Bastide: The Essence of Provence
It’s funny how things have a way of coming full circle...
When I was an apothecary and beauty buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue back in 2005, I traveled to France to look for new brands. On that trip, I discovered a charming bath and candle brand from Provence called Côte Bastide. I was taken by its authenticity and beauty, however the company was too small to take on the logistics and international shipping for a mammoth chain like Saks. I had to ‘move on’ but remember hoping for the best for this little gem of a brand.
Fast forward 11 years to 2016 when, on a weekend in Aix-en-Provence visiting my dear friends Shirin von Wulffen and Frédéric Fekkai, they gave me a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the new brand they had just acquired, renamed and were working to relaunch, BASTIDE! I could not have been more thrilled to learn that Bastide was about to be reborn and, especially, under the wings of not only people I know and admire, but also true entrepreneurs in their own right.
This past summer, I was so pleased to go back to Aix and see the fruits of their labor over the past year truly come to life. In May, Frédéric and Shirin opened Bastide’s first retail store, right in the heart of the city. With a focus on wellness and authenticity, the new Bastide collection includes fragrance, candles, bar soaps, body wash, creams, oils and scented home ambiance crystals. Working with artisans only from Provence and with a promise of living beautifully, Bastide follows a strict code of toxin-free ingredients and ensures each artisan’s workshop is eco-certified. With scents such as Rose Olivier, Ambre Soir and Figue d’Ete, just to name a few, each scent represents the essence of Provence where Frédéric himself grew up as a child.
In speaking with both Frédéric and Shirin about this fantastic new undertaking in their lives and, personally, as a woman who has helped build a brand with her husband, I have a deep respect for how they reference each other. Bringing different strengths to the table, as well as a delicious bottle of rosé, we laugh about the pros and cons of working with your significant other. As Frédéric eloquently puts it, “There is a great balance working with Shirin. She is excellent at communications, strategy, aesthetics and bringing in a global perspective. I bring the home-grown authenticity.” Not to mention that Frédéric is also a seasoned entrepreneur from his past life building his Fekkai haircare brand.
I went on to ask them what they envision for the future of Bastide. With a strategic business head and a family-oriented heart, the answer was simply, “The goal is to walk before we run. We want to build a global brand and showcase the chic, modern and authentic side of Provence. And, hopefully, one day, our kids may even want to be involved.”
From my end, I’d say they’re off to a fabulous start!