Few have built a massive brand like Martha Stewart has, and at 74 years old, she’s not slowing down one bit.
“There’s so much still to do,” Martha Stewart told FOXBusiness.com in a sit-down interview. “I’m still working on a software program that I hope will be embedded in every device in the world about your home. It’s a really great idea and no one has done it yet and I’m working on it.”
Stewart, who started her first catering business in 1976, has transformed her brand into multiple best-selling books, two popular syndicated television shows, merchandising, and magazines, to name a few.
“I think entrepreneurs are born. I don’t think they're made. I think you can learn a little bit. You can learn how to be an interior designer but you may not be the best interior designer if you’re not born with that quality of loving beauty and loving great design," she says.
Stewart, who was obviously born to be an entrepreneur, says it’s one of the reasons why she created her “American Made” program, which highlights the next generation of “Martha’s” who want to turn their passions into successful businesses.
“I like to see what is actually occurring in American makers today. What are they doing, how are they using the opportunity that is offered to them,” she adds.
Stewart says there’s a lot more competition in the entrepreneurial world today than when she first started.
“I think we had more jobs when I was growing up. There were more opportunities out there to get a regular job, so maybe some ‘would be’ entrepreneurs didn’t try to live their dream and build their dream back then. But nowadays there are a lot of problems in the job market. Many college graduates are not finding jobs that they like and if they do have an entrepreneurial spirit, they are finding that they can actually create a product or a business that is useful and viable. And, they’re realizing success,” she says.
But there are things that are much easier today for startups than when Martha started building her empire.
“I think it’s easier to get a following today—a consumer base following that is. You still have to do the hard work of making a product that is useful, viable, practical, and that’s still the hard part. Getting the audience is not as hard today as it once was and I think that’s the difference between today and 25 years ago when I started the magazine.”
Stewart says she was an early adopter of social media and still uses it to help continue to build her brand.
“The only one that I personally don’t use is Snapchat. I just haven’t gotten in the habit. I remember when I first started the company there was no social media. We used newspapers and television.”
The one thing Stewart is pleased about in makers of today are the trends of sustainability, organic and going back to nature.
“It’s very important for the growth of the country,” she adds.
Nearly half of this year’s winners in American Made have a special focus on agriculture and farming. And, shoppers are responding as well; according to a Consumers Reports survey, 84% of American consumers are choosing more organic foods.
“I think it’s terribly important for us as individuals to eat cleaner and organically. More from the farm market as opposed to huge food emporium's. I think we have to pay attention to how things are grown and how they are produced.”
Stewart says she has two turkeys in her backyard as she gets ready to prepare her Thanksgiving dinner.
“We need to move away from the factory farm meat that so many of us eat on a regular basis. And, be more discriminating.”
But not all food technology is bad, she adds.
“I think genetically modified foods are important in longevity of food and especially in foods that won’t rot as fast, so it’s not all bad. The way foods are grown and the way foods are produced is much more important to our health. And, it also depends on how they’re genetically modified too.”
The one thing that Stewart says most people don’t get is the amount of hard work that you need to put into a business.
“I think many people are used to getting up at 7 in the morning, getting dressed, and having a leisurely cup of coffee and then they go off to a 9 to 5 job. Being an entrepreneur is not a 9 to 5 job. It’s a 24/7 job (she laughs). And, let no one tell you it isn’t. It’s very consuming but it’s also very exciting and rewarding.”