Hello lovelies, after researching the history of makeup, I decided to dive into the women who founded and changed the beauty industry. These women, more or less, are the vintage OG’s of the beauty industry who started the most iconic brands that are still available today.
1. Martha Matilda Harper
Name: Martha Matilda Harper
Dates: September 10, 1857 – August 3, 1950
Legacy: She invited modern retail franchising
Martha started her career as a servant girl and became one of the most highly respected businesswomen of her time. She created huge innovations in the beauty industry. She started her hair salon called The Harper Hair Parlour. She is credited as the first person to set up modern-day franchising. She trained women to open up salons using the Harper Hair Parlor, following her rules. There were over 500 salons around the world by the 1920s, and in addition to creating modern-day franchising, she also invented the reclining shampoo chair that is used every time we go to the hair salon.
2. Madam C.J. Walker
Name: Sarah Breedlove
Dates: December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919
Country: United States
Legacy: She became the first female self-made millionaire in America.
Madam C. J. Walker developed and marketed a line of beauty and hair products for African American women in the 1900s. She initially started selling door to door and then began to train women to become “beauty “culturists by teaching women how to groom and style their hair. She ended up setting up her factory, hair salon, and beauty school where women would learn the art of selling. She earned her fortune while she continued to support women in key management roles. During this time in history, women and women of color had very few opportunities and suffered huge discrimination. Madame C. J. Walker was a true pioneer in the beauty industry.
3. Helena Rubinstein
Name: Chaja Rubinstein
Dates: December 25, 1872 – April 1, 1965
Country: Poland, United States
Legacy: She founded Helena Rubinstein Incorporated.
Helena Rubinstein was a Polish entrepreneur and philanthropist, she started her business career in Australia, distributing a beauty cream that her mother had used. She soon founded a beauty salon and manufactured cosmetics, working hard to expand her business at every turn. Rubinstein opened salons in London and Paris, and when World War I began, she moved to America. Her business soon grew into a global cosmetics empire and created the Helena Rubinstein Foundation in 1953 to fund organizations for children’s health.
4. Elizabeth Arden
Name: Florence Nightingale Graham
Dates: December 31, 1881 – October 18, 1966
Legacy: She founded Elizabeth Arden Inc.
In the first half of the 20th Century, Elizabeth Arden built a cosmetic brand that is still known today. She helped to establish makeup as a thing that was acceptable for all women, where it was previously associated with lower-class women. Elizabeth Arden traveled to Paris to learn about the beauty and created ranges of Rouge and Powders that sold around the world. She has been credited with developing the idea of a ‘Makeover’ and showed women the transformative powers of makeup.
5. Coco Chanel
Name: Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel
Dates: August 19, 1883 – January 10, 1971
Country: Paris, France
Job: Cosmetic entrepreneur
Legacy: She founded Chanel
Coco Chanel is the creator of one of the most iconic brands in history. She made huge innovations in fashion and beauty. Coco Chanel applied the same innovative approach to the development of the Chanel No. 5 fragrance as she did to fashion. She broke from tradition and created a distinctly modern perfume for the times. It was clean, fresh, and used a blend of scents and ingredients that had never been used. It is a fragrance that has lasted through the ages and was the first of many iconic beauty products from Chanel. Coco Chanel was a business innovator who created a brand that redefined femininity, in both fashion and beauty.
6. Estée Lauder
Name: Josephine Esther Mentzer
Dates: July 1, 1906 – April 24, 2004
Country: United States
Legacy: She co-founded Estee Lauder Companies.
Estée Lauder was named one of Time Magazine’s top 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th Century. She started by selling four products, and now her legacy is a huge multinational corporation and owns 28 beauty companies. She was the most powerful woman in the business of the 20th Century. With her grandaughters Aerin and Jane still having a huge day to day involvement with the company, Estée Lauder gave women in business someone to look up to.