I think my love of beauty products possibly comes from the fact that when I was about 10 years old my mother became an Avon lady (surprisingly, neither of my brothers seem to have been affected in the same way).
Mum's first territory was in our neighbourhood and she walked from door to door, building up a regular clientle and – knowing what I know now – what must have been a successful business. However, her business really began to thrive when she learned to drive and was given a territory on the western outskirts of Brisbane, where all the women lived on acreage (small farms and horse properties) and weren't able to easily pop into the city to shop (no shopping centres back then). It was here that she drove from property to property and built a great business, supplying shopping-deprived women with make-up, cosmetics, men's and women's toiletries, skin care, perfumes, and gifts.
Mum would drive out, deliver the catalogues, take the orders, place them with Avon and – hallellujah – every three weeks boxes and boxes of wonderful products were delivered to our door. They had to be unpacked and collated into individual order bags and I got to help! It was like Christmas every month, plus our house always smelled lovely.
Fast forward 18 years to when I was living in England and, one day, when I was at home looking after my six month old baby (read: Katherine) there was a knock at the door and it was the Avon lady (I should have had a doorbell!). She was looking for someone to run the territory in our village and, boy, had she come to the right door. I worked that territory for about a year (it was the 1980's, money was tight, and women weren't buying much), with many childhood memories flooding back every time the delivery came (smell is an amazing thing).
Returning to Brisbane, and then to the workforce in the '90's, I would sometimes buy bits and pieces from women at work who would leave an Avon catalogue lying around, or occasionally from someone local who dropped a brochure in my letterbox, but everytime I found a product I liked (or my girls did, or my mum did), the distributor would disappear from my life.
One day I rang Avon and asked if I could just order for myself via the Internet and the company very obligingly said I could. So I did – until about a year ago, when I realised that I was just buying for the sake of it and paying postage to boot. My cupboards were full of body wash, night creams, and cosmetics, but I had moved on to trying and buying a vast range of different brands from department stores – where I could try, and buy, and take them home immediately. Also, as an addicted collector of a number of brands that do Gift With Purchase, I had so many boxes full of sample products it was starting to look like an obsession. I gave products away left, right and centre but, miraculously, they would stock up again just as fast.
So I made a decision; I could live without Avon in my life. Not that there is anything wrong with the company or its products, quite the contrary. The products are great, the prices affordable, and the freedom many women have gained through selling is inspiring. I just felt that I had to exert some self-discipline after accumulating more product than I could use in a lifetime. I might go back to buying the odd Avon product here and there, but sometimes you just have to say no. Do you have any weaknesses that you need to get some control over?