On July 1, 1908, Estée Lauder was born in Queens, NY. By the time she was a teenager, she was selling her own beauty products at local hair salons. In 1946, the Estée Lauder Corporation was born. She revolutionized the beauty industry with her age-defying products and her pioneering marketing tactics. As a result of her passion for cosmetics and keen business acumen, Lauder was one of the richest self-made women in the world. When her company went public in 1995, it was valued at an impressive $2 billion.
The daughter of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, Lauder cultivated her love for beauty products and cosmetics at a young age. Her chemist uncle John Schotz taught her how to make her own face creams. She started hawking what she called her “jars of hope” to local beauty salons when she was a teenager. At that time, she started giving out “free samples” of her products, a practice that would eventually revolutionize beauty industry marketing.
In the 1930s, she married a garment industry businessman named Joseph H. Lauter (later officially changed to Lauder). She had her first child in 1933 and another child 13 years later. However, she did not let raising a family get in the way of developing her beauty empire. Officially launching Estée Lauder in 1946, she and her husband made the products in the kitchen of a former restaurant. A year later, Saks Fifth Avenue ordered $800 in products. They sold out in two days.
Throughout the 1950s, her brand grew exponentially after the introduction of her bath oil called Youth-Dew. To build her customer base, Lauder pioneered two marketing techniques that are prevalent today: the free gift and the gift-with-purchase.
In 1965, she opened up her first beauty “spa” at the Bloomingdale’s store in New York City. She even helped to personally design the space. By the time she sold the company in 1995, Estée Lauder was the parent company to four other brands, Clinique, Origins, Prescriptives, and Aramis.
Thanks to her successful business empire, Lauder was one of the richest self-made women in the world. She hobnobbed with everyone from Nancy Reagan and the Duchess of Windsor to Princess Grace of Monaco. A generous philanthropist, she created The Lauder Foundation in the 1960s.
Lauder scaled back her involvement in her company’s day-to-day operations in 1973. When the company was sold in 1995, she was named the founding chairwoman. In 2004, she passed away at 97 years old. Her legacy lives on in our continuous pursuit of eternal youth – one cream, mud mask or ointment at a time. As Lauder once said, “The pursuit of beauty is honorable.”