Ding Dong! Avon Calling!: The Women and Men of Avon Products, Incorporated

Ding Dong! Avon Calling!: The Women and Men of Avon Products, Incorporated

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Ding Dong! Avon Calling! is the story of women and entrepreneurship, and of an innovative corporation largely managed by men that empowered women to exploit networks of other women and their community for profit. Founded in the late nineteenth century, Avon grew into a massive international direct sales company in which millions of "ambassadors of beauty" sat in their customers' living rooms with a sample case, catalogue, and a conversational sales pitch.

Avon was unique in American business history for its reliance on women as representatives, promising them not just sales positions, but a chance to have a business of their own. Being an Avon Lady avoided the stigma that was often attached to middle-class women's work outside the home and enabled women to maintain the delicate balance of work and family.

Drawing for the first time on company records she helped acquire for Hagley's archives, Katina Manko illuminates Avon's inner workings, uncovers the lives of its representatives, and shows how women slowly rose into the company's middle and upper management. Avon called itself "The Company for Women" and championed its high flyers, but its higher echelons remained dominated by men well into the 1990s.