The legacy of astute businesswoman, Evelyn H. Lauder, lives in the hearts of many. As the founder of The Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Lauder literally placed breast cancer awareness and early detection on the map. Not only a philanthropist, but most of all, a guiding spirit—as many named celebrities remember, “Her head was clearly in the business, but her heart was in helping others.” She reinvented the sphere of fund-raising, as well as patient care and scientific research. She surely endured comprehensiveness as the work of a true visionary. In our Not So Typical Beauty Issue, we honor Lauder’s business of helping others, recount notable steps with Elizabeth Hurley, Estée Lauder and The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign Spokesmodel, and serve to keep Lauder’s gifted message alive, despite the month on the calendar.
The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of quality skincare, makeup, fragrance, and hair care products. The Company’s products are sold in over 150 countries and territories under the following brand names: Estée Lauder, Aramis, Clinique, Prescriptives, Lab Series, Origins, M·A·C, Bobbi Brown, Tommy Hilfiger, Kiton, La Mer, Donna Karan, Aveda, Jo Malone, Bumble and bumble, Darphin, Michael Kors, American Beauty, Flirt!, GoodSkin Labs, Grassroots Research Labs, Sean John, Missoni, Daisy Fuentes, Tom Ford, Coach, Ojon, and Smashbox.
One of the most recognized elements of The Estée Lauder Companies is not a brand itself; however, their much acclaimed Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign, which has made worldwide headlines for the past 20 years. Since its inception, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) has raised over $315 million—approximately $36 million in one fiscal year alone. The BCA Campaign and BCRF may seem as though they are one and the same. However, BCA Campaign and The BCRF are two separate entities.
The common thread, of course, is Evelyn H. Lauder (1936-2011), who was the Senior Corporate Vice President of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and the Founder and Chairman of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. BCRF is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to funding innovative clinical and translational research. The Estée Lauder Companies’ BCA Campaign is a corporate campaign committed to raising awareness for breast health and raising funds for research supported by BCRF. And, the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. is BCRF’s largest corporate donor. In November 12, 2011, surrounded by her family in New York City, BCA and BCRF founder Evelyn H. Lauder passed away due to complications of ovarian cancer. She was an articulate, outspoken dynamo. An astute businesswoman, skilled sportswoman and talented photographer, she was also an ardent activist and philanthropist, and a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother.
After her death, Women’s Wear Daily published: “Despite her wealth and prestige, Lauder remained down-to-earth and approachable, serving as a mentor for many within the company. She recalled that her mother-in-law had done the same for her, passing on valuable business advice while they worked together. The most important lesson I learned was to do whatever you need to do yesterday,” she recalled in 2002. “Having been in academic, that was not my speed. But it became my speed—quickly.” Lauder also refused to rest on her laurels. “You always have to be dissatisfied. If you are completely happy, you’re complacent, and that’s not good.”
Born in Vienna, Austria, her parents rescued her when they fled the Nazi annexation, first by living in Belgium for three months and then in England during the Blitz. When the ship bringing them to the United States arrived in New York Harbor, Lauder’s mother woke Evelyn to see the Statue of Liberty, so she would remember the sight for the rest of her life. Evelyn Lauder’s remarkable life is an American success story.
Evelyn Lauder attended New York City public schools. As a college freshman, she was introduced to Leonard A. Lauder, the son of Estée and Joseph Lauder, owners of a then little-known cosmetics startup company. Following her attendance at Hunter College in New York City, Lauder taught public school. In 1959, shortly after her marriage to Leonard Lauder, now Chairman Emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies, Evelyn Lauder was persuaded to join the family business by her mother-in-law, Mrs. Estée Lauder. Her teaching background was an excellent springboard for one of her earliest projects, the creation of the Company’s brand training programs.
When the Company began creative work on what would become Clinique in 1968, Lauder created the name Clinique. In 1989, she assumed the role of Senior Corporate Vice President and Head of Fragrance Development Worldwide. Her personal experience with early stage breast cancer in 1987 led her, in 1992, to co-create with Alexandra Penney, then Editor-in-Chief of SELF Magazine, the Pink Ribbon, which today has become the ubiquitous symbol for breast health. The mission of The BCA Campaign is to spread awareness about the importance of breast health and the message that early detection saves lives, as well as to raise funds to directly benefit breast cancer research.
