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The Best Beauty Story Ever Told: 135 Facts About Avon

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The Best Beauty Story Ever Told: 135 Facts About Avon

In case you haven’t heard, it’s Avon’s 135th Anniversary! As we celebrate this special milestone, we honor our history as a pioneer of direct selling and champion of empowering women through economic opportunity. We also look back at important, iconic moments that helped define who we are today—a company for women creating innovative beauty products and supporting causes that celebrate women’s power to make beautiful and positive impact in the world. Read on for the best beauty story ever told

1886 In September 1886, David H. McConnell (who initially sold books as a door-to-door salesman in     NY) decided to sell perfume instead of books.

1886 McConnell hired then-50-year-old Mrs. P.F.E. Albee, who was the first woman to sell Avon door to door. She is considered the first “Avon Lady” or the first Avon Representative, as we known them today.  

1886 The first product sold was a perfume, Rose Extract from the “California Perfume Company.”

1892 McConnell’s ‘new’ business was started in Manhattan, located on 126 Chambers Street, and it was named the “California Perfume Company.”

1905 Avon launched Outlook magazine, a publication for sharing advice to employees and keeping representatives up-to-date on company news.

1906 The California Perfume Company received its first Good Housekeeping advertisement.

1909 On May 3, 1909 the California Perfume Company corporate office moved to 31 Park Place, NY.

1909 On June 16, 1909, McConnell signed an agreement in New Jersey.

1914 The company’s first operations opened in Montreal.

1916 On January 28, 1916, the company was incorporated in New York.

1919 "Avon's First Lipstick” began selling in 1919. Although product development started years prior, Avon began selling its first lipstick in a metal container in 1919. The original offering came in only two shades—light and dark—and the product was often applied in the fashionable “Cupid’s Bow” style of the times, intended to emphasize the two peaks of the upper lips.

1926 Avon begins selling non-beauty products.

1927 Avon’s first skin care collection, the "Gertrude Recordon Facial Treatment," was released. Founder David H. McConnell tapped Recordon, a well-known beauty expert at the time, to help create the formulas for this deluxe four-piece facial line. The collection included an astringent, cleansing cream, peach lotion, and skin food.

1928 The company first started calling itself Avon in 1928 (after the birthplace of McConnell’s favorite playwright, William Shakespeare). Fun fact: in using the name Avon, they launched it with a limited number of new products.

1929 The Avon name and logo debuted on a cosmetics line.

1929 The 1st Commercial Use of AVON was on September 1, 1929.

1932 In the company’s trademark application (June 3, 1932), the description of goods/services was recorded as “perfumes, toilet waters, powder, rouge compacts, lipsticks and other toiletry products.”

1933 While the country was in the throes of the Great Depression, Avon expanded its offering with the introduction of several skin care products—namely its Hand Cream—in 1933. The ultra-moisturizing lotion has been softening women’s hands ever since.

1939 On October 6, 1939, the California Perfume Company officially changed its name to Avon Products, Inc.

1942 During WWII, Avon converted more than half of the Suffern Lab in order to manufacture items for the War efforts from 1942-1945.

1946 Avon began offering its stock for sale to the public.

1947 Avon’s Sun Lotion with Insect Repellent was a must-have for those balmy beach days and poolside days. Providing protection against ultraviolet rays while simultaneously warding off pesky bugs and mosquitoes made this a winning combo that beach bums and sun lovers alike could bask in.

1948 Claudette Colbert was one of several actresses to appear in Avon advertisements.

1948 Avon began to enter the market in 10 new countries, the 26-year spurt introducing 450 products and annual sales growth of more than $1 billion.

1950 Avon began manufacturing all over the country, one of the main facilities being Morton Grove in Illinois.

1950 Avon has one of the fastest assembly lipstick lines, comprised of both men and women, that produces more than 250 lipsticks in one minute and often 300,000 lipsticks in a single day.

