|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 pharmacist.
Fate stepped 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 Stratford-on-Avon.
By 1887, McConnell had twelve women employees selling a line of eighteen fragrances.
And the numbers kept growing and growing. On October 6, 1939,
the California Perfume Company name changed to
Avon Products, Inc. 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.
TO LEARN MORE
The Entrepreneur from The Great Idea Finder
Invention of Avon Cosmetics
from The Great Idea
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
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 entertain kids.
Panatis Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
by Charles Panati / Paperback - 480 pages Reissue edition (September 1989) /
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
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 items.
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
DID YOY KNOW?:
- Today, Avon sales representatives number close to 3 million
- Avon products are sold in 139 countries around the world.