Maye Musk, above, is a model, nutritionist, and the mother of three successful entrepreneurs: Elon, Kimbal and Tosca. In her new memoir, A Woman Makes a Plan, she details her childhood in South Africa, her modeling and nutrition career, and what it took to raise three kids on her own
Raising one billionaire and two millionaires ain’t bad for a single mother of three.
Indeed, Maye Musk’s successful children – Elon, Kimbal and Tosca – all founded companies and are leaders in their chosen pursuits: tech, restaurants and entertainment. And it’s clear that they inherited some of their hustle from their mother, a well-known model who has graced Times Square billboards and a nutritionist who had her own business for decades.
‘I don’t stop,’ Maye, 71, told DailyMail.com. ‘I have no problem working day and night.’
In her new memoir, she wrote: ‘My kids benefited because they saw me work hard just to put a roof over our heads, put food in our stomachs, and purchase secondhand clothes. They want you to know how much I struggled, as life looks so easy for me now.’
While Elon, 48, the eldest, is the Musk who dominates the news cycle with the electric car company Tesla, his commercial aerospace firm SpaceX that eyes transportation to Mars one day, his tweets, and who he is dating (he is currently linked to musician Grimes and reportedly they are having a child together), his siblings have flourished as well.
Kimbal, 47, the middle child, is a chef who co-founded the nationwide Kitchen Restaurant Group, an urban farming company and a nonprofit devoted to helping kids make healthy food choices. Tosca, 45, the youngest, is a producer, writer and director who co-founded a romance streaming site called Passionflix.
Maye Musk, above, with her three children, from left to right, Tosca, Elon and Kimbal. ’People ask me how I have raised such successful kids. I did it by letting them follow their own interests,’ she wrote in her new memoir, A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success. At 12, Elon got his first computer, Kimbal started cooking meals for the family, and Tosca, who was always the actress, took over running the drama club when her teacher no longer wanted to do it, she wrote, noting that the three successful entrepreneurs founded or co-founded companies that are ‘rooted in what they loved as kids’
‘I brought my children up like my parents brought us up when we were young: to be independent, kind, honest, considerate, and polite, to work hard and do good things,’ Maye wrote in A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success.
The roots of the family’s entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit can be seen in Maye’s mother and father, who both had their own businesses. Her father, Joshua Haldeman, was a chiropractor who met her mother, Winnifred, known as ‘Wyn,’ at her dance school in Canada.
They had four children together: Scott, Lynne, and then Maye and her twin sister Kaye, who were born on April 19, 1948. Her father, she wrote, already had a son, Jerry, from a previous marriage.
‘I grew up in a family that had an airplane and a fascination for exploration. My parents flew across Canada, America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia in a small, canvas-covered propeller plane with no GPS or radio. When we were children, they took us on trips to the Kalahari Desert every winter to search for the lost city. Looking back, I realize it was dangerous to go across the desert with a compass and three weeks’ supply of water and food with five kids,’ she recalled in her memoir.
‘But my father and mother planned our trips to the last detail. Our family motto was “live dangerously – carefully.”‘
Maye Haldeman and her twin sister Kaye were born on April 19, 1948 in Canada. Her father, Joshua Haldeman, was a chiropractor who met her mother, Winnifred, known as ‘Wyn,’ at her dance school in Canada. The twins were the youngest, and had an older brother Scott and an older sister Lynne. Her father also had a son, Jerry, from a previous marriage. When Maye was two the family moved to Pretoria, South Africa, where she grew up. For vacation the family would go to the Kalahari Desert as seen above in 1955
‘Every July, which was winter in South Africa, my family went out in search of the lost city of Kalahari… Sometimes my dad would take the plane and my mom would drive the car. Other times we would all go by truck, with a compass, and spend three weeks crossing the Kalahari Desert. My mom packed the car with three weeks’ supply of food, water, and gas, as well as five children,’ Maye wrote in her new memoir, A Woman Makes a Plan. ‘Our family motto was “live dangerously – carefully.”‘ Above, the Haldeman children – Maye is in the middle – reading during a 1956 trip
In 1950, when Maye was two years old, her parents decided to move from Canada to Pretoria, South Africa. At 15, she began her modeling career when a family friend hired her for runway shows at a department store and some print work.
‘I didn’t feel special or privileged about being a model. It was just a job. It was better-paying than other jobs, which was nice, but when I found that out, it surprised me. You went somewhere, you put on a dress, you walked around the room, you went home. Why would that be well-paid? But it was, especially for a girl my age,’ she wrote, adding that she had no idea she would still be modeling at 71.
