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Women Who Made History: Brownie Wise

Women Who Made History: Brownie Wise

Women Who Made History: Brownie Wise

If it wasn’t for this woman, shopping would be no fun at all.  Brownie Wise, saleswoman extraordinaire, is the woman you can thank for the success of the home party demonstrations with- you guessed it- TupperwarePampered Chef cookware parties, erotic pleasure parties, jewelry parties, you name it, if it wasn’t for this woman who M.I.S.S. would like to honor today, those parties wouldn’t be much of a party.  And with a name like hers, it’s only right to put her down in history!

The art of shopping has evolved throughout the years.  Remember catalog shopping?  It was always a task in itself to browse through the pages and flag what you wanted, only to have it shipped and it wasn’t what you expected!  Nowadays, the same can be said about internet shopping.  For me, when I shop, I like to try before I buy, which is why you’ll find me hitting the racks.  But, there’s not always that know-all salesperson there to tell you what you need to know, and with long lines, mall parking, and picked-through products, shopping has lost its sense of fun.  That is, unless you go to a shopping party!

Have you ever been to a Tupperware party?  Those were the deal back in the day!  Imagine a Saturday night with your lady friends, ooh-ing and aah-ing about the amazing airtight properties of Tupperware, imagining all of the leftovers you can keep in your fridge in cute, organized, color-coordinated stacks.  Games, prizes, and of course, drinks and snacks brought the party vibe to the place, but it’s not just a party, ladies, it’s a demonstration.  And after you see the product, you won’t go home without placing an order.  If you’re really feeling empowered by the process, you can even make money by throwing your own Tupperware parties, earning more as you sell more.  That was Brownie’s model for success, both for herself and for the company.  This model of entrepreneurism only made sense for her, since she was a single mother.  What better way to make money than when you’re home with the kids? Brownie Wise was one smart cookie; she had social marketing down long before our time!

It all started in the 1940s.  She dabbled around selling cleaning aids and brushes at shopping parties, but what really made her catapult into the world of success was her venture into Tupperware.  The ingenious food storage containers were being sold at department stores, or rather, unsold since no one was buying them.  Miss Wise, the wise woman that she was, thought that if Tupperware was sold at home demonstration parties, then the customers would know how to use them properly.  She started selling Tupperware at home parties, demonstrating how to close the special seal, which eventually sealed the deal!

In the 1950s, Brownie and her family moved to Florida where she started Tupperware Patio Parties.  Her business was booming, selling more Tupperware than the stores, which caught the attention of Tupperware inventor, Earl Tupper.  Apparently, he was doing home demonstrations too, but he didn’t have what Brownie had.  Brownie knew what the consumers wanted, and with her charm and ability to connect with the customer, she brought Tupperware to the tip top, bringing her to the top too, as Mr. Tupper crowned her Vice President of the company.

But Brownie knew that she couldn’t do it all on her own.  She empowered other women who typically had conventional roles in the family, housewives, single mothers, and the like, to take the same path she did and gain success by throwing Tupperware parties.  How liberating it must have been for these women to find a way to make money from home!  But Brownie knew that it was also important to step out of the house for some fun.  Not only did these women earn a living through home sales of Tupperware, they also were kept interested by incentives- including a huge party conference in Florida!  Working for Tupperware wasn’t all about the money, it was about lifestyle.  Brownie organized extravagant parties filled with costumed-themed nights, special rituals, and motivational meetings with other successful salespeople.  She waved a wand of glamour over everything she touched, making it all sparkle and shine.  Because of that, her success shined, as she was not only a female high in the corporate ranks, something quite rare at the time, but she was also the first woman on the cover of Business Week.  The media loved her, and America embraced her as a household name, synonymous with Tupperware.

Unfortunately, her success with Tupperware was not one that lasted, and although she brought Tupperware to a level it could never even imagine without her, she was dumped as if she never even built the business.  She started her own cosmetics party company, but it was nothing compared to her success with Tupperware.  However, her impact on the business, both with Tupperware and home selling, has influenced and inspired other companies including Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Brownie Wise was a woman who thought outside of the box- but kept it inside of the house.  Her forward thinking should be summoned during these times, when finding a job is almost as difficult as finding your identity.  I could only imagine that if she were to still be alive today, how she would suggest other companies to adopt the home party marketing methods.  Imagine, Brownie on Twitter, telling the world about the fancy hors d’oeuvres she just baked for the upcoming designer jean party, coaxing ladies from all over to step out of their homes and into hers to do something they all love and equally hate- shop.

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2 Responses to “Women Who Made History: Brownie Wise”

  1. ladylexx Lexx says:

    I researched Tupperware in design school and became a little obsessed with Brownie. Her drive was amazing. Thanks for the great write-up!

  2. Queen of Bows Stella says:

    Good for her. I bet people thought she was crazy back in the day, but she was just pioneering. Great post!


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