PARIS — Guerlain hosted the second edition of its Universités des Abeilles, or Bees Universities, a gathering of experts in the domains of biodiversity and bees to talk about better ways to protect the insects and combat their decline.
Bees have been the symbol of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned brand since 1853, appearing on the label’s flacons and as a key ingredient in some of its products. But large swaths of the bee population have been dying due to the use of pesticides and climate change, among other factors.
Speakers at Guerlain’s event on Tuesday included specialists in apiculture and agriculture, the president of the Botanic garden store and the head of sustainable development at Monoprix.
During the event held in LVMH’s headquarters, Laurent Boillot, president of Guerlain, revealed the launch of the Bee School, a new program targeting young children. It will involve, starting in September in France, Guerlain employees learning how to teach youngsters about the importance of protecting bees.
The school is to be rolled out elsewhere in the world. The goal by 2020 is for each Guerlain employee to be an ambassador for bees and biodiversity, sharing the information with children.
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Boillot quoted a maxim important to Guerlain: “We have to do our part — and a little more.”
It’s all in keeping with the brand’s 10-year sustainability program, dubbed “In the Name of Beauty.” Guerlain has long been ecologically minded. The brand’s bee-embossed fragrance bottles are refillable, so as to cut down on environmental waste. And the label uses a tool called Life 2020 to source the most eco-responsible materials. For the past three years, Guerlain has granted employees a Committed Day off from work to be involved in initiatives backed by the company.
Sandrine Sommer, CSR and sustainable development director at Guerlain, who was just named to its executive committee, said nature is a source of inspiration for the brand. “We consider the world as our garden,” she explained. “Without a bee, no flower. Without a flower, no fragrance, no [product] range.”
She said luxury brands have a role to play in explaining what they’re doing: “We have a line that’s called Abeille Royale in which there’s honey that comes from this incredible island, Ouessant. We need to explain to our clients why we chose this honey.”
That involves describing its characteristics in terms of cosmetic virtues but also the rare ecosystem the honey is from.
Bees are a powerful symbol, and people have a true affection for them, Guerlain executives maintained. “They make it possible to raise awareness of problems of biodiversity, of phyto products’ usage without using terms too technical,” said Cécile Joucan, the coordinator of LVMH’s environmental department.