This year, the Avon brand is celebrating its 130-year anniversary and yet around the office we call ourselves a start-up. Allow me to explain. In March, Avon’s North American business separated from the global, public company, Avon Products, Inc. We are now a private company, encompassing Avon’s business in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, and working closely with owner and strategic partner Cerberus Capital Management to evolve our business for the next hundred years and beyond.
I was pleased to get a call from Cerberus earlier this year to join the team as the Chief Executive Officer of this new company. While I was already well aware of the brand and its stellar reputation, I also knew the company was in the middle of a transition. So I took the job on one condition: that we not just work to make Avon better but we make it the best. The best social selling beauty company in North America.
Why do I believe Avon will be the best?
First and foremost, Avon is an icon. An icon with a purpose in the world. Our visionary founder David H. McConnell launched this business based on the revolutionary concept that women could earn an independent income – 34 years before women even won the right to vote. Since the company was founded in 1886, we have stayed true to the principles of our founder, David H. McConnell, including "to meet fully the obligations of corporate citizenship by contributing to the well-being of society and the environment in which it functions." Our commitment to providing women with economic independence through our earnings opportunity has remained strong decade after decade.
And of course, Avon has had an extraordinary social impact through the Avon Foundation for Women. Since 1955, The Avon Foundation has been dedicated to the mission of improving women’s lives with an unprecedented commitment to ending two critical women’s issues: Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence. This year, Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women were proud to announce $1 billion in contributions raised globally for the fight against breast cancer and domestic violence – critical funds that are used to care for, educate, serve and protect women around the world.
In addition to such a solid, principled core we have the right level of investment to begin implementing strategic improvements to the business and, importantly, to the Representative experience.
We have a lot of work to do, but we’re already underway – working to deliver breakthrough products, training, technology, advertising, innovative programs, and a business opportunity that gets better as we work to simplify the business and improve the earnings opportunity for Representatives.
Last week, my team and I were at RepFest – our annual Avon Representative convention – with 5,000 attendees…that’s 5,000 women - and many men - who love and are committed to the Avon business. We laid out our vision and walked through these changes and improvements for our future. At the same time, we listened to Representatives, understanding their needs and working together with them to grow their businesses. Every Representative I met shared their reason for joining Avon and their reason for joining us at this meeting. Like New Avon, they too are embarking on a new beginning.
While many things are changing at Avon, one thing that will never change is our commitment to our Representatives. They have and always will be at the heart of our success. My team and I come to work each day to work FOR them. We are responsible for nearly 400,000 Representatives, their families, their hopes and dreams and their future success.
With the commitment and belief of our Representatives, as well as our Associates, we will be the best social selling beauty company in the country. The best is yet to come.