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WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

Do you know of a great woman in engineering that should be recognized? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add her to the blog. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

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Woman of the Week – Elizabeth Arden

Posted March 13, 2017 4:30 PM by lmno24

You probably recall Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door perfume as a signature scent in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the woman behind the iconic perfume made great strides in terms of the science and innovation behind modern cosmetics.

Arden was born in 1878 in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. Her parents had emigrated to Canada from Cornwall, United Kingdom in the 1870s. Her father, William Graham, was Scottish and her mother, Susan, was Cornish and had arranged for a wealthy aunt in Cornwall to pay for her children's education. Her parents encouraged nursing school, but she later dropped out. But, that is where her interest in cosmetics began; she took a fascination with the creams and lotions used to treat burns.

She moved to New York City with her brother and took a job as a bookkeeper for the E. R. Squibb Pharmaceuticals Company. While there, Arden spent hours in their lab, learning about skincare. Once she gained some experience, she opened a business with Elizabeth Hubbard, another culturist. Arden’s birth name, Florence Nightingale Graham was too long and pricey to put on a salon sign, so they decided upon a pen name of Elizabeth Arden. A nearby farm held the Arden namesake, which she liked, and bestowed it upon the Red Door salon, a name associated with her legacy to this day.

During her time, makeup was more associated with prostitutes than with respectable women. But she wanted to change that. Arden devised a marketing campaign to change the public's view of beauty products, and give it more of a lady-like image. The film industry also began to incorporate the close-up more frequently, which helped society begin to accept the use of cosmetic products.

Arden collaborated with A. Fabian Swanson, a chemist, to create a “fluffy” face cream. The success of the cream, called Venetian Cream Amoretta, and corresponding lotion, named Arden Skin Tonic, led to a long-lasting business relationship. Arden also introduced modern eye makeup to the United States. Her approach to skin scare as a scientist and health-based tactic helped her career take off. Many saw her products as a way to preserve youth and to take care of oneself. Her tactics revolutionized cosmetics, bringing a scientific approach to the formulations as well to prevent wrinkles and other things that happen to skin as you age.

She learned from people in Parisian beauty salons how to formulate rouges and tinted powders, which became a staple in her namesake collection.

By 1915, Arden's brand was expanding and she began to make sales on the international market. In 1922, she established a Parisian salon; and later opened businesses in South America and Australia as well. By the 1930s, the company was doing so well that it even managed to flourish during the Great Depression, bringing in more than $4 million a year.

In her salons and through her marketing campaigns, Arden stressed teaching women how to apply makeup to look natural, but emphasized it as a way to tie together a look. She also developed the first travel-size beauty products, and was the first in the cosmetics business to train and send out a team of traveling demonstrators and saleswomen. Her signature red lipstick became the perfect accessory for women serving in the armed forces in World War II, as it coordinated with the uniforms.

Her approach was never to mask one’s natural beauty, but instead preserve it and take care of it. She promoted the idea of “Total Beauty” – to take care of your skin, diet, fitness and mind. It was the idea of putting your best self forward and inspiring self confidence that had rarely been seen before her time and likely attributed to her success.

Her list of beauty innovations is lengthy. Her entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring. Though to some cosmetics and beauty products are frivolous, her approach is for reasons we can’t argue – that doing something for yourself is important.



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