From a small mail-order company to the great world of Hollywood.

Black, bold, lengthening! It gives the eye the look of unprecedented clarity. And that’s for almost 100 years! Admittedly, over the years, black – has become probably deeper and the brush has been increasingly shaped and adapted to the corners of the eye, but the purpose of its use has always been the same – BEAUTY. And it would not be achievable and at women’s hand, already in 1915, had not fate. And perhaps today, smoky eye would not be so smoky, and not as flirty. So, a nod to the entrepreneur, which is invented mascara, … mascara Maybelline brand. To this day, one of the most recognizable brands in the world, bringing millions of profits. What were the origins of this great consortium? What secrets are hidden behind its name? Incredible.

Reaching for the Maybelline book, you go back to the beginning of the twentieth century and you encounter the Williams family adventure. The facts previously unknown to anyone are described by the heiress of Maybelline legacy – Sherrie Williams. It was her great-uncle who founded the Maybelline brand. Sharrie has decided to tell the Williams family secrets which have not been free from personal problems or addictions.

Blessing in disguise.

It all began with Mabel, who unfortunately charred  her eyebrows and eyelashes, while she was cooking when her kitchen stove caught fire. Her brother, Tom Lyle noticed that his sister was trying to camouflage imperfections in appearance, with the help of mixture called, “A secret of the harem”— mixing petroleum jelly with coal dust and ash from a burnt cork. Tom Lyle decided to search on the market something what will give a better effect. Didn‘t found. So, with the help of specialists from one lab he created what he was looking for so eagerly. And initially, mascara was just a small dice. It was applied with the help of a brush.

From a small mail-order company to the great world of Hollywood.

The most interesting is how this small mail-order company turned into the big consortium bringing millions of income, and how after the bankruptcy of the company in 1930, as a result of the economic crisis, Maybelline was able to rise and ascend to heights. Equally interesting are the relations between the Williams family members, as well as how generous was the founder of the brand – Tom L. Williams. He willingly shared his wealth, business shares at the time of the company sale in 1967. But why at all did he decide to sell it? Why didn’t he gave the business to his family? That’s what I asked the author of the book about. You can read of it in the interview below. Currently, Maybelline brand belongs to the cosmetic concern – L’Oréal.

Meanwhile – defiant Evelyn.

She was the inspiration for the first advertisment of Maybelline, but she did not take part in them. Evelyn – to be clear – was the grandmother of the book’s author – SharrieWillimas. Evelyn was blessed with beauty and admired by men what was not accepted by other women. She married Preston, who was the brother of Tom Lyle – founder of Maybelline. Evelyn confessed one important principle in her life, which she passed on her granddaughter Sharrie: You want to be beautiful? Suffer. After reading the whole book – you can have the impression that the author dedicates this publication to her grandmother. Is this true? That’s what I have asked the author, too. I should also add that Evelyn lived to a ripe old age, but how it all ends for her – the sister-in law of the Maybelline’s founder – is totally staggering. Her house was set on fire while she was sleeping. She was about to get out. She got to the front door, turned the handle, but the door-knob fell off and stayed in her hand. 


with Sharrie Williams

 the author of the Maybelline book,

– her great-uncle founded the brand Maybelline

Why did Tom Lyle decide to sell Maybelline in 1967?  His son could have been the boss or another members of your family.

Tom Lyle never prepared any of the younger generation to take over the business.  He regreted it after selling the company.  He was afraid that if he showed favor to one nephew or niece and prepare them to take over Maybelline, it would cause jealousy with all the other relitives.  Instead, he sold the business and split up the money equally so everyone could share the profits and be happy.

Do you think that your great-uncle was too generous? He reward the family who didn’t work for the company.

It was wonderful living in a fantasy world when all the money came.  But, sometimes it seemed like a blessing and a curse, because, when everything is handed to you, you lose your ambition to make your dreams come true.  After my divorce, my ambition came back and I wanted to make something of myself.  Including getting my Bachelor’s degreee in Pshychology and writing my book.

Why didn’t you decide to publish your book earlier, for example 10 years earlier?

My father and his cousins, (the second generation who inherieted all the money,) didn’t want me to tell the story.  They didn’t want their privacy disturbed during their lifetime.  My book was published after my parents death.  All my cousins, in my generation are happy the story was finally told.

Did you have any doubts about the publication?

Yes I did. I was worried about my family turning against me, but now that it’s out in the open, I’m glad I did it.

How long did it take you to write the book?

It took me 2 years to write a 973 page manuscript and after I found my publisher, it took another 3 years to get it published. We had to edit it down to under 400 pages, which required at least a dozen rewrites and many editors working with me to make it read like a novel.

