Avon, a global company that represents beauty and women, was founded in 1886 by David H. McConnell. Establishing its roots in perfumes, David created the California Perfume Company. He began to produce and sell the first product range, dubbed the Little Dot Perfume Set, with five single note fragrances Lily of the Valley, Violet, Heliotrope, White Rose and Hyacinth.
In the same year, he hired the first female Avon Direct-Selling Representative, Mrs. P.F.E Albee – setting the first stepping stone on the path the company would eventually follow.
The period 1896 – 1914 would see the humble roots of Avon start to form, with the development of new products and an increasing addition of sales representatives. Eventually in 1914, the company’s first international expansion occurred in Montreal, Canada. In 1939, possibly one of the biggest landmarks, the company was renamed, Avon.
The following decades would see Avon jump from one milestone to next, with new product lines constantly developing, and further global expansion. It’s important to recognise that Avon offered women the rare opportunity to earn their own money 34 years before women in the U.S. won the right to vote, and have been continually doing so for the past 125 years.
A key point for us here in South Africa comes in 1995 when Avon merged with Justine one of South Africa’s premiere skincare brands (which saw its doors open in 1973). Justine’s company vision was to produce a range of skincare products, specific for the South African climate but which were on par with international standards and brands. A drawcard for the merger of the two companies was that Justine had adopted the direct-selling method, providing women in South Africa from all backgrounds with the opportunity to earn, learn and grow.
Since that momentous year, Avon Justine has continually performed and received countless awards. Most recently Avon in South Africa was awarded the Global Vision Award by the Avon Foundation for Women’s Justice Institute on Gender-Based Violence. The basis of the Global Vision Award is to recognise the Corporate Social Responsibility programmes of the company.
This award comes just before Avon marks its 20-year anniversary in South Africa. Since their establishment, the company has branched out and flowered in our country. Avon Justine has provided not only exceptional beauty products to the women in South Africa but has also granted them financial independence. Avon’s South Africa 20-year history is marked by garnering support and awareness for social issues such as breast cancer and domestic violence.
This September marks 20-years of Avon’s excellence in South Africa. If history is anything to go by, it seems that this is but the start of Avon’s journey in South Africa!
Some highlights of Avon:
1957 the company grows to 100 000.
1961 Avon launches Skin-So-Soft.
1971 Avon starts selling jewellery and becomes the biggest jewellery manufacturer in the world.
1986 Avon is the first to use stabilized Retinol.
1992 Avon U.K. launches the Breast Cancer Crusade by selling a Crusade pin to raise funds and awareness.
1995 Avon merges with Justine in South Africa.
1998 the first Walk to raise funds for breast cancer is launched.
2004 Avon launches its domestic violence program, “Speak Out Against Domestic Violence”.
2009 Avon has more than 6 million Representatives.
2014 Avon introduces the Justice Institute of Gender- Based Violence.
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