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Estee Lauder

 

Estee Lauder is practically synonymous with cosmetics. She co-founded, along with her husband Joseph (whom she married, bore two sons, divorced and then remarried), the all-important, multi-billion-dollar-a-year beauty empire. Born of working-class, Hungarian immigrant parents in Queens, NY in 1907, a date in contention due to the relative mystery of her exact birth date, she was originally called 'ESTY'. But when a school official misspelled her name as we all have come to recognize, the misspelling stuck. From the get-go, Estee Lauder Cos. was a family business, her career began humbly by selling skin creams manufactured by a chemist-uncle to beauty shops, beach clubs and resorts, and slowly expanded into major NYC department stores. But once she landed at Saks Fifth Avenue in mid-century, her career took flight and never touched ground again. Lauder died in 1997 at the ripe old age of 100. She is forever remembered as a revolutionary in the beauty business, based on her legendary tasteful and personal sales tactics, mastermind in marketing to men to purchase products for their wives, high quality goods, and for pioneering the concept of free samples to consumers. All of which have become staples in every other successful cosmetics brand ever since. In short, this woman could sell, which became the centerpiece of her eventual empire. Her illustrious career has been marked by many high accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, controlling up to 45% of the U.S. department store cosmetics market, and the honor of being the only woman on Time Magazine's list of 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century (1998).

Young Dew, her first fragrance, launch in 1953, met with phenomenal success, with sales toppling $5 million a year within its first decade on the market. The men's cologne, Aramis, is also a top seller. True to Lauder's powerhouse standing in the cosmetics trade, the company additionally created an impressive spate of perfumed scents including: Pleasures, Beautiful, White Linen (including body lotion, body cream, body powder, bath and shower gel). Also, Aliage, Azuree, Cinnabar (body lotion), Dazzling Gold, Dazzling Silver. The signature Estee scent for men and women (including body lotion and body powder). Intuition (spray and lotion), Knowing (body lotion and whipped body cream). Private Collection, SpellBound and Tuscany Per Donna round out the fragrance line. The company remains a central player in the global beauty trade. Headquartered in Manhattan, it has ever remained a family affair. Estee's eldest son, Leonard, was Chief Executive of the company and now sits as Chairman of the Board. Her grandchildren are in key positions. The family's shares are worth more than $6 billion. Estee Lauder owns its powerhouse subdivision, Clinique.



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