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Women’s Business – Summary | The Heritage of Words

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Women’s Business

Ilene Kantrov


Lydia Pinkham’s kind face shone on the pages of the papers, which advertised the medicine to cure the disease of women. She combined her business with social service. She advertised not only her product but she also supported women’s rights, temperance and economic reform. She encouraged women to consult female doctors and advised them on diet, exercise, hygiene and her own medicine. She used traditional feminine fears to sell her product. She printed the report that women were able to correct physical problems, infertility, nervousness, hysteria and even marital conflict. She earned a lot and was very popular. She had held a special place in the history of American business and of women. She was a model to be followed by other businesswomen later. Similarly, other women also followed her in introducing feminine role in the masculine world of commerce. Like Pinkham, her followers also used their images as women to sell their products. But they emphasized their glamorous role. Helena and Elizabeth sold cosmetics and attracted the attention of the people by their marriages to European aristocrats. Some other women gave special attention to the role of mother or grandmother. Grossinger ran a resort hotel which was famous for good and entertainment. In the eyes of her customers she was Jewish grandmother.

Women used traditional women’s skill in their businesses and fulfilled the desires of women. Lydia Pinkham had collected and used folk remedies to her family and later she began to sell herbal medicines for women. Margaret Rudkin helped her husband by selling additive-free bread, which she would prepare for her asthmatic son. To change their skill into a successful business, hey introduced new methods and took a risk. Elizabeth Arden introduced new methods and took a risk. Elizabeth Arden introduced a line of makeup, which was not widely used then. In the beauty market she was always ahead of demand. Apart from skin care and cosmetics, her salons paid attention to hair styling, ready-made clothes, yoga and nutrition. Helena Rubinstein sold a book on the advantage of eating raw food.

Few of them were able to combine marketing effort with a campaign for economic and social change as Lydia had done. But other American businesswomen paid equal attention to profit and their products’ social effectiveness. Gertude Muller invented a lot of child care products. She also distributed pamphlets and booklets about child rearing. Doctors and home economics instructors supported her. Annie Turnbo-Malone established a hairdressing business. She developed a new marketing skill. She had a network of authorized sales agents. She established a school for training agents. She thought that it would uplift the black people and women. Apart from hair care, she supported good hygiene, thrift, and other good qualities. She and her sisters believed that their products and services were useful. Many of the businesswomen used their profits in good works. Annie, Helena and Jennie contributed to hospitals, schools and cultural organizations.

Although they aimed to sell and to serve, they earned more than they served. Their advertising claims were wrong, so later they were controlled by the government. Lydia Pinkham successfully combined the profit motive with the social service. She supported temperance and also sold alcoholic drink.

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