Monday, October 20, 2014

Cruise with me through some of the highlights of these last 12 months on the road with The Maybelline Story

Santa Barbara Harbor, this Summer


visiting my great uncle Tom Lyle Williams,
 1940 Packard Victoria


Book signing at the Phoenix Art Museum

My cousin Ann Carnaros and I at my Santa Barbara Presentation

My Saffrons Rule Blog

At the Theatre in North Hollywood,  seeing
"Always, Patsy Cline"


My Fabulous new logo

Speaking to a full house in Phoenix
Book Signing for Book Club on Balboa Island, CA
My sister Donna and I with our Maybelline cousins Cooper and Jeff
Presentation For Brandeis University in Scottsdale
With my Publisher and fellow authors at Networking event
Love my cousins Jeff, Patty and Jeff Welles
With Michele the Trainer at Networking breakfast in Woodland Hills
"Aspiration" once belonging at the Villa Valentino in the Hollywood Hills
Speaking it Presentation in Arizona
Speaking at Presentation at Perris Valley Historical Museum
My book came out this year in Polish

Meeting with Producer, Erik Iversen
Full house in Santa Barbara for PEO Organization
Presentation Tea, in Santa Barbara
Vintage Maybelline Maybelline Ads and original Maybelline products
Taking my dad's Clenet out for a spin with my cousin
Cousins, Jim, Chuck-BB1, me and cousin Ann Carnaros in Montecito CA

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sharrie Williams speaks from the heart about her family and The Maybelline Story

It's been a long process.  My grandmother began telling me the Maybelline story when I was a young girl and the seed was planted.  After her untimely death I was determined to finish it.  I knew that if I didn’t tell the story it would be lost forever and that would be a shame.  The Maybelline Story is a thread in the fabric of American history and a big part of vintage Hollywood glamor.  I also wanted my great uncle, Tom Lyle Williams, the founder of the Maybelline Company to be remembered for his tremendous contribution to the Cosmetic industry as well.  

Growing up with a great uncle who made my life so magical.  It wasn't about the money; the money only complicated matters and destroyed us in the end.  It was about being so close with my cousins and the fun of sharing our excitement as the Maybelline grew into a global giant.  Now as an older woman I hope to give back some of the wisdom and strength I gained ridding this roller coaster experience.

My grandmother, Evelyn Williams was married to Tom Lyle's brother Preston, my grandfather.  After Preston's death, at only 37 years of age, she and my 12-year-old father followed Tom Lyle from Chicago to California.  The three of them remained extremely close and loved to talk about the good old days when Maybelline was a little mail order business sold through the classifieds in Movie magazines.  I was so fascinated by their stories as a little girl that all I wanted to do was hear more, as often as possible.  Soon I became my grandmother’s little protégé and eventually her little clone.  So yes I was indoctrinated at an early age with the rules of the game, the family dynamics and I did know and appreciate the tremendous contribution Tom Lyle bestowed on women and the world of beauty. 

Original Maybelline 1916
What advice can you give others who want to follow in your uncle’s shoes? For the underdogs.

Tom Lyle Williams was the biggest underdog of all, of course.  That's what the Maybelline Story is all about.  He started out with nothing more than a good idea, lots of determination and a $500 loan from his brother and turned it into a worldwide brand.  It's all about building your brand and your reputation.  Brands come and go if it's not built on integrity.  Like doing a blog...It takes about three years before you really see results and during that time, you develop discipline and determination, or you give up and never see the results of your labor.  As my great uncle would say... It's easy to be excited and happy when it's new and easy... the true test of success, is keeping the momentum going during the down cycles.  If you believe in your project, you have to keep going even though it might take years.  It took me 20 years to get published and I wanted to give up and burn my manuscript all the time.  When I least expected it, the miracle happened and now the energy I put forth building that momentum is expanding the blog and my voice into the world - Because I never gave up.

What is this book about? Is there anything in this book that you did not publish? Care to share?

The Maybelline story is about a young 19-year-old entrepreneur who rides the ups and downs of life while building a little company called Maybelline. It’s also about his incredible sister-in-law, Evelyn Williams, (my grandmother) who is so deeply affected by vanity it leads to ultimate destruction.  In the midst of all the drama I grow up trying to sort out what's real and what has real value.  The book is a rags to riches story with an interesting morale in the end you won't forget.

