Jeremy Lowenstein, the current vice president of global marketing at Sally Hansen, has worked at Coty for a decade and has been with the Sally Hansen brand for nearly as long. And, according to a press release, in 2014 Lowenstein set out to rediscover the woman behind the brand.
Beauty brand founder stories and role model women entrepreneurs are good marketing tools for selling beauty to today’s consumers; consumers who are more likely to trust someone like themselves than any corporate spokesman or conventional authority figure.
Commenting on the project in a company press release titled, ‘Coty Reveals Mission to Uncover the Identity of Beauty Pioneer, Sally Hansen’ Lowenstein says, “Sally was part of a wave of women entrepreneurs who pioneered both fashion and beauty empires for women created by women.” And he goes on to add that “she really spoke to the needs of all women regardless of age and economic backgrounds, encouraging them to be bold, outspoken, and beautiful.”
As the Coty press release recounts, Hansen’s parents owned a cosmetics shop called La Finné. Hansen acquired that store in 1935 and parlayed it into a beauty company comprised of several brands and serving many categories from cosmetics to hair care to fragrance and beyond. Hansen named her company House of Hollywood. “In 1941, Sally orchestrated a swift and stunning corporate turnaround taking House of Hollywood national,” according to the release.
In 1945 she founded Sally Hansen, Inc. in New York City. And by 1957 trademarked her category leading Hard As Nails treatment product, which Coty notes is “the original strengthening treatment that is still a best-selling product in the brand's portfolio today.” Hard As Nails was apparently the first beauty product that Hansen sold with her own name on the packaging. The first Sally Hanse logo is attributed to her then husband, a graphic designer named Jack Newton.
Hansen was the first woman to chair an industry organization known as the California Cosmetics Association. And, as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Hansen wrote some 90 pieces under the column title ‘Your Candid Mirror’.