Olivier Baussan

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Olivier Baussan (born December 9, 1954) is a French businessman and the founder of L'Occitane en Provence, Oliviers & Co and Première Pression Provence.

Biography[edit]

Baussan completed his degree in literature at the université d'Aix-en-Provence.[1]

At the age of 23 he began to focus on creating cosmetic products from the flora of Provence.[2]

But it was the acquisition of an old soap factory that had been on the decline, in partnership a chemist friend, Yves Millou, that launched the growth of the small business.

The group was created in 1976. In 1980 Baussan began a trip to Burkina Faso where he discovered the properties of shea butter. In 1981 he opened his first store in Volx in Haute Provence.In 1992 he sold the company to Austrian businessman Reinold Geiger but retained a 5% stake.[3]

Through l’Occitane en Provence he launched a brand of premium olive oil, Oliviers & Co, in 1996.[4] Most of the oils sold through the company are produced by families or small cooperatives, all of whom must follow Baussan’s exacting methods of cultivation and production.[5]

In July 2006 he opened the eco-museum of l’Olivier in Volx and, two years later, he opened the Première Pression Provence to commemorate the producers of olive oil in Provence. He is credited with the creation of all the packaging and the designs of the stores.

Philanthropy[edit]

He is Vice President of the L’Occitane Foundation, a charitable organization that focuses on the economic emancipation of women in Burkina Faso as well as the support for the visually impaired. The company decided in 1997 to include the names of products in braille on most of the packaging.[6] He partnered with the Hellen Keller Foundation to provide eye exams to schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and in Los Angeles. In addition, he decided that all the proceeds from the sale of L’Occitane’s “Animal Soaps Set” go to Orbis, a non-profit organization that works to fight blindness in developing countries.[7]

L’Occitane is almost solely responsible for the growth and financial stability of a women’s co-op in Burkina Faso that supplies the shea butter for the company’s lotions and cleansers. Baussan discovered the co-op accidentally while on a business trip to Cape Verde. He was so fascinated by a reporter’s story about the co-op that he went to Burkina Faso to see it for himself and became passionate about supporting it. The co-op originally had only 12 employees but has now grown to over 12,000.

Awards[edit]

In 2009 Baussan received a medal of the Knight of the Order of Merit of Agriculture from Michel Barnier, the French minister of agriculture.[8]

In February 2011 he was nominated by the Vanity Fair Hall of Fame for his philanthropic work.[9]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Olivier Baussan - Fondateur de L'Occitane en Provence, d’Oliviers & Co et Premiere Pression Provence, LSA, June 1, 2011
  2. ^ Olivier Baussan, héraut infatigable de la Provence, l'Opinion, September 10, 2014
  3. ^ L’Occitane en Provence : de la success story à la machine de guerre marketing, Carnets du business, March 11, 2013
  4. ^ Clare O'Connor, The Billionaire Behind L'Occitane's Asian Expansion, Forbes, 23 mars 2011
  5. ^ Oliviers Twist, Food and Wine, April 2004
  6. ^ "Fields of Action".
  7. ^ SunHee Grinnel (December 23, 2011). "Olivier Baussan: L'Occitane's Santa Claus". Vanity Fair.
  8. ^ Olivier Baussan - Fondateur de L'Occitane en Provence, d’Oliviers & Co et Premiere Pression Provence, LSA, June 1, 2011
  9. ^ Vanity Fair Nominates Olivier Baussan, Vanity Fair, June 1, 2011