Sydell L. Miller, Eyelash and Hair Care Mogul, Dies at 86

Sydell L. Miller, a self-made beauty mogul who rose from the stay-at-home wife of a Cleveland salon owner to a Palm Beach mansion so huge it took an hour to walk through all its rooms, has died on February 25 at his home in Cleveland. She was 86 years old.

His daughter Stacie Halpern confirmed the death. Ms. Miller had various health problems, including serious heart problems. dating in the early 1990s; Ms Halpern said a combination of factors had led to a recent decline in her mother's health.

Ms. Miller and her husband, Arnold Miller, created two dominant brands: Ardell, the industry standard for full, shapely false eyelashes, and Matrix Essentials, which has often been described as the largest manufacturer of salon products of the country and was the main source of false eyelashes. Mrs. Miller's fortune. In 1994, two years after the death of her husband the deathBristol Myers Squibb purchased Matrix from Ms. Miller for $400 million.

Both companies have made lasting changes to the way people around the world get ready, both at home in front of a mirror and in a living room. The Millers invented the first pre-cut eyelash and false eyelash strip kit, reducing the procedure time from hours to minutes. They also changed the way hairstylists color hair, creating cream-based (rather than liquid) dyes that allow for precise application and give hairstylists control over a range of mixable colors, as if they were painters – not so much aestheticians as aesthetes.

The brush-like tools and color samples introduced by the Millers have become part of hair salon routines; the couple also launched products that make it easier to complete some complex hair treatments, like a perm and dye, in one trip.

Their innovations shared two general qualities: they increased the convenience of beauty routines and gave hairstylists more creative possibilities.

Ms. Miller's plutocratic colleagues in Palm Beach called her the “shampoo lady,” according to the Wall Street Journal. reported in 2005.

The nickname was a comical understatement. Ms. Miller owned works by Picasso, Chagall, Giacometti and Lichtenstein. In 2019, she set the record for the most expensive condo purchase in Palm Beach history, paying more than $40 million for an entire floor of a new development. That year, she broken another real estate record when she sold her beachfront home, La Reverie, for $111 million, making it the most expensive home sale in Palm Beach County.

The immensity of the property defies description: journalists disagree over whether it contained 19 or 22 bathrooms. Its facilities included an ice cream stand, a candy store and a bowling alley. In his book “Madness under the royal palm trees» (2009), Laurence Leamer describes La Rêverie as so beyond the human scale that it resembles “a train station or a state library”.

In other book, “Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump's Presidential Palace” (2019), Mr. Leamer reported that Ms. Miller was an early member of Mar-a-Lago, located about a half-mile away from Lake. Reverie. His other neighbors included billionaires Ken Griffin and Steve Schwarzman.

The origins of this dazzling wealth could hardly have been more artisanal.

Sydell Lois Lubin was born August 10, 1937 in Cleveland. Her father, Jack, owned a furniture store, and her mother, Evelyne (Saltzman) Lubin, played cards and smoked cigars more than the average mid-century housewife.

Sydell (pronounced SIHD-ell) attended the University of Miami for two years, then returned to Cleveland. A friend suggested she get her hair done by Arnold Miller, a man in his twenties from his community of working- and middle-class Jews in Cleveland who had opened his own salon.

They had a fascinating conversation and she said he made her hair look fabulous. The young man invited her to go out with him. “What a night?” she asked. “All of them,” he replied.

His next customer, who was waiting after a long flirtation, started swearing.

“Slow down”, the young man said her as Sydell left. “See that little blonde coming out the door? I'm going to marry him.

He proposed to her after a week; they married in 1958.

Mr. Miller assumed Sydell would be a housewife. One day, when his receptionist called in sick, she showed up at the salon and said she would help him with the phones. Soon she was running her own women's clothing store above the living room.

It was Ms. Miller who conducted the first experiments aimed at simplifying the decoration of eyelashes. The couple took their invention on the road, traveling to a trade show in suburban Chicago.

They applied about 100 sets of lashes to show attendees, but didn't sell a single kit. They agreed over dinner that the initiative was a failure, but still returned to the show the next day, having signed on for two days.

They found a line of about 60 women waiting for them.

“They didn’t believe the story that they could shower or swim or sleep and their eyelashes would still be in place,” Ms. Miller recalled in a 2017 article. interview with Modern Salon magazine. “They kept saying, ‘Look! They are there. They stay. In 15 minutes we sold everything we had.

This success led the Millers to create Ardell. When their product line became a hit in drugstores, they turned their attention to hairdressers. They sold Ardell and started Matrix.

The couple split duties by having Mr. Miller as their public face and Ms. Miller as the company's director. At first, she held the company's inventory by hand, working until midnight. Each of them received the same salary and offices of the same size.

Over the next few years, Ms. Miller donated substantial sums of money, including family support of $70 million. gift at the Cleveland Clinic.

In addition to Ms. Halpern, Ms. Miller is survived by another daughter, Lauren Spilman; a brother, Dennis Lubin; four grandchildren; three great-granddaughters; and two nephews whom she considered grandchildren.

The Millers' business strategy was based on the belief that hairdressers lacked the kind of business innovations, corporate attention, and social dignity they deserved. Matrix succeeded because the company earned the trust of hairdressers.

In her Modern Salon interview, Ms. Miller highlighted the importance of hairdressers to society. They are advisors, she said. They see their customers in good times and bad. They glean information about themselves that few others know. For the older type of customer who rarely goes out, they could be an essential regular social contact point.

“I love hairdressers: there is no one in the world who gives so much to their clients,” she said. “What we wanted to do with Matrix was give them back a way to grow, to excel and to build a true image of what they give to their employees.”

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