finding inspiration in lipstick

A limited edition lipstick by Kendall Jenner & Estee Lauder, and my favourite lip gloss by Aerin.

January seems to be “inspiration month”. So far, I have done a series of feel-good and (personally) inspiring things, such as visit an art gallery, create a dreamboard, watch the sunrise and sunset, and a few other tasks I’ve challenged myself to do in order to “shake things up a bit”. And why not? If there ever was an appropriate month to be inspired, it’s probably January, right?

 

So I decided to choose an Inspiring Person of the Month, and I have chosen Hazel Gladys Bishop, the inventor of no-smear, long-lasting lipstick.

 

Now, if you’ve never heard of the Lipstick Wars of the 1950s, you are probably wondering what makes Hazel Bishop so inspiring. Allow me to elaborate…

 

Hazel Bishop was a chemist who helped design fuel for the planes used in World War II. In her downtime, and after the war, she dedicated her time to creating a lipstick that would not smear on cups/glasses/cutlery and clothing–I bet men’s collars were thankful for her!–simply because she wanted a lipstick that she wouldn’t have to worry about after having put it on. It took lots of experimenting, but eventually she found the right formula, and with it she took the cosmetic world by storm! What started out as a kitchen experiment soon became a multi-million dollar company known as Hazel Bishop Inc.

 

Her success threatened Revlon, already a large cosmetic company and lipstick leader at the time. And so the Lipstick Wars began! In a story that somewhat parallels David and Goliath, is fringed with corporate espionage (yes, these cosmetics moguls would bug each others phones), and launched one of the most famous advertising campaigns in cosmetics history (The Fire & Ice campaign which initially featured Dorian Leigh was so famous and effective that it was recently redone with Jessica Biel.), what really stands out (to me) is the fact that the home business and passion of one lady turned the world upside down. She knew what she wanted to do, she loved what she was doing, she stuck to it, and faster than she could have ever expected, she was taking on giants in her industry.

 

Lipstick Facts. Did you know… 

– that the first swivel tube was patented in 1923 in Nashville?

– that even during the Great Depression, lipstick sales never dwindled? Economists call this the Leading Lipstick Indicator, sometimes called the Lipstick Effect.

– in the 1920s, etiquette dictated that women may apply lipstick at the table during or after lunch, but NEVER at dinner.

 

Although Revlon ultimately won its battle against Hazel Bishop, that doesn’t make her story any less inspiring. And yes it is cliche to say “if she can do it so can I”, but the thing about cliches? They’re kind of true.  No, I am not about to go and create my own lipstick, but I can definitely do other things, and who knows? Faster than I can publish my next blog post, I may be on to something really big.

 

So here’s to Hazel Bishop, my Inspiring Person of the Month.

 

“I’ve lived by a man’s code designed to fit a man’s world, yet at the same time I never forget that a woman’s first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick.” – Carole Lombard

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