Between the two of them, Martha Stewart and Jack Ma have economic reign over a mind-boggling and ever increasing segment of the global consumer population. And it turns out they’re sharing tricks of the trade with one other.
“Last year I went to China,” said Stewart, speaking at the Social Media Week conference in New York City this week. “And I called up a company called Alibaba and I asked if I could come visit with this guy Jack Ma.”
Stewart’s home-decorating, cooking and DIY-empire has spanned magazines, television programming, online content and branded home goods, making her a household name throughout the U.S. Her next goal is to focus on international expansion – and so she sought out Ma for advice on the Chinese market.
“He said, ‘Martha, what you did there at Kmart in the early days is absolutely appropriate for what is going on in China now,’”she recalled of their conversation. Stewart’s first major brand partnership was with Kmart, the budget big-box store. With that deal, her designer housewares became accessible to middle-class families.
“We went mass because I really did believe that the masses, the middle class and the lower middle class had every right to have well designed beautifully engineered and well made and affordable bedding and housewares and glasswares for your table and dishes.”
Ma informed her at the time that the middle-class population in China was 100 million strong and likely to grow to 300 million or 400 million over the next five years. With more people joining the middle class, they’re expected to migrate from rural areas into China’s big cities. As they move into urban apartments, “they need stuff, and they need to be able to afford stuff,” Stewart said.
While there are no plans of any sort of partnership between them, one can only imagine what Stewart and Ma could accomplish as a team. They might end up decorating Mars and selling it to Pluto.