The Early Days
Florence Nightingale Graham was born in Ontario in 1878. Clearly, she was destined for the profession of a nurse on the day she was born. Her mother died when Florence was six years and Florence could not finish high school due to a lack of money.
Her father wanted her to work on his farm while the priest wanted her to marry or to become a school teacher. Florence liked neither of these ideas and her father reminded his 17 years old daughter to her first names. Somehow being a nurse seem to appeal to her; maybe she imagined some eternal glory coming with it.
Well, she went to a hospital which was run by nuns but could not cope with all this misery and sickness. All she brought back home from this clinic was a cream to treat skin issues which encouraged her to experiment and testing the newly created products on her sisters.
Since success failed her Florence went to Toronto. She accepted a series of small jobs until in 1907 she met a dentist who was a friend of her brothers and looking for an assistant. She liked the job in a medical environment which was so different from the hospital. Everything was clean and shiny. Plus she found a lot of opportunities to study the patient’s flaws which supported her decision to dedicate her time to beauty.
She knew as well that she had to go to the United States, where rich people lived, more possibilities and cosmetic salons existed. In 1909 she left for the States and started in the accounting department of a pharmaceutical enterprise. The little spare time she spent in the labs looking over the chemists’ shoulders. The next step is most important she got a position as till girl in a successful cosmetic salon and noticed the enormous financial possibilities in this business. This “house of beauty” offered as well facial treatment and Florence asked her boss if she could learn this skills. The lady taught Florence under the condition that she would not ask for more money. Apparently, Florence was quite gifted and soon was so much in demand that she was constantly fully booked.
New York – 5th Avenue
It is the time when American women just start to see the use of beauty products and their effects were scientifically confirmed. Florence is working 6 days a week and in the evenings she’s spying the products of other beauty salons. On one of her spying trips she meets Elizabeth Hubbard whose products are better than the ones of the salon she is working. Both ladies notice that they complement each other very well and open a beauty salon on the 5th Avenue, Number 509. Already at the end of the first month, they separate again due to misunderstandings regarding money. Since Florence’s relationship to the landlord is better than Elizabeth’s Florence stays while Elizabeth moves to Number 505. But the ladies from the suburb have to pass Florence’s door if they have an appointment with Mrs. Hubbard.
The Red Door
In 1910 Florence Nightingale Graham founds her company Elizabeth Arden since she understands that her birth name is not exactly a selling argument in this industry. It is said that she probably choose Elizabeth because it was already written on the window of her salon but it seems a secret from where “Arden” came. She takes a credit of 6000 US Dollars from her brother, who already is a successful business man. What sounds like peanuts was quite some money at that time when the average yearly income was 700 US Dollars. She paints the door of her salon in a bright red and applies pink damask and satin on the walls. Everything was rose and pink; the washbasins, the towels, just everything. No need to ask, what Elizabeth’s aka Florence favourite colour is. Henceforth she will be Miss Arden. Within a few months she pays her brother the money back to prove her success. But the ads cost a fortune and she is still living in a small one-room-apartment doing manicure in the evenings. How to attract more customers?
She remembers her hairdresser’s. Two sisters who manage the hairdresser shop and a third one, Gladys, who is a hat-maker. The hairdressers recommend a new hat fitting to the new haircut and of course the other way round. Elizabeth convinced the three of them to move in her salon because they all would save money and the concept worked perfectly. Elizabeth’s offerings of a full body treatment consisted as well of courses in Yoga, fencing and tap dance. Just like Helena Rubinstein Elizabeth is experimenting in her lab for more products. Her volume of sales increased along with the number of customers. Elizabeth tasted blood and we all know what this means. 1914 should be a big year for her. We will continue on that.
The pictures are created by the author. However, the portrait of Elzabeth Arden (former Florence Nightingale Graham) has been copied from the book "Der Kampf um die Schönheit" by Doris Burchard, 1999