Dreams into reality - Launching a luxury skin care brand in France

Dear Lovelies, I’m very excited to share with you Melissa Obeid’s story on bringing to life her unique dream and vision of creating a luxury skin care brand in France. 

I’ve had the enormous pleasure of trying this beautiful product, and as I said to Melissa, ‘It’s like a Hermes handbag in a jar!!’

It’s pure craftsmanship and luxury and everything you would expect of a beautiful product made in France with an interesting Australian twist. 

Over to Melissa…

follow your heart, luxury skincare france, dreams into reality, inspiring lives, la fervance, melissa obeid

(Image: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography)

Why a face cream in France?

Creating a face cream in the global cosmetics hub was certainly not the intention when we arrived in France as skin care brand in France !

The concept of a sustainable, luxurious, 100% natural and proven-active skincare brand was one I had in Australia, where we had actually commenced the process. Then a few weeks into our French family sabbatical in 2016 and the inspiration struck! The momentum kicked in and I was engulfed in this extraordinarily powerful flow of making the vision a reality in the prestige cosmetics mecca as nothing beats that ‘Made in France’ positioning. I realised it was hugely ambitious, but with the encouragement of Jamie and our children, I maintained my focus, a blind faith and after almost 4 years whilst living in Provence, Paris, of highs, lows and ‘many reasons to give up’ — LA FERVANCE was born.

It’s the first clean luxury beauty brand or skin care brand in France to fuse the best of Australia’s enchanting environment and centuries of French savoir faire into entirely original and highly sophisticated and balanced formulations from 100% natural origins, at a time when many brands are using ‘off the shelf/standard’ formulations which are ready to label due to their lower costs and quicker time to market. Our benchmark was excellence within every touchpoint, and we refused to compromise on any element of the brand or product development. Market trends and commercial factors were never our driving force. The launch of our ‘iconic’ Eclat Extraordinaire embodies the essence of our adventure, brand values and represents a new philosophy in clean beauty. France felt like the most natural place to make all of this happen.

I’m extremely fortunate to have a husband who supported this dream and has been prepared to work with me to make it happen.

follow your heart, luxury skincare france, dreams into reality, inspiring lives, la fervance, melissa obeid

(Images: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography/Melissa Obeid)

What attracts you to living in France and how has it influenced creating La Fervance?

I’m convinced I must have had a past life in France! Despite the various dramatic events which have transpired whilst living here, I’m unperturbed. Each time I step onto the streets of Paris or whilst in Provence, feels like my first time and whilst I may look like a local, I act like a tourist, constantly pausing to take pics of building facades, doors, vineyards, corners, tables, chairs, old people… Not half as amazing as your pics, Carla, but with that same perspective of seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. 

After living in Paris in the 90’s where I studied at the Paris Fashion Institute and worked in fashion for a couple of years, France has a special place in my heart. Later my role at the National Gallery of Victoria was perfect as we staged many French exhibitions, so I got my ‘French fix’ regularly.  

Around my 45th birthday, Jamie saw I was missing France, so decided he’d bring me and the kids to my ‘happy place’ for a ‘few months’. The relocation from our comfortable life in Bayside Melbourne for a sabbatical was sudden, but within 8 weeks of making the decision, we were on the plane — long stay visas in hand and an unknown adventure awaiting. On 12 July, we celebrated 4 years to the day! Whilst a true-blue Aussie at heart, with Lebanese heritage, for me, France feels like the centre of the universe, from where we can easily access other parts of the world. When I’m not here, I feel like I’m missing something intrinsic to my identity.  

I’m also passionate about history, so clearly I’m in the right place and despite some aspects of living and doing business in France being highly frustrating — this quirkiness is charming in itself (sometimes!)

The pursuit of excellence, traditions, quality, and overall inspiration I receive whilst here has influenced every element of the LA FERVANCE story. The ‘Made in France’ positioning is essential to the brand and I feel the inspiration around Napoleon & Josephine’s fascination with Australia and the Bourdin expedition to Oz in 1800 strongly here, which in turn influences the energy which LA FERVANCE exudes.

follow your heart, luxury skincare france, dreams into reality, inspiring lives, la fervance, melissa obeid

(Images: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography)

What have been some of the joys of living your dream?

The hugely diverse group of people we’ve crossed paths with along the way, many of whom have become close friends and de facto ‘family’. Inspiring and playing a part in some of their journeys has been most rewarding.  

