reached $1 billion. In her free time, Stewart continued to write books (also released in several foreign languages) and had more than 25 bestsellers to her credit.
Like most popular culture icons, Stewart had her supporters and detractors. She was parodied relentlessly on Saturday Night Live and inspired the farcical magazine, Is Martha Stewart Living? However, the number of viewers, readers, and listeners do not lie. Stewart told MSNBC's Matt Lauer, "My whole business has been based on the pursuit of perfection and the pursuit of accuracy and good information and good inspiration. So if I am ever, you know, called difficult to work for, it's by people who really don't care about those qualities in work. But my whole life is based on those qualities."
Labeled "the world's No. 1 living mega-brand" by Fortune magazine, Stewart sits atop an empire built on the simple premise that domesticity is good and should play an important role in society. Perhaps Stewart's entire life can be summed up by the assertion she wrote in her high school yearbook, "I do what I please and I do it with ease."
Oppenheimer, Jerry, Just Desserts, The Unauthorized Biography, Martha Stewart, Avon, 1997.
Forbes, March 22, 1999.
Guardian, April 15, 1996.
Sacramento Bee, June 27, 1997.
San Diego Union-Tribune, July 20, 1997.
Tampa Tribune, September 6, 1997.
Washington Post, March 17, 1996; January 23, 1997.
"She's Martha and You're Not," http://www.salon.com (March 1, 1999). □
"Martha Stewart." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (May 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404707470.html
"Martha Stewart." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Retrieved May 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404707470.html
Stewart, Martha 1941–
STEWART, Martha 1941–
Original name, Martha Helen Kostyra; born August 3, 1941, in Jersey City, NJ; daughter of Edward (a teacher and pharmaceutical salesperson) and Martha (a teacher; maiden name, Ruszkowski) Kostyra; married Andrew "Andy" Stewart (a lawyer and publisher), July 1, 1961 (divorced, 1990 [some sources cite 1989]); children: Alexis "Lexi" Gilbert Stewart (a business owner). Education: Barnard College, B.A., 1963.
Addresses: Office —Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, 20 West 43rd St., 25th Floor, New York, NY 10036.
Career: Producer, show host, correspondent, actress, public speaker, writer, and show creator. Model, c. late 1950s and early 1960s; appeared in commercials for Clairol, Lifebuoy, Tarryton, and American Express; Perlberg, Monness, Williams and Sidel (brokerage firm), stockbroker, c. 1965–73; caterer, beginning 1976; freelance food stylist, c. 1980s; House Beautiful, cooking columnist and food and entertaining editor, c. 1980s; spokesperson for Martha Stewart Everyday line of household goods sold at various places, including Kmart and Sears, beginning 1987; Martha Stewart Living, editor in chief, beginning 1990; Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, New York City, founder, chief creative officer, director, and chairman of the board, later founding editorial director, divisions include Martha Stewart Television and projects include the periodical Everyday Food; member of the board of directors of the Magazine Publishers Association (MPA); affiliated with various charities, including the March of Dimes and the Lupus Foundation.
Awards, Honors: Daytime Emmy Award, outstanding service show host, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2003, Daytime Emmy Award nominations, outstanding service show host, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, Daytime Emmy awards (with others), outstanding service show, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, Daytime Emmy Award nomination (with others), outstanding service show, 2002, James Beard Foundation Award, best national cooking segment, 1998, all for Martha Stewart Living; Publishing Executive of the Year, Adweek, 1996; named one of "America's twenty–five most influential people," Time, 1996; Edison Achievement Award, American Marketing Association, 1998; CEO Summit Award, Home Furnishings News, 1998; National Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame inductee, 1998; named one of the "fifty most powerful women," Fortune, 1998 and 1999; Home Furnishings News Award, top lifestyle/designer, 1999, for Martha Stewart Everyday products; honorary doctor of letters and Visionary Woman Award, both from Moore College of Art and Design, 2002; also named one of the "one hundred most influential women in business" in New York, Crain's New York Business.
Television Appearances; Series:
Herself, Martha Stewart Living, syndicated, 1991–2004.
Correspondent, The Early Show (also known as The Saturday Early Show ), CBS, 1999–2002.
Host, From Martha's Kitchen, The Food Network, beginning 1999.
Host, From Martha's Home, HGTV, beginning 2001.
Host, From Martha Stewart's Garden, HGTV, beginning 2001.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Host, Holiday Entertaining with Martha Stewart, PBS, 1986.
At Home with Martha Stewart—This Christmas, Lifetime, 1989.
