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Estée Lauder

The Woman.

A Life of Beauty


Estée Lauder founded this Company in 1946 armed with four products and an unshakeable belief: that every woman can be beautiful. Today, more than 60 years later, that simple notion has literally changed the face of the beauty business.

Born Josephine Esther Mentzer, Estée Lauder was raised in Corona, Queens, by her Hungarian mother, Rose, and Czech father, Max. The name Estée was a variation on her family nickname, Esty. Always interested in beauty, she was mentored by her uncle, chemist John Schotz, and began her business by selling skin care products to beauty salons and hotels.

Perhaps Mrs. Lauder's most important legacy was her belief that in order to make a sale, you must touch the customer. She spent a great deal of time advising customers and teaching Beauty Advisors. "I didn't get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it," she often reminded her sales force.

A passionate advocate of sampling, Mrs. Lauder used her early promotional budgets to entice customers to the Estée Lauder counter for a free gift and to distribute samples at fashion shows. She also pioneered the idea of "gift with purchase" by giving customers who bought Lauder products free packets of other offerings they might like. One of her favorite quotes was "Tell-A-Phone, Tell-A-Graph, Tell-A-Woman," based on her conviction that once a woman tried the product, she would like it and then share it with her friends.

Mrs. Lauder received numerous honors through the years. In 1967, the American Business Women's Association (ABWA) named her one of 10 Outstanding Women in Business in the United States. She also received the Cosmetic Executive Women's President's Award for excellence in her field in 1989 and the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion in 1962 and again in 1992. The American Society of Perfumers gave her its first Living Legend award in 1994. In 2002, the United States Department of Commerce named her the International Business Leader of the Year through its New York Export Assistance Center and New York International Trade Alliance. Mrs. Lauder supported numerous charitable causes, including many civic and cultural programs, such as the restoration of the palace at Versailles, as well as the projects of The Lauder Foundation, including the building of several playgrounds for children in New York City's Central Park.

When the Company began to advertise, Mrs. Lauder insisted that its print images portray beauty that was both aspirational and approachable. In 1962, Estée Lauder began the practice of selecting one model to be the "face" of the brand. Over the years, supermodels Karen Graham, Willow Bay, Paulina Porizkova and now, Constance Jablonski, Liu Wen, Hillary Rhoda, Elizabeth Hurley and Carolyn Murphy have represented Estée Lauder.

Mrs. Lauder was also deeply involved with the package design of her products. Among her many contributions was the choice of Estée Lauder's signature blue, which she believed would coordinate with the décor of most bathrooms and bedrooms.