Founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Born: Aug. 3, 1941, Jersey City, N.J.
Education: Bachelor's in history and architectural history, Barnard College
Martha Stewart is not the richest person on our list of the 25 most transformative icons, rebels and leaders of the past quarter-century. She has not created the most wealth or employment for others. Nor does she have the greatest global reach. But she embodies many of the defining innovative characteristics of U.S. business in the past 25 years: reinvention, the second act, the personality-based brand and the explosive post-1980s growth of homemaking as a media and retailing category. In an era of tumultuous technological and economic change, Stewart has built a powerfully appealing American brand around idyllically well-organized, simple and tasteful domestic life.
A home-based catering business that Stewart started in her mid-30s eventually led to a series of successful cookbooks in the 1980s and a TV career. In 1990, Time developed a magazine, "Martha Stewart Living," for her. That was followed within a couple of years by a companion weekly TV show that became daily. In 1997, Stewart bought out the media and merchandising ventures bearing her name and gathered them into her own company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, with her business partner, Sharon Patrick, as chief operating officer.