Estee Lauder – American Entrepreneur

The Legend

Estee Lauder products are one of the most recognized and innovative brands in the world and are sold in over 150 countries.The woman responsible for this billion dollar company made her fortune all on her own.

We know this magnificent, brilliant woman as Estee Lauder, but before her beauty products were a household name, lining the shelves of high-end stores internationally, she was known by a different name and was just a girl with a dream.

Humble Beginnings

Estee was born Josephine Mentzer in 1908 in the Corona Queens area of New York. She had many siblingsand was a child of poor Hungarian Jewish parents, and they lived above her father’s hardware store. In her teen years, she was obsessed with glamour and beauty, and she badly wanted to work towards being a skin specialist.

Josephine would often beautify the faces of her family, and it was not until her Uncle John built a lab in 1924 that he began to teach her how to make skin beautiful. Her uncle was a chemist and warned her that washing with water and soap was not as beneficial as washing one’s face with body oils, which not only cleaned but also, moisturized the skin.

In her uncle’s lab she learned a lot.He would help her to create different concoctions for beautifying skin, and she eagerly absorbed every bit of information that her uncle could give as she was determined to make her dream a reality.

Josephine continued creating skin creams and anticipated the day that she would be able to help women everywhere. When she was just a little more than twenty, she met Joseph Lauter and they were married in 1930. They then altered their last name to Lauder, and on March 19th 1933 they were incredibly blessed with Leonard, who was their first child.

The Beginning of a Legend

Her first big break came in 1935 when Florence Morris, a woman who owned the House of Ash Blondes which is a salon, wanted to knowhow she had beautifully perfect skin.Josephine later returned with the skin creams she and her uncle had created and showed Florence as well as her customers the proper way to apply them. They then asked her to sell the cream at the salon and readily agreed.

She dropped her first name and began going by Estee Lauder, which was the name she had decided for her cosmetics line. In 1939 she divorced her husband Joseph and moved to Florida, but they remarried in 1942 as Joe Lauder was held her heart and the four years away from him had been torture as she had put it. Estee with Joe at her side opened the first official Estee Lauder office in 1945 and knew that she was just one step closer to achieving her dream.

Success and Expansion

She pushed on determined to make her dream a reality and her next big break came in 1948 when she through her tenacious will convinced the owners of the Saks department store to allow her space in their store. Once they agreed, she implemented a selling style that had proved as fruitful as the effects of her cosmetics.

She also began introducing her skin care products to Macy’s, Bonwit Teller and other department stores and spent most of her time going from store to store and standing behind the counter, pitching her products, giving free samples and demonstrating the products.

Estee unknowingly with her innovative sales style invented the way cosmetic s are still sold today, but her biggest break of all came about in 1953 when Estee introduced her first fragrance ever which was called Youth Dew. It was bath oil that acted as perfume as well. During the first year of being on the market, Youth Dew was able to sell more than 50,000 bottles and made Estee Lauder a true household name, but she didn’t stop there.

In 1965 Aramis was launched and Estee broadened her market to men as well wanting to make everyone a little more beautiful. It was an elegant men’s cologne, and other colognes such as "J.H.L. and “Lauder for Men” followed.

Estee Lauder continued to put out more innovative perfumes and cosmetics andfor over 50 years had been one of the most hard-working women in America building her company from the ground up. She was a true symbol of what it means to dream and worked hard to achieve that dream. Estee never showed any hint of cockiness at her success.

In 1968 Estee launched Clinique and with the help of Vogue Editor Carol Phillips, and turned the nameless brand into an absolute success. The first dermatologically tested and allergy-free skin care line was geared toward the individual skin care needs of people. Estee was a veritable force to be reckoned with, and not even the loss of her husband in 1984 could stop her from thriving and continuing to build up her company.

Because there is no greater motivation then someone’s dream to make them into a well-oiled machine and that is exactly what she became. She was rarely absent from any event that involved her brand, and she even rubbed elbows with celebrities and royalty alike. She once said “Beauty is an attitude. There’s no secret…There are no ugly women—only women who don’t care or who don’t believe they’re attractive.”

The Continued Legacy

Estee Lauder’s campaign of spreading beauty has continued even after her passing in 2004, and her company now owns more then 20 other successful companies such as Tommy Hilfiger, Clinique, Origins, Michael Kors, Bobbi Brown, Bumble and Bumble, La Mer, Aveda, Jo Malone, M.A.C., Donna Karan, Tom Ford, Coach, American Beauty and many others that have revolutionized the world of beauty.

Estee Lauder is truly proof that whether you are a man or a woman, are born with a silver spoon in your mouth or come from humble beginnings, you are still someone beautiful who can thrive. If you have a dream you can achieve it with a little ingenuity, intelligence and perseverance. The sky is the limit.

Estee Lauder is not only a symbol of what a self-made billionaire is, but also what any body can achieve with good old fashioned American elbow grease and the belief in an unflinching dream.

As she put it best, “I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.”


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