Coty is on a mission to tell the story of the "real" Sally Hansen, for the first time -- and celebrate the brand's mysterious namesake.
Sally Hansen Inc. is an American beauty brand, first founded in 1946 by Sally Hansen herself -- but up until now, little has been known about the beauty entrepreneur. Hansen died in 1963, and left behind virtually no record of her existence, Coty says.
Details were recently discovered. In addition to running her beauty business, Hansen was a columnist -- penning over 90 articles entitled "Your Candid Mirror" in the Los Angeles Times. She was also fixture in the Hollywood social scene. Along with her second husband, Adolf Hansen, she hosted a stream of star-studded parties at their glamorous Spanish style villa.
Hansen was also an animal lover, ballet dancer, choreographer, and globetrotter.
"Sally was part of a wave of women entrepreneurs who pioneered both fashion and beauty empires for women created by women," says Jeremy Lowenstein, vice president of Global Marketing at Sally Hansen. "She really spoke to the needs of all women regardless of age and economic backgrounds, encouraging them to be bold, outspoken, and beautiful."
The legacy of the beauty icon lives on today through the Sally Hansen brand, Coty says. She was a self-made woman, who unapologetically defied her era. Coty hopes her story will inspire, and product will be passed on for, generations to come.
Photos, courtesy of Coty: Sally Hansen's portrait; slide 2: Sally Hansen working behind her House of Hollywood desk.
The Research Mission
Coty began its mission, led by Lowenstein, to "find" Sally Hansen three years ago -- with the help of a team of investigative journalists. They scoured internet archives, genealogical databases and city hall documents, but found countless dead-ends.
Soon, it became apparent that an astonishing 49,120 women had the name, Sally Hansen. Through further meticulous research, the team was able to narrow that list down to 14,000. Next, after countless dead-end leads and cold phone calls, located an obituary of a factory worker previously employed by 'Sally Hansen Cosmetics.' This was the key to finding two living relatives of Sally Hansen.
Piecing together photos, marriage certificates and other documents, Sally Hansen's story slowly began to unfold, revealing a self-made woman far ahead of her time.
Sally Hansen's History, Revealed
Sally Hansen was a beauty innovator and business woman, celebrated for her avant-garde style and progressive views. In a time when most women ran households, not companies, Sally dared to embark on a dream and create an empire using her frank voice and vivid vision.
In 1935 when Hansen acquired her parents' cosmetic store, "La Finné" and converted it into "House of Hollywood", a parent company of brands and products spanning multiple categories, including cosmetics, hair care and fragrances. In 1941, Sally orchestrated a swift and stunning corporate turnaround taking "House of Hollywood" national.
By 1945, Sally was living in New York City where she moved to expand her business and set up Sally Hansen, Inc.
Trademarking 'Hard As Nails'
In 1957, Hansen trademarked the game-changing "Hard As Nails", the original strengthening treatment that is still a best-selling product in the brand's portfolio today. This was the first product to bear Sally's name, for which the logo was designed by her third husband, Jack Newton, a graphic designer.
Beauty is More Than Just Lipstick
A visionary beyond her years, Hansen believed that beauty was more than lipstick, nail polish, and being well-groomed -- beauty was kindness, tolerance, self-confidence, character, and mental attitude.
Coty wants consumers to know about, and be inspired by, Hansen's boundless energy, innate business savvy and steely confidence.