Estee Lauder Bio & Guerilla Marketing That Made Her Business Success

estee lauder bio

Most entrepreneurs have to face the problem of shortage at some time or another.  They might have a shortage of time or a shortage of money that makes them question whether they’ll be able to drive their business to the levels of success they’ve envisioned.  Their shortage can come as a result of:

  • Debt
  • Having lots of dependents
  • Having few marketable skills
  • Low confidence
  • Prejudice
  • Government control tactics
  • Not much sales experience
  • Little support
  • Self-limiting beliefs
  • Not enough focus
  • Too many priorities
  • or, some other reason

Each and every successful entrepreneur who faces these obstacles has to find a way to wiggle themselves out of these situations.  It may not always be comfortable, but it’s key to feed your hopes with the stories of exponential growth from entrepreneurs like Estee Lauder who struggled with shortage, but found a way to become the top of their industries.

estee lauder bioWho is Estee Lauder? | Estee Lauder Bio

Estee Lauder is the founder of one of the world’s largest cosmetics companies and a woman who grew from “just getting by” to a net worth in excess of $5 billion dollars!  She was born Josephine Esther Mentzer in 1908 and grew up in the Corona section of Queens, New York.Her parents, Max and Rose Mentzer were Jewish immigrants from Hungary and Czechoslavakia.

She grew up very modestly. Her father owned a hardware store and their family lived above it. Estee learned quite a few lessons on entrepreneurship, organization, and retail aesthetics from her father.

After World War I, Lauder’s uncle, John Schotz came to live with the family. He was a chemist who made his own “secret” products. He set up a lab in a shed behind the Mentzer home, and young Estee began learning how to mix skincare along his side.

Estee married a textile salesman named Joseph Lauter and moved with him to Manhattan.  Even in the early years of their marriage, Estee continued to be extremely focused on refining her products.  She would cook the concoctions on her kitchen stove.

In the early days of her business, she used guerilla marketing tactics like sampling, offering facials, and doing makeovers to sell her products.  As her reputation grew, she was invited to more and more prestigious homes.

She was very aware about the importance of her social circle, and she dressed to imitate those in the highest echelons of success.  Soon, she was identified as a part of the inner circle and became friends with very successful people.

In 1939, her marriage suffered and ended in divorce.  It’s said that her marriage suffered due to her work-life balance.  After the divorce, she moved to Miami and continued pursuing her dreams.  After three years of searching for alternative romance and support for her business, her son got sick with the mumps, and the Lauders came together to care for him.  They decided to remarry in 1942 and divided the business into clear roles.

Estee was in charge of marketing and product development, and Joe was in charge of Finance, Manufacturing, and Administration.  In 1944, the couple opened their first store, and after giving birth to their second child, Ronald, Estee incorporated Estee Lauder Inc.  As their business was growing, the kitchen stove was no longer sufficient for mixing the cosmetics.  The Lauders decided to buy a restaurant and convert it into a Manufacturing facility.

estee lauder bioEstee would sell the product during the day and cook the products at night.  She had an amazing work ethic.

Estee decided she wanted to market and sell to large department stores.  Her first large retailer was Saks Fifth Avenue. They placed their first order and were sold out within two days.  The success with Saks built her confidence and she continued traveling to sell to other department stores.

By the 1950s, Lauder’s products were widely distributed at several department stores, but the company was still small in comparison to their competitors like Revlon and Elizbeth Arden.  Estee decided to put $50,000 into an advertising campaign and searched for an ad agency to help, but all of them turned her down.  They said her budget was too small.

As a result, Lauder took matters into her own hands and invested $50,000 into guerrilla marketing: buying samples, direct mail, charity giveaways, doing demonstrations, and offering “free gifts with purchase”.  Many credit Lauder as the “inventor” of the “free gift with purchase” marketing technique.  As a result, Estee Lauder Inc. acquired thousands of new customers.

In 1953, the business took off even further.  Lauder created a new product called “Youth Dew”.  Youth Dew was Lauder’s attempt to make an affordable luxury perfume/bath oil for women.  She priced Youth Dew at $8.50 and sales took off.  The business went from generating hundreds of dollars weekly to thousands of dollars weekly.  Youth Dew became 80% of the company’s sales and surpassed the multimillion-dollar revenue mark.