Maye knew she wanted to go to university and study some branch of science. She ended up pursuing a degree in dietetics, which is a science-based look at how diet and food affects health. She was still modeling and at one point was competing in beauty pageants, including Miss South Africa, for which she was a finalist. After university, the 21-year-old took a job as a nutritional expert with a Cape Town food company.
In her new memoir, Maye wrote that knew she wanted to go to university and study some branch of science. She ended up pursuing a degree in dietetics, which is a science-based look at how diet and food affects health. After university, the 21-year-old took a job as a nutritional expert with a Cape Town food company. Since she was 16, she had an on-and-off again boyfriend, Errol Musk. ‘He was good at math and science, better than me, and I didn’t know many guys like that. And he kept saying that he wanted to marry me,’ she wrote. Above, Maye with Elon, sitting, Tosca and Kimbal in 1976
In 1970, she ended up marrying Errol Musk, an engineer, whom she does not name in the memoir. Maye told DailyMail.com this was a deliberate decision, and claimed in the book that he physically and verbally abused her. ‘When I wrote this, I said, you know, I don’t think I want to bring the abuse part into it – the marriage,’ she said. ‘I hadn’t told anyone about it before.’ But with her children’s support, she said she kept it in. Above, Elon, left, at age five, Tosca, middle, at two, and Kimbal, right, at four, in Pretoria in 1976
Since she was 16, she had an on-and-off again boyfriend, Errol Musk, and wrote: ‘He was good at math and science, better than me, and I didn’t know many guys like that. And he kept saying that he wanted to marry me.’
In 1970, she ended up marrying Errol, an engineer, whom she does not name in the memoir.
Maye told DailyMail.com this was a deliberate decision, and claimed in the book that he physically and verbally abused her.
‘When I wrote this, I said, you know, I don’t think I want to bring the abuse part into it – the marriage,’ she said. ‘I hadn’t told anyone about it before.’
But with her children’s support, she said she kept it in.
Maye had three children in three years and three weeks: Elon born on June 28, 1971, then Kimbal on September 20, 1972 and her third child, Tosca, on July 20, 1974. She was responsible for the children, the household, worked for her husband in the mornings, ‘typing his engineering specifications and doing his accounting,’ and also had a ‘small private nutrition practice’ at their apartment,’ according to the book.
Eventually, Maye filed for divorce and sought custody of her children. The split was finalized in 1979.
‘So we lived in a small apartment, more than once. So my children and I ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. So we had a lot of bean soup. So what? We loved each other. We had a lot of fun together. That’s what matters,’ Maye wrote.
Maye and Errol Musk were married from 1970 until 1979. After the split, she struggled financially, writing: ‘My children are the best thing I ever did, but the marriage was a mistake. After I divorced and was living in Durban (a city in South Africa), a single mother of three young children, it was up to me to care of us.’ Above, Elon in 1982. Maye wrote he got his first computer when he was 12
Maye had her own nutrition practice, counseling clients at their apartment. She told DailyMail.com that her children knew they had to be quiet and ‘couldn’t run around screaming’ while she was working. Her middle child, Kimbal, was 12 when ‘he took charge of mealtimes and started cooking for the family. He wanted food that tasted delicious, and if he had to do it himself to achieve that, he was willing,’ she wrote. ‘He was a natural cook… Everything he made was delicious, and much better than my dull cooking.’ Above, Kimbal in the kitchen in 1989
Tosca, above, practicing the piano in 1988. ’When Tosca was twelve and in grade seven, her drama teacher decided not to run the drama club anymore. So Tosca took over,’ Maye recalled in her memoir, A Woman Makes a Plan. ‘My daughter was always very much an actress. She was into theater, dance, performing, and music at a very young age, and she always loved movies’
After the divorce, they lived in various cities in South Africa: first in Durban and then eventually in Johannesburg. Maye’s children helped with her nutrition practice that she ran at their home – just as she and her siblings had done for her father’s chiropractic business. ‘My children had to be responsible for themselves and be considerate of my work, as I had converted a bedroom into my office,’ she wrote, adding that Tosca typed letters to doctors, Elon explained the word processor functions to her, and Kimbal also helped.
By the time each child was 12, Maye wrote, they had ‘developed the interests that would become their careers.’ She pointed to letting her kids follow their own interests as the key to raising successful children.