During the month of October (National Breast Cancer Awareness Month), many of the Company’s brands sell Pink Ribbon products to raise awareness and raise funds to support BCRF, and distribute Pink Ribbons and other materials at counters. Every year, Evelyn Lauder and Elizabeth Hurley, Spokesperson for Estée Lauder and The BCA Campaign, traveled around the world raising awareness and funds for research at personal appearance events. The Company also hosts bake sales, golf tournaments, and other special employee-driven fundraising events.
An additional element of The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign is the highly successful Global Landmark Illuminations Initiative, where major landmarks are bathed in pink light to serve as symbols of hope and awareness. Since the initiative began in 2000, more than 600 unique buildings, monuments, and landmarks around the world have been illuminated, inspiring, and motivating people year after year to get a mammogram or seek information about breast health.
Today, Elizabeth Hurley is in her 19th year of representing Estée Lauder as a spokesmodel, making it one of the world’s longest running beauty contracts. Before becoming a mom, Hurley made more than two dozen movies. Her personal favorites are Austin Powers with Mike Myers, Bedazzled with Brendan Fraser, and The Weight of Water with Sean Penn. She also produced several movies starring former boyfriend, Hugh Grant, under their jointly owned Simian Films production company.
Hurley toured the United States and other parts of the world with Evelyn Lauder, raising funds and awareness for BCRF. She has illuminated many worldwide Landmark buildings pink and was honored in October 2009 by the Foundation and was awarded the Humanitarian Award for her fund raising efforts. Two research scientists at the Royal Marsden hospital in the UK have grants in her name. Estée Lauder has named several special limited-edition pink lipsticks after her, Elizabeth Pink and Elizabeth Shimmer Pink. Interestingly enough, she owns a 400-acre organic farm in Gloucestershire and sells her rare breed meat to top London restaurants and local Farmer’s Markets. She launched her range of low calorie, organic snack bars in Harrods, London, and they are now sold in numerous health stores and resorts.
Q: You’ve traveled around the globe for many years with the late Evelyn Lauder, supporting The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign. Why are you so passionate? In her lifetime, Evelyn Lauder was a vibrant, inspirational and passionate leader in the movement to raise awareness globally about the importance of breast health and early detection in saving lives. Just after I started as an Estée Lauder model in 1995, Evelyn asked me to help her with The BCA Campaign, and we became good friends. My grandmother had recently died of breast cancer, so it was a cause very close to my heart. This is a disease that knows no boundaries and does not discriminate, touching everyone in every country around the world. Thankfully, in the U.S. and Europe, breast cancer is no longer spoken about only behind closed doors or in fearful whispers. However, in many areas of the world, awareness lags dangerously far behind, and stigma and access to quality care remain critical issues. Even with extensive education, many women fail to have potentially life-saving mammograms, eat healthy foods or get sufficient rest and exercise. It is important that we join together to encourage women to keep talking about this among themselves and with their doctors. We support the American Cancer Society’s recommendation that women 40 years and older see their doctors regularly and get a mammogram every year. As Evelyn used to say, “Knowledge is power,” and I believe that knowledge includes knowing your own body as well as the facts about maintaining good health and preventing illness. It’s why I am dedicated to spreading awareness around the world. On a personal level, it is extremely rewarding to work on The BCA Campaign, and I know that my grandmother would be very proud to see me carry out Evelyn’s mission by serving as a voice for breast health and early detection.
Q: What makes you proud of being a spokesperson for The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign?
It’s very moving for us when we visit different cities around the world and meet so many people who have been affected by breast cancer in one way or another. Often it will be women who have breast cancer, or have had breast cancer, or have family members who have either survived breast cancer or sadly have not survived breast cancer. Sometimes men are also in line, and when this happens, there is a very good chance that their mother, wife, girlfriend or even they themselves have been stricken by the disease. It is very powerful to meet these people and see firsthand their inner strength. It makes us realize over and over again that our goal for reaching as many people with our awareness message and raising as much money as possible to find a cure is helping, and at some point this will be a thing of the past.
For more of the interview with Elizabeth Hurley, order your copy of the October/November issue here.