CHARLES REVSON Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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The biography of Charles Revson, founder of cosmetics giant Revlon, is truly one     
exemplifying the American dream. By the time of his death, Revson ? a business       
genius - had developed his tiny cosmetic store into one of the world?s largest       
cosmetics firms.                                                                     
Charles Revson was born on October 11, 1906 in Montreal, Canada, the son of a         
cigar maker. The family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire when Charles was a         
After graduating from Manchester High School, he moved to Boston. He got a job       
as a dress salesman, and then worked in a firm selling cosmetics. At age 25 he       
quit that job, when he was refused a promotion, and determined that he would         
start his own cosmetics business. To do so, he brought his brother, Martin, as       
well as a cosmetics chemist, Charles Lachman, with him, and together they             
started Revlon Cosmetics in New York City.                                           
The company was funded with a mere $300 and initially specialized in nail             
polishes (Charles would test the products on his own nails), differentiating         
itself from the competition by the wide assortment of colors they offered to         
their clientele, which consisted of salons and what was then a new phenomenon,       
department stores. Using pigments rather than the usual dyes, the company             
offered the American woman a rich-looking nail enamel in a larger variety of         
shades than had ever before been possible. Many of the firm?s clients across the     
country were introduced to the Revlon products by Charles personally, who would       
travel the nation by railroad on marketing trips. From there they expanded the       
Revlon product line to include lipsticks that matched the colors of their nail       
polishes, and later introduced perfumes and other fragrances. And in a mere six       
years, Revlon became a multi-million dollar venture.                                 
Using his tough and demanding business style and his intuitive understanding of       
his female market, Charles Revson then helped build Revlon into the biggest           
retail cosmetics company in America, with more than 3,500 products and with           
annual sales at the time of his death in 1975 of an amazing $605,000,000. Revson     
served as company president from its inception until 1962, and then as chairman       
of the board until his death.                                                         
Perhaps the low point for Revlon occurred in the 1950?s, with the scandal that       
surrounded the popular television game show, The $64,000 Question, which Revlon       
sponsored. It was alleged that the Revson brothers required that the quiz show?s     
producers rig the show?s questions to ensure that contestants could be assured       
of winning, so that the show?s national popularity and high ratings continue.         
Neither brother was ever charged with any wrongdoing though, and while the show       
itself was decimated by the scandal, sales of Revlon products actually increased     
during that period.                                                                   
As a person, Charles Revson was seen as a boundless perfectionist and difficult       
to work with, so much so that most of his business associates would eventually       
cut their ties with him. He is quoted as saying ?The big will get bigger; the         
small will get wiped out? and ?I don?t meet competition. I crush it?.                 
Notwithstanding his personality, the Revlon company flourished and with it did       
Charles? personal fortune, which likely surpassed one billion dollars at his         
While his reputation may have been one of tough businessman, Charles did also         
contribute significantly to charities. As an example, his Charles H. Revson           
Foundation has given over $150,000,000 in grants over the last 30 years.             
Today the business Charles Revson started some seventy five years ago with a         
mere $300 investment is a name recognized in over 175 countries around the world     
for its cosmetics, perfume and skin care products. Its spectacular growth is a       
prime example of the drive and dreams that are the foundation of American             
entrepreneurial success.