Estée Lauder and the Lauder Empire: The Best of Beauty

Posted on March 11, 2018

Cosmetics pioneer Estée Lauder has revolutionised the beauty industry building her empire seventy-two years ago in 1946. Estée was a visionary for beauty, a mother and a business woman which was quite uncommon at the time. “All great things begin with a vision… a dream,” Estée Lauder said, and she certainly had a clear vision for her future. From product to packaging, Estée Lauder never imagined she would set the standards for the beauty industry for decades to come. Estée is so much more than just the namesake of the brand.

Her business still continues to thrive to even to present day with Estée Lauder still reigning supreme in over 150 countries in the beauty world. The company is so unique due to their strong mix of family values and caring, collaborate and compassionate workplace.

Black and white portrait photograph of Estée Lauder sitting on a chair posing.
Image Credit: Glamour

Estée entered the beauty industry by helping her uncle, Dr. John Schotz with his company New Way Laboratories. The company produced and sold beauty products such as creams, lotions and fragrances. At an early age she developed a strong interest in this business and subsequently worked for his company once graduating high school.

One day she was getting her hair done when the salon owner asked about her perfect skin. She returned to her beauty parlour to hand out her uncle’s creams and demonstrate their use. Being just a teenager, she had a great understanding of the concept of marketing at the time and began selling products to beauty shops, hair salons, beach clubs and resorts.

After years of operating her cosmetic business Lauder partnered with her husband in 1946 forming the corporation that still bears her name today. They started off small, with only limited products. They were making these cosmetic products using the kitchen of a former restaurant, but little did Estée and her team know that her big career breakthrough would come the following year.

Estée Lauder posing with her husband and business partner Joseph Lauder.
Image Credit: Estée Lauder Companies

In 1947 she landed her first department store order for her cosmetics, as Saks Fifth Avenue ordered $800 worth of her products which sold out in two days. Lauder was extremely thankful and originated the practice of giving a free gift with purchase marketing strategy around this time. Through Estée’s vision Gift with Purchase has transformed the beauty industry as ‘GWP’ we know today was created through her marketing vision.

Image describing the gift with purchase concept that Estée created.
Image Credit: Marie Claire South Africa

The business continued to thrive in the following years and in 1953, Lauder launched her Youth Dew product, a bath oil that doubled as a perfume. Women began using it by the bottle in their bath water. The first year saw 50,000 bottles sold and by 1984, the figure jumped to 150 million.

Estée Lauder mixing her body oils and cosmetic products.
Image Credit: Tharawat Magazine

In 1973, Lauder reduced her role in the company, resigning as President but staying on as the company’s Chairman of the Board. Her eldest son Leonard took over running the family business. She had extremely strong family values and suffered a terrible loss in 1983 with the death of her beloved husband.

Collage of Estée Lauder double wear foundation.
Image Credit: Brown Thomas

She later died in 2004, but the company that she built still remains in the family. Her eldest son Leonard is the Chairman Emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies; her younger son Ronald is the Chairman of Clinique Laboratories, LLC, her grandson William Lauder is the Executive Chairman while her granddaughter Aerin Lauder is also the Creative Director of Estée Lauder Companies.

Stock image of Estée Lauder next to a model with her products.
Image Credit: Getty Images

By Mikayla Tabone.

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