Monday, September 19, 2016

FOREWORD by Legendary Publicist, Michael A. Levine

“A woman’s most powerful possession is a man’s imagination.”

Tom Lyle Williams, 1934

I think every girl I ever dated as a teenager had one of those pink and green tubes of Maybelline Great Lash mascara stashed in her purse.  How on earth would I know this?  Because the contents of all those purses regularly spilled out of school lockers, behind bleachers, under the seats of cars….  If they weren’t scrambling to hide their other feminine products, then they were diving for the mascara because THAT wasclearly the key to their enchanting doe-eyed beauty. 

As I’ve grown older, gotten married, divorced, and dated all over again, I’ve seen the contents of many beautiful women’s cosmetic bags.  And there has always been a Maybelline product inside.

I recognize things like this because I’m a brand man myself.  At an early age I discovered the power of perception…specifically, the perception of value, which can be even more important than price itself.  For example, the Tiffany brand is indomitable because one need only see the powder-blue box and white satin ribbon to think that whatever is inside is premium simply because it comes from Tiffany.

So I was delighted when I was asked to read The Maybelline Story and learn about the origins and growth of this modest company into the best-known eye beauty brand around the world.  What a story it is!

From humble beginnings in rural Kentucky to gangster-ridden Prohibition Chicago, to Hollywood in the ‘30s and ‘40s, pin-ups, the Pentagon, and eventually, the whole world, this is a classic tale of a makeshift product that developed out of one woman’s innovative need to fix something else, and her brother’s prescient understanding that she was onto something BIG!

In 1915, Mabel Williams singed her eyelashes and brows while cooking.  Horrified that she no longer looked feminine, she concocted a mixture and applied it to her remaining lashes and brows, giving her some added sparkle and sheen.  One of her brothers, Tom Lyle Williams, noticed the successful effect.

But he also noticed something more profound: a woman’s eyes were her calling card.  “Come look at me.”  “Coax me out of my bashfulness.”  “Yes, I’m flirting.”  “I’m interested in you.”  He appreciated beauty in all women, and their beauty spoke to him straight through their eyes.  Tom Lyle wanted to reproduce his sister’s “formula” to see whether regular women would pay a little to “up” the glamour in themselves.

All he needed was $500 and a rudimentary chemistry set to give his idea a real try.  But gathering $500 in 1915 wasn’t easy.  So when his brother Noel offered to loan him the money, he promised to repay him in full.  Little did any of them realize then that Noel would receive a return on his investment similar to the original investors in Microsoft or Apple!

For over a half century, Maybelline operated as a private company owned by the Williams family.  What Tom Lyle, his brother and sister started as a small, mail-order business eventually became an internationally recognized brand purchased 82 years later by French conglomerate L’Oreal for over 700 million.

I can tell you: it’s one thing to recognize a winning product discovered by accident, and quite another to turn it into an empire that, for decades, transcended all competition and remains an icon to this day.

How does one do that?  Precisely by branding.  By taking an exceptional product and equating it with excellence in every way.  By having a constant, relentless drive to promote a desirable image through that product.  By turning that product into the sine qua non of, in this case, eye beauty. 

Tom Lyle Williams packaged and sold artifice – the importance of beautiful eyes.  He made eye beauty the singular defining quality of a beautiful woman, and he branded Maybelline as representative of perfect beauty.  His genius was in convincing millions of women the world over to buy Maybelline with the absolute conviction that using Maybelline eye products would truly make them perfectly beautiful.

Unlike most folks in Hollywood, this unlikeliest of legends kept a low personal profile and let his creativity speak through his work.  In my opinion, Tom Lyle Williams can teach us more about branding than Colonel Sanders, Calvin Klein, and Coco Chanel combined.  He was first to enlist movie stars to promote his products.  One of the first companies to promote corporate social responsibility by supporting war bonds.  First to take advantage of advertising on broadcast television.  First to employ market research.  And first to truly understand the buying power of women.

Surely such a creative man must have had a muse…perhaps some woman he thought the ideal version of his own vision of beauty?  Indeed!  While he named the company for his sister, his muse was actually his sister-in-law, Evelyn.  She was gorgeous, smart, and often too smart for her own good.

The drama of this family-business-story, as with many such sagas, lies in deciphering where the family and the business intersected, frequently came to loggerheads, and sometimes went to court.  Secrets existed, lies were told, and facades masqueraded as truth – often to protect the family from itself, and always to protect Maybelline above all else. 

