After a successful career in direct sales, retired in mid-1963, -- for a month. During that month, she decided to write a book to help women survive in the male-dominated business world. Sitting at her kitchen table, she made two lists: one contained the good things she had seen in companies for which she had worked; the other featured the things she thought could be improved. Reviewing the lists, she realized that she had inadvertently created a marketing plan for a successful company of her own. With her life savings of $5,000 and the help of her 20-year-old son, Richard Rogers, she launched Mary Kay Cosmetics on Friday, September 13, 1963. Mary Kay Inc. has grown from a small direct sales company to the largest direct seller of skin care products in the U.S. and the best-selling brand of facial skin care and color cosmetics in the United States. The Company now has more than 500,000 Independent Beauty Consultants in 29 markets worldwide. Mary Kay Inc. was featured three times as one of The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America. In 1980, Mary Kay's husband Mel died of cancer. After watching him suffer, she became committed to the fight to find a cure for this disease. Having been involved in fundraising for more than 20 years, in 1996 she established the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, a non-profit public foundation that provides funding for research of leading cancers affecting women. Mary Kay has twice served as honorary chairman of the Texas Breast Screening Project and was instrumental in helping pass legislation in Texas for insurance coverage of mammograms. She is also active in raising funds for cancer research programs through the Komen Foundation, the American Cancer Society and the Mary Kay Ash Center for Cancer Immunotherapy Research at St. Paul Medical Center in Dallas, which was dedicated in 1993. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Company and as a tribute to her efforts in breast cancer awareness and fund raising, the employees of Mary Kay Inc. presented to Mary Kay the Mary Kay/St. Paul Medical Center Mobile Cancer Screening Unit in July 1993. A cancer research wing at St. Paul Medical Center previously dedicated to Mary Kay Ash was expanded in 1995 and in 1998 the hospital dedicated the Mary Kay Ash Cancer Research Institute. Mary Kay became chairman emeritus of Mary Kay Inc. in 1987.