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Adrien Arpel

b. 1941

by Sara Alpern

Adrien Arpel, a pioneering entrepreneur in the skin-care industry, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on July 15, 1941. She believes that “when you’re happy with yourself you make those around you happy,” and “when you’re honest with yourself first you are honest with everyone.” This philosophy has served her well in her life and in her work. Launching a business devoted to women’s skin care in 1959 with $400 she had earned from baby-sitting, Arpel is now president and CEO of Adrien Arpel, Inc., an enterprise with approximately 500 salons across the United States and Canada. Her mother, Ada Stark, of Polish extraction, was born in Montreal, Canada, and her father, Samuel Joachin, of Russian heritage, was born in the United States. Her parents met and married in the United States. Arpel has an older sister, Marilyn.

Arpel graduated from high school in 1959 and attended Pace University. She married Ronald Monroe Newman in New York City in 1960. The couple has one child, Lauren, who now works in both of her parents’ businesses.

Arpel describes herself as becoming an entrepreneur as soon as she left high school. When she was very young, she regarded cosmetics as a kind of magic. She decided to venture into the facial and cosmetics business after receiving conflicting advice from staff selling cosmetics in department stores. None of the salespeople could detail the ingredients in their products or could explain how these products might improve the customer’s skin. Arpel concluded that these saleswomen were selling cosmetics without being sufficiently knowledgeable about their products. She realized that there was a need in the cosmetics marketplace for a business that would educate the consumer, helping her understand how to care for her skin, and what products she needed to use at home. She decided to provide customers with a licensed cosmetologist who understood the most beneficial ingredients in skin-care products. A licensed cosmetologist could counsel women in nature-based products in a comfortable setting. Adrien Arpel also pioneered the concept of the makeover, now widely available in the cosmetics and skin-care business.

Arpel felt her busy clients would best be served in a convenient, private salon in a department store. Thus, she began offering her salon facials in major department stores, such as Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, where she was also the first to provide a place for her clients to sit in a cosmetics department.

A clever marketer and a creative product developer, Arpel has developed a niche market for the professional skin-care expert. She sells her own brand of skin-care products and makeup, which are used during the salon treatments. Arpel’s marketing strategy is to encourage customers to try her products before they buy them and to educate them in their own skin care.

From age eighteen, Arpel was determined to succeed in business. She is part of a large informal network of female executives who are friends as well as colleagues. She also has a true partnership with her husband, who runs a successful display business.

Arpel has written several beauty books and has won many professional industry awards. Bloomingdale’s honored her in 1987 as a legend in the cosmetics industry. On November 17, 1988, Pace University praised her “high level of professional success and concern for the well-being and advancement of the community and the exemplary representation of the ideals and mission of Pace University.”

Although Arpel is not a formally observant woman, she is very conscious of her Jewish heritage. She cherishes the value of a close family and considers the emphasis on the centrality of family as part of her Jewishness. She and her husband are close to their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. They see each other often, take trips together, and celebrate the major Jewish holidays as a family.

Bibliography

Allen, Margaret. Selling Dreams: Inside the Beauty Business (1981); Arpel, Adrien. Interview by author. NYC, July 20, 1995; “Adrien Arpel—A Legend in Aesthetics.” Dermascope (July/August 1986): 3–4; Bergman, Joan. “Bloomie’s Loves Arpel.” Stores 69 (May 1987): 116–117; Gallani, Bess. “Salons Treat Clients to Feel of Luxury.” Advertising Age 56 (February 21, 1985): 18+.

More on Adrien Arpel
17 Comments

First of all Adrienne Newman- not Arpel,a name she must have purchased recently from ADRIEN ARPEL the company she represented at Dept. Stores for many years. She took advantage of the fact that her first name was Adrienne to let people believe she WAS the Arpel on on the label. I believed it for many years until a few years ago I contacted the Arpel company to talk about Signature Club A. I was told that they were not connected in any way and Adrien Arpel did not exist. It was just the name of one of their divisions run by Newman until she was fired and sued by A Arpel accused of fraud over control of the name. Ms. Newman counter sued and they settled quietly ( I read the legal affidavits) Now Adrienne is calling herself Arpel again so I surmise that she must have legally obtained the rights to the name. What is astonishing to me, is the fact that there is no information publicly available about either the ugly court fight nor any purchase of brand name. Usually these matters create scandals and are in the news. I have never heard one word in the news.

