When you think of women in business, it is hard to think of a more enduring or pervasive image that the Avon Lady. Since 1886, Avon Representatives have been bringing beauty into the homes of women — through traditional doorstep selling, to the ladies selling to friends and family and now to the modern Avon representative selling through social media. No matter what is happening in the world, Avon as a brand has gone from strength to strength, and it is the good old fashioned customer service given by our army of dedicated Avon ladies that allows the brand to keep going, and also to remain one of the simplest and attractive ways for people of all ages to earn additional income or even make a new career.
Viola Morse didn’t have her own car when she joined AVON as a Representative aged 36. Walking 3-4 miles a day taking her demonstration bag to show customers, all year round (including the severe winters). This didn’t stop her, she loved the fact this was HER business and she used her earnings from Avon to pay for her children to go to college. A truly dedicated representative, Avon offered her a job to manage her sales district. One evening, following a day of recruiting Representatives, she encountered a storm that flooded the roadways and essentially paralyzed her town. Morse was forced to abandon her car (purchased two years after starting her Avon business) but not before diligently gathering her recruiting materials. Her son was surveying the flooded streets in a boat as part of the town’s rescue efforts and surprisingly encountered his stranded mother. He shuttled her and her stacks of rescued recruiting literature across the flooded road to safety. For the Morses, Avon was a family affair. “We lived Avon in my household,” Morse’s daughter, Carol Dorsey, fondly recalls. Dorsey and her sister both became Avon Representatives themselves, helped their mother assemble customers’ product delivery bags and mimeographed their mother’s “Avon Angel Bulletin” newsletter, listing Morse’s top 10 “angels” (achievers). Morse, who passed away in 1995, sold Avon for 11 years. Daughter Carol remembers, “I was very proud of her. She was very accomplished at what she was doing.”
Milena Maria Gavazzi Paredi began selling Avon in 1966 during the company’s first year in Italy. The 69-year-old’s Avon business is still thriving. To Paredi, Avon means the chance to do something different and to meet a lot of people. She became a Representative after hearing her mother’s friend talk about what a wonderful earnings opportunity it would be. Like many Representatives, she first used her earnings to buy products for herself and for customer demonstrations. Her biggest sellers that first year with Avon were fragrances – Topaz, Charisma and various cream sachets – as well as bubble bath. Today, her customers seem to have a penchant for the Faraway fragrance line and Glimmersticks makeup.
]“This is the only company where you can make people successful and change their lives. … It was fate that I was placed in this company to give earnings opportunities to dealers (Representatives in the Philippines),” says Soledad Lacson Pena. Pena has been selling Avon since the company first entered the Philippines in 1978. In fact, since the 1960s, she had been working for Beautifont, the Philippine company Avon acquired upon entering the market. Pena began selling Avon so she could assist her husband in covering the family’s basic living expenses: clothing, food and utility bills. She also contributed to her children’s schooling, helping to pay their tuition at highly competitive schools and colleges. Since Pena launched her Avon business, she and her team have never had a day without any sales. This tech-savvy 70-year-old uses the Internet to communicate with her team and get reports. She also promotes Avon products through text blasts.
“Avon gives me the feeling of self-significance. I can earn a stable income and have confidence in tomorrow,” says Larisa Nuzdhina. Nuzhdina started selling Avon in 1997 after retiring because she didn’t want to simply “do nothing.” After just two campaigns, she became a Sales Leader. At first, she used her earnings to purchase Avon cosmetics and later a new flat, garage and her own office. She’s won two cars from Avon … and at the age of 65 got a driver’s license so she could start driving. Nuzdhina exclaims, “Thanks to Avon for changing my life!”
Until she started selling Avon, Natividad Bravo’s life was one of hardship and struggle. An orphan with a less-than-ideal childhood, she was on her own by the age of 15. During one of the more challenging times in Mexico as the country’s currency was collapsing, Bravo started her Avon business and success quickly followed.
Bravo had a knack for direct selling and was even more intensely focused on her business after a pair of tragedies struck – the sudden death of her husband followed by the death of one of her four sons from cancer. For Bravo, Avon has always been a bright spot in her life. She’s won numerous awards, traveled extensively and built a home for her family.
Rather than go door-to-door, she has always preferred finding customers in public gathering spaces such as the market. When Bravo began selling Avon, the company’s most popular products were Fonet, Sunware, Elegante, Charisma and Flamingo.
Irina Minca already has a team of more than 600 people … and she’s only 23. Minca knows her way around the social media world and is savvy when it comes to leveraging the Internet for her business. She reads “every forum or blog that is related to Avon so I can make a good impression on my customers by knowing everything about the company” and frequently posts comments. Every day she reads AvonSpaceblog, voted “Best Company Blog” in Romania. She also collects customers’ orders online.
Minca started selling Avon in 2005 as a way to earn extra money. This young Representative has been so successful that she’s already been able to buy not only clothes and cosmetics but also a computer and car with her Avon earnings. Minca says Avon has helped her develop in many ways and has made her more responsible. She calls Avon “my hobby, my family, my business.”
Sacha Blacker only started in May 2012 as an AVON representative to help her teenage son earn some extra money. However, with only 4 days for their first order they amassed over £400 in sales, and it wasn’t long before the whole family was involved. 3 months later in August 2012 Sacha started as a sales leader and her first representative was her husband Tony! In her first year she was the highest recruiting New Executive Sales Leader and the highest earner at New Executive Sales Leader level in the UK. Her team of AVON ladies (and a not insignificant number of AVON men as well) keeps growing and in just over a year she is now at the point where she is running a business with a turnover of nearly half a million pounds.
“As a mum of 2, I love the fact that my AVON business fits around my children. I can’t imagine any other job where I can go to school plays, sports days and help out with school trips whenever I want, and if my children are ill I can just look after them. Not having a boss to answer to suits me perfectly”. Sacha admits she is her own best customer – “I have always loved AVON, I used to spend a lot before I was a representative, so getting discounted products and being able to buy them before customers can even see them is a massive perk”.
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(article created with material sourced from AVON company website)