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Leaders We Love: Estee Lauder

Leaders We Love: Estee Lauder

*This is part of our “Leaders We Love” series. Learn more about it.

The Estee Lauder brand is familiar to almost everyone, everywhere. How did that happen? The credit belongs to Estee herself, the consummate retail salesperson, who had a passion for selling combined with a desire to help women feel beautiful.

Estee Lauder was initially exposed to business ownership when she helped out at her family’s hardware store. She was one of eight children and they worked hard to help make ends meet, all the while learning how to become successful in retail. Soon after high school graduation she became fascinated with her chemist uncle’s company which created and sold beauty products. She followed her passion fueled by enthusiasm, drive and commitment, which she combined with her unique style and sales approach. This proved to be a winning combination and before the age of 30, she co-founded The Estee Lauder Company with her husband.

She garnered so many accolades through her life: In 1985, she was featured in a TV documentary titled “Estee Lauder: The Sweet Smell of Success.” She was also featured in numerous magazine articles and books, but even more substantive and impressive, in 1998 Estee Lauder was the only woman on TIME magazine’s List of the 20 Most Influential Geniuses of the 20th Century. It’s difficult not to admire someone who has achieved so much, but perhaps most telling to me is the comment she made when attempting to explain her success: “I never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something I sell it.” There is no substitute for passion and Estee Lauder was passionate about selling. That is what I most admire Estee Lauder for.

She also deeply cared about providing woman with the resources to look and feel their best and was instrumental in creating virtually every product that came to market. This made it easy for her to sell because she believed in her products and what they would do for women. We diligently work to find the right employees at The Container Store and this passion for selling is one of the most important characteristics in order to ensure we’re helping our customers find the perfect solution for their needs!

So much has been written about this amazing woman. Estee Lauder wrote her autobiography, Estee: A Success Story. However, one book of particular interest to me is Nancy Fowler Koehn’s book Brand New: How Entrepreneurs Earned Consumers’ Trust, which devotes a chapter to Estee Lauder and provides much insight into the traits that propelled her to create and lead one of the biggest cosmetic companies in the world.