In 1965, two emigrants from Hungary - Ilona Makari and George Meszaros - married and united their diverse talents and created a beauty salon in Chatham, New Jersey, Salon Royal. Catering to the upper echelon of the area, Salon Royal was an unconventional facility bringing European facial treatments, and other services to the women of North New Jersey. The most requested service? The deep cleansing European facial. Though today, salons all across America boast of their European facials, in 1965 the term was hardly recognized. And, Ilona, among a select few visionaries of her time, are credited with introducing and educating the American public to these specialized treatments and procedures.
In 1971, Ilona and her family joined the mass exodus from the East Coast, to the new frontiers of the great American West, where she would introduce her services to the women of Colorado and beyond. A new company was incorporated to signify the homeland from which they came, llona of Hungary. Seemingly overnight, the cramped 800 square foot salon was a flurry with clients from all over the state, and country. A few years later, Ilona of Hungary took up residence in a spacious four-story building in what was to become one of the nation's premier shopping districts - Cherry Creek North.
Too small to develop and manufacture her own products while in New Jersey, Ilona now had the clients and the means to create a line bearing her name. During one of her trips abroad, Ilona was introduced to a Hungarian pharmacist who had developed an edited range of skincare products. With her husband, Ilona negotiated ownership of the formulas in exchange for an automobile - a scarce commodity in Hungary in those days. With that barter, the seeds of a new cosmetics company were planted.
As the demand for her services escalated, so did requests for her skincare products. To meet the demand, Ilona began a bustling direct-mail operation. Soon, Ilona commissioned a network of scientists, chemists, and biotech laboratories to conduct on-going research and development of new products. The original formulas, which initiated her company, were gradually phased-out in favor of new, biologically superior ones. Her products, once bearing the insignia of a single country (of "Hungary"), were now the beneficiary of global suppliers and international laboratories. In later years, her company would take the single identity "ILONA" to embody the true global alliance of her products. Ilona use to say, "My products must speak seven languages!" Indeed, her company's products transcend more than seven languages, and are today among the most technologically advanced and thoroughly researched brands available anywhere in the world.
In 1994, Ilona and her husband were presented with their greatest honor from the President of Hungary, the coveted Knighthood Cross, for their accomplishments as Hungarian refugees. Previously, this honor was bestowed to another noted Hungarian-American emigrant, Dr. William Teller, the world renown physicist.