A very successful woman once said, “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.”
Do you know who that was?
It was Helena Rubinstein, one of the first self-made female millionaires, as well as the owner of a successful cosmetics company. The topic of ‘self-made’ millionaires is hot these days, and Helena was an entrepreneur who worked hard for her success.
Born in 1870 in Kraków, Poland, Helena was one of eight daughters in a middle-class Jewish family.
Helena briefly studied medicine but wasn’t happy with the work she was doing. In the late 1890s, she decided to live with some family in Australia and moved there with 12 jars of her mother’s beloved face cream in her bags.
When Helena arrived in Australia, she was often admired for her beautiful skin complexion, as many Australian women suffered from sun-damaged skin. Many women wanted to get their hands on the skin cream she had brought with her, and Helena began giving jars of it away until she had the clever idea to open her own shop so she could sell it.
She received financial support from a wealthy woman who adored her cream and opened her first beauty shop in Melbourne. The store became a success as she had facial cream shipped in before eventually beginning to manufacture it herself.
In the early 1900s, Helena put one of her sisters in charge of the Australian shop so she could return to Europe to continue her business venture. She started educating herself in skin treatments and facial care to advance her products. She also studied dermatology in Paris with an expert.
She lived in London, where she met her husband, journalist Edward William Titus in 1908. They eventually had two sons together. Right before they married, she made sure she opened another successful beauty shop in London. Her stores attracted a lot of aristocratic women who had fallen in love with her products.
In the early 1910s, Helena moved to Paris with her family and opened another beauty salon focusing more on herbal products. When World War I broke out, her family knew they needed to leave Europe, so they moved to New York City.
While they were there, she opened another shop called the Maison de Beauté Valaze, which became one of her most successful locations.