Charm magazine started in the 1940s, but it came into its own in 1950, when it relaunched as “The Magazine for Women Who Work,” and hired Cipe Pineles as art director. Editor Helen Valentine, Estelle Ellis, director Cipe Pineless, and a small staff of women writers, editors, and marketers started a new venture, Charm magazine that bet on those 19 million working women as a unique and growing market. The first issue of Charm, with its new staff, debuted in 1950, the cover graced by a well groomed model, the personification of the women professionals the magazine sought to reach.
Although Charm spoke to a cohort of white working women, the magazine touted the broader spectrum of women in terms of occupation, family life, and reasons for working. Feature stories addressed the various opportunities and common challenges facing working women, along with articles and literary pieces written by the era's leading cultural critics, journalists, and fiction authors. While it set high standards for content, Charm also became a conduit for reaching this new market, especially for clothing makers and retailers. Working women required different wardrobes for home, work, evening, and travel and this need for more clothing made them a lucrative market.
Ellis commissioned market surveys of women who worked and used the information about their buying habits, coupled with census data on their increasing numbers, to define a distinct market. Dubbing the growing ranks of middle-class workers, "busy businesswomen," Ellis advised retailers, in particular, on serving this group of powerful consumers. One of her most persuasive arguments, that these working women needed more time to shop, convinced some department store owners to keep their stores open later at night.