This 1952 Avon advertisement featuring star Ann Sothern is the perfect match for today's internet holiday, National Lipstick Day. The holiday was popularized by Huda Beauty, who purchased the rights to the date in 2016 to promote a product launch. The hashtag holiday has since been embraced by the beauty industry and other cosmetics manufacturers and retailers as a date to launch products of their own and conduct special marketing and sales campaigns.
Hagley Library's collection of Avon Products, Inc. records (Accession 2155), which includes this advertisement, documents the history of Avon Products, Inc., one of the oldest direct selling companies in America. It traces its origins to 1886, when David H. McConnell (1856-1937) bought the Union Publishing Company of New York City and started manufacturing perfumes to give away with his books.
McConnell discovered that his customers were more interested in the fragrances than the books, and he decided to concentrate on selling perfumes. The business was renamed the California Perfume Company (CPC) in an effort to associate its products with the perceived beauty and novelty of the Golden State. CPC was officially renamed Avon Products, Inc., in 1939 to reflect the company's identification with its popular cosmetics and toiletry lines.
From the beginning, CPC sold directly to the consumer through a national network of sales representatives, primarily women, who were looking for economic opportunity and flexible part-time employment. The representatives were independent contractors and not company employees. They sold CPC products within their assigned territory and received a percentage of their sales. Representatives were supervised by general agents (later known as district supervisors and managers). These district managers were also primarily women who traveled from town to town.
Our Avon Products digital collection in the Hagley Digital Archives encompass a range of materials such as advertisements, catalogs, representative's sales tools, and corporate documents. This digital collection combines a selection of materials from this collection, as well as selections from our collection of Avon Products Inc. photographs and audiovisual materials (Accession 1997.209), our museum's Avon Artifact Collection (Accession D2001.19), and catalogs from our collections of trade catalogs and pamphlets. Click here to view it now.