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There are some people who dream of success, while others, they make it their mission to go out and get it. That means hard work and at times, a fair share of blood, sweat and tears. Estée Lauder is America’s wealthiest, self-made woman– and she worked hard for the success she rightly earned.

Born and raised in Queens, New York to parents of Hungarian and Czech descent, the young Estée worked in the family’s hardware store, striving to make ends meet. What intrigued her however, was the work of her uncle, a chemist. Soon enough, she began spending her time in the lab and he eventually developed a skin cream for her. While she was still a teenager, Estée began making her own formulas, giving people free samples of her ‘jars of hope’ and selling her products to hair salons. The official set up of the Estée Lauder Cosmetics Inc. came in 1946. In 1953, she launched Youth Dew beauty oil and it became a hit. It was a combination of her innovative products and a strong marketing strategy that put her in the spotlight as a rising star and entrepreneur.

In 1939, she married Joseph H. Lauter (Lauder), a businessman who worked in the garment industry. Although they divorced shortly after the birth of their first son, they eventually remarried and welcomed another child into their family. Motherhood did not stop her from pursuing her business ideas. Estee continued to prepare her cosmetics, this time, using the kitchen of a former restaurant. Saks Fifth Avenue was her first client, landing her the first department store order in the amount of $800 – the products sold out in two days.

Her business expanded overseas and eventually introduced the men’s line, Aramis, and the acclaimed Clinique brand. Estée Lauder’s international success put her in front row with leading ladies and royal families with whom she formed close ties, including Nancy Reagan, Duchess of Windsor, and Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly). In the 1970s, she took a step back from the company’s operations and assigned responsibility to her eldest son, Leonard.

She willingly shared her journey to wealth and world status in her autobiography, Estée: A Success Story. She was the only woman on TIME magazine’s list of the “20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th Century” (1998).  Sharing personal experience and lending knowledge are known to be powerful motivators for others and oneself – her initiative to release this book highlight her power and intelligence as a business woman, inspiring thousands of entrepreneurs to persevere and conquer. In 1995, Estée Lauder Cosmetics Inc., then valued at $2 billion dollars, went public. The empire she built still remains in the family, and continues to grow every year, with additional brands under its wing, including MAC Cosmetics.

Quotes by Estée Lauder
“Risk-taking is the cornerstone of empires.”
“Whatever you give comes back to you.”
“I wanted to see my name in lights, but I was willing to settle for my name on a jar. “

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