Over the course of her career, Martha Campbell Pullen, Ph.D, founder of the prestigious Martha Pullen Company Inc. and of Pullen Press LLC, has enjoyed numerousand varied vocational pursuits. Early in her career, some of those pursuits laid thegroundwork for future entrepreneurial success. She has been a salesperson (dresses,shoes and jewelry); community teacher (dance, baton, cheerleader coaching, speech,modeling, etiquette); church pianist; pageant judge or coach for adults and children;and professional educator (college professor, middle school educational curriculumdeveloper [University of Florida’s Project F.A.I.S.], English teacher at the middle and high school levels [Charlotte, Atlanta and University of Florida’s P. K. Yonge Lab School ], and second grade teacher [Scottsboro, AL]. She honed her presentation and speaking skills through such activities as performing with the Tuscaloosa (AL) Little Theatre (Annie in Annie Get Your Gun) and in Boone, NC (in Horn in the West). She was a model (photographic and runway), government contractor (washed shopping carts at a grocery store on a military base), alterations seamstress, tutor, and event speaker (leader of Christian women’s conferences).
At one point in her career, Martha was even offered a position as host of Miss Romper Room TV show. But when she discovered that the salary was not even enough to pay her baby sitter, she sadly had to decline the offer. Martha actually loved the concept of “Do Bees” and “Don’t Bees” taught by Romper Room and has considered those concepts as she has worked in the business world. For example, customers having fun in the hobby business world is a critical concept in growing their loyalty! All of these experiences grew her personally and professionally and laid a strong foundation for her move to national and international prominence as an entrepreneur. She was a television personality (host of Martha’s Sewing Room for 17 years on PBS), founder of Sew Beautiful magazine (readership of over 100,000), author (more than 50 sewing books, two business books, and two cookbooks), and consultant (educational consultant, newspaper in education consultant [Ft. Worth Star Telegram, Rocky Mountain News, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Charlotte Observer, and Colorado Springs Gazette],business consultant, DISC Licensed Trainer, and Think Buzan Licensed Mind Mapping Instructor).
Martha also recognizes the importance of her unpaid vocations and commitments— wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, friend, encourager, Bible teacher at sewing events, prayer warrior and volunteer. Most everyone reading this realizes that these roles are the most time consuming and that an entire book could be dedicated to listing specific tasks in each of these important roles. With all the interesting and varied vocational directions Martha pursued along the way, she is most well known for her success as an entrepreneur, which all began when she was age 14 in Scottsboro, AL and started her first business: the Martha Campbell School of Dance. By the company’s fourth year, she was a senior in high school with 100 dance and 50 baton pupils enrolled in the School of Dance. In the entrepreneurial world, Martha is best known as a leader in the heirloom sewing industry, which began in a tiny retail shop in Huntsville, AL. In 1981, two months after opening that shop, Martha began importing laces and fabrics to sell wholesale and retail by mail order. Next, the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion was launched in Huntsville, AL which eventually
brought 400 women to Huntsville twice a year for a week of sewing education. For many years, Martha Pullen Company brought more “tourist nights” to Huntsville than any other business in the city, with the exception of a religious group’s annual national convention in Huntsville. As a result, on April 5, 2002, the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau presented Martha with the Pinnacle Award “In grateful recognition of your place at the pinnacle of loyal Huntsville meeting planners. The number, size, frequency and economic impact of your meetings, conventions and events is truly substantial.”
The success of the School of Art Fashion prompted Martha to venture out of her local market, conducting full scale Martha Pullen schools in Australia, England, Mexico, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico as well as in 45 states. She has made 28 trips to Australia to teach. Since Martha could not travel everywhere, she expanded her base of influence through training Martha Pullen Licensed Teachers to teach Martha Pullen classes. These licensed teachers are now conducting Martha Pullen-developed classes around the world.