Edison made light bulbs.  Ford manufactured cars.  Here’s another great American rags-to-riches story.  This time the name is Williams.  The cash cow wore mascara and Maybelline. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Entrepreneur's starting a business venture? Need inspiration? Read this guy's take on my book

Please be sure to click the link to BOWEN's article at the end, to validate my saying "Kudos" to Sharrie for featuring Jane, of/for Elle; it is a great OP for Jane's excellent recounting of the allure of femme fatale eyes. (So often over the years, Guys (maybe Gals) may have looked, but haven't seen!) OK, in terms of "Full Disclosure", I'm a male who was fascinated watching my late Vieja each early AM, take the extra time (for me???) while excellently penciling her brows, "sponging" on a light-blue-hued eye shadow, and using an Inquisition-like thingy to tweak/curl her lashes.

Be that as it may, "Maybelline...", The Book, is a must read....not for make-up techniques/tips, but for the nitty-gritty-grind of her "Great-Uncle" and Family in kindling the Allure of Eyes (surely helping to continue the propagation of the races as well as a bit of the economy...) "Maybelline..." is 'a page turner' as they say. Sharrie and Youngs have not typed out a boring history, but find ways to twist and infuse Reality...trip you off guard...with splashes of humor as well. It is especially an inspiration for Chicas, or Guys for that matter, who are starting out in any kind of business venture or even/especially encountering a low point!

Whether you are a pragmatist or into soapy stuff, it's the makings of TV series, IMHO. (Oh Oh! One can't but help to wonder, what casting Sharrie, as well as readers, might envision? LOL...Ya ya, Rob Lowe as Tom Lyle, but I'm thinking with a little "younging" touch-up, that Harrison Ford's twinkle in his eye, could beat any!?!?) 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Eye Makeup Trends by Decade: The Shadow, Mascara, and More That Ruled the Last 100 Years And the chic women who wore them.

Elle Magazine, Article by Jane Brown, September 1

The Icons: Mary Pickford, Bette Davis, and the Gibson Girl
Maybelline's namesake, Mabel 
Williams, 1915

The 1910s: A Sheer Wash of Color or Totally Bare  

Backstory: Makeup had its challenges at the turn of the century. It wasn't widely available:

 Mascara wasn't even invented until 1915, when Maybelline debuted a dry cake version that required water to turn into a paste-like consistency. The women who dared to wear it had to covertly shop at the equivalent of a speakeasy or go to one of the few apothecaries that custom-blended concoctions. It was far from convenient, and the only women wearing it regularly were screen stars and ladies of the night.
This was a decade of demure fashion and behavior, one in which ladies avoided even the slightest bit of sun (tans were considered as trashy as obvious makeup). Women who wore any color usually stuck with just a bit of blush on the cheeks and lips, and the bold few who put makeup on their eyes dabbed just a sheer wash of gray, brown, or yellow-colored paste on their lids.

click on the link below for the entire article in Elle Magazine by Jane Brown
 A lot changes in 100 years, including the space on and around women's eyes. From the first part of the 20th century to now, trends have ping-ponged between extremes ('80s makeup is still inspiring Halloween costumes, while the more demure decades were characterized by an almost nonexistent application). Not a centenarian yourself? See what you missed by clicking through.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Villa Valentino: a showplace in the Hollywood Hills.

The statue, Aspiration over looking the pool.

  Read more about Aspiration:

Valentino's sudden death at 31 from a ruptured ulcer caused worldwide hysteria, several suicides, and riots at his funeral. These same crowds of women haunted the Villa Valentino in Whitley Heights for many years.   Even after Tom Lyle bought the Villa Valentino, he had to keep grieving women at bay.

Read more about the Villa Valentino in The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It.

Monday, August 22, 2016

How many women in the world are aware that they owe a debt of gratitude to a young lady called Mabel Williams.

Maybelline's namesake, Mabel Williams Hewes, Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary

August 17, 1892 is Mabel Williams Hewes Birthday.
On August 17, 1926, she married sweet Chet.  She's been gone 40+ years and she is still deeply missed by her devoted family. 

The resourceful girl had a flash of inspiration and burned a cork, mixed the ashes with some Vaseline and then applied it to what was left of her lashes. In an instant she resembled a Hollywood starlet! ‘Eureka!’ – mascara was born ! Not exactly of course. The art of dying lashes goes back to Cleopatra, but there was no removable cosmetic of this kind that a woman could buy over the counter.
Her brother Tom along with his brother Noel took this idea and developed Lash Brow Line – the worlds first commercially available mascara.In 1916 he changed the name to Maybelline – named after – you guessed it – Maybel Williams! The name being a combination of Maybel and Vaseline !
Maybelline's namesake, Mabel Williams Vintage Wedding Album pictures

Mabel may have put  the "M" in Maybelline, but, she had no interest in being just another "It Girl," or "Vamp."  She was a traditional, 32 year old, Southern Lady, waiting for her man to come along.  