1954 Avon Ding Dong Ad campaign - the longest and successful campaign in advertising history till 1967 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66IWgU9AAis

1954 Avon expanded North America by entering international markets, aggressively adding Puerto Rico and Venezula.

1955 Avon became one of the original Fortune 500 companies.

1955 The Avon Foundation was created in 1955 as a private foundation. The first grant was a $400 scholarship.

1959 The iconic fragrance Topaze Cologne launches.

1960’s Topaze and other men’s scents were packaged in decanters, available in fun shapes such as cars, birds, guitars, and boats. These designs for men became popular over the years as gift and are sought-after items for vintage Avon collectors today.

1961 Skin So Soft, which remains Avon’s most iconic collection today, made its first appearance.  

1964 Avon went public and was listed on the stock exchange.

1967 Avon Running—The company sponsored Katherine Switzer, the first woman to unofficially run the Boston Marathon.

1969 The first statue of Mrs. Albee (the first official Avon Representative) was designed as one of the most endearing symbols of success for Avon Representatives to win as top Avon sales reps.

1970 "Avon is Christmas Calling Now," launched, an ad that targeted African American consumers.

1970 Envira was born, an environmental awareness makeup line targeting the protection of skin against environmental effects.

1971 Avon starts selling jewelry.

1973 Founded the "Newport News Catalog."

1974 Avon becomes the nation's largest distributor of costume jewelry.

1975 Avon launched a makeup line called "Avon Shades of Beauty" for Black women that included makeup, skin care, and hair care.

1977 The Avon Tennis Circuit launched for women.

1978 Avon International Marathon, an annual women's marathon event took place. “The Avon Women’s Marathons broke barriers by giving talented women runners' confidence, opportunity and exposure, proving they could do it."

1978 Avon launched an "Operation Smile" campaign to get Avon lipstick on as many lips as possible for just 35 cents, selling over 20 million lipsticks.

1979 Avon becomes the largest distributor of costume jewelry in the world.

1979 Avon purchased Tiffany & Co., the upmarket jewelry brand for $104 million to build up their product offering, but sold Tiffany several years later.

1980 Avon went on a shopping spree with Tiffany & Co., and sold it in 1984.

1980's Avon began putting UVA/UVB protection in its facial moisturizers, long before the issue of sun protection became popularized.

1985 Avon developed a stabilized pure form of Vitamin A (AKA retinol) and launched “BioAdvance,” which was the first product to use stabilized retinol.

1985 Avon focused on health care for the elderly with acquisitions of the Retirement Inns of America and Mediplex Group, nursing home operations. (They were later sold in 1989 and 1990).

1985 Avon owned 50% of Liz Claiborne up until 1987.

1987 Built a lab in Suffern, NY.

1987 Avon purchased the Giorgio Beverly Hills brand.

1987 Avon was the first to use vitamin C as a key anti-aging ingredient with a Collagen Booster that contained a 5% concentration of stabilized vitamin C. (If not stabilized, vitamin C turns brown).

1988 The Avon Color colored makeup line is introduced.

1989 Avon became the first major cosmetics company to announce an end to animal testing. Read more in our animal welfare policy.

1989 Avon ventured into video sales, launching an aerobics video by TV personality Mary Hart.

1990 Avon and the Avon Foundation began working with celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, then continued to work with Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey, Eva Longoria, Fergie, Lucy Hale, Salma Hayek and Bon Jovi, among others.

1990 Kathy Baker plays the Avon Lady in the 1990 Tim Burton film, Edward Scissorhands.

1991 The "Four Ways to Be Beautiful" campaign launched with four ways to order Avon products: phone, fax, brochure or through a Rep. at 1-800-Call-Avon.

1992 In 1992, Avon introduced our iconic Anew line, becoming the first beauty brand to use Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) in a product.

