Helena Rubinstein’s Legacy of Opportunity

 All Laboratories are Kitchens
“I’m happiest working in my ‘kitchen,” said Helena Rubinstein in 1958 when she was 87 and still active in her business. She set up her kitchen—i.e., a small laboratory—to make her first face cream. “Even to this day I think of our immense laboratories, of all laboratories, as kitchens.”

Rubinstein was born in Poland on Christmas Day 1870. She moved to Australia at age 18, taking with her 12 jars of her mother’s beauty cream. At that time, the cream was formulated by Jacob Lykusky, a Hungarian chemist and friend of her mother’s. Once in Australia, Rubinstein noticed that the local women had sun- and wind-burned skin. She decided she would open a shop in Melbourne where she could not only sell her cream but also “teach Australian women how to protect their skin and beautify themselves.”

Rubinstein ordered the cream in bulk from Poland, purchased jars and labels in Australia and hand-wrote the labels. The cream originally was called Crème Valaze; her shop, named Maison de Beauté Valaze, was the first beauty shop in Australia. She received rave reviews in the newspapers and her business grew.

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