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Tiffany Masterson

Tiffany Masterson

Founding Partner and Chief Creative Officer, Drunk Elephant
Drunk Elephant Launches its Slaai Makeup Melting Butter Cleanser

In the mid-1900s, when fields like finance, law and medicine were still off-limits to women, one of the few areas in which female entrepreneurs could succeed was the beauty industry. Estée Lauder’s eponymous company, which she started with her husband, Joseph, in 1946, now has more than 25 brands under its umbrella, operates in more than 150 countries and realizes $14 billion in sales annually. That success is due in part to Estée Lauder’s snapping up upstart beauty companies for eye-popping sums—a strategy that rivals have embraced as well. L’Oréal bought Jamie Kern Lima’s IT Cosmetics for $1.2 billion in 2016; Coty shelled out $600 million last year for a 51 percent stake in 22-year-old Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics firm; Emily Weiss’ millennial-friendly skincare and cosmetics company Glossier has a $1 billion valuation and is likely planning to sell or go public in the coming years.

But even in an acquisition-heavy year, the sale of Houston-based Tiffany Masterson’s skincare brand Drunk Elephant to Japanese conglomerate Shiseido for $845 million made waves. Masterson, who was a stay-at-home mother of four, started her firm in 2012. In the years following, she built it into a cult-favorite brand and managed to land it on the shelves at Sephora, a hugely influential chain whose approval (or lack thereof) can make or break a small beauty enterprise.

Seven years later, Drunk Elephant has sales of more than $100 million annually, and it still only sells online and though Sephora. And Masterson, who will reportedly make some $120 million from the sale, is another success story for young people hoping that there’s real money—and power—in beauty.

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