Today Avon have their annual conference at the Sala Kongresowa and are celebrating 20 years in Poland. The streets are awash with high heeled ladies who are not strangers to the solarium or fashion shops. There is the sweet smell of success in the air as you would expect from a gathering of the fifth-largest beauty company and largest direct selling enterprise in the world. As of 2010, Avon had annual sales of $10.8 billion worldwide and 6.4 million representatives.
Twenty years means Avon started early in Poland, 1992, but that’s nothing compared to the 126 years that have elapsed since the business started in New York, then called The California Perfume Company. The late 1800’s were a good time for health, hygiene and products that were good for you, for example only ten years after Avon got started Colgate became the first toothpaste in a collapsible tube, introduced in 1896. In 1882 the company Nivea was founded. I’m sure there are many other examples.
These days, I find it quite encouraging to come across any business that has managed to survive and thrive for so long. A nice counter to the endlessly depressing smash & grab stories of banks and other firms clearly designed to get a few people rich and then disappear.
Personally, I have very vague memories of the “Avon Lady” calling on my mum way back when dinosaurs ruled the earth and more recently I now have a member of my Polish family actually working for Avon at their factory in Garwolin, south of Warsaw.