Estee Lauder: A Household Name
At the beginning, before Estee Lauder was a multimillion dollar name, it was a young woman with a jar of skin cream developed by her chemist uncle. But this young woman had a dream to bring out the natural beauty of every woman, and soon she was more than just skin cream, with counter space on prestigious New York stores, then a worldwide multimillion dollar brand that is still bringing out the beauty of women all over the world today.
The Early Years of Estee Lauder
The woman who would later be known to the world as Estee Lauder was once Josephine Esther Mentzer. She was born in Queens, New York, in 1906. Her mother, Rose Schotz Rosenthal, was a Hungarian woman who had just recently emigrated to the United States in 1898. At that time, Rose already had five children and was married to a man that was not Josephine’s father. In fact, she had come to America to join him. But she separated from her husband and married Max Mentzer, another Hungarian immigrant, in 1905.
Rose wanted to name her daughter Esty, but was worried that Americans wouldn’t know how to properly spell it, so they put Esther on the birth certificate and simply called the girl Esty at home. When her Hungarian parents would say ‘Esty’, it would sound a lot ‘Estee’.
In total, the Mentzer family had nine children to look after, which meant they never had much money. Estee helped out at the family hardware store, and learned how to operate a business. What she really wanted, like so many young girls, was to become an actress. She wanted the fame and attention (especially of handsome young men).
When she was old enough, Estee began to work at her uncle’s business to help him out. This uncle, Dr. John Schotz, was a chemist. His specialty was beauty products like rouge, lotion, creams, and fragrances. Estee found this much more fascinating than her father’s hardware business, and took a great interest in learning how her uncle did what he did. Dr. Schotz taught her how to do facial massages and properly wash faces.
Estee became an asset to her uncle’s work, naming his products and selling them to her friends. Soon, she was selling them to beauty shops and resorts, as well. Her hairdresser asked Estee how her skin was so perfect. Estee responded by bringing her creams and lotions to the beauty parlor so she could demonstrate how to use them. The hairdresser, impressed by Estee’s sales ability, asked the young woman to sell products at the salon.
She married Joseph Lauter in her early 20s, and later changed their family name to Lauder. Together, they established the Estee Lauder brand in 1935 so Estee could continue to develop the business she had come to love.
Only the Best
Using her talent for sales, Estee managed to get some New York City department store executives and managers to give her some counter space at the prestigious Saks Fifth Avenue in 1948. Personally, she would explain the benefits of her products and how each of them worked. Soon, there were other stores that wanted Estee Lauder products, and she did the same at each one, giving each location that personal touch. She also wisely gave away samples of her products to some of her more famous and influential customers, because she wanted those that used only the best to use Estee Lauder cosmetics.
She entered the world of fragrances in 1954 with Youth Dew. This was a perfume that could also be used as a bath oil. Even today, Youth Dew is a bestseller for the company, selling hundreds of millions of bottles since its debut. The fragrance is a rich blend topped with orange, peach, bergamot, aldehydes, spices, lavender, and narcissus; the heart is cassia, jasmine, orchid, cloves, rose, lily-of-the-valley, ylang-ylang, cinnamon and other spices; the base is various forms of balsam, patchouli, musk, vanilla, incense, vetiver, and amber.
Private Collection is green and floral. Originally, Estee Lauder made it for her own personal collection – it wasn’t for sale at all – hence the name. It was only released to the public in 1973. It opens with honeysuckle, green notes, jasmine, orange blossom, and linden; the middle notes are chrysanthemum, ylang-ylang, coriander, reseda, and Bulgarian rose; the base is composed from heliotrope, amber, sandalwood, and musk.
In seeking only the best, Estee Lauder left her business in the best possible hands when she passed on in 2004 – her family. Her sons Ronald and Leonard are both leaders of the company, and her grandson William is the Executive Chairman. Two of her granddaughters are powerful executives in the company hierarchy.
Estee Lauder was known to say that beauty was an attitude. The reasons why all brides were beautiful was because they were focused on being beautiful that day. In her eyes, there was no such thing as an unattractive woman, only those that don’t know or care how beautiful they are. This is the philosophy that keeps Estee Lauder in the forefront of the cosmetics and fragrance industries to this very day.