Only 20 percent of American women in 1886 held jobs outside of the home. Those jobs were confined for the most part to domestic service, agriculture and manufacturing. Working conditions were dirty and sometimes dangerous. To add insult to injury, women’s wages for the most part were only a fraction of what their male counterparts were receiving. David McConnell was to change all that.
McConnell’s experiences as a traveling book salesman was the genesis of the Avon concept. He noticed that his female customers were more attracted to his free perfume samples than his books. McConnell used to make these perfumes himself, using them as an “ice breaker” for his book selling pitch. He also saw the financial desperation in these women, and realized that many could become natural salespeople to whom other women customers would relate – and buy his perfumes.
McConnell’s new company, the California Perfume Company, was an early pioneer in providing inspirational and incentive programs to his growing army of representatives. His program offered an excellent earnings opportunity, provided the public with only the highest quality products with an almost unheard of satisfaction guarantee, and motivated his representatives through positive motivation and stressing their unique contributions as individuals. McConnell’s basic belief was in the potential of people, and in the power of possibility and success that lay within that potential.