“Write your own ticket! Set in motion powerful forces which we cannot explain.” These are the words of inspiration spoken by an unassuming entrepreneur in history, Brownie Wise, when she was the convocation speaker at a college in Mississippi in 1957. Most of you are saying to yourself right now, “Who is Brownie Wise?” Well, I did some digging in the Journal of Women’s History and I thought I’d share with you the woman who wasn’t supposed to be what she became. You know what I mean…there are some people we just know are going to make history and be really successful in life. Brownie Wise wasn’t that woman.
Wise was a divorced, single mom with no formal training in sales and an eighth grade education. Does this sound like a woman of great potential to you? Well, if not, this is a lesson in “don’t make assumptions and anyone can achieve their dreams!” And you are still wondering, “Who is Brownie? Is she the woman who created the most delicious type of chocolate dessert, the brownie?!” No, but I do want to thank that person who did invent my all time favorite dessert! In all seriousness, Brownie Wise and her entrepreneurial spirit, made Tupperware famous and what it is today, a billion-dollar business. She became the first woman to ever appear on the cover of Business Week Magazine. This was a huge feat in 1954 when “working women” were just starting to become accepted in the workforce. Thanks to her ingenious idea of taking Tupperware off the shelves of stores and into the houses of women, Tupperware sales increased dramatically. Women gathered together to learn about the product through demonstrations by hostesses. This allowed women to juggle home life and work during World War 2 while their husbands were off fighting a war. This meant, they could work from their home, care for their children and earn a living. And not just make a living but a become a part of the American dream. This concept convinced many women to become a part of this endeavor. Brownie’s ambition was the first to kickoff the thousands of businesses who have copied that style of marketing and sales in the past 60 years.
Back in the 1950s, home parties allowed women to reap the financial blessings of sales but there is more to it because the tradition lives on in the relationships and connections that have blossomed throughout the years. As I ponder the various parties I have attended or been invited to in the last twenty years, I’m convinced there’s more to it than earning and spending money. I’d dare to say the social aspect of the gathering together is just as important. I’m chuckling as I write this because I recall being young and attending Home Interior parties with my mom. Yes, this is back in the 1980s and the business has since folded. Just a side note, Home Interior Gifts was started back in the 1950’s by a woman named Mary Crowley, who was aspired to provide career opportunities to women as well as decorate their homes. Look at that…so many women entrepreneurs and we didn’t even know it! Back to the parties in the 80s…this is what I recall. My mom would book a party from her friend, who held the party, then her friend would book a party from my mom and host it within the next couple weeks. Then her friend would book one and it seemed like we were going to parties with the same women attending each time. Selling the same products! Do you see where I’m going with this? The mingling, snacking and spending were all equally important aspects of the night. Women need to get out of the house sometimes, right?! Well, home parties are the perfect excuse. Except if your husband is like mine, you may hear, “don’t spend too much money!” as the door closes behind you.
Its amazing to think of how one woman’s need for earning money and having a daring spirit to do something different has influenced our culture so greatly. Think about it, America is now riddled with businesses such as Pampered Chef, Lulu Laroe, and Mary Kay. Oh I can’t forget one of my recent favorites, Young Living Oils. If it wasn’t for that party, I would not have been introduced to natural ways of medicine in which my husband calls, “voodoo.” What does he know, do only women understand such things?
Well there you have it, a little snippet of history to encourage us to look around and be thankful for the women who have braved to do something different and out of the ordinary. Just think this could be you if you just “write your own ticket” and set your dreams in motion!
Jill Burress is a full time Speech-Language Pathologist at NTID/RIT along with another full time schedule of “randomness.” As a pastor’s wife and mother of two, she is passionate about inspiring women to be the best they can be!
Dress designed by Mary Ellen Hill: https://www.facebook.com/bespokedesignsroc/
Make up by Diamond Expressions Studio: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=diamond%20expressions%20studio