Estée Lauder was born in 1906 as Josephine Esther Mentzer of New York in a Jewish family of immigrants from what was then Austria-Hungary – her mother was Rose, born Schotz (and Rosenthal in the meantime) from Hungary and father Max Mentzer from Czechoslovakia.
At the age of 18, she started working in her uncle’s shop, chemist Dr. Schotz, where she sold cosmetics made by him.
In 1930 she married Joseph Lauter, with whom (except for a 3-year break in 1939-1942) she remained until his death in 1982. They had two sons, Leonard and Ronald. As the company grew her husband took care of production while Estée was involved in sales. Leonard took over the company in the 1970s and the younger Ronald is a well-known philanthropist and (among other things) the owner of czech television channel TV Nova. In 1992, the company was taken over by granddaughter Aerin.
In 1935 Ester founded her own company under the name Estée Lauder, the name being derived from the diminutive of its middle name Ester and, for greater attractiveness, the modified the surname Lauter.
The company started to produce its own creams in a small home laboratory, in 1947 it was launched on the market with four of its own products and gained great success mainly by being the first to test the products in advance and with its slogan “Every woman can be beautiful”.
The first perfume was released in 1953 – Youth Dew, which was a great success and became a huge hit, especially in the form of perfume bath oil – the first year it sold an incredible 50,000 pieces and by 1984 150 million pieces!
The philosophy of the product was that instead of “dabbing” behind ears of an expensive perfume for special occasions, a woman can enjoy the scent whenever she wants. At the same time, for the first time in advertising for cosmetics, they used a photo of a naked woman, which caused a small revolution:
In 1964 she introduced the new Aramis brand – dedicated exclusively to men’s skin care and perfumes.
In her office, she always had her favorite blend of essential oils, which she used by “dabbing” and occasionally gifting to one of her prominent friends. In 1973, she decided to start selling this bland under the Private Collection name.
Over time, other scents were added such as Aliage, Estée, Cinnabar, White Linen, Beautiful, Pleasures, Beyond Paradise, Sensuous …
The American Society of Perfumers awarded her its first prize in the Living Legend category in 1994.
During her life she built a huge empire, which includes many brands, from perfumes let’s mention brands like Tom Ford, Jo Malone, most recently Frederick Malle.
She died at the age of 97 of a heart attack in Manhattan, NY.