"When consumers buy L'Occitane, they know there's a real story behind every product" – L'Occitane's Olivier Baussan
It's all about Provence
It may seem like just another fragrance launch but for L'Occitane's founder Olivier Baussan, the latest offering is another successful step in his journey to transmit the story of Provence, the region that has shaped his business, ideas and empire. Decades after his first foray into the fragrance and beauty industry, Baussan remains committed to his mission and now he speaks with Buro 24/7 Middle East to share his vision, his thoughts and his opinion on why the new Terre de Lumière fragrance is something special...
L'Occitane was founded in the '70s and has seen remarkable growth ever since. How has the brand evolved through the years?
I think the company has grown over time but I do hope that it has not lost its soul. For 40 years it has not lost its main values and commitment. I started this company with nothing and it's now worth over a billion in turnover, but the brand has not forgotten where it came from.
You spoke about values and commitment. What are some of the elements embedded in the DNA of the brand that will never change?
Respect. Respect to all of the people we work with, particularly the producers. In addition to respect, humility will always be upheld. These are very important to us; being simple, modest and humble. Apart from this human adventure that makes up the DNA of L'Occitane, these men and women in our family are the embodiment of the brand.
Are these the factors that you attribute your success to?
I'd like to think so because when consumers buy L'Occitane, they know there's a real story behind every product.
What makes the new fragrance – Terre de Lumière – special to you?
It tells a concentrated story of the purity of Provence. I tried to convey in words the light that I received when I started L'Occitane 40 years ago. It's a gift and 40 years on I'm still trying to transmit this light that has inspired painters, poets and me.
"The fragrance is like a short poem, where I'm trying to share 40 years of the history of L'Occitane and the story of Provence."
Uniquely, the Terre de Lumière fragrance was created by three perfumers. Why?
Basically, when we started out we didn't want to be like the others. However it wasn't really a conscious decision to be different by having three master perfumers work on the project. Our first nose wanted to work with another person and she in return wanted to work with a third person, so it just happened like that. But we absolutely love the idea that three women, three perfumers, basically wanted to have the same baby. It was a gift for us. It worked because we had three women who were fascinated by the subject – the light of Provence – and they passed that fascination on through the perfume.
Even after so long, you still have a passion that's infectious. How do you maintain that love for the craft?
I love to transmit and pass it on, just like a baton in a relay race. I don't like keeping things to myself.
If you could change anything about the brand, what would it be?
Throughout my life, I have never been satisfied with anything and I'd like to change everything, all of the time.
The Terre de Lumière fragrance by L'Occitane is available in the Middle East now.