Estée Lauder was an American entrepreneur and founder of the world’s leading cosmetic company ‘Estée Lauder Inc.’. This self-made business woman based her company on a simple dream of women; to look and feel beautiful and glamorous. Being the only woman on Time’s list of ’20 most influential business geniuses’ Estée indeed held a unique position in the business world.
Estée Lauder was born on 1st July, 1906 in Corona, Queens, New York. She had created an illusion in the minds of the public claiming that she was a Countess of a refined European background. However she unfolded the truth after someone threatened to expose the facts. She was actually from a mediocre family which was European but far from the elite society. Estée was embarrassed of her parents living style and always wanted to be 100 percent American. After the start of the World War I, Estée’s uncle came to stay with them. He was a chemist who spent most of time concocting creams and lotions. As Estée watched him work, she realized where her true passion lay. She started to market his creams at her school and was quite successful.
Before Estée could even think about making a career out of this, she met and married a textile salesman named Joseph Lauter (who later changed his last name to Lauder). She moved to Manhattan after the marriage, where she continued to improve on her uncle’s cream formulas. She even gave free makeovers at various hotels, salons and even in the subway. She recognized that the upper class was her niche and if she could manage to get them to be her clients, success would be very easy. And surely it did not take long for Estee to reach the guest lists of New York’s elite. Soon Estée started to dress like them, talk like them and behave like them as she had understood that being debonair and sophisticated would give her an edge.
In her quest for success, her marriage suffered leading to a divorce in 1939 after which she moved to Florida. She continued to sell her creams even there and entered several affairs with wealthy men hoping to get a financial boost from them but failed. She reunited with her ex-husband and got remarried in 1942. This time they decided to work together and make her cosmetics business a success. She formed Estée Lauder Inc. in 1946. Estée used clever business strategies and marketing tactics to win the customers. She wanted to compete with the cosmetic titans such as Revlon and Elizabeth Arden. She traveled throughout the country to try and penetrate all the fine departmental stores. Finally in the early 50s, her hard work started paying off. The Estée Lauder line was a regular feature of all the upscale stores. Her unique marketing techniques and promotions resulted in thousands of customers. However the big break for Estée was the introduction of her ‘Youth Dew’ in 1953 which increased the sales from hundreds to thousands of dollars turning her company in a multi-million business.
During the 1960s, Estée introduced innovative products which included two brands ‘Aramis’ and ‘Clinique’. Estée’s products conquered the world and by 1970s Estee Lauder cosmetics could be found in more than seventy countries. The company continued to grow and succeed to become the world’s third largest cosmetic giant. She died in 2004 at the age of 95, leaving behind her empire which is still run successfully by her sons.