NEW YORK — Five years after chic soap boutique L’Atelier du Savon launched in Paris’ Marais neighborhood, the line is coming to America, brought here by actress and socialite Jennifer Creel, whose brother-in-law, Jamie Creel, co-founded the company.
“What makes our soap so wonderful is that it’s incredibly gentle skin care, and it’s all produced using artisan methods in Marseille,” said Creel, who’s running the U.S. distribution with her father-in-law, John Colgate, scion of the Colgate-Palmolive fortune. “It’s so pure, I use it on my children.”
The Provence-produced bar and liquid soaps had a soft launch at Bergdorf Goodman last November, but the line’s official rollout on Oct. 30 will expand distribution to retailers like Zitomer in New York, Tory Burch’s boutiques in New York and Los Angeles, Tracey Ross in Los Angeles and the Beauty Bar in Neptune Beach, Fla. Creel and Colgate are currently in discussions to sell to selected Neiman Marcus doors, as well. Their first-year retail goals, they said, are to be in between 75 and 125 doors and to do $1.5 million in sales.
“We have herbs, plants, flowers and fruit. There’s no limit to what we can make,” said co-founder Marco Scarani, who had worked in marketing and press at Lancôme and Ungaro before opening the shop on the Rue du Vielle Temple in September 1999.
Inspired by the gentle Marseille soap of his youth, and intrigued by the boom of niche fragrance companies like Diptyque, Scarani teamed with Jamie Creel to introduce hand-poured, glycerine and palm oil-based soap in 40 base scents, adding seasonal collections. The mild soaps feature botanical bits like flower blossoms and seeds. Fragrances come from three Grasse, France-based suppliers.
For the U.S. launch, L’Atelier du Savon is offering 13 scents — including tuberose, cucumber, grapefruit and seaweed. Prices are $10 for a 4.4-oz. square, $14 for a 6.2-oz. soap containing a natural loofah sponge and $30 for a 17-fl. oz. bottle of liquid soap.
While the product remains the same, Creel, a fashion show fixture and a former designer with Ralph Lauren sportswear, has changed the packaging from the minimalist Parisian white to a chartreuse and silver box, with a window allowing a glimpse of the jewel-toned products.“I felt that the packaging didn’t match the product, so I wanted to make it look a bit more upscale,” said Creel.
Creel said she’ll be launching candles in January, and hopes to roll out extensions like moisturizing lotion and hair products in the future. “We’re just starting to get out there,” said Creel, adding that this was the first time she’d worked with family members to create a new company. “When it’s your own thing, obviously the sky’s the limit.” — Jackie Cooperman
L’Oréal Deal Said in the Works
NEW YORK — Rumors swirling in the market indicate that L’Oréal USA is in talks with Kyan Douglas, the grooming expert on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” regarding a possible deal as a spokesman for one of its brands. But nothing has been confirmed by either Douglas or the beauty company. It has been reported in these columns that Douglas has sought a cosmetics industry partner for months.
Marionnaud, Arbat in Joint Venture
PARIS — Marionnaud Parfumeries this week confirmed it has inked a partnership with Arbat Prestige, a Moscow-based perfumery chain.
As reported, the Russian firm’s stores will trade under the Marionnaud name as part of a franchising agreement. Marionnaud and Arbat plan to quadruple the Russian chain’s turnover by 2008, to reach $1 billion. — Tina Isaac
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