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L'Occitane en Provence ( ) is an international retailer of body, face, and home products based in Manosquemarker, Francemarker. The company was founded in 1976 by Olivier Baussan with the purpose to create a company that celebrates and preserves the traditions of his native Provence. L’Occitane means “the woman from Occitania”.

The company aspires to be "the worldwide reference for Mediterranean well-being, with unique body, face, and home products". The company's brand values are: "Authenticity and naturalness," "Effectiveness and pleasure," and "Respect and responsibilty."

History

In 1976, 23-year old Olivier Baussan used steam distillation to produce essential oil from wild rosemary which he sold at open-air markets in his native Provence. L’Occitane was named after Occitania, the ancient province that once covered the south of France, northeastern Spain and northern Italy.

The first L’Occitane boutique opened in 1980 in Volxmarker, a small French village in Provence. In the late 1990s the company changed its name to 'L'Occitane en Provence'.Baussan found a disused soap factory in Manosquemarker, another Provençal village, which he took over to manufacture vegetable-based soaps using traditional methods.

L’Occitane has 700 shops in 70 countries, in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia; with 170 shops in the United States. It also has e-commerce, wholesale, mail-order, and B2B businesses.

Beauty products

Social responsibility of the products

Support for local producers

Lavender fields in Provence
Except for the L'Occitane do Brasil sun range which is produced in Brazil, all of L'Occitane's products are developed and produced from its base in Manosque. The company sources the majority of its production from local producers who rely on traditional production methods.

Preserving cultivation methods

L'Occitane contributes to preserve traditional cultivation methods by:
  • Supporting the program to cultivate almond trees in the Alps of Haute-Provence.
  • Preserving certain rare species through the planting of their own field of Immortelle flowers in Corsicamarker.
  • Developing partnerships with organizations that support the development of scented and aromatic plants, such as the Office National Interprofessionel des Plantes à Parfum, and
  • Encouraging traditional cultivation, particularly that of lavender.


Sustainable development

Shea butter is purchased from women's groups in Burkina Fasomarker which consider the shea tree sacred; this butter is known as "women's gold" because the harvesting is performed solely by women in the region. As it is forbidden to pick the fruit, only fallen fruit may be collected. L'Occitane encourages the preservation of this tradition by purchasing the shea butter at a "fair price".

Ethical approach

The company forbids animal testing, and no animal product or by-product, except for beehive products, which include honey, propolis, and royal jelly, is used in the manufacturing process. L'Occitane claims to develop its products in line with organic cosmetics specifications of Ecocert; belongs to the Cosmebio association, a professional association for the ecological and organic beauty products sector; and is linked to One Voice, a European coalition whose goal is to put an end to animal experiments.

Support for the sensory impaired

In 1997, L'Occitane employees created a perfume school called Provence dans tous les Sens (meaning "all the senses of Provence). Visually impaired teenagers are flown to France for a week long workshop, where they are educated on the history of fragrance making from a blind French perfumer and are given the opportunity to invent their own scents. Through this program, this institution hopes to help the development of the teenagers' sense of smell, to and inspire future careers.

Braille labeling can be found on the packaging of some products, which gives the visually impaired access to them.

The L'Occitane Foundation

La Fondation d’Entreprise L’Occitane is a private organisation founded in 2006 by the company to support visually impaired people, preserve 'knowledge of nature' in Provence, and help the economic emancipation of women. The Foundation has a budget of 3 million Euros for 5 years.

The Foundation supports associations for the visually impaired particularly in Bangladesh and Burkina Faso, giving them access abroad; it also works to train professionals in order to reduce blindness in the world. In France the Foundation started studying insertion of the visually impaired in the professional workplace.

In order to preserve the knowledge of plants, the Foundation gives support to museums to renovate gardens or transmit the traditions.

To sustain and strengthen the relationship built between women cooperatives in the Shea butter trade and the Company in Burkina Faso, the Foundation encourages the women to initiate other income generating activities to increase their autonomy.

Melvita

L'Occitane bought Groupe M&A Développement and its subsidiary, M&A Santé Beauté, which includes the organic cosmetic brand Melvita, in 2008.

References

  1. L'OCCITANE | Customer Service | Frequently Asked Questions | USA Site
  2. Our Values and Commitments
  3. Olivier Baussan, L'Occitane
  4. L'OCCITANE en provence - Homepage - 30 Years of True Story
  5. http://www.elleview.com/loccitane.htm
  6. Jennifer Creevy, "Scent of a winner". Retail Week 28 July 2006.
  7. Lee, Maggie. Business "Interview: Olivier Baussan, founder, L'Occitane" The Independent (9 April 2006)
  8. Onippam Office National Interprofessionnel des PlantesàParfum, Aromatiques et Médicinales.
  9. Anthea De Lima (15 January 2004), p. 07, New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur.
  10. ECOCERT: contrôle de produits - certification
  11. One Voice : Liste des produits cosmétiques non testés sur animaux
  12. Michal Lev-Ram. Fortune. New York: Nov 13, 2006. Vol. 154, Iss. 10; pg. 55
  13. L'Occitane


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