In the 1960s, Estee Lauder Inc. continued expanding.  They created a male line named Aramis, and they created an allergy-tested line named Clinique.  Lauder also traveled the world to make new distribution contracts, and set up new places to distribute Estee Lauder products in 70 countries.

Today, Estee Lauder companies continue to expand and prosper.  They are now a publicly traded company.  Estee Lauder has passed, but her sons and grandchildren make up vital components of the executive staff, and the business still is in the family.

In addition to her success with her business, Estee Lauder is very proud of her children and grandchildren who she raised alongside the growing business.

Estee Lauder Quotes

estee lauder bioTo be a woman as determined, focused, and self-disciplined as Estee Lauder, you have to have mantras that you reiterate to keep you on track.  Here are quotes from Estee Lauder on success and business…

“I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.” Estee Lauder

“To sell a cream, you sold a dream in the early days.” Estee Lauder

“Train the best sales force.” Estee Lauder

“Hire the best people: you can be the director of the company but you can’t be there to direct all the time.” Estee Lauder

“My ambition was to make every woman beautiful, not to make money.” Estee Lauder

I’ve always believed that if you stick to a thought and carefully avoid distraction along the way, you can fulfill a dream. My whole life has been about fulfilling dreams. I kept my eye on the target, whatever that target was. Whether your target is big or small, grand or simple, ambitious or personal, I’ve always believed that success comes from not letting your eyes stray from that target. Anyone who wants to achieve a dream must stay strong, focused and steady. Estee Lauder

“People do make their luck by daring to follow their instincts, taking risks, and embracing every possibility.” Estee Lauder

“If you push yourself beyond the furthest place you think you can go, you’ll be able to achieve your heart’s dream.” Estee Lauder

“Give credit where credit is due: simply said, if you want loyalty and best effort, you must be thoughtful.” Estee Lauder

And perhaps my favorite of all time: “Act tough: what other call tough, I call persistent.” Estee Lauder

estee lauder bio“If you put the product into the customer’s hands, it will speak for itself  if it’s something of quality.”

“If you have a goal, if you want to be successful, if you really want to do it and become another Estée Lauder, you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to stick to it and you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing.” Estee Lauder

“I learned early that being a perfectionist and providing quality was the only way to do business.” Estee Lauder

“Make the most of what you have. I operated, full time, on that precept. If you can’t have everything you think you deserve at that moment, you would do well to surround yourself with symbols of your ideals. In that small office, I surrounded myself with touches of the good life, the lovely and intricately tapestried life of my imagination, an imagination that has always been, I’m proud to say, large enough to admit any possibility.” Estee Lauder

“If you don’t sell, it’s not the product that’s wrong, it’s you.” Estee Lauder

“When I thought I couldn’t go on, I forced myself to keep going. My success is based on persistence, not luck.” Estee Lauder

“Most good ideas sparkle in simplicity, so much so that everyone wonders why no one ever did that before.” Estee Lauder

“I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.” Estee Lauder

“Each businessperson must find a style, that voice that grows clearer and louder with each success and failure. Observing your own and your competitors’ successes and failures makes your inner business voice more sure and vivid.” Estee Lauder

“Business is there if you go after it.” Estee Lauder

“I am a visceral person by nature. I act on instinct, quickly, without pondering possible disaster and without indulging in deep introspection.” Estee Lauder

“Projecting your mind into a successful situation is the most powerful means to achieve goals.” Estee Lauder

“All great things begin with a vision….a dream.” Estee Lauder

“Serenity is pleasant, but it lacks the ecstasy of achievement.” Estee Lauder

“I worked every day from nine, when I arrived to polish my jars, to six in the evening. I never lunched.” Estee Lauder

“Our life isn’t how much we can take out, but how much we can put in.” Estee Lauder

“Confidence breeds beauty.” Estee Lauder

“Touch your customer, and you’re halfway there.” Estee Lauder

“First comes the shy wish. Then you must have the heart to have the dream. Then, you work, and work.” Estee Lauder

“Beauty is an attitude, there’s no secret.” Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder Video Playlist

Here’s a playlist with videos about Estee Lauder. Check them out!

