Estee Lauder

A visionary businesswoman

An American business genius, who was the co-founder of the multi-billion dollar Estée Lauder empire, a pioneering global leading cosmetics company.

Estée Lauder was an iconic, American entrepreneur and a role model who became the wealthiest self-made woman in the world. She created Estée Lauder Companies, now the global leader in prestige beauty – a beauty dynasty that continues today.

As a visionary businesswoman, Estée Lauder was honored with numerous awards during her career. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor, a high point in her life. She supported numerous civic and cultural programs and charitable causes, including the restoration of the palace at Versailles and several playgrounds in New York Central Park.

The cosmetic pioneer was the only woman on Time magazine’s 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century. On April 26, 2004, Estée Lauder passed away aged 95, from cardiopulmoanary arrest in Manhattan, New York, USA.

Name:   Estée  Lauder
Born:   1 July 1908
Star Sign: Cancer
Died:   24 April 2004
Birthplace: Corona, New York City, New York
Country: New York (NY) United States
DetailsOther Names
Josephine Esther Mentzer
Rose (Schotz) Mentzer
Max Mentzer
Married Joseph Lauter in 1942 until his death in 1983. Married Joseph Lauter in 1930 and divorced 1939.
Sons: Ronald Lauder and Leonard A. Lauder

Childhood and Family
Estée Lauder was born, Josephine Esther Mentzer in Queens, New York. USA. Her given birth date is July 1, 1908. Her parents, Max Mentzer and Rose (Schotz) Mentzer, were Jewish immigrants from Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Estee was the youngest of four children.

Her father owned a hardware store, above which the family lived. While attending Newtown High School in Elmhurst, Estee would serve in her father’s shop which gave Estee her first experience as a saleswoman, arranging merchandise and window displays. Here she learned the basics of retailing.

Early Interest
From an early age, Josephine, who preferred to be called Estée, showed interest in beauty. After World War I erupted, Estée's uncle, John Schotz, a Hungarian chemist came to live with the family. He set up a laboratory in an empty stable behind their house and concocted 'secret' skin care creams. It was her first introduction to the world of cosmetics.

From her uncle, Estée not only learned how to concoct the wonderful creams but also how to apply them to women’s faces. As a teenager she started selling her products -'jars of hope' at local hair salons and even gave out free samples.

Pursuing her dreams
In 1930, Estée married Joseph H. Lauter (later corrected to Lauder), a textile salesman and moved to Manhattan. In 1933, their son, Leonard was born. Not letting motherhood slow her down, Estée continued to refine and improve her uncle's creams, cooking up concoctions on her kitchen stove.

To create a market for her product, Lauder gave free demonstrations and makeovers at salons, hotels, the subway and even in the street. She also visited her clients in their home, where she would make up their friends and sell more cream. It wasn't long before Lauder was a fixture on the guest lists of New York City's most influential hostesses.

Manufacturing and Production
In her single-minded quest for success, Lauder's marriage suffered, eventually ending in divorce in 1939. When son, Leonard had the mumps, they reunited as loving parents. A new spark ignited, and in 1942, the two remarried. Two years later, son Ronald was born.

In 1946, Estée and Joseph Lauder officially launched Estée Lauder Inc. They converted a Manhattan restaurant into a factory and developed their products, using the restaurant stove. A year later they got their first major order from Saks Fifth Avenue. As the company's only employees, they first produced four original beauty products and personally delivered them.

The Sweet Smell of Success
For the next 15 years, Estée Lauder Inc. expanded their range with sales in the United States. Estée Lauder was a skin care pioneer, but she also had a wonderful fragrance 'nose.' One of her earliest successes was Youth-Dew - a bath oil with a sweet fragrance that doubled as a perfume. It created a mini revolution.

During the 1960s, Estée Lauder Inc. introduced the male toiletries - Aramis, and the first line of fashion-oriented cosmetics, Clinique. In addition, Estée Lauder set out to conquer the rest of the world, convincing Harrod's of London and Paris' Galleries Lafayette to carry her products.

