‘If we build the people, they’ll build the business’
– Brownie Wise
A woman ahead of her time, Brownie Wise converted postwar optimism into a record-breaking sales engine powered by ordinary housewives – and changed their lives forever.
Having started her own successful business after divorcing her alcoholic husband, the plucky Southern single mum bristled at suggestions that management was ‘no place for a woman’. Then she caught the eye of Tupperware inventor Earl Tupper, whose plastic containers were collecting dust on store shelves.
Then, at the height of her success, Earl Tupper fired her, wrote her out of Tupperware’s success story and left her with a pittance. He walked away with a fortune and she disappeared – until now.
In 1958 at the height of success, Earl Tupper rewrote the history books to erase who is arguably the most vital key to the success of his company, Tupperware. Through her own courage and determination, Brownie Wise helped raise the status of the average American housewife and paved the way for the modern (female) executive!
When Wise found herself divorced with a young child, she looked to change the direction of her life. She wished to be successful in all areas – financially, in dealing with other people, and finding personal accomplishment. She started with Stanley Home Products as a way of supplementing her income. In 1938, Earl Tupper founded his first industrial plastics company. He worked long hours developing his ideas however post-war times proved to be challenging in getting the materials he required. He started looking for a replacement and was given a black blob – polyethylene – and with it he created a revolutionary product. Now he needed someone to sell it. At sixteen, Gary McDonald also became a Stanley Home Products seller and one day, he saw a dusty piece of Tupperware in a department store. Feeling inspired, he bought a piece and showed it to Wise. The rest they say, is history!
Brownie and others began selling Tupperware via the party plan method and in a few years, Wise had helped build Tupperware into a financial success. Her passion, enthusiasm and wholesome image encourage and inspired the average housewife to loosen the ties that kept them at home and move into the workforce. Wise was completely devoted to the product and nursed the sellers and distributors to booming financial success. Tupperware saw enormous growth, so much so that they began an annual jubilee and offered cars, holidays and other prizes to their most successful team members. They were the golden years of Tupperware however all good things must come to an end. The relationship between Tupper and Wise became strained and eventually Tupper stripped her of her title, her income and her home and sent her into obscurity. Of course, he walked away with a fortune and a successful company.
Life of the Party is written by Bob Kealing, a well-known American journalist based in Orlando, Florida. He writes with an easy-to-read writing style and a great fondness for Wise. His eagerness for Wise’s brilliance to be recognised is evident on every page. He is sympathetic to her trials and remains secretive of her personal life. He appears rather protective of her and at times leaves the reader wanting more.
Brownie Wise had enormous courage when it came to making change. She strived for personal and financial independence and to prove that she was as capable as any male. She was the first woman to make the cover of Business Week and to this day, Tupperware is still striving to enrich the lives of women all over the world by providing them the opportunity to be independent and successful. Life of the Party was a book I was a little unsure about when it first arrived but I can assure you, dear reader, it is well worth a read!
AUTHOR: Bob Kealing
PUBLISHER: Affirm Press
PUB DATE: July 2016
Thank you to Affirm Press for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!