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By Charles W., Jr. Carey, Ian C. Friedman

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Sample text

Because many homes were still without electricity at that time, his first models came with a hand crank with which to wind them up. By 1900 he had opened branch factories in England, France, and Germany, and his brother had built a record-pressing facility in Hamburg, Germany. In 1901 Berliner merged his company with Eldridge R. Johnson’s, which produced a slightly different version of the gramophone, to form the Victor Talking Machine Company, which would later gain fame as RCA Victor. Berliner loved to tinker with all sorts of devices, not just those related to sound.

For more than 10 years she had been using homemade skin-care creams and lotions made and bottled by a woman who had once hosted a Stanley party; the woman’s father had tanned raw cowhides into soft, supple leather, and she had simply added some fragrant scents to the chemicals he had used. In 1963 Ash paid the woman several thousand dollars for the formulas and rights to the skin-care products, and several thousand more to rent and outfit a small store in downtown Dallas. Calling her business Beauty by Mary Kay, she hired nine of her friends to give facials in the store and in customers’ homes.

This success led her to try her hand at selling pots and pans at “parties,” evening get-togethers in prospective customers’ homes of a dozen or so of their acquaintances. Although these items were of excellent quality, they were too expensive for most depression-era Houstonians, who evidently cared more about their children than their cookware. By 1939 she had moved on to another direct sales job, this time with the Stanley Home Products Company, which used parties to sell housecleaning supplies, tools, and gadgets.

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