Lessons in Success from Aerin Lauder, Founder of AERIN

Lessons in Success from Aerin Lauder, Founder of AERIN

This week on How Success Happens, I spoke with Aerin Lauder, the founder and creative director of the global luxury lifestyle brand AERIN, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

As a granddaughter of Estée Lauder, the founder of an eponymous cosmetics brand and a pioneer in the skincare industry, Lauder has been a key player in the growth and success of the family-owned luxury giant and serves as its style and image director.

A multi-hyphenate designer, tastemaker and working mother of two, she has emerged as a distinct voice in beauty, fashion and home décor with her AERIN brand, now available in more than 40 countries.

You can listen to our full conversation above, and below, I’ve included some of my favorite inspirational takeaways from Lauder.

Be creative and entice the customer

My grandmother was my role model — she taught me the importance of hard work, passion, staying true to who you are and being authentic. She was the first kind of entrepreneur and mentor I was ever exposed to. I remember her mixing fragrances at her desk, having piles of first production (samples) at home, and having lunch with buyers and editors. She always said that it was her name on that package, and it has to be the best it can be.

I apply that rule to everything that I do. One of the things that I regret is not having had the opportunity to work with her. I would go to sales meetings and store visits with her, but I never sat in a meeting with her. She would always say, “There’s always business; you just have to look for it,” and I think that’s very important. You have to always be creative and entice the consumer.

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Build a brand experience, not just products

When I first launched AERIN, beauty and home were on a different floor. I felt that there was an opportunity for a lifestyle brand based on heritage storytelling and inspiration from my travels. We launched with five fragrances, a concept of a wardrobe of fragrances that was unique at the time. Today, many brands launch with multiples, but it was quite disruptive at the time.

A few months later, we launched candles. I felt that a cohesive lifestyle concept was something that many people were not doing, but the consumer was looking for. For example, if we’re coming out with a fragrance inspired by the Mediterranean, all other colorways within the other categories of fashion and home also fall into that world. So when you walk into our store, you see this wonderful sensibility that’s consistent across categories — you experience the brand as a whole, in a complete form.

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It’s okay to make mistakes

I think it’s important that if you have any inkling of taking that leap [into entrepreneurship], you have to do it. My son just saw this quote that is so interesting: “Life starts when your comfort level stops.” And obviously, it’s challenging, scary and exciting. If you have any interest in any passion, take a chance and make a change. You have to follow your heart; people will support and help you. It’s okay to make mistakes. I’ve made many mistakes; that’s the only way you live and learn. And it is hard, but at the same time, it’s very, very fulfilling.

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