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Avon History

Avon: Empowering Women since 1886

In 1886, 32 years before women in the U.K. earned the right to vote, Avon’s founder, David H. McConnell, helped give them the chance to earn an independent income.

McConnell didn’t set out to create a beauty company. He was a traveling book salesperson, and offered beauty products as perk. He soon realised customers were more interested in the free perfume samples than the books, and that many of them stayed at home while their husbands went off to work.

From a small New York City office, McConnell mixed the company's first fragrances himself, and recruited a team of women to be Sales Representatives. It was an inspired idea: women had a passion for his products and loved networking with other women, so it turned out to be a brilliant business model, which works just as well today.

This was just the start of Avon’s long history of empowering women around the globe.

131 years before the Women’s March on Washington, and demonstrations around the world

93 years before Margaret Thatcher became the first female British Prime Minister

87 Years before Billie Jean King defeated champion tennis player Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” match

77 Years before Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to travel into space

62 Years before the UN Declaration of Human Rights asserted the equal rights of men and women

46 Years before Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic

32 Years before the first women in the U.K. had the right to vote

17 Years before Marie Curie became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize

Long before these landmark events, Avon offered women the opportunity to be CEOs of their own businesses. Being an Avon Representative helped women to control their finances, and ultimately, their destinies.

Avon has stayed faithful to McConnell’s ideas of beauty and community as it spread all over the world.

Avon has been empowering women for over 130 years.



Hagley Museum & Library

For in-depth corporate archives, please visit Avon's online digital archive collection at the Hagley Museum. Click here to launch the site.