Friday, July 13, 2007

A Beautiful Success

The last time I was in Paris I was invited to the headquarters of Clarins. Clarins is a billion dollar, family-owned company with around 6,000 employees across 150 countries. This is one of France’s greatest stories; how 50 years ago Jacques Courtin-Clarins created a company that now has 24% of its category in France and 30% in the UK.

Jacques died a couple of weeks ago which was traumatizing for this family company. My invitation to their headquarters had come from Jacques' eldest son, Christian, who leads Clarins today. Christian and I spent two hours together. Our conversation started with his admiration for the All Blacks and then moved on to his early journey into sustainability in Amazonia in 1985, his work for the oppressed through Soeur Emmanuelle and his dreams for Clarins. Christian is well over 6 ft., an ex-rugby player, and a man’s man with a beautiful feel for the mystery, sensuality and intimacy of beauty. Clarins products are particularly revered by the ageless French woman who, with Clarin’s help, continues to look and feel younger every day.

Christian, who was very close to his father, is obviously reeling following his death. Nevertheless, he was fascinating company and an exquisite host. Clarins is a brand that is irresistible to many and is certainly a Lovemark, a fact supported by Tânia from Portugal who wrote on Lovemarks.com: “Par amour Clarins”.

In fact, the reason Christian and I met was because he had read Lovemarks and followed up by sending a copy of the book to every member of his company. Lovemarks and love hearts were scattered throughout his conference room as we talked about new media, new in-store experiences, new consumer led packaging design and the future of beauty. To complete the picture, Christian rocked up to the meeting on a big 500c motorbike. A beautiful success indeed.