Tuesday, April 4, 2017

looking 35 at 18 didn't get me a Maybelline model contract. But the Maybelline Story was born.




Nana, my dad Bill, me with dyed black hair and my dad's uncle, Tom Lyle Williams, founder of the Maybelline Company.

I hoped to be a Maybelline model after I graduated high school. My grandmother convinced me to dress up for Christmas in a black cocktail dress, heals and of course my Chicken of the Sea hair-do to impress Unk Ile.  He took one look at me he said, "My god, Sharrie, you look like a 35 year old woman, not a teenage girl.

Was that a good or bad thing?  I wasn't sure, but it wasn't what he was looking for in a Maybelline model. He was targeting the teenage market in 1966.  In fact, Unk Ile, wanted just the opposite of my exotic look. Maybelline was going for a softer, more natural look.  So my hopes of becoming the next teen Maybelline model were smashed. 

Nana watched me mope around a while, then said, "Sharrie, Darling, why don't you go back to Chicago next summer and stay with your Great aunts and uncles, meet your cousins and and get to know the Chicago branch of the family.
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My spirits lifted and I was on my way.  Here I am, Queen of the super rollers, with my sister, Donna and her pin straight surfer girl hair.  she was happy to see me go for the summer, envisioning driving my 57, blue and white Chevy, to the beach everyday and surf.  I was excited to take my first plane ride back to where the story all began. 
Exotic and over dressed for every occasion in Chicago.

Nana encouraged me to take notes to document my trip in a letter to Unk Ile, when I got back.  I did, and those notes became part of the book I'd  publish 45 years later. 

 When my house burned down in 1993 most of my pictures of my trip to Chicago were lost.  this picture of auntie Eva and uncle Ches at their home on Mercer Lake survived. It was here, as well as with Auntie Mabel and uncle Chet, Aunt Verona and Aunt Bunny, that the Maybelline Story, began to unfold.  They loved showing me pictures, letters, and sharing stories about the early days of Maybelline.  With their help I pieced together a memoir, The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It. 





Memories of Mabel and Chet on their Wedding Day,  Tom Lyle Williams, aka Unk Ile to us,  Maybelline eye shadow in the 1930's and an original Maybelline ad from 1925.
After two wonderful months of getting to know my aunts, uncles and cousins, I returned to California, (as you can see I don't look very happy about it.)  I wanted to stay in Chicago and start college, but my parents insisted I come home.  So here I am at the airport, with my mother, Pauline, My dad, Bill, Nana and little Preston and Billee.

 I did keep a diary of my trip to Chicago and wrote a 25 page letter to Unk Ile.  He was quite impressed with my writing and said, "Sharrie, you certainly have a way with words, I think you'd make a great copy writer. He didn't offer a modeling contract, but he did tell me that if I got a degree in advertising, he'd open every door for me. He also said, I really don't want my story told, but if you do someday write it, I don't want to be remembered as the man who invented mascara, I want to be remembered as the "King of Advertising." 

Read more of my book, The Maybelline Story.  I guarantee you, you won't be able to put it down.

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