FORTUNE -- Beatrice Mwasi was looking for a spark. The founder of Sanabora Design House had founded a leather workshop in Kenya a decade ago and transformed it into a broad accessories and home goods business with more than 3,000 affiliate producers throughout Kenya. But her company's growth had slowed, and Mwasi felt frustrated.
That's just when the U.S. Embassy in Kenya reached out to Mwasi to apply for the 2013 Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. The program, supported by Vital Voices, is an extension of Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women Summit. Mwasi applied, was selected by Fortune from among 109 applicants, and then was stunned when she learned who her mentor would be: Martha Stewart. "I thought, No way. Maybe they're talking about another Martha Stewart," says Mwasi, tearing up as she remembers the moment.
During the past month, Mwasi and 27 other rising-star women from 17 countries were in the U.S. shadowing participants of the Fortune MPW Summit. Of all the mentees--at companies such as Citigroup (C), IBM (IBM), and Google (GOOG)--Mwasi's experience stands out because she's now on a first-name basis with NBC Today host Matt Lauer, met Stewart's famous dogs, and also took home to Kenya lessons from the living brand herself and the crew at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO).
Consistency. "For her, entrepreneurship doesn't end within the office walls," says Mwasi about Stewart. Mwasi spent a weekend at Stewart's home in Bedford, N.Y., and was amazed how the Martha brand syncs with Stewart's personal life. "She runs her home the way she runs her business: well-organized and structured," Mwasi says. "She believes we can make life what we want to see."
The power of no. "In Africa, we're more accommodating," says Mwasi about life at home vs. life in the Martha universe. During a "how-to" shoot for Stewart's home goods that are sold at Home Depot (HD), Stewart stopped the cameras over a particular floor mat that she deemed unacceptable--and the video didn't get done that day. "It's good to be firm," Mwasi concluded. "I realized you don't have to feel pressured to compromise."
Collaboration. "I admire how they translate an idea quickly into products," says Mwasi, who went to MSLO's weekly Ops meetings. "Ops" is short for opportunities. Department heads come together to report on their businesses and brainstorm opportunities. Mwasi also liked the "talking walls" at MSLO headquarters: giant inspiration boards that employees can write on to crowd-source design ideas.
Before she went back to Africa, Mwasi asked Stewart about surviving her five month prison stay in 2005. Stewart told her that she drew inspiration from role models like Hillary Clinton and President Obama--who demonstrate how to "stand tall" when the going gets tough.
Now home in Kenya, Mwasi plans to reorganize her management team and raise the bar on her company's policies and systems. Armed with fresh insights about American consumers, she hopes to sell her products in the U.S. Is a co-designed Martha Stewart/Beatrice Mwasi line in the works? "We haven't discussed that," Mwasi says, laughing. "But Kenya would be honored."
When Martha Stewart appeared in court in downtown Manhattan today--her first time in a courtroom since 2004, when she was convicted of lying about a stock trade to the government--she took a brand new tack, style-wise.
In place of the extravagant Birkin handbag that critics clutched upon to cast Stewart as a diva hardly relatable to her middle-class customers, she carried a bag that ordinary folk can afford: a walnut-colored Avery MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 5, 2013 3:43 PM ET
Last week in France, at the Cannes Lions advertising festival, Martha Stewart (MSO) and I both spoke about women, power and diversity at an event hosted by Interpublic Group (IPG).
IPG showed no teenage pictures of me, thank goodness. But they did show Martha at 15, long before she was a brand.
She distinctly remembers this day, she said. She had to be pulled out of school to film this Lifebuoy commercial.Patricia Sellers - Jun 27, 2011 3:41 PM ET
This morning at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival in France, Interpublic Group (IPG) recruited Martha Stewart, CNN's (TWX) Soledad O'Brien, and Coca-Cola (KO) SVP Wendy Clark, among other prominent women, to answer that question. My job there? Summarize their insights and share a few of my own.
All in all, there were plenty -- and way beyond the well-worn platitudes. It's worth sharing the three takeaways I talked about in my MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 22, 2011 11:08 AM ET
by Patricia Sellers
This week, TIME Magazine presents the 25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century.
Interesting that TIME, Fortune's sister magazine at Time Inc. (TWX), includes just two businesswomen on its list. Both -- Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey -- are entrepreneurs. Since her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO), is struggling these days, Martha didn't make this year's Fortune Most Powerful Women list. Oprah, whose power keeps expanding and MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 22, 2010 12:12 PM ET
Is Martha Stewart going the way of Oprah?
Seems so, given that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) has sealed a deal to move her syndicated daytime TV show to the Hallmark Channel.
The news comes two months after Oprah Winfrey rocked the broadcast TV world by announcing that she's quitting her syndicated show in September 2011 to focus on her new cable network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Surely, neither Oprah now Martha, MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 27, 2010 12:27 PM ET
I'm just back from a funeral in Pennsylvania -- where I traveled late last night after the Time 100 gala at Manhattan's Time Warner Center. Strange to say, but two wonderful celebrations back to back. The funeral was for my closest childhood friend Meg's father, Jack Denuel, who died after a three-decade battle with MS. He was a great man who never whined and never said a bad word about anyone. Never.
As MOREPatricia Sellers - May 6, 2009 11:53 PM ET
"One plus one equals three." That's what Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) chairman Charles Koppelman said last July after the company appointed Wenda Millard and Robin Marino co-CEOs.
I -- and many investors -- expressed skepticism. Co-CEO set-ups are so unusual that during the past decade, among Fortune 500 companies, only 15 such arrangements have existed. Koppelman literally wagered that the co-CEO set-up at his company would flourish. "I'll bet you MOREPatricia Sellers - Apr 21, 2009 12:21 PM ET
I went out to lunch today. Really. Even as you've read this week about the slashing and shrinking inside my company, Time Inc. (TWX), and across the magazine industry (even Conde Nast, the proud, privately-held protector of privilege and perks is axing), I have to eat. I have to schmooze. My job depends upon it.
Allow me to defend the expense-account lunch. Here are my rules of (lunchtime) engagement, honed over MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 31, 2008 3:56 PM ET
Amidst the chaos in the markets, it's difficult to find time to breathe, much less pore over 2,500 pictures from our Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in early October. But I finally made it through our trove and want to share part of it with you.
If you've been reading Postcards, you know that we had Warren Buffett with us for three days. What a treat. More than that, the Berkshire MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Oct 24, 2008 3:11 PM ET
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