Treating your skin to a gourmet meal 🥗
How Krème is feeding your skin with preservative-free fresh products…
Industrial food filled with preservatives has pretty bad press these days, and many of us try to eat fresher products for health reasons.
Juliette and Marie have created Krème to apply those same principles to the cosmetics we use.
Thank you for taking the time to share with us. First, for those of us who do not worry too much about the cosmetics that we buy, what were the issues that you had with regular off-the-shelf brands?
The cosmetic industry has drifted. Today, beauty products are designed to endure endless shelf lives, which comes at a cost for our skin.
On average, in France, it takes almost two years between the time a cosmetic product is manufactured and the time it is opened and used in the bathrooms.
This has two consequences: first, many active ingredients (for which we pay a high price) have lost almost all their effectiveness. Second, the products are loaded with broad-spectrum preservatives. These preservatives - some of which are highly criticized such as parabens - sensitize and attack the skin flora.
Today, in France, 1 person out of 3 suffers from a skin disease, with eczema, acne, psioriasis sweeping the board, all directly related to an imbalance of the microbiota.
We are used to believing that cosmetics products should last forever. It makes sense from a financial standpoint, but not from a product performance and skin respect perspective.
I have to agree that the products I use probably spent a bit too much time in my bathroom closet. So what pushed the both of you to tackle that issue?
Marie and I have different backgrounds. I was working in the cosmetics industry and was astonished by this lack of freshness. Marie is an engineer, who used to work in the aeronautics industry, where storage remains the last option, due to cost and complexity. She was passionate about cosmetics, and wanted to change careers.
We came together with a common vision: to imagine fresh and simple skincare that could make the skin healthy.
“Today, in France, 1 person out of 3 suffers from a skin disease.”
The sad truth about industrial products is that their flaws are oftentimes the result of reasonable optimisation processes. What did you decide what the key to the alternative?
With Krème, we formulate simple and healthy face care products, enriched with probiotics and French super plants.
Fresh skin care allows us to use highly potent ingredients, and we use no preservatives.
We produce when we need to. Instead of producing a lot at once and storing for months or years, we produce less but more often. Productions are restarted every 10 weeks. To give you an example, since our first production last December, we have already run 3 productions of our best-selling cream, in just 4 months.
The result is fresh, clean care that is at its peak efficacy when it reaches our customers.
The food industry has been steadily following a trend toward fewer transformation and shorter ingredients lists. Do you feel that you are benefitting from a similar pattern?
The food industry is our main source of inspiration, way more than the cosmetics industry.
We think they're a step forward in therms of local sourcing and clean transition.
To achieve such short delivery times between production and purchase, we decided to focus on local ingredients.
It is also a militant choice to support the French agricultural and industrial sectors. Everything is made in France, but we go further: our ingredients and packaging also come from France. Because what's the point of boasting about "made in France" if it's only to put coconut oil or aloe vera in it? We manage to act with the flexibility that we have today thanks to this short supply chain network of producers and supplier.
“The food industry is our main source of inspiration.”
The way you describe your product specifications seems like a massive puzzle to solve. What were the challenges that you met in the process of building your value chain?
From the beginning, we knew that we would not be able to find the right partners by staying behind our computers. So we went to meet organic producers across France, but also formulators and packaging manufacturers.
We met extraordinary passionate people.
In our products, you will find thyme from Montpellier, spirulina from Brittany, chestnut from Corrèze, rosemary from Ardèche, and the list goes on and on (these ingredients are of such good quality that, apart from cosmetics, they're often sold to Michelin-starred restaurants).
The same goes for our packaging: we work with French glassmakers and printers. We were in the middle of the Covid crisis when we chose our suppliers, and it appeared very clearly to us that this was the right thing to do. This comes at a cost, but we won't make any compromise on this.
Today, we want to go even further. We support a farmer, Aurore, who is reintroducing a forgotten plant in the North of France: the woad, that gives a deep blue pigment and made the fortune of many northern cities in the Middle Ages. We are financing part of the project and wish to use her assets in a future product.
Since you have a knack for building good relationships, I imagine that you applied that skill to your users as well, what was your first step?
Of course! It's not about being "top-down" or "bottom-up", it's about building a constant horizontal dialogue with our clients and prospects. Before even starting anything, we sent various surveys to thousands of people, using the diffusion power of social media.
Our brand was launched on Ulule, a crowdfunding platform and ranked #1 of all beauty projects ever.
Today, we use different platforms to dialogue with our clients : Google surveys through newsletters, private closed groups on Facebook, direct messages on Instagram or even phone calls. We onboard our community on decisions regarding the packaging, the formulation or even the communication angles. We learn a lot and often change our approach taking their opinion into account!
We have well established that no entrepreneur manages to reach success alone. Could you share with us your experience with entrepreneurship support systems and what they brought you?
We are totally self-financed but have been able to count on the help of the BPI via the PIA grant. We rely on a group of mentors who guide us on a daily basis on subjects related to finance, marketing or distribution, most of them having been introduced to us by Incubateur HEC Paris.
The best advice we received was perhaps to maintain a permanent dialogue with our clients (and non-clients) and quick (but not dirty) test-and-learn is key.
“It's not about being "top-down" or "bottom-up", it's about building a constant horizontal dialogue with our clients and prospects.”
I'm glad to see that you are only at the beginning of your journey. So what can we expect to see from Kreme in the coming months?
Thank you! This is just the beginning indeed!
You can find our 3 products (a cleansing gel, a moisturizing cream, a balancing oil) on our website, and we just announced our arrival at Monoprix, in their new retail concept "La Santé au quotidien".
In the coming months, we also want to expand to pharmacies and grow our team!
Thanks a lot, I’ll keep an eye for you there!