1992 As a direct selling company, Avon contributed over $800 million to the American Cancer Society in 1992.

1992 Anew was born: launched with the Anew Perfecting Complex for Face - Avon being at the forefront of AHA. With this product, we became the first beauty brand to mass-market anti-aging technology with Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA).  Avon's pioneering use of AHA became an industry standard and ignited a skin care revolution.

1992 The Avon Foundation launches the Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer.

1993 Elizabeth Taylor collaborated with Avon for a glittery and glamorous jewelry collection.

1993 Avon advertising campaigns: Avon was a forerunner in endorsing the concept that beauty is more than skin deep, starting in 1993 when we introduced a "Women are Beautiful" theme.

1993 The "Women are Beautiful" theme examined the lives and relations of women.

1994 Avon Far Away Eau de Parfum launches.

1995 Diane von Furstenberg designed a collection of casualwear for Avon called "The Color Authority." "The Idea is to create a small wardrobe of great items, that are very adaptable," von Furstenberg told Women's Wear Daily.

1996 Avon is the world's first beauty company to launch an e-commerce website, www.avon.com.

1996 Avon was the official Olympic beauty skin care "The Olympic Woman."

1996 Avon Barbie Dolls were the biggest product launch with the Winter Velvet Barbie Doll - Avon +   partnership with Mattel, selling $40 million worth of dolls.

1996 Avon patented a new molecule using vitamin C, AVC10, invited by a team led by Dmitri Ptechlintsev, a research scientist in Avon's skin care lab in Suffern. The innovation was used in the Anew Night Force Vertical Lifting Complex.

1997 Anew expanded with cleansers, toners, and moisturizers incorporating other advanced technologies.

1997 The "Dare to Change Your Mind About Avon" marketing campaign launched, featuring portraits of real Avon customers.

1998 Bug Guard launches.

1998 Avon opens its first store, "Avon Salon & Spa," in the Trump Tower Hotel on 5th Ave and 57th Street, and it quickly becomes a a bustling hub of activity.

1998 The Avon Representative Barbie Doll is released.

1999 Our water-based lipstick launches.

1999 In 1999, Avon appointed its first female CEO, Andrea Jung.

1999 Avon’s brand slogan became the "Company for Women."

1999 Avon sponsored its first national Convention in Las Vegas.

2000 Youravon.com was created, with 16,500 Reps signed up.

2000 The "Let's Talk" Campaign launched in 2000, with Venus and Serena Williams as spokespeople  

2000 Haiku Eau de Parfum launches.

2001 Representatives sold Avon at kiosks at their local malls, which gave them another selling channel in addition to the traditional door-to-door method.

2001 Avon transitions into the wellness category with the tagline "Beauty Starts from Within."

2002 Avon expands attention to the Latina market with a dedicated Brochure, "Eres Tu," which helped launch up to 40 languages of brochure.

2003 Avon debuted “Avon Voices,” a global online singing and songwriting talent search for men and women.

2003 Unlike other direct sellers, Avon publishes a 150-plus-page brochure every two weeks in the U.S. market, an astonishing frequency that effectively lets the company alter its offerings twice a month.

2003 Anew Clinical launches with Line and Wrinkle Corrector

2004 Avon Representative and New York Jets Quarterback Chad Pennington graced Avon's first men's brochure, "M: The Men's Catalog," which featured 16 pages of men's grooming products and accessories.

2004 Official Global Spokesperson Salma Hayek helped promote the fragrance line "Today, Tomorrow and Always" in addition to relaunching the Avon Color Cosmetics Collection.

2005 A new lab was built for $25 million.

2005 Avon was the second largest publisher in the U.S. after TV Guide.

2005 Avon training for Representatives improves as we begin offering a training course and giving them the opportunity to sell through the JCPenney Color Cosmetics line "Becoming."

2005 Representatives began receiving training materials such as CD's, books and training tapes to buy. In 2005, the training program evolved to online materials that are free for Representatives, known today as AVON U.

2005 Avon is named the second-largest publisher in the U.S. after TV Guide. Worldwide, Avon produces around 800 million brochures a year.

