From a Dream to an Empire: The Elizabeth Arden Story

August 26th, 2021 by dayat Leave a reply »

Born during the 1880′s, without any formal form of education, in 1907 Florence Nightingale Graham, a young woman with determination and a desire to better her way of life, left her family’s small agricultural farmstead in Canada with its hardship and limited amenities, and made her way to New York. That was the time when it was still unheard of for a woman to have a career and stockings were darned to make them last longer. If women did work, it was usually with nursing or doing some menial office tasks.

Finding herself a job as a cashier at the salon of Mrs Eleanor Adair on 5th Avenue, Florence encouraged Mrs Adair to teach her how to apply beauty treatments and she enthusiastically became a fast learner. When she felt she had enough knowledge to venture on her own, she left Mrs Adair’s employ. Having met a Mrs Elizabeth Hubbard (Harriet Hubbard Ayer Cosmetics) they teamed up to rent rooms on the third floor of a brownstone at 509 5th Avenue and 42nd St. Being near to the fashion house of Bergdorf Goodman, and the Del Monico restaurant, the location for attracting the smart moneyed clientele was perfect; the business blossomed immediately.

About six months later, the partnership ended and Florence kept up the lease of the premises. She immediately changed the name of the salon, keeping Elizabeth, the name of her former partner, and chose Arden for the rest. (Arden from a Tennyson poem featuring Enoch Arden) so the cosmetic brand and empire of Elizabeth Arden was founded, and is still today, 2014, famed worldwide, with the treatment salons all having the same ‘red door’ entrance.

Elizabeth Arden as now named, was a survivor, hard worker and a difficult and demanding person to work for, as her ideas were adamant and had to obeyed. Tolerance was not one of her assets! It is not confirmed how she obtained money for starting her beauty business but it is thought she borrowed it from an uncle in Pennsylvania. In those days, the banks certainly would never give a loan to a single woman without substantial collateral.

Making up her jars of stock in a laboratory behind her salon, she believed as well that the way of packaging products was a crucial part of the business. With success came the idea of expansion, and she opened a little branch in Washington DC. With a need to gain further knowledge and innovation from the salons of London and Paris, she set sail for Europe in 1912.

Going from strength to strength, opening more and more salons across the globe, gaining friends and acquaintances with the rich and famous and living a lifestyle that was lavish to the extreme. Her one great love was her horses and her signature perfume of “Blue Grass” representing the blue grass of Kentucky, was popular well into the 1990′s.

Elizabeth Arden died during the 1960′s leaving behind her a beauty empire and knowledge that vision and inspiration are possible to achieve for any female entrepreneur by dreaming and then striving to successfully attain their goal.

My name is Gloria Herman and I find that writing about the happenings around us is very inspirational and a tonic for the soul. Life is so interesting and I find that I can can never gain enough knowledge.

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