A Glorious History of Avon

By: Belia Dagle

Over the years Avon has become recognised as a manufacturer and seller of various high quality cosmetic and beauty products. Now its products are sold to women all over the world, but Avon's beginnings lie in America.

Avon was founded in 1886 by David McConnell, a 28-year-old who sold books from door-to-door. When he sold books, McConnell would give away a bottle of rose oil perfume; over time he came to discover that the women purchased the books because of the perfume.

This led McConnell to focus his attentions on selling a high quality product door-to-door via a network of gifted entrepreneurs - this way the items would go straight from the manufacturer to the customer.

The company was originally operated from an office in New York, however, McConnell decided to change the name based on the recommendation of a friend living in California to The California Perfume Company.

McConnell worked on developing this model of selling with Mrs P.F.E. Albee of Winchester of New Hampshire. In the process she became the first Avon lady, selling the company's products to customers and recruiting like-minded women to carry out a similar task. This role provided many women with an income, which would allow them to become financially independent.

During the early years of The California Perfume Company, which would later become Avon, it produced five floral perfumes, as well as a range of essential items to be used on a daily basis.

Although synonymous with Avon today, brochures weren't introduced until ten years after The California Perfume Company was established; the products were shown and demonstrated to customers by sales people, who carried the items in a sample case, in the early years of the business.

The company also ensured that customers were offered a money back guarantee; this is something that Avon would go onto adopt and still upholds in the modern age.

The California Perfume Company would become Avon after McConnell, during a chance visit to Stratford-on-Avon, became enchanted with the natural beauty of its countryside. At this point he decided to release a product line - which included a toothbrush, a vanity set and some talcum powder - called Avon.

Taken aback by the areas wonderful natural environment and so struck by its name, in 1939 McConnell made the decision to change the name of his company from The California Perfume Company to Avon Products Inc.

During Hollywood's so-called golden age - in the last 1940s and 1950s - many of the big screen's brightest stars featured in Avon adverts, such as Jimmy Steward, Claudette Colbert and Rosalind Russell - displaying how far the company had come since its humble beginnings.

The development of television, during the 1950s also had a considerable influence on Avon. Avon took advantage of this exciting new medium by producing an advert; "ding dong Avon calling" would become one of the most memorable adverts of the fifties.

In the modern era, the company sells a huge range of beauty, skincare, make-up and cosmetic products in over 140 countries - with Brazil now its largest market.

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Millions of women around the world buy beauty products from Avon. This article documents the history of The California Perfume Company and its successor, Avon.

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