‘My oldest child, Elon, is making electric cars to save the environment and launching rockets. My middle child, Kimbal, opened farm-to-table restaurants and is teaching children across the country to build fruit and vegetable gardens in underserved schools. My youngest child, Tosca, runs her own entertainment company, producing and directing romance films from bestselling novels.’
Elon was nicknamed ‘the encyclopedia’ because he read everything and retained it, she recalled.
‘He got his first computer at 12. It was 1983, and computers were very, very new. He learned to use it and wrote a computer program, BLASTAR, which was a game. I told him to submit it to a computer magazine. He sent BLASTAR to PC Magazine, and they sent him 500 rand ($500). I don’t think they knew he was twelve. It was published when he was thirteen. I didn’t realize what he would go on to do.’
Kimbal was the foodie and at 12, he started cooking for the family.
Maye wrote: ‘He loved to go to the grocery store with me. I remember going to the market with him, and he would pick up a green pepper and smell it. And I would say, “Where do you come from?” I didn’t find cooking a joy at all. I was feeding them healthy food, but it was quite simple: peanut butter sandwiches, peas, and carrots.’
Tosca was the actress. When she was 12, her teacher decided not to run drama club anymore so Tosca took over, she wrote. ‘She was into theater, dance, performing, and music at a very young age, and she always loved movies.
‘In Johannesburg, we would spend Friday nights on the couch together, watching romance movies and eating ice cream (when I was not watching what I ate the way I do now). She was always in every performing arts club. So of course it makes sense to me now that she’s a director, making her own films, turning romance novels into movies for her company, Passionflix.’
By the time Maye was 41, she wrote that things were going well in Johannesburg: they had a nice house and she finally felt secure. Elon, however, wanted to move to Canada ‘to pursue his computer interests,’ she wrote, and asked Maye ‘to apply to regain my citizenship… It took a long time to get it all sorted. When the passports finally arrived, Elon was on his way to Canada three weeks later. He was 17. I sent him with addresses and $2,000 in traveler’s checks.’ Above, Elon on his 18th birthday in 1989 in Canada
While Maye was growing up, she and her siblings were expected to help out at her father’s chiropractic practice. ’My parents worked long hours. We hardly saw them,’ she told DailyMail.com. Her parents did pay them for the work, ‘but we didn’t expect payment, we were just doing it to help them,’ she said. Elon, Kimbal and Tosca were expected to help Maye with her nutrition practice. Above, Tosca helps Maye with doctors report in Johannesburg in 1986
When Elon arrived in Montreal, Maye wrote that he called her uncle but there was no answer. She had written her family to let them know Elon was coming but he arrived before the letter. He then traveled to Toronto to find another uncle and eventually ended up in Saskatchewan to find her cousins. Maye posted the above photo of Elon on Twitter with the hashtag 1995 ‘and people said you knew nothing about cars.’ Elon invested in Tesla, an electric car company, in 2004, and went on to become its CEO
Tosca, who was then 15, urged her mom to join Elon in Canada. Maye was then considering a PhD program at the University of Cape Town. But she visited Elon and together they checked out universities in Canada. Eventually, they all ended up moving to Canada and Maye attended the University of Toronto, according to the book. Above, Kimbal lifts Maye with Elon on the right in a photo from around 1992. Maye posted it on social media this with question: ‘Did I mention we had fun in Toronto?’
A Woman Makes a Plan is Maye’s second book. Her first book was Feel Fantastic, which was published in 1996. In her new memoir, she recalled how she couldn’t wait to share a draft of Feel Fantastic with her kids. While Elon and Maye were visiting New York City, above, in 1995, they went over the manuscript. ‘It was all about calories, metabolism, essential nutrients… Elon started reading it, and he said, “This is boring.”‘ He told her it should focus on the nutrition advice her clients came to her to dispense. ‘Even at that age, he showed his wisdom,’ she wrote. ‘So I listened to him’
Tosca would show her independent streak again at 15. In 1989, her older brother, Elon, 17 going on 18, wanted to move to Canada because, Maye wrote, ‘He felt like North America was the right place to pursue his computer interests,’ and urged her to apply to regain her Canadian citizenship. Tosca wanted to join him but Maye was hesitant. At the time, her business was going well in Johannesburg, they had a nice house and she finally ‘felt secure.’
Maye was accepted into a PhD program at a university in Cape Town, but she agreed to travel to Canada to see Elon and check out universities there. (She later earned a master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Toronto.)