The R.A.C.E., NBC, 1989.
Host, Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays, CBS, 1995.
Host, Martha Stewart's Welcome Home for the Holidays, CBS, 1996.
Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1996, ABC, 1996.
Host, Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays—The Family Tree, CBS, 1999.
The Great American History Quiz, History Channel, 1999.
Host, Martha Stewart's Christmas Dream, CBS, 2000.
The Great American History Quiz: The Presidents, History Channel, 2000.
Julia Child's Kitchen Wisdom, PBS, 2000.
Host, Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays, CBS, 2001.
Judge, Miss USA 2001, CBS, 2001.
Martha Stewart in the Holiday Spirit, PBS, 2001.
Martha Stewart: The Best of Everything, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.
Herself, Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2003, ABC, 2003.
Herself, E! 101 Most Shocking Moments in Entertainment History, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
The 23rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, CBS, 1996.
The 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1997.
The 18th Annual American Fashion Awards, E! Entertainment Television, 1999.
The 28th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, NBC, 2001.
The 31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, NBC, 2004.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Late Night with David Letterman, NBC, various episodes, 1989–1992.
Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 1993, various episodes, 1995–2002.
Herself, "Salad Days," Ellen, ABC, 1995.
Herself, "Post–Nasal Dick," 3rd Rock from the Sun (also known as Life As We Know It ), NBC, 1996.
Herself, The Howard Stern Show, E! Entertainment Television, 1996.
Herself, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 1997.
Herself, "Turkey Day," Cosby, CBS, 1998.
The View, ABC, 2001, 2002.
Herself, ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings (also known as World News Tonight with Peter Jennings ), ABC, 2004.
Herself, BBC World News (multiple episodes), BBC, 2004.
Appeared in "It's a Good Thing," Biography, Arts and Entertainment; Baking with Julia, PBS; and The Oprah Winfrey Show (also known as Oprah ), syndicated.
Television Work; Series:
Executive producer and creator, Martha Stewart Living, syndicated, 1991–2004.
Creator, From Martha's Kitchen, The Food Network, beginning 1999.
Television Executive Producer; Specials:
At Home with Martha Stewart—This Christmas, Lifetime, 1989.
Martha Stewart's Welcome Home for the Holidays, CBS, 1996.
Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays—The Family Tree, CBS, 1999.
Martha Stewart's Christmas Dream, CBS, 2000.
Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays, CBS, 2001.
Martha Stewart in the Holiday Spirit, PBS, 2001.
Television Creator; Specials:
Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays, CBS, 1995.
Martha Stewart's Welcome Home for the Holidays, CBS, 1996.
Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays—The Family Tree, CBS, 1999.
Martha Stewart's Christmas Dream, CBS, 2000.
Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays, CBS, 2001.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Style Network are slated to produce a series of specials about weddings.
(Uncredited) Herself, What Women Want, Paramount, 2000.
Herself, Big Trouble, Buena Vista, 2002.
Herself, Men in Black II (also known as MIB 2 and MIIB ), Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2002.
(Uncredited) Herself, The Corporation, Zeitgeist Films, 2004.
Radio Appearances; Episodic:
Herself, The Howard Stern Show, 1996.
Appeared in "Ask Martha," a series of sixty–second spots airing on Westwood One stations.
Martha Stewart's Secrets of Entertainment (video series, includes the videos An Antipasto Party, A Buffet Party for Family and Friends, A Formal Dinner Party, and A Holiday Feast for Thanksgiving and Other Festive Occasions ), Crown Video, 1988.
Various artists, Martha Stewart Baby: Sleepytime, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, 2001.
Stewart's recipes have been included with various sound recordings.
At Home with Martha Stewart—This Christmas, Lifetime, 1989.
(With Elizabeth Hawes) Entertaining, photographs by Michael Skott and others, C. N. Potter, 1982.
Martha Stewart's Quick Cook, photographs by Michael Geiger, Clarkson Potter, 1983.
Martha Stewart's Hors D'oeuvres: The Creation and Presentation of Fabulous Finger Foods, photographs by Peter Bosch, C. N. Potter, 1984.
Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts, photographs by Beth Galton, C. N. Potter, 1985.
(With Hawes) Weddings, photographs by Christopher Baker, C. N. Potter, 1987.
Martha Stewart's Quick Cook Menus: Fifty–Two Meals You Can Make in under an Hour, photographs by Baker, C. N. Potter, 1988.
The Wedding Planner, photographs by Baker, Crown, 1988.