The crazy synchronicities which have occurred so frequently, and which have impacted where we are now. Even meeting you, Carla, was via my now dear friend Jolene Denes, whom we initially met whilst principal dancer au Moulin Rouge — retiring in 2016 and who’s now our LA FERVANCE photographer. She’s another Aussie living in France.

Achieving what so many said would be ‘impossible’ and pushing through the consistent obstacles to see my dream become a reality and doing this all with our own personal funds. 

The sense of freedom and gratification one feels from pursuing a soul led life, over an ‘average’ one, despite the latter offering more comfort and security.

Exposing our children to European road trips, locations, languages, cuisine, history, new friends for life, French schooling and the LA FERVANCE adventure. They have lived the entrepreneurial journey and seen us work tirelessly to create this brand. 

Discovering my inner-strength, capabilities and working through some significant personal growth.

Reaffirming the power of integrity, good manners and respect for oneself and others. Seeing our brand appear in British VOGUE, Tattler, ELLE Paris.

Introducing the brand into retail in Australia, Paris, London, Canada, St Tropez, SKINLife in Portugal, in Lourmarin Provence and the highly reputed SKINS Cosmetics network — and thriving during the global pandemic which hit soon after the brand launch.  

follow your heart, luxury skincare france, dreams into reality, inspiring lives, la fervance, melissa obeid

(Images: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography/Melissa Obeid)

What have been some of the challenges?

Oh Mon Dieu! SOOO many! This journey is not for the faint-hearted.

The Covid-19 global pandemic and all that this entailed (entrepreneurial 18-hour days & home-schooling included!)

A home-sick Aussie hubby and feeling torn between returning to the stability of Oz or pursuing the LA FERVANCE dream in France.

Being far from friends and family – especially my amazing, self-sufficient 94 year old Grandmother.

French bureaucracy and the various delays and road-blocks which are highly frustrating to a ‘can-do’ person.  

The numerous time-consuming visa renewal procedures. Copious amount of requirements and paperwork.

Selling our first home in Melbourne, which held a strong sentimental connection for my children and I. This was a difficult decision about skin care brand in France. We were prepared for a short sabbatical in France, so when this extended and we created LA FERVANCE, an injection of funds was necessary. Either we returned to Oz and kept this rental property, or sold it and remained in France. I felt so strongly about LA FERVANCE so I chose the latter.  

Four years and investing 100’s of thousands into the brand and living abroad expenses and on the assumption it will succeed is a great challenge, but I’d like to think ‘fortune favours the bold’.

How did you know you were on the right path?

I’ve asked myself this question on many occasions over the past 4 years.  

For me, it’s waking up each morning with renewed energy and inspiration to continue with this chosen mission, despite the challenges which present along the way.

The excitement I feel about the project, the energy it evokes during meetings and the way the LA FERVANCE story inspires all who I share it with. 

I truly LOVE what I do — despite the long days, juggling the project with a busy family life and all whilst living in a foreign country. I believe it’s the entrepreneurial spirit in which I was raised, and which runs through my veins. It’s really quite addictive. 

The bizarre way this inspirational journey found me in many respects and how I could not imagine myself finding as much joy doing anything other than what I’m currently doing.

Someone once encouraged me to ‘Live a BIG LIFE’. I guess I took his advice!

(Images: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography)

Any advice to someone who has a dream and needs to take the first step?

Absolument! Just do it! Simply take ‘that’ first step. Whether it’s that initial phone call enquiry, an online search, a course, whatever — simply commence. If it’s the right dream, things will fall into place, flow effortlessly and then it’s up to you to write the rest of the story. Life is too short to procrastinate or live with regrets.

The universe will help those who help themselves, so give it a go, or you’ll never know. Regardless of the outcome, you will have lived new experiences, created an interesting story and who knows what amazing outcomes you may enjoy! Not to mention inspiring young people in your life in positive, ‘go getting’ ways.

Block out the ‘noise’ from negative people or those who chose not to follow their dreams, as this will only create doubt and pull you back. Instead, surround yourself with inspirational people, stories, podcasts, places to motivate that drive and determination. 

If Jamie and I could put everything on the line to create a luxury skincare brand in the luxury skincare mecca of the world, then I truly believe anything is possible!

Just like coming to France!!! 

Thanks to Melissa for sharing her story.

Carla x

-To learn about our Journey – click here – https://lafervance.com/about/

-To learn about our sustainability – click here – https://lafervance.com/social-impact-and-commitment/

-To learn about our founder – click here – https://lafervance.com/the-founder/

-To read our customer reviews – click here – https://lafervance.com/reviews/

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