International Women’s Day: Remembering Estée Lauder’s Leading Ladies

Today we’re celebrating International Women’s Day by honouring all the amazing women in our lives! This occasion calls for a blog post dedicated to two of the most inspirational women who have lived to shape the cosmetic industry: Estée and Evelyn Lauder!

Estée Lauder

Born to Eastern European immigrants, Estée Lauder grew up in Queens (NYC) where her uncle, a Chemist, introduced her to the world of cosmetics by showing her how to mix oils and creams to create new products. What started off with playful mixing sessions in the parental garage soon turned into serious business and the pair created the first 4 skin care products which would later help making Estée Lauder famous! In 1946 the young Estée, together with her husband Joseph, founded the Estee Lauder Company. A pronounced believer in the power of the word-of-mouth and personal customer contact, Estée started off introducing her products to various hotels and beauty salons. The couple was soon able to record their first minor successes. The company’s break-through happened only two years later, when the renowned Saks Fifth Avenue placed an order for their products. Thanks to Estée Lauder’s dedication to her company and her belief that all women could be beautiful, she built one of the most successful cosmetic companies in the world. Through hard work and innovative thinking Lauder secured her position on the competitive market whilst pioneering selling techniques like beauty sampling and purchase gifts – all of it without a college education. Her eventful life was put to paper in her autobiography Estée – A Success Story published in 1985. Estée Lauder has received numerous honours for her achievements, including France’s Legions of Honour, a Medal of Freedom and a Living Legend Award. In 1998, Time Magazine furthermore named the style icon one of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th Century. She was the only woman on this list. Upon her death at the age of 97, her steadily growing company owns more than 25 brands and sells a wide range of cosmetics and fragrances to over 150 countries worldwide. Today the annual revenue of the Estée Lauder Group amounts to over $10BIO.

Evelyn Lauder

Evelyn Lauder, Estée’s daughter-in-law, was head of the family business’s fragrance division and oversaw the development of the brand’s most successful fragrances including Beautiful and Pleasures. But she didn’t only contribute to the company’s legacy through her talents as a business woman, she especially made an impact with her philanthropic efforts. Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 50, Evelyn had been dedicated spokeswoman and supporter of various campaigns raising awareness for women’s health. Together with SELF magazine she created the famous Pink Ribbon which has become the globally recognised symbol for breast health. It was Evelyn Lauder who established the company’s Breast Cancer Campaign (BCA) which organises regular fund-raising campaigns and has raised over $60MIO to date. In 1993, Lauder also founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) which has raised $600MIO for cancer research and is the highest rated breast cancer organisation in the US. For her achievements in the field she was honoured with French knighthood in 2002. The Lauder family received the highly respected Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2011. Between business and charity engagements Evelyn also found time to pursue photography. Her art has been exhibited in various venues and she has published two photography books as well as a cook book with all profits from her exhibitions and book sales going straight to BCRF. The remarkable Evelyn Lauder, who died before her time at the age of 75, is remembered as one of the great business geniuses and philanthropists of our time.


Estée Lauder Companies today own a number of big names in beauty. From MAC, Clinique and Smashbox to fragrance brands like Aramis, Ermenegildo Zegna, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford and Jo Malone, their catalogue includes an ever-expanding range of popular products.

Estée Lauder: I believe that potential is unlimited – success depends on daring to act on dreams.

Powerful women like the two Lauder Ladies inspire us every day to work hard for our dreams regardless of whatever obstacles, prejudices and disadvantages might stand in our way to success. This is why we decided to remember their achievements on a day that screams female empowerment like no other: International Women’s Day!

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