Monday, October 3, 2011

The Bedroom Beauty Bar

We have the French to thank for the word entrepreneur. Unfortunately, we also have them to thank for the word bureaucratie, one of the two major killers of the entrepreneurial spirit, the other being the frivolous lawsuit, for which we have only ourselves and our legal system to blame hélas!

You’ve all heard the stories -- a little girl’s lemonade stand set up on her front lawn to raise money for pediatric cancer is shut down by the police because she needs a business license, peddler’s permit and food permit to operate, even on her own property.

The blizzard of government regulations that have blanketed businesses in just the last few years alone have many small business owners wondering if the American dream of owning your own business is still worth pursuing, let alone possible to achieve.

Is that “can do,” “where there’s a will there’s a way” entrepreneurial American spirit really in danger of becoming one more item on the list of “Things That Aren’t There Anymore?”

According to an article in the WSJ “Mixing Makeup for the Webcam” the next generation of budding beauty entrepreneurs, à la Estée Lauder, can be found right now in the bedrooms of America’s teen-aged girls.

In pink-and-white bedrooms across the country an array of beauty products competes for space with lacy pillows and stuffed animals as these self-proclaimed beauty gurus demonstrate for friends and increasing numbers of fans via webcam how to mix your own makeup and skin care products and custom blend colors that are just right for you.

Call me as “corny as Kansas in August,” but this makes my heart sing with “can do” optimism. These young girls are stepping up to the realities of tough economic times and saying, “Hey, I don’t need to spend a fortune on makeup to look my best. I can do it myself and for a lot less, thank you very much. Just watch me!” And their young fans are watching them by the thousands. I have always believed that not following directions can take you to much more interesting places. Just because it says a product is for “this” doesn’t mean it can’t be used for “that,” n’est-ce pas? Yes, Pa.” And I say, “You Go, Girls!”

Estée’s uncle was a chemist who specialized in beauty products and fragrances for women.

Drawn to his business, after graduating from high school she devoted herself entirely to Uncle John’s business. Her flair not only for naming products (e.g., Super Rich All-Purpose Cream and Dr. Schotz Viennese Cream), but for marketing and selling them to beauty salons and shops was so successful that she soon secured valuable counter space at one of New York’s most prestigious department stores, Saks Fifth Avenue.

It was at Saks that she would perfect the personal, hands-on style of selling that would make her an American success story. And with the introduction of her most popular fragrance, Youth Dew, a bath oil and perfume in one bottle, her international reputation was secured.

Could Estée Lauder have created her wildly successful and enduring international beauty empire with the same indefatigable energy, enthusiasm, intelligence, audacity and sublime chutzpah inherited from her Jewish immigrant parents if she had to do it all today? If I were a betting woman, and I’m not, I’d put all my chips on Uncle John’s niece.

There’s something in the American soil that makes us keep on trying and keep on hoping. It may lie fallow for a generation or so, but eventually that soil brings forth fruit and a new generation of budding entrepreneurs begins to bloom. Tomorrow’s Estée Lauder may be today’s teenager mixing up a pot of lip gloss in her pink-and-white bedroom. Only time will tell.


  1. When I was little, my best friend's Mom was an Avon lady. She would let us play in the bathroom (easier to clean) with her samples and one of our favourite pasttimes was to be 'mad scientists' mixing up 'miracle beauty creams'. All we really made were messes, but they sure smelled nice! I think the regulations in Britain are probably even worse than in the US (but maybe not as bad as in France); on the other hand, I also think Britain is a kinder place to live...if we could just change the weather!

  2. Gosh, Shelley, you may have truly missed your calling. One of your "messes" might have been the next great beauty breakthrough!!

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. What an inspiring and upbeat perspective and a great article - so encouraging to our youth AND positive. A unique spin. I love this post, M-T, and your insights.

  4. PS Love your Skype service offering! That is new and different and so "now" for the busy, web set!

  5. Thanks, Honeygo Beasley (a/k/a Cynthia), for your comments and for stopping by. I believe young entrepreneurs need all the encouragement they can get. They are the future.

    BTW, followers of my Blog get a discount on my Skype service.


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