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Grand Rapids in 1856

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Cosmetics Business

Cosmetics Business

GRHC - February 3rd, 2014

For 19th century women, making a living was fraught with hurdles. Nora Husted found way to support herself and her five children by making face cream in her kitchen from an old family recipe. It grew into a Grand Rapids business that lasted over 50 years.


Nora Carr and Nora Husted, a mother and daughter team, founded a Grand Rapids cosmetics business that lasted over 50 years. In 1886, shortly after Nora Husted and her first husband had divorced, she moved to Grand Rapids from Lowell, Michigan. To earn money and care for her five children she opened a boarding house. To bring in more income, she began to make face cream in her kitchen using an old family recipe. With the help of her children, she sold her products door to door. Later, after marrying James Carr, she sold the boarding house, but kept her business.

In 1895 Nora Carr founded the Marietta-Stanley Company to manufacture and sell her cosmetics. Adopting the product name "Sempre Giovine" (Italian for forever young), she built a manufacturing plant on Grand Rapids' West Side that employed 70 workers at its peak. When Mrs. Carr died in 1915, to assure their financial security, she designated her daughters, Nora and Elizabeth, as heirs to the company. Following Nora's death in 1935, Elizabeth, took over the firm, eventually selling it to a Chicago company, which kept the plant going until 1951, more than a half-century after its founding.

At a time when women were discouraged from working outside the home, Nora Carr and Nora Husted and their long-running enterprise showed the way for future women entrepreneurs.

Full Details

TitleCosmetics Business
KeywordsWYCE, radio, history, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Women, business, cosmetics
Pubdate StringFebruary 3rd, 2014

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