Museum immortalizes Mary Kay's quirky success

August 20, 1993|By Nancy Kruh | Nancy Kruh,Dallas Morning News

Take a stroll through the new Mary Kay Museum and you're left with the distinct impression that cosmetics company founder Mary Kay Ash is either a dynamic entrepreneur with incredible foresight or simply a woman who can't throw anything away. Maybe she's both.

Consider some of the things that the Dallas businesswoman thought to keep and are now on display:

Her original checkbook register that recorded the frugalities of LTC the billion-dollar company's first years (including balance corrections, fortunately additions, of $34.72 and $15.94, as well as the gleeful notation: "Wow! We're making money!")

The first Mary Kay consultant's makeup case purchased at Woolworth's for $4.95, which looks more like something a third-grader would pack for a slumber party.

An early advertisement featuring "before" and "after" photos of Ms.

Ash herself; the first, an almost unrecognizable Mary Kay with a Jane Wyman-style perm, the second with the trademark blond bouffant and the accompanying caption: "Time seems to have reversed itself!"

Such unexpected mementos are among the many offerings in the newly opened museum that celebrates the success, the flamboyance and, make no mistake, the quirkiness of the 30-year-old Dallas-based company.

Assembled to commemorate the company's 30th anniversary, the museum is 3,000 square feet of sumptuous marble and exotic woods, gleaming display cases, and four slickly produced videos.

Every penny and every inch has gone into telling the Mary Kay story:

How a self-described grandmother with 25 years' direct sales experience created a marketing plan for a new line of skin-care products. How, in 1963, her husband suddenly died just as they were starting up the business together and her 20-year-old son, Richard Rogers, stepped into the breach. How the company began with nine "beauty consultants" (don't call them saleswomen) and within two years had recruited almost 850 more. How Mary Kay Cosmetics now boasts 300,000 consultants worldwide, annual retail sales of more than a billion dollars, and operations in 19 countries.

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