“All great things begin with a vision…a dream,” Estée Lauder said. And when she set out to launch a beauty company in 1946, she certainly had a clear vision for her future—it was the guiding force in everything she did. What she might not have imagined, however, was that she would set the standard for the entire beauty industry for decades to come. From product to packaging to simply hiring the right people for her newly founded company, Estée Lauder ushered in a new era of beauty. Now, as we celebrate our brand’s 75th Anniversary, here are five facts you may not have known about our legendary founder.
1. She didn’t want her customers to buy a lot of products. (Really!) “Never sell a customer what she doesn’t want or need,” she wrote. Of course sales were important as she grew her brand, but at the end of the day, Estée strongly believed that the ideal beauty routine required only a few key products, and no more than 3 minutes each morning and evening to apply them. No elaborate rituals necessary.
2. She created the first-ever night serum. Today, beauty shelves are flooded with them, but back in 1982, Night Repair—as it was originally called—was revolutionary. Estée was one of the first to understand that skin is best able to repair itself at night, and that a lightweight texture (what we now know as a serum) was better able to penetrate deeply into skin’s surface to help it repair. Night Repair was also the first to use an apothecary-style brown bottle to help protect the formula’s active ingredients.
All great things begin with a vision...a dream.
3. She changed the course of the fragrance industry. Before she created Youth-Dew Bath Oil in 1953, it was unheard of for women to buy fragrance for themselves. Perfume was only to be worn for special occasions, and women relied on the men in their lives to gift it to them. But by selling Youth-Dew as a bath oil that doubled as perfume, Estée gave women license to buy fragrance for themselves and indulge in it anytime they liked.
4. She met all prospective hires face to face. Even as her small company grew into a corporation, Estée wanted to know every employee. “I don’t look at their resumes…I look at them,” she told the Boston Sunday Globe in 1969. “My decision is based on chemical reaction."
5. Estée always believed in the power of women. She had a famous motto: “Be aware of your infinite possibilities.” And she herself tapped into that ethos when she started her own brand, disrupting the beauty industry at a time when few women even worked outside the home, much less started a business.
It was her passion for possibility that led us to create the Estée Lauder Emerging Leaders Fund, dedicated to building a generation of emerging leaders who redefine leadership, and challenging perceptions of leadership globally. Learn more about the initiative and the work we’re doing here.