Beginning life as a child from a poor family, Violet Van der Elst became a self-made woman. She began her career as a scullery maid in one of England’s numerous manor homes. In addition to this income, Van der Elst began to create and sell cosmetics from her kitchen. She is credited with inventing Shavex, the first brushless shaving cream. By the time England entered World War II, Violet Van der Elst had secured her own fortune, and her own manor.