Most people know Martha Stewart as a TV host, a magazine publisher, and a convicted liar. What they don't know is that her path to success has more twists than the icing on a floral wedding cake.
Stewart simply refuses to play by the rules, and we're not just talking about her stint in the slammer. She was a mom, a fashion model, and a Wall Street stockbroker before she quit her day job to start a catering business. Then, at the height of her fame as the avatar of aspirational living, she became a spokeswoman for Kmart.
According to her book The Martha Rules, it's all about finding something you can be passionate about -- in her case, selling Brand Martha as hard as she can. Since her release from prison, she's launched a satellite radio channel, a search engine with 1,000 Martha-approved websites, and $300,000 McMansion designs for KB Homes (KBH).
But Brand Martha is not without its problems. Her Omnimedia Living (MSO) empire hasn't posted a profit since 2002. Her version of The Apprentice was a flop. And she faces increasing competition from the likes of Rachael Ray. These setbacks, however, haven't stopped Stewart from making big plans for "this era of me." She still owns the bulk of her company's stock, retains 92 percent of voting power, and has learned a few things about insider trading.