Business Lessons from Women Who Define the Beauty Industry

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Throughout the years, many iconic women have shaped our perception of beauty, influencing the purchases we make to achieve that perception.

Through hard work, drive and innovation, these women have forged new paths, built empires and become some of the most successful entrepreneurs who ever lived. Known for their beauty and brains, these women have used their business and marketing savvy to conquer the world.

What advice do they have for aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs? Read on to find out or skip ahead to our infographic below!

Elizabeth Arden

business advice from elizabeth arden

Canadian-born Elizabeth opened her first New York City salon in 1910. Capitalizing on the post-depression reemergence of the beauty industry, she contributed to the modern cosmetics industry by becoming the sole owner of her self-named $60 million business. Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics is still a household name.

Helena Rubinstein

business advice from helena rubenstein

In the early 1900’s, Helena began distributing beauty cream in Australia. Soon after, she founded a beauty and cosmetics salon with offices in London and Paris.

After expanding to the United States, she single-handedly revolutionized the beauty industry with the invention of the first waterproof mascara, the first preventative anti-aging cream, the first lifting cream and many other cosmetics. Her company was later bought by L’óreal Cosmetics.

Madame C.J. Walker

business advice from madam cj walker

During a time when women (especially women of color) had few opportunities, Madame C.J. Walker became the first female self-made millionaire in America.

In 1910, she developed and marketed a line of beauty and hair products for African American women. She soon built a large company that included a factory, hair salon, beauty school and cosmetic sales school. After making her fortune, she continued to support other women by giving them key management roles and advancement options within the company.

Estée Lauder

business advice from estee lauder

Queens-born Estée worked with her chemist uncle to develop innovative skincare products and lotions. She created her first fragrance, Youth Dew in 1953 and the rest is history.

She was immensely successful founding Estée Lauder Cosmetics and went on to become one of the wealthiest self-made female entrepreneurs in America. Estée Lauder Cosmetics is still thriving today.

Coco Chanel

business advice from coco chanel

Most people know Coco from her signature perfume, Chanel No. 5 and her famous fashion house. Her contributions to fashion and the beauty industry were huge — inspiring women to be themselves and feel beautiful in their own skin.

Her clothes were more comfortable than those of other fashion houses at the time, allowing women to move freely. Her legacy lives on today in House of Chanel.

Bobbi Brown

business advice from bobbi brown

As the owner of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Bobbi ushered in a new era of makeup. In the 1980s she pioneered the “natural” look, a stark contrast to the brightly-colored makeup of the time. In the 90s she launched her line of no-fuss makeup, which helped her gain national notoriety. Bobbi Brown was later acquired by Estée Lauder for a significant amount of money.

Michelle Phan

business advice from michelle phan

Famous for her Youtube makeup tutorials, Michelle Phan brings makeup and beauty to a new demographic. When her channel launched in 2007, she was one of the first to use DIY, narrated content to generate a following and influence the world of fashion and beauty.

She’s collaborated with Lancome and L’Oreal and her beauty subscription service, Ipsy, has been valued at $500 million by Forbes.


business advice from rhianna

Not only is Rihanna one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, but she can now add fashion and beauty mogul to that list. Her cosmetics brand, Fenty, generated sales of over $72 million within its first month of release. The line has been praised for its inclusivity, offering a wide range of shades for people of color and marketing to all genders.

Kylie Jenner

business advice from kylie jenner

Recently named the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, Kylie got her start on the reality TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Since then, she’s carved her own way in the world with the launch of Kylie Cosmetics and its famous lip kits.

Kylie Cosmetics now covers all of the bases when it comes to makeup and she still manages to find time to co-manage a fashion line with her sister, Kendall.

Emily Weiss

business advice from emily weiss

Emily got her start as an intern at Teen Vogue and started gaining notoriety when she appeared as a character on The Hills. After that, she started her own beauty review website called Into the Gloss which gained a strong following for its honest reviews and high-level interviews. Her biggest accomplishment to date, however, is launching cult beauty line Glossier, which sells everything from skincare to cosmetics.

Now that you know the strong women behind many of your favorite beauty products, you can take their advice and make your own mark on the world. If you feel like you need an extra boost of confidence, try a designer perfume and smell amazing all day!

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