Decades ago, bookseller David H. McConnell spent his days on the roads, selling books from door to door. Soon after launching his career, he realised all the houses he regularly visited had one factor in common: women who juggled their domestic and financial responsibilities whilst yearning for an extra source of income.
McConnell aimed to change the lives of the women he knew by creating a new trading system powered by cosmetics. The entrepreneur’s business started with perfume bottles meant to found a profitable project for housewives. His project is now called “Avon”.
In October 2015, the established entity celebrated over six million women who currently hold the title of “Avon Representative”. The company is one of Egypt’s most well-known in the category of beauty and cosmetics. All products are sold and circulated by women who aim to increase their financial income from the comfort of their own homes.
“We are not just a cosmetics company; we have a 130-year history of empowering women. This is what we call ‘beauty for a purpose’. The validity of the campaign lies in how Avon links beauty to empowering women; telling our story, inspired by our representatives’ success stories, brings our vision to life,” Avon Egypt County Manager Mohamed Farouk said.
The company entered the Egyptian market in 2007 and, despite their short history in the local market, the brand has certainly managed to build a strong and growing network of representatives and customers.
Over the years, Avon has continued its aim of helping women, who cannot work outside their homes, earn extra cash by trading beauty products. Avon’s goal is achieved by training women from different social and educational backgrounds to bring out their best sales skills. The sessions include information regarding how to assess the clients as well as their needs, sell the product, and eventually teach others how to use it.
“For me, Avon is a new life that I get to experience every day; it changed my aspirations and dreams. By becoming an Avon representative, I feel there is no limit to what I can achieve,” said Amal Naguib, an independent area sales manager in Avon Egypt. “I became a more social person after becoming an Avon representative. I used to be a very shy teenager but now I can talk to anyone and I can persuade people with my point of view; I am actually proud of myself.”
Entesar Abdelqader is a great example of a representative who managed to add extra value to the company. She, an Alexandrian lawyer, moved back to Egypt right after the 25 January Revolution in 2011 only to find out that financial independence is both crucial and difficult. Due to her son’s disability, Abdelqader could not pursue a regular occupation as nine hours of mandatory work in an office would not allow her time with her son.
“I found Avon just at the right moment. It gave me a suitable job, financial liberty, and a support system,” Abdelqader said. It was not a long time before she started spreading the concept among her circles of friends. “I started helping mothers who had kids with special needs by introducing them to the concept of Avon.”
Salma Hany represents a different category of Avon women as she always dreamt of travelling the world; something that she managed to accomplish after becoming the company’s youngest area sales manager at the age of 21.
Kawthar Fawzy and Amal Shenouda embody the majority of Egyptian housewives who strive to support their husbands. Both ladies, and many more women, could not pursue regular jobs due to their husbands’ disapproval.
“I found Avon in 2000, my husband did not want me to work at all; he wanted me to stay home to be able to take care of our kids,” Fawzy said. After hearing about Avon, her husband agreed to compromise and to try a more flexible system. She is currently a sales manager and her husband fully supports her career.
Shenouda joined Avon just to have her own money so she could buy her son a bike; a goal that evolved, after years with Avon, to buying him an apartment. She is now a sales leader who does not only support her family, but also her close circle of acquaintances.
These success stories from ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ help other women break taboos and balance successful domestic and business lives.