She IS Adrien Arpel. I looked her up after reading about her in a 1980 family circle magazine article. She married Ron Newman when she was 19 but continued using her maiden name...Arpel. She started the company when she was only 17 the article says. 5/13/1980 Family Circle

I met Adrien when I owned a boutique. She was buying a gift for her birthday - her 48th. That was 32 years ago. She's 74? So much plastic surgery she looks expressionless. These women sell 'face creams' to make you look younger while they make regular trips to the surgeons. Fraud!

I had the pleasure to meet Adrien and her husband Ron in the mid-70's when I was in charge of Southern California for Seligman & Latz. Nostalgic memories.

I loved my visits to bloomies to have the mini facial and hand treatment. I bought as much of the Swiss Formula #12 hand and body lotion as I could get my hands on before it was discontinued. It had become my "signature scent" (I dont wear perfume)and I happliy wore it every day until it was no longer available. Similarly named products in the Signature A line, and new Arpel line are either completely unscented, or do not include the old swiss formula #12 scent.

Is there any Arpel product available today that smells like the ols Swiss Formula #12 hand and body lotion, circa 1990?

I agree wholeheartedly with your comment on Swiss #12 lotion, and the incredible fragrance it was made of. I, too, used it as my "perfume" , and I would love to find a replacement. I wish Adrien's company would launch it as a line of fragrance on it's own. I think many veteran consumers would empty the shelves if it came back!

Hi Vevelocity, On Adrien Arpel's website -- now owned by Color Me Beautiful...there is a Swiss Formula Swiss Collagen Day Cream -- http://www.adrienarpel.com/ski... Also a Swiss Collagen Hydrating Serum. I know you typed this a year ago, but I hope these links help. I found this site while searching for a biography on Adrien Arpel.

Why do you make so many crosses on HSN and no Stars of David? Adrian repeatedly states that she loves to wear crosses. I never understood this.

I was thinking the same thing. I thought she was a Messianic Jewess maybe. I always liked her. I love her style. She is so clean and glamorous and feminine. Not to mention prosperous.

I just saw her on HSN, 4/22/14, selling a "Russian" style cross. In selling it, part of the story she briefly discussed was that Jewish artists/jewelers would be commissioned by the Royals or a wealthy client to create a piece, sometimes taking a year to complete. I think sometimes the story runs deeper than what appears on the surface.

I agree, I don't understand how any Jew could wear a cross, there must be a non Jew in her close family, that she admires! Or some other strange reason!

It states her father was polish and her mother was russian..that doesnt necessarily mean she is jewish

She is a smart woman. Maybe she became a Christian.

Honey and almond scrub and coconut cleanser is available ...I just learned and am ecstatic. No one had lipsticks like Adrien and OMG the facials in department stores. The queen of GWP is Adrien. Want to find a retail salon if possible for Arpel products. Thanks.

I wanted to thank you for 30 wonderful years. I have been a faithful client (aged 62 yrs.) since 1974. I first discovered you at Macy's and then followed you to HSN. I also had my husband and daughters use your products. Tony, 62 yrs. (husband) grumbled but, to humor me, did as I requested; my daughters, Kris (41 yrs) and Toni (39 yrs) also began with your products. When they came into puberty (Ugh!), I took them to your salon at Macy's to have the mini color kit done. I wanted them to understand taking care of their complexion was important. When I was a teenager, i had terrible acne and eczema, the deadly duo for a teen. This lasted from age 12 to when i was first introduced to your products. Over the years, I have tried MANY products, both from the stores and online products. Each time, I always returned to you. I have attached photos of my family and myself to show you how great we look today. I never wanted to have any type of "Cosmetic" treatment. We lived in Costa Rica three years ago and i could have had cosmetic surgery then. It is very inexpensive but I was never interested in pursuing that option. I didn't have to!!!!! The only thing I have been doing since is moisturize.

I had to discontinue using your products in 2004 due to allergies and only use a moisturizer only since then. I wanted you to see how great my complexion has held up! even with no products for 7 years! Whenever I see a new product, I have to laugh to myself. You were the FIRST one to bring these new and improved things to the market. My husband purchased a Clarsonic and when I saw it, i thought it was yours. I began my relationship with you in the 70's and faithfully followed every recommendation to the letter. You are a true pioneer blazing the trail. Anyone not following your lead will pay dearly in their future. Love from your loyal fan,

I work for Adrien's niece, Leisa. Marilyn, Adrien's sister, passed away near Christmas 2010. Just an update.

Marilyn was a wonderful gal.

How to cite this page

Alpern, Sara. "Adrien Arpel." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 27, 2017) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/arpel-adrien>.

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