Working on “Wonder Women”, Katy and I spent considerable time researching stories of how women had contributed to the success of brands old and new, and we have included 40 tales in the first section of the book. Over 50% of the stories features American women so we’re delighted that the book has just been launched in USA.
In the book we grouped the stories into four categories – A Woman’s Intuition, Girl Power, A Women’s Work and A Woman’s Place.
Yesterday, today and for a couple of days we thought we would give you give you a taster of a story from each category – today it’s Girl Power
Women inspire other women. They help, they listen, they comfort, they push. Women help women. Actually, women help people. They help them achieve more and be more. For many women, their greatest achievement is not the financial or professional success but the people and teams they have helped.
For me perhaps the best example of this was a woman who was described in 1956, in the Houston Post as the person who, “has helped more women to financial success than any other single living person.”
Her name was Brownie Wise.
Her path to success started when a Stanley Home Products salesman knocked on her door and proceeded to deliver a terrible sales pitch. Wise scoffed and said she could do better.
The salesman challenged her to prove it. She jumped at the chance and soon showed him and the company that she was as good as her word. She was promoted to a more managerial role and hoped to ascend even higher. However, her aspirations were quashed when she was told by Stanley’s head, Frank Beveridge, that the executive floor was “no place for a woman.”
She was furious and resigned. She joined Tupperware, and in 1949 threw her first party.
She quickly amassed outstanding sales but, more importantly, she started to build her team of more and more salespeople, and they in turn built their own networks. Soon, Tupperware parties were taking place across the whole country.
At a meeting with Earl Silas Tupper, the company’s founder she suggested the radical strategy of dropping, or at least deprioritizing sales through department stores, and focusing on home parties. Impressed, Tupper created a new division just for home parties and asked Wise to be the general manager.
Soon she was selling more Tupperware than anyone anywhere and the new approach was working too; wholesale orders exceeded $2 million in 1952. Tupper increased her salary and gave her more freedom to do practically whatever she wanted.
Wise travelled the country recruiting new saleswomen, and presiding over sales conferences. She recognised the beauty of selling Tupperware at parties for many women was it allowed them to be employed, yet not appear to challenge their husbands’ authority in what was still a very traditional, male-dominated world.
In 1954, she was the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week. The magazine’s profile was glowing. It credited Wise and her sales technique with Tupperware’s estimated sales of $25 million.
At which point it would be wonderful to say, “and everyone lived happily ever after”, but things took a turn for the worse. It is said Tupper had never craved the spotlight, but he clearly wasn’t completely happy about the publicity. The article had downplayed his role as president and founder. He sent a note to Wise: “However good an executive you are, I still like best the pictures … with TUPPERWARE!”
From then on, their relationship started to deteriorate and, in 1958, Tupper fired Wise. After a heated legal battle, she received only $30,000 as a settlement.
Tupper ordered her name expunged from the company and later that year, he sold the company to Rexall Drug for $16 million.
Wise tried starting new companies but never achieved the same level of success but led a quiet and content life. She died at her home in 1992.