When most people hear her name, they think Sports Illustrated and super model.
For those who have followed Kathy Ireland’s life more closely, however, the type of model she is shooting to be today and for the past decade is a role model for working moms and aspiring businesswomen.
"If people are aware of me at all, it's usually in a fragmented way,” says the 45-year-old wife and mother of three. “In the last century I worked as a model. Today, my work is the design and marketing of over 15,000 products in over 28 countries.”
Though Ireland made waves after appearing in Sports Illustrated magazine’s annual swimsuit edition in 1984, modeling wasn’t something she aspired to do but regarded more as a short-term venture.
“I was involved and interested in business before my modeling career. I saw modeling as a way to save money to go to college and to save capital for a business,” she said in a past interview with About.com.
After nearly a decade of modeling as well as a few television and movie appearances, Ireland eventually opened up her own clothing line, gave birth to her son and two daughters, and authored a number of books.
Her latest book, Real Solutions for Busy Moms: Your Guide to Success and Sanity, will be published on Apr. 7 by Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, and has been endorsed by church leaders including Dr. Robert H. Schuller, founding pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif.
"Beautiful and successful Kathy Ireland wows us again with this new book,” Schuller and his wife Arvella wrote. “It is such a joy to watch Kathy Ireland share her unwavering commitment to marriage, family, country, and faith. Kathy Ireland has kept as her top priority the role of wife and mother. She is a unique and dynamic role model for all of America. We are proud to call her a loving friend."
Aside from her business accomplishments, Ireland has been involved in a lot of charitable work, promoting awareness of family issues such as hunger, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, arthritis, and breast cancer. UCLA named Ireland as one of America's top 10 women's health advocates, recognizing her for her involvement in the March of Dimes and frequent public advocacy for timely and adequate prenatal care.
Ireland is also an outspoken Christian and pro-lifer who believes life begins at conception and that her “best friend is my Rock, Anchor, Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ."
"All things are possible with God,” she says.
In her upcoming guide for living, Ireland attempts to help families cope with crises including family finances, health, the dangers of drug abuses and STDs, stress, menopause, and “most importantly finding wisdom and security in the glory of Christian faith,” Ireland’s publicists say.
Next month, Ireland’s company, Kathy Ireland World Wide (KIWW), will be honored at a special awards ceremony at DiversityBusiness.com’s 9th Annual Multicultural Business Conference for topping a list of the nation’s top 500 women-owned businesses.
The “supermodel-turned-super mogul has built a business that generates $1.4 billion in retail sales," noted DiversityBusiness.com, which named KIWW the “Top Women Owned Business in America.”
Ireland will be one of the featured keynote speakers at the business website’s April 29 - May 1 conference at Disney’s Contemporary resort in Orlando, Fla.