Martha Stewart's Christmas: Entertaining, Decorating, and Giving, photographs by Baker, C. N. Potter, 1989.
Martha Stewart's Gardening, Month by Month, photographs by Elizabeth Zeschin, Clarkson Potter, 1991.
Martha Stewart's New Old House: Restoration, Renovation, Decoration, Clarkson Potter, 1992.
Martha Stewart's Quick Cook: Two Hundred Easy and Elegant Recipes, Crown, 1992.
Holidays: Recipes, Gifts and Decorations, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Clarkson Potter, 1993.
Martha Stewart's Menus for Entertaining, photographs by Dana Gallagher, Clarkson Potter, 1994.
Handmade Christmas: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, Clarkson Potter, 1995.
The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day, Clarkson Potter, 1995.
Special Occasions: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, Clarkson Potter, 1995.
What to Have for Dinner: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, Oxmoor House, 1995.
How to Decorate: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, Oxmoor House, 1996.
Great Parties: Recipes, Menus, and Ideas for Perfect Gatherings: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, C. Potter, 1997.
Martha Stewart's Healthy Quick Cook: Four Seasons of Great Menus to Make Every Day, photographs by James Merrell, C. Potter, 1997.
Desserts: Our Favorite Recipes for Every Season and Every Occasion: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, Oxmoor House, 1998.
Decorating Details: Projects and Ideas for a More Comfortable, More Beautiful Home: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, C. Potter, 1998, published as Martha Stewart Living: Decorating Details, Oxmoor House, 1998.
Arranging Flowers: How to Create Beautiful Bouquets in Every Season: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, C. Potter, 1999.
Favorite Comfort Food: A Satisfying Collection of Home Cooking Classics, C. Potter, 1999.
Christmas with Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, 2000.
Martha Stewart Living's Cookbook, 2000.
Halloween: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, Crown, 2001.
(Creator with Hannah Milman) Great American Wreaths: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, photographs by William Abranowicz, Oxmoor House, 1996.
Good Things: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, text by Amy Conway, Oxmoor House, 1997.
Author of column "Ask Martha," published in various newspapers; contributor to various periodicals, including Cosmopolitan and Newsweek.
American Decades 1990–99, Gale, 2001.
Business Leader Profiles for Students, Volume 2, Gale, 2002.
Byron, Christopher M., Martha, Inc.: The Incredible Story of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, John Wiley & Sons, 2002, updated edition, 2003,.
Oppenheimer, Jerry, Martha Stewart—Just Desserts: The Unauthorized Biography, William Morrow, 1997.
Shields, Charles J., Martha Stewart, Chelsea House, 2001.
Business Week, January 17, 2000.
Fortune, February 4, 2002, p. 22.
New Republic, May 13, 1996, pp. 30–35.
Newsweek, December 11, 1995, p. 74.
New York, January 28, 1991.
People Weekly, December 13, 1999, p. 219.
Rosie, June, 2002, pp. 78–79, 82, 84, 86.
Time, June 17, 1996, p. 74.
U.S. News & World Report, March 3, 1997, p. 59.
Martha Stewart Omnimedia, http://www.marthastewart.com, May 17, 2004.
"Stewart, Martha 1941–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (May 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3428000162.html
"Stewart, Martha 1941–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. 2004. Retrieved May 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3428000162.html
Martha Stewart first offered help to "curious homemakers" with her 1982 book Entertaining. Driven to be rich and famous, Stewart went on to build a media empire based on showing others how to live tastefully and well. She shared her knowledge of food, home decor, gardening, and entertaining with an eager audience. Stewart has defined simple elegance and style for a generation of Americans and a growing number of customers around the world.
Martha Kostyra Stewart was born on August 3, 1941, in Jersey City, New Jersey. She was the second of six children and eldest daughter of Edward and Martha Kostyra. Her grandparents were Polish immigrants. Stewart grew up in Nutley, New Jersey, where her parents lived in a simple middle-class home. As a child, she learned about carpentry and gardening from her father, a salesman. In one of her magazines, Stewart wrote that she also inherited Mr. Kostyra's "fiery temper."
"I always considered myself the ideal [Martha Stewart] customer, the perfect example of the curious homemaker who needs help.… I wanted to be comprehensive, expansive, all encompassing. I wanted to take a subject, not a brand. I took the subject of living."
Stewart showed an early interest in entertaining, sometimes organizing birthday parties for neighborhood children. By her teen years, Stewart developed several other traits that stayed with her as an adult. She rarely slept more than three or fours a night, and she was driven to succeed in everything she did. That perfectionism helped her earn straight A's in high school and acceptance into Barnard, a prestigious women's college in New York City.
