When Nazish Munchenbach took over the marketing department in 2004, Granado was moribund and under bankruptcy threat. But as she was both convinced of the brand’s potential and moved by the affection Brazilians of all generations felt for it, she started by rebuilding its image with the support of Christopher Freeman. She got some help from a designer friend based in New York City, Jérôme Berard, and from Sissi, Christopher’s daughter, and drew from the brand’s precious archives to recover its original DNA. A team of eight people worked on updating the visual identity, which was to become a key element of this rejuvenation. The image was restored with colours and drawings from the old days, and attracted a new generation fond of the vintage trend.
Meanwhile, ranges developed and grew wider, and the other Brazilian historic brand, Phebo, fell into Christopher Freeman’s hands as well – but both needed a showcase to present their new faces. Again, Nazish Munchenbach drew inspiration from the brand’s movable heritage, delving into the past, and restoring the old furniture stored in the back shop of her very first pharmacy to redecorate and give a new boost to the historic store located on Primeiro de Março street, in Rio. “The dusty place still had this 70s Formica style,” she recalls. In 2005, it became the first flagship store of a long series, as Granado/Phebo counts more than 40 points-of-sale across Brazil today, as well as an online store.
With Phebo and Granado, Brazilian customers - 40% of men - were able to bring back their memories of childhood scents, an integral part of their own stories. But they could also revive quality products with genuine fragrances like lavender, which, as it is associated with baby care in all families, conditioned Brazilian women’s taste for this scent from elsewhere. Soaps are plant-based, and skincare products are mostly formulated with natural ingredients, without being tested on animals. “We mainly aim for efficacy and safety, without going indiscriminately natural,” specifies Nazish Munchenbach.
Now, the brand does not intend to stop at the 20% growth rate per year it has shown since 2005. In addition to the historic Phebo plant in Belem, it has just opened a new plant in the State of Rio to meet the production demand. It has also announced a 22% growth for the beginning of 2015, and is savouring an unexpected breakthrough on the French market.
A noteworthy arrival in France
When cousins Mario and Antonio Santiago created Phebo in Belem in 1930, they intended - and managed - to compete with French brands, which dominated the market, by offering exclusively high-end, plant-derived products. “More than 100 years later, things have gone our way, and it is a nice reward to see how warmly the French have welcomed Phebo and Granado products,” confesses Nazish Munchenbach.
Indeed, given the results and craze the French quickly showed for these vintage, genuinely Brazilian products, the almost exclusive partnership with Le Bon Marché in Paris was extended. However, when the brand has found its ideal distribution channel, no doubt it will liberate itself from the left-bank Parisian department store. As an example, it opened a subsidiary in Paris in September 2013, and has also gradually appeared in a few points-of-sale elsewhere in France.
“We have maintained relationships based on closeness with our partners in France. It is essential, because we value our Brazilian identity and want to keep it this way. Our country is quite popular in France,” concludes Nazish Muchenbach.