Achievement and Expansion
In 1967, Estée Lauder was named one of ten Outstanding Women in Business in the United States by business and financial editors. In 1968, she received a Spirit of Achievement Award from Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University. Her company expanded again, also opening Clinique Laboratories, Inc.

In 1973, Estee Lauder resigned from her position as President of the Company in favor of her son Leonard, but remained the Chairman of the Board. By then, Estée Lauder's products were being sold in 70 countries across the world.

A Success Story
The 1980's opened with the creation of Origins. Estée Lauder also published her autobiography - 'Estee: A Success Story'. The Lauder's were active in philanthropic work, though her public life dwindled after she broke her hip in 1994. Today, Estée Lauder Inc. is one of the leading cosmetic brands in the world, selling in more than 120 countries and generating revenues of billions of dollars every year.

Awards and Recognition
Estée Lauder was honored with many awards including: the French Legion of Honor was one of the high points in her life; the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988; the Crystal Apple Award from the Association for a Better New York; the Gold Medal of the City of Paris.

She also holds the special distinction of being the only woman on TIME magazine's 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century. Today more than 46,000 employees continue Estée's bold, breakthrough efforts, with a commitment to helping millions of consumers discover and express their own beauty.

Success and Legacy
Later in life, Estée Lauder devoted much of her time to her philanthropic efforts. She has achieved a special place in the world of cosmetics and left a lasting legacy behind her. Estee Lauder died in April 2004. She was aged at least 95, although her family believed that she may have been two years older. At the time of her death, Forbes magazine estimated the net worth of her family at $5.1 billion total, ranked among the top 300 richest people in the world.

Marriage and Family
Estée and Joseph Lauder married, divorced then remarried three years later. They had two sons, Leonard and Ronald Lauder. Leonard became the chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies and Ronald, the chairman of Clinique Laboratories, LLC. Grandson, William Lauder became the executive chairman of the Estée Lauder Companies and two granddaughters Aerin and Jane holds senior positions.

Estée Lauder published her autobiography, 'Estee: A Success Story', in 1985.

In honor of her husband, Estée Lauder established the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.

In 1998, Estée was the only woman on Time magazine's listing of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the century.

Estée met all prospective employees face to face. 'I don’t look at their resumes…I look at them,' she said. 'My decision is based on chemical reaction.'

Before Estée created Youth-Dew Bath Oil in 1953, women relied on their men to gift it them with perfume and fragrance. Perfume was only worn on special occasions.

Estée had an intense love of flowers, and found them to be a constant source of inspiration.

Estée Lauder built a cosmetics empire on the motto, 'There are no homely women, only careless women.' Convincing 'careless women' they could become beautiful.

After the death of her husband in 1984, Estée Lauder devote her time and energy to her philanthropic work and to a flamboyant social life.

Estée Lauder received the humanitarian service awards from the Girls Club and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.

Estée Lauder kept her ingredients secrets. Although products were made in Lauder factories, the final secret ingredient was always added by a member of the Lauder family.

"I didn't get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it."

"Beauty is an attitude. There's no secret. Brides are beautiful on their wedding day, they care about how they look."

"There are no ugly women - only women who don't care or who don't believe they're attractive."

"I was a woman with a mission and single-minded in the pursuit of my dream."

"All great things begin with a vision ... a dream"

"Trust your instincts. Never underestimate any woman’s desire for beauty."

"Our life isn’t how much we can take out, but how much we can put in."

"Whatever you give comes back to you."

"Risk taking is the cornerstone of empires."

"Be strong. Be confident. Be the star of your own life."


Estee Lauder, Head of cosmetic empire died of cardiopulmonary arrest on the April 26, 2004 at her home in New York. She was believed to be 95-years-old. Estee Lauder is buried along side her husband, Joseph at Beth-El Cemetery in Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA.

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