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Martha Stewart: Career relaunchers offer 'tremendous value'

The lifestyle guru gives her advice for women who paused their careers and now want to head back to work.
Mika Brzezinski speaks to Martha Stewart at a Know Your Value conference in New York City on Oct. 30.
Mika Brzezinski speaks to Martha Stewart at a Know Your Value conference in New York City on Oct. 30.Anthony Scutro/Miller Hawkins

If you’re anxiously thinking about re-entering the workforce after taking time off, here’s some validation: Martha Stewart believes you offer “tremendous value.”

The lifestyle guru made the declaration at Mika Brzezinski’s recent Know Your Value conference in New York City, noting she would hire and has hired women who have taken a career break. Martha agreed when Mika said that we bring a “meticulousness” to the table as well as a “wealth of experience and history.”

“I think there are not enough relaunchers working (for Martha Stewart Omnimedia). I think relaunchers are good. I think they offer tremendous value to a lot of different kinds of companies” Martha told the audience.

“I’d rather have someone working for me who knows the history of what we’ve done than someone who is starting brand new and doesn’t know anything,” she added.

We all know that Martha has spent the past couple of decades teaching and inspiring people about everything from baking the perfect cake, arranging flowers, hanging wallpaper and choosing the perfect paint colors.

But did you know that before Martha became the Martha we know and love today, she was a stockbroker and a realtor? While Martha never stopped working, she went through a few career pivots until she found her true calling. And the rest is history.

In a separate interview, Mika recently spoke to Martha about her advice for women who paused their careers to raise their kids and now want to head back to work. Here’s what she had to say:

Martha on balancing work and family:

“I don’t think balance is very attainable,” said Martha, who has one adult daughter, Alexis. “That’s sort of a word now that does not really work for most people. Balance is hard. Something suffers. Your children who are the most important thing… they suffer because mom is paying attention to something else. Being able to take time off , I envy women who take a little bit of time off to pay attention to [their families] but I also encourage them to go back for their own self-survival.”

Exactly. Balance is really hard. And this is from a woman who never stopped working.

Maybe you’ve spent the past decade mired in carpools, PTA politics and soccer matches. You have loved the chance to be with your kids. No regrets, no apologies. But after a pause, don’t miss the chance to find your passion and start a new chapter, advises Martha.

Martha’s biggest tip for returners? Follow your passion.

“I have a lot of friends who are looking to re-assimilate into the workplace and I encourage them tremendously because I think work is great,” said Martha. “Go and take a job in something that interests you. Going back to being a lawyer is pretty hard if you've been out for 20 years. So go into something that interests you. Go into real estate. Try something. I got my real estate license, but I hated driving people around. Get into something that you really love. If you love art, go work in a gallery.”

For example, Martha pointed to a friend of hers who discovered she was interested in landscape design. “At the age of 55 she became a landscape designer and she’s doing fantastically…I was so proud of her for starting a business and building a career!” she said.

Yes! If your first career is not your first love anymore (and for many women who’ve taken a career break, it is not) there are so many other options. Ask yourself: what are my passions? What skills of mine from my past career are transferable? What am I really good at?

So stop saying you can’t. Get out there and start your next chapter. Martha knows you have value. Time for you to show it to the world.

Ginny Brzezinski is Know Your Value’s comeback career contributor. Read more about her here.