Estée Lauder (businesswoman)

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Estée Lauder
Estee Lauder NYWTS.jpg
Estée Lauder with a customer (1966)
Born Josephine Esther Mentzer
(1908-07-01)July 1, 1908
Corona, Queens
New York City, U.S.
Died April 24, 2004(2004-04-24) (aged 95)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Businesswoman
Known for Co-founder of Estée Lauder Companies
Spouse(s) Joseph Lauder
(1930.01.15-1982, his death)
Children 2
Parent(s) Max Mentzer
Rose Schotz-Rosenthal

Estée Lauder (/ˈɛst ˈlɔːdər/; July 1, 1906 or July 1, 1908 – April 24, 2004) was an American businessperson. She co-founded with her husband, Joseph Lauter (later Lauder),[1] her eponymous cosmetics company. Lauder was the only woman on Time magazine's 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Lauder was born in Corona, Queens,[3] New York City,[4] the second child born to Rose (Schotz) Rosenthal and Max Mentzer.[5][6] Her parents were Hungarian Jewish immigrants,[4][7][8] her mother from Sátoraljaújhely and her father from Gelle (now Holice, Slovakia).[9] Rose emigrated from Hungary to the United States in 1898 with her five children to join her then husband, Abraham Rosenthal.[5] But, in 1905, she married Max Mentzer,[5] a shopkeeper who had also immigrated to the United States in the 1890s.[5] When their daughter was born, they wanted to name her Eszti, after her mother's favorite Hungarian aunt, but decided at the last minute to keep the name "Josephine", which they had agreed upon. Immediately though, the baby's nickname became "Estee", and which is the name she grew up responding to. Eventually, when she launched her perfume empire with her husband, she added an accent mark to make her name sound French and began pronouncing it the way her father pronounced it in his Hungarian accent.[10] She attended Newtown High School in Elmhurst, Queens, New York, and much of her childhood was spent trying to make ends meet. Like most of her eight siblings, she worked at the family's hardware store, where she got her first taste of business, of entrepreneurship, and what it takes to be a successful retailer. Her childhood dream was to become an actress with her “name in lights, flowers and handsome men."[6][11]

Lauder with Algur H. Meadows in 1972.

When Estée grew older, she agreed to help her uncle Dr. John Schotz, a chemist, with his business. His company, New Way Laboratories, sold beauty products such as creams, lotions, rouge, and fragrances. She became more interested in his business than her father's. She was fascinated watching her uncle create his products. He also taught her how to wash her face and do facial massages. After graduating from Newtown High School, she focused on her uncle's business.


Lauder named one of her uncle's blends Super Rich All-Purpose Cream, and began selling his products to her friends.[5]:115 She sold creams like Six-In-One Cold Cream and Dr. Schotz's Viennese Cream to beauty shops, beach clubs and resorts.[12] One day, as she was getting her hair done at the House of Ash Blondes, the salon's owner Florence Morris asked Lauder about her perfect skin. Soon, Estée returned to the beauty parlor to hand out four of her uncle's creams and demonstrate their use. Morris was so impressed, she asked Lauder to sell her products at her new salon.[5]:116

In 1953, Lauder introduced her first fragrance, Youth-Dew, a bath oil that doubled as a perfume. Instead of using French perfumes by the drop behind each ear, women began using Youth-Dew by the bottle in their bath water. In the first year, it sold 50,000 bottles, and by 1984, the figure had jumped to 150 million.[13]

Lauder was a subject of a 1985 TV documentary, Estée Lauder: The Sweet Smell of Success. Explaining her success, she said, "I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard."[12]

Awards and honors[edit]

Lauder received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was inducted to the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1988. She received the Knight class of the Legion of Honour from the Consul General of France, Gerard Causer. She was the first woman to receive the Chevalier Commendation, on 16 January 1978.[14]

Personal life[edit]

She met Joseph Lauter when she was in her early 20s. On January 15, 1930, they married. The surname was later changed from Lauter to Lauder. Their first child, Leonard, was born March 19, 1933.[15][16] The couple separated in 1939 and she moved to Florida, but they remarried in 1942.[12] Their second son, Ronald, was born in 1944. Estée and Joseph Lauder remained married until his death in 1982.

Leonard became the chief executive of Estée Lauder[17] and then chairman of the board.[18] Ronald was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration and was U.S. Ambassador to Austria in 1986–87.[19]


At age 95, Lauder died of cardiopulmonary arrest on April 24, 2004 at her home in Manhattan.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Estee Lauder". The Biography Channel. AETN UK. Retrieved 2014-06-22. 
  2. ^ Timothy Williams, Gates Among Time's Top 20 20Th-Century Business Titans Seattle Times, November 30, 1998
  3. ^ Severo, Richard (2004-04-26). "Estée Lauder, Pursuer of Beauty And Cosmetics Titan, Dies at 97". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Josephine Esther Mentzer - New York, New York City Births". FamilySearch. Retrieved 3 January 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Kent, Jacqueline C. (2003), Business Builders in Cosmetics, The Oliver Press, ISBN 1-881508-82-X 
  6. ^ a b Lauder, Estee. "The Makings of a Beauty Tycoon: Estee Lauder is Born". Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Population Schedule". Fourteenth Census of the United States. US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 1920. Retrieved August 29, 2016 – via 
  8. ^ "Population Schedule". Fifteenth Census of the United States. US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 1930. Retrieved August 29, 2016 – via 
  9. ^ Votruba, Martin. "Estée Lauder". Slovak Studies Program. University of Pittsburgh. 
  10. ^ Lauder, Estee (October 21, 1985). "Estee Lauder". New York. New York Media. 18 (41): 32. ISSN 0028-7369. 
  11. ^ Herzog, Edwin (May 2012). Majoroszog Journal.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ a b c "Estee Lauder biography". 
  13. ^ "estee lauder Biography". Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  14. ^ Getty Images
  15. ^ Kent 2003, p. 115.
  16. ^ "Leonard Lauder". Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  17. ^ Mirabella, Grace (December 7, 1998). "Beauty Queen: Estee Lauder: She turned cosmetics into a big business by making the experience at the sales counter a personal one". Time. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Cosmetics mogul Estee Lauder dies". CNN. April 26, 2004. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Just Who Was Our Envoy to Vienna". The New York Times. July 27, 1989. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  20. ^ "Cosmetics Mogul Estee Lauder Dies". April 25, 2004. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 

Further reading[edit]

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