In 1955, Lavin and her husband Leonard, a salesman, purchased a West Coast beauty supply company, discontinuing most of its products to focus on the Alberto V05 Conditioning Hairdressing line. They transferred the business to Chicago and renamed it Alberto-Culver, posting sales of $100,000 in the first year. By 1960, the company's sales had grown to $15 million.
Over her career at Alberto-Culver, Lavin held the positions of vice president, treasurer, director and corporate secretary. She retired in 2003. In 1973, Fortune magazine cited her as one of the 10 highest ranking women in U.S. business. Mrs. Lavin took a prominent role in local philanthropy. She is survived by her husband, two children and four grandchildren.