Sharrie Williams, heir to the Maybelline legacy, is Tom Lyle Williams great-niece and a steward of the vast Maybelline archives. Williams tells the story of the birth of the Maybelline empire and reveals intimate and never-before-told details about the fascinating family dynasty behind it.
Sharrie is available for interviews, speaking engagements, workshops and seminars upon request. She is also available for coaching and mentoring people in the process of healing their family history and writing their story.
Contact Sharrie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Sharrie married Gene Dorney in 1973, the groom had Evelyn, Bill and Tom Lyle’s approval and the young couple was expected to go on and have a perfect life. Gene after all was a handsome, young attorney with with a bright future and Sharrie imagined her life would be one of perpetual entertaining in her beautifully decorated home, buying designer clothes from her father’s designer dress store in Newport Beach’s famous Fashion Island and playing the part of the young “Maybelline Queen” in waiting.
Then her grandmother, Evelyn, squandered her fortune, was murdered, and Sharrie’s marriage ended.
Broken by the chain of frightening events, she sat in her art- deco living room holding her five-month-old baby, not knowing where to begin. Her addictive lifestyle had overshadowed loving relationships, shopping had replaced spiritual growth and drugs helped free her hungry heart.
After separating from her husband, she realized, with the help of a therapist, that money, glamour, food, alcohol, drugs, and superficial attention couldn’t replace what she was secretly yearning for. She was unable to look past her own reflection – until the mirror shattered and her life was in shreds. Her therapist told her It would take hard work to change the course she was on and reprogram old patterns of isolation, depression, addictions and loneliness. She could no longer live her life waiting to show up at the next event looking smashing, yet unapproachable.
Months of therapy turned into years, but eventually maturity forged a real person with meaningful values. Sharrie worked with a nutritionist who helped her clean up her bloodstream and taught her how to adhere to a healthy diet. She joined a woman’s support group where she was shocked to find out that people were inspired by her story. She joined a church and learned to participate in life and give back to the community. Journaling every day opened the door to something wonderful she didn’t know she had: intuition.
For the first time in her life, she wanted to go back to college. A Psychology major appealed to her, and after many hard years of study and believing in herself, she earned a Bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. A single parent, she raised her daughter and was proud to be the mother of the bride in 2002. Finally after 30 years of journaling, researching and gathering pictures and documents from her family she finished her book The Maybelline Story – a tribute to her family and the company behind it.
Excerpt from my journal:
In 1993 a fire-storm destroyed my home in Laguna Beach, California. The loss was devastating, since it followed a painful divorce within a month:
When my dad and I met to discuss my loss for the insurance company and we realized I’d lost much more than
just a bottom line. My lifestyle had been destroyed, a lifestyle that had taken many generations to create.
The more we analyzed the magnitude of the disaster and reflected on the stories each lost item represented, we began to see an amazing saga unfold.
With my dad’s help I faced a new reality – I’d lost more than just material things, I lost priceless relics from my family’s past.
“I’ve lost my lifestyle,” I said, “that can’t be computed on a calculator, a lifestyle forged out of blood, sweat and tears, and generations of my family’s hard work to get me here. You can’t put a number on that.
I’d go over to my burned out lot, and spend hours digging through the ash, searching for anything that might remind me of my life before the fire. Slowly but surely items from my past were unearthed, and each time I pulled up a treasure buried under dirt, ash, and broken charred pieces of stucco, I’d sit in the dirt and cry. Memories flooded me as I dug out a broken piece of wedding china, then my little girl’s baby soap dish that had been in our bathroom since we moved to Laguna 12 years before. When I found a broken cup with the word “Lawyer” printed on it, I fell apart – I’d given it to Gene after he passed the bar in 1972, right after we’d gotten engaged and had so much to look forward to. I pulled out the broken stem of a crystal wine goblet and I just shook my head in disbelief. Things I’d taken for granted, now were as precious as ancient treasures from King Tut’s tomb.
One day I found the broken china head of my mother’s doll. a gift from her father from M.G.M where he had worked for over 55 years. I cried all day, thinking how unfair life had been to my mother and worse that there was nothing I could do to save her. I cried over the costumes I’d collected over the years from vintage stores and MGM Studio. When I was done digging, collecting and crying, I packed my treasures away in a little red shoe box and stashed it away in my closet along with my old identity.
Week after week I began to put the puzzle of my past in order while rebuilding a new life. I slowly caught a glimpse of a different future, one that would be healthy, productive and filled with purpose. I said goodbye to the girl Nana designed – built on vanity, neglect and indifference and hello to a new vision. The clearer the picture became, the more I realized the healing I would receive by telling my story.
As a baby, I had been a princess and Unk Ile had given me a baby diamond ring in an art deco setting to prove it. For years it had remained safely tucked away, hidden in a safe built in the floor of our garage and miraculously survived the crematory heat of the firestorm. Everything had burned and collapsed around it, but some how it survived.
I held my breath as the safe was opened and black watery ash poured out – the remains of important private documents and valuable coins. For sure the ring was lost I thought, but then in the black muddy ash, a speck of light appeared, a miracle.
I reached down in the muck and pulled out the ring – it was perfectly preserved and my first thought was, “a phoenix rising out of the ashes.” Then I realized I too was a phoenix rising out of the ashes of my past. Yes, I’d have to go into recovery where I’d begin to piece my life back together and re-parent myself, so to speak, but the little ring gave me the hope that I could do it without a husband and for the first time in my life I dug down deep into my soul and realized I wanted to finish my Psychology degree after I rebuilt my home and finished raising my daughter. I wanted to reclaim my mother and step out into the real world and give back from the rich wisdom I had gained from a lifetime of observation, reflection and resolve. I may not be a princess any longer but I will become a competent, capable and self assured woman with the aspiration to grow and become all I can be into my 90s – always in service to those who can gain from my story.