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5 Timeless Lessons Modern Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Estée Lauder 

Estée Lauder's emphasis on quality and dedication to her craft sets an example for female entrepreneurs today. 

From humble beginnings as a young woman with a dream of building a cosmetics empire, Estée Lauder became a trailblazing entrepreneur who transformed the beauty industry. As the founder of one of the world’s most renowned luxury cosmetics companies, Lauder’s story is inspirational and offers valuable insights for female entrepreneurs today. Her unwavering determination, innovative marketing strategies, and commitment to quality are just a few lessons modern businesswomen can learn from Estée Lauder. 

Never underestimate any woman’s desire for beauty. 

Estée Lauder

Passion for the product 

Lauder’s fascination with cosmetics began during her teenage years, thanks to her uncle, a chemist who created skin creams and serums. He taught her various recipes, application techniques and product benefits. Lauder leveraged this knowledge by selling their creations to her school friends, laying the foundation for her future business endeavors. 

Emphasis on quality 

With her entrepreneurial approach, Lauder wasn’t only focused on making a quick profit. She felt deeply committed to producing high-quality products and educating people about improving their skin, which became her ultimate goal. This dedication to her craft and customers uniquely set her apart in the beauty industry. 

estee lauder in a vivid print from yves saint laurent puts todays face on customer 2
Estee Lauder, in a vivid print from Yves Saint Laurent…” by Bill Sauro was provided to the Library of Congress.


Lauder traveled to local beauty parlors to demonstrate her products directly to the women sitting under the hair dryers. This tactic increased her visibility and built a consumer base. Like many budding entrepreneurs, she only launched with a bit of money. Unable to afford a manufacturing facility, she hand-cooked her products in the kitchen of a former restaurant.  

Ambition and persistence 

Estée Lauder started with a dream and refused to give up despite numerous obstacles. She faced rejection and used her creativity to find new ways to promote her brand and products. 

Vision for luxury 

From the beginning, Lauder aimed to create a luxury brand, and she persisted in getting her products into high-end stores despite multiple rejections. She understood the importance of branding and creating a unique value proposition to stand out in a crowded market. Lauder took it upon herself to repeatedly call and wait outside executive offices for entire days. This method eventually paid off, as her consistency convinced Saks 5th Avenue to place an order. 

The luxury department store chain’s initial order of Estée Lauder sold out in two business days. 

Looking for advice on how to connect with your ideal customer through effective messaging? Read You Talkin’ to Me? by Orly Zeewy.

Innovative marketing 

Lauder’s marketing strategies were ahead of her time. As she sought advertising, agencies continuously refused to work with her. So, she invested the advertisement budget into producing samples, which originated the “free gift with purchase” concept, which has since become a standard in the industry. Additionally, she recognized the power of word-of-mouth marketing and continued offering free demonstrations of her products. According to Estée Lauder Companies, “Estée attended the opening of virtually every new store and stayed for a week to instruct her beauty advisors on sales techniques and merchandise display. Always stylish and well-dressed, she crossed the country to meet with store buyers and beauty editors and to talk to consumers. She was a one-person research department.” 

“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” 

Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder was a visionary who never lost sight of her passion for skincare or settled on her goal of becoming a luxury brand. Her dedication to building personal connections with her consumers led to her company becoming an industry powerhouse. Lauder’s story is a testament to the power of determination, creativity and innovation in the face of adversity. Her emphasis on quality and dedication to her craft sets an example for female entrepreneurs today. 

About the author

Autumn Delorey

Autumn Delorey is a recent graduate of UMass Amherst with a degree in journalism and public relations. She is currently interning at Carlton PR & Marketing and is excited to expand her knowledge on female entrepreneurship and share her insights with the Lioness contributor team.

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