Strand Cosmetics Europe turns fifty!

Created by two Americans, G. Fiedler and C. Stutzer, the company Strand Cosmetics Europe is an extension of their American company Strand Cosmetics Incorporated based in New York since 1926. The company was then taken over in 1981 by the current management. Since then, the French firm, based since 2007, in Lentilly near Lyon, has recorded a spectacular growth. Details with Dominique and Eric Bouvier, respectively President and CEO.

MakeUp in…™: Quite an impressive comeback for a company whose business was far from flourishing in the early 1980s?

Dominique Bouvier: You’re right, what a long way we have come…In 1981, with G. Raguin, and C. Salin, we re-launched the business and supplemented the company’s formulation know-how in make-up and skin care. In 1983, we settled in the Dardilly business park. Two years later, we expanded our activities to the Japanese market and were granted a European licence for the coating treatment of pigments using patents from the Japanese company Miyoshi. The 1990s are the years of our international breakthrough with Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore… In 1991, we became members of the French Cosmetic Workshop, a group of complementary companies offering diversified services to meet the new requirements of its international clients. In 1999, we were granted the ISO 9002 certification for our activities under a Japanese license. In 2002, we constructed a new production unit dedicated to skin care products at the La Source site in Lentilly. Finally in 2007, we decided to concentrate all of our activities on the La Source site, representing a 9,000sqm surface area on a plot of 24,000 sqm.

MakeUp in…™: A rebirth which reflects itself in a clearly identified “product” strategy.

Dominique Bouvier: Absolutely! Don’t forget that it’s Strand in the early 1960s who introduced in France the pressed-powder technology.
In 1970, the company developed a cream mascara to succeed cake mascaras and change make-up gestures. 1989, the first emulsion foundation made with treated pigments was marketed. Pigment treatment improves the stabilization of the formula on the skin and provides sensory benefits such as staying power and product softness. In 1992, the first suncare line sees the light. Four years later, our first signature lipstick was marketed thanks to the use, for the first time, of the Citus filler, which makes it possible to create various shapes of lipsticks and to engrave a logo or the name of the client on the grapes. In 1996, the first “Two Way Cake” formulas were launched Used dry, this multi-purpose pressed powder leaves a powdery finish and with a wet sponge the texture resembles a foundation. In 1999 we introduced the first laser marking on pressed powders. A wide range of surface effects are then possible for highly aesthetic results. In 2000 we created our first line of care products for men, identified at the time as a growing segment. In 2004, we created the rich cast skin-care creams, thus enhancing the sensory qualities of emulsions. In 2008, mineral make-up (i.e., talc-free) sees the light. And the following year, we developed a highly innovative blush texture, as a travel-sized product: the powder is retained in a cotton pad, making it easy to use. The same year our site gets the Ecocert license for the production of organic products. In 2011 the first BB Cream is launched. Inspired from Asia, it is a multi functional skin-care product: moisturising, sun-protecting, anti-ageing, lightening, evening and tinted.

MakeUp in…™: Strand Cosmetics Europe is facing its fiftieth anniversary year with Optimism!

Eric Bouvier: Strand has been one of the major players in the cosmetics industry. We can say that between 1964 and 1974, our successful establishment in Europe was marked by the loyalty of the leading fragrance houses, thanks to formulas inspired from American fashion.
The next decade, the one of the oil shock and of the big consumer revolution was the most difficult. The 1984 – 1994 decade was that of internationalization, with notable successes among new brands, which had emerged in the dragon cities of Asia/Pacific countries, with a successful opening in Japan.
Between 1994 and 2004, the growth momentum in both make-up and skincare brought major investments, with the reconstruction of all our facilities and the acquisition of new equipment for improved industrial performance.
Between 2004 and 2014, after the recovery following the global financial crisis, the company emerged stronger from this unprecedented ordeal, the moral crisis, noticeable in Europe, having fundamentally changed B to B and B to C buying habits.
For our company, 2014 will see the culmination of intensive work towards obtaining quality certifications, which are essential in satisfying the growing demand for health safety. Accordingly, Strand Cosmetics Europe, which already complies with the ISO 9001 standards, applies the GMP 22716 standards, and will soon benefit from ISO 14000 and OHSAS 18000 certification; more than one hundred brands place their trust in us, both large and small brand owners choose our services in line with their desire for a smooth development, adhering to our humanist values.

