Leadership

This helped fuel Martha Stewart's empire

Martha Stewart's secrets to success
Martha Stewart's secrets to success   

Martha Stewart learned the importance of branding early on. She used her namesake not only to create a homebuilding media empire but to become the first female self-made billionaire in the United States, at least on paper.

"I had a friend called Charlotte Beers who was a brander, and she kept saying, 'Martha, you're a brand. You're a brand.' And then one day I woke up and said, 'Ah, I'm a brand,' " Stewart told CNBC in a 2014 interview.

"It takes a lot of attention to detail. It takes a good team of people around one to make a brand and a brand that sticks." -Martha Stewart

As founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she has engaged in several business ventures, including authoring several best-selling books, publishing Martha Stewart Living magazine and hosting her own syndicated TV talk show.

In December, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia merged with Sequential Brands Group. Stewart is currently the chief creative officer of Sequential Brands and a member of its board.

To Stewart, her brand is about excellence, high-quality, trusted information and inspiration for homemakers. "We are trying to reach, every day, as many people as possible with that kind of great information and content," she said.

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Stewart's success has not come without challenges, though. In 2004, she was convicted on charges of conspiracy and making false statements to investigators pertaining to the ImClone Systems insider trading debacle and served five months in prison. All the while, though, Stewart was determined to make a comeback.

"A person in trouble that doesn't believe she or he is guilty is a strong person, and I learned how to make lemonade out of lemons," Stewart said. "I'm looking towards the future. I'm an optimist still, and I only see good for the Martha Stewart brand."

All along through the ups and downs, the key to success is a combination of a strong work ethic, persistence and patience, she said.

"It takes a lot of attention to detail. It takes a good team of people around one to make a brand and a brand that sticks. That's really — and the merchandise speaks for the brand. The content speaks for the brand," she said.

—CNBC's Katie Little contributed to this post.