Lauder, Estée, 1908?–2004, American cosmetics company founder, b. Corona, Queens, N.Y., as Josephine Esther Mentzer. The daughter of immigrants, she married Joseph Lauter (later changed to Lauder) in 1930, and the two began selling adaptations of her chemist uncle's face-care products. They opened concessions in beauty salons and hotels and in 1946 founded Estée Lauder, Inc. Lacking a large advertising budget, the company distributed free samples at fashion shows and by mail, a promotion strategy that proved extremely successful. In 1953 the company added Youth-Dew, a fragrant bath oil, to its offerings, and sales soared. During the following decades a number of other popular product lines, e.g., Aramis, Clinique, Origins, and Aveda, swelled both her roster of potions and perfumes and her company's coffers. Meanwhile, from 1948 on she had personally launched outlets in many better American department stores and in 1960 had initiated international sales. By 1995, when the company went public, it grossed in the billions of dollars, making her one of America's richest women. Lauder and her husband were also active philanthropists.
See her autobiography (1985).