“You never looked so good!”

When purchasing cosmetics, women have always preferred the personal touch and Avon has been there to deliver for well over a hundred years. With an army of sales associates ready to meet you at your front door and provide that perfect shade of lipstick along with a plethora of other cosmetics, they have saved many a customer the inconvenience of running to the store for supplies.

Avon has been ringing doorbells since 1886. The brainchild of New York salesman David H. McConnell, the idea for the company started as a way to help Mr. McConnell sell his wares – books. McConnell used perfume vials to entice his potential female customers to open their doors to him – and, subsequently, their wallets. But his perfume ended up being a bigger seller than his books, and a new idea was born.

Assisted by Mrs. PFE Albee, one of his employees, McConnell started selling perfumes door to door under the name California Perfume Company. Mrs. Albee hired only women as the sales force, knowing that housewives would be more likely to open their doors to other women. It was a huge success. These female salespeople became the first group of American women to be financially independent in a respectable profession (not that they had the right to vote yet, but…)

California Perfume Company changed its name to Avon in 1939, after a product line they sold that was named in honor of Shakespeare. They originally had great success in the housewares market, but as time progressed, they stopped offering furniture polish and cookbooks, and focused on their line of cosmetics and jewelry.

Traveling salesmen soon became a thing of the past, replaced by malls and, eventually, the internet. But the Avon ladies have persevered, bringing their wares door to door with a personalized way of shopping that’s lost in this modern day and age. Women continue to look forward to a visit from their Avon lady and her bag of goodies that can be sampled and sniffed right in their own house.

Today, many of the vintage Avon bottles, decanters, novelty items and their fine line of jewelry are now sought after collectible items and can fetch a healthy price. And, just for the record, their best-selling product to date is “Skin So Soft”, a moisturizer that had the unexpected, but welcome side effect of being a powerful mosquito repellent. Whatever your needs, Avon has you covered.

Today there are upwards of six million Avon sales representatives in over 100 countries, each of whom continue the tradition of personal service and sales. It’s a combination of quaint and practical that never gets old, especially in a world where online shopping carts have all but replaced face-to-face customer interaction.

Have you bought a few Avon products through the years? Did you look through the catalogs as a kid? We’d love to hear all of your memories of this iconic cosmetic maker in our comments section below.

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