Elizabeth Arden biography
Elizabeth Arden was born in Canada in 1884. She opened her first salon in New York City in 1910. Arden was instrumental in making the use of cosmetics respectable. By 1915, she was selling her products internationally, and her company was on its way to becoming a global brand. Arden died at the age of 81 in 1966. At the time of her death, there were 100 Elizabeth Arden salons around the world.
Early Life and Career
Elizabeth Arden was born Florence Nightingale Graham on December 31, 1884, in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. Graham grew up on a farm, raised by a family that didn't have much money. She studied nursing—becoming interested in the lotions used in burn treatments—and worked as a secretary for a short time before emigrating from Canada.
In 1908, Graham settled in New York City, where she landed a job as an assistant to a beautician named Eleanor Adair. Graham then invested $1,000 to start a salon with a partner, Elizabeth Hubbard, in 1910. Their business was located on Fifth Avenue.
Creating a Global Brand
Graham's partnership with Hubbard soon dissolved, but she opted to remain in the beauty industry. Graham also began using the same name as her salon: Elizabeth Arden. Working to grow her business, Arden had a team of hired chemists develop a face cream and lotion in 1914. These became the first items in her line of beauty products.
At the time that Arden was starting out, makeup was more associated with prostitutes than with respectable women. Arden devised a marketing campaign to change the public's view of beauty products. Helping Arden was the fact that as the close-up became a feature in movies, makeup became more socially acceptable.
By 1915, Arden's brand was expanding internationally. She established a Parisian salon in 1922; others followed in South America and Australia. The company managed to flourish during the Great Depression; during the 1930s, it brought in more than $4 million a year. In 1946, Arden became the first woman to grace the cover of TIME magazine.
In addition to being an entrepreneur, Arden was a suffragette. In 1912, she participated with 15,000 women in a march for women's rights. Suffragettes at the march wore red lipstick as a sign of solidarity—lipstick that was supplied by Arden.
Arden paved the way for many beauty products that are now commonplace, including travel-sized items. Additionally, she was the first to offer in-store makeovers. Arden also operated several high-end spas, where clients could retreat from the world to be pampered and receive beauty treatments.
Much of Arden's drive stemmed from her competition with Polish beauty entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein. Despite never meeting in person, the two women worked to outdo each other in the development of new products.
Given her wealth, Arden also branched out to owning racehorses. She cared for her horses with the same attentiveness that she brought to her human clients. In 1947, an Arden thoroughbred named Jet Pilot won the Kentucky Derby.
Death and Legacy
Arden died in New York City on October 18, 1966. It was only after her death that the public learned she had been 81. She had withheld her age to give the impression of timeless beauty.
With hard work and skill, Arden had turned her company into one of the most recognized and successful brands in the world. Upon her death, Arden had opened more than 100 salons worldwide and had a line with approximately 300 cosmetic products. The company was purchased by Eli Lilly for $38 million in 1971; in 2012, its value was estimated at $1.3 billion.