Nicolas Gerlier, is the president and co-founder of La Bouche Rouge – the world’s first line of luxury refillable lipsticks, which he launched with co-founder Ezra Petronio. Here Nicolas shares how he lives his life, at work and at home.
A beautiful mission
I spent 10 years working for L’Oreal, Armani and Lancôme before launching La Bouche Rouge and witnessed the polluting nature of the cosmetic industry, where an estimated one billion lipstick cases are thrown away every year. We wanted to create a desirable and lasting object with a pure make-up formula containing no micro-plastics. All our lipsticks come in stainless steel tubes encased in double-tanned calf leather. Water preservation is very important to us and for each lipstick sold, we supply 100 litres of safe drinking water to Eau Vive International.
A clean production
We have an office in Paris and our atelier or production lab in Orléans. We really want to be a sustainable brand in the way we produce as well as in our product. The first thing that was kind of different from the contemporary lipstick industry is that we produce our lipsticks in a metal mold that a reusable, not the silicon molds that everyone else uses and are thrown away with every batch produced. We also clean with a dry cleaning process that requires no water. Because of our production system, working in small batches, we are able to produce a minimum quantity of waste in a week. Our internal goal at the lab, in that all the week’s waste should fit in a small carton. It’s a very concrete and achievable goal and a big motivation for all the team! Solar energy is also provided from installations on the roof.
A team effort
In our Paris office we have banned plastic bottles and takeaway packages and only use reusable coffee mugs. We avoid printing and have zero per cent waste – we literally have no garbage can! We recycle cartons from the shipments we receive. Paris is not perfect, but it is all going in the right direction. Biking in the center of the city is super easy now and organic and local food is everywhere. Waste management, I believe, is still work in progress.
I am all about buy less, buy better. I question everything I am buying. Where it comes from, from what is made and by whom, in which conditions? I think that by just asking these few questions we can consume differently and at least be aware of what we buy. I try to always pick the better option for me, for the planet and for the people producing the products. This goes for everything – food, clothes, furniture. I stay away from fast fashion. I have three children and as a family we try to consume local. I buy organic and seasonal vegetables and limit processed food and avoid daily meat consumption. We can compost our food as we have a little terrace.
The plastic problem
I avoid single-use plastic on a daily basis – bottles, cups, straws, plastic furniture, objects, packaging. But like everyone at the moment, I have a hard time finding green and clean products for the bathroom. Organic products are still contained in plastic packaging, which is frustrating. So I try to always recycle the plastic or find brands that can offer reused plastic packaging or glass packaging. One brand I’ve been faithful to for years however is Weleda.
Just trying to do better
There are lot of actions that you can endorse to live a more sustainable life: use public transport, limit the use of your car, recycle your waste, minimise food waste, minimise water usage. It’s all a matter of habits that can easily be changed. I am not perfect, just trying to do better everything in my daily life, professional and personal, as I truly consider it as family project! I really want to raise my kids as citizens of tomorrow, aware of their environmental impact. We give our old clothes to charity or to other members of my family and take 95% of our holidays in France, mostly travelling by train.
It can be hard in an old Parisian building to have a clear strategy on energy consumption etcetera. I have a dream of building my own eco-home, create the perfect self-generating energy home with beautiful and elegant furniture 100% natural, a great recycling system and eco-heating programme. Hopefully, one day I will get there!
Photo credits: Ezra Petronio