Unbeknownst to her, Chester Randolph Hewes, was living in Chicago and working at Montgomery Wards, in the automotive, advertising department.

Mabel's brother, Maybelline founder, Tom Lyle Williams with the Bride and Groom and Chet's sister Bonnie.

At the time Chester, was involved with an English girl he'd met in England, while in the Navy, during

WW l.  He had said goodbye to her and her family after his stint was over, headed back to the US, got a job and was busy working.  When all of a sudden, Connie, her mother and several grown brothers showed up on his doorstep.
Mabel with her father, Thomas Jefferson Williams

He told her he did not want to marry her, but being a gentleman, arranged for an apartment for the family and  jobs for her brothers.  After awhile she realized Chester, just wasn't that into her, so, packed up her family and sadly, headed back to England.

1928 Mabel and Chet with their first child, Shirley

Mabel met Chester, through his sister Bonnie when he came to pick up Bonnie at a bridal shower given at the home of Chester's then girlfriend.  Mabel was also a guest and after Chester met her, he told a friend, Mabel was the girl he was going to marry.

1934, Mabel and Chet with their three children, Shirley, Tommy and baby Joyce.

Mabel is the Bell in Maybelline and still rings clear today and always.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Maybelline's King of Advertising, Tom Lyle Williams and his Film Queens

                   King of Advertising, Tom Lyle Williams

The man who would become a cosmetics giant, Tom Lyle Williams, was aprivate figure who hid from the public because when he launched the Maybelline Co., mascara was deemed the “province of whores and homosexuals.” To protect his family from scandal, and to stay out of view from the scrutiny of the press, Tom Lyle ran his empire from a distance, cloistered behind the gates of his Hollywood Hills Rudolph Valentino Villa.  He contracted movie stars to represent him in all forms of media.  From the earliest days of silent film he sought Photoplay stars, Viola Dana, Phyllis Haver, and Clara Bow.

Throughout the 1930’s “Golden Age of Hollywood,” he splashed magazines with glamour, using Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Merle Oberon to represent the ideal Maybelline image.  During the World War ll era, he turned to pin up girls like Bettie Grable, Elyse Knox, Hedy Lamaar, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner, to inspire the boys fighting for our Country and keep Maybelline ingredients flowing.  By the 1950’s, the girl next door, represented by Debby Reynolds and Grace Kelly, appealed to the emerging young mothers and housewives. When Maybelline appeared on Television in the early 1950’s, Tom Lyle decided to appeal to a more universal image and rather than promote film stars created the cool, exotic, sophisticated woman who would appeal to foreign as well as domestic markets.

Joan Crawford – had her teeth pulled and replaced to have a more beautiful smile and became Maybelline’s spokesperson for years.

Merle Oberon – was in an accident that disfigured the skin on her face, yet in films she looked flawless because of pancake make up.

Betty Grable - took over for the leading song and dance actress Alice Faye and became a big star in musicals as well As one of Maybelline’s top models.

Debby Reynolds - was to be Maybelline’s leading model in the 1950’s until Tom Lyle decided to change his ad campaign from the all American Girl to a more international exotic sophisticate in his TV commercials and print magazines.

Maybelline was the sole sponsor for the Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier lll, wedding in Monaco appeal to a more universal image and rather than promote film stars created the cool, exotic, sophisticated woman who would appeal to foreign as well as domestic markets.  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Maybelline, "The Little Company That Could"

Maybelline ad, 1936
As the Great Depression continued through the 1930's Maybelline cornered the market in eye cosmetics and money poured in from every direction. No other cosmetic company enjoyed more confidence and higher regard among the trade and had the envy among competitors as did Maybelline. Tom Lyle’s policy for perfection and his reputation for fairness set him apart and above all others in the field. Even his competitors agreed, there would never be another man like Tom Lyle Williams or a company like Maybelline. His sensitivity allowed him to see how women were affected by his advertising strategies. By 1939, Tom Lyle was at the top of his game. He was the most important executive in the cosmetic business. He never became selfish, egotistical, or self serving and his kindness and spirituality never ceased to exist.  Maybelline became known as "The Little Company that Could!"

1933 Maybelline Ad.

Tom Llye Williams, Maybelline's founder believed that a woman’s greatest asset was her ability to capture a man’s imagination through her expressive eyes.

