As the Victorian era's conservative attitude toward using cosmetics shifted at the close of the 19th century, the American perfumery and toilet goods industry took its first steps toward becoming a major manufacturing concern.
The number of U.S. firms manufacturing perfumery and toilet goods increased from 67 firms in 1880 to 262 firms in 1900, according to statistics from the Department of Commerce. This represented a nearly 400-percent increase over that 20-year period. The value of products jumped from $2.2 million in 1880 to more than $7 million in 1900.
The establishment of the Manufacturing Perfumers' Association of the United States (MPA) was principally the work of five individuals, led by New York perfumer Henry Dalley. Included in Dalley's group was Bowles Colgate, -president of Colgate & Company.
One factor for establishing the Association was the extraordinarily competitive nature of the industry at the time.
However, Dalley's motivation for bringing together a group of colleagues was pending Congressional legislation that would increase the tariff on imported raw materials, affecting the cost of producing toilet goods. With support from peers, Dalley wanted to coordinate industry opposition to this legislation.
By 1894, Dalley became convinced of the need for a permanent organization and persuaded his small circle of colleagues to join him. The MPA was established at Delmonico's Hotel in New York in October of that year.
During its first 10 years, the Association focused principally on furthering the industry's interests regarding tariffs and taxes.