MakeUp in…™: “Revealing beauty since 1964!” A still relevant slogan?

Eric Bouvier: I would like to stress first on what our core business is and how we conceive it! We are primarily a company specialising in applied research, the design and manufacture of care and make-up cosmetic formulas. We create standard ranges in line with the needs and trends of the market, but we also produce original products tailored to meet the needs of our customers in these two segments.
We have a full mastery in all the development stages of a cosmetic product, which enables us, through a close partnership, to offer our customers:
– turnkey products designed and created internally:
– the Industrialization of their products in keeping with their predefined lab specifications.

We are partners to brands looking to create cosmetic lines, and we give them full support from formulation to industrial production including packaging. The scientific and technical expertise of our R&D teams is combined to take a thorough account of the specific needs of customers, based on listening and dialogue.
The conduct of tolerance and objectification tests, the emphasis placed on industrial transposition all serve to guarantee the realization of innovative, safe and efficient products.
Another strength of Strand Cosmetics Europe lies in its ability to offer products in line with future trends.
Since the early 2000s, we have used the services of a styling agency with experts in multiple fields: marketing experts, stylists, product designers, set designers and graphic artists. They are a very valuable source of information that allows us to stay tuned with multiple art forms in connection with the beauty world and find new channels for inspiration.
In addition every year we take part in numerous trade shows, which are opportunities for us to meet with beauty professionals, attend conferences and find creative inspiration by sharing ideas with our peers.

MakeUp in…™: overseas markets are a key driver of your business and of your inspiration!

Dominique Bouvier: On the international market, the influence of the West is gradually fading to the benefit of new tastes inspired by beauty practices and cultures from all over the world. Our role is to listen, to be attentive to the different markets, depending on their maturity and to make available the variability of beauty needs according to the expectations of consumers in these various markets.
Beauty is universal, but its aesthetic expression should be personalized, hence the importance of a custom-designed offering that can adapt to different markets and the specific needs of its clients. The Strand Cosmetics teams travel the world to observe each country’s habits and customs in order to make an offer in line with their expectations and needs.
Note that to deliver innovative products, we also need ingredients, and all sources of inspiration are good to take. But inspiration can come from everywhere and mostly from other industries: food, paint, furniture, automotive–for pigments, textile, and even the building industry–for certain types of polymers!

MakeUp in…™: Other key elements come into play of course, such as research but also partnerships!

Eric Bouvier: Our laboratories include a third of our staff. The teams are comprised of biologists, chemists, pharmacists colourists and microbiologists, whose missions are to develop creative concepts based on the latest scientific advances in cosmetics.
One is in charge of developing care products, and the other of developing make-up products, because the competences required for these two products are very different. This is complemented by our activities in the control and development of methods; in particular we have our own microbiology department.
As for our partnership commitment, it is expressed, for example as part of the “French Cosmetic Workshop”, a network of expert manufacturers, specializing in long-distance exporting (outside of Europe), which resulted in a “turnkey” product offer. Thanks to its membership in the FCW, Strand can propose a comprehensive offer including packs and scientific and marketing concepts for its long-distance export clients.
But we also have other partnerships like the one with the German company Oeka, which manufactures mascaras, among others products. In this case, the aim is to work in close partnership on well devised and designed packaging (box, bottle, wiper, brush) to optimise the effects of formulas and unveil all their benefits.

Dominique Bouvier: We strongly believe in industrial cross-fertilization. It requires a lot of involvement from the teams on both sides and this is only possible with partners who share the same ethics in their work practices, plus a long-term vision of the return on investment. In times when excessive emphasis is placed on financialization, choosing one’s fellow partners makes the exercise even more sophisticated! But good ideas resist the acceleration of time.