Celebrating Mrs. P.F.E. Albee
David McConnell, a travelling book salesman from Oswego, NY, was known for giving away free perfume with each book he sold. He realized that the customers—mostly housewives—were more interested in the fragrance than the books, and in 1886, he founded the California Perfume Company which would eventually become Avon. McConnell noticed that women not only loved the products, but also loved to network with other women, so he employed their help to grow his business.
The first woman McConnell hired was then-50-year-old Mrs. P.F.E. Albee from New Hampshire. Considered the first ‘Avon Lady,’ or ‘Rep’ as we know them today, Mrs. Albee travelled by horse and buggy and train to deliver the perfumes and wore a long dress, hat and boots to work. She helped create one of the company’s first fragrances, the Little Dot Perfume Set, and developed a women-only network to sell directly to other women—now known at Avon as direct selling. In her 12 years working with the California Perfume Company, Mrs. Albee trained more than 5,000 representatives to sell cosmetics.
Mrs. Albee was a natural saleswoman and a well-respected businesswoman who was truly ahead of her time. Though her husband was a lawyer and politician, Mrs. Albee worked hard to create her own financial stability. At the time, only 20% of women were working outside of the home, and it was 34 years before women even received the right to vote!
Though Mrs. Albee passed away in 1914, her legacy lives on through Avon’s Representative community. Avon women continue to work hard, lead their teams, and celebrate one another’s achievements. After all, Avon is the company for women.
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