“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.”
From hot glue to hot water, Martha Stewart has lived a roller coaster life. It wasn’t always a “good thing,” especially when she ended up in prison, but no matter her legal battles, no one can deny that she’s built an remarkable empire for herself. Keep reading to find out about the trials, tribulations and truffles that make this woman tick.
Martha Stewart Facts
42. No Rest For the Busy
Stewart doesn’t need as much sleep as the rest of us, apparently—she only sleeps for four hours a night. “I catnap now and then, but I think while I nap, so it’s not a waste of time,” she’s stated. It’s said that she sleeps with the lights on, so that when she wakes up she’s all ready to go for the day. She also watches a lot of late-night TV when she’s wide awake.
41. Food Fetish
It’s probably during these late-nights that she stands in front of her fridge, like the rest of us, eating straight from containers and drinking right from the jugs. No really, that’s what she does: Her go-to snacks are buttermilk and pickles, even liverwurst if it’s handy.
40. I Hope She Brushed Her Teeth After
For all her culinary expertise, she has some weird taste in food. As a kid, she loved eating white onion sandwiches. That’s bread, white onions and bread. I think I’ll pass.
39. It’s the Little Things
Stewart says she can find her inspiration anywhere. “I’m very inspired by nature—you could say Mother Nature. I look at things around me and get all kinds of inspiration daily. I also look at a lot of art. In New York, I get a tremendous amount of ideas by looking at the paintings and the sculptures, adapting artistic endeavors to crafts. There is a lot of inspiration around us that we can see every day and turn into projects.”
38. What’s Your Major?
These majors may surprise you, but Stewart has a bachelor’s degree in history and architectural history from Barnard College.
37. And Vogue
To help pay for college, Stewart did some modelling. You probably wouldn’t even recognize her in her ads for Bonwit Teller, Clairol and Tareyton Cigarettes. In 1961, Glamour named her as one of their top 10 Best-Dressed College Girls.
36. Swing Babysitter, Swing!
One of her early jobs: babysitter for the stars. She watched the kids of New York Yankees Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Gil McDougald when she was just 10 years old.
35. If You’ve Got it, Flaunt it!
Stewart worked as a stockbroker for a small firm in the late 60s and early 70s. When she got comfortable there, she started wearing hot pants to meetings, leveraging her experience as a model. She began her own catering business in Connecticut just three years after leaving the firm.
34. Beginning Her Empire
In 1982, six years after starting her catering business, she had her first book published, titled Entertaining. Five years after that, she became a lifestyle consultant for K-Mart, a partnership that would last until 2010.
33. Business on the Brain
Her brand really took off in 1991 with Martha Stewart Living, her magazine, first going into publication. Two years after that, you probably watched her on TV when Martha Stewart Living debuted. She even started writing a weekly newspaper column in 1995.
She can credit her parents for her interest in all things… well, just all things. Her mom taught her cooking, baking and sewing, while her dad showed her everything to do with gardening.
31. Literally Literary
She was also a big fan of reading. When she was young, she’d go to the library in the hopes that she could read every single book. How far do you think she got?
30. Animal Farm
She really doesn’t discriminate when it comes to animals. She owns everything from your normal pets like dogs, cats and birds, to slightly more exotic animals like horses, donkeys, chickens and turkeys. Oh my! She even has her own special language she uses when she communicates with them.
29. Don’t Mess With Her Chi
She’s really strict about the color of her animals and farm. Everything on the farm itself is either grey or black, and all of her animals are black. There was once an incident with her horses, though, that keeps them indoors during the day now: She has five Friesian draft horses, and they turn red when exposed to the sun. Stewart found this out the hard way, so now she only lets them outside at night so the red doesn’t mess with her color scheme.
28. Everything She Touches Turns to Gold
You name it, she’s had a hand in it. Obviously she’s had her own TV shows, but she also has been or is currently involved with magazines, real estate, books, radio, food and housewares.
27. Hannibal, Is That You?
Stewart once dated Sir Anthony Hopkins, but had a hard time dissociating the actor from his Hannibal Lecter character from The Silence of the Lambs, so she broke up with him.
26. Where to Sleep Tonight?
There was a point in time where she owned eight homes at once, all along the east coast. She had two apartments in Manhattan along with a farm in Bedford, New York, two homes in the Hamptons, another home in Connecticut and her estate in Maine.
25. These Boots Were Made for Hiking
If you ever get invited to that estate in Maine, pack your hiking boots. It’s mandatory to go on hikes at five in the morning while staying there.
24. She Did a Bad, Bad Thing
In 2001, Stewart became embroiled in a major insider trading scandal. She had shares in a biotech firm, ImClone, which she sold after finding out a friend of hers was selling his shares. Why? He found out ImClone had been denied FDA approval for one of its drugs. She sold her 3,928 shares for $229,500 which saved her $50,000, but it wouldn’t save her from what would follow.
23. The Law Comes a Knockin’
In June of 2002, the Justice Department and the SEC started investigating Stewart based on her selling those shares. Just one year later, she was charged with nine separate felonies, to which she would plead not guilty on each account.
22. Not Ready to Go
With everything going on legally, she stepped down as CEO and chairman of her company, but didn’t give up everything. She stayed on as Chief Creative Officer.
21. Officially Guilty
In 2004, Stewart was found guilty on four of the felonies brought against her: conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, committing perjury and providing false statements.
