Helena Rubinstein- Business Leader, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur. Helena Rubinstein always strived to make the most of women’s beauty. She considered beauty a means to power and seduction, reflecting intelligence and education, and it was to direct all she did. She devoted her life to it, building a veritable empire around beauty.
“There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.”- Helena Rubinstein
Helena Rubinstein (1872–1965) was an entrepreneur and philanthropist born on December 25, 1872, in Krakow, Poland where she studied at University Of Krakow.
In 1902, 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. Helena Rubinstein opened a factory in Saint Cloud, where she worked with a team of chemists to develop even more complex creams that would protect skin from the effects of ageing. She also produced make-up there: a blusher for cheeks and a tinted powder to mattify the face. In under two years, she had Paris at her feet. Three of her sisters were working with her and she supported her family back in Poland. Her New York salon opened just before the First World War, providing a sumptuous setting where art and fashion mingled with skincare and beauty. It was an instant hit and the brand’s fame soon spread across America.
In 1908 she married an American journalist and they had two sons. They opened up in New York City in 1915 and Helena started branches all across the United States. Hollywood movie stars including Theda Bara and Pola Negri regularly consulted her and bought her products. The publicity’s effect on sales was electric.
Pint-sized, dominating and intensely competitive, Helena knew that women did not want beauty on the cheap. The higher the prices, the more they bought. She and her business rivals – she spent years in a ferocious feud with Elizabeth Arden – sold to women at all social levels who would never previously have bought beauty products. In 1928 Helena sold her American business to Lehman Brothers for $7.3 million, but then the stock market crashed and she bought it back for only $1.5 million.
Helena Rubinstein was an acute observer of social trends. She saw the changes coming and she was ready for them. In 1958 she invented, first, waterproof mascara, then the automatic mascara.
Business success was not matched in her private life and she felt deeply guilty for concentrating so much on her work. She knew she had neglected her children and she and her persistently unfaithful husband divorced in 1937. She then married an impoverished Russian prince, who died in 1956.
By the time she died in New York in 1965, the 93-year-old had built up a huge beauty empire. Although the Helena Rubinstein brand was sold to L’Oréal in 1988, it remains anchored in its founder’s values: science in the service of beauty, women’s liberation, and the audacity to rewrite the rules. Helena Rubinstein’s association with Laclinic-Montreux naturally continues to link the brand to the scientific community.
Her beauty business grew into a worldwide cosmetics empire, and she eventually created the Helena Rubinstein Foundation in 1953 to fund organizations for children’s health.
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