The article charts American Jeannette Scalé’s extraordinary transformation into “Mrs. Pomeroy,” London’s leading complexion specialist at the end of the nineteenth century. As the fictional personality “Mrs. Pomeroy,” Scalé dominated the elite beauty market as London’s de facto “authority on the subject of the complexion and of the art of beauty in general.” At 29 Old Bond Street, “Mrs. Pomeroy” sold “hygienic complexion treatments,” a personal line of toilet preparations including Pomeroy Complexion Purifier and Pomeroy Astringent Tonic Lotion. “Mrs. Pomeroy” was also one of the first in London to offer electrolysis(!), and she was reportedly adept at the removal of “superfluous hair, moles, birth marks.” At the height of her success, “Mrs. Pomeroy” saw a turnover of £21,000 a year (approximately £1.2 million today) and employed eighty female assistants.
Jeannette Scalé/Pomeroy’s story doesn’t have a happy ending. It does, however, reveal businesswomen’s changing opportunities in England’s retail market, opportunities engendered through new systems of advertising, growing anonymity in the expanding urban scene, and novel forms of self-representation that did not necessarily impinge upon businesswomen’s respectability.
You can find the WHR link here or contact me for access to the full text.