2006 In 2006, the Eye Lift Pro debuts– and remains one of Avon’s top-selling products to date. 

2007 Reese Witherspoon becomes Avon's first global ambassador, serving as an honorary chairwoman of the Avon Foundation for Woman.

2008 Gemma Arterton endorses the "Bond Girl 007" perfume.

2008 Kenneth Jay Lane designs Avon's Holiday Jewelry Collection.

2008 On International Women’s Day, Avon partnered with United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) to promote women's empowerment and help end violence against women.

2009 Even during harsh economic times, women were still looking to invest in dermatologist treatments. Recognizing that women were looking to get results while saving money, we introduced the first-ever injectable-grade hyaluronic acid treatment: ANEW Clinical Derma-Full X3 Facial Filling Serum. This serum provided the same visible plumping and filling benefits of a hyaluronic acid treatment, without the pain and at a fraction of the price. Another beauty industry first!

2009 Avon's first Super Bowl commercial launch was its first-ever global campaign in response to the economic crisis.

2010 Avon purchases another direct selling company, Silpada (but the company’s founders later buy it back.)

2010 Avon contributes $1 million to Hello Green Tomorrow – a worldwide campaign to nurture nature and help restore the Atlantic Rainforest in South America.

2012 Avon develops a new molecule, A-F33, a breakthrough collagen producer that helps visibly smooth out wrinkles, releasing it to the market in a new formula, Anew Clinical Pro Line Eraser Treatment.

2013 Avon launches a fragrance Line with Fergie, including "Viva”, “Outspoken Fresh” and “Outspoken Party."

2013 Avon marketing makes the center of the script in an episode titled "A Tale of Two Cities" of the award-winning drama series, Mad Men.

2015 Cerberus Capital Management purchased Avon North America and separated into a privately held entity.

2016 Avon Products, Inc. and New Avon LLC (US, Canada and Puerto Rico business) become two separate companies.

2017 Avon partners with Project Runway featuring Avon color products.

2017 Lucy Hale endorses the "Mark" cosmetics line.

2018 Avon became the first-ever National Sponsor of the ACS (American Cancer Society).

2019 New Avon LLC, the privately held North American company that split from Avon Products, Inc. (Avon Worldwide) in 2016, enters a definitive agreement with South Korean consumer goods giant LG Household & Health Care, Ltd.

2019 Avon is a top (beauty) traffic site on the web from 2019-2022.

2019 Avon launches its first CBD product (to eventually become many) with Green Goddess Facial Oil, complete with 100mg of sustainably sourced CBD.

2020 Avon is the World’s Best-Selling Fragrance Brand in 2020.

2020 Studio 1886 is launched, with beauty products celebrating Avon’s iconic history.

2020 Cushion Technology is pioneered by our parent company, LGH&H.

2020 The Digital Catalog debuts–with features to customize and personalize for customers.

2020 New partnership with Gyrl Wonder, an organization that provides career resources and advice for young women of color.

2020 Avon's Virtual Repfest is executed virtually for the first time, with over 9,000 attendees.  

2020 Avon launches Charmed, a 18K gold peacock limited-edition perfume bottle that sells for $1200.

2021 Avon launches fmg Cashmere Essence Lipcream, the first lipstick in the U.S. with a with an anti-aging core containing Bio-Retinol.

2021 The beauty in giving back: Avon donated 17 million pounds of products to Feed the Children, empowering millions of families and helping 4.4 million women and girls.

2021 Avon was featured as the Final Jeopardy question.

2021 Avon enters the realm of Clean Beauty with our Farm Rx vegan skin care line.

2021 Avon Live - Live Shopping launches.

2021 Skin So Soft celebrates its 60th Anniversary and expands into CVS retail stores.

2021 New Avon North America gets a new name: The Avon Company

2021 We partnered with Feed the Children and donated a unit for every unit purchased.

2021 Avon launches its first streaming TV ads.

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