A range of short blog stories will follow in the next several weeks about beautiful long old-fashioned train journeys across Europe. The goal? To find the world’s very best natural and organic cosmetic ingredients.
For Paul Penders products, the ingredients must be simply the ultimate in quality. I go out myself regularly to search for them wherever in the world I may happen to be, and… by train! China, Southeast Asia, India, North America, Eastern Europe, or as 5 months ago and again this month, Southern Europe.
My last travel experience was in Italy. I was searching for the best olive oil and actually found it! Sitting in the fast train from Paris to Rome! In our cabin, the right person appeared; he was sitting right across from me in a comfortable chair. We started talking (what else one can do on a train in Italy!) and I discovered he owned a small organic vineyard. Then he mentioned he had a small organic production olive oil farm – family-owned in Sicily! We visited him a few days later. It turned out to be the best olive oil we could ever find and…. we made great new friends as well.
As I write this blog in May 2013, I am still traveling, now in Marseille, France – importantly to me, it’s the largest natural soap capital in the world.
Our search for the newest and best ingredients has brought us to France and Spain on this journey. The objective this time is to find the very best essential oils.
We found some very intriguing places in Southern France; near Avignon, there is in a small town, a “Musee de la Lavande.” Visiting the museum was a real pleasure and a learning experience as well. They gave us insider information about the highest quality organic lavender and lavender essential oil, as well as the growing and production processes.
We journeyed on to Spain in search of sea plankton at the Atlantic coast, as described by a friend from the US but I couldn’t find the source. However, there I also looked at rock mountains that yield mica the color of gold. This mica is an ingredient we can use in our natural color cosmetics. How much more organic can that be?
While in France, I talked to upscale hair salons in Paris and Aix-en-Provence about washing hair naturally.
We are developing a totally new and exciting natural shampoo; the best I have ever made in 40 years in the natural beauty industry. It has two separate layers and the bottle must be shaken before use to mix the ingredients. It is simply the best for moisturizing hair. An unusual feature, at the bottom of the container, you will see a little mineral mud that comes from a jungle waterfall in Malaysia. We got wonderful reviews of the new shampoo from a selected test panel from several different countries. Dr. Gatot is our experienced senior cosmetic chemist who is working hard on the many little details involved in making the final formulation.
Many stories emerged on this trip. In between the 6 weeks of traveling, I also visited some of my family and friends as well. And there is a real story in itself about the train! To me a Eurrail pass beats flying, hands down. In one of the next blog issues, I will tell you more about this amazing rail pass and how to take advantage of it – it’s luxury 1st class traveling and very cheap actually!
All these interesting experiences have had the same ultimate goal – finding better quality cosmetic products, more natural ingredients, and ultimately the best skin care, hair care, body care and mineral beauty products possible.
We never have wanted to be the largest company but we are trying to be the best!
Lastly, I am asking you to rate us — how are we doing?
We always love hearing from you.
Thanks for your trust in our 100% vegetarian natural herbal cosmetics made with organic ingredients and proudly carrying the official Halal certificate for each and every one of our products.
In Grasse, France with Amazing Perfumes
A few weeks ago, I took a great trip to Europe. As always, I was intrigued by the charming beauties of France and Italy, especially in the countryside. This was a working vacation: I visited small growers of olive oil in Italy, ‘nosed’ flowers used for the most exquisite perfumes of France, tasted great wine made by a Sicilian family and grown without pesticides, dined at a wonderful small family-owned coffee shop and bakery – each experience reinforced for me the values of our own herbal cosmetics and inspired ideas for new products.
Although it was in the fall when obviously one can’t find the flowers and leaves from which they make the amazing perfumes, at least I was at the right time to taste the ‘new wine’ of the Provence – “Nouveau de Provence Rouge” – made from the harvest of grapes just 2 months earlier. Let me assure you that it was a nice experience. The balmy sunny weather felt to me the same as what we call in California, ‘Indian Summer’.
The other thing that was pleasant is that when you go to these normally crowded touristic places out of the tourist season, you get in contact with the local people and everything is easily available.
Even the town bus ride from Nice to Grasse was enjoyable with only locals talking about their weekend shopping!
Today I am remembering the visit to Grasse, where at least half of France’s acclaimed perfumes are made. This beautiful sleepy small town is in Southern France, 30 minutes from the famous Cote d’Azur, near the border of the little country of Monaco and long ago became the world’s perfume capital. Experts on perfumes (called: “Noses”) come from around the world to be trained here.
Some of the world’s oldest companies — Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard (established in 1747) — open their doors to the public with tours and salons where you can learn to create your own unique perfume.
Grasse is located in the foothills of the Alps at about 1000 feet above sea level in the French Riviera; it has a unique micro-climate that permits flowers with the most delicate of scents to grow here.
One of the most romantic of flowers and a key ingredient in many perfumes, the fragrant beauty of jasmine is celebrated in Grasse. Brought from Africa by the Moors in the 16th century, the flower thrives in this special place only 12 miles from the sea. This gave birth to the local flower-growing industry and soon after to the first perfumeries. Nowadays, twenty-seven tons of jasmine flowers are harvested locally each year.
