About Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder, the founder of the company that bears her name, was a visionary and a role model. She was a challenger who proved that anything was possible — if you dared to dream it and had the guts and gumption to go for it. She loved beauty with a passion and believed wholeheartedly in its power.

Born for Beauty

Born in 1908, Estée Lauder was raised in Queens, New York, by her Hungarian mother, Rose, and Czech father, Max. Her interest in beauty was sparked in high school when her Hungarian uncle came to live with her family and created velvety skin creams, first in the kitchen, then in a laboratory in a stable out back.

Young Love

During a summer spent on Mohegan Lake in New York, Estée met “her first beau,” Joseph Lauter. Later, Joe changed his surname to Lauder, correcting a misspelling that had occurred when his father emigrated from Austria to the United States. The pair married in 1930 and soon moved to Manhattan.

The Beginning of an Empire

Estée got her start selling skin care and makeup in beauty salons, demonstrating her products on women while they were sitting under hair dryers. In 1946 she and Joseph Lauder officially launched the company, and a year later they got their first major order: $800 worth of products from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Pushing the Boundaries of Beauty

Estée Lauder was a skin care pioneer, but she also had a wonderful fragrance “nose.” One of her earliest successes was Youth-Dew, a blend of rose, jasmine, vetiver and patchouli that would bring her olfactory fame.

Until the 1950s, most women reserved fragrance for special occasions. A woman would wait for her husband to give her perfume on her birthday or anniversary. Estée wanted to find a way for women to buy their own perfume, so in 1953 she created Youth-Dew, a bath oil that doubled as a skin perfume. This innovation took the cosmetics industry by storm, changing the way fragrance was sold and transforming the fledgling start-up company into a multimillion-dollar business.

An American Icon

As a visionary businesswoman, Estée Lauder was honored with many awards during her career. Receiving the French Legion of Honor was one of the high points in her life. She supported numerous civic and cultural programs and other charitable causes, including the restoration of the Palace of Versailles and the building of several playgrounds in New York City’s Central Park.

A Family in Business

The only thing more important to Estée than the Company was her family, and she was thrilled that her children and grandchildren joined the family business.

Estée retired in 1995 and passed away in 2004.