To help pay for college, Stewart modeled clothes in department stores and appeared in commercials, continuing work she had begun in high school. Blonde and pretty, she found many modeling jobs, and in 1961 Glamour magazine named her one of the ten best-dressed college women in the United States.
Searching for a Career
Later in 1961, Stewart married Andy Stewart, a law student. (Martha and Andy Stewart divorced in 1990.) She left Barnard to model until her husband graduated. Stewart then returned to Barnard, and in 1964 she received a degree in art history. She kept modeling until the birth of her daughter Alexi in 1965, and for several years Stewart was a mother and homemaker. During that time, she and her husband spent many weekends fixing up a vacation house they bought in western Massachusetts. Stewart had the chance to develop the renovating and gardening skills she would display later on. She also hosted many parties at her home in New York, sharpening her love of cooking and entertaining. A friend from that period said in Just Desserts, "Martha was always a step ahead.… She had an eye for what was good, what was fresh, and what was expressive of that particular moment."
In an interview on 60 Minutes, Stewart recounted that her first high school modeling jobs paid $15 an hour, "which was a lot better than the $1 an hour we were getting babysitting."
By 1968, Stewart was eager to return to full-time work. Through friends, she landed a job as a stockbroker. For the next five years, she excelled in the position, which in a 1991 New York interview she called "the most enthusiastic and daring job I could have." In 1973, however, the U.S. economy slid into a recession, an economic downturn that forced companies to cut jobs and consumers to invest less money. Stewart quit her job, and she and her family moved to an old farmhouse in Westport, Connecticut.
Once again, Stewart spent many hours fixing up a home. In 1976, when the project was complete, Stewart was eager to try another career, this time drawing on her love of food. Out of a kitchen in her basement, Stewart began a catering business. Working with a series of partners, Stewart catered weddings, parties, and other events. As always, she wanted every affair to be perfect, and she sometimes showed her temper when things went wrong.
Stewart finally went into business on her own, running a store called the Market Basket. Located in a mini-mall, the Market Basket sold a variety of gourmet foods and craft items. Stewart was supposed to make the food herself, but instead she hired others to cook for her. A disagreement with the owners at the mini-mall forced Stewart out of the Market Basket, so she opened her own store. Food, she found, was her true calling, and soon Stewart was ready to expand her business.
Living like Martha
Stewart's food business led to assignments writing about food for several magazines. In 1982, it also led to her first book, Entertaining. Not just a cookbook, the book included Stewart's memories of her family and the events that brought her to the catering business. She described cooking for friends while in high school and a 1964 trip to Europe that sparked her curiosity about fine dining. The book sold well, but it also stirred trouble. Several cooks and food writers noticed that Stewart had stolen recipes and passed them off as her own. One of these writers was Barbara Tropp. Tropp told Jerry Oppenheimer she recognized recipes she herself had created and published in magazines. "It was clear to me," she said, "that Martha Stewart had lifted my work without attribution."
The controversy, however, did not seem to bother consumers, who loved Entertaining and Stewart's subsequent books. In 1990, Stewart reached a new audience when she introduced Martha Stewart Living magazine. By then, she had already appeared frequently on television and made an arrangement with Kmart to sell household items with her name on them.
Martha Meets Her Match
Within Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc, Martha Stewart relies heavily on the skills of company president and chief operating operator (COO) Sharon Patrick. The two met in 1993 while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. Four years later, Patrick led the negotiations that helped Stewart buy Martha Stewart Living from publisher Time Warner. After the sale, a Time official told Business Week, "Without Sharon there would have been no deal." Patrick also played an important role in negotiating a new deal between Stewart and Kmart.
Born in San Diego, Diego, on December 30, 1942, Patrick graduated from Stanford University in 1967 and earned a master's of business administration (MBA) from Harvard. During the 1970s, she worked briefly in the U.S. government before turning to marketing and the media. Patrick and Stewart discussed business as they made their Kilimanjaro climb, and Stewart told Business Week in 1997, "I admired her ability to put everything down in a clear business plan."
Like Stewart, Patrick brings out strong reactions—both positive and negative—from business associates. Critics call her ruthless or a bit of a snob. Patrick responded to those charges in a 1997 Business Week article: " Sure I'm demanding. But so are [business executives] Lou Gerstner and Lee Iacocca. If I were a man, I'd be called a great leader."
