When tourists talk about south of France, they invariably mean the Côte d’Azur or Provence. Well last week, I traveled to the Languedoc region, more precisely to Castres, a small village an hour drive from Toulouse. It is home to A-Derma, the dermatology cosmetic brand which invited a few of us to learn more about the enterprise culture, its signature Terre d’Avoine and products.
Everything about Castres was charming. We stayed in a small and atypical hotel in the village center. With our intense schedule, we actually didn’t get to spend much time there anyway. As soon as we arrived, it was time to get ready for dinner. We were taken to a mansion once occupied by A-Derma’s founder Pierre Fabre (who also owns the Avène and Chlorane brands). The property sits in a huge park of high trees and overlooks the river. Simply magical.
We got up early next morning to be driven through breathtaking scenery to visit the Terre d’Avoine, a domain where they grow a special white oat. It is the source of an ingredient that supposedly nourishes fragile skins. We were told how the oats themselves are farmed in an environmentally-friendly way. You can sense that everyone here has an artisanal pride for what they do and produce. Here “Bio” is not just a label but a spirit – the products are made by the most natural means possible including the use of renewable energy in the factory.
I haven’t tested any of their products yet but I learned they are particularly known for taking care of atopic skins, from newborns to grown-ups. One product I look forward to trying is the DERMALIBOUR+ Repairing Cream for repairing and soothing irritated skins.
Our visit included a tour of the production site – like the kind you see on TV where big machines fill creams into jars. For someone not familiar with factories, the process was impressive! Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures and share them here.
The day has been long and intensive but still wasn’t entirely over – time to get changed and head out for dinner! We were once again treated to a gorgeous gourmet meal with joyful moments! The evening also provided a chance to get to know A-Derma representatives and fellow guests more personally.
One thing that particularly struck me on this trip is the pride of the employees to be working for the company and the deep respect they have for the founder Pierre Fabre. They talked about him as if he was still very much alive, admiring him for the values he transmitted in taking care of the nature, environment and people. I felt enriched to be able to experience firsthand, the inner workings of a cosmetics business, and perhaps even more importantly, how a leader can leave a legacy of strong values in a company.
Proenza Schouler bag
La Redoute slippers