Her beginnings


Date of birth : November 8, 1942

City : Montréal

Family : Only daughter

Lise Watier, 12, with her mom Laurette

Photo Credit : Vital Productions


Lise Watier was born in the Montréal working-class neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Her mother, a clothing buyer, taught her how to negotiate and appreciate beauty. Her father sold automobiles and instilled in her strong values of altruism and generosity.

As early as 15, Lise began manifesting a desire to help women feel good in their own skin. She honed her skills as a make-up artist and hair stylist by helping young women in her class get ready for evening dances. When asked what she wanted to do in life, she would say, “something different.” Many attempted to dissuade her by telling her that pioneers rarely succeeded in life. Her grandfather, however, gave her a simple but different message that stayed with her all her life : “prove them wrong.”

She was 19 when her future became clear to her. She read the autobiography of the perfume empress Helena Rubinstein. Lise noted that this woman succeeded in creating her own product line and beauty institute without a background in chemistry. She saw new opportunities for herself and began nurturing a dream of one day starting her own beauty product company.

Lise Watier - 6 ans

Lise Watier, 6, at her first communion

Photo credit : Vital Productions

I come from a modest background, but the fact that I had little made me want to go further and dream without limits.


A model of emancipation

The budding entrepreneure began doing television commercials at age 20 and soon after was offered her own TV show, called Bon après-midi, that was broadcast live on Télé-Métropole (now TVA). In the 1960s, many women were housewives or just beginning to enter the workforce. Lise saw this as an opportunity to discuss issues to foster their self-determination. She quickly became a model for Québec women. Through her television career, she learned who she was, overcame her shyness and formed a bond with women.

Lise Watier à l'Institut Charme et Beauté

Lise Watier during a course on wine pairing at the Institut Charme et Beauté Lise Watier, alongside a sommelier.

At the time, Lise is pregnant with Marie-Lise.

Photo credit : Vital Productions

Lise Watier

During the same period, she wrote a column in the daily Journal de Montréal called “Charme et beauté” (charm and beauty).

Photo credit : Vital Productions

In 1968, Lise opened the Institut Charme et Beauté, a school for women dedicated to beauty and self-esteem. She drew inspiration from the content of her newspaper columns and TV show to develop her courses. Her goal was to help women feel good about themselves. She even had her program approved by the ministry of education to boost its credibility. Her courses quickly gained in popularity.

Lise founded her first business with an idea, a whole lot of tenacity and her personal savings. Indeed, bankers did not take her seriously, believing that women could not possibly succeed in business.

Clip from Lise Watier’s appearance on the Femme d’aujourd’hui show — only available in French

Photo credit : Radio-Canada

She never doubted herself for a second. She always dove into her projects with enthusiasm and optimism, unafraid of failure. She believed so fully in her ideas, that there was no room for failure. That’s what it takes to be an entrepreneur!

MARIE-LISE ANDRADE, Lise’s daughter and General Manager of the Fondation Lise Watier