Empowered for the first time since the Victorian era, women discovered a passion for imitating stars who exuded sex appeal on the screen.

Maybelline provided an inexpensive eye beautifier that enhanced a woman's sex-appeal while movies mirrored  celluloid forgeries professing  nonconformity with old world standards.  As Movie stars became models for America's changing values, Tom Lyle threw Maybelline in the dime stores in 1933 and as little cosmetic companies fell by the wayside or were bought out by Maybelline, The Maybelline Company went on to be the undisputed giant in its field during the Great Depression.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Ziegfeld Follies Star, Mary Eaton, featured in 1924 Maybelline ad

Mary Eaton, featured in beautiful Photoplay Magazine, February 1924.

Mary Eaton made her Broadway debut in 1917 with Adele and Fred Astaire in Over the Top. After that, she appeared in three editions of the Ziegfeld Follies

Mary did have a somewhat successful career. Her most notable films were both in 1929, including Glorifying the American Girl and Cocoanuts with The Marx Brothers. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Maybelline discovers "Miss Typical America" Eleanor Fisher in 1938

Here is an example of how the Hollywood Studio/Star System worked in the 1930's.  Paramount Studio's promoted True Confession, a 1937 screwball comedy film starring Carole LombardFred MacMurray, and John Barrymore, by running a "Miss Typical America" contest in a Maybelline advertisement.  The winner, Eleanor Fisher is given a small part in the film and the big teen story is splashed in True Confession magazine.

Eleanor Fisher, now Miss True Confession as well as Miss Typical America has not only become a Maybelline Model, she has a chance of becoming a Movie Star.
Eleanor Fisher and Fred MacMurray in a publicity shot for True Confessions magazine, promoting themselves, the film,  Paramount Studios, Carole Lombard and director Wesley Ruggles, which is a what it's all about in Hollywood.
This article in True Confessions Magazine, promotes make-up artist Max Factor, transforming Eleanor Fisher, from a simple school girl into a glamorous actress ready for her closeup with Carole Lombard.

Lombard's career had been flying high since the release of Twentieth Century in 1934, which had begun her friendship with Barrymore. Although Barrymore, by 1937, had become an uncontrollable alcoholic and his career was severely fumbling, Lombard personally requested him for the role of Charley Jasper.

 Helen and Ken are a pretty strange couple. She is a pathological liar, and he is a scrupulously honest (and therefore unsuccessful) lawyer... See full summary »

This poster was painted by the famous Pin-Up artist Zoe Mozart, who's work was known for being glamorous and sexy, it was perfect for ad campaigns for cosmetics such as Maybelline and for Hollywood films. In 1937 Zoe was hired by Paramount Pictures to create this poster for   
Cover also painted by Zoe Mozart.  Carole Lombard appeared in the February 1938 True Confessions Magazine, which came out at the same time as the film was being shown at neighborhood movie houses.

In the end, the film was not a great success and Eleanor Fisher went back to being anonymous.  However the Hollywood Studio-Star System was great as far as publicity was concerned. Maybelline sold truck loads of mascara, the Stars added more luster to their famous names and Paramount continued to be an ever expanding movie factory. So I guess in this instance, I can't say anything bad about The System, because there's actually no such thing as bad publicity... Why?...
because it's still PUBLICITY.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Happy 45th Birthday "GREAT LASH" mascara

Maybelline debuted its "Great Lash Mascara" in 1971. It is still recognized by it's Pink and Green Chartreuse packaging inspired by Lilly Pulitzer's vibrant hues and prints. It's been a staple on drugstores shelves and in cosmetic bags ever since. It has been reported that a "Great Lash Maybelline Mascara," is sold every 1.2 seconds. 

Called the protein Mascara "Great Lash" builds rich, full body onto lashes. Marketing people asked Maybelline Company researchers in 1970,  to come up with a Mascara to thicken and lengthen lashes better than anything on the market and would be easy to apply.  "Great Lash" was that product.            

Surveys taken by Maybelline's marketing team at the time indicated consumers didn't consider Maybelline products fashionable, still using the original "Eye" logo.  Updating product colors changed customer perceptions. Especially the teen market.

 The Lilly Pulitzer Brand was popular with high society. Because Pulitzer was close friends with Jackie Kennedy, her designs crowned her "The Queen of Prep." And, "Flower Power."

From the inspiration and dedication of Tom Lyle Williams to the the Merchandiser of Maybelline's new owners,  Schering Plough in 1971, Maybelline's "Great Lash" has remained an all time favorite Mascara for the last 45 years.