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How A Single Mom Climbed To The Top Of The Corporate Ladder With Nothing But Tupperware and A Gift For Gab

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You may know it as something to store your leftovers or a more environmentally friendly way to pack your lunch, but to one mom Tupperware completely changed her life.

There is more to Tupperware than leftovers. The story of this plastic container made from industrial waste material, ended up as a symbol of female empowerment and helped to usher women into the workforce in the 1950s.

Brownie Wise was named for her big, brown eyes and was born in rural Georgia. After her parents divorced she traveled with her mother, who organized union rallies. She quickly learned that she was a gifted speaker after touring the Deep South with her mother.

“[They] were surprised that someone so young could deliver a speech like a pastor,” wrote Bob Kealing in his biography Tupperware Unsealed.

After briefly marrying, she became a single mom living in the suburbs of Detroit. During World War II, she worked as a secretary but was unfulfilled by the job. On the side, she wrote an advice column for the Detroit News under the pen-name "Hibiscus". Creating a fantasy life as a housewife with her child and husband in a home she referred to as "Lovehaven", Hibiscus had everything that Wise did not.

Her Start In Sales

One day a bad door-to-door salesman came to her step with a terrible pitch for cleaning supplies. Stanley Home Products was also experimenting with a new sales model: home parties. A New Hampshire mop salesman watched sales skyrocket after having a bunch of women over for a party that included a mop demonstration. Thinking it would be a fun job on the side, Wise started selling Stanley products at parties too. Not long after, she was making enough money to quit her secretary job.

Thanks to her gift of gab, Wise rose through the ranks of the company and was soon management. She had aspirations to ascend even higher, but her dreams were quashed at a meeting with Stanley head Frank Beveridge.

He told her she would never become an executive in the company because their halls were "no place for a woman". Furious, Wise returned home and made a vow to prove Beveridge wrong.

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