As one of the pioneers in sustainable beauty, Anthony Molet, CEO of Davines Group, discusses how the brand is rewriting the rules when it comes to doing business in the industry.
Can you talk us through your career?
I was raised in Giremoutiers, France, before moving to Paris in 1993 where I graduated four years later from ESLSCA Business School, a Grande École de Commerce. I then joined the New York subsidiary of a French family-owned company, manufacturing high-end haircare and skincare products, rapidly progressing to the role of Sales Director first for their Salon and then Retail divisions, which also earned me the title of Executive Vice President. In 2008, I joined Davines North America as CEO. During my thirteen-year tenure, I implemented structure and continuity, resulting in steady growth that made North America a key market for the Davines Group. It is with honour and pride that I picked up the baton passed by Paolo Braguzzi, our former CEO. He paved a path for the company with a perfect balance between values, quality products and financial health, and I am looking forward to continuing this journey.
Can you talk us through the history of Davines?
Davines Group is an Italian family company based in Parma, operating on the international haircare and skincare markets through its Davines and [ comfort zone ] brands. The company, founded by the Bollati family, started its journey in 1983 as a research lab specialized in the creation of haircare and skincare products, serving both small local manufacturers and international cosmetics players. In 1993, the Davines brand was born for the professional haircare market. In 1996, the [ comfort zone ] brand was created as the Davines counterpart in the professional skincare market and this includes spas and beauty salons. All formulas are developed and produced within the Group’s laboratories at the Davines Group headquarters in Parma. Both brands are specialized in high sustainable quality products, formulated with an artisanal spirit, and created according to the most recent and advanced cosmetic research and techniques. The Davines Group is present today in over 90 countries. Other than its Parma headquarters, the Group boasts offices in New York, London, Paris, Mexico City, The Netherlands and Hong Kong.
How have things evolved since the brand launched over 30 years ago?
Davines Group has been committed to sustainability for more than 15 years. Over time, our commitment has become increasingly holistic and integrated with all our processes: from the research of the ingredients for your beauty formulas up to the final product on the shelves of our salons. It’s a never-ending path, we certainly already have accomplished a lot to contain our climate impact, but we are constantly raising the bar. Today, we need to move from an extractive model that has depleted our natural resources, to a regenerative one that will allow a future for the next generations.
How would you say you have changed the hair care game?
In 2016, the company became a B Corporation, a company using business as a force for good to generate a positive impact on people, the planet, and communities. B Corp companies work toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, stronger communities, the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose, and to protect and regenerate the environment. We have thus rewritten our way of doing business, looking at business as a positive force capable of generating a profit and at the same time creating a virtuous impact on people and the environment. By demonstrating a fundamentally different governance philosophy than a traditional shareholder-centred corporation we are “redefining success in our industry”. I believe that it is increasingly the responsibility of companies to educate consumers and influence their behaviour toward a more sustainable world. What I find so compelling about Davines is that it has the power to impact so many people, just like it did to me.
What sets Davines apart from other hair care products?
Key and distinctive traits of the Davines Group approach are the meticulous attention to quality and details in the development of all products and projects; the search for beauty and excellence, with a typical ‘made in Italy’ taste and culture; and most of all the company’s inspiring core values, which put people, planet, and the community at the heart of every choice.
What is at the heart of Davines’ brand DNA?
At the heart of Davines is sustainable beauty which is the driving force for each of our projects – from formulation to design, to ethics and customers. Our ideal of beauty finds its inspiration in the concept of equilibrium between substance and shape. Our style is inspired by simplicity, harmony and good taste. By creating “beauty” we want to encourage people to take care of themselves, of the environment in which they live and work, and of the things they love. Meanwhile, sustainability deals with the responsibility we owe to ourselves, the people with which we work, our customers, and the world in which we live and operate.
You’ve seen global expansion over the years, particularly here in the Middle East. What haircare habits do you see here in the region that differs from other parts of the world?
In the Middle East, women love to be impeccably groomed and incredibly stylish and it is apparent that hair is an integral part of the region’s beauty DNA. With Arab complexions, hair tends to be very thick and voluminous so consumers like to ensure they are using products that will keep the integrity and health of their hair at its optimum level and give it a fabulous shine.
Another issue for all those who live in the Middle East, whatever their ethnicity, is its desert climate and the high levels of humidity, both of which can adversely affect the hair. This means that consumers look for products that are moisturising but at the same time keep frizz at bay so we find our Love Smooth range is very popular. The climate and frequency of activities such as time spent in chlorinated pools mean that blondes (whether natural or dyed) tend to look for products specific to them and so our Heart of Glass, which was launched earlier in the year, has become a must-have. Unlike other global regions, regular salon blowdries are hugely popular in the Middle East and so styling products that include heat protection are in great demand. Given that beach and pool days are commonplace, it’s little surprise that the tousled beach wave is a go-to style in the region and so our More Inside Salt spray is a best-seller here.
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Looking back over your journey building the Davines brand, what are some challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We have always been pioneers in sustainability, even when it wasn’t a top-of-mind concern for others. In the beginning, the hurdle was to let people, our consumers, and other companies in the beauty industry understand why our commitment to the environment was so important to us. Today sustainability is a topic that everybody is raising, and this helped us gain credibility far from the growing trend of greenwashing. Our desire to be “the best for the world” and not the “best in the world” continued to evolve during the years alongside the desire to lead others on the same path, with an advocacy activity that involves the stakeholders and partners with whom we come into contact. In our projects and choices, we are guided by an idea of “human ecology” aimed at rediscovering the fundamental balance between living beings and nature in a harmony that is beneficial for both. In the interdependence that binds all this, there is no social sustainability without environmental sustainability.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what have been the key milestones?
Significant milestones for us are the following:
- In 1994 as the company grows, Davines begins to export out of Italy. Davines Group is now present in more than 93 countries.
- In 2006 Davines Group starts the path to decarbonization. The Parma office begins to use electricity from renewable sources, and we invest in our first carbon sequestration project for our packaging.
- In 2009 The Charter for Sustainable Research is written, driving the work in our lab to maximize both sustainability and performance, and in 2011 we did the same for The Packaging Research Charter to guide our R&D in designing more sustainable packaging.
- In 2016 Davines Group becomes a certified B Corporation guaranteeing that the company meets the highest standards of transparency, governance, and sustainability.
- And in 2018 the Davines Village opens as Davines Group’s new home in Parma, Italy. We also become a carbon-neutral company neutralizing all the CO2eq emissions under our direct control.
What’s next for Davines?
The next phase of the company is vital to its global development. Always striving to meet the highest standards of social and environmental impact through people, planet and community, we will continue to focus on balancing evolution and growth while prioritizing the group’s core values of ethics, beauty and sustainability.
This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – how would you define a renegade?
I see “renegade” linked to rewriting “the rules”. In Davines every product or project is born by intuition, leading us to creativity and innovation, always following our values consistently. This can be also applied in the way we are walking our path towards sustainability for a more regenerative business model, thus redefining the rules of doing business in our industry.
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