Brownie Wise is considered the inventor of the Tupper Party and made the small plastic boxes an American institution. But the extravagance and cheeky mouth of the “Southern Belle” led to her being thrown out.

There are brand names that stand for a product. Like pace for tissues. Or Tupperware for small plastic boxes in which food is hygienically stored. The fact that these containers are identified with the name Tupper is due to a woman. Brownie Wise is considered one of the greatest sales talents of the post-war period. Legend has it that this is how she found her calling: One evening, a representative from the Stanley Home Products Company knocked on her door to sell her cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and other household products. After the visit, the 34-year-old only thought: I can do it better than him.

Tupper became an institution

That’s how Wise went on sale. She became famous because she made Tupperware a company of international standing. Wise made the Tupperware parties an American institution. But before that, she started working for Stanley, becoming a manager and founding her own branch. Above all, she came into contact with Frank Stanley Beveridge. A pioneer of street selling – from him she learned the idea of ​​the “Home Party”, which she later perfected.

But after her first high, Beveridge threw her away. He just felt that this kind of work was a waste for an attractive woman like Wise. Pissed off, she swore, “I’ll show him.”

Brilliant boxes with no sales idea

Back then, she was already familiar with Earl Tupper’s food containers. The safe and robust containers made of polyethylene were a revolution at the time. Plastics were relatively new, especially such an elastic material was unknown. But customers mistrusted the boxes, opening them could make a farting sound. And Earl Tupper had no idea how to sell his awesome boxes.

Wise knew, she invented the “Tupperware parties”. As early as 1950, Wise obtained the exclusive right of first refusal in Florida. In order to be able to cover the state with saleswomen, she wrote her first manual for the new saleswomen. The Tupperware Lady’s Bible. “The pleasant party atmosphere has a relaxing effect. All the guests are filled with the group spirit of the party. The casual mood serves to reduce the sales resistance of those present and increase the competitive spirit. The desire to buy is contagious; it is a proven fact that you want more will sell to a group of 15 women than you will sell to them individually.”

Wise knew all the tricks to get the boxes to the woman. A box filled with red grape juice was always thrown back and forth at the parties. That relaxed the mood and proved how tight the boxes were.

Escape from doing nothing

Wise did not employ female representatives. Her Tupper ladies came from the same milieu as the customers, for all of them it was also a chance to break out of being just a housewife. They made money from Tupperware, but it was also a never-ending party. Wise invented event sales. As an event, the meetings of the Tupper ladies were also organized by Wise. At such a meeting, the women were allowed to go into a field as treasure diggers to dig up jewelry and expensive watches. Her men stood at the edge and cheered on the treasure hunters. Top saleswomen received a mink or Cadillac. Wise herself drove a pink Cadillac that Tupper had given her. To match, she had her parrots dyed pink.

Despite her success, she didn’t really get along with Tupper. During delivery problems in 1951, she berated the boss over the phone. Bob Kealing, her biographer, wrote: “Respect was of great importance to Tupper, and that kind of sassy mouth could get an employee fired on the spot.” But given the importance of Wise’s sales successes, the disgruntled Tupper didn’t do anything about his best salesman.

Cheeky and extravagant

In fact, at the end of the year, the Tupperware Corporation board of directors elected Wise as vice president. Sales exploded. At that time, Wise was earning an incredible $30,800 a year, and she was also given a huge mansion.

At the same time, Wise was built from PR to the face of the brand. Tupper himself shied away from the public. Wise was the first woman to appear on the cover of BusinessWeek magazine. Unfortunately, the high flight also meant that she took on an increasingly cheeky and disrespectful tone towards Tupper. Quirky fits of temper strengthened Tupper’s fear that Wise was more concerned with his own fame than with the success of the household boxes.

In 1955 there were problems with sales for the first time. In 1957 an extravagant party by Wise led to the final break. She had invited 1200 guests to an island when a storm swept over the company. There were riots and fights, boats sank, 21 people were injured. The company was hit with lawsuits. The following January, Tupper fired the sales genius and demanded that every trace of Wise be erased from the company. The relationship ended in a flurry of mutual lawsuits.

Later in her professional life, Wise achieved further successes, but she was never able to build on the fame of the Tupper era. She died in 1992, aged 79. In later years she was considered a pioneer for women in business. She herself saw her profession very soberly and replied: “I needed the money for myself and my child. So I went out there and showed it to them.”

Quelle: Bob Kealing. The Remarkable Story of How Brownie Wise Built, and Lost, a Tupperware Party Empire

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