This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The new way to be ladylike.
Born in 1878, Florence Nightingale Graham learned about business at her father’s side whenever they rode in their horse-drawn vegetable cart from Woodbridge, Ontario, to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. Life was tough; the market trade earned little and, after her mother died young, Florence routinely went to bed hungry, shivering in the cold. She vowed to reverse her fortunes later in life. At the turn of the century, she made her way to New York and worked as one of the first treatment girls in one of the first beauty salons. Till then, makeup had long been considered a habit of the poor, especially of prostitutes. Attitudes were changing, however, and Florence was determined to lead the revolution. Foreseeing a time when women would have to wear makeup to be thought of as ladylike, Florence changed her name to the more dignified “Elizabeth Arden,” opened her famous Red Door salon in Manhattan, and in time convinced a generation that the application of scientifically formulated colouring to eyes, lips, and skin was a reliable path to social acceptance. Elizabeth Arden led the creation of the global cosmetics industry and in the bargain became one of the richest women in the world. A long way from Woodbridge, Ontario.