‘I came back to Johannesburg three weeks later and found that Tosca had sold my home, my furniture, and my car. This 5-foot-10 15-year-old who did not care that she was young and had no permission just sold it all. Everything in the house was gone. And my car.
‘All I had to do was sign the papers, and it was done. We left the country a few weeks after that. The plan was that Kimbal would finish his studies and then join us.’
Maye wasn’t mad at her teenage daughter, but rather wrote that moving to Toronto was good for her family because there were new opportunities.
After stints in universities in South Africa and Canada, Elon graduated with two degrees – one in economics, the other in physics – from the University of Pennsylvania. He moved out to Silicon Valley and Kimbal, who graduated with a business degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in 1995, joined him.
Together they founded Zip2, which provided maps and door-to-door directions to media outlets, in the mid-1990s, and it was eventually sold to Compaq for over $300 million. Reportedly Elon made $22 million off the deal but it is unclear how much Kimbal made.
‘I owned a relatively small percentage by then but it was enough for me never to have to work again. As a 26-year-old kid, I had more money than I knew what to do with,’ he told Forbes in 2016. Kimbal studied at culinary school and eventually opened The Kitchen, with an emphasis on ‘real food,’ with a partner in Denver in 2004. It is now part of a nationwide restaurant group.
Elon then founded X.com, which would eventually be part of PayPal. EBay bought PayPal for a reported $1.5 billion with Elon making over $160 million, according to media reports. He then founded SpaceX in 2002 and joined Tesla two years later. His net worth is over $30 billion, according to Forbes.
Tosca graduated with a degree in film and cinema studies from the University of British Columbia, started Musk Entertainment in 2002, according to her LinkedIn, and has written, directed and produced movies, including romances for the Hallmark Channel. In November 2017, she and two partners raised $4.75 million in funding – her brother Kimbal was an investor – for Passionflix, a subscription streaming service focused on romance films and series.
Tosca and Kimbal are estimated to be worth millions. So is their mother Maye, who is still modeling and walking in runway shows.
‘My father always said, “There’s nothing a Haldeman can’t do,”‘ Maye wrote. ‘And that is what I have always believed, and my siblings, too. I have probably shown that to my own children. Now there’s nothing a Musk can’t do.’
‘In Johannesburg, we would spend Friday nights on the couch together, watching romance movies and eating ice cream…,’ Maye recalled in her new book about spending time with her daughter, and the pair are seen above. Tosca ‘was always in every performing arts club. So of course it makes sense to me now that she’s a director, making her own films, turning romance novels into movies for her company, Passionflix. I’m always thrilled to get dressed up and join her on the red carpet for her premieres.’ Tosca co-founded Passionflix, a subscription streaming site for romance films and series, in 2017
Above, Maye, Elon and Kimbal in an image that was posted on social media in November that gave a ‘thumbs up to the Cybertruck:’ Tesla’s all-electric commercial vehicle that was unveiled that month. Kimbal, who is on the board of Telsa and SpaceX according to his website, studied at culinary school and opened with a partner a farm-to-table restaurant called The Kitchen in Boulder in 2004. After he suffered an accident in February 2010 where he broke his neck going on an inner tube run with his kid in Jackson Hole, he opened more restaurants nationwide. He also runs a nonprofit called Big Green that builds what is called ‘Learning Gardens’ in underserved schools across the country
Above, Maye, center, and her children and grandchildren in a picture posted on social media in May 2013. In her new memoir, one of her dedications is to her now 11 grandchildren. Top row, Elon, right, and his first wife Justine Wilson, an author of fantasy books, have five boys together. He was married twice to actress Talulah Riley, seen above next to Elon, and he is currently linked to musician Grimes and reportedly they are having a child together. Tosca, in red next to Maye, did IVF by herself and has twins. Kimbal, left, has three children with his first wife, artist Jen Lewin. He married Christiana Wyly in 2018
Maye Musk began her modeling career at 15 in Pretoria, South Africa when a family friend hired her to do runway shows at a department store. ‘I had no idea back then that I would still be a model at seventy-one,’ she wrote in her new memoir seen above as Maye gets her makeup done. With the exception of a period during her marriage to Errol Musk, Maye has been modeling since she was 15. She has been on the cover of New York Magazine, was named a CoverGirl at 69, was part of a Virgin America campaign that had a billboard in Times Square, and continues to walk in runway shows. She recently walked a fashion show in Milan, telling DailyMail.com she wore heels that were at least 6 inches. She laughed and said: ‘I’ve never worn such high heels before’
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