The term “household name” might as well have been invented for Martha Stewart. In the United States, few celebrity chefs have achieved her level of astronomical fame and adoration, and even fewer (if any) have created such an extensive brand and media empire. Born August 3rd, 1941, Stewart has for decades been America’s most prominent homemaking and cooking personality. Television, magazines, radio programs, books, home furnishing and kitchenware brands, websites, and endless recipes—Stewart’s numerous ventures have made her one of the nation’s most recognizable faces.
But she hasn’t always been the ‘lifestyle guru’ she is today. In fact, she started out as a model and then became a stock broker. It wasn’t until the age of 40, when Stewart started a catering business and was recognized by a publishing executive for her talent, that she began a third career that would eventually make her famous. What started as a cookbook deal grew into multiple cookbooks, numerous newspaper columns, television appearances, and eventually her own show and the rest of her extensive business and media empire.
In the thousands of hours she’s spent in front of the camera, through the thousands of pages written and the innumerable recipes enjoyed by millions of people, Martha Stewart has made a massive contribution to American culture and the common knowledge of American cuisine and lifestyle. The trademarks of the Martha Stewart brand—simple, classic elegance, time honored techniques and style—have permeated American popular culture and life in the home. In the process of building that
influence and recognition, she’s made fine dining accessible to millions of home cooks, and helped shape the modern American home kitchen. While her impact is felt mostly in that country, Stewart has also made efforts to expand her image abroad and bring Martha Stewart Living to new overseas markets.
However, things haven’t been all smooth sailing for the media mogul. A series of legal troubles in recent years have, for some, tarnished her image as America’s wholesome, perfectionist lifestyle role model. She served prison time in 2004-2005 after a conviction of insider trading, and has been the target of multiple lawsuits related to her business endeavors. Stewart herself is quick to reject ‘silver-linings’ interpretations of her legal issues. As she explains, “Obstacles and business difficulties don’t necessarily make anyone a better person. Lawsuits and legal difficulties can easily harm a business if it has weakness and bad management".
For the most part, Stewart’s fans have stood by her, and while her brand may have less appeal for younger generations, she’s shown her ability to reinvent herself for the times with projects like Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, a cooking show hosted together with superstar hip-hop artist and fellow entrepreneur Snoop Dogg. On paper, the two personalities couldn’t be further apart—America’s queen of traditional homemaking and etiquette and a rapper from the streets of LA with an infamous penchant for cannabis—but they have a surprising chemistry on camera, and the show has renewed Stewart’s relevance for the millennial generation.
But that’s not her only self-reinvention. She’s also ventured into the sitcom world with the series Tao of Martha , about a party girl who uses Martha Stewart as an inspiration for turning her life around, and a 3D printing business providing materials for 3D printing elegant housewares. Throughout all of her numerous accomplishments and evolutions, determination and discipline are the motivating force. As she explains, “I think baking cookies is equal to Queen Victoria running an empire. There's no difference in how seriously you take the job, how seriously you approach your whole life".
Martha Stewart has starred in and/or produced several television shows, including Martha Stewart Living , the Martha Stewart Show , Everyday Food , the Martha Stewart Cooking School , The Apprentice: Martha Stewart , and Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party . Stewart has also authored or co-authored more than 85 books, including Entertaining , Martha Stewart's Quick Cook Menus, Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres , Martha Stewart's Christmas , Martha Stewart's Wedding Planner , and many others. She’s also published multiple magazines, including Martha Stewart Living , and runs one of the most popular recipe sites on the internet. Stewart’s company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, controls numerous brands and products across print and digital publishing, broadcasting media, and merchandising.