The Essence of Provence: The Story of L'Occitane
Founded in 1976 by Olivier Baussan, the now world-renown fragrance company L'Occitane (which means "a woman of Provence" in Old French) was inspired by the essences of lavender and honeysuckle, rosemary, sage, and thyme indigenous to his childhood home in the south of France. In fact, it had been since the mid-1950s that Provence had been working its magic on the Baussan family, who left their urban life for a farm in Ganagobie when their son Olivier was only six months old. Blessed with a wonderfully acute sense of smell, Olivier eventually grew up to realize that he'd been born to distill and disseminate the many and varied perfumes of the region. His epiphany came when he was 22, when on the side of the road he found an abandoned still, which he bought for a song and, using the countryside's natural ingredients, he began manufacturing shampoos, colognes, bath essences, and soaps. Starting with five employees--including Olivier's wife and mother-in-law--his fledgling company grew into a major business. Today, L'Occitane, with hundreds of stores and thousands of employees worldwide, ranks as one of the world's most successful businesses--encapsulating a bit of paradise.
With over 60 boutiques in the United States alone, L'Occitane had sales of $80 million on 2001 and is aiming for a 75% increase this year as it continues to expand globally.
Reminiscent of A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle's bestselling work, this renders the irresistable appeal and magic of Provence. A fascinating biography of a rags-to-riches true original, Olivier Baussan.
Baussan's highly-principled ethics and unorthodox methods are edifying and instructive for business today, especially in light of therecent corporate scandals.
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