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Quote: Lillian Vernon on Entrepreneurship


I had a business, a lot of orders, and a baby howling for supper. You balance it. You give your baby supper first and then get your orders in. I have worked on more holidays… but what are you going to do? – Lillian Vernon

from Retail Industry

Lillian Vernon, the woman, started Lillian Vernon, the business, from her home in 1958. Her words talk to the efficiency of direct mail as business model as well as the open-eyed vision of its practitioners.

The family-oriented practicality of her quote also embodies direct marketing’s core principle: Be steadfast in what works; move forward in growing possibilities. Vernon’s election to the 1994 Direct Marketing Hall of Fame testifies to the power of entrepreneurship and self-empowerment.

Today, we call it win-win or giving forward/getting back. Then, it was just practical good business, the next generation of Claude Hopkins’ scientific advertising. Ms. Vernon shares her story in An Eye for Winners: How I Built One of America’s Greatest Direct-Mail Businesses (1996).


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