The first Avon lady was a man: David H. McConnell, a New York City bookseller. In 1892, when the perfume he used to reward loyal customers proved more popular than his paperbacks, he dumped the books and began pushing only the scents. McConnell's next smart move was assembling a workforce composed entirely of housewives. In contrast to then-prevalent door-to-door salesmen, Avon ladies knew their customers and weren't creepy vagabonds. By putting a feminine foot forward, McConnell made a fortune, and so did many women. Today Avon is one of the largest companies in America that is run by a female chief executive.

--Mike Hofman

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