As Stewart's company grew, other writers saw they could make money poking fun at her. Humor books such as Is Martha Stuart Living? and Martha Stuart's Better than You at Entertaining focused on her drive for perfection in cooking and decorating. Stewart's attention to detail and desire for homemade items required time and patience that many Americans lacked. Even so, many consumers still dreamed of living as she did.
The Martha Empire
In 1997, Stewart bought Martha Stewart Living from its publisher and combined all her products into a new company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. She continued expanding the company and giving customers useful information. In 2000, Stewart told Maclean's, "We've built our brand based on our reputation as providers of trusted content." For Stewart, quality also meant making sure every product carrying her name met her standards. In her 2000 interview with Adweek, Stewart said, "I wash the sheets myself. I count the stitches… we care that we're not disappointing anybody."
The growth of her company, however, has forced Stewart to begin giving more responsibility to others. In the beginning, she read every word in every article in her magazines, and she developed a reputation as a hard-driving perfectionist who always had to be in control. Still, she continues at a frantic pace, rising early each weekday morning to exercise before heading to her office. And as Stewart told Business Week in a 2000 interview, "If there is something really bad, I'll step in to fix it."
Someday, Stewart knows, the company may have to go on without her. It is nearly impossible, however, to separate Martha Stewart the business from Martha Stewart the person. As she told Business Week, "I have imbued this company with a tremendous amount of my spirit and artistic philosophy."
Everybody Loves Martha?
Along the way, Martha Stewart has stirred a number of critics. Some make fun of her drive for perfection, and her assumption that people have hours to spend making elaborate holiday decorations or cooking gallons of homemade chicken broth. Others say Stewart promotes materialism—the constant search for expensive goods and style—which tends to make people ignore more important issues in life. On a personal level, Stewart's critics have called her dishonest and mean. As one unnamed former colleague told People in 1999, "She has stepped on a lot of people climbing to the top." jerry Oppenheimer, who wrote the Stewart biography just Desserts, found "feelings about this woman ran high: People either loved her or they hated her."
For More Information
Oppenheimer, Jerry. Martha Stewart: Just Desserts. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1997.
Dugan, 1. Jean. "Someone's in the Kitchen with Martha." Business Week (July 28, 1997).
Hayes, Constance L. "Committee Is Frustrated by Stewart." New York Times (August 12, 2002).
Heim, Sarah J. "MarthaStewart.com." Adweek Eastern Edition (November 12, 2001): p. 6.
"Martha, Inc." Business Week (January 17, 2000): p. 62.
"Martha Stewart Asked to Be Cleared In June, House Aide Says." New York Times (August 13, 2002).
McMurdy, Deirdre. "A Brand Called Martha." Maclean's (December 4, 2000): p. 49.
O'Neill, Anne-Marie. "Martha's Midas Touch." People Weekly (December13, 1999): p. 219.
Schrage, Michael. "Martha Stewart." Adweek Eastern Edition (February 14, 2000): p. 18.
Wells, Melanie. "Overcooked." Forbes (March 19, 2001): p. 176.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. [On-line] http://www.marthastewart.com (accessed on August 16, 2002).
"Stewart, Martha." Leading American Businesses. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. (May 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3498000080.html
"Stewart, Martha." Leading American Businesses. 2003. Retrieved May 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3498000080.html
Martha Stewart, 1941–, American entrepeneur and tastemaker, b. Jersey City, N.J., as Martha Helen Kostyra, grad. Barnard College (1963). Moving to Westport, Conn., she started (1976) a successful catering business. Her best-selling first book, Entertaining (1982, with E. Hawes), has been followed by some 40 other stylish how-to volumes, and in 1990 she launched Martha Stewart Living magazine, which was followed by other specialty publications. She also entered syndication with a popular newspaper column and a television show (1993), becoming an ubiquitous popular instructor in matters of style, cooking, home decor, gardening, and other aspects of the good life. Stewart also put her imprint on a wide-ranging line of tastefully designed household merchandise. Her publicly traded Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc., made her one of America's wealthiest women, but her success was marred by her conviction (2004) for conspiracy and obstruction relating to insider trading. Forced to resign from MSLO, she served several months in prison and under house arrest, but resumed her media career after her release.
See biography by L. Allen (2006); C. M. Byron, Martha Inc. (2002); B. Adler, ed., The World According to Martha (2006).
"Stewart, Martha." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. (May 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-StewrtMrtha.html
"Stewart, Martha." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved May 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-StewrtMrtha.html