Sylvie Chantecaille, founder of the eponymous luxury skincare and cosmetics brand, discusses working with family and the importance of conservation work
Words: Gabrielle Nathan
Leading a hugely successful global beauty brand requires vision, determination and dedication. It also takes the support of your loved ones — as Sylvie Chantecaille has discovered over the past 23 years. Chantecaille the brand, which began as a niche fragrance house, is most definitely a family affair. A year after launch, Sylvie’s older daughter Olivia joined forces with her mother and the pair focused their talents and Sylvie’s considerable experience — gained from launching best-selling cosmetics brand Prescriptives at Estée Lauder — on creating science-based, pure and effective botanical beauty products.
Olivia is now Chantecaille’s Creative Director, her sister Alexandra Vice President of Sales, their brother Philippe Director of Media Production and their father Olivier Chief Financial Officer. Even Olivia’s husband Ren works for the company.
“There is an innate trust and understanding when you work with your family, but it can be hard to strike a balance between home and work as Chantecaille is in every aspect of our lives,” admits Sylvie.
Inspired by her own mother’s love of gardening, Sylvie set out to create the first skincare company based on flowers. She says: “I have always had the feeling that there was something about the flower that I had to understand — there’s an awful lot it can tell you.”
This reverence, combined with her passion for cutting-edge skincare, pure ingredients and aromatherapy, led Sylvie to develop plant-powered beauty products that are widely lauded as innovative, effective and luxurious.
The family’s devotion to integrating science and technology with botanicals and luxury skincare has seen the company grow into a high-profile global beauty and cosmetics business, with beauty counters in 17 countries.
Luminescent Eye Shades in Zebra, £48 each
As the brand blooms, the family has been able to benefit others: to date, Chantecaille has donated more than $2 million to conservation groups working to protect endangered and threatened species, as well as to global environmental causes. These acts of philanthropy stem from an epiphany Sylvie had in 2006, when she noticed fewer Monarch butterflies were visiting the garden of her Hamptons, US, home. “I had to know why and discovered it was a combination of global warming, deforestation and insecticide.” So she created Chantecaille’s first philanthropy partnership — a colourful eyeshadow palette that raised money to support conservationists working to protect the delicate creatures. “This project opened my eyes to the exciting possibility that there was a way to use my job for a cause I was so passionate about.” Since then, Chantecaille has launched 28 limited-edition Philanthropy Collections — three of them permanent — helping to raise awareness for the oceans, coral reefs, gorillas, wolves and elephants.
These collaborations are Sylvie’s way of celebrating botanical beauty while making a commitment to environmental philanthropy. “I feel strongly about creating the best products with the highest quality ingredients, but I’m also passionate about the earth. With our collaborations, we can spread awareness to our customers, because we know they care. We want to be an agent of change, giving a voice to those who don’t have one — the animals and the earth,” Sylvie says.
This season, charitable collaborations include the addition of two new Luminescent Eye Shades to the Africa’s Vanishing Species collection — a rose gold colour named Zebra and a shimmering berry shade dubbed Crane. A portion of revenue from the sale of these products will go directly to two organisations working to conserve not only the animals they are named after, but also — in the case of Grevy’s Zebra Trust — to promote wider conservation efforts.
Sylvie cherishes her philanthropy work — travelling the world to meet with the people behind the causes Chantecaille supports and spending time with the animals in the wild brings her inordinate joy. But there is also room for other projects; earlier this year, Chantecaille collaborated with New York artist John Derian to produce an exclusive design honouring the brand’s 100-petal Rose de Mai, a rare rose hand-harvested in the early weeks of May in Grasse, France.
John Derian x Chantecaille Rose de Mai Harvest Set, £312
The exquisite bloom is the inspiration behind many of the brand’s skincare products and the chief ingredient in its Rose de Mai collection.
From the superlative Future Skin foundation to the potent anti-ageing Gold Recovery Intense Concentrate PM, every Chantecaille product is testament to the family’s commitment to producing effective, groundbreaking cosmetics — and proof of how well the Chantecailles work together.