5 of the biggest personal brands in business

Mary Kay Ash’s make-up business


When Mary Kay Ash retired from a successful career in direct sales in early 1963, she decided to write a book to help women survive in the male-dominated business world. Listing the failings and successes of former employers inadvertently led to the creation of a business plan. With her life savings of $5,000 and the help of her 20-year-old-son Richard Rogers, Ash launched her dream company in 1963.

The business is now one of the largest direct sales companies in the world, with distributors – beauty consultants – making money by selling to people in their communities and getting a share from the people they recruit into the distribution network. Worldwide wholesale sales reached $3bn in 2013 and products were sold in more than 35 markets.

Tim Horton’s Tim Hortons


Coffee and ice hockey are Canadian staples, so it’s not surprising the nation’s favourite café chain was launched by a hockey Hall of Fame star. Tim Horton started with a single location in Hamilton, Ontario, offering coffee and donuts in 1964. By 1967 the business had become a multi-million-dollar franchise system. Horton died in 1974 leaving his business partner to buy out his family’s shares.  

The 1980s saw a huge expansion to its product line, but its bite-sized Timbits from the 1970s still remain one of the most popular items. In 1995, Tim Hortons merged with Wendy’s International. At the end of at the end of 2013, Tim Hortons had 4,592 restaurants in Canada and 807 in the United States.

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