A Bold New Face
October 18, 2017
Go Out and Make Your Mark ~ Elizabeth Arden
Our mission is to help women look and feel their best; to walk out our doors a little taller, a little stronger, a little bolder. We come from a strong heritage, a brand rooted in trailblazing and swagger, started by Elizabeth Arden when the odds were against her. We draw from Ms. Arden's legacy and what we believe is most important: expertise and human connection. That’s what makes “tall, strong, and bold” happen.
Florence Nightingale Graham, who would later become Elizabeth Arden, was one of five children, raised by immigrant parents on a small farm outside Toronto. At six, she lost her mother to tuberculosis. At 17, she dropped out of high school.
She soon enrolled in nursing school but quickly learned she hated it. During her time there, however, Florence met a biochemist who was developing a medicinal skin cream that would help treat topical wounds and skin blemishes. This was the first spark to Arden’s own journey in skin care.
She quit nursing and started experimenting with formulas at home, using the family kitchen as her laboratory. Her attempts weren’t met with success and her father gave Florence an ultimatum — get married or get a job. Florence got a job.
She pursued work as a receptionist, bank teller, and secretary but never felt she was getting anywhere. At 26, she moved to New York where she would go on to conquer the world.
"That is a big word — LIFE. Just four little letters, but it is IN YOUR POWER to do anything you want with them."
Apprentice to Owner
Florence found work as a cashier in a salon where she researched everything she could about skin care. She studied how products were advertised, visited rival salons, and observed facial techniques. Florence began administering facials herself and was promoted from cashier to “skin treatment girl.”
In researching the market, she met Elizabeth Hubbard, her first business partner. They opened a shop on Fifth Avenue and painted the door bright red so it would stand out from the elite shops and department stores. Initially the two worked well together, Elizabeth developing product lines and Florence managing marketing. They soon began to disagree on how to operate the business and, after 6 months, Hubbard left.
The sign in the salon window read “Mrs. Elizabeth Hubbard.” Florence now had exclusive rights and chose to keep the name Elizabeth, partly to save money. She added "Arden" after her favorite Tennyson poem, "Enoch Arden" and, thus, Florence Graham became Elizabeth Arden.
"I hope you’ll forgive me if I do not take too seriously the question. Do women belong in business? Really, that question was settled a long time ago. Women are in business. They will remain in business. I have never found that I have been handicapped in business because I am a woman."
Arden knew branding. From the pink satin bows on her bottles and jars to her advertisements in Vogue, she created a name for herself. Quite literally. She was the first person to put her name on a product with the launch of Elizabeth Arden’s Ardena Skin Tonic.
Her hands touched every aspect of what was an untapped market and her business-savvy grew. She introduced cosmetics to women when it wasn't accessible (or acceptable) and educated them on diligent skin care, nutrition, and fitness. Active in the suffrage movement, Arden supplied 15,000 suffragettes with red lipstick as a sign of solidarity during the suffrage march. Her motivation was not purely political. It was also a smart way to promote her business to consumers. Arden created a global brand so successful, it flourished during the Great Depression, bringing in more than $4 million a year.
"It's remarkable what a woman can accomplish with just a little ambition."
The Dust Never Settles
That same vitality that Arden possessed is carried out today. The Red Door has been in continuous operation since the day Elizabeth Arden opened its doors on Fifth Avenue, experimenting with formulas, pioneering new technologies, and researching every technique, all while keeping the bigger picture close at heart. At the core of everything we do lives Arden's message — to help women look and feel their best.