Westchester’s Most Influential Women: Martha Stewart
the domestic goddess
Photo by Scott Duncan
Is there anything about domestic life that Martha Stewart, founder of the multi-million-dollar publishing and merchandising company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc., has not influenced? The 71-year-old Katonah resident (“I live across from Caramoor,” she says) has her fingerprint on seemingly every aspect of homemaking—from cooking to decorating to gardening to wedding planning. “We are bestowing homemakers with a confidence in their ability to make and have a better home,” she says.
Through her new weekly PBS show, Martha Stewart’s Cooking School; through the glossy pages of her various drop-dead-gorgeous magazines (Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Weddings, Whole Living, and Everyday Food); and through her varied lines of moderately priced home-improvement products (paints, cabinetry, storage items, etc.) and home merchandise (bed and bath textiles, dinnerware, flatware, cookware, etc.), Stewart has pretty much infiltrated most every household in America. In fact, the company she founded in 1997 today reaches some 66 million consumers and has 8,500 products for sale in thousands of stores nationwide.
The grandmother of two does a heck of a lot. Asked how she defines what it is that she does, Stewart, who grew up in Nutley, New Jersey, and graduated from Barnard College, says she covers the “subject of living.” A pretty broad subject, indeed. Nevertheless, she rightly points out that over the years, she has expanded her reach from homemaking to entertaining, and gardening, and raising children, and even philanthropy. She has 600 employees.
“You have to be pretty smart,” Stewart says, to do what she does. “You have to know science, chemistry, nutrition.” But there’s no secret to her success or, actually, she says, to anyone’s success. “It’s hard work, enthusiasm, and creativity.” She goes on, “I enjoy what I do. When I get out of bed in the morning, I can choose what to do. I can garden, cook, play with my grandchildren”—or grow her business even more.
“I’m still building,” Stewart says. “There are lots of areas to explore.” She notes that homemakers now are not only women, but more and more are men. “Our largest growing audience is male,” she says. Will she still be working five or 10 years from now? “You bet!”