“The Maybelline Story –and the Spirited Dynasty Behind It”, by Sharrie Williams is a gripping memoir of the cosmetics company and her own family. It is vintage Hollywood, with all of the glamor, greed, passion and intrigue you would expect.
Tom Lyle, the company’s founder and patriarch of the family, discovers the idea for mascara from an incident with his sister, Mabel. He turns the idea into a business venture and begins a successful mail-order marketing campaign. He names the company Maybelline in honor of his sister. Over the years the business will grow and then reach the brink only to be brought back to success by Lyle’s business and marketing savvy. He was truly an entrepreneur.
The extended family is filled with interesting and colorful personalities. Most of them are involved in the company in some shape or form; or at least dependent on their share of the family fortune. How they interact with each other and get tangled up in drama makes for titillating reading. The author does not seem to have left any skeletons in the closet or stones unturned.
This is a very engaging memoir. Williams’ writing brings all the players to life and makes the reader anxious to know what happens to them next. It has all the ingredients for a great piece of fiction but is even better when you realize it all really happened. A great read!