By Gay A. Christensen-Dean
One night in April, 1916, Jesse G. Bell was reading e Man Next Door, a novel by Emerson Hough. The heroine is Bonne Bell. Bell and his wife loved the character, so when they had a daughter, they named her “Bonne”.
HISTORY OF BONNE BELL, INC.
Jesse Grover Bell was a cosmetics salesman in Kansas when in 1927, at age 37, he decided to move his family to Cleveland, Ohio and start his own cosmetics business. He named it after his daughter, Bonne Bell.
His first factory was in the basement of his home, where he produced some make-up products on a hot plate and then sold them door-to-door during the Depression, just in a brown paper bag. In 1933, he bought the formula for TEN-O-SIX face cleanser (originally 10-0-6) from a Cleveland research chemist. It became a big hit. He then targeted his products towards youths and developed a complete line of skin care products.
Today, Bonne Bell, Inc., a $50 million cosmetics business, is run by the third generation of the Bell family, and continues to be favored by teens.
The flavored “Lip Smacker” lip gloss for chapped lips is a big seller. The company also offers products for the outdoor enthusiast. Bonne Bell, Inc. sponsored the U.S. ski team in the 1960’s, and other amateur and professional races/sporting events through the years. Jess A. Bell, Jesse G. Bell’s son, was a long distance runner.
Bonne Bell products are sold in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, Nigeria, Guatemala, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Taiwan, Norway, Panama, Puerto Rico, Qatar, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates.
Bonne Bell (married name: Eckert) graduated from Rocky River High School in 1941. She died at her home in Rocky River in 2005, at age 82.
Sources: www.thebonnebellcompany.com, Encyclopedia of Cleveland History