Martha Stewart was born in Jersey City, New Jersey to middle-class Polish American parents, Edward "Eddie" Kostyra (c. 1912 – 1979) and Martha Ruszkowski Kostyra (b. Buffalo, New York, September 16, 1914 – d. Norwalk, Connecticut, November 16, 2007). She lived in Jersey City until the age of 3, when her family moved to Nutley, New Jersey. She was raised in Nutley along with her five siblings. She took the name "Grace" for her confirmation name before graduating from Nutley High School.
Her family instilled in her a strong passion for activities in the home. Stewart's mother taught her how to cook and sew. Later, she learned the processes of canning and preserving when she visited her grandparents' home in Buffalo, New York. Her father had a passion for gardening, and passed on much of his knowledge and expertise to his daughter. Stewart was also active in many extracurricular activities, such as the school newspaper and the Art Club. During this time, Stewart began a modeling career. She was hired and appeared in several television commercials and magazines, including one of Tareyton's famous "Smokers would rather fight than switch!" cigarette advertisements. Finishing with straight A's, she was awarded a partial scholarship to Barnard College in New York City.