Dayton woman heads company that produces Frownies

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​As millions of Americans seek ways to stave off the effects of aging, one local woman continues to manufacture a product that family members originally created in 1889 to help erase facial wrinkles.

“My husband’s mother (Margaret Wright) ran Frownies Skin Care,” said Kathy Wright, now general manager and marketing director for the company. “Her grandmother (Margaret Kroesen) created the original product in 1889 and her business, ‘B & P (Beauty and Personality) Company.’”

Kroesen created what were then known as “Wrinkle Eradicators” for her daughter, Alice, who had developed unsightly frown lines around her mouth. Margaret followed her mother, Alice, and grandmother into the now Centerville-based business and continues to be involved today, at the age of 92.

Kathy Wright became involved in the company in 1999, more than 100 years after the original product was developed. And over the years, the marketing and packaging has changed, but the basic product remains the same.

“When the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) was established they said we had to change the name because you can’t eradicate wrinkles,” Wright said.

Wrinkies were facial patches designed for the corners of the mouth, while Frownies were specifically for the forehead. Eventually it was decided to call both products Frownies.

“Frownies work like yoga for the face,” Wright said. “They hold the muscles static and you wear them while you are sleeping. I’ve worn them for years and at 61 years old, I still don’t have visible wrinkles.”

The idea behind the all-natural product is to “re-train” the muscles of the face and once relaxed, wrinkles will slowly vanish. Most people using the product daily will notice fewer wrinkles within three weeks.

“You can still move the muscle when you wear the product,” Wright said. “Injections of toxins like Botox make it so you can’t move the muscle.”

Wright, who lives in Germantown, moved to Dayton when she was 8 years old. She eventually graduated from then Patterson Co-Op and studied dental hygiene at Sinclair Community College.

“When I finished dental school, I went into sales and had every intention of moving away from Dayton within a few years,” Wright said. “But I was involved in an automobile accident and it changed the way I looked at life.”

Wright remained in Dayton, got married and became interested in health and nutrition. She and her husband raised five children together.

“I always knew the family always wanted me to take over the company at some point,” Wright said.

When Wright heard that (Hollywood actress) Rene Russo had been using Frownies for years and called them her “secret method for looking young over 40,” she was intrigued and decided to join the company that relied mostly on word of mouth to sell its products.

“We didn’t have that much business in 1999,” Wright said. “But we knew that a lot of celebrities had been using our products. We were a small, cottage industry.”

In fact, celebrities like Raquel Welch and Olivia de Havilland were avid fans and swore by Frownies. Wright realized that celebrities and makeup artists alike were talking about Frownies and they were mentioned in publications like The New York Times and in Good Housekeeping and on television shows like “The View.”

Wright studied to become a skin care formulator and since coming into the business, has developed a line of skin care to complement the patches. “We have a simple straight forward line to treat the skin,” she said. “I am working with essential oils to help the body detox.”

With her interest in health and nutrition, Wright also teaches cooking and yoga classes and is passing the family legacy down to her three daughters, one of whom owns a nutrition business. She advocates anything that helps with stress reduction and shuns any products that could damage skin long term.

Today Frownies, Inc. remains very much a family run business. All five of Wright’s children have worked for the business over the years.

“We need people who really know our product to help sell it,” Wright said. “The product is unique and we want people who actually wear it to talk about it. The market has become a lot more competitive since Botox was introduced and everyone wants to look as young as they can. Word of mouth is even more important now than it ever was. That was how our company was built. And how it has grown.”

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