The original “Kiehl Pharmacy” has been serving patrons at our
flagship store at Third Avenue and Thirteenth Street since the
mid-1800s. In our earliest years, Kiehl’s humble apothecary prescribed
unique remedies such as blood-sucking leeches and Attraction Powder. In
his typical 19th century apothecary, Mr. John Kiehl dedicated himself
to the service of his patrons, supplying pharmaceutical tonics and
medicinal salves developed from old-world, botanical recipes.
Through the American Civil War and well into the early decades of the 20th century, Kiehl’s was a purveyor of homeopathic and herbal remedies, curative oils, teas and unguents for a variety of conditions, or intended results. Customers visited the John Kiehl Apothecary for exotic concoctions like Life Everlasting, Money Drawing Oil, Attraction Powder, and Love Oil. They sought quince for dry hands, licorice twig to stop smoking. The apothecary even sold frankincense and myrrh!
1910s: The Apprentice Mr. Morse
Mr. Irving A. Morse, or “Doc Morse,” a learned herbologist, begins work for Mr. John Kiehl as his apprentice. Together, they formulated unique preparations – herbal remedies, tinctures and medicines – derived from exotic botanicals. They pioneered and inspired many of the traditions in service and product formulation which characterize Kiehl’s today.
In 1921, Mr. Irving Morse purchased the company from the retiring John Kiehl. Mr. Morse maintained the venerable Kiehl name on his new shop, by this time well-established in the community. He tended to New York’s burgeoning citizenry with medicinal treatments, over the-counter drugs, and herbal remedies, even through the stock market crash of 1929. And yet, the Kiehl Pharmacy endured.
1940s: The Rise of Aaron Morse
The history of the Morse family and Kiehl’s are inextricably
entwined. Irving Morse passed on his botanical expertise, sense of
civic responsibility, and most of all, his passion for life and passion
for Kiehl’s. Aaron Morse, who lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, was
a man firmly rooted in his community and keenly attuned to the
individual needs of his customers.
The younger Morse developed an intense love of the sciences himself and would go on to earn a degree in chemistry from Columbia University. Aaron Morse would found Morse Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company – one of the first manufacturers and sole supplier of penicillin in the U.S. at the time.
1960s: Try Before Your Buy
Jami Morse-Heidegger, Aaron Morse’s daughter, grew up shadowing her dad and generously doled out samples of our fine formulas to customers. With early traditions in dispensing advice and prescriptions to our customers, we continue to “prescribe” a personal care regimen that is most appropriate for the individual’s skin and hair care needs. To that end, Kiehl’s introduced its “try before you buy” sampling philosophy – a practice which assures that customers always purchase the formulas most appropriate for their needs. Sampling is still an important element of our customer service.
2000s: Dermatologist Solutions
Kiehl’s introduces Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions . Harkening back to our roots in the sciences, we assembled a team of experts in the field of dermatology to develop and evaluate a series of advanced, powerful yet safe treatments that would address specific skin conditions such as aging, irritation, sensitivity, acne, sun spots and surface texture.