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Aerin Lauder’s Best Career Advice Came From Her Grandmother

What was your first job where you actually made money?

At the end of high school, beginning of college, I worked at the Museum of Modern Art in the archives. I loved that because I’m very visual and love the arts. My first real job was at Clinique in the design department. That was my first job within the company, and I was completely hooked. I loved beauty. I loved the company. I loved the different brands. When I graduated from university, I was at Estée Lauder, Clinique, and Prescriptives during the summers. And then I went to Estée Lauder full-time when I graduated.

I haven’t heard the name Prescriptives in so long. I loved that brand. [Note: Prescriptives was founded in 1979, went online-only in 2011, and closed permanently in 2020.]

What’s interesting is that’s where my uncle wanted me to go one summer because he said that’s where I would really learn so much because it was such a small brand. At Estée Lauder, I did product development just for makeup because it was such a big brand. But at Prescriptives, I had the ability to work on all these different products because it was so small. He was right; I was exposed to so much. Prescriptives was ahead of its time. If you think about, it was probably one of the first makeup artist brands out there. It’s shame that we had to kind of…certain things are available online, but you live and you learn.

When you were growing up, what did you imagine your career would be like? 

I always loved beauty and fashion, and I’ve always loved home. I knew I wanted to be in the company. I could not wait to graduate and start working there. I was there for 25 years when I found that there was an opportunity in the marketplace for a beauty lifestyle brand. I still play a role at Estée Lauder, and obviously Aerin Beauty is part of Estée Lauder and sits on the Estée Lauder counter. So it’s something I’ve always loved.

What is the best quality in a boss? 

Probably honesty. If someone makes a mistake or if something’s wrong or if you think something’s not going in the right direction, use your words carefully and always be respectful, but be honest. The culture I’ve established at my company is that everyone treats each other with respect. I always think it’s important for people to talk through things. 

How do you shut your mind off when it comes to work? How do you set boundaries?

I try because it’s really important. It’s hard, though. I have two grown sons, and when you’re at a dinner with family or you’re spending time together at home, it’s really important to switch gears and balance that family time. My grandmother and mother always taught me the importance of balance, and that’s really very important. If you love what you do, you can find the balance.

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