For 44 years, Avon has been much more than a successful side business for Moree resident Jenny Pritchard.
The iconic global beauty company has been a part of her life for more than four decades, providing not only a chance to interact with the community, but forge lifelong friendships.
However, this will all come to an end next month when Avon representatives make their last house calls in Australia and New Zealand.
The news that Avon was closing down its Australia and New Zealand operations came as a complete shock to Mrs Pritchard.
“It was a bolt out of the blew,” she said.
“I had no idea that it was not being profitable anymore.
“The president and managing director of Avon Australia and New Zealand sent an email to all reps on Thursday, February 15.
“That same day it hit the news.”
The saddest thing for me was I have half a dozen customers that have been with me for 44 years and they’re really good friends.Jenny Pritchard
Mrs Pritchard has already shed many tears over the closure of the company, saying it’s been a very sad time.
“The saddest thing for me was I have half a dozen customers that have been with me for 44 years and they’re really good friends,” she said.
“I’m going to miss catching up with them.”
This month marks 44 years since Mrs Pritchard began selling Avon.
Mrs Pritchard, who was a teacher at the time, took over the business from her Avon representative in March 1974.
“I’m finishing when I started,” she said.
The roots of Avon can be traced back to 1886, when struggling door-to-door salesman David McConnell made the decision to sell perfumes, rather than books to New York homes.
Known in those days as The California Perfume Company, the business quickly prospered and Mr. McConnell appointed his first sales agent, Mrs P. F. E. Albee, who was instrumental in establishing the unique sales method that continues to be Avon's hallmark today.
Avon began operations in Australia in 1963, becoming one of the top direct selling companies in Australia.
Throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Avon was one of the most well-known and popular cosmetic brands.
At one stage, Mrs Pritchard had at least 60 clients.
However, in more recent years, Mrs Pritchard had experienced a decline in sales, which she believes is a sign of the times.
“It started in Australia in 1963; in the 60s the world was different to now,” she said.
“Doorknocking was a good thing to do to build a relationship with customers, and women were home. You had to keep to a territory because there were so many Avon reps. These days you can go anywhere.”
While Avon representatives have come and gone in Moree, there are still a couple of other Avon ladies still selling – Margaret Buxton has been doing it for 30 years and Kelly James for the past 15.
Another well-known Avon representative was the late Jay McNamara who served her customers for more than 30 years.
As one of the longest-serving Avon reps in the North West, Mrs Pritchard has built up a significant collection of gifts and rewards over the years.
Each year, representatives receive a pin and a certificate and for those who reach a certain amount of sales, they get elevated to the president’s club and receive a special Mrs Albee collector’s plate. Those who reach president’s elite receive a Mrs Albee collector’s figurine.
Mrs Pritchard has seven Mrs Albee figurines and dozens of plates.
She has also received countless pins and badges which she has pinned on ‘Bear’ – a reward for being a team leader.
The endless rewards, banquets, recognition for birthdays and service, as well as Avon’s successful breast cancer crusade are just some of the things that Mrs Pritchard loves about the company.
It is this passion which drove her to her keep the business going for the past 44 years, all while teaching, participating in other community volunteer work, and even while she was going through treatment for breast cancer in 2007.
Mrs Pritchard is now retired and said she will greatly miss selling Avon.
“How many people have a job for 44 years?” she asked.
“I’ll miss the interaction with my customers; a lot have been my friends.
“And the pocket money. I never made a motser but it’s a little extra income in the house which paid for things like shoes and Christmas presents.”
Since the news of Avon’s closure broke, Mrs Pritchard has encouraged her customers to stock up on their favourite products.
Avon will run two more campaigns before finishing at the end of April.