Exclusive Interview: Meet the Woman Behind a Billion Dollar Biz

As the granddaughter of Estée Lauder, the co-founder of the cosmetics company Estée Lauder Companies, Jane Lauder grew up on the front lines of the beauty industry. Today she serves Clinique as Global Brand President. 

"It’s my aesthetic," Lauder shares of the iconic American brand. "It’s so simple but so incredibly effective." Working with such an iconic brand can be challenging, but Lauder maintains that “when my grandmother started this company and for her it was always about quality. Quality never goes out of style. Brands come and rise up, but people always come back to quality." 

"Quality never goes out of style."

Tweet this.

Prior to her leadership role with Clinique, she oversaw the Origins, Ojon and Darphin brands. Under her leadership, Origins, grew significantly and expanded globally. And yet, she's returned to her Clinique roots, the brand she first worked with when joining the company in 1996. 

"It’s always modern. It never feel dated, it always feels relevant," she says. "I've always loved the simplicity. It looks so simple but everything going on underneath is what makes it so impactful. It’s kind of like your iPhone, it looks so chic but it’s all the things behind-the-scenes that make it that simple."

Most recently Clinique collaborated with beloved designer Jonathan Adler on #CLINIQUExADLER, an exclusive new makeup collection styled by the design guru. "We are always looking at brands that we want to collaborate with, Lauder says. "Brands that have the same aesthetic and that are great American icon brands." How Clinique decides on partnerships is fairly simple. "We sit as a team and put down on paper the people we think are incredible and would love to work with. Sometimes it works." Adler was top of the list. Beyond his obvious style chops, Lauder notes that Adler's "tiny treasures, big pleasures," idea is what Clinique makeup is all about. (Scroll through the below album for exclusive pics from our Create & Cultivate brunch with Clinique at Jonathan Adler's Shelter Island home.) 

"It’s so important that we’re really listening to what these women want," she explains. "The hardest part about this brand is that people fall in love with a product and they take it super personally if you try and discontinue anything. Even if it’s only 300 people that are buying it, it’s really hard for us to move onto something else. We only discontinue something that we’re sure we're replacing with something better. You never get rid of the classics, but we are constantly thinking about how to make our products better. WE always want to TOP ourselves.”

That includes the collection with Adler. This marks his first foray into beauty. Inspired by '60s pop and Adler's signature geometric and poppy style, Lauder says, the collection includes "A simple silver case that can give you so much pleasure with the right color in it." She also "obsessed" with the brushes, gushing, "I love all the colors and wear all of them, but the brushes, I gotta have those pink brushes." The collection also includes several of Clinique’s best-selling makeup products in standout summer shades. His inspiration? His inspiration? “That iconic Clinique green has always signified freshness,” says Adler. “I wanted the collection to be bright, bold and fresh, and make women feel more glamorous.” Check the limited edition collection out here. (And enter to win a giveaway below.) 

As for the brand, Lauder says, "We’re really trying to figure out who the Clinique customer is— every woman has had a piece of Clinique or used it. We’re noticing that the more mature millennial is our sweet spot-- a lot of women who are now taking care of their skin and going through life changes. They are getting married, having children, working, and there is so much going on in their that they want something that is a simple routine but gives them a remarkable result. Quality and effectiveness, but also that’s real.

Admitting that she had acne as a girl, Lauder knows that, "Skin is super personal and really emotional. When you wake up with great skin it’s really transformational." 

"When you wake up with great skin it’s really transformational."

Tweet this.

And it always comes back to quality. "For us, whenever we’re creating anything it has to be of the highest quality. They have to be collaborators of the highest quality. Whatever we create has our name on the packages. As a company that is the most important thing.”