Will there be a second part to your story?

There definitely should be, because everyone is asking me what happened to all the people they either loved or hated.  I do have a 350-page manuscript that is ready to go when the time comes.  But for now a movie or HBO series would be my next goal.

Who are your greatest influences and why?

My father Bill Williams was Tom Lyle's nephew and godson.   He grew up at the Villa Valentino in Hollywood where he learned the secrets to his uncle’s great success.  My father was an extremely talented interior designer and builder.  When my home burned down in the 1993 Laguna Beach, California Firestorm I lost everything because I wasn't home.  I wanted to give up and die, but it was my father who held me together and helped me get back on my feet.  I thrived because of his determination to see me overcome my doubts and succeed.  He designed and helped me rebuild my home, than helped me research and write my book.  I learned so much from him and now carry that spirit of “Yes I can!” with me to pass onto the next generation.  

What will readers take from this great read?

They will be inspired to make their dreams come true and believe anything is possible if they just keep going and never give up. 

What was the best advice your uncle or mother gave you about beauty?

My mother believed that beauty was an inside job.  That who you are n the inside is reflected on your face.  You see beautiful young girls turn into nasty middle-aged women and bitter old ladies.  All the Maybelline in the world can't cover up the truth of who you are inside.  If a woman doesn't grow, change and accept life she will remain a spoiled unattractive child in an aging body.  All women must work on their attitude and mature within, to keep their youthful effervescent beauty into old age.   Like the saying goes, Maybe She's born with it... Maybe it's Maybelline.

Describe your best achievement with your family name and without?

My best achievement with the Maybelline name so far, is writing my book and becoming a positive role model for women who want to achieve their goals.  It's not about make-up for me anymore; it's way beyond make-up.   Without the Maybelline name, my biggest achievement is being Mom and Nana and a positive role model for my family I grow into old age.  

Evelyn Williams (Nana), Bill Williams (my dad), Sharrie Williams (me)
& Tom Lyle Williams (my great uncle) 1965

 favorite childhood memory

Going up to my great uncle's home in Bel Air California with my family and playing with him in the pool.  I remember he was such an unassuming man that he'd actually wear swim trunks pinned at the waist because the elastic had stretched out.  Here was a man who could afford the best and yet was so comfortable with himself around his family; he didn't need to show off.  On the other hand he was so generous hat he gave millions to them after the sale of the Maybelline Company in December of 1967.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A tribute to Noel James Williams, and his monumental contribution to Maybelline's success, between 1915 and 1950.

Noel was the second son born to TJ and Susan Williams and he like the rest of the Williams kids had plans of his own that didn't include working a farm.  He fell in love with his childhood sweetheart Frances Allen and planned to earn the money to marry her while she was in her first year of college.  There was no way to earn money in Morganfield Kentucky so he moved to Chicago where he found employment with the railroads as a bookkeeper.

You'll have to read The Maybelline Story for the whole story but in a nutshell his younger brother Tom Lyle also joined him in Chicago, followed by sister Mabel and the three of them helped build Tom Lyle's budding mail order business.   If you've been following my blog you have an idea of the magnitude this major event meant to the Williams family and eventually the world.  However when Tom Lyle needed the money to launch Maybelline, he turned to his brother Noel who had saved $500 to marry Frances.  The rest is history, but to honor Noel for believing him him Tom Lyle made his older brother Vice President of the Maybelline Company, a position he held for the rest of his life. 

Tom Lyle paid  the $500 back one year later and on Nov 8th 1916 Noel and Frances were married.  Here is a picture of Noel and Frances soon after the wedding standing in front of Tom Lyle's convertible Page in Chicago's heavy snow. 

Noel and Frances moved into an apartment down the street from the Maybelline warehouse while the rest of the Williams family lived together in the apartment above it.  Noel and Tom Lyle were the driving force behind the little budding cosmetic company and together they made an unbeatable team.

 Here is the whole Williams Clan in Chicago after Noel and Frances first baby, Helen Frances was born May 31, 1918.  

Right to Left we see Proud Papa Noel looking at Frances in awe with his father TJ behind, holding baby Helen.  Next in the picture is Mabel, Preston in a Navel uniform,  Susan (their mother,) with her arm around Eva.  (not sure who the girl with the long curls is.)  

