She was born Josephine Esther Mentzer, daughter of Hungarian immigrants, and spent her early years in an apartment above her parents' hardware store. She died Estée Lauder, cosmetics mogul, sales innovator and billionaire.
Estée Lauder was selling her chemist uncle's skin care formulations at beauty parlors and spas when, with the help of husband Joseph Lauder in 1948, she decided to take it up a notch. She turned on her famous charm and scored space at a beauty counter at Saks, and those family-made cosmetics became "Estée Lauder."
Through innovative sales and marketing techniques, including giving her richest and most beautiful friends product samples to be seen with, she grew her business into a cosmetics empire that now includes lines like Clinique, Aramis and Prescriptives.
Lauder was the only woman to make Time's list of the 20th century's "Most Influential Business Geniuses."
Up next: Her cookies made her famous.