Each summer, all of Grasse comes out for the annual Fête du Jasmin at the beginning of August. Parades, floats, music, fireworks and even “les femmes des fleurs” — young women in costumes who throw flowers to the crowds in a tradition known as the ‘flower battle’. Everyone gets soaked by the natural perfume of the flowers.
Can you think of a more romantic place than the world capital of perfume? Or a better place to become inspired with ideas for future Paul Penders natural beauty products?
Next time I will share my visit to the grower of a very small (only 600-trees) olive oil plantage in Catania, Sicily. They make pure organic olive oil from young olives without any additives other than the olive itself! I became good friends with the owner who is going to visit us in Malaysia soon.
Each of these great places I visited inspired ideas for future Paul Penders natural beauty products.
By Paul Penders
In Los Angeles, California, more than 10 years ago, we produced a 30-minute “infomercial” television show called “A Lifetime of Beauty.” It was aired in all the big cities of the U.S. including Boston, New York, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco and Houston. The show promoted the newest product which our company pioneered — the first natural AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) cosmetic product in the world.
The novelty was that these special products called “GlycoFruit” contained acids from the rhubarb plant that naturally sloughs-off old skin cells to reveal clear and fresh-looking skin. So how did it happen that this product became featured in a 30-minute television show?
GlycoFruit became a hit in a few stores in San Francisco and our best-selling product ever in the history of Paul Penders Co. It was also advertised in several natural lifestyle magazines around the country. The advertisements got the attention of a few Hollywood celebrities and soon their agencies started to contact us.
To make a long story short, soon afterwards Katja and I were invited to Hollywood to visit several movie stars wanting to discuss a business deal about this new GlycoFruit product. According to them, GlycoFruit would make for a perfect 30-minute infomercial product to be shown nationwide on television!
Dr. Joni Laughran while working in our company in California wrote a book for the show, also with the same name, “A Lifetime of Beauty.” The book was a give-away for people who called the Paul Penders Company enquiring about our newest beauty invention.
Honestly, Katja and I had a blast meeting these movie stars at their homes. I can say this was a very interesting tour, and we got to meet several popular stars over a few days.
After meeting these celebrities and their Entertainment Lawyers, I finally signed contracts with 2 stars; the most important one was Meredith MacRae (May 30, 1944 – July 14, 2000), best known as Billie Jo on the TV sitcoms, Petticoat Junction and as Sally Ann in My Three Sons.
Several weeks after the signing ceremony, we started shooting in the studio of Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” It was a time of learning, fun and excitement. During the shooting days, got to know Meredith better. She turned out to be a charming, intelligent and very kind person with a healthy amount of humor!
Part of the filming for the show was in Hollywood and part at our company’s base in Petaluma in Northern California. Meredith, her agent and a crew of beauticians all flew out to Petaluma for the shoot at Paul Penders Company.
We had dinner with the group the night before filming and then became it apparent how much she looked like Catherine Deneuve, the beautiful and distinguished French movie star I admired so much as well. Probably too it was that which attracted Katja and me to Meredith in the first place.
Since I am talking movie stars, there is another movie star I REALLY admire and have since a young age — Brigitte Bardot. I fell for her because of a few great movies with producer Roger Vadim, and later because she became a fierce fighter for animal rights.
To this day, Brigitte Bardot’s focus in life is to end the suffering of animals. A little while ago we wrote about the vote in Catalonia, Spain making bull fighting illegal this year. Let me mention that Brigitte Bardot’s latest fight is to stop the bull fighting in the South of France where it is still legally practiced.
She was interviewed not long ago by “France Dimanche” and told the reporter, “My life would have been worthless if changes are not made to stop bullfights in France before I die. But I am like a pit bull; when I start biting, I don’t let go easily”.
- Thank you, Dame Bardot, for being a
living example for me by helping
to set the standards to stop
cruelty to animals!
Did I ever tell you before how I got to know all these friends of mine in all kinds of countries? I don’t believe I did.
Before I settled down, got married and children I used to travel a lot. That already started when I was in college. I spent some time in Europe as an exchange student. After that I went back many times for my job as a wine merchant. As you will know, Europe is still the heart of wine production in the world. France obviously, but also Italy, Spain and Germany. I was always looking for fine wines for my company to buy and sell. That is how I got to know another of my friends that this story is about.
Aziza lives in Dortmund, being married to a German man called Manfred, but she actually comes from Malaysia. From Dortmund to the Southwest of Germany there are large wine estates, one of them being owned by Aziza and her husband. They produce a very fine white wine that I immediately decided to buy for my company.
As it turned out, Aziza and I got along really well so I went back as often as I possibly could. I was there when her daughter Sophie was born!
Sophie is now 5 years old and well aware of her background. One evening Aziza, keeping her Asian heritage alive, had died Sophie’s hands with henna. Something very common in Asian and Arabian culture, but not that much in Germany.
When Sophie went to school next day naturally her girlfriends asked about the painting on her hands, so Sophie explained to them it was henna. Her girlfriends, completely astonished all shouted out: What? Were they done by Hannah Montana? They all wanted to meet her and Sophie had to ask Aziza for help to explain she did NOT know Hannah Montana, but that she does know henna and how to dye hands with it.
After the girls had overcome their disappointment of not getting to meet Hannah Montana, they all went to school the next day with a beautiful henna painting on their hands.