I notice that the cover of the book published in Poland looks different than the book published in USA. What’s the reason?

I only know of the two covers. I would like to see the thrid one. However the book is also published in Spain, Estonia, China as well as Poland and the USA. Each country has the right to change the cover. I love the Polish cover, it’s so beautiful.

Did you ask another members of your family about the details of the story? Or everything told you your grandmother?

I was very close to all my great aunts and uncles, the one’s I write about in the story. They all helped with their memories and pictures. My father and mother, though they never really expected the book to be published, gave me their memories as well.

How have members of Williams family reacted after reading the book? 

At first there was a little unset over the beginning of the story. The part where I say Mabel singed her eyebrows and lashes over a stove, which was the story given to me by her sister. After the book came out, Mabel’s daughters and granddaughters said it was wrong. They said Mabel, had put a product on her brows that accidently burned them, (meaning it bleached them,) that’s why she had to figure out how to darken them and that’s how Maybelline was born. The rest of the family has been very happy with the story and even Mabel’s family has forgiven me.

After reading the book I feel that you dedicated it your grandmother? Am I right?

Yes, because if the story about what happened to her was never told, I feel her death would have been forgotten and that wouldn’t be right.

Why did your grandmother start her carrier as “Miss Maybelline” in old age, rather than to do it before?

She opened a nightclub in Hot Springs Arkansas, called the Palace, in her 70’s. Miss Maybelline was used as a marketing tool to Brand herself and her new business.

What would you change in the lives of the Williams family, if you could?

If I could have a wish and have it done over, I would have had a happier ending for my mother. I would have kept our family together, even if it meant we would never have inheireted the money from the sale of the Maybelline Company. It was a terrible price to pay, losing my grandmother the way we did and to see my mother’s life end so sadly. Money doesn’t always promise happiness.

How much brand Maybelline influenced your life?

I have dedicated my life to my family’s legacy. I never remarried after my devorce in 1996, and after my home burned down that same year, and I lost everything, I was even more determined to tell the story and keep the memories alive. Maybelline will be 100 years old in 2015 and my agent is in negotiation for a possible tv movie. I also plan to write a second book, my life story.

Why did you divorce with your husband? You don’t write about reason in the book.

My husband divorced me after an 8 year seperation. He found another woman and married her. I think one of the reasons he left me, was because he felt he could never live up to what I expected him to be. Which wasn’t true and I will always love him, he was the love of my life.

Do you keep contacts with extended the Williams family? Cousins, for example?

Oh yes, I’m very close to all my cousins. They come visit me and I go visit them often. If there is a movie, it will be fun for all of us.

Each of close family received shares in the company and profits, even if it has been sold, whether it is to this day. Do they still have a profit?

Our parents (who inheireted the money) were all very wealthy and we were very lucky to enjoy wonderful years as their children. But, as we know, money doesn’t continue after so many generations. None of us will ever live the way our parents lived, but I’d say we are comfortable and content with our lives.

 If the company has not been sold, would you have worked for the Maybelline? If you would have a chance? 

In the book I say that I wanted to be a Maybelline Model in 1965, but the company sold in December of 1967 and that never happened. My great uncle, the founder of the company, wanted me to go to college and get a degree in marketing and advertising. He said he would open every door to me if I did it. But, after the company sold and all the money came, my ambition died and I just wanted to find the right guy and get married. So, no I doubt I would have ever worked for the company at that time. I was too young.

Does anyone derived from the Williams family is now a popular person? Movie star, for example? 

Yes, my cousin Brian Dietzen, plays Jimmy Palmer on the popular TV Show, NCIS.

Knowing the fate of your family, do you think that it is better to have million, or not to have a million?

That’s an amazing question. Once you have been given a million dollars it’s hard to say you don’t want it. The only thing I can say is, it’s far more satisfying to earn a million dollars than to be handed it. It feels so glorious to make money, especially with your own talent and education. But, if a person has sense, they can also use money wisely and help the world to be a better place for everyone.

What is your daughter profession? What she doing in her life?

My daughter, saw the trial and tribulation of growing up in this family and just wanted a normal life. She went to college and got a Bachlor’s degree in Psychology and a Masters in Early Childhood Education. She is now a Professor and loves teaching.

What are your plans for the future?

At this moment, if all goes I may be writing a second book and possibly being involved in a movie. I also am a professional speaker and do many Maybelline Story presentations around the country.

Will we see the screen adaptation of book in the future?

Keep a good thought about it for me!!! 

If anyone would like to know more about the Williams family, should visit  Sharrie Williams website.

You will find the first Maybelline advertisements and a lot of archival photos 

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