She’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars, having constructed herself an empire out of American home-making. But years before that empire was even conceived of, Martha Stewart was an in-demand model.
Born in 1941 into a middle-class family in New Jersey, Martha Kostyra was taught the rudiments of domestic science by her mother, and the art of gardening by her father.
During high school, Martha was able to support herself through well-paid modeling work for brands like Unilever and Chanel.
Later, she studied at Barnard College with a scholarship that she was able to augment with her modeling income. The work paid around $50/hour (and this was more than 50 years ago).
Martha had considered studying chemistry, but changed to art and architectural history. Before she graduated, Martha had met and married Andrew Stewart, a Yale law graduate.
After graduating, Martha briefly became a stockbroker as her father had been. Later she and Andrew bought their 1805 house, Turkey Hill, at Westport. It was from that house, in the kitchen, that her empire was born. Modeling’s loss was domesticity’s gain.