Estée Lauder Biography: Cosmetics Queen Who Built Success on Novelty

Estée Lauder Biography

Estée Lauder

In this article, we will share Estée Lauder’s biography and history of the Estée Lauder Companies Inc., a great American brand famous for its natural cosmetics. Enjoy reading the life stories of inventions and fantastic family businesses.

Estée Lauder (July 01, 1908 – April 04, 2004) is a businesswoman and co-founder of the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. Today, the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. is one of the leading cosmetic companies in the world, which is known in 150 countries and generating revenues of billions of dollars yearly.

Lauder was the only woman on Time magazine’s 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century.

Childhood and First Working Experience

Estée Lauder (Josephine Esther Mentzer) was born on July 01, 1908. She was the ninth child raised in Corona, Queens, New York, in a family of Hungarian Jewish immigrants.

Estée’s father, Max Mentzer, a Hungarian Jew, owned a hardware store in Queens. Her mother, Rose Schotz Rosenthal, Czech Catholic, cared for a vast children’s brood. She was a gorgeous woman, and little Estée always wanted to look like her. Rose was ten years older than her husband; therefore, Estée believed that the age difference could be the best way to save a marriage.

Lauder admitted that in her early childhood years, her father significantly influenced her personality. Estée worked in his shop and thereby taught the secrets of selling.

New Source of Inspiration and First Discoveries

In 1914, she spent lots of time with her uncle John Schotz, and those moments changed her life. Estée Lauder said that her uncle was “a magician and mentor.” He managed to capture her imagination like no one else could ever.

John Schotz was a chemist. He developed four secret formulas for skin creams. Estée was selling the creams to all her friends. She had a nice appearance and pure skin, which helped her advertise the products. That is how an immigrant girl with an accent changed into a successful businesslady.

Family vs. Career

I believe that potential is unlimited – success depends on daring to act on dreams – Mrs. Estée Lauder quote

In 1930, she married an accountant, Joe Lauder. Their first child, Leonard, was born on March 19, 1933. Estée earned money by selling creams for skin care and co-founded with her husband Lauder Chemists. In 1933, she and her husband advertised their products in the telephone directory.

Estée’s creams had the advantage of being of excellent quality, but no one knew that they were made at night in the tiny kitchen. One day, one of her client’s servants mistakenly used skin cream instead of mayonnaise for salad. Estée only laughed and replied: “It will do! My creams consist of only natural ingredients.”

From the beginning, Estée Lauder’s goals were clear and straightforward: a woman has only ten minutes in the morning and evening, and during that time, her skin should become young and radiant. The concept of ‘quick and effective’ was brilliant.

Estée decided to focus entirely on her career. In 1939, she divorced Joe and, taking their son, moved to Miami Beach, where she established an office in one of the expensive hotels’ Roney Plaza’ on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach.

Climbing the career ladder, Estée used money and the influences of outstanding people. So, she learned a lot from Arnold Lewis, the President and Chairman of the International Flavors & Fragrances.

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In 1942, her first son got seriously sick, reuniting her with her former husband. On December 07, they were re-married. Then Estée and John decided to work together in the company. Estée was responsible for the development and marketing, while Joe worked with finance and manufacturing. Ultimately, they created an empire, Estée Lauder Cosmetics.

In 1944, they opened their first store in New York. Estee’s second son, Ronald, was born that year, which did not distract her from the work.

Fresh Ideas and Great Success

When you stop talking, you’ve lost your customer. When you turn your back, you’ve lost her.

The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. was founded in 1946. Lauder’s best idea was to cooperate with famous department stores in the country, such as Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s. That approach gave the company high prestige and convinced customers of the high quality of the products.

In the 1950s, Estée Lauder firmly believed in achieving great results by distributing free cosmetics samples. At those times, it was a kind of novelty. Managers of other cosmetics companies openly laughed at her efforts and thought she could ruin her business. However, women approached Estée’s stand to get free samples, learn more about her products, buy what they needed, and receive a gift. Estée called free distribution the only fair way of running a business. Rapidly rising incomes allowed her to open new corners, boutiques, and research laboratories and work with professional dermatologists.

By 1965, a prosperous lady had invested over $14 million. In 1967, Estée Lauder was included in the list of 100 best American entrepreneurs.

In the early 70s, Estée Lauder’s products were sold in more than seventy countries. In 1973, Leonard, the eldest son, took up the position of the company’s President, and her husband became the Chairman. Estée Lauder remained the company’s principal owner.

In 1990, one-third of all of the prestigious cosmetics in the United States was manufactured by The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

For over 77 years, the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. has created a wide range of brands that have become popular with the crowds in more than 150 countries. Her company employs more than 63,000 people as of June 2023. The thing that was more important to Estée than her company was her family. She was excited that her children and grandchildren joined the family business. Mrs. Estée Lauder retired in 1995 and passed away on April 24, 2004, at 97.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Estée Lauder’s biography, her success story, and the fantastic history of the cosmetics corporation Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

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