For sixteen years, Martha Pullen Company produced a consumer event, Martha’s Sewing Market, in Arlington, TX, which then expanded to Orlando, FL and Pomona, CA. For three years, MPC produced Martha’s Quilt Academy in Huntsville and Orlando. Martha’s Sewing Extravaganzas were produced across the United States in collaboration with one sewing machine company featured per event. Five of these Extravaganzas were produced at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, CA. Martha Pullen Company trained sewing educators from Pfaff and Husqvarna/Viking to conduct Martha Pullen Events. In one year, Husqvarna/ Viking conducted 37 of these events across the United States with their Martha Pullen Viking Licensed Educators. While working with Martha Pullen Company, Martha developed and wrote a weekly email newsletter which included sewing tips, information about sewing events, a personal letter, a recipe and a devotional. This free e-newsletter was sent to over 45,000 opt-in subscribers, and the newsletter had a very high open rate. In 1990, the Internet Embroidery Club was launched with the purpose of sharing heirloom machine embroidery designs through an online club. Today, Martha Pullen Company is fully digital, with the Internet Embroidery Club, digital books and magazines and even online Martha Pullen Licensed Teacher Training.
A project that “makes her heart happy” is Sew Beautiful, an heirloom sewing magazine she founded and began publishing in 1987. In 1992, public television audiences across the United States and Canada began receiving the benefit of her love of heirloom sewing through the Martha’s Sewing Room series, which aired in 85% of PBS stations in the United States. Thirteen shows were translated into Japanese and aired by Japanese Public Television. Martha wrote her first book in 1983, French Sewing by Machine, The First Book, which sold more than 100,000 copies. Martha now has more than 50 sewing books to her credit. Martha’s first business book was titled Turn Your Hobby into Money and was published in 1999 by Broadman & Holman (LifeWay). In 2010, she and her daughter-in-law, Suzanne Crocker, authored a cookbook titled Recipes…Reflections… Remembrances. This cookbook was revised by Adams Media in 2012 and released as Martha Pullen’s Southern Family Cookbook: Reflect on the Past, Rejoice in the Present, and Celebrate the Future Gatherings with More than 250 Heirloom Recipes and Meals. With the publication of those cookbooks, Martha has realized the dream of turning her two favorite hobbies—sewing and cooking—into entrepreneurial business ventures. In 2004, Martha Pullen Company became a subsidiary of Hoffman Media and then in 2012 became a subsidiary of F+W Media.
Martha was born in Morristown, NJ but grew up in Scottsboro, AL. After receiving a degree in speech and English from the University of Alabama, she taught those subjects at almost every level of middle school and high school. Later, in 1977, her studies led to a Ph.D. degree in educational administration and management from the University of Alabama. Prior to receiving a Ph.D., Martha completed graduate courses at Vanderbilt University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of Florida and the University of Georgia. She completed post-doctoral work at Vanderbilt University, Alabama A&M University, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Martha’s work as an entrepreneur and business leader has been recognized widely. In 2005, Martha was inducted into the American Sewing Guild Hall of Fame for her many contributions to the sewing industry. She was named a national Daughter of Distinction of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the ninth person to receive this honor, which she shares with Elizabeth Dole and Janet Reno. In 1995, she was named Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Executive of the Year—only the second woman in the history of the organization to receive this award. She has been a nominee for Inc. magazine’s Executive of the Year and is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. Martha was presented with the Golden Needle Award from the Schmetz Needle Company of Germany and Euro-notions. In 1987, Agape of North Alabama, Inc. presented Martha with the Special People Award “For Special Interest in and Concern for Homeless Children and Troubled Families Being Served through AGAPE.” She was presented the Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center’s 2011 “Dream Big” Honoree Award. In 2011, her classmates in the Scottsboro High School Class of 1961 presented a beautiful crystal plaque to her at the 50th class reunion, “For Humanitarian Service.” In addition to time spent building businesses, Martha has also prioritized giving much time and love to her family and community, to philanthropic endeavors, and to mission work. Martha has served on the boards of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and Huntsville Community Ballet. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Gothic Guild, the Chi Omega Alumni Association and the Optimist Club. For many years she has been involved in fund raising efforts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and for Africa New Life Ministries which serves families in Rwanda, Africa. She is the wife of Joe Ross Pullen, DMD, a retired implant dentist; mother of five; and grandmother to 18. An active member of Whitesburg Baptist Church, Martha has served as a volunteer with the Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board and Whitesburg Baptist Church in Africa, Jamaica, and Brazil. She and her daughter in law, Suzanne Crocker, have led Christian women’s conferences in Alabama and Texas.
Martha’s goal is to spend the remainder of her career helping others build successful businesses. She has been very blessed and gives all credit for her business success and personal blessings to God and God alone.