facts about the invention
of Avon Cosmetics by David H. McConnell in 1886.
|Avon was strictly an
American phenomenon, and a unique and pioneering one at that. The first Avon Lady was
actually a man, young door-to-door salesman David McConnell from upstate New York. He
launched Avon Calling in 1886, offering women cosmetics in the comfort and privacy of
their own homes.
But perfumes and hand-cream were
not McConnells initial merchandise.At the age of sixteen, McConnell had begun
selling books door-to-door. When his fare was not well received, he resorted to the
then-popular advertising Gimmick of offering a free introductory gift in exchange for
being allowed to make a sales pitch. A complimentary vial of perfume, he thought, would be
an ideal entree, and he blended the original scent himself, with the aid of a local
in. McConnell learned that women adored his perfume and remained indifferent to his books.
Thus, he abandoned books and organized the New York-based California Perfume Company,
named in honor of a friend and investor from California. The door-to-door approach seemed
tailor-made for cosmetics, particularly in rural areas, where homemakers, in
horse-and-buggy days, had poor access to better stores.
The first female Avon Lady was Mrs. P. F. E. Albee, a widow from Winchester, New
Hampshire. She began her chime-ringing career selling the company s popular Little Dot
Perfume Set, and she recruited other women, training them as door-to-door salespeople. The
company was re-christened Avon for the simple reason that the New York State town in which
David McConnell lived, Suffern on the Ramapo, reminded him of Shakespeares
By 1887, McConnell had twelve women employees selling a line of eighteen fragrances.
And the numbers kept growing and growing. In 1939,
California Perfume Company name changed to Avon Products, Inc.
(10/6/39.) Today, despite the scores of expensive,
prestigious American and foreign brand-name cosmetics, Avon ranks first in sales
nationwide, with Avon Ladies ringing doorbells from coast to coast.
David McConnell, Inventor Profile
from The Great Idea Finder
Accidents May Happen : 50 Inventions Discovered by Mistake
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) /
Hardcover - 86 pages (1996) / Delacorte
Fifty inventions discovered by mistake receive entertaining cartoon
embellishment but are actually serious subjects which will delight and
Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
by Charles Panati / Paperback - 480 pages Reissue edition
(September 1989) / HarperCollins
Discover the fascinating stories behind the origins of over 500
everyday items, expressions and customs.
Hastin's Avon Collector's Encyclopedia: The Official Guide for Avon
Bottle and Cpc Collectors
by Bud Hastin / Paperback: 640 pages / Collector Books;
17th edition (September 2003)
Bud Hastin's new completely revised edition features over 200
categories of Avon collectibles. Informative text tells what's hot and
what's not in Avon collecting and where to buy and sell these popular
ON THE WEB:
From the company's official Web site.
Avon a Renaissance Story
Chosen as the 2003 Company of the Year: Excellence in Packaging by the
readers of Cosmetic Packaging & Design, Avon’s history of providing
American women with quality beauty products has evolved into the global
“company for women.”
20th Century Business Leaders
David H. McConnell Born 1858 in New York, died 1937
WHERE TO FIND:
Not just door-to-door anymore.
DID YOU KNOW?:
- Today, Avon sales representatives number close to 3 million
- Avon products are sold in 139 countries around the world.
Sources in BOLD Type
page revised February, 2005.
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