20. Orange is the New Black
She only spent five months in a federal prison, with an additional five months of house arrest for her convictions. She was also banned from serving as an officer or director of her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, for five years, was fined $30,000 and was given two years of probation. She would rejoin the board in 2011.
19. Spiralling Down the Rabbit Hole
Three days after being found guilty, she lost her TV show. Viacom dropped Martha Stewart Living from the lineups on CBS and UPN. Soon, she lost even more: she resigned from Revlon’s Board of Directors and stepped down as Chief Creative Officer from her company—she only remained on as a founding editorial director.
18. Christmas Behind Bars
Stewart served her prison sentence in Alderson, West Virginia from October, 2004 until March, 2005. She must have spent that time wisely, because by the time she was released, she already had quite a lot on the go.
17. Rules Weren’t for Her
House arrest wasn’t for her and she often broke the rules. She was only allotted 48 hours per week to leave the house to do errands, but she frequently spent more time than she was allowed to outside of her home. Because of her indiscretions she spent an extra three weeks under house arrest. Oh, Martha!
16. No Time to Waste!
She served her house arrest right after returning home from prison, and barely two weeks after finishing that, she returned to TV once again. Martha, her daily talk show, debuted on September 12, 2005. Nine days after Martha began, Celebrity Apprentice: Martha Stewart started its run on NBC.
15. Like a Good Neighbor, Martha is There
Not one to stop there, Stewart had more plans in mind. Stewart went into business with KB Homes, a home-building company, and together they built new subdivisions with houses based on Stewart’s own homes. The first neighborhood to get these homes was in Raleigh, NC, with more neighborhoods to come near Atlanta, Houston, Orlando, and Riverside in California.
14. Not in This Town, Though
Stewart tried trademarking the name “Katonah” for one of her lines which included paint and home furnishings. The people of Katonah, New York weren’t too happy about that and took her to court. The stores in the town were worried about having to take the word “Katonah” out of their names. Eventually there was a settlement, and Stewart was only able to use the name for certain things.
13. You Can’t Deny Her Stamina
Despite everything, Fortune named the renaissance woman one of their 50 most powerful women in 2006.
12. Losing, but Winning
In 2009 (around the time Stewart’s five year ban ended), the company lost $15 million, yet she managed to take home nearly $10 million. Everything from personal vacations to fitness expenses were billed to the company by Stewart.
11. Making the Big Bucks
It wasn’t always bad news bears for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Since buying out Time Inc.’s share of Martha Stewart Enterprises in 1997 and changing its name, the company has earned 18 Emmy awards. It had its first public offering in October, 1999, and raised almost $130 million just on its first day of trading. Because of the company’s success, Stewart is the first female self-made billionaire in America’s history.
10. Any Attention is Good Attention
The Home Depot didn’t shy away from Stewart despite her past legal troubles. They two formed a partnership in 2009, with a product line launching in 2010. Staples also signed a partnership with Stewart in 2012 to sell her home office supplies line.
9. What’s in a Contract, Anyway?
She got herself into a bit of hot water again with a legal battle that went on from 2011 to 2014, this time with Macy’s. They took her to court because she started working with their competitor, JC Penny, on product partnerships despite not ending her contract with Macy’s.
8. All About the He-Said She-Said
In December, 2011, JC Penny bought a 16.6% stake in Stewart’s company for $38.5 million. They also invested in showcasing her products in a 10-year deal. The next month, Macy’s sued Stewart and her company for breaching their contract, as the deal signed in 2006 stated that Macy’s would have exclusive rights to sell her products.
7. Well, You See, What Happened Was…
In March of 2013, Stewart defended herself in court against Macy’s, explaining why she signed the contract with JC Penny. Almost one year later, the two settled with undisclosed terms. However, six months later, a judge declared that JC Penny interfered with the contract already in place between Macy’s and Stewart’s company.
6. Haters Gonna Hate
Stewart hasn’t had the nicest of words for fellow TV personality Rachael Ray. She was once quoted on Nightline as saying, “She’s more of an entertainer, with a bubbly personality, than she is a teacher, which is me. She’s a totally different kind of cook than I am. I don’t know if she has a garden; I don’t think so.” Yikes. Eventually the two made amends, with Ray admitting she’d rather eat Stewart’s cooking than her own.
5. Dee Oh Double Gee
This is probably one of those pairings that make you go: Huh? Stewart and rap star Snoop Dogg teamed up together in 2016 for their own lifestyle TV show. Martha & Snoop’s Dinner Party airs on VH1, and talks about everything to do with food, music and celebrity.
4. She’s Got a Thing for the Rappers
Interestingly enough, Snoop isn’t the only rap star Stewart is a fan of. She loves Eminem and even thinks of him as an inspiration.
3. Does This Post-It go With This Cushion?
Stewart loves Post-It notes. A lot. She leaves notes for herself and others, color-coordinating them with her décor.
2. Felt It Like It’s Hot
She also likes color-coordinating her pens with her favorite kind, “le pen.” She prefers the felt-tipped pen in your normal colors like blue, black or sometimes brown, but is also known for breaking out colors like red for special occasions or holidays. Red pens? Settle down Martha!
1. We’re Going Steaking!
Stewart had to send out an email to her office staff once to ban black rubber-soled shoes since they left black streaks on the floors. The only problem is that she forgot the ‘R’ in streaks. I swear Martha, if I ever work for you, my shoes do not leave black steaks on the floor.