How Martha Stewart's product empire helped her become America's 1st female self-made billionaire

"I'm always looking for new things, new ways to do things — that's my business."

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By Adrianna Brach

The products shown may be from a celebrity’s own product line. If you buy those products through the links in this article, the celebrity's line has agreed to give Shop TODAY a small share of the revenue from your purchase.

Welcome to the debut episode of “Shop the Stars with Jill Martin,” a new digital show featuring our favorite celebrity friends and their business ventures where nearly everything you see is shoppable, including the set and Jill's outfit.

Martha Stewart joined host Jill Martin and shared everything from how she created her successful business empire to a few fun facts you probably didn’t know about her. The businesswoman also showcased items from her California Closets collaboration, QVC fashion line and organizing must-haves from her Staples office collection.

Martin and Stewart met while working late nights at QVC and quickly became pals. "I wanted this interview to be a little bit about not only 'What would Martha do,' because that's always the saying, but things that people wouldn't know about you because I learned so much from those late night chats," said Martin, asking the media mogul to describe herself.

"I'm curious about everything," Stewart, 78, replied. "I'm always looking for new things, new ways to do things — that's my business."

Her curiosity as a teen propelled her to New York City to become a model to help pay her school tuition. Little did she know that her strong work ethic would spark her entrepreneurial spirit.

"I was one of six kids and two working parents," she explained. "We were taught to work, we were encouraged to pay our own way, and we all did."

And so, after college, intrigued by the stock market, Stewart became an institutional stockbroker. That's when she learned what made a good company and how to build one from the ground up — part of the foundation that would help her become one of the country's most successful entrepreneurs.

Stewart eventually quit her Wall Street career, started a family in Connecticut and launched a catering business that turned into a booming enterprise. "I was a party planner as well as a caterer," she said of the specialized business model that led her to work high-profile events in New York City. "That built up to a million-dollar business."

From there, she developed cookbooks and entertainment guides that would evolve into the media powerhouse Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Then, in 1999, she became America's first female self-made billionaire, according to Forbes.

"I took my company public, and we had a very nice, long run as a very fine, debt-free company in America," she explained. "I was just a little girl from Nutley, New Jersey. I didn't know how to spend money. I knew how to make money."

Looking back, she recalled some of the biggest ups and downs of her career.

"My biggest break really was starting a fine company with a fine staff and a fine bunch of colleagues. That, to me, really meant the most," she said.

As for the biggest hurdle she overcame, Stewart said, "Having serious personal problems like my marriage dissolving and the horrible legal problem I had, where I had to go to jail for five months — that was a terrible time."

Reflecting on how she overcame that period, she said: "It's all about what you are and who you are. And I never lost my customers because my customers believed in me. That gave me the wherewithal to just continue along my happy path."

Recently, Stewart debuted her 96th book, "Martha Stewart's Organizing: The Manual for Bringing Order to Your Life, Home & Routine," a new collaboration with California Closets — and it doesn't stop there. Proving there's nothing she can't do, the businesswoman also has a stylish (and comfortable) QVC fashion line and, of course, all the organizing essentials for any office space.

If you like anything you've seen in this episode of "Shop the Stars with Jill Martin," you're in luck because nearly everything is shoppable.

From the set to Martin's outfit and Stewart's product line, it can all be yours with the click of a button!

These products were selected from the celebrity’s business partner and they have agreed to give us a share of the revenue for purchases you make through our site.

Shop Martha's latest book and California Closets collaboration:

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Shop Martha's QVC fashion line:

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Shop Martha's Staples office collection:

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Our editors have independently selected the items featured in this article because we think they’re worth knowing about. Shop TODAY has affiliate relationships so we may get a small share of the revenue if you buy something through our links.

Shop the "Shop the Stars with Jill Martin" set:

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Shop Jill Martin's outfit:

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