Encyclopedia ofChicago
Entries : Helene Curtis Industries Inc.
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Helene Curtis Industries Inc.

 

 

 

Helene Curtis Industries Inc.

In 1927, Gerald Gidwitz and Louis Stein formed the National Mineral Co., which made the “Peach Bloom Facial Mask” and other beauty products. During the 1930s, the company had success selling shampoos, “Lanolin Creme,” and “Suave” brands. After World War II, the company changed its name to Helene Curtis, which combined the names of Stein's wife and son. By the early 1960s, when it employed more than 1,000 people in Chicago, the company's annual sales of shampoo, hairspray, deodorant, and other products topped $50 million. During the 1970s and 1980s, when its “Suave” and “Finesse” brands were among the best-selling shampoos in the United States, Helene Curtis continued to grow. Annual sales reached $600 million during the 1980s, when the company's plant on North Avenue in Chicago employed nearly 1,000 people. In 1996, one year after Helene Curtis moved its headquarters to suburban Rolling Meadows, it was purchased by Unilever, the giant British-Dutch corporation. By the end of the century, Unilever announced that it would close the old North Avenue plant, leaving the company with little presence in the Chicago area.