Martha to Staff: 'Glad to Be Home'

03/07/2005 at 02:00 PM EST

Martha to Staff: 'Glad to Be Home'
Martha Stewart
Mike Segar/Reuters/Landov
Wearing a smart dark business suit, Martha Stewart returned to her company headquarters in Manhattan on Monday afternoon after serving her five-month prison sentence. She received a standing ovation.

Thanking her staff, Stewart, whose return was recorded by TV news cameras, said, "I missed you, as you could imagine, I thought of you every single day. I’m so overwhelmed to see you all gathered in one place."

Stewart, who is not yet outfitted with her home arrest ankle bracelet, said that while in prison, "I met an incredible cross-section of people, as you can imagine, from all walks of life. I had the opportunity to do a tremendous amount of thinking." She said a lot of it was reflective and aimed at improving the direction of her company.

The 63-year-old homemaking expert also held up the much-photographed wool poncho she wore the night she left prison, laughing as she displayed it, and explaining it was made by a friend at West Virginia's Alderson Federal Prison. "The night before I left, she handed me this, not wrapped, because there is no wrapping paper there, and she said, ‘Wear it in the best of health,’" said Stewart, adding: "We’ll try to get the pattern from her."

Though her speech was prepared, Stewart ad-libbed several anecdotes. "I got some fabulous letters from Iraq, letters from all over the world," she said, singling out one from an American soldier in Iraq who sent her a picture of his cell over there. He wrote that he guessed her cell in Alderson was better than his in Iraq. "I wrote him back and thanked him for support," said Stewart, who said his letter made her cry.

For the most part, the speech was a sales pep talk. "I am Martha Stewart," she said to her staff, "but you are Martha Stewart … and it’s really important now to show the world our company from top to bottom and from inside out. ... The more people know about you, the more they will value our quality products.""

Stewart also said that she felt deeply loved while she was away, and grateful to be back. "I love all of you from the bottom of my heart," she said, sniffling and getting choked up, "and I’m really glad to be home."

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