By 1935 Noel and Frances had four children.   In this picture we see left to right, Annette, Helen, Noel, Dick, Frances and Noel Allen.  Family came first for Noel Williams followed by Maybelline, in fact it was hard to separate the two because Maybelline was  family and family was  Maybelline.   Noel represented stability, responsibility and propriety to the the highest level.  With him at the helm of Maybelline's ship Tom Lyle concentrated on what he did best Advertising and since he spent most of his time at the Villa Valentino in the Hollywood Hills, he depended on Noel's ability to run a tight ship at the Maybelline Company in Chicago.

After 30 years living in a brownstone not far from the Maybelline Company in Chicago, Noel and his family moved to the suburbs into a large custom home fit for an executive.  He was 55 years old and the little company he believed in and supported with his wedding money proved to be one of America's biggest success stories - and still is today after almost 100 years.  In this picture left to right, we see Ches Haines, Eva's husband head of transportation for the company, (not sure who second man is,) than Noel's youngest son Dick, his son Noel Allen, Noel, and Rags Ragland the marketing genius Tom Lyle hired in 1933 and the only person outside the family to work for the Maybelline company.

Noel and Frances' son Noel Allen's wedding Feb 12, 1949. Left to right, mother of the bride Alberta Kilroy, Noel and Frances, Father of the bride, Charles Thomas Kilroy, Jean (Kilroy) Williams, Noel Allen and Jean's girlfriends as maid of honor and bridesmaids. On November 23, 1949, Charles Allen Williams, (Chuck,) was born while Noel Allen and Jean were living in one of the apartments in the  Maybelline building.

This picture of Noel outside the Maybelline Building at 900 Ridge and Clark in Chicago shows a man meticulous in every way.  He's such a stunning example of the quintessential executive with his overcoat, hat and briefcase under his are, that the man walking down the street had to do a double take.  Noel never took a day off from work in the 36 years he ran the Maybelline Company. It was only after a heart attack shortly after his sons wedding, that Tom Lyle insisted he take time off and visit him at his new estate in Bel Air California.  

Here is one of the last pictures of Noel and Frances - at Tom Lyle's ultra modern stone and glass estate in Bel Air -before Noels death the following year in 1951.

Tom Lyle Williams with his older brother Noel, founded the Maybelline Company, and at Noel's death it was said the Noel was the Maybelline Company.  We sure know that without him there certainly wouldn't have been a Maybelline Company.  

Tom Lyle had a great idea, given to him by his sister Mabel, but without the capitol to launch it, and the devotion to run it, Maybelline might have remained just a good Idea.

Read more about Noel and the building of an empire in The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Behind It.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I'm proud of my roots in Morganfield Kentucky, where Maybelline got it's start.

In all the research I did for The Maybelline Story,
 I found our family had quite a romantic past

My great grandmother, Susan Anna Alvey.  This picture was taken in 1877 when she was only 16 years of age and considered a great beauty. 

My great grandfather, Sheriff Thomas Jefferson Williams, was the local tax collector, and fearless when it came to doing the right thing. 

Susan Anna Alvey Williams, and Sheriff TJ, had six children, the most famous being Tom Lyle Williams, owner of the Maybelline Company.  When she died of the great flu in 1919, Sheriff TJ, kept the books for Tom Lyle during the early years of Lash -Brow-Ine, and Maybelline. 

My grandfather Preston and his little sister Eva, 1909.

The 500 acre family farm and homestead was over 100 years old by the time the Williams kids were born, and by 1916, the farm was sold, so the family could move to Chicago and help Tom Lyle with his little Maybelline Company.

TJ and Anna's third grandchild, and their son, Noel James and Frances Williams second child, Annette Williams, plays with the chickens in Morganfield.
The country story included the local post office, photography studio, soda fountain, and supply store. it even acted as a saloon, before Prohibition was passed in 1920.

Noel James', wife Frances, with their two girls, Helen and Annette, in Morganfield.  The family, now living in Chicago, worked for Tom Lyle and his Maybelline Company. 

Little Helen, with the chickens in Morganfield.

                   Little Annette in the chicken coop.

Sheriff TJ with his fourth grandchild, my father William Preston Williams, in 1924.  

Sheriff Thomas Jefferson with his son, Tom Lyle Williams, and his first grandchild, Tom Lyle Williams Jr. in Chicago, 1934.

Read more about Morganfield and the early days of Maybelline in my book The Maybelline Story.