Guest Author - Carol Taller
Martha Stewart, best known as an American business magnate and media personality, was born August 3, 1941. She was born Martha Kostyra and grew up in Nutley, New Jersey.
Martha was the second of six children and began working as a model by the age of 13. She attended Barnard College on a partial scholarship and continued modeling to pay her bills. She met her husband Andy Stewart while they were both still in school and they married in 1961.
After giving birth to their daughter Alexis, Martha worked as a Wall Street stockbroker. She remained there until the family moved to Westport, Connecticut, where she put her efforts into restoring their 19th-century farm house.
She then began to focus on cooking, and eventually opened up her own catering business from the basement of her Connecticut home. Her reputation as a domestic diva grew, and she became known for gourmet meals with creative presentation. She attracted celebrity and corporate clients as Martha Stewart, Inc., grew into a million-dollar business within ten years.
Her first book Entertaining was a huge success, leading to television appearances and more books. She launched Martha Stewart Living magazine in 1990, and her success had an impact on her personal life. She and Andy Stewart divorced in 1990.
Martha became one of the country’s wealthiest women. Her face was everywhere, including on unauthorized biographies, and she was sometimes the subject of great ridicule. On October 19, 1999, her company went public on the New York Stock Exchange. At the end of the day her company was worth $1.2 billion dollars, and she had control of 96 percent of the voting shares.
In June of 2002 Martha went under investigation for insider trading. She was not indicted for insider trading, but she was found guilty for the cover-up. Throughout everything she maintained her innocence, but she resigned as CEO and chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Martha was sentenced to five months in prison, five months of home probation, and two years’ probation. Martha served her term in Alderson, West Virginia, and was released in March 2005. She then served her five months of house arrest in her home in Bedford, New York. She was allowed to conduct business while wearing and ankle bracelet to monitor her movements.
The business she established continued to grow even through her incarceration and added new publications, including Everyday Food and Body & Soul.