June 2018, Cossma:

Interview: Countess Mary von Faber-Castell on 40 years of cosmetics

Mary Gräfin von Faber-Castell in the interview

Established in 1978, Faber-Castell Cosmetics is a global private label cosmetic manufacturer focusing on colour cosmetics and nail care.This year’s 40th anniversary of Faber-Castell Cosmetics is an important milestone for this division which is part of a Group active in pencils and pens that dates back to 1761. In an interview Countess Mary Von Faber-Castell looks back on forty years of evolution. 

What led to the creation of Faber-Castell Cosmetics?

Forty years ago my husband who unfortunately passed away two years ago decided to create this division from scratch and integrate it in a family group which was then predominantly specialised in high quality writing tools. The creation of this cosmetic division remains one of his greatest successes. It was created from scratch to overcome at the time the sudden fall of a market on which we were one of the world leaders, slide rules! Today the cosmetics business is approaching 20% of the Group and employs some 800 people in three plants in Germany and Brazil. 

You started your career in cosmetics and it is this very sector that brought you and your husband together …

Indeed, I started my first job in 1976 in this sector of beauty, first at Macy’s where I stayed three years and then at L’Oréal for five years and finally Chanel, where we actually met. I have transitioned from retail to marketing, to manufacturing and ultimately to general management in the cosmetics industry. Being an American has been an asset to me in Germany. From the American side, I am optimistic and willing to take on the challenges offered from our customers. Living and working in Germany has taught me that reliability is essential as an international supplier in the cosmetics industry. Since 1997, I have been in charge of the cosmetics division. 

What were the major stages of development in the course of the forty years?

When I arrived, this activity only accounted for 5% of the Group’s turnover compared to almost 20% today. After all, the Group’s total turnover has also increased significantly. The first important step was in the 1980’s, with the development of a jumbo felt-tip pen and a click pen which allowed us to complement our portfolio with a pencil-like flow-through packaging for liquid formulations and emulsions. The second step was around the Millennium: With the retractable mechanical pencil and the jumbo plastic pencil which enabled creamier formulations for longer-lasting applications and finally the slim felt tip pen with its super fine brush tip, the must have every day tool for the perfect eyeliner application. 

What have been the latest developments?

In the last 2 years, we developed two new packaging options: The sharpenable slim plastic pencil Magnetic is suitable for super long-lasting formulations and can easily be customized from “tip to toe”. And Styler - our second slim liquid liner generation - is available with four different felt tips and provides an incredibly stunning, deep, saturated ink flow in one stroke whether you prefer an eyeliner in deep, dense black or icy metallics. 

What is your approach in terms of sustainability?

As you know, sustainability management and ecological responsibility have always been part of the company’s core value. We believe in blending the heritage and tradition and environmental responsibility of Faber-Castell with the modern challenges of the dynamic cosmetics industry. In 2008, we started with the Truly Natural concept using renewable natural resources, followed by natural cosmetics with organic certification from Ecocert. We also use our own FSC-certified wood for our wooden pencils. 

What role does your production in Brazil play in terms of sustainability?

In 2013, we built a new state-of-the art cosmetic production plant in Brazil where we produce wood-cased and mechanical pencils for the international markets but also liquid products for the Latin American region. South America and Brazil in particular are an essential component of your Group’s industrial and commercial structure. Our Group has its own forests in this region of the world for the manufacture of pencils. We initiated a pioneering plantation project more than three decades ago on former grassland with a poor sandy soil; it proved to be a forestry project of unique character in the industry, located in the middle of the Brazilian savannah near Prata (Minas Gerais state), more than 2,500 kilometers away from the Amazon rainforest. It currently covers 10,000 hectares.

An important contribution was also made to sustainable forest management in the agricultural north of Columbia close to the Magdalena River. Since 2009, the Group has been one of the few private-sector investors to take part in this project with the goal of securing wood resources for pencil production with the small-scale farmers based there. Around 2,000 hectares of woodland area have been farmed by the small farmers since then. In 2012, it became the first forestry project to be included in the strictly monitored “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM) program by the United Nations.

Our commitment to the environment is not restricted to production. In Brazil, for example, Faber-Castell has actively contributed to the Arboris, Animalis, and ECOmmunity projects since 2001. The goal is to preserve the natural flora and fauna in the region around Prata, and to raise awareness among employees and the public so that everyone is teased to become an environmental ambassador.

What is your vision of Faber-Castell Cosmetics in the future?

Flexibility and size are our key strengths, that enable us to respond quickly to demand. Focusing on colour cosmetics and nail care, we design and develop state-of-the-art standard and customised products as well as individual product developments for nearly every make-up application. Carefully selected ingredients ensure extra comfort in application and use.

Every demand can be met by our wide range of formulae: from fine-tuned application characteristics to extreme temperature stability – the challenge is global. By constantly incorporating the latest performance enhancers in the terms of raw materials, textures are refined with advanced additives and special effect ingredients that optimise the products’ benefits. And all our formulae for the eyes are ophthalmologically tested – because we care. An intelligent modular system of formulations, packagings and accessories offers ultimate flexibility. Whether wax-based or liquid, every formulation is characterised by a set of well-defined properties adapted to the individual packaging.

We offer smart solutions for a flawless complexion to a high impact make-up, create spot-on styles using unlimited colors, surprise effects, whether pearly, matte, creamy, shiny or glossy, and performance boosters from long-lasting to waterproof. We offer premium treatment products for nails and cuticles that soothe, strengthen, condition, protect and shield against dryness and fragility.

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