Jew of the Week: Estée Lauder

Beauty Queen, Business Genius

Estee Lauder

Estée Mentzer (1908-2004) was born in Queens to Hungarian-Jewish immigrants. She took an early interest in her chemist uncle’s nascent beauty products business. Soon after high school, she began selling some of his concoctions and found success. After marrying Joseph Lauder, the two opened their own cosmetics company and Esther quickly became famous for her ingenious marketing strategies. In 1953 she created a new fragrance – “Youth Dew” – which sold 50,000 bottles that year. By 1984, it sold 150 million. No wonder she was the only woman named to TIME’s list of 20th century business geniuses. She also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her son Ronald Lauder is a fervent activist for Israel and Jewish causes worldwide. In 2007, he was elected president of the World Jewish Congress. For these reasons, Estée Lauder is frequently the focus of anti-Israel boycott groups. Little to these groups know that Estée Lauder encompasses 27 brands including Clinique, Aveda and MAC. Words of wisdom from Esther: “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell hard.” She wasn’t just talking about beauty products.

Words of the Week

King David said, “Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalms 34:15) This means: Seek peace for your friends, and pursue it among your enemies; seek peace where you dwell, and pursue it in all other places; seek peace with your body and pursue it with your all your resources; seek peace for yourself and pursue it for others; seek peace today, and pursue it for tomorrow.
– Sefer Ma’alot HaMiddot