The Maybelline Story

December 16, 2010 9:54:51 AM PST
Did you know that the Maybelline cosmetic empire was founded in Chicago? In 1915, when a kitchen stove fire singed his sister Mabel's lashes and brows, Tom Lyle Williams watched in fascination as Mabel performed what she called "a secret of the harem."

She mixed petroleum jelly with coal dust and ash from a burnt cork and applied it to her lashes and brows. Mabel's simple beauty trick ignited Tom Lyle's imagination and the young entrepreneur started what would eventually become a billion-dollar business. Tom Lyle named his cosmetics company Maybelline in her honor.

The humble start to the Maybelline empire is the beginning of a family saga worthy of a TV mini-series. In her new book, "The Maybelline Story -- and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It," Sharrie Williams, Tom Lyle's grandniece, relates the history of the cosmetic company and the family that built it. Sharrie presents a fascinating journey through the history of the beauty business and cosmetics advertising, along with the story of a loyal yet dysfunctional family.

Throughout the 20th Century, the Maybelline company inflated, collapsed, endured and thrived in tandem with the nation's upheavals, as did the family that nurtured it, Sharrie says. She adds that four generations of Williams relatives either worked for the company or were heirs to what they perceived as its legacy: "Glamour at all costs."

Sharrie says she wanted to show the humanity, glamour and the seedy underside of a "family intoxicated by the quest for power, wealth and physical perfection."

For more information, visit maybellinebook.com


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