Naturalness and terroirs

Romain Ruth

Romain Ruth

But how on earth did Romain Ruth, a 33 year old Parisian lawyer specialized in criminal law, find himself two years ago, managing a company with an expertise in essential oils and organic cosmetics, in Saint Rémy de Provence? Certainly because of a genetic passion instilled long ago by his father Olivier Ruth, who had already left the mark of his passage in several successful companies (Le Petit Marseille, L’Occitane) before creating in 1997 the Durance brand, well inspired by the Lavandin de Grignan. This is where the Provence Nature Développement group was born around this idea of terroir and fine raw materials, with the acquisition of Florame in 2002, Collines de Provence (home fragrances and natural cosmetics) in 2004 and of Présent Simple (local traditions and gastronomy of Provence) in 2007. All this has the unmistakable scent of Provence, but not only, as some essential oils come from more exotic lands. Like ylang ylang, geranium or ravinsara, originating from Madagascar where Florame is involved in a development program.

"We have the largest catalogue of essential oils in the world, with products coming from the five continents," emphasises Ruth. This is also what motivated his decision: a passion for the product and its production channel that goes from the producer to the point of sale, but also a passion for a sensoriality which is specific to this universe. Not to mention a taste for international challenges, and the pleasure to participate to a family adventure with his father and his brother Nicolas (at the head of Durance).

Currently, Florame achieves 11.5 million euros in turnover, equally divided between essential oils and organic cosmetics, and with 85% achieved in France. The brand is distributed through its owned shops and salons in France. Nathalie Rigaud is the one who monitors the brand’s international development, already present in 35 countries (Europe, Asia and North America).

Research and Innovation

"Our formulas are the ones, on the market, with the highest percentages in organic ingredients," stresses Ruth who continues to communicate on the basic values of the company: its Provençal roots, its organic nature, its high-quality active ingredients using of a cold pressed extraction or a distillation performed in the traditional way, with AB and/or Cosmébio labels and an Ecocert certification.

The R&D and formulation laboratory which has been integrated to the group for many years under the supervision of Laurent Lefaucheur, develops all the new lines. "We have biological treasures, essential and vegetables oils to develop skin care and toiletries products, perfumes and home fragrances, even organic candles with their bio cotton wicks: our ambition is to market a novel product per segment each year," explains Ruth. In 2011, it was the new line Nutrition Intense, with organic essential oils, enriched with organic shea for the well-being of dry and fragile skins. But also a purifying bio spray, an organic sunscreen with an SPF of 50 which does go white when applied and the must have, a USB key that diffuses essential oils using ultrasounds to disperse molecules without heating them.

Located on the site of Saint Rémy, the quality department, equipped with spectrographs and chromatographs and headed by Aude Cabrera, validates the quality of all essential oils entering the site (about 140 different for aromatherapy and organic cosmetics), but also of packagings, good practices, traceability, and the results of safety tests carried out for finished products.

And eco-design in all this? "What suits us best are large volumes, like 1 litre size shower gels!" summarizes Ruth who is slowly but surely developing his company towards the fair and sustainable, with a carbon footprint underway and programmed zero pesticides operations. And because the social dimension of a company "is not necessarily at the other end of the world," he has set up a participation for the employees of Florame. Physician, heal thyself...