Their second son David H McConnell was born on 18 July 1858 on a farm near Oswego City in upstate New York, where his father was a farmer and a brick manufacturer.
As an incentive to buy he designed a gift of a small phial of perfume. McConnell blended the original scent himself, with the aid of a local pharmacist, and his perfiume became so popular that he gave up selling the books and organised the California Perfume Company. The company was based in New York but was named in honour of a friend and investor from California. McConnell believed that the door-to-door approach was well suited to the sale of cosmetics, particularly in rural areas where transport was still by horse and buggy and women had limited access to shops.
In 1895 McConnell built his first laboratory near his home in Suffern, New York. He recruited as his first general agent Mrs P F Albee, a widow from Winchester, New Hampshire, and by 1897 McConnell had twelve women employees selling a line of eighteen perfumes. This was possibly the first company to use a female work force to sell its products and the simple idea was that women would walk around their local area and sell the products to their neighbours and friends. There was no need for shops and the idea of selling affordable products directly to the women's doors soon took off.
Year on year the business prospered and the number of sales kept growing and growing. The California Perfume Company was incorporated in January 1916 and later became Allied Products Inc.and then Avon Allied Products Inc., the trade name Avon having been adopted in 1929.a
McConnell had other business interests and was treasurer of G W Camrick & Co., who manufactured pharmaceutical supplies in Newark, New Jersey, and a director of Holly Hill Fruit Products Inc., a fruit growing and canning business in Davenport, Florida. He wasa also one of the founders of the Suffern National bank of which he became vice-president in 1901 and president in 1922.
David McConnell was a devout Presbyterian and he was instrumental in the formation of Suffern Presbyterian Church.He also played a major part in building the church and for many years he was superintendent of the Sunday school. He also took a keen interest in education and he was president of the Suffern Board of Education. In politics he was a Republican and was treasurer of the Rockland County Republican Committee.
He died in Suffern on 20 January 1937 and left the company to his son, David McConnell Jr. At that point the sales force had grown to over 30,000 agents. Today, after 125 years, Avon is still a leading brand name and one of a number of international brands established in America by Ulster-Scots and the sons of Ulster-Scots.