Final Words on Estee Lauder

The goal of this article was to show how you can overcome shortage by being creative and hardworking like Estee Lauder. Hopefully, you’ve found the biographies and quotes here to be very inspiring and even to motivate you to take action in your business even if you feel like you “don’t have enough” resources. Estee Lauder is proof that a little creativity can take you to places you never thought possible.

If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.  I’d love to help you out!

Don’t Leave Without My FREE Gift!

If you’d like to start or scale your business, check out my free e-course. It’s a framework to grow a business: from idea to enterprise. Check out the free e-course here.

Now, it’s Your Turn…

What did you learn from this Estee Lauder bio? Which quote was your favorite? Leave your comments and questions below.

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10 thoughts on “Estee Lauder Bio & Guerilla Marketing That Made Her Business Success”

  1. My goodness I would love to be like Estee Lauder and just get by. But alas one would really have to be dedicated to achieve this sort of success. It seems she went through a lot to get the point of where her company is now. 

    Good thing her son brought her and her husband back together for they created such a formidable team. I like her marketing tactic as it seems everyone uses that one now. 

    Guess what!

    They still work, I will have to add the free time thing into my site. Thanks for providing all this information on this great lady, who was a thinker and innovator well ahead of her time.

    1. Hi Jag! You can do this! Estee said herself that it’s all about persistence and hard work towards your dream. 

  2. Wow, did I find Estee Lauder’s biography interesting. Sounds like she had a fantastic work ethic and it paid off. It’s crazy that she remarried her husband after her son’s illness. 

    I love the quote: “Business is there if you go after it.” So very true! I have never heard of guerrilla marketing before. Well, I’ve certainly heard of buying samples, demonstrations and giveaways, but didn’t know it had a name. Thank you Estee Lauder for inventing the free gift. How we have all enjoyed that over the years. 

    I’m glad I’m a member of Wealthy Affiliate because without it I wouldn’t know how to write effectively, build a website, or market, and the community support is invaluable. I’m so lucky to be a member of this amazing platform. Thanks for this informative article!

    1. Hi Holly! I’m so glad you enjoyed the Estee Lauder bio. She was an amazing woman with many lessons to be learned from her example.

  3. Thanks for sharing this inspirational bio of Estee Lauder. I was really struck by how focused she was. And, the amount of energy she seemed to be willing to put into her business. I’m not sure it’s wise to sacrifice relationships for the effort to succeed, but I appreciate that it is important to be consistent and not get distracted.

    I’ve read several bios of people like Lauder, and I often wonder if it is possible to achieve mega success and still balance a personal life. Maybe it takes a certain kind of individual. But I do feel inspired by her discipline and desire to reach her dream goal. 

    Great read! Thanks!

    Stella 🙂

    1. Hi Stella! I agree that many people sacrifice relationships for business success, but I don’t think you have to. I love studying diehard focused entrepreneurs like Estee Lauder, but there are also others like Zig Ziglar, Michael Hyatt, Dave Ramsey, and Dean Graziosi who seem like they have the balance a little more. They definitely sacrifice a level of family time by putting their kids in school or daycare, and traveling from time to time, but communication and staying conscious of the family needs is vitally important.

  4. Just of another example of how hard work pays off.  Also about thinking about the customer and not the money.  Too many people get into business for the wrong reasons.  Also too many dont understand the will and determination it takes.  This was a great example and could easily be used as an example.   Great article that everyone should read.

    1. Hi Dale! Glad you enjoyed the article. I think Estee Lauder was a great example of amazing work ethic and the payoff.

  5. This is a very inspiring article. I always like true stories of people like this. It is always interesting to read articles like this and see if I can use that inspiration in my own life and in my own business. 

    Looking at some of the guerrilla marketing tactics that you mentioned in your article that she used years ago, they seem quite tame to me today. It is amazing that in her time, they were considered leading edge. I wonder what marketers 20 to 30 years ago will think of today’s guerrilla marketing tactics. 🙂  

    1. Hi David!

      I’m glad you enjoy stories of successful entrepreneurs. You should check out our full series “Success Tips from Successful Entrepreneurs”.  There’s some really good tips there. 

      Regarding Lauder’s guerilla marketing…

      Nowadays, there’s alot of emphasis on the internet, so many people are forgetting about the old school guerilla marketing and how effective it can be at the grassroots level of a business.

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