Avon was founded in New York in 1886 by door-to-door book salesman David H. McConnell. Since most of the people home during the day were housewives, he developed his own line of perfume to offer as a free gift to women who would listen to his book pitch. When women became more interested in the perfume than the books he was selling, he was inspired to create The California Perfume Company. The company changed its name to Avon in 1939.
Persis Foster Eames Albee was the first female sales representative and was credited with developing a method for distributing the products. Soon many women were empowered to become sales representatives known as "Avon Ladies." They purchased the Avon products and catalogs and sold them on their own time. Avon offered a unique way for women to earn an income while also balancing childcare and family responsibilities.
In addition to perfumes, the Avon line expanded to include beauty care products as well as jewelry, clothing, accessories, and many other items. The company continues to grow and is still in business today.