Helena Rubinstein: Making Up the Modern Woman
This case examines the entrepreneurial career of Helena Rubinstein before 1938. Rubinstein is widely considered the single most important female entrepreneur in the United States in the 20th century. She was born in Poland but immigrated to Australia where she started a cosmetics company. She subsequently moved first to Europe, and then to the United States during World War I, where she engaged with relentless competition in the upscale cosmetics market with her rival Elizabeth Arden. The case examines how Rubinstein created a luxury brand and enables a discussion of the impact of such brands on women. Rubinstein articulated the view that cosmetics were liberating for women, but some of her strategies, such as wearing white coats in many advertisements designed to signal that she was scientifically qualified, can be used to support a more critical view of the beauty industry.