When Lillian Mead was 19, she found her niche in life. She lived in a small town in Connecticut where W.T. Grants had a large store.
“I didn’t want to go to work, but the neighbor across the road asked me to go work in the toy department,” Mead said. “I was always into jewelry, cosmetics and fragrance so they finally put me into the clothing department.”
Mead had a knack for what her customers wanted. On one occasion she took all of the jeans from the men’s department and put them on the counter in the women’s department.
“I was the first person to put jeans on women,”
Grants send Mead to New York to become a buyer at age 19 and she began a life-long career.
“The women in New York told me that jeans on women would never happen; only farm girls wore jeans,” Mead said. “But then they took off and they sent thousands of jeans all over the country.”
That was 55 years ago. After working for Grants for many years, Mead moved to Florida. Here she became a purchaser for Jones of New York. She worked for them for 12 years and then retired. She stayed home for a few months, but said she was bored being home.
“I said, I’m going to do what I wanted to do all my life and that is open my own store,” Mead said.
She opened Makeup Scents & Gifts in Naples and had a successful store for 10 years. This summer she moved her store to The Esplanade on Marco Island.
“Most of my customers were from Marco and I live here,” Mead said. “I want to thank my Marco customers for keeping me in business for 10 years until I could get back home. I’ve been here three months and I love it.”
Mead has a flair not only for what people want, but what they will want. She talks to her customers and listens to their needs and desires. The name of her store perfectly describes what she sells. There is a mix of makeup, perfume and gifts, including a wide array of costume jewelry.
She carries the entire line of Elizabeth Arden including the mineral line. And she carries SeneGence LipSense.
“This is my big staple, this is my gas and my gas station,” Mead says. “The lip color stays on all day and it is my main staple; this and my perfume.”
The shelves are lined with every variety of perfume. Mead carries many unusual and hard to find perfumes and orders from throughout the United States.
Walking into Makeup Scents, customers will find every inch filled with treasures. There are collectible dolls, all sizes of purses and handbags, scarves, hair accessories, children’s items and even a lamp that shows a pair of ladies legs in stockings with a frilly skirt of a shade.
The prices are reasonable with jewelry starting below $20.
“I try to keep the story very unique and with a bit of an old fashioned feel, with things you couldn’t find any place else,” Mead said. “I try to keep the outside with a very small town look, not like a big store. I like that personal, small town look.”
Mead knows that sometimes women just need something new to make their day better, that’s why she says she tries to keep her prices reasonable.
“I want them to be able to come in and get four or five things for themselves, not just one bracelet,” Mead said.
She will also order bulk items, for instance she ordered many shirts for a group of friends that were going on a cruise together. She keeps Marco Island tank tops and hats, with the words spelled in sparkles because she says it’s nice to have a little flair.
On the walls shoppers will notice paintings done by Mead. She has been painting since she was a young girl and says she enjoys painting people.
There is one painting in particular that is very dear to her. It is a painting of her father with a group of servicemen in Germany during World War I. The painting will be shown in the upcoming Marco Island Center for the Arts exhibition “Salute to Veterans: America At War” (Patriotic Art & Memorabilia) which will open Monday, Nov. 7 and be on display through Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Shoppers will often find Mead painting at her shop.
“I fit right in with all of these artist at The Esplanade,” Mead said. “This is supposed to be the art spot on Marco Island.”
Makeup Scents is currently open at noon and doesn’t close until traffic at The Esplanade slows down. Once season picks up she will open at 10 a.m. The store is located at The Esplanade, 740 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 107 on Marco Island. Information: 389-0035.