The word *gourmandise* is one of those hardly translatable words that are yet so essential to understanding French culture. The concept could be described as a noble gluttony, the pleasure, and appreciation for good food. A *gourmandise* can also be something that you eat, not necessarily because you are hungry, but because you simply crave it and want to savor and appreciate its taste.
After discovering Forêt Bleue and meeting its founder, Emmanuelle Engeli, I can safely say that the Geneva-based brand is a new gourmandise. A skincare company created from the desire to craft quality products, with carefully selected ingredients, and not at the expense of the planet. Sipping juice and munching on croissants in her lovely home and lab, we talked about ecology, the industry’s hypocrisy, her favorite dessert and changing the world.
You can find my review of selected products here.
Why Forêt Bleue (blue forest, in English)?
First of all, I am a « gourmande » and my favorite dessert is the Forêt Noire. So, I wanted to play around this element to find an identity to my brand. Forrest for the obvious relation to nature, as one of my core values, is ecology. I also love the imaginary fairy world and I think of each of my products as a skin fairy, that’s why some of them have Celtic sounding names. In my eyes, blue represents cleanliness, water, and freshness, things you’d like to find in your products!
How did you come to create Forêt Bleue?
I used to think that in order to positively impact the world, I had to work for the public sector and go on humanitarian missions, which I did, after my studies in international relations. As time passed, I discovered that the private sector actually held one of the keys to the development of society and could be a catalyst for positive change.
When I first started formulating the products, I did it as a way to become a conscious consumer and avoid industrial products that pollute. I also did it parallel to my work. During breaks, I would be reading up articles on cosmetics and skincare recipes and looking forward to going back home to experiment. Little by little, what started out as an individual enterprise became a brand with the support of my family and friends that showed genuine interest in my work. So, I quit my job and devoted myself exclusively to starting my own skincare brand.
I love what I do, the freedom and luxury to be working completely aligned with my values.
What are your values?
It was crucial to me that my brand would be founded based on my personal values and that they resonate with many people.
Ecology: that was actually the driving element in my personal journey, I wanted to learn how to be a better consumer to avoid further worsen the condition of the planet.
Sourcing of quality ingredients: I want to know what I am working with, the history of the beautiful matter that I will transform and the journey it took to reach me.
Health: I wanted to formulate safe products that my customers would trust and have the least amount of allergens in them. I do not use essential oils in my products for this very reason, as more and more people are becoming sensitive to it and some are even shown to be carcinogenic.
Communication, education, and information: I want my customers to be empowered with the knowledge I put out throughout the website and when they contact me. They can then become responsible consumers, further their knowledge and even apply it to other areas of their lives. I see this as my part in positively impacting the world!
Who was the customer you had in mind while developing the brand?
That’s an interesting question because it’s something that challenged my own beliefs. Generally, women who are about to have their first child, start to look for gentler care products for their children and thus become interested in natural skincare. I thought this would be my main demographic, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that women in their 70’s and men were interested and actually liked using my products!
Lastly, any beauty tips for my readers?
Marketing has led us to believe that we need 50 different products to have a beautiful skin. Truth be told, all skins have the same fundamental needs that are hydration and protection. Don’t expect skincare to solve your skin related issues when we now know how much lifestyle influences our largest organ. A cream, however powerful, will not solve a breakout resulting from stress!
Therefore, my first tip is to learn how to read the INCI ingredient list, then to take the time to massage the products into your skin and finally, drink lots of water!
Forêt Bleue’s products can be purchased on the website and at the time of writing, they only ship within Switzerland. They are also available at the C’BOS store in Carouge – rue Saint-Joseph 7, 1227 Carouge Geneva!