Doing Well by Doing Good: An Interview With Bertrand Thomas, Co-Founder of Caudalie

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Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas built a very successful skincare company that prides itself on formulating products with natural, sustainably harvest ingredients. A member of 1% For the Planet, Caudalie is a big supporter of our work at Epic Foundation...and big believer in doing well by doing good.

In 2012, Caudalie became a member of 1% For the Planet, a global movement of companies that donate at least 1% of their revenues to organizations around the world. Why should more companies in your industry get involved in this movement?

We think more companies in the fast growing cosmetic industry should join the 1% for the planet. We understand it is not easy to convince a board or shareholders about this investment. We had quite a few challenges internally at Caudalie. Some of our retailers and partners around the world complained and said: "Give us the money, we will have better use for it!" My wife and I were lucky to own and control 100% of Caudalie. We enjoyed our freedom to make important decisions like this one. It was a game changer for us. We are proud about this initiative and our Caudalie team feels the same.

Caudalie prides itself on formulating products made with natural, sustainably harvested ingredients. What inspired the idea behind "cosm-ethics"?

My wife Mathilde has had the same vision since we created Caudalie 20 years ago: women want effective products really solving skin issues, in highly natural formulas and glamorous textures. They want it all, and it's hard work for us! I can see my wife trying all day long new formulas, smelling, touching, feeling...The ingredients we use are more expensive, hard to source and unstable in formulas, but we believe they will do wonders on our skins. We work with world-class experts from Harvard Medical School in Boston on new generations of anti-aging molecules to reverse skin aging. It's fascinating to see that most solutions exist in Nature: one has to be committed and patient to find them!

Caudalie was an early believer in our mission, pledging $1 million to support children and youth. What motivated you to expand your CSR beyond environmental initiatives to this cause?

Our focus has always been planting trees all around the globe. By 2020, Caudalie will have planted successfully 5 million trees! But we were compelled by Epic Foundation's revolutionary approach. First, the way they selected the organizations they wanted to support financially: I have never seen such a demanding and selective process, which, frankly speaking, is very important to us as we want to make sure our money is well spent. Second, the way they monitor operations we support and follow up with us through their digital tool, it's the Return On Investment. Third, it is the only organization giving 100% of its donations to kids because the overheads and corporate expenses are financed by the Family who created EPIC.

What is the greatest lesson you've learned so far as an entrepreneur?

Wow... I learn lessons everyday. But the most important one is probably Alexandre Mars "doing well by doing good."

Finally, do you think by doing good, you're more successful?

The 21st century is digital, global and ethical. People know everything. They vote with their wallet. They endorse our brand values by using our products. Working well and creating sustainable growth business models is more important than ever.